IMG_20131013_093634

WoW!

Go to this website… Paralounge Drum Gathering and you will find out where I’ve been for the last 30 hours.

Yep, and I took the kids too! 😀

I first heard about Paralounge from my friend, Carlos, while we were chatting during one of our bike rides. It sounded like something that any number of my sisters, would have gone too. I didn’t think much of it. I heard it again, from him; and Turtle, when they were both here back in July, at my home. They, along with Turtle’s husband, Lowell, were all chatting wildly about it. Carlos trying to convince me that I should go; and even bring the kids. Turtle was backing him up.

So I did a little research. I found them on FaceBook. I saw that several of my sisters, had ‘liked’ the group’s page. That was encouraging. I followed a link to their website, and read up more about it. Seeing several photographs of people just like me. Kids included.

But having fallen for this in the past: A group claiming to be “Family Oriented” but really not. Claiming that they include kids in their program; but really its a couple of couples, with babies Which just ends up with me being more tired and stressed out, trying to keep my children from becoming a distraction to the other people at the group-function. While also trying to keep them engaged in the basics of the adventure.

So in part of my ‘research’ I spoke to more of my sisters. Gypsy. Sonne. Turtle again. And tried to get a hold of Elena, but she seems to be MIA these days. I wanted to confirm my suspicions that this was not truly a Child-Friendly event, no matter what Carlos claimed. They all told me that he was right, and that my kids would end up having a great time; although none of them would be going to this October’s Paralounge Gathering (held twice a year) due to a conflict with the SE Women’s Herbal Conference (held just once a year). So I wouldn’t know anyone actually going; other than Carlos.

That in its self was a weird thing for me. I know Carlos, but I don’t “KNOW” Carlos. We have hung out a few times; riding his motorcycle; meeting his brother; being set up as a couple at a dinner party; meeting a couple of my sisters; and he helped me out once with something I couldn’t do for myself. He is also good at speaking his mind, and is a strong person within himself. He is secure enough that he has actually called me out about something in my own life; and that really threw me for a loop. He’s a good guy. Yet, he is a grey area, that I’m not sure how to define; not that I need too. I just know that he was excited to learn that I would be going; and bringing my kids.

Despite all of this, I still sent an email, inquiring if there were still tickets available. And that I had some questions as well. I also called the phone number, on the website, and left a voice mail message. I just wanted to be thorough. I spoke to Cherie, who was great about my questions. Really making me feel good about asking them. So we went.

I had the kids pack up Friday night. And be ready to leave at 6:00 am, since we still had to go to the store for snacks. I was only going to feed them a hot dinner last night, and a good breakfast. Otherwise, it was snacks if they got hungry. Wal~Mart at 6:30 in the morning, with 4 kids, hyped up on adrenaline, is a horrid thing. (js)

We actually made it to the gate, right when they were opening. I had told Cherie, that I was going to try and make it first thing, Saturday morning. She was happy to see me. Even pointing me to a place, off from the other cars, where I could park my car, and tent camp right next to my car. Away from the Big Drum Circle, that would be going alllll night. But close to the other families; who were all camped around the playground; and near the lake line. She even comped me Daphne’s ticket, saving me $50.00. I was so grateful for that. I needed it too; cause the kids were great; and I wanted to treat them for their good behavior.

The kids picked out a spot right under a large Cypress tree, with plenty of room for all of us, under its boughs. With everyone working together, we were able to get it all done in record time. So we went to the Morning Yoga, lake side. 🙂

The girls were amazing! They got mats, and sat up right in front. They listened to their bodies, so they didn’t try to out-do each other. They really got into the stretching and breathing. I was so proud of them. We all got a good stretching, wake-up, hour; in the glory of the new day. I felt great.

Russell was upset. He didn’t want to do yoga. He didn’t want to go and make new friends. Even when another woman came over and offered to walk him to where her son was playing on the playground. I appreciated her help; even though he was happy to sit on the bench and just pout. It was the last time he pouted all weekend. After that – he was off. New friends. I rarely saw him, unless he wanted to go swimming. The organizers had a rule that there be no kids near the water, without an adult to supervise them. Otherwise, most of the time he was content to just run around with the other boys his age. I’d often find him in the most unusual places.

Russell and the other little warriors, all diving off the floating docks, after fish.

Russell and the other little warriors, all diving off the floating docks, after fish.

The girls ran off to explore the Gathering, taking Russell with them; while I joined in a Learn to play the Drum class. That’s where I ran into people that I actually knew! Sarah, the midwife who helped to catch Rebecca and then monitored Daphne’s pregnancy, was there. It was amazing! We haven’t seen each other in years. It made me feel so much better to actually know at least 1 person.

The Drum class was great. Jana, the teacher from Drum Magic, Drum Magic… was so full of energy, that I felt high afterwards. I saw Carlos there, and he had a great big hug for me. So happy that I made it. But more about him later. ((shakes head)) I’ve done my fair share of beating upon a drum before. I mean I have been to a few Sister Circles. lol But this was so nice to be able to be part of the group, and have my rhythm matching the others in the circle.

I didn’t even seem to mind it too much, when Sarah pulled me up with her, when Jana called for all the Paralounge Virgins to the centre of the circle. So that others there, who were old hacks, could help out us virgins; and make our 1st experience a great one. I have to admit that it was a bit embarrassing to be up there moving my hips, and being called a virgin, at the same time. It was all in jest, and fun; but made me very self-conscious. Especially, since my own midwife was up there shaking her hips right along side of my own; and we both knew I wasn’t a freaking virgin. 😉

The girls came in to tell me about a lady creating henna. At just $10.00 per art piece, I felt it was worth it. So I sent them off with $40.00; yes, RJ wanted one too; and went back to the drumming. They each came to me, one by one, to show off their henna tattoos. All 3 girls managed to get the same thing… in the same spot. LoL They felt beautiful, and to me that is all that matters.

I sent this photo to Barry, warning him to BE NICE.  That they felt pretty, and he should freaking honor that, instead of getting his panties all in a wad.

I sent this photo to Barry, warning him to BE NICE. That they felt pretty, and he should freaking honor that, instead of getting his panties all in a wad.

My lil Warrior, with his arrow feathers.  :)

My lil Warrior, with his arrow feathers. 🙂

I loved how they were being exploratory, and so I stayed for the next class; Belly Dancing. 🙂 Again, amazing instructor, who just gave us basics. And taught us in a way that nobody was singled out. None left out. Every woman there, made to feel like her body was the perfect shape for dancing. Simply watching the teacher, move and shake her butt and hip; at easily 250 pounds; with amazing grace, poise, and sexuality, made it so much easier to believe that we were all “Pretty”.

I learned that belly dancing, is as old as ancient Greeks, with their clay pots, on their hips and balanced on their heads. I learned that some Indian moves, are a simple as passing out a cup of tea, with your pinkies held out. And that all Gypsy women, would wear their coin belts, because in a matriarchal society, a woman wanted to show-off her wealth, along side of her beauty to get a good man; who would work hard, to help her out. I already knew that the art of moving the belly for dancing, was really from original forms for child birthing. That women would dance around the birthing woman, and encourage her by showing her how to move her hips; to shake the baby down. That they would undulate around the woman, in a circle, hypnotizing her to a state of relaxation; allowing her body to do its thing.

At this point, I had completed three class; and needed a break. So I headed over to the tents, found Russell, giving the girls a break until dinner; to go and do their thing. Rebecca actually retreated to her tent, to study her Spanish. Daphne and Bronwyn went out and explored more of the Kiwanis Retreat area. I put on my bikini, and sarong; and let Russell swim. I ate a snack, and met another wonderful woman, named Vicky. Who had traveled here all the way from Tampa. It was her first time as well.

She works in catering, in a hotel; so there was a lot that we had in common. While she had never been married, she admired me coming with my children. We talked for about 2 hours, while I rotated my chair to get sun on different parts of my body. She actually didn’t even own a car; but that being in Tampa, afforded her the lifestyle that having a bike is all that she needs. So she had rented a car for 2 day. It was a bargain, considering the cost of $20.00 a day; compared to the $500.00 a month; for something that she didn’t use every day. After we were both good and hot, we split up and agreed to keep watching for each other throughout the day.

It was like that everywhere I went. I met a person, and had a meaningful exchange with them; would part, and then eventually meet them again, at some other point in the gathering. Russell wanted to participate in the Children’s Drum Class. He wanted the t-shirt. So I took him to Jana’s class; where she shoooed all of us parents away. Saying: “Go away. Go get a break. They’re mine for the next hour.” I went in search of the girls, and came across Astarte, the henna artist. 🙂

I approached her tent, and upon entering, told her how much I appreciated what she did for my children. She remembered them well. I asked her to bless me with her art. She was surprised I think, about my attitude. I talked to her briefly about my previous henna experience, and Barry’s reaction to it, all of those years ago. How I really wanted to have another one done. What I was hoping for. And after agreeing upon a price for the work; sat back, closed my eyes, and let her loose. I meditated while she performed her craft. I didn’t see it until she was done with it.

I know that I will need to do a whole journal entry on this.  There is so much to tell about it, that a few lines here wouldn't do it justice.

I know that I will need to do a whole journal entry on this. There is so much to tell about it, that a few lines here wouldn’t do it justice.

I spent time at the edge of Astarte’s tent, letting the sun bake my henna in. Enjoying the things I was finding in her strokes; and the story that they told. Then moved on to a massage tent. Where people were giving massages, for ‘Love donations’. I had a nice man, named Clint, work on my right ankle and foot. After explaining what had happened, and so forth; he really went to work on it. Stretching the muscles out in my calves as well as my foot. So much so that when he was done, I could stand up, walk around, and it was like my brace wasn’t even there. He said to come back today and see him, if after dancing around the Drum Circle all night caused it pain. It did, but I am fine. Simply grateful for the work that he had already done.

I sat down in a tee-pee like structure, with a man, who never gave his name. He had been camping for a while; and had a simple guitar with him. A mat and a few books. He advertised palm readings, and stories, and songs. He asked me what I wanted to hear; and I replied: “Whatever you are called to tell me about.” He smiled, a wicked sort of smile, and told me a “true” story about a Daoist monk, who had to learn a lesson on lust; so that he might become fully enlightened; and thus pass out of this world, and into the next. LoL

Several other people joined in the structure, as he told his story. Even Rebecca, and Bronwyn; at one point. He told the story, then sang a song. And even recited poetry, that sounded familiar; but I can’t place it. I was taking chances all day. Coming into contact with people that I wouldn’t have done before. Mainly because Barry wouldn’t have even come to something like Paralounge, let alone talked to anyone. Or encouraged me too.

It was getting late, and I had already told them all to meet me on the playground at 5, so that after I picked up Russell, we could eat dinner. There was a vendor there selling hot food. Only one; so he had a corner on the market, but wasn’t over charging in my opinion. He had several hot dishes to choose from, including some vegan. 🙂 We sat down together as a family; and shared our stories of the day. Each of the girls anxious to show me what they picked out, to spend their money on. Then Bronwyn and Daphne wandered off; while I took some time to show Russell where I would be that night.

I knew that Rebecca would be taking care of him once I went to the All Night Drum Circle. But I also knew that it would be dark, and Russell was now so comfortable with the Gathering, that he would go off with his friends, and we would spend the night tracking him down. Or at least trying too. So I had him help me gather a chair, his drum, and blanket; and we walked over to the drum circle, from the tent. Then I sat there, and had him go back to the tent, to fetch several items. Not that I needed them, but I wanted him to have practice, going back and forth; in the light, so that he wouldn’t get lost in the dark. I had a couple of people ask me why I was sitting there so early. I explained what I was doing, and they all thought that I was really thinking outside the box. It just seemed normal to me.

It was 6:15, and time for him to meet up with his teacher. The children, not only got a tshirt, but were to perform for the grown-ups. This was in my Top 5 Favorite Things from the event. Watching Russell pounding out on his drum, along side of other kids. 🙂 Sigh

IMG_20131012_181647

I let him go to find his friends at 7:00. They were making s’mores and said that he was welcome to join them. I didn’t know that there would be fire-pits available, so I hadn’t thought to bring anything like that. I thanked them for their generosity, and reminded Russell to mind his manners. I let him know where I would be, and that there was a concert in the main hall, that I wanted to hear. I found Daphne and Bronwyn learning to African Dance, on my way there; and it was so great to see them taking part in things that they didn’t already know about. During the concert, they joined me, and then together got up on the dance floor and showed off what they had learned. Being each other’s partner, they danced for several songs in a row. Latin songs, that Rebecca said she could pick out some of the words too, from Spanish class. She was so happy. I was happy just watching my kids having fun.

While we didn’t win any of the instruments in their drawing; I was happy to see the generous nature of all of the vendors. The community of the people there. Even running into Carlos, who said that he had been looking for me all day, didn’t ruin my mood. Nor having him comment on Russell, who came over to see me. “Hey this is your son? I was helping him and his friend earlier today with their trinket selling. It really surprised me when he pulled up my shirt to stare at my tats.”

There was another concert to be performed, but I needed some quiet; from all of the loudness. So I headed out to the Drum Circle early, to sit by the fire. Did a little of my own praying, sending out sage to clear the air. Then sent up my prayers for various things with some tobacco. Rebecca and Russell joined me. Settling in for some drumming. Other families started coming too. And a woman I’ve never met before, and seemed quite cold to me in the places I had seen her; began to sing to the drum. Songs that I sing in Sister Circle!! How freaking cool is that!?!?!? Although she did not appreciate my joining along with her. Oh well.

Then the other drummers came. They began to play. I watched Russell just falling asleep to the sounds of the drums. Rebecca become mesmerized by the fire. And within 30 minutes, she decided to take him to bed. She carried him, in a way that I find hard to do now. She is much stronger than me. Then she came back for his things, and left me with his drum to play. Actually its Barry’s drum. He loaned it to Russell, when RJ asked him to borrow it. We actually lost track of it during the night; and there was a small search for it this morning. But it was found, and packed up along side our other things, in the trunk.

I drummed. Even if it was just a small down beat to the baseline. I drummed and joined in. When my hands were tired and aching, or my body couldn’t sit still any more, I got up and danced. Just letting my body enjoy the vibrations of the drums, bouncing off of it. Feeling the rhythms coming out of the instruments, and letting my feet move and my hips sway. Its so easy to get lost in the music. To feel emotions bubbling up and expressing themselves though your head, your arms, your hands, your hips, torso, and shoulders. To feel your legs, as they bend and rotate your body around in a circle, or back and forth; weaving the pattern around the area. To feel the fire heating up your skin, your blood, your emotions. Then just letting your body express all of it. Out over the drummers. Out onto the crowd. Out onto the land. Out into the sky. Out into the Universe.

There really is no stopping of a song, and the beginning of another one, in a drum circle. The beat simply changes from one rhythm to another. Constantly evolving, and the dancers moving their bodies to the changes. It just goes on, and on, and on, and on. Around the circle, is usually a path for dancers to exit the circle, especially if they do not have a chair right in front. I did, thankfully. This way I could sit down and drum, when my ankle or hip hurt. Or I just needed a breather. I even had a 2nd one next to me, that Russell was supposed to have used, but didn’t. This circle had 2. I was in the west, the paths were in the north and south of the circle. During one particular path around the circle, I needed to sit down. I could feel it. But I had just past my chair, and couldn’t just move backwards; so I left using the north path. And ran smack dab into Carlos, which is another journal entry.

I danced and drummed all through the night till things got a little too weird for me. I crawled into my tent around 4, but didn’t sleep. I actually am going to bed EARLY tonight. I ended up with a good hot shower this morning though. Since I was literally the first one up in the area. It was a long one too. I felt rested, in an eerie way; and once the kids got up, we headed over for a hot breakfast. The food was good for camp food. Fresh made, to order. And I like helping out another person, by supporting them in their craft. Like Astarte’s henna, or the boy’s massages. Its something that they only get to do on weekends, a passion, that they would love to make a full-time career out of but don’t. Astarte is a pre-school teacher; and the boys, are fresh out of the Army.

They close the Gathering with a Prayer Drumming Circle. Its like a church – but sooooo not! Its spiritual in a way that Sister Circle is. Or the Sweat Lodge is. With an opening in the middle, and a guy leading the ceremony; the group prays over anyone who is willing to sit in the middle. There was quite the group of people, and when they called for dancers to raise the energy, around the group; sending it out into the world, and blessing it down upon the people, there was not a big path to take. I know. I felt the call to be one of those dancers.

The kids were great about helping me to clean up the tents, and pack the car. They were great about even picking up all of the trash on the ground. I spoke with several people this morning, who all complimented me on my mothering skills. How well behaved, and courteous my children were. I thanked them all. They don’t know how much that meant to me. I was able to even meet a few new people, and exchange numbers with them. The people that Carlos was camping with, Jeanie and Norman, with their kids; live right here in Mt. Dora. Their daughter, Hannah, even attends school with Rebecca and Daphne. I think seeing one of their own classmates at Paralounge helped my own girls, feel more comfortable about the Gathering.

In the end, the kids had decided to take one more trip around the grounds, and I took Russell swimming, before saying our good-byes to people that we knew. Promising to come back again in the spring. Oh yeah… there’s another one; and we are going!

My baby girl is growing up. 🙂 *sigh*

She went down for her permit test this morning. She passed on the 2nd try. Yes 2nd. She likes to show-off how smart she is, and tends to go too fast. LoL.

We got there at 7:30am, and were already 5th in line. They didn’t open till 8! So we had our coffee and donuts. Yes, I treated her to something special for the day. She’s a special girl. All my kids are!

As we waited, several of the gentleman, also in line, were giving her tips. Encouraging her. 2 of them, even went so far as to compliment me, saying I didn’t look old enough to have a daughter, who was old enough to be getting her Learner’s Permit. LoL Gotta love the “Old time complimenting”. I will take what I can get. 🙂

So after about 30 it was our turn. I had a bit of a snafu trying to locate her testing results, for the D. A. T. A., in the State of Florida system, but after tracking down proof of payment, completion of the class, and getting a representative of the online-course n the phone, we got it cleared up. I gave them all of my paperwork, my license, both of our S.S. Cards, Her birth certificate, 2 pieces of mail to prove where I lived, signing affidavits that I would be responsible for her financially, and traffic wise, and insurance wise, and giving them a check for the $$… It was just a matter of waiting her turn to take the exam.

She had to go to the back of the line, after the 1st try. So we went from #155, to #197. 😦 It would be at least 90 minute wait, if not longer. 😦 And the guys at the restaurant, were calling me. Needing me to be there. 😦 😦 😦 I was torn.

I talked to Daphne. She said it was fine. That she would be fine. That I should go. I could come back for her. She was a big girl. I gave her a speech about safty. That she wasn’t to leave with anyone. That either I would come back for her, after dealing with the issue at work, or get ahold of her dad for her.

At this point I called her father, to see if he could be bothered to come and pick her up. Judy, the clerk at the DMV, told me that there was nothing else for me to do, other than give her a ride home. When I called him, the first words out of his mouth was that he was still sleeping. Hmpf!!

So I laid it all out for him. All he had to do was come down there to give her a ride home. He even had time to wake up, shower, change, have coffee, or whatever he did. That I had already talked to Daphne about this, and that she understood, my predicament. So he couldn’t try to come between the 2 of us. Or call me a bad parent. Heck, he didn’t even have to spend any $$$. That I had already taken care of everything.

Now I’ve got 2 kids with learner’s permits. This calls for a drink! LoL Marcella

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday.

I am sorry to hear about Pop, and my heart goes out to Jeff, and you. I hope that the transistion goes as smooth as possible. I reiterate, I am happy to help you in any way that I can. Please just let me know, what you need, when, if….

I will be talking to the children tonight, at our dinner, regarding your upcoming trip; our plans for you to see them before you leave. I will only tell them, the dates that you will be gone, and that you need to take care of some things for PopPop. I will not be discussing his ‘condition’ with them. Or his prognosis. I will leave any additional details up to you.

As I understand from our conversation, you are going to be releasing your time-sharing weekend, of the 18th, due to your trip to CA. I, in turn, offered to you last night, and you accepted from me, time with them on my time-sharing weekend, of the 11th. I will drop all four (4) of the children to your apartment on Saturday morning, no later than 8am… you will return them to me on Mother’s Day Sunday, no later than 10am.

I appreciate that we are on the same page regarding the children’s summer plans. Bronwyn will have fun at her Kid’s College. I know that we will have to make plans for her, once the program ends on July 18th. Russell attending the ELC Summer Camp, will give us both peace of mind, knowing that every day there is a safe place for him to be. Especially with neither of us knowing what, or when, you may have to make additional trips out to CA. It will also, not put pressure on Rebecca, or Daphne, to be responsible for his care. I will remind Rebecca that she needs to seek her guidance counselor this coming weeks, to get signed up for her volunteering hours. Please remember to give me the information regarding the Ruleme Centre’s availability to help out, in this.

I have attached an updated version of what we talked about yesterday, regarding the finances. I have included the chiropractic care, that you pointed out I forgot to include. You’ll also notice that I have made a separated total for those things that are current, and not yet due; subtracted them from the balance, for you.

As for the check I gave you for American Express, the one that you returned to me, I have to insist that you submit this to American Express. Please send it to your credit card company, and then remit to me a separate check for the moneies you owe. I will give it back to you tonight, when I pick Russell up. I need to show a clear paper trail, for any audit in the future.

Lastly, let me know if you want to take me up on my offer, of a ride to the airport, on the 14th.
Marcella

This is the email I’m sending Barry this morning. *sigh*

We agreed to meet yesterday, to discuss a variety of things. He suggested coming to Vic’s for dinner. He thought that it would be easier for me. That it would be nicer. I didn’t want to eat here, not like that. I sure didn’t want my ‘divorce’ on display for everyone. Besides there’s not a lot of lighting, to see by. And we had things to look at, and go over. Like a listing of the financial payments he owes, for the care of the kids. His request, not my insistance. I only asked that we talk about summer plans.

I did convince him to meet at Zellie’s, cause its more low-key, and better lit, and hell, right near our homes. I told him that we could meet, when I got off from work, and that if I were to call him when I left, it would give him time to take Russell home, and meet me there. He said that was fine. So I did. Only with the one exception, I had made plans for RJ to have dinner at Alice’s home, with Bronwyn, and Barry ignored my plans, leaving him with Dan, instead. Which caused some embarrasment, when Alice called looking for RJ. Since I had told Barry my plans, and that if he was going to ignore them, he should call Alice. He didn’t call her. Pfft!!!

So I arrived at Zellie’s on time. He wasn’t there yet. He was late by almost 15 minutes. Typical. So I took a moment to pick a spot, off in the corner, and to joke with Wendy, the owner. I told her that Barry was on his way, and that we were going to use her pub, as our “neutral ground”. She asked if there was going to be blood. I said, “That would depend on his attitude.” The staff was great, as usual. They know us, they know that we have gotten a divorce, they know that my Daddy and Barry still have lunches there.

Once he got there, he ordered. I ordered. We had separate checks. A first. Ever. Not even when we were dating did we ever have separate checks. I just didn’t to get held up with owing his check, as well. I also didn’t want to have him holding it over my head, that he paid for my California Chicken Wrap. I didn’t see him leave any tip though, so I left one, enough for both of us.

We sat there for about 90 minutes. He told me about Pop, which will have to be another journal. My heart is just too heavy to talk about it right now. 😦

We talked about the plans for the children this summer. He had mentioned in the past, that he was offered a week’s stay at a beach condo, for the summer. I just want to know when he will be doing this. Or any other plans that he wants, to take the kids beyond his normal weekends. Our summer agreement is the same as, our school agreement. The kids live with me during the week, and he had them every other weekend. They can choose to spend time together, any day, after school, before I get home from work.

This has not changed. I have never told the kids that they couldn’t go and see their dad. I told him that if he wants them, he is going to have to make more of an effort. I keep telling the kids that if they want to see him, they can go there right after school every day. The children are the ones, who claim that its too far to walk over there. So I told Barry, you should just meet the bus. Invite them over. Pick them up. I have also, allowed him to take the kids, even when it was my weekend with them. I have allowed him to take them for over a week at a time, when it was not his time. I have never told Barry, no you can’t see the kids. I pointed out to him these facts.

At one point he told me that I couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to not have my kids with me. Huh?! I told him, why do you think I make plans for going to Kelli’s, or CA, for the weekends when he has them. I want the kids, ALL of the time. I hate how freakishly, clean and quiet the house is on the weekends when they are with him. I told him that he was wrong, so very fucking wrong, to think that I had no idea what it was like to never see a child, that I bore out of my body. I reminded him, that I haven’t seen her since she was 4 hours old. He sat her silently, nodding, realizing his mistake.

We changed the subject, and talked about finances… and well, I’m not going to display them here publicially. That is just crass. I am fine. He knows what he owes me. What I owe him. We are in agreement. So there’s that.

In the end we left out separate doors. I let him know that I would be picking up the children, from their various locations. We ran down the list: “#1 is at home, 2 is at Cassie’s, 3 is at Alice’s, 4 is with Dan. I have got 4’s backpack in my place, come by and I’ll bring it out.” I think it was an odd thing for the couple sitting, near the bar, to watch. They must not have understood, based upon the looks on their faces. LoL

Today’s horoscope:

Your ego is solid, so you won’t be in need of validation from other people right now — which is very good! When the spotlight shines in your direction, you’ll have the urge to run away from it instead of towards it. Who needs all that attention when you’ll be much more satisfied with just watching other people do their thing? Getting away from the action feels good now, so do it. Fading into the background can be a lot more rewarding than standing center stage.

I have to say that this is sorta heads on right now. I was a bit worried last night, when the girls’ therapist called me back into her office. Even though I’ve been to therapy for myself, on and off, over the years, I was still nervous. I tried to remember that this wasn’t going to solve everything, that there was still work to be done.

So Debbie, and I sat down. She let me know that the next appointment -in 2 weeks- would be a joint session with all of the family. Well, by that she meant, just me and the kids. I asked her if this meant bringing Russell too. She seemed shocked that there was a 4th child. She’s still learning about us. lol After learning that he was only 7, she said that he could stay home for this one. But that there was an issue that needed to be brought up right away between the girls, including Bronwyn, and me.

As we talked, she learned more about me, about our family, about the divorce. She mentioned things to me like how this wasn’t easy for me, I’m Parent Mom, and that makes it all the worse for me. I told her that I knew it would be. I was prepared for that role, when I took it. I am of the mindset that I am their parent first, and friend second. That the word ‘friend’ isn’t in the top 3 coorlation words for a parent. It will be nice, when they are older, but right now, making sure that they know right from wrong, and how to tie their shoes, comes first. Keeping them safe, and teaching them how to make good choices is more important, than them liking me.

She said that they have no problems with their dad, because he is only partially there. He’s Fun Dad. He is not there for the hard stuff, and leaves that part up to me. He just has fun with them when he has too. A good example she said was when Barry didn’t show up for Rebecca’s U/S. That it was a scary thing, and she wanted her dad, and yet the person who got up, filled out the paperwork, drove Rebecca there, sat with her, and took her home, was Parent Mom. How he had promised to be there for her, but didn’t show up at all. Not at the beginning, nor during, and not even at the end. Not even late. Just didn’t bother to come at all.

I mentioned to Debbie of what I told Rebecca after the appointment. How I was doing what I always do, when it came to him, I made an excuse for the kids. I told Rebecca: “I’m really sorry that your dad wasn’t here. I’m sure that he wanted to be. I’m sure that there was a really good reason for him not showing up. I know that some emergency must have come up.” Then quickly told Debbie, that I corrected myself for the first time, admitting to Rebecca that what I just told her was a lie. “I’m sorry that’s not right. I don’t know why he didn’t come. There is no excuse.” Debbie was proud of me.

We talked about how I refuse to demean Barry to the kids. That I won’t tolerate them bad-mouthing him in front of me either. That I stress that they have to respect him, because he is their father. I wouldn’t allow it when we were married, and I keep that now, even though we are divorced. I am sure that Barry does not afford me the same courtesy. There were too many times when he would allow them to join-in, when he was verbally abusing me. She agreed with me.

There was talk about “The Fight”. That the event was a telling point, in the fact that all of the family members knows exactly what is being refered too, when the title is mentioned. She wants to talk as a group about that night, and a few other things. Like the fact that both of the girls seem to say the same things. They don’t trust.

They talk about how they think that I am lying to them. They say that I am keeping things from them now. They say that I don’t tell them everything anymore. I lie to them about my health, and don’t tell them about my doctor’s appointments. I lie to them about my friends, and don’t tell them when, who, and where I am going. I don’t tell them why I got a divorce from Barry.

I agreed with her that yes, in the past I used to answer every single question they ever had, every ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘who’, ‘what. I keep pointing out to them that I am not lying. I told her that I am learning to set boundaries. Especially with my financial things. I don’t think that they need to know that he is 2 months behind in his Child Support payments, and over $300 in medial reimbursements. There are things that they don’t need to know about my private life. But that my boundaries, are mainly due to the fact that I am not their friend, I am their parent. I am not going to explain what I do to them, each moment of every day; nor ask for their permission to take care of them.

As we talked, she mentioned things about her own single-parent days, and leaving her husband. That she got tired of the demeaning talk, and pushing, and shoving. I told her that is why I left Barry. She looked at me shocked. She said that knowing this filled in a whole lot of blanks for her. She said that she couldn’t understand why they would have such issues, both of them, even Bronwyn (who came, because Daphne wanted her to come too). Hence the 4 of us are going to have a Family Sit Down in her office, at our next visit.

She reassured me that I am not screwing up as badly as I think I have. That yes, damage was done. But that thankfully, they don’t still have memories of the things that Barry did to them. She said it was a blessing. But that we have to move forward, and show them that they can trust me. That they their mis-trust, mis-placed.

Good to know that there’s time to get them adulthood, with the best tools possible.

I have thought about last night’s journal entry. I guess I should be clear that while my first gratitude is that I AM. The second is for the Other Spirits.

Those wonderful and incredible people who I come into contact with in this life. For the ones who have flittered in and out like the ocean waves. For the ones from my childhood, teenage-angst, college, mommy-hood, and all of those “me”s that I used to be. For the ones who have stayed by my side, through all of the various stages of growth in my life. For the ones who gave up.

For the family members who are close to me enough to call and ask me how I am doing, and the ones that I only hear from when they are in town visiting the Mouse House. Or my parents. For the elders who came before and left me the most amazing stories of how we all became the family that we are. For the little ones who are blessing us with their births.

For the four (4) elder spirits that choose me to parent and care for them, as children, in their trip here. It has been my greatest honor to wipe your noses, kiss your booboos, change your diapers, feed you from my breasts, and teach you what I can. And for the (1) who allowed me to be to just be the vessel for her birth into existance.

For the boys, and men, whom I have been blessed to have known in my life. Those spirits who chose the firey male side of this exisistance. Those that gave me lessons in how to play poker, dance, kiss, and love. For the ones who broke my heart, and endured my learning how to break one. For those that forgave me, becoming much better friends in our older years. And the ones who couldn’t.

For the man that told me he loves me without condition. That who I am is enough. Has taught me that I am worthy of such a love. For knowing that in those moments of my own death and passing into a new exsistance, I will be able to say with conviction, that: In this life I was well and truely loved.

For my sisters, the blood one, whom came from the same DNA as my own body; and the ones that have walked around on this planet with me before. Those who have been, and are being, drawn back into our dance, together, again. And those that have danced back out, to start anew. Returning to the circle, time and time again.

This experience of life-as-a-human would be awfully dull and boring without the colors, variations, sounds, and fun of the Other Spirits.

12 hours from now I will have dropped Russell off at school. will be picking Barry up from our home, driven to the bank, asked for the notory, and sign the paperwork.

I have spent the last 12 hours explaining to our children what will be happening, agonized over how to tell my parents, cleaned my kitchen, bathroom, rotated and folded several baskets of laundry, cooked 2 meals, supervised Bronwyn’s playamates, ended 2 different arguements between the kids, journaled – and prayed.

I am so grateful for prayer.

Not the “Please God give me a new car” prayer/ Although I have done that and gotten it. Seriously. Ask me someday about my beige van and the importance of being specific.

My prayer tonight was one of thanksgiving. Yes, sort of like the holiday, but not as dramatic. Unless you think that sitting in front of a small bonfire in your backyard, while tossing pinches of tabacco, is dramatic.

I had to go out to the backyard today to settle an argument, that I could hear from the kitchen, over the sounds of the washer; and when walking through my Moon Garden, I realized how unkept it had become. How negligent I had become in its upkeep – and mine. So I pruned back some of the over growing vines that wanted to take over the western front, and piled up dead limbs in the south. When it dawned on me that tonight, while I’m in Moon, would be a good time to pray.

So I did. After things were settled from dinner, kitchen cleaned up, kids cleaned up, kids’ room’s cleaned up. I went outside to my Moon Garden. I layed down a soft blanket of blue. I pulled out my smudge shell. I saged the space, giving thanks for each of the 4 directions, the sun, the moon, and the earth, my brothers, my sisters, and all of My Relations. I smudged myself. Twice. I sat down and lit the fire.

I gave myself over to prayer. I thanked the small frog (renewal) that had come to sit with me. He stayed for a long time. Until some passing insect caught his attentions. He reminded me that this is a transition and that I will not be the same person at the end. Its a new beginning what I’m doing.

I felt so small in that moment. I shed my tears. I gave thanks for my life. Thanks for my children. Thanks for my home. For the fire. For the frong. For Barry.

I am thankful to Barry. For being exactly who he is. So that I can transform and become exactly who I need to be.

If he had been the perfect, loving, positive, giving, helpful, encouraging, supportive, man. I would not have found the courage, or the reasons for breaking away from him. I would not be standing on my own two legs, and walking the path that I need to go. I would be stuck here in this space with him, not growing. Dying.

I released my doubts. That this is the wrong thing to be doing. Asking instead to be filled with sureness, and knowing that I’m on the right path.

I released my fears: That I am hurting my children by doing this. Asking to be filled with healing and the strength to help them each step of the way.

I invisioned my life – the future of my home – my children. That the building I’m sitting in will become a place of joy, laughter, gentle communications, supportive help, and loving encouragement. That the veil of negativity and distain will seep out of it, and float gently away.

I gave thanks for the building, the shed, the pool, the gazebo, the Moon garden, and the fir pit. For the financial, emotional, and physical support that would always be there for us. For the food that would fill our bellies. For the blankets that would keep us warm. For the clothes on our backs, and the shoes on our feet. For this way of praying.

And that the wood pile would never go empty.

(edited to add: Its been raining while I was writing this. I saw a couple of flashes in the southern sky while I was sitting and praying. Even a few fat splats of rain. I thought, just a few more please. I took them. Then another flash and a clap of thunder.
I could hear Mother Earth’s voice saying: Hurry up Otter. I cannot keep them contained much longer. If you don’t go now, you will get soaked. Don’t worry about arranging things in your bag. Pick it up and Move!”
Sure enough. 1 foot in the door and bam! Down came the rain.
I love the Earth Mother. I am so grateful that I was smart enough to listen to her speaking to me this night.)

Its the 1st Friday of the month…. and I’m excited.

At first this whole idea of being ‘kicked out’ of my own home for the weekend – with the children in tow – sucked. Barry was comlaining of never getting any time to himself. Which is available every day when the kids are at school and I’m at work. But somehow doesn’t count, because we come home too early in the day for him to feel alone. Hmpf!

None of us wanted to pack up and leave our house just so that he could be selfish. Wouldn’t it have been easier for him to leave the house – go somewhere – get away? This is what other people do when they want a break. But not Barry. He’s got to have it the difficult way. I used to resent it – I hated it. The kids hated that we had to leave for him.

Now though, even the kids look forward to our monthly campouts at Johnson Manor. They are packed and ready to go the moment I get home from work today. (*Just waiting on Daphne to get off of the school bus*) I look forward to getting to sleep on the ground. To enjoy good potlucks that are mostly vegan. To sit and chat with my sisters. Learn from my grandmothers. Not to mention, getting to sit in prayer with my community in the sweat lodge. Its like a montly mini-sister-weekend.

Having the family van back though has been a huge help. I was making do with the smaller car, seats the 5 of us, and there are ways to pack a trunk to fit everything. You just have to ‘smoosh’ more. Now we can pack up the night before, and not worry about anyone accidently sitting on the potluck dish.

This time I’m taking some wood to donate to the sweat lodge fire. We have a lot of wood. And there’s no since in keeping it all for ourselves. A few pieces gone won’t kill us, when we are just using it for prayer and family time. So I had Rebecca help me pack some of that up too.

I think that one of the reasons the girls are more ‘into’ it is that they each have their own tents now. Well Rebecca, and Daphne do. They have to put them up, take them down, and be completely responsible for them. Although, Daphne has Bronwyn sleep in hers with her. Just like they do at home.

RJ still beds down with me, in the smaller ‘family’ tent. Its supposed to sleep 4 – and I’ve done it with 3 of the kids + me; but generally we use it on family camping trips with just Barry and I in it. Lots of room to put things the kids don’t want to store in their own tents. I wonder what will happen the next time we all go as a family, with Rebecca n Daphne each having their own tent. Usually its 2 tents… 1 for kids – 1 for Dad nd Mom. Hmmmmm.

Oh well, we’ll worry about that another time. We are heading out now – luxary camping. Because not only do we have hot showers, and indoor plumbing – but we also have use of a whole real kitchen… no campfire burnt chili.