Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Let This Be My Prayer

 Mad Agnes


Let This Be My Prayer

                                By A. Jones


Let this be my prayer today

May I be easy in my heart

Let me see a clearer way

If I can heal then let me start


If I should love let love return

to this dark and silent space

where I have learned to count these hours

between the done and rising days


    Let this be my prayer today

    World of sorrow, wash away

    Let this be my prayer

    Let this be my prayer


Help me hold my loves ones close

And when their time comes, let them go

Knowing they’re not lost or gone

But, like me, just moving on


Let time and weather not lay waste

the beauty of this changing face

Give me wisdom as I see

the things that never more will be




When I am locked and cannot speak

Let that silence set me free

If once I give this heart to break

Let the one I love love me


Rooms of splendor in my house

Though I stand sad and lost without

There is untold joy within

Open, gates, and let me in

Open, gates, and let me in.


                      - Mad Agnes, from the Magic Hour


This song has been making me cry, in agood way, on and off all week. You can find Mad Agnes at thier site MadAgnes.com, and learn how beautiful their harmonies actually are.

Blessings, Margo

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Featued Again, For Chrinic Pain!

I figured I had had my 15 minutes of AOL fame when I was featured on keyword Gay and Lesbian, but apparently it was only seven and a half minutes, because I seem to have been given another few minutes of fame at AOL keyword Health Community. There I am holding Roxy! I seem to have become momentary queen of chronic pain, and I am getting comments, e-mails and IMs from any number of people. I am both touched and overwhelmed.


Many people want to talk about their frustration with the medical system, in general, and methods of pain relief in particular. I have googled around in a very cursory manner on chronic pain, and have discovered we who live in pain in J-Land are not alone-70 million people face chronic pain daily. Most of us are under medicated, not over medicated, by doctors who are not up on today’s standards in pain care. And lots of doctors really don’t care. They are quick to blame psychological problems. I want to shout back. Yeah, who wouldn’t be depressed if they live in pain?!? It’s the PAIN that’s the primary problem-have YOU ever lived with chronic pain!?! I have begun asking my doctors this question, so far, none of them have.


I feel blessed because I like my primary care physician, who keeps referring me out to specialists in an attempt to figure out what’s wrong. And I have a pain clinic. I may not like that doctor as much, and they are really overworked (because there are so few pain clinics in the area), but I have never felt belittled or judged as faking it there, and they give me medication that helps. I am glad I demanded a referral from my orthopedist, who, unable to see my whole medical picture, kept prescribing meds bad for my kidneys, one right after another.


I have learned that this is a long and arduous journey, and those of us who start out as sissies had better toughen up, fast, and become demanding bitches if we really need help. It is shameful that this is so. I have learned that chronic pain separates you from your previous world in a way that is incomprehensible to those who don't have it, and because it often doesn't "show" people get tired of your limitations. I get tired of them, too. Many of us feel suicidal at some point or another, and somedays getting out of bed is simply impossible. Hopelessness lives just on the other side of the bedroom door, and sometimeds it is better to stay put, with the covers over our heads.


I have also learned how helpful most people who live in pain are. I appreciate the outpouring of suggestions, the promise of prayers and support and even the pleas for help I have been receiving. The light of hope flickers through each message. I wish I could offer more than sincere thanks for the concern and care out there. It makes me feel supported on this unasked for journey I am trying to embrace. Thank you all.


Blessings, Margo


picture "Chronic Pain" from:  www.eccoblue.org/ abstract.htm

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The river flows

This is a very odd time in my life. One day I’m down and out, the next I am crawling back, and the day after I feel okay, only to fall back into the pits again. This is not meant as a complaint, either, just an observation. I well remember this time last year when I was still sleeping in my recliner, dealing with sharp, serious, relentless pain, getting up only to use the bathroom and do physical therapy, needing to ask for ice water and help putting my legs up.


Back then, I expected to fully recover and go back to prison. Now I am working on living day by day, accepting the ups and downs, looking around for what life will bring me next. Life seems in no great hurry, however. I am reminded of the phrase I took on at another bad patch in my life:


Don’t push the river; it’s already flowing by itself.


I picture myself standing thigh high in the Tobyhanna River (my favorite river, in the Poconos), happily being pulled downstream by the rushing current, content to let Her take me where She will. This takes place in mid summer, of course, and I am warm and sure footed! That’s the good thing about memories. I will take what the Goddess offers.


Saturday was the Fourth Annual Neighborhood Olympics. Now, the members of the US Olympic team have nothing to worry about, but we do it up proudly, complete with the younger athletes (all available neighborhood kids) marching down the street, carrying the flag, into Jaime’s yard, followed by the National Anthem and  the dedication of the games to all those serving in Iraq, especially the cops and firemen. Then, with all due ceremony, we light the torch (a tiki torch from someone’s backyard), and the Games begin.


Since remnants of Ivan had blown through earlier in the day, we had a somewhat shortened version this year. Usually we start at 1pm with a pie eating contest-one for kids, one for adults, then have lots of kids games, with prizes like candy and small toys, and versions of the same games for adults, minus the prizes. Some games are mixed, adults and kids, and then we move on to other yards for bocce, croquet, and end with an hysterical game of volleyball, one street against the other. All this is followed by a cook out and community meal. Those of us who are not athletic watch and cheer.


This year, under a windy sky, in Jamie’s cold, after-the-rain-soggy yard, we persevered, 41 of us, kids and adults, with kids’ games, volleyball. a bit of bocce, followed by the meal-as always lots and lots of good food. We ended with fireworks, set off by Rene, Joey and Joe. They were wonderful! Our next big neighborhood get together will be our After-Christmas-Is-Over Progressive Dinner.


Have I said that I live in the best neighborhood in the world?  We know each others kids' names, and everybody’s dogs, and it is okay for the younger ones to leave their bikes by the side of the road.(The Younger kids, not dogs!) We are all so nosey about each others goings on that a stranger doesn’t have a chance down here. All this, and old houses, and a view of a river. I am blessed by where I live, and truly appreciate it.


Autumn helps. Today is the Equinox, and though we have tipped over towards darkness as the days get shorter, I got a spurt of energy and called the local women’s center. I’m to try babysitting there one evening a week, while one of the groups meet. I also stopped over to see how Glenn, my personal trainer, is coming along with his new studio. The equipment is due to arrive momentarily, so soon I’ll go back to working out- something I actually hate, but have sort of missed this last month. Funny how that is. I guess I really miss Glenn who, after almost a year of my working out, has become a member of my extended family.


Perhaps the river is flowing a little more smoothly, at least for a day or two. On the good days I can feel my feelings flowing like Tobyhanna, sometimes smooth and quiet, sometimes blocked by debris, sometimes pouring joyfully around rocks and over stone, looking for expression and freedom. And I am grateful.


Blessings, Margo


picture of the Tobyhanna River from https:/.../Tobyhanna_eq/ tobyhanna_final.html

Friday, September 17, 2004

Getting Up

Falling Woman Statue

I spent part of this morning crying in my attorney’s office. Not while he was in the room, of course, I don’t know him well enough to accept any attempt to make me feel better. It just struck me all of a sudden, that I am 55 years old and disabled. Yesterday I applied for social security disability, today I was discussing the possibility of disability retirement with my lawyer; it all seemed rather surreal.


Now, I know I am no more handicapped today than I was last week, when I was happily basking in my15 minutes of lesbian fame in J-Land. The pain is no worse, the exhaustion hasn’t changed, the brain fog that I struggle with is the same. Nothing has changed but my perception of my self. I simply stumbled over the edge of a concept, and fell again. This time flat on my face into misery.


I know lots of disabled people who get along just fine. Hey, I married to one, for Goddesses sake. My mother has one arm and I never realized until I was an adult that I grew up in “a handicapped household.” (The truth is, of course, that the household handicap was really emotional, not physical, but that’s another story.) I know people who have overcome incredible obstacles, and would never consider themselves handicapped. I ought to know better than to label myself.


Surely my working life is not over. Because I was a SAHM, so I didn’t even start that work-for-pay thing until I was forty and divorced. After 15 years, I finally had something of a career going, a state job, no less, with a good paycheck that enabled me to have a real savings account for the first time since the divorce. And I actually loved parts of what I was doing. What more could I want? (Besides less paperwork and more money, of course)


Sometimes I second guess myself and question my own experience. If I only tried harder, I’d be okay to work. A little pain? So what, just keep slogging forward. Brain fog? Find a job that requires no thinking. Exhaustion? Join the world, we’re a sleep deprived nation. Depression? Snap out of it! Just stop Dwelling!


Well, I do know I am somewhat dis-abled. I am not able to do a lot of things I could before. But despite being a cup-always-half-empty depressive, I do have some resources. I stumbled out of the attorney’s office and sat in my car. First I cried some more (I seem to do an inordinate amount of crying in my car these days), then I took stock.


I had asked the lawyer if I could at least volunteer some place, and he said yes,for a few hours a week. I decided to call the local women’s center on Monday. Then I drove to a small, very local Farmers’ Market and bought myself some flowers. From there I went to our local BBW clothing store and bought bits of a fall wardrobe I don’t need, spending money I can’t really afford. Retail therapy is not something I indulge in often, but it can be helpful. I began to feel better.


I am actually quite well off, if not financially. I have house to come home to, and Rene waiting inside the house. I have a great neighborhood to be out of work in, and it is my favorite time of year. I have friends and a support system, online and off. And I get to go on living, even if life is difficult at times. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but then who does? Life is always lived without assurances.


Whatever the lesson I am supposed to be learning from all this, I will keep on keeping on. Tomorrow I may fall off the edge into the oblivion of permanent depression. Today I tripped over a concept and got back up.


Blessings, Margo

Monday, September 13, 2004

Ordinary Lesbian, Featured

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>

From Deborah, at:Confessions of a Lateblooming Lesbian

“If you go onto AOL, Keyword: Gay & Lesbian, up pops a pic of Pres. Bush.  Click on the number 2 under the photo and up will come a pic of ... Ta Da ... Me!  There is also a link to this journal and two others.  I hope it encourages more gay folks to start and read journals.”   (as of Monday, it's the 1st page-Margo)

Hey, guess what? I am one of the other journals AOL includes!  Debbie was cool as a cucumber about being featured; I am very excited! There are a lot of journals written by lesbians out there and I am proud to have been picked, along with Debbie and Darla.( Simple everyday thoughts of a lesbian) I like being in the company of “everyday lesbians doing everyday things.”

I cannot speak for the other two, but for me being in a relationship with a woman is only one of the interesting things about my life. I have my coming out story, as do most of us, and may tell it here someday, but I have lots of other interesting stories to tell, too. I am a mother, a friend, an HIV Counselor and Educator, a supporter of women’s rights, a murder mystery addict, a slob, a pagan, a tax-payer, a neighbor, a home owner, depressive, struggling to heal, a member of several diverse communities, a lesbian and a lot more. To me, it all feels quite ordinary.

I like that I can think of myself as ordinary;  times have changed a lot in the 15 or so years since I came out. It seems amazing that we have moved from the Stonewall Riots to everyday lesbians (and gays, of course) in less than 35 years. Of course our freedom to be regular people in the eyes of at least some of the world has been hard won, and at times seems precarious today.

This world is not always accepting of those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. There are still rights we don’t have, and powerful politicians who are working very hard to make sure we never do. ( Small plug: please vote with a variety of issues in mind, thoughtfully.) There are people- some of whom are good, church going Christians- who hate me without even knowing who I am. There are people who live in my own community who don’t "approve of my lifestyle choices." (I want to ask them when they chose to be heterosexual, but that's another story.) And there are kids who are unsafe at school because of their orientation, whether it be perceived or real. And much, much more.  All this seems very odd to me, living my humdrum, suburban life.

I feel as if I have been one of the lucky ones. When I came out, when I marched on Washington for GLBT rights, when I wept over the Quilt stretched from one end of the Mall to the other, when Rene and I had our Ceremony of Commitment, my job was not at stake, nor was my life. This has not been true for many who have lost everything-including freedom and life-for being who they are. And we can never forget the holocaust of AIDS which took so many bright lights from our midst, nor the activists who, in  anger and deseperation, brought both the disease, and our way of life, out of the closet and into the light of day.

This everyday lesbian feels a debt of gratitude for all who have gone before, so I can have the freedom to be ordinary, to keep an on-line journal, to have a place in J-Land, and in the world at large. I hope this small featuring of three journals will lead others to do join me, both in life and in journaling, because there is a richness in the freedom I now tend to take for granted.

Blessings, Margo

:)picture of two "ordinary lesbians" from:uk.geocities.com/our_ celtic_hearts/art/05.htm


Saturday, September 11, 2004


 Picture from HometownToday is my 55th birthday, and as always I am grateful to be alive. Ten years ago last week I had open heart surgery, and I don’t believe my doctors gave me 10 years to live at the time. Ha, fooled them all!


Open heart surgery at 44 is a sobering experience, or should be, but in some ways it was freeing. I had always been afraid of death, and I discovered then that it is not death I’m afraid of, it’s dying. Big difference, truly


I am not thrilled about the process of dying at all- our culture treats dying badly, with secrecy and panic and extraordinary “treatments” meant to prolong dying, not enable living well until the end. In fact, I’d rather skip the dying part all together.


But having looked at death fairly closely, I realize that I am no longer afraid of being dead. My belief system centers around life tasks. We are given one or two life tasks when we enter the word, and we work on them on and off our whole lives. When we die, we somehow continue, with the same tasks- especially if we have not been able or willing to work on them in this life- or we get new tasks to do. For me, this explains why I seem to have worked on the same spiritual and emotional issues in so many ways and forms, over so many years, from so many angles and so differently during the various stages of my life.


This has become a bittersweet day. How can anyone let the day go by without remembering the terrible loss of life on 9/11/01? The horror of that day will stay with us forever, and with it, the horror of the wars that have now spun out of control as a response to this act of terrorism. There are some things we can never understand, just mourn.


As I have said before, I choose to continue to celebrate my

birthday on the 11th because not to would be to give the terrorists a piece of my life I am unwilling to yield. So why am I meditating on death? Well, actually, I’m not, really. As I said earlier I am thankful to She who has claimed me that I am 55 and still learning and growing and changing!


I know my big present, because it is sitting on the couch- a new printer, one that will actually work! Plus, we gave each other half a digital camera last weekend, and I will soon be able to post pictures- I am so excited! I already have the software installed; now all I have to do is figure out how to move them from my documents to my journal. And how to actually take a picture I want to post! (Just a note: We each gave the other half of the same camera, lest you are thinking about us wandering around with half a camera!)


My other big present will come later- I won a Judith HeartSong torch! (Judith HeartSong)I am so excited, I can hardly stand it. Her creativity and openness and courage and ability to love and share are quite inspiring, and I am thrilled to receive such a gift. It comes at a good time, too, perhaps to light my way as I work on how to continue to live and grow despite pain and depression. Often the universe does provide what we need if we are open to it.


Tonight, we celebrate at a local Greek festival, with good friends and baklava- what more could I ask for on a birthday?


Many Blessings to all,



torch by Judith HeartSong, of course!

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Change of Season

Autumn is by far my favorite time of year. (At least until Spring arrives after the long Winter.) For me Fall always seems like the beginning of the year. Perhaps because my birthday is soon, and certainly because the school year is indelibly burned into my consciousness, it always brings starting over, beginning new endeavors, perhaps even a minute burst of energy in my otherwise generally energy-less life.


I know that Autumn Equinox will be on us soon, a time of Balance, when the world is poised to tip towards darkness, days growing shorter, light fading faster, night coming sooner, cold drawing nearer, yet still I love the season. For pagans, it is the celebration of Mabon, the time of the second harvest, when vegetables like pumpkins, potatoes, onions and other winter staples are ripe for harvest, and we celebrate a time of plenty, before the dimming of the light.


Rene and I chose to have our Ceremony of Commitment on the Autumn Equinox, a fitting time for two late middle aged women to take each other on as partners in life, we thought. Ours is not a spring-time union, but one meant to warm us through the autumns and winters of our lives. (I plan to be a thorough Crone before I die, and Rene says, I don’t get the Crone thing, but that’s a whole other entry)


My birthday is September 11th, another day that will live in infamy, and I deliberately choose to celebrate it anyway. To do any differently would be to give up a bit of my self to the terrorists, and I refuse to do so. The day, however, is forever marked by the memory of the towers going down, and the terrible loss of life. Somethings are too hard to understand.


So Autumn brings melancholy with her as she settles in, but she also brings chrysanthemums in Mabon colors- reds and oranges and golds and russets – and the riot of fall colors which creep slowly down New England from Maine, arriving in full glory towards the end of October with colors which outshine the mums   I realized how atypical a Virgo I am one year while sitting on the ground, drunk with the pleasure of being at one with the litter of leaves around me; I seem to thrive in chaos, not neatness.


It is the season to sit in the hot tub and let the wind blow swirls of leaves off the trees, a time to wear socks with my birkenstocks, to wear jackets on my daily hobbles, to have fires in the fireplace, and sleep with the windows open, under quilts. And this year I will actually have a quilt!


I know that it will also be a season of continued doctors’ appointments, pain meds, and struggle with body and spirit, but a new season brings a breath of hope for continued change. I’ll take it.


Blessings, Margo


picture from:


Monday, September 6, 2004

And She said to me

And She said to me


“Go inwards”


And I said, “No, I don’t think so, I’ve gotten used to it here. I really have. I’ve been there in the past, and it is too long a trip. I really need to take a nap because my back hurts, and I didn’t sleep well last night, and I have a doctor’s appointment and maybe tomorrow…”


“Go inwards.”


And I take a deep breath and go inwards, spiraling down into darkness. Around and down, around and down, around and down into the grave/womb beneath the Great Tree of Life.


Deep into the darkness where the Mother Bear hibernates to give birth to her young, to gather strength to protect them when she wakes.


Deep into the darkness where the snake sheds her skin to emerge new and strong and shining.


Deep into the darkness where I lie naked alone and shivering with cold, moaning, tears flowing first awkwardly, then freely down my face and onto my breast, running off my nipples like milk.


Slowly, the cold seeps away and I warm up, warmer, warmer, warmer until I’m steaming, sweating, frying, screaming, screaming..


And suddenly She reaches out and offers one caress, across my soul, and I can Be again.


I rise slowly, climbing the spiral, up and around, up and around, up and around, until I emerge, new skin drying, blinking blindly into the light of a new day.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

Inching along

Well, this has been a difficult week. My doctors’ appointments were not helpful, my shoulder still hurts despite the cortisone shot, which has caused an on and off low grade fever. My wrist, which my soon- to- be-gone orthopedist says has only mild carpal tunnel changes, has been worse, and I’ve been fighting with both Rene and Meg, my daughter.


Life sucks, and then you die, as a college friend of mine used to say.


Depression-I’ve suffered from it my whole life. Mine is the kind with rumination. Off meds, I spend an inordinate amount of time going over and over negative scenarios in my head, replaying dialogue endlessly, nursing black anger, while my anxiety level rises until it leaks out my ears and I blow up over a nothing comment from some poor unsuspecting family member. It is not a pretty sight, nor a nurturing way to live. I stay on my meds very carefully.


The earliest memory of depression/anxiety was when I was only 6 or 7, unable to sleep at night, waiting for the fire sirens to herald the end of the world in a nuclear holocaust. I knew by then that duck and cover wasn’t going to cut it if the Russians let their bombs fly. Another bout hit in boarding school, when I was 15 or so. Their solution was to send me home for a mono test. When that was negative, I was sent back to live in hopelessness for the rest of the year. I had no clue why I felt so sad and lost- I just kept stuffing thought of suicide down and muddled onward.


Now I can trace depression back through the women in my family to my great grandmother, who was born in the 1860’s. My maternal grandmother, my mother, me, my sister, her son, probably Meg, as well, all struggling with the dark clouds which roll in and take over and then, eventually, lift and move farther away. Alas, the time frame between onset and lifting can be months or even years. My experience of the worst depression is that of being at the bottom of a deep, dank well, up to my neck in cold, dark water, looking ‘way, ’way up to the small hole at the top with grey clouds scuttling by in a dark sky. I have spent more time than I care to admit down there.


I do not have to go there anymore-thanks to meds and good therapists over the years- but every time I go into a decline of sorts, I harbor a lingering fear that this will be the time I descend and am unable to rise.


There have been a lot of declines this last year, and some real periods of darkness to crawl through. This seems to be one of them.  But crawl I do. I can’t quite figure out where my tenacity comes from. Maybe this is all part of the changes I say I want to embrace. I will get up no matter how many times it is necessary. I will return to physical therapy, no matter how much it hurts, no matter what my insurance company says. I will demand a diagnosis from doctor after doctor until I get one. I will go back on my diet and lose weight. I will go into counseling with Rene (something we’ve been planning to do since spring).


Lots of good resolutions, but change is more than resolutions, it’s doing the damned things I natter on about. And I am soooooo tired of hauling my large bod uphill on two knees and one arm. I will, of course. What kind of options do I have? Sitting on my dung heap and cursing god is way too christian for me. A lot of this came to me the other night after I dragged my bed across the room so I could take a moonbath. I lay basking in Her light and realized that while I want to leap and dance while embracing change, I seem to be grumping and whining my way along this path I choose to take. But I am still inching forward. For this I thank Goddess.


Thank you all for listening.


Blessings, Margo


Pic from: lynativerse.artchicks.org/ School.htm

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Fare Thee Well, Elsewhere

Today I saw Dr. K., my orthopedist of record, the very young, very good surgeon who has no sense of the person behind the body part. I have said before that I don’t like him, but I very much like his two partners who have operated on both Rene and me in the past.  Today he gave me bad news and good news. The bad news was that the next step really had to be a cortisone shot, the good news is he’s leaving the practice!


It really was our first good office visit. I asked him the questions I had and made him give me info clearly and in human speak (as opposed to doctor speak). I even asked him if he had ever struggled with so much as short term chronic pain, and he looked a bit abashed and admitted he has never really know much pain in his life- not a surprise. After surgery he took me off meds way too soon, and so I demanded a referral to a Pain Clinic-the beginnings of our difficult relationship. I even sounded sincere when I wished him luck in the future! I truly wish him no ill, but I hope at some point he’ll have to be a patient -he needs the learning experience.


The cortisone shot in my shoulder hurt like hell, and I used all my breathing techniques not to scream or cry. They were hard learned tecniques, in a veritable crucible of pain, but help a lot.  The shot  turned my arm numb because of both short and long acting numbing agents combined with the cortisone. By the time I got home I had a fever, and I now have a whopping headache. Nasty stuff, cortisone, and I had been putting it off all summer, but I finally got  so desperate that even the 18 hours of the numbing agent sounded good to me. And, indeed, my shoulder does hurt somewhat less. We’ll see as timegoes on…



Of course, along with the good news of his leaving comes the reality for the practice, which is stretched to the max already. They don’t even have a schedule for six weeks from now- hope they can come up with a good hand/arm man quickly. I need one.



Not sure where I will be going from here medically, but plan to coast through the next few days waiting to see if the shot works. Take care of yourselves.


Blessings, Margo