Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Catching Up

It's been 8 months since I've had consistent access to the internet. If I hadn't filed bankruptcy I still couldn't afford the access, but my return to work along with a great deal with my ISP have made it possible for me to once again be connected via the world wide web. Living without an internet connection has probably been the most difficult thing to deal with since I went from being middle-class, to poor, to very poor over the past few years. I resume using the internet with a new appreciation of how we use our technology or our technology uses us. A certain mindfulness is required in order to not get sucked into the frivolous and meaningless. The most important aspects of the internet to me personally are the access to real news and the ability to find and make connections to community . . . and I ain't talking facebook here. I have especially missed participating with my blogging community and am looking forward to catching up and seeing who's been up to what.

On that note, I've been eager to read the entirety of Chani's blog and I started today. For those who don't know, Chani was a friend of mine and many others in our blogging community. She passed away unexpectedly on March 23rd of this year. I'm not sure exactly when I began reading Chani's blog, but it was quite a while after she started it and I don't usually read back on blogs. Reading Chani's blog from start to finish is a way for me to honor a friend I never met in person, but who made a tremendous contribution to my life with her authenticity and loving friendship. I believe Chani's community called her home and I hope she realized how far she had come in creating community for herself here. I am a better person for having known Chani. She started writing in September of 2006 and I resonate emphatically with much of what she wrote then. Like this:

I began to read. I took in ideas the way a thirsty person takes in fresh water. I was hungry for ideas beyond my immediate reach, for things that would link me somehow to this odd world which I perceived as being so unreachable. Where were others like me, others who had a non-aggressive, non-competitive approach to life? Where were those for whom western culture was little more than soul-sucking? Where could I go that wasn't reduced to a glorified marketplace? The religions I investigated wanted to either pick my pocket or force me into a box that wouldn't fit. Inevitably, parts of me would begin falling out the sides and I would lose my new community.

I'm still working at the ranch store. I moved from being a cashier in the main store to the clothing department. I don't get as many hours but the job is doable without creating the intense anxiety that leads to panic attacks, emotional meltdowns and generally feeling like total shit. It was hard for me to ride the whole thing out; it was questionable whether I would continue working there and I was humiliated and embarrased by the panic attacks. But now that I've moved departments, I'm glad I hung in there and stayed humble and willing. I don't believe this mental state will last forever. I'm working my way out of it since I went to treatment, but it's slow.

After much consideration and discussion with my mental health doc, I decided to discontinue the anti-d I had been taking since Feb/09 when I was hospitalized. I have decided to use St. John's Wort for depression and valerian for anxiety while working on a cleaner, healthier lifestyle in general. Healthy food, exercise and sunshine are hard to beat. I became allergic to wheat this past winter and have notched up what was already a pretty healthy diet. I've begun making my own body care and home-cleaning products in moving towards a goal of getting off petroleum-based living. Peggy and I are harvesting mixed greens and herbs while we await the carrots, tomatoes, squash, strawberries, peas, beets and spuds. I'm eating pansies, nastursiums and dandelion greens. I've come to think of the way Brent and I eat as "rustic." Whole foods, good ingredients, lots of garlic, onion and pepper, herbs and spices, olive oil. It occurs to me I've developed a lot of skills learning to live well on much, much less. It occurs to me we're all going to have to learn those skills. It isn't easy, but it can be done.

Yeah, I still believe civilization is collapsing and I believe things are going to go from bad to worse. But I've stopped bargaining and raging and started accepting. Of course I know I will bargain and rage again. The good thing is I no longer think that response is pathological. I think it's pathological to refuse to see and accept reality, but that's what addiction is all about really. We're all addicted to oil-based living and we're all going to get to go cold-turkey, detox and hopefully come out the other side a bit better for it. Two books helped me a lot with moving into acceptance: Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Collapse by Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. and The Little Book of Letting Go by Hugh Prather.

I promise you and myself one thing as I resume blogging: no censorship. It may be hard for some people to believe that I've censored myself in my writing here, but I have. I won't anymore.

It's good to be back.


Sherri said...

The first thing I'm going to do when civilization goes to hell is find you. That way you can teach me how to live off the land, if I haven't already figured it out. :) Actually, I've been making my own way toward healthier living thanks to my fragrance allergy. It's slow going, though, getting everyone else in the family on board.

I'm glad to see you back.

Olivia said...

So good to see you, Angela. I think we can always peel back another layer and be less censored, more authentic. It's a lifelong journey, at least for me.

I am glad you're reading Chani's blog beginning to end. I did that myself to feel closer to her.

Today it has been 3 months to the day since she died.

Life goes on, and I will never forget her. I don't think that anyone else will ever "see" me so thoroughly, the way she did. I still miss her so much. It sort of hurts that life goes on, in a way, doesn't it?

I will look forward as always to your posts. I'm glad that you have Internet access now. I still haven't gotten back to blogging myself but expect to soon.

Love, O

Anonymous said...

Hi Ang

Good to see you back. A number of us here in the Third World are part of the Derrick Jensen forum and I do recommend you read Jensen's Endgame.

Love Caroline Baker's work.

Hugs to you

Mary LA

Rick Hamrick said...

Angela, I'm heartened to read of your successes in patience and self-nurture as you learn what you can do with your present circumstances.

Civilization collapse aside, your focus on eating in a way which honors your insides (and your insides are connected to your outside!) is marvelous. My wife and I have been much healthier this year thanks, in part, to a better eating plan.

You have walked a difficult path, Angela, and I hope you are able to find some smooth stretches now.

julesgp187 said...

Welcome back!! ((((Angela)))

Great post - I will check out the books mentioned.