Posted by: julia
on Mar 25, 2017
Not that I always make excuses for not blogging as a way to start a blog entry (ok, fine, so maybe I do), but I haven’t had much time or spoons for blogging this past month or so, because I’ve been so busy going to various community events. Over President’s Day weekend our family went to DunDraCon (a gaming con with lots of roleplaying games that we’ve been going to pretty consistently since 2009), and then the week after that I went to Pantasia (a handpan gathering that I went to for the first time last year). Then a couple weeks after that I went out to Stinson Beach for a writing retreat and then to FOGcon (a writer’s con that I’ve also been going to since its inception in 2010, with the exception of last year during my chemo treatments). Going to three different big events which correspond to three different identities for me (and which represent three different communities I belong to) has gotten me thinking about how being a member of multiple communities has been a constant refrain in my life. And since this is my solipsistic playground, it made me want to write a blog post about it. So here are some thoughts about being multi-communal (is that even a word? It is now.)
Without going into too much analysis of what makes a community (a group of people organized around similar interest and/or activity) or what counts as community involvement (going to events, participating together in activities, talking about said activities, getting to know people in some amount of depth even outside the shared activities), I’ll say that I participate in and feel like a member of the following communities:
- SFF writers/readers
- Burners (and specifically my Pink Heart “PHamily”
- Handpan players
- Dickens Faire participants (and specifically Paddy West)
- Rodef Sholom congregants (and these days, specifically the Chevra Kadisha and the Board of Directors)
- Dixie District parents
(There are other events I regularly participate in; in addition to regular friends and family events and holidays, there are gaming cons, Maker Faire, Edwardian Ball—this one is kind of a mashup of the Faire and Burner communities for me—book group, etc. There are also groups I am loosely a member of: high school/college alumnae, Appleberry/Marinwood neighborhood, Marin School parents, etc, but these aren’t quite at the level of community for me yet. I feel fondness for the people who participate in those activities or are members of those same groups, but I don’t feel like they are “family” in the same way as I feel the others are. And yes, “family” is a whole other round of definition that I’m going to dodge here.)
Posted by: julia
on Feb 10, 2017
I’ve been thinking a lot about Spoon Theory lately, which made me realize I’d never talked about it here on Parentheticals. For those who don’t know, Spoon Theory is a metaphor used by the disability community to explain what it feels like to have a limited amount of energy available for basic tasks of daily living and how it is more difficult to replace or regenerate that energy if one is dealing with a disability or chronic illness than it would be for others. (A “spoon” in this metaphorical sense just refers to “a unit of energy”, not an actual eating implement.) People use this metaphor to express various ideas about having energy, running out of energy, safeguarding one’s energy, spending one’s energy, etc. So one might say, for example, “I wish I could go out to that event tonight, but I am all out of spoons.” Or, “It took almost all my spoons just to shower and get dressed today.” Or, “I used all my spoons up yesterday and I don’t have enough back to do that today.”
When I was going through the active phase of my cancer treatments, with all the chemotherapy and surgeries, I was definitely much more spoon-deprived than I was used to being. Of course it made sense that all the difficult physical demands of killing cancer cells and re-sculpting my body would take a lot of spoons, and it was not surprising that I found I needed to hoard my spoons and spend them only (or at least mostly) on self-care and recovery activities (however broadly or personally defined those activities may have been in my specific case).
But then I got better, and after a while the physical demands eased and I found my spoons didn’t run out so fast. I found I could go back to spending my spoons on activities and projects besides self-care and daily living, like I had been used to doing. So of course, I did. And I’m happy to report that physically, my stamina and spoon supply seems to be nearly back to normal. (If I had to estimate, I’d say I’m at about 85-90%.)
Posted by: julia
on Jan 14, 2017
It’s taken me a couple extra weeks to actually write this down in any coherent way, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my intentions/resolutions for this 2017 year, and I think they are finally coming into focus. I think I am coming to accept that this year is *not* a year for proactively taking on new big challenges and aspiring to grander activities; I still have more recovery and processing to do before I feel like I will be “free” enough to seek out and accomplish big projects or big changes to my intentional life design. I still do feel a pressure to accomplish and help (help people, help our country, help change the world to be a better place) but I also feel a resistance, a need for taking my time and continuing with the self-care (which is mostly not physical anymore, which makes it a little more complicated). I think it is so important to be politically active and make my voice heard and help others make their voices heard too, but I still have to be conservative with my spoons so I don’t burn out or fall into despair and depression. So I want to focus on “small ball”, by which I mean working at a more local, personal level to live my values and operate as the kind of person I want to be in my marriage, my family, and my communities. I want to be a role model and really commit to the idea of “be the change you want to see in the world”.
So what do I believe in? What are my values? What kind of world do I want to live in? Maybe it would be helpful to list some of them for reference.
- I believe that people are more important than things. I prioritize spending time with people and making them happy over most everything else.
- I believe everyone—yes, everyone—has equal value and importance. Like Jewish tradition teaches, saving one person is like saving a whole world (and therefore hurting or destroying one person is like hurting or destroying a whole world.)
- I believe that for the most part, diversity and differences make us stronger and more interesting and should be celebrated and eagerly sought out, not ignored or devalued.
- I believe in community and collaboration, because we are all connected. I think it does indeed take a village to raise our children and make our neighborhoods clean, safe and nurturing.
- I believe that people are intrinsically good at heart and have the same basic needs for respect, safety, love, connection, comfort, creativity, meaning and purpose.
- I believe we humans are the stewards of this one unique planet Earth and it is our individual and collective responsibility to live in a way that supports and protects our global environment for ourselves and for all future generations.
- I believe in tikkun olam, the healing of the world, and in partnering with each other to make the world a better place for all, not just some.
- I believe in justice and the application of appropriate consequences for wrong actions, not as punishment but as encouragement and scaffolding for learning how to do things right in the future.
- I believe in peace.
- I believe in treating others as you would like to be treated.
- I believe that each one of us has amazing gifts and important stories to share, and that we should both share our own gifts and stories and take the time to appreciate each other’s gifts and stories.
- I believe in optimism and hope, even in the face of difficulties.
- I believe in honesty.
- I believe in self-reflection and personal growth, because the more we understand ourselves the stronger and more resilient we get and the more we can empathize with/connect to other people.
- I believe in treating others (and myself) with kindness and respect.
- I believe in play and creativity and trying new things.
- I believe in being of service.
- I believe in the “oxygen mask theory” where you need to take care of yourself first in order to then take care of others.
I’m sure there are more things I believe in, but this is a pretty good list for now. If I can keep reminding myself to live my life according to these beliefs I think I’ll have a successful year.