In Which Meganne Realizes She’s Not an Island

I have a lot to say.  Life is large and full of things to talk about, but writing doesn’t much happen as well or often as it should….  Or, in my case lately, there’s a lot of anger leaking out around the edges that I’d prefer to start letting go of before opening my mouth on with certain subjects.

Instead I want to talk about joy.  I want to talk about something I’ve been mulling over in my head for a few weeks now.

I’ve been pretty open about being a solitary Pagan.  I didn’t mesh well with the locals in Iowa, which isn’t to say anything bad about the community there, but I just never felt particularly welcome there for some reason.  I think it was an extension of generally not feeling welcome in Iowa as a whole despite growing up there.  I’m not above thinking I wasn’t coming at it at a completely open mind myself, but I feel like there was a definite lack of either side meeting in the middle.

But honestly?  I was at it as a Pagan for over a decade in Iowa, and despite having a friend or two who were of various Pagan faiths, I never really felt particularly compelled to be part of the community.  Maybe coming from it now at a different stage in my life would give me a new perspective, but I’m no longer there to test out this theory.  I’m somewhere different now: mentally, spiritually, and physically.

For the first few years of living in Missouri, I’ve been working through my faith.  I’ve been met with illness and motherhood.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading and evaluating what I believe.  I deepened my relationship with Apollon and renewed my vows to him (Both of which I’ve been very quiet about up until this point, but I will return to shortly in another post).

I am Pagan.  I am Polytheist.  I am Roman.  I am American…  I am everything and nothing.  It’s wonderful and glorious.

And lonely.

One thing I’ve realized lately is that I am not an island.  With a call to ministry, it’s probably more than a little amusing that up until this point I have been so solitary, except I think maybe this time has been spent evaluating myself as deeply as one can.  I’ve lived the Maxim of Know Thyself, and while I will continue to live it, it was time for me to reach out.

On Facebook, I mentioned that I was wishing I had a local community.  And much to my shock, some of my local friends started mentioning they had Earth-centered leanings…

Suddenly I was curious…  What did the local Pagans look like?  What were they into?  Did I already know them?

So I did what any rational socially anxious Matrona would do…  I packed up my mother and daughter, and I went to Pagan Pride.

Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride, by the way, is a nice little gathering.  I didn’t get a chance to go to any workshops like I wanted to do, but it looked like a nice mix of subjects and faiths represented.  The local artisans are quite skilled and make beautiful pieces of art.  The local stores have a nice collection of books for those not up to their elbows in an ancient civilization.  My daughter enjoyed the music, and had she been just a bit older would have loved the activity table and face painting.

I’m not sure if my mind was more open that day; maybe I’ve been working on not rejecting others before they can reject me…  Maybe, but I like to imagine that the Pagans of Central Missouri are a better fit for me.  This area of the state is where my roots hail from; the land is undoubtedly in my blood.  The Missouri River calls to me.  This is my home.

I was getting the push to go to Pagan Pride.  I felt a great sense that I was supposed to be meeting at least one person there.  It didn’t happen.  I volunteered to work the divination tent next year anyway.

I guess my swing further into the Cultus Deorum Romanium (or at least the study of it) has alienated me in a way, because I felt this weird mix of not having anything in common with anyone and excitement that I’d found my people.  I hadn’t been in the company of another of the Roman persuasion since 2001, and back then I was decidedly not a cultor myself.

But I knew I was selling myself short, because I am still really socially anxious.  I didn’t talk to too many people.  I understood that I didn’t make any connections because that part of my brain said, “Relax, Meganne, I’ve got this” and then proceeded to flip the eff out and dump copious amounts of adrenaline into my body. (Note to self: Make the socially anxious part of the brain sit in the back seat next time.)

Anyway, I decided to reach out again.  This time I asked on Facebook in the local alliance group if there was anyone even remotely close to what I practice.  I didn’t expect anything.

The gods are laughing at me.  Seriously.  I almost immediately got a response from another person who is a Gallo-Roman polytheist, which is where my gut tells me I’m going to end up myself eventually.  We’ve been out for tea.  It was awesome!  I’m doing my best to not wax on for 5 paragraphs about how awesome it was, because I’m afraid of being creepy.  Seriously.  I have not been this excited since…  Well, I don’t even know when.

While we’re at it, you should read his blog.

So allow to me encourage my fellow hermit-types out there to reach out.  If it doesn’t work the first time reach out again.  And again.  And maybe again.  Eventually you’re going to find someone you have things in common with out there.

We cannot build the community we want for ourselves without being involved in the community.  That is something the last year has taught me.  If I dream of temples built on the ground called the United States (and I do, I so very, very much do), I have to gather the community about me that will support such an undertaking.  Even if that wasn’t the case, the human experience calls out to be shared and nurtured in a family of chosen kindred spirits.

The gods are patient, kind, and good.  They are amazing.

They have to be to put up with me.

And as a side note, Mid-Missouri Pagans who may or may not be reading this…  I genuinely and with all of my heart look forward to meeting more of you as soon as I can.  Even if I struggle making eye contact.

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The Last 7 Months in Review

Sheesh, I took a break on a negative note last year.  Things got stressful and crazy.  Things continued to be stressful and crazy.  Yet somehow my head didn’t explode.  My goal at this point is to return to blogging with a post a week.  I have a two-month-old.  I’m not sure this is going to happen, but it’s worth a shot.

Anyway, the wee one is sleeping, so I get a chance to try to give a quick update of life events in the last 7 months.

October:

I found out we were having a girl!  She quickly receives the nickname Pony, and this is most likely what I will refer to her as on this blog.

There was a knife fight in our cul-de-sac.

I get sick while in Kansas City taking classes and need to go home.  My mother drove to get me because Mr. NaW was unable to.  Her car broke down in the garage of the hotel.  We are unable to find a car to rent to get home, because Nascar is in the city for the weekend.  My friend from the program was leaving early that evening, and we were able to hitch a ride to a distance Mr. NaW was able to pick us up.

November:

We were looking to buy a house, but were turned down for a mortgage – Not surprising considering the amount of student loan debt involved, but disappointing since we’d found a place on the outskirts of town we really, really liked that we felt we could afford.

I start feeling really sick when eating.  I realize that I most likely have gestational diabetes, but my OB didn’t seem too concerned with getting it diagnosed until further along in the pregnancy.

One night Mr. NaW and I are sitting in our living room and hear gunshots.  We call 911 after ducking for cover.  The police find unspent bullets in our front yard, because one of our (numerous) bad neighbors managed to drop them while shooting at whomever they were shooting at.

We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.  About ten minutes after getting home, the police are knocking on my door wanting to know if we knew anything about the burglary next door.  A week later the same thing happened.  It’s at this point that we became desperate to find another place to live.  Fast.  We’d had enough.

We found an awesome duplex for cheap with a fenced in yard and beautiful view out the back window.  Best of all, we would be surrounded by couples and widows who are all older than us.  The family that is renting it approves us without even doing a background check.

December:

I manage to get through giving a 20 minute presentation on my business plan despite being unmedicated for my social anxiety disorder.  I graduate from my ag business program.

I am still really sick from food.  I’m not shocked when I’m diagnosed around Christmas with gestational diabetes.  I end up having to go onto medication because diet was unable to control it.

We start moving across town at the end of the month.  We don’t finish until February.  We love our new place, but I will never move again while pregnant.

January:

I finally have my blood sugar under control, and am feeling better.  We’re still stressing about moving.  My blood pressure starts looking kind of strange, but it’s chalked up to my social anxiety disorder and my OB’s waiting room.

February:

About the time I start nesting at the beginning of the month, I wind up in the hospital for observation due to my blood pressure.  I get diagnosed with gestational hypertension, which means I’ll have to be induced a week earlier than my due date.  It also lands me in the full-blown high risk category for my pregnancy.  I have biophysical profiling and an appointment once a week because of it.  I also get stuck on bed rest.

The next day I go into latent labor that comes and goes for the next month.  Yes, I was technically in labor for a month.

March:

My glucose readings are no longer controlled by medication.  I have access amniotic fluid that makes me measure way beyond 42 weeks.  My blood pressure is a mess.  We bump up induction to the beginning of week 39.

I go in on a Sunday to be induced.  After 36 hours of labor with back labor that wasn’t covered by the epidural and 3 hours of pushing, Pony is born via forceps delivery.  At some point I might just write out her birth story, but I’m currently pretty traumatized by it.

5 hours after birth.

I struggle with being a mom and recovering from a third degree laceration from delivery.  They only give me 3 days worth of pain medication.  I wind up in urgent care and on blood pressure medication, because my blood pressure is completely out of control.  I go back onto preclampsia watch for a month.

My mother stays with us for two weeks helping take care of the baby.  I am absolutely terrified when she finally starts going home at night instead of staying with us, because I am drugged to the gills and dealing with blood pressure issues.  On top of this, Pony is recovering from a broken collar bone from delivery and suffering from gastrointestinal distress.

We start what end up being weekly trips to the pediatrician because she is constantly screaming from gas and spitting up large amounts of breast milk when she eats.  We get told it’s normal.  I already know at this point that it’s not.

Her body breaks out in a rash.  I, once again, get told it’s normal, but my gut tells me it’s not.

Pony starts projectile vomiting towards the end of the month, and we find ourselves dealing with an inconsolable baby who is screaming and crying up to 20 hours a day.

April:

March blends into April.  At some point we rule out pyloric stenosis via ultrasound, but the reflux Pony is suffering continues to get worse.  I’m starting to suspect a food allergy.  The doctor had already suggested I cut out “gassy food,” but didn’t really think that would help.

I cut out caffeine and obvious dairy.  Some symptoms get better.  Some continue to get worse.

The entire family comes down with a wicked RSV infection.  Pony gets her first trip to the ER at 6 weeks after breathing difficulty, but is not admitted for observation.  We spend the next 4 days wanting to die from our own illness while taking care of a miserable newborn.

Our doctor finally writes a prescription for Zantac for the reflux.  For the first time since she was born, we actually get to see a bit of Pony’s personality instead of just a baby in terrible pain.  Some things get better.  Other things continue to get worse.

Pony is breastfeeding every 45 minutes to an hour and refuses to take a bottle so I can get some rest.  I get told that if I want to breastfeed, I won’t be able to go back on medication for bipolar disorder.

By this point I’m convinced we have food allergies or sensitivities on our hands, but I can’t get a single doctor to agree with us.  Our lactation consultant, however, completely agrees with us.  She also helps us start to teach Pony to drink from a cup after a supplemental feeder wouldn’t work on Mr. NaW’s finger.  And she shows me a list of medications I can safely take if I need to for my mental heath.

I begin working on correcting an oversupply issue and an overactive let-down.

I decide to cut hidden dairy and wheat out of my diet.  Pony gets slightly better and continues to after just a few days.  I eat soy sauce.  Things get ugly.  I cut soy, too.  Things start getting better again.

May:

We still have no idea exactly what we’re dealing with in regards to our daughter’s health, but we have all the symptoms of food allergies.  She is still in pain from the reflux and gas.  She doesn’t spit up or vomit as much since cutting food out.

Two days ago we tried to start her on vitamins only to find blood in her stools and all the symptoms of an allergy come back in horrible ways.  We discontinued use and she’s doing better.  I have yet to hear back from the company about what allergen derivatives are in their vitamins, but obviously there was something.

We have her 2-month appointment this week.  I will be pressing the allergy issue more and requesting testing for Celiac Disease be done for her.  Along with appointments for me, since I’m STILL dealing with postpartum issues physically.  I won’t be tested for gluten-intolerance until after I’m done breastfeeding.  Having already cut it out, I think I’m actually starting to feel a bit better in regard to pain, but time will tell.

Say hello to Pony @ 2 months

Anyway…  That has been what I’ve been up to.  Hopefully at some point I’ll catch up on others’ blogs and see how everyone I’ve followed is doing.

The Kitchen Window

For two years I lived with my windows facing the interstate. To make matters worse, the windows were facing north, which means I couldn’t line them with plants to buffer some of the sight of traffic. One day I looked out to see a deer getting hit; deer is my spirit animal. I feel like all of this is some glorious metaphor for my final years in Iowa. The final year and a half I was physically exhausting myself in a retail job where material access was witnessed daily.

Sometimes simply taking yourself out of the rut in the road shows the ground to be less bumpy. We’ve moved now to Missouri. Despite the imperfections like gigantic bugs, I find myself a lot happier already. However, back to the interstate, I no longer live with the constant hum of cars zipping by. Instead my west-facing kitchen window faces a field that is mostly wildflowers and a wooded area with a stream.

The peace of the mornings makes me feel more connected to what is around me. The energy is more grounded. Also the neighborhood kids play in that space, which fills me with so much joy. It warms my heart to see children out in nature, but it brings back so many of my happier childhood memories. I feel very blessed. I feel like some of the darker facets of my past are being healed by it all by changing the focus of memories from negative to positive.

I have more, but I’m trying to space it out so I’m not writing twenty pages every few months. Ha.

For those interested, I also have a secular blog on design and various other things up and running at My CoMo Life. I plan on having free blogger layouts, since graphic design is actually a hobby of mine.