The following guest post was written by Conor Dugan. Conor is a husband, father, attorney, and parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This article originally appeared at the diocesan website and is reprinted here with his permission. Silence. That was the first thing I noticed about the […]
I love days off even more I love the occasional day entirely to myself, no responsibilitys or errands to run only me, the Pants snacks and a bunch of movies. I do some of my best thinking on days like that. Today was no exception, while walking Mr. Fancypants on this cool Fall evening before all of the fires began, I started thinking about all the things the Universe has put on the plate and how I want to arrange them, how I want there outcome to look. I think about the people in my life right now, about the ebb and flow of friendships and other relationships. It really is all a cosmic dance. Some of the things are constants, Lonnie, Mr. Fancypants, Work, Food, God. Some of the things are aggravating because I feel blocked and limited on making them into what I want them to look like somedays. My body, my weight, How I am so Blessed to have found a way to work from home part-time making money while helping others to reach their goals and creating a source of income for themselves. Some of my thoughts today are like ghost-like, my father being one thought, my old job another, mainly because they haunt me with the pain they caused my inner child. I think how can I make my life a better one. That pretty much puts all of this together in one sentence. Out of this sort of self-examination I find what’s most important to me and ultimately the rest will just find its own place on whatever shelf in my life it does and I’m good with that. That last part there, the “being good with that”, I think that only comes with age because in my younger days I’d fret and worry about almost everything. How about you, what’s most important in your life and how does it affect your day to day?
My husband and I have lived in this same apartment now for over 7 years. We really love it here. We are central to all the things that are important to us, good restaurants, movies, shopping. Most of our closer friends live within 45 minutes of us and Our commute time to work by California standards is pretty close god-sent, mine is 20 mins and Lonnie is about 30 and NO freeways. Our apartment is a modest one bedroom but we have an amazing backyard.
It’s big enough to support three fruit trees, peach, nectarine and plum as well as a veggie garden in the Summer. I love where we live. We have been Blessed to have some amazing neighbors. When Lonnie first moved here, he became friends with a few of the other residents who I then became friends with by proxy. As time moved on people cam and went often within a year yet there remained for quite a few years this core set of neighbors. We would look out for each other, we became closer, followed each others life events supporting each others journeys. The people that were just neighbors became friends and extended family. I think that’s what happens when people stay put. In a lot of movies and for some reason most of them seem to take place in New York or Philadelphia there is this depiction of whole generations growing up in the same neighborhood with the same familys in the same home and how close everyone becomes. It almost always portrayed as an essential component of the character, its what gives them strength, motivates them on some level to overcome.
So Lonnie and I were talking a bit about this the other day when we were walking Mr. Fancypants on his after dinner walk. One of our long term neighbors had been slowly moving things into her car. We wondered if she were moving. I had spoken with her about a month or so before the cast and the walker and she shared that she had injured herself and was now going on disability. I happened to bump into her about two weeks ago, I was coming home, she was going somewhere. I told her Lonnie and I had noticed her moving stuff out to her truck, she said yes she was moving at the end of October, moving back East to be with her family and grand-babys. It made me a little sad actually because she had been such a good neighbor, she was even a customer of my business a few years back. It also made me sad because she shared that this wasn’t how she had planned it to go. She always planned to move back East, just not this way or now, it was always going to be in a few years. Well this past weekend was her last here, she’s now back East. Lonnie and I helped her move some things that were a bit heavy for her. We actually ended up with her bookcase, there’s a whole blog posting coming about how you merge your lives before with your married life. I think there a number of comedy skits that have said already what I will be saying. She stopped by on her last day to give me her contact info. I plan on keeping in-touch. She was the second to last of the neighbors we’ve grown close to. There is one of family left I can’t imagine them moving, we’ve become such good friends, they are like family to us.
Time goes by so quickly, its really true. I remember my grandmother washing my hair in the kitchen sink as child. I was miserable as a child, scared of everything, still living traumatized by my mothers death, feeling abandoned, not sure why I was still alive or what was my place. turned to her and said “I really wish I were an adult, things would be much better.”. She briefly stopped washing my hair and with all seriousness said, “No you don’t. I’m telling you and it wont seem true now but you’ll remember when you’re older, when you’re very young things go by so slow and as you get older they go by faster and faster. this is the basic jist of the conversation. I’ve shared all this to say IT is true more so everyday now then it every was. This being said, and life moving faster than ever. I’ve been pondering a change in my life. Something I’ve want to do for a long time now. I’m looking to become a part of that small segment of the internet world that earns a living on the web. Its this new experiment to see if I can’t earn at least some of what I do in my regular 9-5 job doing what I love which is talking about food, vacation destinations my day to day and talking about all the many many gadgets that fill my home, grab my attention and then just as quickly fade when the new one comes along. I was first inspired by this idea of earning my keep doing what I love on the web from watching one of my favorite escape fantasy shows, House Hunters International. So Enter the lion on a new adventure in a new arena. Please please comment, if you like my posts, if you don’t like my posts. I’d really love to hear what you’d like to see and what you wouldn’t. I only ask that you be civil with one another, there seems to be far less of civility in the world than there could be.
I really like the life I’ve created for myself. It’s not perfect for sure, however it is comfortable and familar and reliable. It has always been the small things that mean the most. I’ve never been a big gesture kind of person. The perfect coffee, Splenda, cream ratio, the feel of my comforter when I first wake up or go to sleep, my pillow. These are the sorts of things that make the inevitable bullshit that we all have to deal with tolerable lessons in life. Recently, I was laid off from my job, a really good job that I had just started at the beginning of the year after several months of seperating from the job I’d had for the last 8 years. In so many ways it felt like what I imagine a divorce to feel like. I was incredibly sad, mourning for the familar schedule, even as intolerable as it was. Sad that the few familar faces I’d liked there would no longer be a part of my day to day. There was anger as well, mostly because things could have been different but my first job and I had seperate ideas about how they could use my abilitys. Being laid off from the second job just a few weeks ago has been even more so a blow to my already shaken sense of self-worth and purpose. Maybe its a Hunter Gatherer sort of thing but in society a mans sense of worth and purpose are directly related to “what they do” and now here I AM not doing anything. It’s been a few weeks of self-reflection, assesment, daily attempts at self-healing, at being gentle with myself. The question now has become How do I move forward, what do I do for an income? For the first couple of weeks I’ve been just throwing my resume at the wall for more of the same thing I’ve been doing now for the last twenty plus years. I don’t think this is going to either work or bring me the sense of accomplishment and usefulness I’m looking for. I’ve had to really dive in and take a look at were my passion lies. I have another twelve years or so of working before I retire and I’d like for those years to be as joyfilled, as fufilling to myself and others as possible. Culling what you’re good at and what you like to do is an arduious task. For me I have always enjoyed helping others, its what I naturally do. So my direction now is a bit clearer than it was as far as what type of work to look for. I’m excited now because there is a sense of purpose here, firstly to find the work I’m meant to do and then of course to do it. I’m not sure how long or even were this path will lead but I’m confident that will provide new interesting experiences. So in the meanwhile, while I’m looking I think I’ll return to this perfect cup of coffee on just another Saturday morning.
Driving home at night was always my time with God. I would go over the events of the day, bring my intercessory prayers and work/wrestle out ideas with logic and love. Sometimes we’d even argue. On this night God and I were having a pretty intense conversation about work, my feelings, my many many frustrations with it. As it turns out it really felt like something shifted that night but I wasn’t sure what except that I knew things would be changing. It didn’t take long to find out what and when. The next day when I got to my job of eight years it became very apparent that I just couldn’t stay any longer. Between the odd schedule, odd hours, the long commute and lack of opportunity. It’s been an interesting journey since then. It’s forced me in a way to look at myself, to look at all of the changes that have happened since I decided to move back to Los Angeles from my comfortable life in Seattle. My relationship with god otherwise known as the elephant in the room has changed throughout my life (how could it not?) . Here I was again beginning to take a look at not just this relationship but my relationship to all that I’ve known, people, the space I live in. I’m convinced that God is about all our relationships including ourselves and its were we “touch” and “see” the face, the Will of “All That IS”. So I’ve been learning just how much deeper MY faith as a Catholic is. I’ve been learning just how much deeper MY belief in a Panentheistic God(dess) is. The two are not mutually exclusive BTW. For many many many years I have allowed catholicism as an organization as a religion to define itself, or rather to be defined by its Hierarchy. The same thing has been true of Paganism, of the Craft. I have my beliefs, my shared experiences with both and have learned that I get to not only define the drawings but do the coloring as well. The greatest source of pain for me within catholicism has been and remains that I as a gay married man cannot be fully embraced as equal within the church organization. I have struggled with this for years. I am learning to be ok with this. I’m being the change I want to see, as my wise friend Trish, a Catholic convert btw pointed out to me when I shared this with her over a few too many cocktails at Seattle’s Emmet Watsons one day after work.
So this is some of what’s been going on internally for me the last two months. I’ve been defining what the coloring book for work is going to look like, who’s in it, what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be doing it. I’ve wanted to make the transition to work that focuses on my strengths, abilities and most importantly my interests. You and I in this post industrial world spend most of our waking hours engaged in relationships with those we work with. I’d prefer at this point in my life that it was with people who have a somewhat shared sense of purpose. I’d rather it was with people I genuinely want to be around. I mean really, who wants to go to work with people you’d rather divorce? So on Yule this year true to God’s sense of humor and irony, on both the shortest day of the year where the Light is at it’s weakest and yet also finds its own renewed strength to conquer the Darkness around itself and increase, I was given a job offer that fits almost every bit of the coloring book I’ve been creating these past two months. I start at the beginning of this year. I’m excited, looking forward to meshing with my new co-workers and sharing my talents to make a difference in the lives of those I touch.
Even before any sense of sprirtuality, I’ve always instincually known that the Fall is the ending of one year and the beginning of another. It just seems natural to me that this would be the case. I look forward to it with a giddiness that is childlike. I get reflective about all that has happened in the previous year and hopeful for the coming year. It is also a time when those that have crossed over are more often at the forefront on my mind. it is a time to celebrate their lives, to offer up prayers and to perform acts of Love on their behalf. This is something that surprisingly is both very pagan and very Catholic which leads me to the main point of this entry. The Wheel of the Year and its parallel in the Liturgical cycle the Church follows. One has definatley informed the other and I think for the better. It may have been for reasons of conversion and cultural preservation that say for example Christmas happens at the time of the year that the Child of Light and the beginnings of Spring are birthed in mid-december. Out of darkness comes light
The Witches Wheel
I wrote this entr awhile ago, this past Fall to be exact. it’s not profound or riddled with insight but I like it and so I’m posting it.
So a lot has been going on lately all around me. Lonnie and I have seemingly fallen into a regular routine again. This is something we both are happy about and value greatly but seem to take for granted when its happening. Work is as its seemingly always been. I came close to finding work in Orange county about a month ago only to the offer rescinded as I was just finishing up planning my great escape from the day jail I call work now. My current job provides me a much clearer living picture of what Catholics call purgatory. The Blessed relief is that enough prayers are uttered for my souls escape and seemingly I break free to drive through the dark tunnel that is the 405 freeway straight to Sanctuary,or as most people call it Home. I’m looking for my new day prison a bit closer to home and grateful that I have my current job to keep things floating I guess I’ve reached that age were I’m just over what I’m doing, too tired to figure out were my real passion lies. I’m guessing it has something to do with lounging in my recliner and doing nothing but I haven’t really seen any jobs listed on CareerBuilder for this lately (or ever). I’ll continue to look for IT jobs closer to home that will use the skills I have and make room for the areas I still find interesting. I know that I would love to work with new technology, reviewing, playing breaking and fixing. I’m just not sure how those ideas translates into a six figure income.
In other news Facebook is seemingly all about three things these days. politics which normally I love discussing, arguing and prophesying about. It’s getting harder these days to find anyone to argue politics with in a civilized way. I mean seriously just look at your average Trump rally. Those people can’t even tolerate each other let alone someone that has questions or disagrees with them. the second meme making the rounds is transgender issues and bathroom access. I find it amusing that this hasn’t been an issue, truly hasn’t been an issue for CIS people (non-transgendered people) mostly because they’ve never had to think about it until now. The best image/idea that I’ve seen about the subject was a woman holding a sign that read. “it wasn’t really about water fountains back in the 50’s and its not really about bathrooms now.” Being crude I think is appropriate here, take a leak in the bathroom you feel most comfortable in. If you’re a trans woman, use the woman’s room or a trans man use the men’s room. This is not about perverts looking to prey on children. It is about people needing to pee. Lastly, if you’re letting your child go into a bathroom by unaccompanied , you have bigger issues.
And finally some reality blew my way a couple of weeks ago. My father passed away (at home thankfully). As I’ve told most people, he and I had a complicated relationship. I guess that’s probably true of my familial ties. The short version of the story is that he was in and out the picture for the first two years of my life. After my mother was killed when I was 3, he was gone completely with the one 15 min visit I had at a hotel some here when I was around 12. I found him after a 25 year absence and we got to know each other as adults. He was accepting of me and my partner at the time but soon after had a “coming to Jesus” moment and suddenly I was an object of shame and judgment. I kept in touch with him because he was my father and it was the right thing to do. His wife, Nana, called me to let me know that he wasn’t doing well and I’ll be forever grateful to her for that. He had asked to speak to me (while he was still fully here). He told me he loved me and I told him that no matter what I would always love him. He got to reconcile with a couple of people he had estranged. I’m happy for him that he got to do this. So he’s gone now along with my birth mother. I’m mostly ok with things but I still have moments of intense sadness. Its not that I miss him, we barely had a relationship however it’s what he came to represent for me. I have the rest of my growing up family as well as the family Lonnie and I have together. Overall its been a pretty intense first quarter of the year. I’m just glad that I have my husband. I highly recommend you find either a husband or its equally useful counterpart, the wife.
Below is a post I wrote back in the Fall but didn’t end up publishing. It’s always interesting for me to find my computer littered with such mental scraps. It gives me a glimpse of where I was at and in some ways still am.
It’s a furious and complex dance when you’re moving from one place to another. There are often so many parts that have to be remembered, incorporated and timed just right for the move to go smoothly. It leaves you exhausted and needing a vacation just to recover. Lonnie and I were given the option to take the apartment two doors done from us when our lease was up at the beginning of last month. We of course jumped on it because either way our rent was increasing. It’s not a hard choice t make when the choice is between signing a new lease on a renovated apartment with new everything or staying put and STILL paying the same as the renovated apartment. So today begins the moving day. I don’t think I’ve ever moved such a short distance, it’ll be interesting to see how much smoother it goes. This isn’t the only moving part going on in my life or rather our lives. Its funny when you’re married or partnered at least for me it always comes naturally to say “our” instead of “my” life. I don’t know if others do the same thing but for me especially now that we are married, it seems almost everything I do affects the “us”. Lately we’ve had to deal with friends illnesses, there have been deaths, both personal and cultural. School is almost over for Lonnie which will bring a whole new chapter to our lives. To say I’m proud of him is a severe understatement. He just keeps surprising me and amazing me with something new to love about him every day. Work for me continues to a moving part, one day I can’t wait to leave and then next I find a renewed appreciation for what I have had for the last six plus years. I’m looking for work closer to home, another moving part, the good bit with this is that I get to be particular about what I want to do, where it is and home much I get paid to do it. I don’t often brag but I’m very good at what I do and I’ve come to know that I am which a powerful thing is. In January I plan to go back to school, once Lonnie is back working full-time. It’ll be exciting and a new adventure for me. I’m still building and helping people with Melaleuca and believe not only in the company and its mission to help others but in the products and the business model. It is enormously important to reduce household toxins, not to mention shoring up our body’s to fight off the damaging effects of the environment. Melaleuca offers this to everyone, affordably, easily and can provide a pretty decent income at the same time. A plan B if you will. Spiritually, I’ve been wandering and really feeling the need for a home. This is the last moving part I’m looking to get a hold on this year. I’ve almost always operated as a solitary pagan, occasionally celebrating the Sabbats and Esbats on my own. This year I’m hoping that will change and I’ll find a Coven to call home or at the very least a group to celebrate and make magic with. As I said at the beginning of this journal entry, there seem to be a lot of moving parts happening right now it’s exciting and I know we are looking forward to how our life together is going to look in the coming months.