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Archive for May, 2008

Intro: April – July 2007 was a major time of transformation for me. I was being faced with many obstacles and challenges, unsure of how I’d measure up in the long run.  I had lost my identity and was in the process of re-inventing myself.  This writing is one that guided me through that painful period of self discovery.

“The Food Chain”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
April 16, 2007

Nothing’s wrong
Yet nothing’s right
Kentucky Sunday
Becomes Kentucky night

Where tree frogs croak
And coyotes howl
Where the owls hoot
And the critters prowl

Predator, Prey
Who are they
And where am I
— in the food chain

It’s a matter of survival
The will to live
The need to love
The desire to give

Kentucky Sunday
Smartly retires
Leaving untouched
The heart’s desires

The hawks finally rest
In their heavenly nests
Asking where am I
— in the food chain

The cows chewed their cud
And the horses had their hay
And the donkeys grazed
On this Kentucky Sunday

The turkey-vultures scavenged
The birds found their seeds
The squirrels gathered nuts
While others die from needs

Night breezes blow
The moon has lost her glow
And where am I
— on the food chain

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Don’t

Intro:  The periods between April and July 2007 were prolific periods for me because I wrote my way through my trials and tribulations.  The writing was therapy, it was how I found my strength.  This is one of the pieces that led to the final outcome of divorce.

“Don’t”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
June 16, 2007

Don’t ask me to pretend
that I’m something
I never was
or never could be

Don’t ask me to forget
those things
you refuse
to remember

Don’t ask me to paint
a picture perfect scenerio
of blended beauty
while you strip away
the colors of me
with chaos.

Don’t ask me to step
another step on this path
(of hot coals and cold hearts)
or into an embrace
that is a death grip

I won’t slip
quietly into
the coffin

Don’t ask me to believe
in empty promises
and false hopes
and broken dreams

Because I won’t.

Just Don’t.

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Intro: Getting divorced meant many things would change for my chidren and me.  Before the divorce, we were a homeschooling family. I didn’t work, so I was able to devote all of my time and energy to their education and raising them outside of the confines and expectations of society.  After the divorce, however, I’d return to work and the teens would embark on a journey back to public school.  Before the divorce, the kids each had their passions… the Prince took Tae Kwon Do and ranked National Champion several times over.  The Princess was taking horse-riding lessons, nurturing her dreams of becoming an equine vet and care-taker of horses.  After the divorce, those lessons would have to cease due to financial restraints.  Before the divorce, we were vegetarians and had been for a number of years.  Returning to the fast-paced world of social interaction and agendas, we knew we’d have to adjust our diet to accomodate – not only as a matter of convenience (I couldn’t prepare good vegetarian meals for them while I was working fourteen-hour days, and I couldn’t ask them to maintain vegetarian lifestyles on school cafeteria food), but because our bodies would be under greater demand, so we returned to eating meat.  Prior to the divorce, we had eight cats, four dogs, and two birds… the cats and birds would have to be placed in new homes because as I single parent, I couldn’t afford to care for the extra lives.  We managed to hold on to the dogs, but it’s a struggle… and the loss of our other animal family members was tragic to us all.  So many changes… and I saw them before they arrived, so I reached for my children to offer them what security I could… knowing the storm was about to blow through.

“To the Prince and Princess”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
June 17, 2007

The journey on which
we’re about to embark
is more than an
accumulation
of miles
and minutes.

As this
transformation unfolds
Trust in me
You have my word
I will not let us fall.

We will all
make sacrifices
and for that
you will never
fully know
how sorry
I am
and yet
in those things
of which we let go
we will find
hidden treasures

Love and laughter
are our riches
and we
we three
are millionaires

Things…
they don’t matter.
What matters
is that we stand
strong together
that we support
one another
that we believe
in each other
and that our love
be unconditional

Know in your hearts
that in spite of
my own weaknesses
I will provide…
and we will
remain in tact.

Let each step
be a lesson
Let each word
be wisely spoken
Let each beat
of our hearts
beat as one.

I have cried my last tear
I have shed self-centered skin
I will do what needs done
And be a warrior for you.

You have my word
I will not let us fall
So hold my hand
don’t let go
and on the count of three
(by the power of three
And the powers that be)
Take a really big breath
…. and jump.

I’ve gotchya.

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Intro: Written April 30, 2007, this piece was written with intent to “undo” the magick done three years prior.  My husband and I didn’t hate each other, didn’t want to hurt each other, but we’d have ended up doing just that if we’d forced ourselves to stay in a toxic situation.  Everyone involved was suffering and it was time to admit that we were no longer beneficial to one another.  We make better friends than spouses with one another, and though we’ve been divorced now for a while, we remain friends.  We got married on Beltane, one of the most magickal nights of the year, at twilight, on the waterfront, with both Christian and Pagan ministers.  Just after the sun had set, I glanced over my shoulder and spotted the reflection of the moon in the water… a visit from the Lady in the Lake.  Hence, it was to her I addressed the need to undo what had been done.

“Lady of the Lake”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
April 30, 2007

Lady of the Lake
Luminous Goddess of Love
I saw you…

Glowing, showing
Your power

And your glory

Deva of the waters
Goddess of emotion
Angel of devotion

I felt you
Divine and sublime

Lady of the Lake…

I hopped up and down
Fluttering my wings
Giggling, clapping

Wishing the wish
Your magick brings

Unaware

That my wish
Would be my curse

Lady of the Lake…
I wished a mistake…

And now that I’ve reached
The Sacred Three…
May the wished curse be broken

And my heart set free

 

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Intro: This piece was written April 30, 2007 – the day before my third wedding anniversary with my ex-husband.  We had been married on May 1, Beltane, one of the most magickal nights of the year.  We had both Christian and Pagan ministers perform the ceremony to accomodate both of our beliefs.  Unfortunately, the marriage was over before it began, really, and I held on for three years making every effort to turn the tides.  Finally, I realized I had done everything I could do, and staying in the relationship would only bring pain to us all, so as Beltane of 2007 came to be, I tried to honor the holiday while still recognizing that the “spell” cast at the wedding was one I was about to consciously “undo”.

“Ashes to Ashes”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
April 30, 2007

I’ll pick a flower or three
and weave them
into wreaths

I’ll braid my hair
honor the seasons
dance with the faeries

in pregnant full moon light

twirling ’round the May pole
with my skirt
flowering around me

celebrating intimacy
celebrating fertility
celebrating life

celebrating love

in its essence
not its false
and pretended

illusions

I’ll remember…
and I’ll want
to forget

and I’ll wish
to un-wish wishes
from Belatanes past

and cast the remnants
of broken dreams
into the bonfire

Ashes to ashes…

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
2001

“The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.” ~Katherine Mansfield~

Difficult and unreasonable as it may seem,
I do need specific things from the mind I love.

I am demanding,
so the mind I love
must be patient.

I am intelligent,
so the mind I love
must be wise.

I am strong,
so the mind I love
must be brave.

I am hungry,
so the mind I love
must be willing to give
….. and give.

I am learning,
so the mind I love
must be able to see
the same things in life
more than once
and still find them interesting.

I am enthusiastic,
so the mind I love
must be energetic.

I have much to offer,
so the mind I love
must be willing to receive
… and receive.

I am care free,
so the mind I love
must be strong.

I am imperfect,
so the mind I love
must be forgiving.

I am humorous,
so the mind I love
must be light hearted.

I am on a journey,
so the mind I love
must be adventurous.

I am mystical,
so the mind I love
must be permissive.

I am fragile,
so the mind I love
must be cautious.

I am delicate,
so the mind I love
must be gentle.

I have much to say,
so the mind I love
must be able to listen.

Difficult and unreasonable as it may seem
in order to reach my own potential,
I do need specific things
from the mind I love.

Once upon a time,
I lost my mind.
I think I just found it.

Perhaps the mind I need to love
is my own.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Have you ever felt like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time? Everything logical tells you that your being there is right, but internal alarms are sounding that something is out of kilter. Have you ever tried on an outfit and replied, “No, this just isn’t me” and been relieved to slip back into a wardrobe that best reflects your personality? These situations are an easy fix – you can always leave a place where you feel uncomfortable, and you can easily change your clothing. But what if these internal alarms were much more severe – what if you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t just the wrong place or the wrong outfit, but that you’d been born into the wrong body?

Can a penis or vagina be considered a birth defect to be corrected with surgery and hormones? Is it scientifically possible for a boy to be born into a girl’s body or vice versa? Or, are transgender persons suffering from some form of mental disorder in which they simply perceive themselves as having been born into the wrong body? Can it be that rearing can play a role in gender confusion? Are transgender persons considered gay?

We may be familiar with the stories of adults who “come out” to their spouses, employers, children, and friends when they can no longer live a life untrue to their nature. It’s one thing to announce that you’re gay, but it’s an entirely different situation when you desire to physically alter your body to transform from one gender to another. In such cases, you’re not just asking that loved ones and society accept who you choose as your partner, but you’re instead announcing to them that you are a completely different person than what they knew and loved. In a sense, it’s like death. One gender must die so the other gender can live in peace.

In adults, this may be hard for us to accept, and even harder for the transgender adult to endure, but what about when transgender confusion strikes in children?

How young is too young to define yourself as transgender? How old does a person need to be in order to confidently state they feel they’ve been born into the wrong body? Can we accept an eleven-year-old girl who lives her life as a boy, already taking hormones to stop the female cycle and enhance a male appearance? Can we understand the six-year-old who has suicidal tendencies because she feels her female body betrays her male heart and mind? Can we relate to the four year old boy who wants his penis to fall off so he can be the girl he sees himself as inside? What response is the right response by society, doctors, parents, and loved ones when a child is insistent that they were born into the wrong body? Do we accept, support, and encourage – or do we try to stop or change the “behavior” of the child?

When entering the realm of gender dysphoria (dysphoria defined as unhappiness), the questions are plenty and controversy prevails.

On her website (http://www.avitale.com), Anne Vitale Ph.D. answers some of the most difficult questions related to transgender dysphoria. In regard to whether or not gender confusion is a mental disorder she states, “Although gender dysphoria is listed in the DSM IV as Gender Identity Disorder, most mental health practitioners do not consider transsexualism to be a mental illness per se. However, due to the discrimination and prejudice they face, many transsexuals do suffer from mental health issues secondary to their GID. Some of the most common are clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety, depersonalization and substance abuse/dependence.”

If gender confusion is not a mental disorder, then what is it? Is gender dysphoria genetic? The answer is no. Parents are not responsible for passing on DNA that causes gender confusion. In addition, it is generally accepted that how a child is reared has little or no relevance on whether or not the child feels they are not of the sex they were born into. Parents, therefore, are not to be blamed for their child being born with gender dysphoria. However, there are theories suggesting that gender dysphoria is congenital – meaning a form of birth defect. It has been suggested that transgender cases actually develop during the first trimester of pregnancy in which the brain begins to develop as one sex while the body develops as the opposite sex. If this is the case, it becomes clear that gender dysphoria is not a conscious choice. No one chooses to suffer from gender confusion.

Parents are encouraged to be supportive, but not drastic in their reactions toward gender confused children because three results are possible before the child reaches adulthood. The child could grow up to be gay (yet content with their own sexual assignment); the child may grow up to seek gender reassignment surgery, or the child may outgrow the feelings associated with gender confusion as they age. Since any outcome is possible, no one can predict what the long term outcome of a gender confused child would be. Each case is different.

Those suffering from gender dysphoria do not believe themselves to be gay or lesbian. It would be natural for us, as outsiders, to assume that if a physical woman is attracted to another physical woman, there’s a lesbian nature to the relationship. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the transgender woman does not see herself as female, but as a male trapped in a female body. Forming relationships, for this reason, can be extremely difficult for gender confused persons, particularly prior to gender reassignment surgery.

Gender reassignment surgery is not an easy process. Prior to being eligible for such surgery, one must first undergo long periods of intense counseling, insuring that they’re not suffering from other influential factors such as mental illness or substance abuse, among other things. Secondly, they must live their life for one to two years as the opposite sex. For example, a male who feels he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body must live and function in society as a woman, proving that a greater quality of life is possible as a woman than as a man. This can be quite complicated prior to surgery or hormones when physical build, voice, and other contributing factors make it difficult to appear convincingly as a member of the opposite sex. If a man looks like a man dressed as a woman, he’s not nearly as likely to find social acceptance as he would be if his body and voice reflected appropriate female qualities.

Once mental stability has been established, as well as the ability to live and function as a productive member of society while appearing as the opposite sex, then hormone treatments can begin, leading ultimately to complete surgical gender reassignment. The path is neither quick nor simple. Years of struggle and probable ridicule and rejection must first be surpassed.

The legal system now supports transgender reassignment, making it possible to obtain a new birth certificate which helps avoid discrimination, as well as recognizing legal marriage following reassignment surgery, unlike the current controversy and legal battles surrounding the rights for gays and lesbians to marry.

Psychology, science, and law all seem to support, in part, the concept that gender confusion is not a mental illness or a lifestyle lived by choice, but can be described as a birth defect with no known cause or cure. Is this truly a “defect”, or is it possible for a soul to be born into the wrong body? What’s your opinion?

Sources Used:

http://www.avitale.com

Supporting Families

An Oprah Article

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Written by:
Wendi Friend 

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re falling and just as you are about to hit the ground, you wake up in your bed, your body poised for landing? Or perhaps you felt as though you were landing back into your own body? You’re not quite lying down, and not quite sitting up, but somewhere in mid “crunch” as if a great blow had been delivered to your abdomen. Have you ever had a dream that felt so real you swore it had to be – where you were simultaneously an observer and an unseen participant? What about dreams that carry you into the past and re-paint events so crystal clear that even the scents and sounds convince you that you’ve traveled back in time to the very moment? If you’ve ever had such dreams, there’s a good chance you’ve delved into the astral realm, knowingly, or in many cases, unknowingly.

My brother used to tell me stories about how he’d get up in the middle of the night to get a drink. This is back when we were kids. He’d climb down from his bunk bed carefully and quietly as not to disturb the sleeping body of our little brother on the bottom bunk. He’d tiptoe down the hallway, taking care to not alert the grown ups he was awake. But something would stop him before he ever reached his glass of water. Something drew his attention to himself, asking him why he didn’t open his bedroom door before going into the hallway, or why he couldn’t feel his feet planted firmly on the old shag carpet.

Looking down, he realized his feet were not on the ground. Looking behind him he became aware that the bedroom door had never been opened – and yet, somehow, there he was – in the middle of the hallway, no longer aware he’d been thirsty. The moment he became aware that he was “ghostly” he panicked, rushing back toward his room. Not knowing how he did it, he returned through the closed door to find his body sound asleep in the top bunk where he’d left it. Then, he felt a magnetic pull, or a strange “suction” sensation, and the reunion between body and soul took place.

Quite frankly, I thought he was pulling my leg, choking my chain, busting my chops to scare me since that had been of his favorite childhood pastimes. But, alas, another experience would force me to come to terms with the fact that there may be an inkling of truth in his tall, intricately woven tales.

In childhood, I shared a room with my older sister. Our beds were located parallel on opposite ends of the room – mine on the left, hers on the right, but we slept in opposite positions – my head nearest the windows, hers nearest the door. I think I was around the age of twelve or thirteen at the time. Late one night, I woke up with the feeling of someone watching me.

Rubbing my eyes to adjust to the darkness, I looked toward my sister’s bed, and there she was – sitting upright, her posture graceful, spine perfectly straight, hands resting in her lap. She looked like she was concentrating hard on something, but she wasn’t looking at me. In the dark, I studied her for a moment, and then began seeing a few peculiarities.

First, I noticed her nightgown. This was not the same set of pajamas she’d gone to sleep in and, to my recollection, was not a nightgown she owned. I’d never seen it before. Next, I noticed the length and style of her hair. My sister’s hair was always worn long – often what my mom would describe as “stringy” when it went uncombed for more than two hours. But now, her hair was cropped at shoulder length – shiny, well groomed — full of volume – and even more strange, bound with a blue silk ribbon that tied in a bow just above the bangs. My sister wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a blue silk bow in her hair, I said to myself. Then the thought frightened me – if this wasn’t my sister, who was it? And if it was my sister, was she dead?

Taking a chance, I whispered her name into the dark. She heard me. Slowly, almost eerily, she cricked her neck to look in my direction. Eye contact was made and she issued a grin that I couldn’t begin to describe and have never seen since. Without a word, she began to recline, and that’s when I saw the second version of her, the version I’d grown up with, lying asleep in the bed. Once the two parts had fully merged, my sister’s body sprang to life and she said, “Did you call me?”

My father, a man we’d never known in childhood, was able to clarify much for me once I’d grown to adulthood and met him for the first time. By this time, I had my first child who was nearing a year old and learning to utter small words. My father had arranged to visit my apartment in Las Vegas and was looking forward to seeing his grandson for the first time. When my father pulled into the driveway, and I, carrying my infant son went to greet him, my son excitedly squealed, “Hi, Papa Paul!” as though they’d been friends for lifetimes. I looked at my father, dazed. “It’s okay,” he assured, “I’ve visited him before. He knows me.” And with that, my son reached out for my father.

During that visit, my father explained to me that my ancestors have been astral traveling for many moons. It was a gift not many could understand, much less explain, but it was something I’d have to adjust to and accept – not for the sake of having an open mind, but because it was happening to me as well! He went on to tell story after story about how he’d learned to control his gift and could now travel at will to select locations, rather than doing it by accident and feeling lost and confused all the while. I had no idea these “accidental separations of soul and body” could be controlled.

What exactly is astral travel? Who does this, and why? Can it be done, or better yet, should it be done with intent and practiced precision? Could a person die from astral traveling? Could another traveling soul “kidnap” the body of an unattended astral traveler? Can other people see you visually when your soul is traveling out of body? Do we mistake astral travelers as ghosts? The questions were many. Some were answered by my father, some were learned through experience, and some – well, some of the questions linger still today, more than 20 years after my first experience with astral travel.

There is a theory presented by The Skeptic’s Dictionary that each of us actually has a total of seven “bodies”, one for each of the seven realms of reality. It’s not actually the spirit or soul that detaches from the body, but instead is the astral body. The Skeptic’s Dictionary states, “The astral body, according to Madame Blavatsky, is the one that has an aura. It is also the seat of feeling and desire, and is generally described as being connected to the physical body during astral projection by an infinitely elastic and very fine silver cord, a kind of cosmic umbilical cord or Ariadne’s thread.” However, to be fair, this source also clearly states there is little or no scientific proof that astral travel exists.

Can others see our “astral selves” when we’re traveling out of body? The answer, according to some, is yes – and the term for it is Astral Projection, where the practitioner consciously chooses to project their appearance to another. If more than one person is familiar and experienced in astral travel, two or more can even arrange to meet on the astral realm – anywhere the imagination can carry them. A meeting on the moon, perhaps? A joy ride on the Milky Way? Is that really possible? Perhaps, but if so, science cannot prove that it is. Because science has no hard evidence, the subject is often viewed with skepticism and the occasional scoff. However, there’s another form of astral travel that even the government is said to have dabbled with, and that is known as Remote Viewing.

Remote Viewing can be described, in essence, as a really sneaky way to spy on someone or something without being caught because you were never “really” there in the first place. According to the International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA) website, “Remote viewing is not used to give ‘psychic readings,’ ‘tell fortunes,’ ‘read auras,’ or other sorts of popular activities of this nature, but is rather a means of doing serious science research and for performing operational-type tasks in criminal investigations, government intelligence work, commercial applications, etc.”

Some people suggest that each and every one of us astral travels every time we sleep. Yet, this raises the eyebrows of skeptics who claim astral travel is nothing more than a dream. If we only astral travel while asleep, can it be assumed, as the skeptics suggest, that astral travel is nothing more than our subconscious minds painting pictures real enough for us to believe, or can it be argued that the dream state takes us into other dimensions without our conscious mind being aware?

Many people who still practice the “old ways” work consciously and willingly with astral travel. There are herbs, books, spells, charms, enchantments, methods, and meditations provided to help one learn to harness the ability to fly to any heights of the imagination and beyond, but more importantly, to do this safely and with a full account of responsibility.

One way I can tell the difference, personally, between “just a dream” and “astral travel” is a term I’ve coined as the “astral hangover”. I’ve discussed this with a few other people and have found it something we have in common. When we dream a dream that feels like astral travel, where we’ve felt like we “left” and “returned”, there’s a sense of disconnect from the body. For a small amount of time after waking, there’s clumsiness – an inability to hold an object without dropping it, a tendency to walk into walls rather than down the hallway unobstructed, slurred speech, unfocused thoughts. It’s a “twilight-zone” feeling that holds on for around an hour after waking, and then there’s a feeling of “sinking wholly back in” to my own skin.

So are these experiences just dreams or flights of fanciful imaginations – or is it really possible for the mind or spirit to separate from the body? Since there is no hard, scientific evidence, all we can do, really, is speculate.

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Still

Intro: This is another piece inspired by a game called Poetry Tag. A fellow blogger initiated the game on her blog, and here’s how it worked. She wrote a short poem, and at the end, she included a set of “keywords”. The next author would come along and was challenged to write a short poem containing those keywords. Once they’d posted their completed challenge, that author would then include a new set of “keywords” for the next author to use. The poems didn’t have to be related in any way, and they could be written in any style or form, as long as they included the set of keywords provided by the previous author. It was a fun game and a brilliant writing exercise. For this piece, I was challenged to use the keywords “seashell in the forest”. Obviously, I wasn’t in a very good mindset when I wrote this, but I’m more than pleased with the end result.

“Still”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2007

She knew all was
as it should be –
the walls were

still

in tact

– up was still up
and down was
still down and sideways was

still

so fucking familiar.

The sky was still blue
and the water was
still wet – the soil smelled

still

like perfume after the rain

The dogs still barked
and the cat…
still flipped its tail
in that “I’m too good”

notion it always has

Coffee was still hot
– until she let it get cold
and the reflection was still hers
although tattered and old

and even that seemed appropriate.

Everything
was as it should be
or as it had been
she was standing

still

on the spot
her own legs
had taken her
and yet she felt

displaced

like a seashell
in the forest

How did it come
to this?

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Spun

Intro: This is another one with a fun history.  I was involved in an online community, bloggers, of course – and one blogger had the fantastic idea of playing a game she called Poetry Tag.  She first posted a short poem, and then provided “keywords” that the next author would use.  The second author would write their own short piece, including the “keywords” provided from the previous author, and at the end would include a new set of “keywords” for the next author to use.  None of the poetry had to be connected – it wasn’t like an ongoing story… each poem was unique and could be written in any style or form and on any subject, as long as it included the keywords.  In this particular piece, the keywords I was challenged to use were “spun gold”, and this is what was born from that… It was a fantastic writing game, and one I may eventually include here at this blog.

“Spun”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2007

There she sits, stitching seams
of broken promises and shattered dreams
Turning the fragments into a whole
by quilting together the shards of her soul

Needling away at life’s discarded scraps
Hope still exists for her, perhaps
For in her fragments a story is told,
words woven well from pain’s spun gold.

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