Spiritual

Easter in the Raw

By: JANA GREENE

Happy Easter. I don’t want to be that person who bums everybody out with their posts of grief, but I have to tell you this Easter feels more like death than resurrection.

It’s raw.

I’m raw.

Death is present and lurking, but the joke’s on Death, because it’s defeated. It is finished. But Death – and about 8 billion other voices, if you give them credence – will tell you otherwise.

It is finished, even if we have to live in a broken world.

It’s is finished, meaning our suffering here is not part and parcel of who we are. We don’t take it with us. Only love travels that well.

It is finished, even when our hearts lurch with missing someone so badly it physically hurts.

It is finished, even though the sticky residue of suffering gums up the works, and the whole damn planet seems to have lost its collective mind.

I won’t ask, “Death, where is your sting?” because I call BS on that. It stings like Hell. It hurts like a mother-*. I’m not going to deny the pain of being human just to sell you on Pollyanna positivity. I’m certainly not going to sell you religion, which professes to have all the answers but I assure you, does not.

But Death, after the sting, is never the victor.
Our spirits outlive Death. Nothing can keep us from the love of God. Not even ourselves.

He is risen, friends.

And I’m telling you that with a puffy frog-face from crying, unbrushed hair, balled fists, a heart full of questioning incredulousness, and deep pain. I’m writing this because maybe you’re hurting too.

Maybe you’re pissed off, and for good reason. Maybe you’re sick and feel hopeless. I just want to remind you that you are also risen.

Risen is by far more your identity than broken, or even dead.

Sometimes resurrection doesn’t look like glorious renderings of an ancient, empty tomb – beams of light streaming from within, all CBN Network-style.

Sometimes it looks just like you- in all your holy, grieving glory. Slogging through the messy inconveniences and crippling agonies of life, interspersed with great bursts of love and laughter. All of us redeemed ragamuffin kids of God, all of us made of stardust, mud, and love.

God bless us, every one.

Cats · Spiritual

Saying Goodbye to The Great Catsby (and nursing a broken heart)

Rest easy, my baby. We love you so much.

By: Jana Greene

Yesterday, I lost my beloved furbaby, Catsby. It was sudden and unexpected, and we are in another state taking care of some emergency family business four hours away. My daughter found him and called us hysterical.

Yesterday was pure processing, or trying to. And last night…

I fell asleep crying.
Woke up today crying.
Feel like I’ll never be done crying.
Feel like my whole heart is going to simply stop for trying to make sense of things.

Last night I had to fight the urge to drive to the vet four hours away that has his perfect little fuzzy body for cremation, all the way back to Wilmington.

I just wanted to hold him one last time and tell him how much I love him. To thank him for spending his life giving so much love and hilarity. I’d like to tell him what he means to me, but I tried to make that clear every day of his life.

I know he knew how loved he was. I know we gave him such a good life. We were nowhere NEAR ready to say goodbye.

So in saying goodbye to him, I wanted to share these things all about Catsby:

We got him because I fostered his litter of five kittens when he was a baby. It was delirious chaos and mayhem, and out of the five there was one shy little guy who I just connected with. I chose him because he chose me.

Catsby wasn’t like other cats. I know all cat people say this about their cats, and I used to roll my eyes whenever someone would insist that about their own, but ask anyone who knew him.

He was the Mac Daddy of pure, unadulterated love, and I never knew I could love a cat like this.

He was carried around, a LOT, his preferred mode of transport.

He was told he was a good boy approximately 150 times a day.

He had to be in somebody’s lap most of the time.

He was held and squeezed and the top of his little noggin was kissed no less than a million times in his lifetime. And he loved it.

He had a middle name – Zazzles – a nod to the cat in Big Bang Theory that Sheldon named “Zazzles” because “he’s SO zazzy.”

Catsby was SO zazzy. Big personality. Big love energy.

He loved to “spoon” – he’d come in every morning in bed and I’d sing him a dumb little song about what a good boy he is while he’d scrootch up next to me – couldn’t get close enough.

He got little bites of turkey and cheese when we made sandwiches, and I saved him the straws from some of my drinks because he LOVED to play “fetch.”

He loved water, so we got him a little kitty fountain. He loved it, as it befitted his taste for the finer things in life.

He loved to lay upside down and sun his fat, pink belly. No shame in his game. LOOK AT IT, he seemed to say. I wish I had that confidence about my own fat, pink belly. He knew he was majestic.

He greeted me at the door almost always – my own itty bitty kitty greeting committee. It’s going to be brutal walking through the door and not having him waiting for me.

He was a great outdoorsman (on the screened-in porch only, which he has no idea wasn’t the whole big, bad world (and nobody told him it wasn’t.)

He liked to sit on the barstool while I cooked and watch me, and sometimes I’d jokingly ask him if he wanted a sarsaparilla, because his little peanut head was all you could see of him over the bar and he looked somehow like an old-timey wild-west patron.

When I was having pain flares, he really pulled out all the stops – sitting with me in the pain all day so consistently and kindly. We watched many a true-crime series together, but I think he preferred watching 90-Day Fiancé episodes.

He could MacGyver his way into cabinets and figure out how to get to noms in the cleverest ways. He also liked to knock every single item off of ever single surface in every single room in the house, all while being told “no” whilst not breaking eye contact. My little fartknocker.

He didn’t mind his feet being touched, which is weird for a cat. I do so love some pink toe beans.

He followed me from room to room all day every day at the house; I didn’t even get to pee alone. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

He was the perfect boy for me….nice and codependent. Very go-with-the-flow, which I need, because I have absolutely no chill.

And I love him. So so much.

It is a sad time in many “life event” ways for us right now. Catsby’s passing is not even the most difficult thing we are going through right now. I cannot share more at this time, but please keep praying for us.

And hey, snuggle those furbabies a little extra today, for me. Time is so precious.

Spiritual

The Language of Heaven is Loudest Through our Humanity

Photo by Darya Sannikova on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Sometimes, the “language of Hell” isn’t complaining, sometimes it’s denial.

Sometimes humans have issues and worries that overwhelm them, but they are afraid to give those worries voice because your average American Super Christian expects them to hold it together.

This evangelical version of the stuff-upper-lip isn’t helpful.

The relationship model in which you and God play mind games until every vestige if your humanity is stripped bare is a bad relationship model.

Denial isn’t just a river, but it might be an ocean. We are just floating, not willing to admit our feet can’t touch the bottom. All while wondering how long we can hold our breath before we drown.

It isn’t even Biblical (maybe, depending on the millions of ways you could spin it. Like most other things, interpretation is pretty pliable.)

Under our sanctified breath, we say…

All is well!

This doesn’t hurt!

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!

No, really! Doesn’t hurt a bit!

Hooboy, I’m getting really strong!

Complaining is the language of Hell, but so is Denial, in which I am fluent because it’s my mother tongue.

Let’s talk about the language of Heaven, which you instinctively already know. You don’t even need a translator.

The Kingdom of God is within you – even with all of the repairs and remodels.

You carry Heaven in your aimless floating.

You carry Heaven in your breath when you encourage others.

You carry Heaven when you love risky people.

No American Super Christian-ese necessary.

Jesus was not afraid to show his humanity. He didn’t deny either his Holiness or his human-ness, so why do we think we can’t let our true selves be known?

Blessed be, friends.

Depression · Spiritual

Taking a mental Health Day (to sleep, to meditate, to wallow in my feelings, and cry until I’m 10% snot and tears)

By: JANA GREENE

Taking a mental health day today.

Slept shitty last night.

The whole world is on fire.

My gastroperesis is flaring so hard I’m barely able to keep any food down. This throws other medical issues into a hellish spiral.

My chronic pain has been ridiculous.

We have very difficult things to deal with in the family right now. Really hard things.

I’ve cried several times today, which is no small feat when you’re on antidepressants. It felt awful to cry, and then really good…cleansing.

And it seems a counter-intuitive measure to wallow around in pain and sadness, but every once in a while, you need a good wallow.

Today I will cry, and rest, and bitch about my woes to my ever-patient husband.

I will likely beat myself up for having to cancel plans with friends, and hate myself for feeling melancholy.

I will feel like I am not handling life well AT ALL. (While reminding myself that despite it all, knowing I’m doing my very best.)

At some point, to be transparent, I will feel guilty for even having this little nervy-B, guilty for unloading on my husband, and guilty for having the audacity to complain about this life, when I am truly blessed in so many ways.

I’m pretty sure I’m not done crying today. God, I hope not. There’s a long line of tears queued up in my spirit that need to be purged.

I hope that tomorrow, by some measured miracle, the world on fire won’t seem quite so much like utter doom.

Today I will wallow. I’ll sleep and watch Schitt’s Creek (it’s a balm to my soul), and talk with God about WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. And I’ll look forward to better days.

Because they are always on the way, you know – better ones.

I’ll keep hanging on if you will, Dear Reader. ❤️

Spiritual

Okay, but Zoom Out

The legendary Hubble Space Telescope, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), captured a dazzling snapshot of a large galaxy (NGC 169) pulling cosmic material away from a smaller galaxy (IC 1559)

!y: JANA GREENE

The legendary Hubble Space Telescope, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) captured a dazzling snapshot of a large galaxy pulling cosmic material away from a smaller galaxy, and my mental health is HERE for it.

It is helping my mental health because I am fascinated with all things galactic, and every time a new image is captured by Hubble, my worries seem to shrink. It’s impossible to be in wonder and see while nursing a grudge or fussing over a human problem.

Not that our problems aren’t real. Or important. They ARE important, even to the Being who came up with the crazy idea of eternity.

Infinite ness is not a concept we default to. We cannot wrap our minds around the concept of endlessness. But in a world where our troubles seem the most infinite thing we know, Hubble reminds me to zoom out.

Yes, I am hurting. My body aches. My heart grieves. The pandemic looms. The world’s a hot mess express.

Would you look at this economy?

This sociological crap-shoot we are calling “life.”

We become Chicken Littles, running in circles exclaiming, “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and then we like to proclaim anyone who doesn’t join our panic is Pollyanna about reality.

Okay…but ZOOM OUT. Pan the picture wider, then wider still.

Imagine yourself and all your pain, a tiny speck on a giant blue marble – just one of billions. Imagine this as an image on your iPhone, in hi-def, as most problems seem.

Now imagine that the same Creator who spins planets in orbit cares intimately about what you do. He cares about you not only as a marble-dweller, but a miracle of cells and thoughts and feelings.

Imagine that this Being of Love is intimate with your every heartache and just as concerned about the state of you as He is the state of the Multiverse.

Just zoom out of the picture, wider and wider. See how perfect the orbits are? Check out those stars. Wow! Each and every one a sun. Each and every molecule of the cosmos is worshipping just by existing.

Existence is worship.

We cannot reach the end of it, just like we cannot reach yet end of Love itself.

Just zoom out. It’s going to be okay.

God is zooming in on us. Let your heart marinate in the magnificence of this concept – a Love so endless, Hubble will never reach it.

You’re made of stardust, baby.

Poetry

A Few of My Favorite Things (a little poem about finding joy ANYWAY)

Photo by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

The scent of a newborn,

The smile on a dog,

A book well written,

The lifting of fog.

The smiles of my daughters,

The warmth of a cat,

A beautiful flower,

A welcome mat.

Being held

In my husband’s arms,

Crisp fall days,

A snoozed alarm.

The taste of chocolate,

A warm, soft bed,

Good, loud music,

A charcuterie spread.

Friends that “get me,”

A starry night,

Making up

After a fight.

Iced tea with lemon,

Having family around,

The laughter and union

Of new friends found.

These are a few

Of my favorite things,

That (even in a pandemic,)

Happiness brings.

We may have to look harder

For joy these days,

But it’s still around

In so many ways.

Chronic Ilness · Spiritual

Doing Better / Getting Better with Intention

BY: JANA GREENE

Many of you know I struggle with multiple illnesses that can be very debilitating. I know there are some of you going through similar things.

I truly live one day at a time, but for the first time in a minute, I am feeling hopeful about the things I CAN do that are in my power. It’s time to step up my game. Instead of fighting just to survive, I’d like to fight to be as healthy as I can be.

Several really good things are coming up and I want to be at my best. GOOD THINGS. Some travel. Some reconnecting with people I love. It’s very easy to fall into defeatist thinking, but I need to re-center and here’s how I plan to go about it. Sometimes I need a plan!

  1. Today I’m meeting with a nutritionist to find out everything I can do for the gastroperesis. That’s going to mean yet MORE changes. Although I’ve lost a lot of weight, it’s not the healthy way. I must absolutely be better about keeping my diabetes in check as well. I have to eat cleaner, which is hard because dammit, I reward myself with food – the head game relationship I have with it is LOADED, man.
  2. Today, I make time for daily physical therapy (at home) to minimize my dislocations and injuries. There will always be injuries and mobility issues, but I have to do better. The last thing you feel like doing in pain is the exercises, but I have to push through to help keep he musculature strong to support each joint.
  3. Today I will rest when my body says to rest. It’s also difficult with a genetically deficient immune system because I get sick often. My kidneys are not in good shape, although my last labs indicate they haven’t failed further recently. That is what we call a “praise report” right there.
  4. Today I will make time to get quiet and still, because I suck at stillness but my spirit needs it. I will make time to show gratitude deliberately. I will be thankful for all the ways I’m blessed, but I will also be thankful “in advance” of getting healthier, BELIEVING for it. (Y’all remind me I said this later when I get discouraged.)
  5. I will manage my pain as need be, realizing pain management is self care. This is sometimes difficult because I can no longer take Advil or Alieve, or any other anti-inflammatory; which is unfortunate because my conditions are inflammatory. (God, I do miss Advil something awful.

And here’s where I run into trouble: I just have to do all of THIS every single day. That’s overwhelming!

I need to run my health like I run my alcoholism recovery – one single day at a time. Don’t consider “forever,” just do one single good and loving thing towards my body and soul at a time. Just one thing. Then another. I’ll handle tomorrow TOMORROW.

Life is tough but I’m pretty scrappy. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. But today I start trying to do so with purpose, because I’m not going through all of this just to add more sick years to my life, but to ENJOY this juicy life.

God bless us al.

Spiritual

Reconstruction (Or: “That Soul-Lurching, Discombobulating, Radical Spiritual Overhaul’)

This is one of those pieces that originated as pure pent-up anxiety that would only be assuaged by writing. It’s a little rambly!

By: JANA GREENE

On the way to the dentist, I passed a gentleman whose entire existence was contained in a shopping cart. My heart lurched heavy in my chest. I gave him what cash I had, which wasn’t much. “God bless you,” I said. But it rang hollow in my throat.

The rest of the drive, I thought about how many thousands of times I’ve told people that.

If God could bless him, he wouldn’t be living out of a shopping cart, would seem evidential, so I told God so, as if maybe he forgot this one straggler, and PLEASE COULD YOU GET ON THIS?

Like I can tell God about mercy.

See…this is where the deconstructing of religion has given me a great gift. A really wonky, welcome, serendipitous gift.

If for no other reason than it gave me permission to give voice to the GIANT chasm of inequity, I increasingly became aware of. I cared; I really did. But the sheer inequality didn’t shred my spirit.

My God is only ever Good, I believed on the surface. But I couldn’t reckon that with all the pain – personally and globally.

God will rescue you from suffering, is easy to say. But I kept getting sicker.

God has a PLAN. (Which is totally true, but not always helpful.)

His ways are not our ways. (No SHIT!)

You know those HGTV shows where they find a property and deem it worthy of saving even though it looks like a straight-up dumpster fire? My Spirit was a real fixer-upper. The rebuilding of my faith stripped away the pretty stucco facade of a neat and tidy belief system and turned it into a real shitshow. Wrecking balls. Bulldozers. Hard hats required. Flattened it into the ground. I was sure that was a wrap on my relationship with a Higher Power.

But SPOILER ALERT: I can’t do that. I’ve seen things. I’ve felt things. My heart of hearts knows things. I suspect yours does too.

It’s a gift to be able to question existence without feeling damned to Hell for it (eternal conscious torment is a topic for another day.) It stands to reason that the innate ability to question God is a gift he alone gives. If we don’t feel comfortable enough to approach the throne without fear, where’s the relationship?

Unfortunately, my “healthy fear” of God kept me from God, because deferring to somebody you’re terrified of is not a good model. Fear was the theme of my entire childhood, and a “healthy fear” of God kept me from some degree of meaningful spiritual growth. That’s just me.

So, it’s a work in progress. But as we say in the Program: “Progress, not Perfection.”

My soul is on a state-of-the-art foundation now…though there is still scaffolding all the way around (which I’m hoping is permanent, to hold my structure in ongoing work.) But the house is solid. Good bones, as they say. There’s still a bit of debris, which makes excellent confetti with which to celebrate LIFE and all the chaos that is part and parcel. The interior is shaping up, too; although it feels like it’s taking forever, it’s right on the Designer’s schedule. Open floor concept – very spacious.

I have no answer as to why some of us are born into one station or another. Why some of us are healthy and some will always be sick. Sickness is my sticky wicket. I don’t know why I’m having this whole, soul-lurching, discombobulating, radical spirit reckoning the past few years.

But I know it’s got me thinking things like: That gentleman living out of the shopping cart? He could BE God, for all I know…can you imagine if we ALL treated one another with the reverence we allow only God? What if we really saw God in every person. Oy vey, so much to think about.

I can only explain it as: God is only Love. When our souls’ sense that benevolent drenching in experience nature, that is God.

God + Love…there ya go. That’s my whole entire theology:

Shit happens, but God is Love.

(Now the rest of the blog will be me hashing out what that looks like; pull up a chair.)

When we are bothered for people less fortunate (whether we deem them at “fault” for it or not)…

When we declare grace over people (who we have decided are pushing their luck in the grace department.)

When we are enjoying the purely divine gift of music and the chords hit so hard that you hit repeat for a solid half-hour…

When babies smile at us in the grocery store checkout lines…

When a friend sends a heart emoji for no reason…

When your husband kisses you on the top of your head…

When are we allowed to get angry with God and ask him the hard questions without fear?

WHEN WE ARE HUMAN….

God is there. God is love.

WE ARE the mercy.

You are not a wayward straggler, but a sturdy and essential journeyman, who is going to get through this pandemic – and a million other very hard things – and come out laughing.

We don’t have to hustle for our worthiness. There is genuine GOD in you.

Rest in that, Loves, and I will too.

humor · Spiritual

Daily Doubles, Anxiety Troubles: 2022 (so far)

By: JANA GREENE

How jacked up has your anxiety been lately?

I’m at the point where I literally DREAD any contestant getting the Daily Double on “Jeopardy,” because I can never know from whence it will come dammit and WHY IS IT SO JARRING AND LOUD?

My GOD, sensory overload. From pensive, rhythmic choosing a catagory to PEW PEW PEW PEW LOUD, ALARMING SOUNDS FLASHING LIGHTS*

I don’t DO “sudden.” Knowing it “could” happen at ANY time but usually does NOT (but HAHA you’ll never know!) makes me anxious.

So, yeah. Where is my anxiety level in this – the year of our Lord 2022, well into the trilogy that is .. whatever THIS is? *Gestures wildly*

DOUBLE JEOPARDY GIVES ME A MINI PANIC ATTACK. That’s where.

God bless us, every single one.

Gratitude · Spiritual

For Every Kindness Shown, Show a Kindness

These are my daughters. They turned out phenomenally, in spite of my struggles. ❤️

By: Jana Greene

This time of year makes me reflect on the mind-blowing kindness and generosity that me and my little family were shown back in the day.

You see, this picture brings back SO many memories…some of them heart-wrenching.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for me, this one is worth a million. I hadn’t seen it in forever, but I remember taking it like it was yesterday!

I had just left the girls’ father and we were legally separated. The girls and I had nowhere to go, so a dear friend gave me a reduced rate to stay temporarily in Atlantic Towers (such a blessing.)

This photo was taken there. I loved that it had bright pink walls. I told the girls it was because we were so full of GIRL POWER, they painted them pink special for us.

At the time, I had a restraining order out on my ex (so you KNOW that added stress) and no money. I was receiving NO help. And I mean, NO help. Not even from my own family members. That was a brutal learning curve.

I went from one part time job to four jobs to feed my kids. I wrote freelance, worked for a realtor, became the receptionist at another company, and cleaned motel rooms on the weekends. When I was with my babies I worried how I would take care of them myself. When I was at work, I missed them terribly. Mommy guilt was only eclipsed by pure fear.

I had a new sobriety that was only three or four years old, and I was DESPERATELY trying to keep it and not start drinking again. (I did keep my date of sobriety which is Jan. 3, 2001.)

I’d left everything behind but a few sticks of furniture, the clothes on our backs, and the kids’ Barbie toys. Not much else.

I was truly starting over after 14 years in a bad marriage and struggling not to drink, after nearly killing myself with alcohol only a few short years prior.

My girls look happy in this picture, but it was a rough time for them too. My goal was to shield them from my own grown-up problems, and make it an adventure of sorts. They were the lights of my life then. (And they still are.)

At the time, I could not imagine how I would get through that difficult season. I lost 80 pounds from stress. I had been a stay at home mom all my daughters lives, and had ZERO IDEA what would happen to all of us.

But then a miracle happened…and the venue for said miracle was the Carolina and Kure Beach communities, whose members rallied around us that year in the early 2000’s.

And I mean they rallied!

It was Christmas time, which made everything harder, but the local fire station gifted my girls with toys from Santa. A dear friend bought them bicycles!. One friend kept my girls in donated clothes for a year. One amazing friend invited us over for Thanksgiving and Christmas and welcomed us as if we were all true family. Another helped us out with food for a while. One watched my girls for me when I worked. And another helped me keep the heat on one particularly cold month.) One practically adopted me and treated me like a daughter, and does still.

I did nothing to deserve any of that, but the magnitude of blessing still floors me.

I wasn’t FROM there, you see. I wasn’t a “local;” But they MADE me a local through kindness. Dozens of (then) strangers came out of the woodwork. I could do nothing for any of them, nothing. They just poured forth things we needed, acts of friendship, and so much support, and love. I’m happy to report I cherish them still today.

Meanwhile, I learned how to work my ass off and provide for my kids.
I worked on my own issues.
I put up strong, necessary boundaries.
I learned how to forgive myself.
And I managed to stay sober, all glory to God!)

So from one old snapshot for TBT came a tidal wave of gratitude today,, and with that, this very wordy, rambling post.

Now when I look at these 9 and 12 year old faces in the photo, I can rest easy knowing that these two grew up to be beautiful, funny, kind-hearted people. They grew up awesome, and the dark times only grew us closer.

They are 26 and 29 now. My world.

Boy, I wish I had truly trusted God when I was going through it! But my points are twofold:

  1. When at your absolute darkest, keep going kiddo. You CAN do hard things, I promise. You can, and you will. And if you lean into Source, you’ll FLOURISH.
  2. Community is so important. We are all made designed to need each other. Every single member of every community is precious.

And all you single mamas going through the midst of a nightmare like this, I promise it’s true for YOU and your babies, too!

These days I have new struggles, but I try to pay forward any and every kindness shown to me. I try to diversify my kindness portfolio, as it were. Love on everyone, I’m every circumstance. I fall short a LOT, but oh the joy in paying kindness forward!

But it seems important to remind you, if you’re hurting:

The kids really WILL be ok.
You ARE stronger than you think.
It’s OKAY to ask for help.
It’s EVEN OKAY to accept help!
God has not abandoned you
There are wonderful, amazing things awaiting you in the other side of the mess you’re going through.

Blessed be, friends.

covid · Spiritual

Vaxxed or Unvaxxed, Kindness Counts More

By: JANA GREENE

The bottom portion of this post is copied from a friend. The rest is my opining about it…I would love to see it be a conversation starter!

You see, whether you’re vaxxed or not, I don’t think less of you. Matter of fact, I suspect you’re doing the best you can and made decisions that are best for you and your family.

I think we are ALL just trying to make the best decisions about our health in an unprecedented age; NONE of us have ever been through a pandemic before.

So can we please stop calling people “sheep,” it’s condescending and unhelpful. Please stop insinuating that those who won’t get vaxxed don’t care about the rest of humanity. Please stop considering those who get vaxxed “idiots,”and those who refuse to get the jab “idiots.”

My God, the division is worse than anything a vaccination could do.

Sometimes it’s not about the government pulling one over on us (though admittedly, I don’t have the greatest respect for the government.) It’s about doing what we can safely do, with the incomplete and often unsubstantiated information we get from said government.

We have all become like bullies in a school yard purporting “my way or the highway,” haughtily sure than our way is the only “right” way.

I’ve had enough. If you are vaxxed, thank you. And if you are in vaxxed, I’m sure you had GOOD reasons for choosing that path. Yes, we are all responsible for each other in life, but calling one another names and puffing up with righteous indignity (on either side,) is a misuse of that responsibility and a damn, crying shame.

If you got the jab, I love you. We consider our options with seriousness too.

If you felt it wasn’t right for you, hey…I love you.

Can we please try to do better?

I feel like if this thing wipes out part of humanity, who would want to inherit the earth, given the gaslighting, blaming, and disdain we are showing one another?

Keep it a world worth continuing.

Keep it kind. (Or MAKE it kinder!)

Peace out.

“Yes I’m FULLY vaccinated and, no, I don’t know what’s in it – neither this vaccine, the ones I had as a child, nor in the 11 secret herbs and spices at KFC, or hot dogs, or other treatments, whether it’s for cancer, AIDS, pneumonia, or vaccines for infants or children.
I also don’t know what’s in Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other meds, it just cures my headaches & my pains.
I don’t know what’s in the ink for tattoos, vaping, Botox and fillers, or every ingredient in my soap or shampoo or even deodorants.
I don’t know the long term effect of mobile phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands.
In short …
There are a lot of things I don’t know and never will. I just know one thing: life is short, very short, and I still want to do something other than just staying locked in my home. I still want to travel and hug people without fear and find a little feeling of life “before.”
As a child and as an adult I’ve been vaccinated for mumps, measles, polio, chickenpox, and quite a few others; my parents and I trusted the science and never had to suffer through or transmit any of the said diseases.
I’m vaccinated, not to please the government but:

  • To not die from Covid-19.
  • To not clutter a hospital bed if I get sick.
  • To hug my loved ones
  • To try and spread the virus as little as possible.
  • To live my life.
  • To see and hug my family and friends
  • For Covid-19 to be an old memory.
  • To protect my family and others.
    Text copied, feel free to do the same!
Spiritual · writing

The Beggar’s Bakery is About to turn 10 Years Old (and I’m a Different Writer Now)

BY: JANA GREENE

Hello, friends.

I was noting to my husband last week that my readership has shrunk. It’s not a numbers game, don’t get me wrong. I would much rather have a small readership that is touched, entertained, enjoyed by several people than have a large readership but crank out mediocre content.

Here’s the thing, though. Life is chock full of mediocre content. Life sometimes IS mediocre content.

I was considering this when my husband replied with, “Well you don’t blog very often anymore.” Which is the gospel truth.

The past few years, I don’t post at all unless I’ve had some kind of epiphany to share, or I’m low on hormones and need to vent, or I have something inspiring to say. Why have I gotten into that habit? What about when I’m not feeling encouraging and just want a safe place where I can share my heart, even when my heart is boring and uninspired?

WRITE ANYWAY. That’s when I’m happiest.

I can’t always wait until I in crisis mode to write. It creates a jamb where there should be flow.

This blog is nothing like the one I started in 2012. I was of the “super Christian” persuasion then, full of quoting scripture and doling out pat advice about “trusting the Lord,” If I had a particularly awful day, I would write sweeping tales of how it’s all going to work out because God is in it. What would people THINK of me, if I was 100% authentic and open about doubting faith? It might throw a kink into my Pollyanna-esque style of writing. There’s nothing “super Christian” about that!

It’s true, in that I believe ultimately God IS working in our best interest.

But truth is also looking around you and admitting the world is whack.

I’m a much different writer than I was when I started this crazy thing. I’ll never forget gaining 45 followers the first day and being incredulous that anybody would want to hear what I have to say.

And then there was that one time I went legit viral and got a quarter million hits to ONE blog post. I thought I may actually get to make a living at writing, but the truth is, I make zero money from writing. It is its own reward and I’m okay with that now.

Ten years ago, when I started this blog, I was chronically sick but we couldn’t figure out why. It took many years, many doctors, and many bouts with depression to find out that I have genetic conditions that will affect me the rest of my life. It explained SO MUCH about me since I was born – the injuries, the illnesses. But there’s no cure, and I think it’s about the time I found out my diagnosis that the Pollyanna fell away, little by little.

My faith took a beating too, but came out victorious anyway, if not in an altogether different way.

I told myself in the beginning, I would write honest, or not write at all.

It’s writing honestly about the fact that I’m losing mobility and I’m in horrible health.

It’s being truthful about mental illness struggles, without wondering what everyone “thinks.”

It’s about grieving losses that I told myself I should be “over” by now, and making no apologies for it.

It’s about celebrating little victories and sharing kooky, dopey little stories.

My dream when I write is that somewhere out there, someone I love (or even a perfect stranger) will not feel so damn alone. Because life is HARD, peeps.

If writing is therapy, as I’ve always espoused, then I should probably practice it more often. It’s my way of un-smooshing all my feelings down. So I think I’m going to try to write a little each day. (The “general public” is made up of one sweet, unique soul at a time, anyway.)

I hope you glean a little somethin-somethin’ by reading The Beggar’s Bakery. I am so very glad you’re here, and honored you’d take the time to read my work.

On this – the eve of my blog’s 10th birthday – I am making a resolution to write more. Even if it’s sub-par prose. Even if it’s about vapid, inconsequential things. Especially if I’m struggling and hurting. Especially then.

Thank you SO much for being a part of my journey. God bless us, every one.

Christmas · Depression · Spiritual

A Case of the “Christmas Sads”

By: JANA GREENE

I am an emotional wreck lately.
Just really rather unhinged.
Thinking about the fragmentation of my family of origin, and how necessary estrangements still suck, even if for the sake of boundaries.
On the one hand, it’s Christmas, the Holly-jolliest season of all. I flippin’ love everything about it.
On the other hand, losses that are usually manageable seem like big, emotional gaping canyons.
My mind keeps “going there,” but I’m trying to go ahead and feel my feelings, rather than eating them, spending them, or smooshing them down and down. Smooshed feelings manifest in nasty ways and I’ve been in therapy too damn long to smoosh emotions down.
I have cried more in the past few days than the entire year prior combined. Fat waves of sadness knock me on my keister several times a day.
But I don’t want to be sad at all. I want to bliss out over all the sparkling, warm Christmasness, and enjoy all that I have NOT lost. And there is a whole lot to be grateful for.
It’s just a tough season. Writing about it (and consequently, I guess, “oversharing” it) helps me cope.
With pain, physical and otherwise.
With feeling alone.
With purging it with words.
Whether you’re missing someone, grieving a loss, hurting, or alone … I’m sending you huge hugs.
God bless us all.

Poetry

Come Sit by Me, Anger

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

BY: JANA GREENE

I made a new friend today,

Well,

I’ve known her a long time.

Her name is Anger and

we’ve been frienemies as far back

as I can remember.

She introduced herself

when I was just a little girl,

but she scared me with her

suffocating presence in my home

and in my heart.

Don’t be angry…it’s unbecoming!

That’s the message driven

into us little girls

like railroad spikes.

And we accept it

because we are told

it’s for a good cause…

our “betterment,”

but mostly for the betterment

Of others,

as it turns out.

So I substituted Anger with Sadness

For most of my life,

hoping no one would notice,

least of all myself.

As it turns out,

anger and Sadness are

thick as thieves.

Two sides of the same coin, really.

Sadness is safer

because it’s familiar.

“Be a good girl,” I said to Me,

my whole life,

especially when I was only little.

“Who are you to be angry?

Anger is reserved for people

Who can afford to

Lose other people.

Angry people are accustomed

To being generally safe.

No one is going to abandon them,

It’s a luxury –

being comfortable with Anger.

And the tax on that luxury

is cold, steel fear.

Because when I’m angry,

I wonder…

what if this person sees

that pissed off side of me,

and leaves…

just closes up shop.

What if I’m too much.

or not enough?

Don’t be angry….You’re too sensitive!…

And the insult of invalidation stings.

I’m old hat

at recognizing a good gaslighting.

I cut my teeth on the manipulation

Of others.

Don’t be angry…it’s not the Christian way…

Aside from one lousy

and very profound table-turning,

Jesus seemed never to act in anger again.

But I believe

Jesus was TICKED on occasion.

Oy vey! How could he NOT be?

Don’t be angry…it’s unfeminine.

Not ladylike at all.

Be meek.

Be mild.

You have a feminine mystique

image to foster.

To which I say…

Welcome, Anger.

I was taught not to associate with

the likes of you.

I was told you would disappoint people

If we hung out.

If I entertained you at all.

Come sit by me, Anger.

It’s okay to use your outdoor voice.

It’s okay to get mad.

This, I tell myself,

as I grab hold of Anger’s hand,

And be okay

With me.

Poetry

Winter Rains (and Spirit Pains)

Photo by Antonio Dillard on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Hi, Readers. I wrote this poem at 18 years of age, during a really difficult time of upheaval. It rained and rained and rained that winter. I feel like maybe God gave this jumble of words to me at just the right time. So, read gently please. I was just a kid. Blessed be, friends.

The winter rains are cooler now,

The mystic love, it floods my soul,

Gray and blue from above,

And soft brown ground below.

The winter rains seem freer now,

In liberation they have cried,

As water from the sky

Is unrelenting, so I try

To let it flood me,

Embrace the rain,

So I can feel whole again.

I feel no more the dreadful fear,

That made my soul to hate the rain,

The downfalls, they lay bare my soul,

Until I’m drenched again.

The winter rains are plentiful,

But I see them now as water flows,

A season I choose to live quenched,

A season in which I can grow.

Health

“Can You Hear Me Now?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Hi, Readers.

There has been a little saga going on in which I develop dual raging ear infections as of late. I hadn’t had an ear infection in eons prior to this year, mostly I get sinus infections. But this year – for so MANY, MANY reasons, was different.

By the way – toddlers are universally correct about this one – ear infections SUCK. They hurt like hell and make you dizzy and prone to bad moods. So suffice to say, I went to the doctor, who confirmed the double infections, and was put on strong antibiotics. That was last week.

So THIS week, I go the the ENT to make sure the infections had cleared. I am happy to report, they have. So that could be the end of the story, if the ENT hadn’t decided to do an auditory test, since it had been probably 10 years since I had my hearing tested.

No problem. Cool. Let’s do it.

After the test, the doctor parked me in an examining room and came in to give me the results.

“About your hearing test,” he starts with.

I do an audible guffaw, if guffawing was a noise. “Well, I guess I went to too many hair band concerts in the 80’s hahahaha,” say I.

He does not laugh.

“Mrs. Greene,” he starts. “You have moderate hearing loss.”

“Huh,” I state. “Well at least I don’t need hearing aids yet!” Says my inner internal optimist, who should really just shut the hell up most of the time. She’s usually wrong. This is why I usually just avoid the middle man and assume the worst.

“Well, about that….” says he.

“But I’m 52 years old!” I tell him, which hastens him to flip through my chart.

“Almost 53…”

“WHAT??” I say, prophetically I suppose.

Yall, I cannot tell you how depressing this news is. Aside from a janky faith, quirky family, dearly beloved animals, and sick sense of humor, it’s MUSIC that sees me through. Music gets me physically high. It changes the landscape of my mind, which – if you mapped it out – is naturally full of cragginess, hidden sinkholes, and all manner of detour signs.

“WHAT???” is a frequent sentiment these days.

Remember that stupid, morbid game we all played as kids, ‘Would you rather be deaf or blind’? I always go with blind. Not that I’d like to be blind – I love the ability to see – but I cannot fathom life without music. I was the kid in Kindergarten who had to wear an eye patch for lazy eye. My glasses are thicc, honey child. But even with my eyes closed, I can “see” music.

Music has auras. I can “smell” music, at times. It’s called synesthesia, and its one more thing that makes me a weirdo, but happily so. Most of the other things that make me a weirdo are just plain weird, not at all endearing. So I love my sense of sound.

Am I being dramatic? Probably. But this is the year that has aged me 10 years in a multitude of ways. This year alone, I have learned my kidneys are crapping out. I’ve gone from a few gray hairs to becoming pretty white-headed. I’ve lost stamina and muscle tone, and lost an unhealthy amount of weight in a short amount of time from worsening gastroperesis, and had to be hospitalized once because of a gastric bleed.

Yadda yadda blah blah blah, yes it sounds like a pity party, but it also sounds like the woes of a person much (or at least a little) aged than me, chronic illness or not.

The icing on the cake that is 2021 is depression. It’s a depression sadder and more resigned than angry and hostile. It’s a defeatist strain of the thing. On the heels of 2020, which I think we all can agree felt like being punked by the Universe, this year of “But wait….there’s MORE!” has got me really struggling.

I don’t even have the energy to be passionate about this round of depression. Usually, I work my depression out by getting pissed at it, emotionally stomping around a bit, depending on the help of others, getting extra therapy, etc. But I don’t have it in me this time. You know the “shrug” emoji?

LIFE: “There are NEW strains of Covid…”

ME: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LIFE: “You cannot eat gluten. Or much sugar. Or have caffeine, so say goodbye to your beloved real coffee…”

ME: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LIFE: “Your kidneys are actively failing.”

ME: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LIFE: “You will have some level of pain every moment of your existence….”

ME: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LIFE: “Some is the pain is unbearable.”

ME: \_(ツ)_/¯

LIFE: “You will lose your mobility…”

LIFE: “You’ll stop writing and painting, and not even really care….”

ME: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LIFE: “ANNNNND, you will need hearing aids in the not-so-distant future…”

ME: Okay, enough. WTF??? I’M 52!”

LIFE: “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

So here I am – finally doing a little writing. Not because it will slow down any of the above or even help any of it. But maybe it will help me deal with this shitty low-grade depression of resignation.

What is the difference between acceptance and resignation? That’s a question for my therapist to help me explore. Because I can’t figure it out myself.

In the meantime….

The nice ENT is ready to help me get into some hearing aids “whenever I feel ready.”

I continue to eat food that is neither tasty, nor satisfying to the soul. Like real bread.

I try very hard to remind myself that so many have it so much worse, but honestly…the more shit that goes wrong with my body, the less prominently into my toolbox of positive thinking. I have to grieve my limitations.

I do All The Things I’m supposed to with dull, necessary regularity.

But deep inside I am neither dull nor resigned. I’m wild and free, listening to the BEST music at the LOUDEST volume. I’m full of off-color humor and love for the divine, and laughter, even when of the ‘gallows’ variety.

So I cry. And complain. And try to accept. And…

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And to the Universe, a question: “WHAT???”

Come shrug along with me, and we will figure out acceptance together.

One minor crisis at a time.

Poetry · Spiritual

Wrinkles and Strength – a poem about womanhood and getting older

Photo by Edu Carvalho on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Girl, you leave that neck alone,

Did somebody tell you

before you were grown,

That our necks get crepey when we’re older,

That we lose our shine,

That we lose our smolder?

Did they warn you about the cellulite?

Did they tell you it would be a fight

To keep your value as you age?

Psh, girl..

You turn that page.

Girl, you hold your head up high,

You’ve worked a lifetime

Getting by,

“We’re getting old!”

We bitch and moan,

We gotta leave that

negative self-talk alone.

Be kind to yourself

About the lines on your face.

That body spawned humanity,

Show it of a little grace!

They don’t get to dictate

How our lives are spent,

Asking if the best has passed,

And where our beauty went.

Embrace the white hair

Don’t run from it far,

It crowns you like

The queen you are,

And know your value

Show yourself love.

Your newfound confidence

It fits like a glove!

Wear bright colors,

Grow your hair,

Dance to music,

If you dare,

And rest in knowledge

That all along,

The things that gave you wrinkles

Have also made you strong.

Mental Health · Spiritual

When Thanksgiving Means Canceling Perfection

By: Jana Greene

It’s not a great Thanksgiving.
It’s not even a good Thanksgiving. About to launch into avent sesh. Sorry in advance.

The whole entire day was a comedy of errors.
Oh my God, the anxiety. Plus, I woke up and couldn’t eat food. I’ve had four bites of oatmeal and about a tablespoon of each token TG food all day today. That’s it.

Food is my love language. And Thanksgiving is a Foodie high holy day. And I mean absolutely no sacrilege. Just facts.

I’m having a nasty gastroperesis flare, which is setting off a pain flare, which…you get the picture. My left side of my face had been numb for hours. Auras and face numbness are my harbinger off migraines. It’s what let’s me know it’s coming.

I’m sharing my day, I hope maybe someone else who is inordinately emotional today won’t feel alone. There’s this Norman Rockwell standard, you know? We expect it to be some type of way.

So worsening pain, complex family dynamics, cranberry sauce boiled over in a sticky mess. My knee is going out. I’ve been up since 4 am. I’m tired, weepy, emotional, and could easily slip into sadness.

Thanksgiving is a loaded holiday for me, as there is no contact with my family of origin. Sometimes I get tired of my life behind “pre-“ and “post” sobriety. Before and after. SO much is old me vs. new me. I’ve reinvented myself and I’m kind of proud of that. My new life is my heart’s desire, but sometimes I miss the key players who shaped me. It’s so odd. And painful.

But I can only be but so sad, really. Then I barrel through it.

When things started going sideways today – which was right outta the gate this morning – I said to myself, “Well, I guess I have a spiritual thing to learn today that can only be illuminated by a certain set of circumstances.”

My old spiraling behavior rears up on occasion. It is born of exhaustion, making mistakes, and burning myself out.

I’m taking the “shrug” approach. Whelp. I guess this day wasn’t meant to be easy. Maybe it’s an opportunity to grow.

Who the heck even knows. Certainly not me.
This is how I’m trying to learn to cope with what passes for normal life in 2021: Own the mistakes, ask what very difficult things are teaching me, be deliberate about gratitude (and STAY deliberate about it.)

I’ve been doing a lot of work in acceptance. And truly, I admit to being outrageously blessed. Just not blessed with perfection, in ANY area.

At some point, being imperfect has to be “perfect” enough.

By the way, having your therapist tel you she’s proud of you? Yeah. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. ❤️

love · Spiritual

The Messy, Glorious Business of LOVE

BY: JANA GREENE

Love is the singular thing, and absolutely everything, all at once.
All are in it and of it, imbued with this remedy.
It is the answer to whatever ails your heart.
Love is all that lives on after our Earth Suits fail.
It is fed and starved by a thousand moods, yet always nourishes.
Love lands in its feet.
It’s the only thing we were legit created to experience.
Love is like sacred oil – fragrant and dousing and scandalously generous. It leaves a film on you all of your days, and everyone in your world gets a little “oily” when you touch their lives. (Touch them lots!)
Love pisses people off when it is believed undeserved, when really people are under-served by it.
It breaks the economy of deficit, as its endless.
But even though it’s free, people seem to like hoarding it. Many enjoy rationing it, as if there was a finite supply.
As if it originated for us, by us.
As if we weren’t given it in order to pass it on.
Love is a Being.
And a Doing.
It’s an action and a sacrifice.
The feet of Love can walk through fire to get to another hurting soul, and strike up a dance to celebrate itself.
Love has wings to fly us to a place of acceptance, and roller skates with which to flee from hate in all its forms.
It’s the only thing that will ever make a dent in suffering, and the ultimate remedy for pain.
Love is all we take with us.
Spread that stuff around copiously.
God loves you and so do I. ❤️

migraine · Spiritual

Migraine: The Grand Poobah of Headachery

Somebody make it stop.

BY: JANA GREENE

Thank you for all prayers and well-wishes. I’d love to say the migraine is fine, but it’s not.

Disappointment is waking up with the pain that you hoped to have “slept off.” It is less intense today, so far (and thank God,) but is still present.

It’s been many moons since I’ve had a migraine reaction this bad. The EDS /POTs are contributing factors, but for some reason, it’s amped up beyond what I can stand.

On top of everything else going on with my body, it’s too much. And I told God so last night.

I told him I’m most unhappy with the earth suit he chose for me to haul my spirit around in this earthly domain.

“What’s the big idea,” I may have said. “I don’t need a super healthy bod. I’m not asking to be a@&)/a% Kardashian body, for shit’s sake. I don’t need a body with which run marathons.

Or even one that has a normal degree of health to regularly do normalsauce things like take long walks. Or hell…even have the ability to open a jar without dislocating my wrist or throwing my thumb out of the socket. I’m not demanding , really. Just give me the energy to go to the grocery store without it sapping me for the rest of the day.

Id ust like to be able to EXIST without a constant barrage of miscellaneous disabilities and constant PAIN.”

A migraine is not a headache. It’s a gauntlet.

Here is a synopsis of my migraine thoughts yesterday:

The pain is so bad, I think it will kill me.
Don’t even CARE if it kills me.
PLEASE let it kill me.
The light, it burns.
Even the lamp light.
Even the NIGHT LIGHT light.
Even the lines of light coming under my light-blocking shades.

The nausea. It’s hellish. The thought of barfing with this headache is going to make a migraine I can not possibly getting worse, WORSE.

If my head were a giant grape, I could squish it and the pain would stop.
What can I use to squish my grape-head?
Can I hire someon to squish it, as a mission of mercy?
Everything I see is double.
Everything I see has an aura.
Lay still and maybe the migraine will stop.
Holy shit, I can’t just lay still here without it searing my brain.
Holy shit, I can’t move around without it searing my brain.
Holy shit WHATS A GIRL GOTTA DO HERE TO GET RID OF A MIGRAINE!?

There are no words in the human language to describe severe migraine suffering.

Oy vey, y’all.
I really need this to end.