pensivity

People have commented on how quiet I’ve been as of late and some have indicated that they are finding this concerning

I haven’t written or posted much, because I’ve been processing a lot of thoughts and emotions as of late.  I have found life to be increasingly noisy and I’m not interested in further contributing to the noise and chaos around me so I’m focusing on listening to discern some semblance of order.

My personal chaos includes:
  • the loss of a musical friend and mentor due to cancer.
  • the loss of a musical friend and collaborator due to cancer.
  • a relative being diagnosed with a terminal form of leukemia.
  • a relative being diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer.
  • family members being physically hurt and injured and dealing with the frustrations of rehabilitation and recovery.
  • co-workers with 18-35 years’ experience losing their current positions and being let go or demoted.
  • friends whose parents are severely ill and not expected to see the new year.
  • friends and mentors experiencing financial hardship as their city government is tying a project up in red tape and affecting their ability to proceed forward.
  • an individual from Larry’s past making an unexpected return to the scene.
  • many friends are leaving the city for greener pastures and forcing me to re-evaluate what “home” means to me.
  • at the same time, under the tutelage of Lori Yates, I’ve written two good songs and have the bones for a third potential song underway.
  • I’ve also achieved a goal in my spiritual studies which allows me to continue onward towards ordination.

There is a lot of “noise” in my life and it’s taking its toll on me, so I’m having to take time to withdraw, regroup and sort through.It’s especially difficult when there’s little I can do about any of these issues beyond mitigating my reactions to the situation and offering what support I can to those directly affected.  For someone who tends to be a care giver and likes to have some control over any situation, this is a difficult thing to accept and I’m trying hard not to beat myself up over being ineffectual and feeling impotent.

These surprises are also forcing me to re-evaluate where things are in my life.  To take a step back and consider what is important to me and why this is the case.  As I do so, it’s clear that simplifying my life must continue and I need to stop trying to be all things to everyone and just be who I am to be.

And right now I am tired and kinda lonely – but this too, shall pass.

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five years later.

Dear Larry,

Five years after your passing and I’ve been approaching this year with cautious optimism.

Optimistic because things aren’t so “acutely painful” feeling.  Cautious because I know my heart and mind can be rat bastards when it comes to surprising me with unanticipated overwhelming levels of emotions.

This year marks my 5th year of being a widower and things aren’t much different than the past four years, other than I’m a little more grounded and in a better frame of mind and heart.

While I have a lot to feel accomplished and proud about, I still often feel I’m no further ahead than before.  I suspect this feeling of “Yeah but…what’s next?” will be continually present in my life for quite some time…but who knows?

I still remain quite resolutely single.  There are special people in my life, however none of them have become someone to share my life with at this moment.  I know and feel love, but nothing even remotely close to what we had.  I’m content with that for the moment – despite the occasional pangs of loneliness, Chloe and I are doing okay, facing the world together.

Chloe is doing well, she continues to take good care of me and continues to know instinctively when I need a little extra cuddle or quiet time.  Her seizures have diminished and only happen when things are really hot and she’s stressed out.

Mom’s doing okay, she’s coping with some knee issues, however she’s otherwise doing all right…despite the odd crowbar being thrown into plans.  Stephen, Dana and the girls are doing well – you’d be so proud of Hannah, she started at York University in September.  Lauren is finishing high school and is often busy working at the store in Grand Valley.

I finally gifted the last “Jimmy” suit to Michael Morin as he was definitely ready to take the next step as a Santa.  I suspect that Santa will be in my life in some form or another for quite some time.

David is still my mentor, psychologist and “second dad” – I got to see him in person in March, as well as in regular contact to keep each other sane and laughing.  I’m going to be visiting with him, Santa Stephen, Santa Leon and a few others next week and am looking forward to that.  Doug, Dana and Mara are still amazing friends who keep me grounded and remind me that there will ALWAYS someone there “in case of emergency.”

Rev. Doug has become a great friend since you died.  His no-nonsense demeanour and solid grounding in faith is an anchor for me…you’d be so happy that Rev. Beyerl has continued with me under his wing to ensure my studies that started with you have continued…I am blessed to be able to walk the fine line between Pagan and Christian.

I still sing at St. Paul’s and my voice has grown stronger over the years.  It has helped me find my voice and strength in other areas of singing and I forever am thankful for Blair to have taken the chance on me as a singer.

I recorded and released the follow up to table for one. and continue to write more songs.  I doubt I’ll release a whole “album” ever again and will be focusing on songs as I write them.

That being said, I’m still a basket case and unsure of what the future brings.  Work, despite continuing along at a steady and pleasant pace, continues to be up in the air and after almost 2 decades there, I am not sure of what I would desire for my future.  It’s very interesting as I know my future path is veering away from that direction but at the moment, I am unsure of where it will lead me.

I’m in a better place this year.  I still miss you and continue to strive to honour your memory.  However for the first time in a very long while, I know I’m ready to move on.  I love you with all my heart and soul, however it’s time for me to take the next step.

With love.

m.

 

another journey around the sun

This past year has been a somewhat interesting one.  I am both satisfied, yet have a sense of disappointment, often for the very same reasons…

I completed the touring cycle for table for one. and in the process recorded Foundation.  Foundation was released with some fanfare, but very little response.  I’m happy to have the “next step” clearly taken, however am honestly disappointed in the poor response to the music.  In my honest opinion, the songwriting is stronger and more concise than the predecessor, but yes, it’s far less personal.

Oh well.  Sophomore jinx, etc. etc. I guess.  I’m rethinking the whole paradigm of gathering songs and releasing them as an item.  So the next step will be a single release with one song that I’ve written and, perhaps, another b-side to be determined at a later date.

I’ve progressed with my studies in spiritual matters and expect to take my next step towards that in the fall.  I am content with where my studies are leading me and am enjoying the personal and spiritual growth that these studies are providing me.  Things are far less “urgent” feeling and I’m finding more peace in my daily living.

Throughout all of this, I’ve continued to downsize my musical needs and hone the arsenal of instruments in my collection.  I believe I have found my musical main squeeze guitar-wise and have begun paring back the collection to the bare essentials.  My main acoustic brings me joy when I play it and it does everything I ask of it and often surprises me with what it allows me to do.

My relationship with my Mom continues to progress as we both process our widowhood and grief.  Traveling to Arizona with her over the Christmas holidays brought me closure with certain episodes in my life and continued to refine what is important to me.  I found  a new peace in the desert and any angst from past visits has disappeared.

My family continues to bring me joy in new ways.  It’s refreshing to watch the remarkable young women that my nieces have grown up to be.  I am lucky to have them in my life.

I continue to explore what it means to be single at this point in my life.  While I still feel the loneliness of widowhood to be rather difficult at times, I am not as frantic to find the next life partner as once was.  What I do know is that potential friends and companions never cease to find new ways to disappoint me and that my tolerance for such shenanigans continues to disappoint.

I have much love in my heart, however I realize now that I should be more selective in who I choose to share it with.

The house continues to feel more and more like my home as I refine what I have in it and pare back what is in it.  I continue to reduce the clutter and decide what furniture will stick.  I will be downsizing in the future, but downsizing on my own terms.

Chloe continues to be a joyous, loving companion.  Every morning that I awaken to her happy face and wagging tail – is a good morning.   I am blessed.

Work is a means to an end.  I have incredible team mates and a supportive and patient manager.  They are what makes my vocation endurable, that and the fact that it funds my avocations.

I continue to heal from my PTSD, depression and my struggles with anxiety are ongoing. I am getting better at knowing when my triggers are being pushed and able to intervene before the excrement hits the ventilation – so to speak.

So this year has been a year of consolidating the changes, evaluating and then making appropriate steps towards my next goals.  It has been a year of slow, steady progress and continuing to build my foundation.

Hopefully next year will be more productive for growth.

Peace to all.

m.

 

yes. let’s talk.

Once again, it’s a telecommunications giant’s day of hashtagging to promote themselves and an open discussion of mental illness…

But for one day only.

That being said, mental illness is a 24/7 365 kinda thing for those who live with it. My struggle with mental illness, particularly depression, PTSD and anxiety disorder has been ongoing since 2014. I still go for treatment and I am often told that I should:
– be grateful that a large corporation runs this campaign.
– REALLY should try to get over things.

And one person asked “what are YOU bringing to the table?”

These are people who have used the branded frame on their profile picture and reposted the hashtag many times. They’re all pretty aware folks however repeated the VERY SAME stigmatizing talk that the day is supposed to be avoiding IN THE NAME OF the day!

Let’s talk is a good first step towards ongoing conversations regarding mental health issues. It was a good first step taken in 2011 and seven years later we’re STILL ON that “good first step.”

Let’s talk raised $100 million and counting for mental health organizations, yet a 50 minute session with a counsellor still costs $160 for those without comprehensive health insurance plans.

I won’t comment that one of the organizations who benefits from this is notoriously “top heavy” with executives and has a reputation of a focus on “white collar” mental health issues while trying avoid the “messier” diagnoses.

THIS is why I seem ungrateful:
– If they truly cared the hashtag would read #letstalk without the advertising. I’m all for talking about destigmatizing mental health, however, even as a customer, I am NOT going to extend social media reach.
– This campaign treats dealing with mental health issues as a “holiday” instead of removing the stigma by forcing people to deal with Mental Health issues as I do – 365 days a year. This is why I post about my struggles – often triggering the “get over it/yourself” comment.

And it wasn’t just me – I know of other people struggling who were targeted for being critical of the campaign while sharing their experiences. These three other people have been up front and open regarding their struggles and LIVE “mental health awareness” 24/7 365.

I guess by talking and writing publicly of our struggles, we are whining and not contributing. Because we currently don’t have a bright and shiny story that ends with a “happily ever after” to suit a corporate video campaign, our struggles don’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I guess my having an inexplicably bad day where things are just “meh” or worse for absolutely no reason whatsoever doesn’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I guess by repeatedly advertising services who support mental health treatment and provide crisis intervention, working as both a social worker and lay minister doesn’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I’m not doing this to complain or to be an “inspiration,” I’m trying to get people to understand that mental illness treatment is an ongoing process that may not have a tidy ending with all loose ends neatly tied in a bow.

Dear friends, if you were truly invested in ending stigma around mental health beyond feeling good for posting/tweeting a hashtag to raise 5 cents, you would engage your friends who haven’t had their happily ever after and still struggle.

You WOULDN’T tell them to get over it. You’d be there to listen, you’d ask them if there is anything they can do and if not you’d JUST BE THERE.

Fuck. The residents in the Hundred Acre Wood accepted Eeyore, despite his chronic depression!

To instead of a hashtag, let’s share information regarding the resources.

#letstalkhamilton #nomorestigma

If you are depressed, in distress, or in crisis, call the Distress Centre.

Coast Hamilton Hamilton Crisis Line 24 hours – 905-972-8338

Barrett Centre for crisis support 905-529-7878 (24 hour crisis support phone line, 10 residential beds for 3-5 day crisis stay, DBT skills group, CAMS therapy)

Salvation Army army HOPE LINE…1-855-294-HOPE

Sacha Hamilton 24 hour support line 905-525-4162

table for one. a finale.

Thanks to my friends for attending the table for one. CD release “event” on February 20, 2017. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to share the music that I have created with everyone. Special thanks to Shannon Munn for opening Cannon Coffee Co. especially for the event and also to Douglas Steckle for shepherding me to and from the event and helping out. Both of you are amazing!

Thanks also to Cindy Schnaithmann for making the Cannon work as a venue and making the arranging of it so easy, despite the construction the cafe is undergoing this week!

As I came down from last night’s performance, I reflected on the journey that has been the table for one. experience.

Life is a constant evolution. table for one. documents a 7 year period in life where I dealt with my husband’s cancer, his transplant surgery, and then his death, followed by my father’s death one year later and the ensuing nervous break down…the past three years have been of reflection, healing and moving forward…and the songs in the table for one. cycle reflect that.

I realized after performing certain songs that I can no longer go back into the particular headspace and “heartspace” that they represent any further. While they are my creations and I’m proud of them in their own right, sometimes they need to be set free and exist on their own…as a marker of a particular moment in time.

being human. is one such song as is patient. Both have had their chance to be shared and the emotions therein expressed but my heart, mind and spirit are just not in them any more.

I’m happy that these songs can still resonate with people and that they will listen to them and gain strength and whatever joy they from them, however they are not for me any further. These compositions and recording belong to the world at this point. I will protect and guard them, however I will not revisit them as a performer.

I’ve also been able to use the table for one. experience to reflect on the writing for a CD, recording it and releasing it as a single project/object and realized that at this point in my career, it is not a sound artistic and financial prospect.

You may have noticed my Patreon page being mentioned earlier last week. This represents the next step in my career and musician and will focus on the release of musical items as they are created. We shall chat about this at a later date.

That being said, I still have a small stock of CDs left, so if you’d like one, please let me know and we’ll work it out!

Thanks for your continued support and patience!

why i can’t just “get over it”

At age 13, I was raped by a member of my church.

The “molestation” (oh how I HATE that euphemism!) was covered up by the clergy with one well worded threat to me regarding my future.

I had my first crush at age 14 and would repeatedly punch myself in the groin when my hormonal body showed the effects of being in the presence of that person.

I started drinking at age 15 – rum and coke eased the confusion, anger and self-loathing I felt.

At age 18, I began conversion therapy in order to heal me of troubling sensations and desires that went against my Anglican upbringing. At the end of my second year, the good “Christian” counselor told me that the therapy wasn’t working and that as I was going to hell anyways, ending my life might be the best thing for me.

The government pulled the funding for the therapy because it was misguided and actually making things worse.

From 19 to 21, while attending university, I was more often than not found propping up the bar at Mr. Greenjeans in the Eaton Center. Being so close to Toronto’s gay village while attending Ryerson and denying who I was was confusing and painful – it was easier to be numb than see the handsome bears and get THOSE feelings.

At age 22, while working weekend nights at an electronics company, the company doctor provided me with a medication to help keep me awake on my night shifts while being able to attend midweek management meetings during the daytime. At the end of my shift, I needed to counteract the effects of the medications, so I turned to rye whiskey.

For two months in a row, I was employee of the month at the Jack Astor’s near my employer – I was there so often it seemed I worked there.

At age 23, I met the man of my dreams who patiently talked me through my issues as I accepted my homosexuality. I began to pick up the pieces, while medicating.

At age 26, I quit the electronics company and started at my current work. My prescription for amphetamines ran out so I medicated with coffee and bourbon to ease the withdrawal.

I continued eating as if I were on the diet pills however. I was always a husky child, portly or big – I soon ballooned to fat and morbidly obese.

My husband was diagnosed with liver cancer and had to sign a contract regarding alcohol intake before being put on the transplant list. He rarely had more than a beer with a meal so that wasn’t a problem for him.

The morning after my 30th birthday, I could not recall the two days prior and felt like shit. I vomited the contents of my stomach and a fair amount of blood.

I booked the week off work and with my husband’s help kicked EVERYTHING, dealing with the withdrawal by locking myself in the guest room and going through the physical agony.

I turned to food to ease my pain. Eating a large bag of Doritos and a 6 pack of cola if things got tough at work or I struggled with my sexuality.

Just before Christmas of my 35th year, my husband received the gift of life. After nearly dying due to an infection, he rallied and I realized that he needed me healthy to care for him.

While going for therapy to help me deal with our marital issues after the transplant, I began working on my food issues. I started by giving up sodas and lost 45lb almost immediately. I signed up for bariatric surgery and began to work with a dietitian, my doctor a psychologist and a trainer. I went from almost 400lb to the high 100’s. I’m hovering around 200 and am comfortable and happily active.

During all of this, I peeled back the layers psychologically until we got to the rape and my subsequent struggles with my sexuality. I did all of this with NO medications due to my history of chemical dependency and two suicide attempts while on anti-depressants.

At age 38, I was working for a person who had made off color comments about my husband and I, refused to let me work from an office close to the hospital where he was receiving treatment. Her reasoning was that our marriage didn’t count – when I and coworkers pressed her to clarify her statement, she began a two year campaign to make my life as miserable as possible. I had to leave the office and faced Human Resources more than once because of this individual’s attempts to impugn me.

In my 39th year, my husband succumbed to cancer after the third round. Let’s add grief counseling to my psychological treatment. After years of struggling with my faith, I found a spiritual home who accepted me for who I was – flaws and sexuality intact.

On my 40th birthday I rented a dumpster and purged the house, starting the ongoing journey to reclaim my home and establish Myke as a “me” instead of one half of a “we.”

My Dad died unexpectedly in November of that year. The minister who threatened me at age 13 was there as he passed. I tried to be strong but the cracks began forming.

One month later, after Dad’s funeral, I had a nervous breakdown and let a man I respect and admire greatly down as I couldn’t even do something that usually came to me as easily as breathing. That night, if it weren’t for Michael Morin keeping me talking, I would have killed myself – everything that made me Myke was gone.

After 27 years, at least 15 of which in some form of counseling, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Again I refused medications because I was already suicidal enough, and started Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining.

So here I am – the remains of almost 30 years spent covering up my past, trying to deny or destroy who I was.

Grief is difficult enough – losing my husband was hard, losing my Dad reopened old wounds that had temporarily scabbed over – but losing my voice and ability to express myself was devastating.

It’s been a difficult couple of years as I work through what I’ve gone through – I know it hasn’t been easy for many who are close – I hurt my brother and his family after a panic attack during Christmas 2015, I’ve made my Mom cry more than once.

But I’m trying. It doesn’t excuse my behavior and I AM trying to mitigate my anger, fear and rage.

However over 30 years of pain, confusion, rage, self-loathing and repeated attempts to medicate, cover up, change or destroy who I am isn’t something that a person can get over in a few weeks, months or perhaps years.

My mental and emotional health is a work in progress. Yes I have bad days and I wear my heart on my sleeve – after decades of bottling things or filtering them through a pill or liquor bottle…they need to be aired out and released.

So I’m working on getting over things – it may not be as quick as you and I prefer, but it is a work in progress. If you can’t handle that…get over it!

i read the news today, oh boy

Each time I hear of a new hate crime being perpetrated in Canada or the US, it’s quite clear that the level of discontent and anger throughout all races, orientation, creeds and faiths is no longer bubbling under the lid but reaching a boiling point.

Seeing a friend’s church vandalized yesterday leaves me with a sinking feeling. The church, which practices radical inclusion, has been victim of these kinds of attacks and worse before.

Seeing Jewish graves and menorahs being desecrated with graffiti and Swastikas, leaves me frightened for my friends of that faith. Seeing a disabled man, kidnapped, beaten and tortured by four individuals and livestreamed on Facebook makes me angry that people can be so cruel and callous to another human being.

I liked to have thought we might be getting past this kind of stuff but apparently not. We will do what we have always done. Clean up the mess, carry on and continue reaching out to the world with peace and hope.

The increase in bigotry and hate crimes surfacing and coming to light is one reason why i never cottoned to the “it gets better” movement. Because actions ALWAYS speak louder than words. And clearly things are NOT getting better.

Many of the people in those videos are in them for political and personal gain. When David Sweet – the former president of an organization who published several books on Reparation Therapy and Praying the Gay Away – appeared in the video, his hypocrisy angered me.

So much so that I wrote a song about it:

“I see you on the screen telling me it’s going to get better;
that there will be a happier fate.
But as I recall, just a few years ago it was you spewing the hate.
I’d like to think you’ve turned over a new leaf
but your history and politics have me wondering
what truly caused this change of heart?

People like you
are the root of the problem.
People like you
don’t always live like you should.
People like you
are blinded by your faith.
People like you
cause more harm than good”

I’d like to think the people who spew such hatred and anger are broken. Their souls must be in great pain. I only try to prevent allowing their hatred create more hatred within myself. I can hope they will either be brought to justice or see the error of their ways. However, in truth, I know that the forces driving them are bigotry and ignorance. And for these folks I can do nothing but pity and try to forgive them.

Does it get better – so far I haven’t seen it happen in my 40+ years. However it’s not going to stop me from trying to make MY corner of the world a better place.