Door to the Beyond

Stars & Dung

I tend to read my horoscope every week.  Not the silly one in the daily papers, but Rob Brezny’s Freewill Astrology. It’s amazing how close to home he hits, although I often get the idea he’s talking about what I just went through, not what I’m about to go through.  Here is the one for me (Sagittarius) for the week of October 15-22:

“Be humble for you are made of dung,” says a Serbian provers. “Be noble for you are made of stars.”  I expect that you’ll soon be getting vivid evidence of that truth, Sagittarius.  Your challenge will be to resist the temptation to believe that you’re more dung than stars, or more stars than dung.  that might be hard, given the fact that practically everyone around you believes they are one or the other.  But I promise you that you have the power to do it.  You can exude cheerful equanimity while dwelling right at the crux of the paradox.”

I really think that fits all the bipolars I know, not just the Sagittarians.  We are all too often being told that we are dung, and quite often feel ourselves among the stars, while in our humbler moments we are busy feeling like dung while others are trying to lift up our hearts.

I have often been told that “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.” If I had ever believed that, I wouldn’t have gotten half the opportunities I have.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that a valid demonstration of what you know could easily lead to knowing somebody who can help you get somewhere.

Let me give an example or two from my own life.

Nine years ago, I volunteered to do whatever I could for the Western North Carolina AIDS Project.  (I hope most of you can see that there are very few, if any, items on the agenda for gays that are not identical to the items on the Pagans’ list, and I did this although I am not gay and do not have AIDS.)  After several months of working with individuals and doing mailings, I got the opportunity to take over working on their website.  I learned quite a few new things doing that, and it has helped me beyond measure in my later websites.

Six years ago I let a homeless couple use my couch for several months.  Sure, there were times I wanted the place to myself, but I like helping people.  The woman came up with an idea that, as far as I can find, had never been thought of – a membership organization for homeless people, especially the ones who are working to rise above homelessness.  I couldn’t see anywhere that would go that would be helpful, but I attended the meetings she arranged.  I then volunteered to write the website (from what I had learned at WNCAP).  We got a lot of good attention, and then she left town.  I couldn’t see keeping the organization going, but a couple people encouraged me to do so.  In January 2006 we got our first press (in December 2005 I scraped the money together for legal incorporation, and sent out a press release, which was ignored by all but one local paper).  Since then, some months we have had too much press to keep up with.  We got one large donation last summer, and while we spent it all we did quite a lot of good with it and got a lot more notice.  I have been President of the Asheville Homeless Network for over 3 years now, and can pretty much name the time and place for meetings with a number of City staff including the Police Chief and two City Councilpersons.  It took a long time, and there were times I was about to give up, but here we are.

Last Spring, I felt I wasn’t doing enough.  (Funny thing, one of my friends said I was doing more than any other TEN activists she knew, and I don’t particularly consider myself an activist.)  So I went to an orientation for volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, and found my services very much wanted for fixing bicycles that had been donated.  (I fix them, they sell them, and it makes money for their building projects.)  Since that time, I have gotten a new recliner for $34 (which they delivered for free, since I was a volunteer), a dresser for $12, and just last week a 21-speed mountain bike for $8 that would have cost at least $350 new.  That is only a small part of what I have gained from this experience, but I think you can see the benefit.

In terms of getting to know the right people, I have long had a personal ad on NoLongerLonely.com (a totally free site for people with mental health diagnoses to meet others without the stigma of your diagnosis holding you back or being hidden.)  One woman I had some conversations with added me to her MySpace Friends, and we talked, without any intent of a relationship forming, for quite some time.  In March, she announced that she had purchased a struggling publisher of eBooks, Eternal Press, and was looking for editors and copyeditors.  I was hired in April as Administrative Editor.  My June quarter royalties were a whole $4.01… my September royalties were over $50 and our sales climbed 384%.  I have very high hopes for December and beyond.  If I hadn’t stuck my neck out on a dating site, I plainly would not have even known about the opportunity, let along gotten the job.

Those are a few of the highlights of my last 10 years in Asheville, NC.  Each step has made me feel better about myself and given me something to do other than sit at home and live off my SSDI Disability check.  I really think Uncle Sam has gotten his money’s worth out of me.  (If you want to see a list of ALL the things I do, which is extensive enough that I have an anxiety attack every time I look at it to update it, send me an email.)

In the past year, my parents have twice told me they were proud of me.  When they said that in January, it was the first time I have ever heard it (to the best of my memory).  If you don’t think that feels good, then you’re not a bipolar Pagan with hardworking, mainstream Christian parents and there’s nothing I can say.  My father now regularly reads all my blogs and articles and asks my progress in some of the other things I’m doing.

OK.  This is me.  It took a lot of growth, prayer, and magick to get here.  You’re Pagan, you have all the tools I do.  If you’re also a Diagnosed, Labelled Individual as I am, you have the same (approximately) challenges as I do.  All it takes is to find your friends, and find a niche that might help them (no matter how long it takes to develop).  Maybe find two or three or four such niches (Multi-Level Marketers call this “multiple streams of income”), but don’t even do more than you can and be ready and able to cut back when you don’t have the same energy.  Keep a plan of what things are easiest to cut back, what things mean the most to you, and what friends and other support systems you have in place.

Then keep doing what you’re doing.  It took 3 years for Asheville Homeless Network to get the least amount of media attention; by the end of 4 we had more media attention than we could keep up with.  But even that was at the end of years of learning and developing and struggle.

Please feel free to contact me, for ideas, support, or just to let me know how you’re doing (or how I am).  And we can walk together to the next Door.  Talk to you next month.