Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman

I’m not your typical anything. Whatever label gets applied to me, be it religious, political, or social, it always turns out my personal views deviate in some way from the traditionally accepted ideas of the group. An acquaintance of mine, who practices Feri tradition, and I have spoken about the emphasis her practice places on paradox and how important is it to her personal path to reach out to those who have been rejected by mainstream society. I very much understand and respect this because, in the past, I have been fortunate enough to count many people who have been treated this way as friends. However, being myself someone who has so often been considered, in the categories I mentioned above, too mainstream to be alternative and too alternative to be mainstream, I have become accustomed to being rejected by pretty much everyone.

I’m an enigma. There are no clear lines or over all defining philosophy that influences my choices. I make each one based on its own merits, independent of the choices of the group, or even previous choices I may have made. Accordingly, I have some confessions to make.

I am a heterosexual, monogamous, socially liberal, (selectively) fiscally conservative, politically independent, animist, pagan, and practicing witch. In fact, on some issues, I border on being down right libertarian. I think what you do with other consenting adults is none of my business and what I do with them is none of yours, no matter what your spiritual persuasion.

I’m a tree hugger. I am pro green. I love the Earth and feel it as a living being. I don’t use pesticides, I avoid chemicals, I garden organically, and I avoid all prescription drugs. But I am also an omnivore (though I have at times been vegetarian) and I personally own a 60’s era muscle car (and no, it doesn’t belong to my husband) and I’m married to a motor head who adores all vintage (often smoke spewing) vehicles, is terrified of spiders, is known to kill wasps with ether, views the mountains of the Pacific Northwest as his church, and thinks deer and elk are never more beautiful than when they are made into jerky.

I buy organic, but I often (gasp) do it at Wal-Mart. Do I like their policies? No. But I also don’t like the policies of the school district I work for, the government I am represented by, or the society I live in, and yet I contribute to all of those things. I am pro labor and anti corporation, but I am not fond of and have never had positive experiences with unions. I would very much like to see health care in this country socialized, but I also work for a socially funded government agency and can say first hand that inefficiency and wasteful spending are out of control. I am anti consumerism, but I don’t hate or blame rich people and I don’t think making money makes anyone a saint or a devil. I give my money and my time to charities I believe in, but don’t feel obligated to give what I’ve earned to anyone with a cardboard sign. Though, I have on occasion given them food, clothes, blankets, and hand and foot warmers.

I love my country and support our veterans, but I am anti-war and pledge allegiance to humanity rather than the American flag.

I want to save the planet, and the world, and stand up for every injustice. But I’ve also learned from experience, I will make myself sick and miserable trying to align myself with every cause.

I don’t use recreational drugs of any kind (though where I live marijuana is legal) and I only consume small amounts of alcohol, but I was raised by addicts and alcoholics and did, as a teen, ingest at least my body weight in both. As an adult however, temperance and moderation have become a huge part of my personal path (even before I was subject to random testing) and let me tell you folks, the middle path of balance is not popular, in any circle! I am also very much in favor of the legalization of both drugs and prostitution. Just because I choose not to do something, doesn’t mean I object to others right to!

I’m an intellectual pacifist, but a practical warrior. I meditate and find much comfort in Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, but in the past I made it about two-thirds of the way to black belt in a medium (bordering on full) contact martial arts system taught by a right-wing, Christian, conservative, who I came to trust and respect very much. (Note: Since writing this, I had reason to leave that martial arts school, but it had everything to do with my instructor’s behavior and nothing to do with his religious or political opinions. Yep folks, I also have the audacity to reserve the right to change my mind!)

I dress and look very middle of the road. I prefer solid colored, or slightly bohemian if print, somewhat plain, moderately fitting clothes that cover my body. I don’t wear a lot of make up. I only have piercings in my ears. I do have a few large tattoos but, even though my daughter is a tattoo artist, mine can be completely covered with clothes as simple as a t-shirt and jeans. My hair is a color that occurs in nature, though I have dyed it, even wild colors in the past. In fact, probably the most striking thing about my appearance is my waist length hair, and even it’s not weird.

This has not always been the case. Once upon a time, I was a model, both runway and photography. I have at times in the past been very outrageous with my look, but over the years my preferences have changed. Though I’ve found both ends of the spectrum lead many to make incorrect assumptions about me. Many pagans behave with me now as if I look too socially conservative, suburban, and ‘pretty’ to really be one of them, and many main-streamers feel I look a little too hippie and not done up enough for them.

Often when I write, I use ‘and’ and ‘but’ to begin sentences and use incomplete sentences, even though I work for a school district. Yes, I do know better, but I express myself more clearly when I choose to write the same way I speak.

Does all of this bother me? Sometimes. It does often make it difficult to really connect meaningfully with others. But I like me and my choices and I am all that I claim to be and more. As are all of you. It has become important to me to live my life based on what I love and embrace, rather than what I exclude, hate, or fear. I understand the beauty of the paradox of being human and I value the experience we are all having for everything it is.

What seems to be universal with people, including myself, is that when you look deep enough, we are all in some way hypocrites. We all contradict ourselves. We all make choices that don’t make sense to others. But we are more than any of these things and it’s my hope we can accept and honor each other for the struggling imperfect creatures we are here to be.