Column: Side Effects of Extreme Caregiving

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
* * *
The close of caregiving feels very much like the start of A Tale of Two Cities: there is an awakening and a realization that time has become before and after.  Caregiving lies in a middle that is both the best and the worst of times without end. When the caregiving comes to a close, like the New Year, there is an awakening and a realization that time is divided into before  and  after.  Before encompasses a world stitched carefully with known faces, paths, goals, and dreams.  Even the most unpredictable lives have a rhythm that shatters in the maze of change that accompanies the act of caregiving.   Before  is thinking that the disease, illness, or disability can signal an outward change for the individual receiving care.  For the giving care, the middle is a journey that tears the person from the fabric of normal behavior.  Whether the timeline is a few hours or decades, the side effects of  giving care may hit with suddenness or in a gradual manner. Big Changes
The world shrinks over time to just the needs of the person receiving care or the situation that takes up more time than expected.

Column: Coping With Community

The definition of community continues to be largely debated in many different circles. I am not here today to define that for anyone, but rather to look at related issues that are seldom debated, such as the challenges and ongoing tensions that appear to exist within the “umbrella” of the Pagan and polytheist communities, and within the interpersonal relationships found in groups, covens, groves, and organizations. The so-called “Witch Wars” are not a new thing, neither are the ongoing moments of intensity based on different views, approaches, and methods of engaging with our diverse practices. There are historic Witch wars of which we are all aware. Some were between individuals, and others were between different factions of this very diverse and nuanced community.