It’s time to reboot. Am I the Only One Dancing has lain dormant now for quite a while. To be frank, I’ve been in mourning since Clinton lost in November, and I’ve been in shock and dismay since Trump took office in January. While all that was happening, multiple rapid changes were also happening in my personal life. To take stock:
- My husband lost his old job due to physical disability and got a new, lower paying one
- My youngest son left for the Navy and is now doing well in Navy Nuclear A school.
- I have hired two new clinicians for my practice and am getting them up to speed during the slowest time of the year.
- I have been dealing with some significant trauma reaction of my own due to the nightly news (on every station) and social media (doesn’t matter which one) reminding me of the years when I endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Through all that, I was maintaining just enough energy to keep providing good therapy, maintain my marriage and friendships and (barely) keep my household afloat. The week of Independence Day was especially and unusually loud and smoky in my neighborhood this year, but instead of lots of trauma related jumping, cowering, and flinching, I found myself dissociating, spending hours and days, when not working, playing Sims 3, Sims 4, and Sim City Complete. Simulation games are really good for helping someone regain a feeling of control over their lives, and I accidentally rebooted myself, letting my brain lay fallow enough that I was able to surface from the deep state of despair I was feeling. Oddly, I also found myself comforting Lady Day, who was not reacting at all well to to smoke, the smell of sulfur, and unpredictable booms, flurries of pops, and shrieks and whistles of fireworks.
And I woke up.
I mean, I was going through the motions, surviving, protesting, resisting, doing all the things a good progressive woman does when a Russian puppet with the vocabulary of a six year old takes the Oval Office and packs his administration with kleptocrats and Dominionists. But the Saturday after the 4th, I was done just surviving.
I started getting my financial house in order. My business house in order. My house house in order. I made calls to doctors to get procedures done I’d been avoiding and pick up prescriptions that make me more functional. I spent hours using OneNote and my Bullet Journal to organize (Yes, I use both. No, I’m not interested in your system). I still for a week or so spent much of my evenings Simming along, creating individuals, families, neighborhoods, cities.
I’d been mulling the idea of a Patreon account for awhile, but it always came down to “do I even have the energy to get off the couch, let alone create good content?” Things started falling together at work. Credentialing got done, paperwork got signed, keys got handed out, essential forms got created and distributed. My administrative assistant, who is one of my favorite people in the world, has finally worked through most of the backlog of “what do I do with this huge pile of paper” and is almost to the point where there are no special projects left, only daily projects, and so I can hand her the reins of the rest of the administrative work.
And suddenly both time and energy belonged to me. I mean, I still work upwards of fifty hours a week, and I still after a seven session day find my brain pretty well devoid of content for the rest of the evening, but my weekends are recovered and now I’m making a dent in the backlog of personal tasks I’d been avoiding.
And the thought of a Patreon persisted.
I have some significant business goals. I want a pro bono program, I want my mental health therapists to be able to avoid burnout and still be paid well, and I want to eventually be able to help meet the mental health needs of the people in my area who fall through the cracks in the system. But those aren’t exactly projects amenable to a Patreon, which is designed to be a subscription service to crowd source a “patron of the arts” for writers, vloggers, podcasters, artists, musicians, and other creators. And thus, this reboot, and the commitment to writing for publication again.
I have a long standing habit of using the time while my brain refuses to drift off to sleep to think of new ways of doing things, new ideas, solutions to problems I’m facing, story ideas, essay ideas. A Patreon account has several key parts. First, the creative person needs a product. Well, I write. Over the last fifteen years, I have easily written over a million words, nearly all of it in short and medium length essay form, on a handful of topics. Looking at the topics, I realized that the majority of those could be broken out into three main categories
On my professional website and in my professional capacity in other venues, I write about two of those topics. These are mental health advice (which covers a wide range of topics including communication skills, setting boundaries, dealing with chronic mental and physical illness and pain, overcoming trauma, parenting, and similar topics, and mental health provision which covers everything from how to run a mental health office, supervising employees, ethics in mental health provision, legal issues in mental health provision, cultural competence, work-life balance, and other topics.
On this website, which I think of as my personal website, I write broadly about the personal as political and the political as personal. I have at times attempted to make the website self sustaining through ads and other means, but it has always been a work of love and not one of profit. It is essentially a continuation of the blogging I did on LiveJournal (which has been moved in its entirety to Dreamwidth under the name “nunila” and is preserved) and before that alt.callahans.
Both of these websites serve important functions for me, and I have no intention of shutting either one of them down. However, I am changing them.
You will notice that I have changed the tag line for this website to “the personal is political, the political is personal”. That gives me lots of room to stretch, so that occasionally knitting can fit in there. (You don’t think the Pussy Hats thousands of women knitted and crocheted earlier this year were political? Clearly you haven’t been paying attention). One thing I am sure of. I will not write another single essay that is just to pimp a product for money (pimping the Sims because they save my sanity, or any other video game, is a different story). I will never have pop up ads, and I will never hound you to remove ad blockers to read my content.
Starting on August 1st, 2017, however, I will have a Patreon. That Patreon will be under my legal name, Jennifer Liles, and will pay for more regular essays here and at my professional website on the three topics described. Patrons will (depending on level) get early access to all essays, exclusive access to community forums, Q & A sessions via text and Google Hangout, free electronic versions of collections and educational materials (self help and mental health CEUs) and books, and even targeted small group and one on one discussions at higher levels.
Patrons are supporting my writing, not my therapy business, but I will use a portion of my Patreon earnings, as outlined in Patreon goals, to pay for pro bono therapy sessions and eventually to cover the costs of legal and financial services needed to create a non-profit with the mission of paying market rates to private therapists for pro bono services, copay and deductible assistance as well as assistance in affording advanced training in evidence based practices for clinicians in private practices and groups.
Starting after the reboot on August 1st, I will be posting a minimum of an essay a week in this space, but the discussions and first looks at the essays will happen within my Patreon, where people with common goals can discuss them in a moderated community.
A quick note for past, current and future therapy participants. Because of professional ethics and issues with dual roles, please do not sign up to be patrons. I will block you if you do. This does not mean I don’t like you or appreciate your support. Any past or current therapy participant who wants same day access to my essays and other perks of patronage including downloads and podcasts, please feel free to call or email me and request access.
Ready to Rumble
Here at Am I the Only One Dancing, while Trump and any of the Congressional leaders and Administration members who colluded with Russia remain in office, my main goal will be breaking down their actions in such a way that even people without a particularly strong political background will be able to understand why these actions are a danger to the Republic. There may be geekiness and puns, discussions of social justice issues affecting any one of a number of groups, and guest essays from members of various social justice groups who are here to tell it like it is. I don’t back down on basic principles (all humans have the right to be treated as inherently valuable simply for existing, those who most feel an oppression are the experts on it and allies need to back off and let them lead, mental illness is real, treatable, and causes real hardship in people, and “you don’t have to be nice, but sometimes brutal honesty and firm boundaries are a kindness best wielded with a touch of ridicule.” Satire is a powerful weapon, and ridicule is an option when and only when it is absolutely clear that the opposition in question is refusing to engage in good faith argument.
I am not Reddit. I prefer education to dog piling, but if it takes a dog pile to set one of the boundaries I set, pile on the puppies. Learn how to debate, when to argue using facts and logic, how to apply emotion, and when to let the ridicule fly. I make the rules in my space. This is one thing that hasn’t changed. One of my first discussion threads in my Patreon forum will be to discuss the issue of fragility among allies and groups with various levels of privilege and oppression, because it is an ongoing and significant problem for social justice.
Welcome to the Reboot. Settle in. It’s likely to be a bumpy ride.