Expanding perspectives through blogging

I’m writing this post in response to a dialogue I was having with Holistic Wayfarer about building community through blogging, in the second part of her series How to Succeed as a Blogger.

I feel a resonance with her on many levels, and the dialogue over the past week or so has been lively, enlightening, and quite enriching, I think.

Something in the dialogue today reminded me of my thoughts surrounding motherhood and in particular, those that have been rattling around in my brain about intelligent, talented women who are also moms.

In the past few years, I ‘discovered’ Sylvia Plath. A little late in my life, but I’m grateful nonetheless. I’m not just talking about her fiction or poetry, either, which are fascinating, intense, and quite radical, but her journals and her Letters Home, which for me, offer a more comprehensive view of the woman who wrote those powerfully dark words.  I can understand more of the woman she was than by trying to make a feeble attempt to interpret her poetry or listen to others try to interpret her psyche.

Before I read her journals and letters, stories and poems, I only knew that she was a woman who was at the forefront of the feminist movement, she wrote strange poetry,  was frequently depressed and she killed herself.  That was the extent of my knowledge.

I had little idea of who she really was, but I’ve recently been studying her life for a while now.  I take it slow because some of her writings stir some things up in me that challenge me.  Some of the things she’s written really tug at my heart.

That this phenomenally intelligent woman, a gifted storyteller and (controversial) poet, was also a wife and a mother and strove to honor her inner drive to express herself and remain true to herself, is something I relate to on a deeply personal level.  Throughout her journals, she rebelled against being merely an extension of a man.  I found it interesting that she did end up getting married and having children, given that she found most men in her time to be looking for simply someone to take care of their physical and emotional needs.  I sometimes wonder why she did.

In my educational history, the only piece of feminist literature I read consisted of one book: The Awakening, by Kate Chopin.  That book DID haunt me, so maybe this was a good thing.   I am pretty sure that most everything else I read for school was written, for the most part, by men, which was fine by me.  I enjoyed writings by men as they covered many things I was personally interested in (history, philosophy, social commentary, science, human nature) and not so much interested in what the feminists had to say at that time.  No reason other than it didn’t really register on my radar.

The dilemmas women faced simply weren’t something that interested me, even though I am a woman.  I didn’t really identify with my feminine side in my girlhood and young adulthood.  I was not girly and didn’t get interested in girly things.  I was always a tomboy, more at home catching lizards with the boy next door, climbing our cinderblock wall in the backyard, camping in the mountains, or digging in the dirt.  I didn’t care about clothes, my hair, makeup, or boys (well, until MUCH later).  All I longed for (and never got) were science kits.  Incidentally, now that I’m a mother of girls, I have bought a number of science kits to explore with my daughters.  I’m not sure who’s more interested in them sometimes – me, or them.

I was not interested in much of anything but school, Nature and learning all that I could about the things that fascinated me.  I loved to read adventure stories, or stories about mysteries (Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie) or paranormal things (ESP and telekinesis and the like).  In school, I was lucky in that I had really supportive male teachers who supported my scientific interests.

I didn’t care about feminism as I just went ahead and went after my aspirations quietly and easily.  No one seemed to object and I didn’t realize at the time what a gift that was to me.  I wonder if Plath was born later, what kind of opportunities she would have pursued?

While my mother certainly objected to the location of my college studies (she wanted me to commute from home to keep an eye on me), I was never impeded from going to college and never discouraged from pursuing my degree in biotechnology.

In my professional life, I was fortunate that my gender made zero difference.  I was treated as an equal in all the labs I worked in.  My work spoke for itself, and I obtained the positions I went after, and for that, I’m count myself lucky and grateful.

I’m sure the transition to motherhood had been needlessly complicated by my lack of experience in the nurturing department.  My mother – a feminist in her own right, I suppose – was not the epitome of feminine nurturing, grace and wisdom either.  My mother always had this attitude of being better than men, as if she had something to prove, and maybe her own internal and external obstacles in her life made it harder for her to get in touch with her nurturing instincts.  Having birthed me in 1970, and having had a bit of a wild side to her (despite her foggy recollections of having grown a marijuana plant in our atrium and the book The Happy Hooker by Xaviera Hollander and other questionable reading material residing on her bookshelf), she must have been confused herself by all the conflicting inner and outer messages of her time.  This avenue of thinking warrants further investigation, but that’s an excavation for another day.

Despite Plath’s early misgivings about boys and marriage, Plath did became wife to British poet Ted Hughes and had two children. She expressed her bleak views about the existing patriarchy and her own complicity in the social expectations of the day, quite radically in the book of poems Ariel, written just before her death.

Ariel is fascinating because it

“strikes a deadly blow at the justifications of commercialized post-war American domesticity in the same way that Guillaume Apollinaire’s Alcools (1913) encapsulated the ennui immediately preceding three decades of European warfare.”

Anis Shivani, Slyvia Plath 50 Years Later: What Modern Feminism Can Learn from Ariel

I can’t help but wonder, as she strove to create a life of her own making, apart from that of her poet husband (and philanderer) Ted Hughes and her role as a mother, if she couldn’t have changed her fate if she had the kind of support and encouragement that we have available to us now, and in particular, because of access to a wider world through the internet.

I have felt similarly to Plath in quite a few ways, including the bouts of melancholia which had increased after I left my career and in particular, since the birth of my third child.

I have a hugely curious intellect and creative drive I have a high need to ‘feed the tiger’ so to speak. Early on in my mothering journey I found this exceptionally difficult while raising my daughters.  The isolation and loneliness of being a stay-at-home mother was – and sometimes still is – unbearable at times.

I wrote a post a while back called The intellectual mother meets the artistic mother which addresses an interesting article about the special challenges of highly intelligent and talented women who are moms and a few of my thoughts about my own challenges.  This post was written before I started working part-time as a substitute teacher and just before I started art journaling and making mixed media art pieces.  It was also before I started connecting with other individuals on a spiritual path through blogging and allowing them to influence my journey.

I wonder what Plath would have done had she access to other women who were highly intelligent, talented and mothers themselves (and what would she think about intelligent, talented men who are stay-at-home fathers?!?!).  What could she have learned?  What if she could have created a world-wide community of her own and stepped outside her own experiences and peeked into the minds of other contemplative and creative minds?  Would she have learned any holistic means of self-care so that she would ameliorate the depressive cycles she fell into?  Would she incorporate spirituality into her life, so that she might find a salve for her soul?

Depression is an abyss.  I get that.  I write very differently when I’m depressed and sometimes I find it gratifying to not rush to fix my depression but create through it.  But it’s also a thing of beauty to explore sometimes.  How can something so dark be so wonderful to explore?  It’s kind of hard to explain unless you’ve been there yourself.

And perhaps it’s not so much the darkness itself, but maybe those moments when I come out of it that I find so beautiful.

I wrote this in one of my handwritten journals:

whatever dark night of the soul comes over me…forever how long it lasts….it then passes through me, without warning.
i feel, for the moment, a blissful peace.  my whole being, for this moment, feels blessedly, unequivocably, full of love and joy.  there is no pain, physical, mental, spiritual or emotional.  i feel the oppressive weight dissolved.  i feel an openness in my belly…i know that sounds odd…but i feel lighter there…a beautiful feeling I thought surely would never come to me again.

One day I noticed a bit of blue sky peeking from behind gray clouds, and snapped a photo of it, because it feels just like that.

The blue sky is always there, behind the clouds.  My spiritual journey has taught me something:  My loving consciousness is always there, hiding behind the deceptive and sometimes gloomy veil that is my ego.

 photo P1170720.jpg

So I wonder about Plath.

Could her life story have been written differently had she been shown how to make peace with all the facets within her and make room for all that she was: mother, wife, writer, poet, dreamer, activist, artist and on and on?

If Slyvia had access to the internet, which would bring her into connections with people all across the globe, how might that have helped her develop as a human being?  How might have the worldwide community help support and encourage her in her mothering journey and in her creative life and simply as a human? If she had access to mentors and thoughtful and spiritual contemporaries to help her understand and gratify her intense needs for individual expression, independence and maybe bring peace to her life without the dualistic thinking that creates havoc for many of us, would she have chosen Life?

What if, through her connections to others, she learned how to meditate, do yoga, increase her spiritual connection to Nature and God?  Would she have managed to tap into a deep, loving energy source within and yet beyond herself?

What if Plath had been able to build a community like we are trying to do here on WordPress?  How would her life been different?

As the day winds down, I’m realizing how grateful I AM for the community of bloggers who are helping me to move out of dualistic thinking and help me expand my perspective and help me to feel connected to others in ways I haven’t been able to before.

I wrote this as a comment to Diana’s post:

For me, I wasn’t planning on building a readership, though if people do like what I have to say and stay reading, that’s nice. I just like to talk about things that I find important to me, and that seems to draw people in because of the common threads in our humanity. I keep writing because of the people I keep meeting, who help influence my growth in subtle, but important ways.

I find my heart opening more and more as I’m becoming connected to other deeply spiritual people. It’s been a very wonderful experience and unlike anything I’d encountered in my real life with people. I wonder if it’s because those I do connect with through blogging are more contemplative to begin with. It seems to me that the things revealed through writing start touching that 90 percent of the iceberg we don’t get to witness in our everyday interactions with another.

I’m truly grateful for the small community I’m building through blogging.  I have to thank my more recent connections I’ve made, as they are impacting my life in very positive ways.  I think about Debra, and Michael, and Reverend Roxie, and Monika, and Pawan and Diana, especially, for the opportunity to get to know them a little better.  I really do appreciate the time they’ve taken to blog and share with us their journeys and thoughts and especially the time they’ve taken to dialogue with me.  It means so much to me.

You’ve blessed me so much already and I appreciate you.  I hope, in time I can find ways to bless your lives too.

Well, that’s about it.  Over 22oo words that originally started as comment.  For those of you who have stayed this long to read it, thanks a bunch.  I hope I didn’t put you all to sleep…

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in A Lamp In the Darkness, appreciation, Connection, consciousness, depression, Slyvia Plath and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Expanding perspectives through blogging

  1. I’m getting chills. One of the richest posts I’ve come across (and not because you talked about me ^^).

    Following the order of your presentation:
    1. “I feel a resonance with her on many levels, and the dialogue over the past week or so has been lively, enlightening,” For the sake of your readers, you may want to clarify the dialogue – if you meant the personal one between us or the discussions under the posts. Not fishing for anything. I myself was a bit unclear (though I got the positivity of it all).

    2. I responded to another post on Plath on a subscriber’s board a month or so back: though I was really drawn to Plath in my dark high school days (and she was quite a skillful poetess) and though I would sympathize with her as a fellow artist, as a mother I withdraw my empathy for the suicide. She chose to leave behind two such young lives that needed her more than they needed anyone else. Of course someone who does that in her shoes is really in need of help, is not seeing clearly. But you present beautifully the way you came to appreciate her struggles and know her better as a person. And the questions you ask on the redemptive power of community, the literal saving grace it could’ve been for her and is for many of us, cast a brilliant glow on what it is we really have in our hands: dynamite. For real.

    3. “and maybe her own internal and external obstacles in her life made it harder for her to get in touch with her nurturing instincts.” This is not the only place in this post you consider your mother with softer understanding. Did this happen after your last wrote me about her? The first day you told me about her?

    4. “create a worldwide community of her own…” DUH. I just did a miniseries on this. And my friend emailed me last wk, bowled over at the community she saw me in the midst of. But you put it in a way that makes me see what I have going on my blog differently. I can’t believe what I have LOL.

    5. I am thoroughly excited for you, Casey. For the many things going on in your spirit and the doors that are opening in your mind.

    • Casey says:

      I’m smiling.

      I’ll have to address this comment later, because I have a headache – the late hour coupled with the intense focus of the writing left me with a fatigued brain.

      I will return tomorrow evening.



    • Casey says:


      I finally have time to respond. I taught 5th graders today at the middle school.

      1. The dialogue was from both, the content of your posts and our personal dialogue in the comments. I’ve already seen examples of resonance in the fact that we have an interest in high potential (for ourselves and in our children); the shared love of reading and the writing process and it’s impact on how we view the world, the urge to create an artful life, homeschooling (even though I’m NOT a homeschooler, I definitely have the heart of one, instead, I do other things to enrich my daughters’ education), and of course, the love of sharing ideas. I haven’t even begun to really explore your blog like I want to and get into all your beautiful poetry. I admit I have a ‘scanner’ personality right now. I much prefer diving deep into things, but my attention span is not like it used to be and my passions are many, so it’s not hard for me to get distracted. Ideas are like sparkling baubles and I’ll be fascinated with one idea until another one comes into view, then I’m off to explore that one. I’ve often wished I could just plug in and instantaneously download all the knowledge I crave in an instant. Oh, and I adore your vocabulary. I read a word I’d never heard before – phillipic (a bitter attack or denunciation, especially a verbal one). I really like that one a lot because it sounds so nice…but it’s not. 😀

      I’m always seeking to improve my vocabulary but not just throw fancy words around, I want it to seem natural. You make it seem so effortless (I know, you studied linguistics and Latin and…something else (Greek???) so you that’s a blessing). And I just glanced over to read your blog and I read this: “And through roasted eyes that barely open, he watches Hunt on TV shaking his trophy.” The thing that caught my attention straight away was “through roasted eyes”…talk about a gripping image. You got some mad writing skillz. I’m appropriately jealous. 🙂 I hope to learn a thing or 5 from you. No kidding. I love your style and I’d like to emulate it (somewhat, I still want my own voice…). This isn’t even able to touch on all the personal dialogue which was lovely and vibrant and engaging.

      2. Makes me wonder which subscriber’s blog you were talking about Plath (but I’d understand why you might not want to share which one). I also wonder why you had dark high school days. When I wrote about Plath, of course, I wasn’t assuming you’d even known or had interest in her; of course it makes perfect sense now. I appreciate Plath’s struggles because I’d been struggling with myself most of my life (not with depression all that time, but sometimes yes) since I left my career to be home with my daughters. Before I had kids, I was able to keep things reasonably together. It wasn’t until I came home and realized the challenge it was to lose a huge chuck of my identity. On top of it, my middle daughter had selective mutism and SPD related meltdowns, so I was becoming quite depleted from 3.5 kids in 4 years, losing my identity which was heavily invested in my career, and from her special challenges (but she’s overcome that and has been blossoming in school, and in the gifted program) and my husband’s numerous difficulties. Couple that with my own tendencies towards existential depression, I was one half step away from madness for about, mmm…5 years. I know, for me, all the stress led to hashimoto’s thyroiditis and adrenal fatigue which mimics bipolar…so, yeah…hormonal hell. Sometimes life just got extremely overwhelming. I wouldn’t want to leave my children motherless, HOWEVER, there were times when I was just lost, afraid, crying without hope. I understand the feelings. I know suicidal ideation from the inside. But I’ve been fortunate to not have followed through on it. And, for me, I decided I’d had enough desperation, which is why I started with my holistic healing journey for what I had – complex PTSD from childhood abuse/neglect and relationship trauma. It’s had a lasting impact on my adult life, but I have so much more help available to me than Plath ever did.

      like this place (which has been hugely instrumental…)


      I would have mentioned her in the post, except I’ve never really talked to Monica Cassini. She doesn’t allow comments. But she’s shared so many good things for alternative solutions for restoration to mental well-being.

      3. My views of my mother have been softening, in general, over the past two years. But what comes out of me in any particular instance about her kind of depends on if old memories have been stirred up. I think there’s still some unfinished business there, old energies still trapped, old wounds that have scabbed over but can be disturbed again. I’ve also recently “broke up” with my best friend, just a little bit before I met you, which, if I’m feeling guilty about that, I might realize I wouldn’t have lost another friend if I hadn’t had defense mechanisms which push people I’m really close to away. I still have problems when people get to close to the places that scare me, and I’m still working on that (progress, not perfection).

      While I can’t blame my mother (or my father/step-father) for my communication problems in my adult relationships, I can say that the patterns established in childhood have impacted my closest relationships in negative ways (for example, my codependence means I’ve also got a perfectionism, judgmentalism and I tend towards some controlling behaviors and I had been highly sensitive to and defensive against criticism). I’ve done a lot of work on me but I still need more work, and I do want to explore the context my mother lived in that shaped her attitudes towards the people in her life. And her mother, too of course. The more I understand the family pattern, and finish the unfinished business, the more I’ll be able to live in the present moment and not be hooked by ego trying to defend itself.

      4. I am glad we have what we have. I’m glad I have a smaller following than you. It’s just enough for me to handle. 😀

      5. I am thoroughly excited for me, too. I loved being able to bounce some ideas off of you, and I’m starting to read King’s On Writing, so thanks for talking about his book on your blog. So glad you did.

      • For now:

        1. Laughing. You’re so dear, Casey. Latin and Greek, and Lx, the science of language, did not make me write a sentence of prose, at least for the sake of prose. It was all purely technical. My writing is self-taught for the most part and it was a joy to teach it in different settings over the years. I just realized (in writing this).. that is in part why I enjoyed putting out the two series on writing some months back. It was my way of teaching it, though I didn’t (want to) see it that way on the blog. It was vEry cool to see authors and poets start following then, if I may share, as a friend.

        4. Uhhh….seriously. It is super time-consuming just getting back to readers, on top of the thought-intensive, careful writing.

        6. (Yep, I’m adding a point.) I was thinking today you should put out a book. I know…..on WHOSE time? You have so much to offer. Tuck it away, a dream under your pillow.

        • Casey says:

          1. 😀 4. lol 6 😉 been thinking about it for a bit…

          I’m keeping this one v. short because it’s 11:38 pm and I wanted to say a little something to Debra before I fall asleep. 🙂

          • 3. I love and appreciate your self-awareness and the honest self-assessment. Trapped energy (YES) and the struggles with boundaries that spilled over from childhood into your adult relationships. That’s most of us. Most don’t recognize the beast (in themselves), just blame the Other from their childhood. I may have said this earlier…but we behave with such angst in relation to others, driven by fear. (Related post coming up! Hopefully this month.) I happen to understand something of the pain of losing such a good friend, too, btw. We were soul sisters. Felt like a divorce.

          • Casey says:

            “we behave with such angst in relation to others, driven by fear.”

            I’ve recognized this, very much, in me. I’ll be looking forward to your post about that.

            Right now, I’m in a energetically blocked place. Nothing ‘bad’ happened. In fact, many good things have happened, at least in terms of deep connection and stimulation. I found some things at the thrift store yesterday that I’ll be using in my art studio. I’m reading some things that are intense (about energy, consciousness, Nature, death, dying, people, God and purpose for being here) and thinking about them in the context of my life. And of course, when I wrote this post, I didn’t anticipate it touching you all quite like it has.

            It’s woken up that inner intensity I don’t always know what to do with. It’s thrilling and frightening at the same time. I have one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes.

            I’m not afraid of people as much as my own inner experience of people now, since before I had few firm boundaries. I used to be open to experience. And that was a good way to be, until it wasn’t. Until it got me in places I couldn’t get out of anymore on my own.

            I was a rescuer. I wanted to save the world, one person at a time. So, that’s what I set out to do, try to fix my family (family of origin and my children and husband) and friends and help them feel better. I was a wounded healer. And it was working well for the longest time, until it made me sick. I believe my hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease) and adrenal fatigue was a direct result of all the helping others over the years without ever considering how that was going to affect me. Codependent much? You betcha.

            So, getting back to this one foot on the gas, and one on the brakes concept. Needless to say, it’s an uncomfortable feeling. In Buddhism, the spiritual path is the middle way. Moderation. In one aspect, you could see it as an internal boundary system. I will not get too high and I will not get too low. Just right.

            But then…there’s the concept of not resisting and not clinging.


            I get myself confused.

            Do I not resist this increase in internal energy and drive and apply the gas until I run out of steam and collapse from exhaustion?

            Or do I moderate it, and deal with the discomfort and awkwardness of having a race car mind on a go-cart track?

            There are times when I feel like I’m on the verge of Something Big, and then I back away from it.

            It’s self-sabotage, born out of fear…yet…I have seen the results of unbridled and misguided energy. I’ve misappropriated my own energy at times. It’s resulted in some big problems in my life. So, then sometimes I run into anxiety because I feel bad about what happened in the past.

            So…aside from the problems that caused, I have periods of intense thinking or intense creativity and then periods of dormancy, or incubation. From what I hear, it’s a natural creative cycle. Or, put another way, sometimes the creative flow just trickles out, sometimes the dam explodes. You can imagine how overwhelming the latter might be.

            I’d rather have a nice, steady flow of usable energy that’s ‘just right’ and not overwhelming and that won’t lead to a crash (because what goes up must come down).

            And…when it comes down to it, I’m afraid of what will happen. I’m afraid of my own energy. When I was a kid, it was wrong to be energetic. It was wrong to be exuberant and excited about life. It was wrong to be happy when everyone else was miserable. So, when I’m happy, when I’m enthusiastic, when I’m energetic, I have that internal warning system inside that says it’s wrong to feel this way and you have to STOP!

            So that’s kind of where I’m at right now.

            Everyone’s been so warm, positive, supportive, and I love it…and I’m feeling afraid. It’s weird. I’m afraid of the part of me that woke up and said, “slow down”, “don’t get to big for your britches” and all that….and THAT’s what interferes with relationship to people. That angst. Has little to do with Other, and a lot to do with my Self.

            So…yeah…big thoughts for 9:30 in the morning…

            Hope you have a lovely day.


          • Casey says:

            Oh, yeah, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your soul sister.

            “Feels like a divorce”? Wow, yeah, I totally relate to that.

          • Casey says:

            Oh, and I think I’m going to turn this into a post…so if you’d like to respond…it will have a new post devoted to it.

      • Casey, I came to look for the links I sent but I think I left them under an art post. Gee, I have never waved old posts on a reader like this. I refer you to these only because they answer much of your response to the Sleep…Wind poem. Time nazi here, back to math lessons. Sorry if you did get to them – and there’s never an obligation of “likes.” I just thought that of all my poems, these two you would connect with. They explain the longing I just wrote about, render more explanations unnecessary:


        • Casey says:


          I confess I’m a ditz sometimes…and meant to read those poems…and had gotten distracted, like a butterfly in a garden of flowers, I’m following different scents.

          Your writing here is gorgeous…the sentiment deeply resonates in me as a woman, as a mother, as a creative (it’s still so hard for me to “own” the word “artist”, but that’s what I am, too).

          And…my goodness. “LIKE” doesn’t cut it. How bout “LOVE”????

          You’re totally my hero now….

        • Casey says:

          And I’ll give a reply to those poems sometime soon. I really need to do some things around here before my daughter’s get home from school.

  2. You are addressing so many fundamental issues and I am grateful to you for this post, as a woman. I have also found blogging extremely rewarding – I started a year ago because I felt I had so many ideas and could not share them with anybody around me. My day job for now has nothing to do with my nightime pursuits… Plus I live in a German speaking country. Being a mum, as you are, can be isolating, but being an expat, as myself, also is. I found what you said about Silvia Plath very inspiring – her art was born out of deep longing, loneliness and sadness. These qualities made her soul and her brilliance. Out of the emptiness that so many women experience something beautiful will be born.

    • Casey says:

      I keep wishing I could ex-patriate, but I never really thought about the culture shock I might be in for. I’ve traveled a little bit out of the country, but it would be a huge adjustment if I had to live in a completely new locale with differing customs. I’d like to learn German sometime. I’d love to be able to read Hermann Hesse and Goethe in the original language. Oh well…maybe some day.

      “her art was born out of deep longing, loneliness and sadness. These qualities made her soul and her brilliance. Out of the emptiness that so many women experience something beautiful will be born.”

      this is so poignant to me. Yes, I do think this deep longing, loneliness and sadness, does lead to beautiful things. I think about our blogs and in each one, there is something beautifully expressed and bears a unique and gorgeous perspective.

      I’m so glad you can share your beautiful ideas with us. 🙂

      Love back, Monika

    • Casey says:

      Oh, yeah, I added your blog to the original post, too, because I meant to but had overlooked it.

      I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting that I could add to the list…

  3. ptero9 says:

    I agree with the others here, blogging as surprised me, challenged me and is changing me. I’ve had trouble relating to people all my life. I can’t talk only about tv shows, sports and work, because I have little or no interest in them. I have a need to, that I am very comfortable with, to dig deep and follow the thread of ideas that are a very important part of my life. But, it does get, not only lonely, but empty, without having that dynamic give and take that comes from ongoing relationships.

    It interests me too, how much the web, and specifically blogging, has facilitated connections across time and miles. What a gift, yes?

    I can relate too, to what you say about feminism, because like you, I was very much a tomboy and although my parents sometimes put the brakes on me, they also supported me, especially as I grew older. I never felt that the restrictions on my life were due to social factors, but rather something in me.

    • Casey says:

      “I have a need to, that I am very comfortable with, to dig deep and follow the thread of ideas that are a very important part of my life. But, it does get, not only lonely, but empty, without having that dynamic give and take that comes from ongoing relationships.”

      I totally get that. One of the things that was so tough about losing my best friend is the discussions we had about books of all kinds, movies and particular TV shows (House, M.D. had some great ones, like the one about autism and about his character in particular; and Elementary – about a modern day Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson).



      Here’s another that started with Sherlock Holmes and ended with Virginia Woolf


      Interestingly enough, where I put felt the brakes were put on most, by my family was in the creativity department. It’s interesting how I got the impression that making money through a career was okay, as long as that career had nothing to do with art or writing (unless you count writing Standard Operating Procedures…yawn…). That’s another post for another day. The stifling Inner Critic!

      The connections we’ve made, it’s a precious gift, to be sure!

      G’night Debra. sleep well,


      • ptero9 says:

        Yeah, perhaps there needs to be some struggle for the Muse though yes?

        I guess I say that because even when I was old enough to not be under the influence of my parents, there was still a struggle. I can remember feeling attacked, in an almost demonic way, at times in my life when something in me was trying to be born (or created).

        Wrestling with an angel perhaps? But surviving all that and feeling as if some burden is lifted, gives me respect for the necessity of the struggle.

        Good morning to you Casey! I hope your weather is better and you have a great day.


        • Casey says:

          I wrote a post about that very thing – wrestling our inner demons in our creativity.


          there’s some great quotes about wrestling with the daimonic and redeeming our inner demons.

          From what I’ve learned about recovery from childhood traumatic injury is that the repression of creative expression is one of the first things to go. We have all these introjected voices of significant figures of our childhood (parents, other relatives, teachers, etc) who make up the Inner Critic. These are the demons we wrestle with on a subconscious level. Children, before they are conditioned by the figures in their lives, are naturally curious, exploratory, and inventive. And this gets squashed right out of them in the process of socialization. Maybe it’s not a parent, maybe it’s teachers (for a lot of kids, especially the daydreamers or hyperkinetic kids, it IS teachers who crush creative spirits), or our peers (who carry THEIR introjected authority figures in them).

          There’s this great article written by Maureen Neihart called Preserving the True Self of the Gifted Child, http://positivedisintegration.com/Neihart1998.pdf, that really discusses the concept of introjects much better than I ever could. I’d be interested in your thoughts about that article.

          You carry social injunctions with you wherever you go. “Do it this way”, “don’t do that”, “color in the lines”, “do what I say, not as I do”, “stop being silly”, “you’re not wearing THAT, are you?”, “what were you THINKING?” All these messages we have to try to deflect…but a lot stick. Especially the more sensitive you are, these messages tend to get recycled (the negative tapes play over and over and over again).

          And, there’s a biological basis for why we want to belong and change ourselves to fit in that goes back to the caveman days. Humans survive better in groups than alone.

          Anyway….just my $0.02.

          • ptero9 says:

            Great points Casey!

            I can relate to this:

            “(for a lot of kids, especially the daydreamers or hyperkinetic kids, it IS teachers who crush creative spirits),”

            Yep, that was me!!! …and you’re right about peers. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I knew anyone who was as introspective as I was.

          • Casey says:

            When I substitute teach, I make it a point to spend a little extra time giving help to my daydreamers, especially during tests. I try to make the lessons humorous, so they have a reason to stay present.

            I try to engage my hyperkinetic kids right off the bat. I realized when I give them some positive attention and allow them to tell some jokes or dance for me (because they like to MOOOVE their bodies and be the center of attention), they seem a lot more cooperative and JOYFUL afterwards. I try to trust them a little bit, give them some freedom and responsibility that they so rarely, if ever, get. They even are my biggest helps in getting the whole class to cooperate (because they are often leaders in mayhem and their followers will take their cues from them).

            It’s heartbreaking to see that for some of these kids (especially the hyperkinetic ones), by the time they’ve reached 8th grade, they have such chips on their shoulders because people believed them to be nothing but trouble. The daydreamers tend to fall through the cracks, because they aren’t the squeaky wheels…

            But these kids, my God, there’s treasure in them waited to be excavated.

            Anyway…I wish I could make my own school with my own rules…

          • Casey says:

            Ah, crap…another school shooting today. Roswell, NM…

            there’s something terribly wrong here…these kids need support they aren’t getting…I think…maybe…it’s not just about them, but that they are carrying the unexpressed rage of the culture around them.

            we are failing to provide so much of these kids needs…failing to protect them…they are taking to guns and destruction instead of canvas and creation…

            I teach in the schools here and my daughters go to elementary and middle school and I wonder…is one of ours next???

    • Glad to know more of your story, Debra. =)

  4. Pawan Hira says:

    …and you are not only enriching us, Casey, but you are leaving a page of possibilities.

    If ten thousand leaves you scatter here,
    you also arouse a curious mind to collect them—
    for vivid and quiet abode witnesses your good spirit
    and such kind of flow is needed more these days…

    Casey, you have beautifully sufficed Plath in exploring different scenarios, and deeper you dive with bright questions. You completed her with a new dawn, and that impresses me. If new horizon you were searching for, then you are completely following the journey—the process.

    I also had limited knowledge about Plath. And mainly people too remember her because of her dire final act of life. So, I purchased a book (Black Statements) which balanced her as an artist growing up in the time of melancholy, and moreover, it opened a way to touch her artistic awareness. Her words left an impression, and I find her again through your eyes, Casey. You provided a balance here, and I love that in your writing.

    I’m unable to write further, because I’m always overwhelmed by seeing a light in others. May be you can complete Mary Wollstonecraft in your next stop, she followed a route to ink her rational ideas for upliftment of women, yet her personal life found no fair treatment.

    Be blessed with love,

  5. Subhan Zein says:

    This is an interesting post. I totally agree with your idea above. In others, we could only find light and see that others may shine as bright as ours. They may help us to find our light, or to take us out from darkness. Thank you for this post. Blessings and love to you

  6. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for this. The photo is especially compelling in light of the comments.

    • Casey says:

      Thank you for reading it, and you’re welcome. And I like the visual to remind me of what’s always there…but sometimes hard to see.

      I like your gravatar tagline:

      “Surveyor of words, Purveyor of silence,”


  7. diahannreyes says:

    Casey, I really enjoyed your post. So much richness to your observation about Plath and the need of women coming together in community to create support- life changing and life saving even, possibly!

  8. Just got sent over by Holistic Wayfarer (a tough woman that one 🙂 ) I’m so glad she sent me over. Would Sylvia Plath have benefited by the resources made available to her by the internet? Before I started blogging I would have answered in terms of the internet just being another tool that could be used for good and for bad. However, like you and Holistic Wayfarer, I have been so enriched by interacting with so many different minds in different parts of the world, frequently off the blog, that I have to say there is a strong possibility that she would also have been influenced in a positive way. I am an introvert but my introversion does not apply to blogging so this medium enables me to reach so many more people than I would otherwise do because of social reticence. I look forward to reading some more of your posts.

    • Casey says:

      Hi, Malcolm.

      Thank you for reading and sharing here.

      I haven’t gotten the impression that Holistic Wayfarer is a tough woman. But maybe you know her better. I think she’s a vibrant, dedicated, intense and humorous woman, and I like that. Maybe I’ll keep an eye out for this toughness. 😉

      I’m glad you’ve been enriched by blogging as well. I have found some edifying friendships through blogging across the globe.

      I was introverted as a child, extroverted in my 20s and 30s, and back to being introverted again when I’m not substitute teaching. I think my extroversion was because I was in my appropriate environment – the scientific field, where I feel I was in my element doing what I loved. I also had given 25+ courtroom testimonies as an expert witness in forensic DNA analysis and there was NO social situation that was tough for me to handle. I’m more reticent now simply because I’m out of my field and I can’t stand superficial conversations. I’m not sure anyone could really handle my intensity anyway, so this is probably a good thing for them…

      I would like to think that Slyvia would have found the online community as supportive as I do. I still feel quite challenged sometimes, but most definitely less alone.

      I hope you enjoy my other writings…I have a very diverse collection of intense topics interspersed with some light-hearted fare.

    • *GRIN* You made me reel back to our volley of comments, Malcolm, in search of the “tough,” and come to think of it I think you did get snatches of The Grammar Mafia (who wrote a post last year) in them. I’m referring to the Mafia, not the Grammarian.

      Casey, Malcolm’s posts are hefty in their own right, dense and deep. I’m so glad he visited.

  9. Pingback: Sparkling Sundays: Spellbindingly Surreal | Bold Blind Beauty

  10. Dina says:

    Absolutely fascinating post. Enjoyed reading every bit of it, right till the end 🙂 I’ve landed here because of Stephanae’s post http://boldblindbeauty.com/2014/03/16/sparkling-sundays-spellbindingly-surreal/
    …and this is my first stop, and I love what I have found. There’s lots here that resonated with me… in particular your photo. The illustration Stephanae’s refers to came to me in a dream. Not the weird surreal type of dreams, but the ones that can easily happened in real. I suppose what I’m finding real interesting is that there are several of us that can relate to or have experienced that same image, whether in a dream or real. Anyway I’m off to continue my journey, and am very excited to have come across your blog which will now be part of my ongoing journey… looking forward to reading more of your material.

    • Casey says:

      Thank you so much Dina.

      I’ve got about 3 projects I’m working on right now, a lot of which includes sifting through years of photographs on my server so that I could print a slew of them up as well as helping my 9 year old write down details for her autobiography for her 3rd grade class. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I’ll have to swing by Stephanae’s blog to give some blog love to Stephanae for sharing my blog post on her blog.

      I write about a lot of serious and goofy things. I hope you like it here.

      As far as the photo, it’s one of my favorites.

      I’ll be visiting your blog, too.

      All the best,


  11. Holistic Wayfarer sent me, as we were discussing Sylvia Plath in the context of societal expectations. I adore your thoughts about her, and also about women in the world today. I think many women have faced the same challenges of Plath. Like I was writing to Holistic Wayfarer, she was the modern woman before there was the modern woman. She was trying to juggle a career, single motherhood in the wake of a devastating divorce, and all in the midst of her own mental health conditions. But, she did it all in the societal context of the time, which had a brand of oppression many women of our generation have hardly suffered.

    True, we are still fighting the war for equality, especially in the workplace. But, society has a certain respect for the unique challenges of being an intelligent, creative, and independent woman that didn’t exist in that time. Society didn’t encourage Plath to even make the attempt to “have it all”. Once she was domesticated, an idea she struggled to accept as her inevitable fate as a woman in that time, she was expected to dedicate all of her time and energy into her marriage, children, and home. Anything less was neglectful and shameful. It’s not completely unlike today, but we face a very different challenge of the concept of the “Wonder Woman’ who is not successful *until* she “has it all”.

    Personally, I’ve had a difficult time fully appreciating Plath’s struggle. It was a different time, and there are more freedoms and resources available to women in our modern society. We aren’t immediately pressured into domestic lives. Quite the contrary, many young women are expected to strive for success in education and careers prior to marriage and family. It’s not a tragedy if an unwed woman becomes a mother. The new tragedy is when that same woman doesn’t complete her undergraduate degree or immediately find stable, gainful employment.

    I do appreciate her struggle to break from tradition and carve her own path. What’s sad about it is the fact that she couldn’t survive it. Personally, I don’t think suicide is selfish, especially in her case when she had already had one failed attempt that we’re aware of. It’s a symptom of a very serious condition. But, in those times, there were grave consequences in seeking care. Sylvia Plath’s demise highlights everything that was, and still is wrong with our societal attitudes toward mental health and the health care system in general.

    See, the adversity I faced and she faced were pretty much two sides of the same coin that women carry in their purses. I married young, and as a result I got a lot of grief for it. Most people insisted that we wouldn’t make it five years. This was especially so when I disclosed my pregnancy after the wedding. (No, the wedding was planned long before the pregnancy, which was also planned. I just got pregnant a lot faster than anticipated). Here we are, six years in, still going strong. Meanwhile, many of the very same people have been married, divorced, and remarried.

    And the grief I got for being a young mother! I was married and had my son at the age of 23. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that. It was a tragedy, because I was apparently deemed too young and immature to have healthy, strong marriage and be a competent mother. But, the real tragedy was all of the life I apparently was wasting. I hadn’t finished my undergraduate degree or started a career. I had no ambitions to travel or move away from my hometown. Apparently, those were grounds for a certain condemnation where no one was permitted to celebrate my pregnancy in any kind of way. I was denied a baby shower by my own family.

    She was on the other side of that, feeling the societal pressures to marry and have children. Meanwhile, she was expected to give up all of her aspirations and ambitions of having a successful career. She knew all of this, and in her journals she expresses how she struggled so much with those concepts and that kind of fate.

    I don’t blame her, because it’s difficult to live a way of life that the people you love don’t support. It’s extraordinarily hard to forge a path against it all, and to do so alone. I respect her struggle, and mourn her untimely death, because I fear it was in vain.

    • Casey says:


      Thank you for your very thoughtful reply.

      I agree, that there is no longer the widespread oppression of women. However, I still feel oppression exists on a smaller scale. Anyone who has lived with a narcissistic parent or spouse has their options severely limited and their hope for personal freedom extinguished. There is no social movement that has yet been created for these cases of repression of Self by narcissists. The narcissist manages to employ highly sophisticated psychological tactics behind closed doors, and the target has had every escape route blocked.

      And, because these are heavy-duty social pressures exerted by family members who know how to pull the “blood is thicker than water” card, one’s own mind warps and becomes the oppressor long after you leave home, or in the case of the wife of a narcissist, can’t leave home. I would not ever say people ‘hardly suffer’, because I think they do. It’s a different kind of suffering. Actually, it’s a worse kind of suffering, knowing that we have, as a society, have SO many opportunities and yet you don’t, not without taking some extreme measures to gain your own liberation.

      There was a time when I consulted a battered women’s shelter when I was about 20 or so, because I was being so psychologically battered by my mother that I could not find the way out. The oppression was devastating. The day I left home, for good, my mother’s hand was at my throat.

      Civil rights movements exist to protect individual rights, but they do not reach every single instance of oppression, even in our society of equal opportunity. It’s not all equal. The POSSIBILITY of equality exists, the reality is very different.

      I relate, very much, to Plath’s struggle. Yes, the POSSIBILITY of freedom was made available to me, but the reality was, my mother, a narcissistic personality, did not encourage me to go to college and instead set obstacles in my way. My mother severely limited my choice of universities. I was accepted to about 5 different universities and could not attend any of them, since I would have to live on campus and she refused to pay room and board for me. She didn’t work with me on getting financial aid, she didn’t work with me on options of how I could try to get a job to at least help pay for my room and board. I was accepted to the University of Chicago, the one at the top of my list, and she wouldn’t pay to let me live on campus, so I couldn’t go. Even my grandfather, who wanted me to attend his alma mater, wouldn’t help me. My mother’s reasoning to me was that she didn’t want me living on campus because, “I will probably find a man, drop out of school and get married” and waste my education.

      So…oppression was still alive and kicking in my day. With the help of small scholarships I’d won from writing essays, and part time work, I was able to pay for my own education – I started out in a community college, and graduated from a satellite branch of Purdue University.

      No, I don’t think suicide is selfish. But I do think suicide, in many instances, is precipitated by having all other routes closed to you. I write about suicide. I write about suicide because I’ve been suicidal before. It’s kind of ‘normal’ for people who have been traumatized/oppressed to struggle with depression and suicide. Being married to someone with a substance addiction doesn’t help matters.


      I think I’m on the other side of that. I’ve been working on my healing for 5 years, and have a LOT more support than I had before.

      And you are right, there were grave consequences to seeking care. You were immediately institutionalized, drugged up and forgotten about. It was tragic. We do need to go back to the idea of “The Rest Cure”. I have a few posts about new, alternative programs to medication and hospitalization for mental distress. Daniel Mackler started making documentaries about some of these wonderful alternative programs in other countries. We need to design similar programs here, too.

      I’m sorry that you have been so mistreated by your family. You do know what I’m talking about. It’s bullshit, you know. People are still so terribly close-minded and harmful. The oppression still exists, it’s just taken on much more subtle forms.

      I ended up getting much pressure from my family not because I married young and had kids young (I got married at 27 and had my first at 31), but because I chose attachment parenting and I quit my very well-paying job to stay at home with my daughters (the HORROR! I just set the women’s movement back a century) and carried my babies in a sling and breastfed my youngest until she was 3 years old. Can you imagine the audacity I had to nurse a toddler? I was told how gross that was by my oldest sister, who bottle fed ALL her children.

      Big hugs, mama. It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders.

      I hope I covered all I wanted to, and coherently. I have the daughters at home (summer break) and they keep barging into my room as I type.

      • I definitely relate to what you expressed in the “blood is thicker that water” respect. I fled my childhood home at 19, and spent a lot of time crashing on people’s sofas until I could get my own place together. I won’t go into specifics, because my parents and I have tried very hard in the last 5 years since my son was born to repair our relationship.

        But, it was oppressive, to say the least about it. There was no freedom of any kind in that house. I once described it as being “abusive and neglectful at the same time”. It was a troubled time, and the only way to put it all to rest once and for all was to put fifteen miles between us. Not only did we need time, but we needed a whole lot of space too.

        I would disagree with the ongoing sentiment that stay-at-home-moms are putting the women’s movement back, as you probably do as well. I’ve gotten a lot of flack for making that choice. I remember filing my first tax return after my son was born. When the preparer asked what my profession was, I answered, “Domestic caretaker”. She replied with disdain, “Oh. You’re a homemaker.” Homemaker?! I know you can imagine my horror!

        It took me awhile to come to terms with that, because it wasn’t a revered position in life for a woman. It was regarded as something shameful. It took me awhile to understand that those weren’t actually my values. They were something that my mother thrust upon me, because she was miserable in that way of life. To my mother’s credit, she takes care of a disabled husband and son. It can’t be easy. But, I had to wrap my head around the fact that it was my choice, and I am more than happy to be at home, raising my son with autism.

        But I do agree that the oppression for women exists in different forms now. It is a lot more subtle, but it’s far more complex that it used to be. Congrats on coming out of your struggle, better for all of the wear. You are a shining testament to the power of a woman’s spirit. Mental health is a serious matter, and I make it a point to strive to educate people and empower those of us who are living with our own conditions.

        I definitely agree with “The Rest Cure” in some regards. In 2012, I suffered the worst full-blowm manic episode I had ever experienced. It didn’t help that I was trying to raise my son with special needs, be a supportive wife to my husband who was going through something, and hold down a job that I thought was essential to my career path. It was a hard blow when my program was discontinued, and I was laid off that summer.

        But, it was a blessing in disguise. We moved to a more rural area, and I mostly hid away from the world for almost a year. I wrote about my “emotional coma”, which in reality was a subtle, long depression after my mania finally broke. I needed time to get better, just like anyone with a serious physical ailment. It was like having a shattered bone. Doctors can only do so much to repair it. But, it takes a long time to heal.


        I do agree that the older psychiatric treatments were inhumane and awful. I also understand that our current model is sorely lacking and often ineffective. In Pittsburgh, the minimum wait time to see a psychiatrist is 4 – 8 weeks. And the care is often inaccessible due to unreasonably high cost and the often inadequate income of a person seeking treatment. It is critical that we continue to bring this to light, especially in the wake of so many tragedies that are occurring around us because of inadequate screening and treatment.

        However, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to completely discount the medical model. In many cases, pharmacological intervention is essential and extraordinarily instrumental in a patient’s recovery. Medication was the start to completely changing my life. But, the rest of is was the psychological recovery. I disagree that the only effective method is through professional guidance. I had years of therapy in my teens that couldn’t come close to having any impression on my adult life. Marital arts was one of the main means of making significant lifestyle changes.

        But, I will also stress that not any one particular combination of things will work for any individual. Some people have found their path through other means, such as religion. I will not discredit any health method any individual finds effective.

        Now, I’ve completely digressed. Mental health topics can keep me going all day, and I will tell you that you inspired my next piece about treatment options. I really think that the women of today need to make one thing clear that the original women’s movement seemed fairly inadequate at expressing. We don’t want to “have it all” or “be it all”. No one can do that alone. “No (wo)man is an island”. We want the freedom of choice, and a wealth of options that are not only accepted in the eyes of society, but encouraged. If a woman decides that she wants to take the role as a homemaker, then good for her. Conversely, if a woman decides she wants to solely pursue her career, then good for her too! And somewhere in between, we should all be especially supportive of the women who want to strike a balance between both. That’s probably the most difficult choice of all.

        Freedom and acceptance. That’s what our foremothers wanted, right?

        • Casey says:


          Ooooh, you and I could talk for hours. I can relate to SOO much of what you are saying (even right down to the crashing on couches, mood disorders, autism, and motherhood not being a revered position). I’m trying to decide if I’m awake enough to handle a lengthy post adequately.

          I don’t think, yet, I am going to write a bit.

          I did want to share a few posts of mine. Let me preface it that I have had a mood disorder that I self-treated. Mine was the result of a combination of things which resembled bipolar at times, and Borderline Personality Disorder at other times, but essentially, what it boiled down to was trauma response – childhood trauma and relationship trauma of living with my husband, whose has had binge drinking and suicidal gestures, and is, we are thinking now, on the autism spectrum (and I had a daughter with sensory processing disorder and selective mutism, which, while she wasn’t on the spectrum, what she was struggling with was kissing cousins to it and used social stories and SPD strategies that are used for kids on the spectrum to help her self-regulate. She’s no longer selectively mute after her intervention). My mood problems were compounded by a seriously stressed nervous system and damage to my thyroid and adrenal glands.

          Before I get into my response, I wanted to share a few links…so you can get a feel for what I have had to wade through.



          I want to make it clear, I’m not judging those who use the medical model for helping themselves. I just know that, for me, I prefer to take an integrative/holistic healing approach to my mental and emotional needs.

          And there are two other links I wanted to share


          If I recall correctly, she was diagnosed bipolar, on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals for years, and suffered iotrenogenic damage and decided to go med-free…not on a whim, but because the meds were causing more problems than the mood disorder did.

          and this one:


          I’ve been on a healing journey for the past 5 years. I’ve come through a lot of difficult stuff.

          I just wrote this on the most recent post:

          “In February, my 33 year old ex-brother in law David died in a terrible alcohol related car crash.

          In March, my best internet friend broke up with me after a nearly 5 year correspondence.

          Also in March, my dad got terminal lung cancer and died, and my mother expressed her upset and betrayal and had to find a way to hurt me because I wanted to be with him one last time before he died.

          My sister decided to cut me out of her life…again.

          And I found out last week, that my husband had been having a 5 month affair, and invited her over to our home to have sex with her on our couch while I was taking care of my dying father and helping my stepmother.”

          So…you’ve touched on a lot of things near and dear to my heart. I’m a lot more regulated than I was before. I don’t take medications and I’m not even on synthroid. I am on selenium to help support my thyroid, I take alpha lipoic acid to help my nervous system, and I take curcumin to help with inflammation and pain. And I’m in al-anon and adult children of alcoholics meetings for a support system, because my therapist moved away.

          I’m a LOT more balanced than I once was. I haven’t even had to kick my husband out of the house. I decided not to go ballistic on him for cheating on me when my father was dying. I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do just yet, however, I’m considering “opening up” the marriage as an alternative to divorce. And, I can’t quite help thinking that instead of getting a divorce from her husband for cheating on her, why couldn’t Slyvia just go find her own lover? Would that have even been conceivable to her? There were women who led polyamorous lifestyles – Anais Nin, and Lou Andreas Salome were two women who did. No, they didn’t have children…so maybe that’s the difference. I don’t know.

          Okay, that’s it, for now. I promise, more soon (not sure when).

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