Hey, It’s Me: They/ He

While I was never a consistent writer, I must acknowledge that I have really slacked off. For that, readers, I must apologize. There were a couple of blog articles that I had begun and simply could not bring myself to finish as of yet. I suppose the time wasn’t right for them to come to fruition. All of that said, I do feel a calling to write an update of sorts. I have been dealing with, among the usual ebbs and flows of life, some inner work that needed done regarding my identity. One aspect of that is still too raw for me to discuss here, but another wants to be said.

In the past, I have discussed my gender on this blog. I believe that the last thing I mentioned regarding who I am in terms of gender is that I’m non-binary. But, that may have been before I became sure that I wanted to drop she/her pronouns. I’m they/them, leaning toward he/him. Feminine pronouns and language directed toward me has become increasingly uncomfortable for me. Truthfully, it’s not an entirely new revelation. It’s more that the recent development is my acknowledgement of my feelings.

Ever since I was a child, being called a “girl” and “she/her” felt wrong. I pushed it under the rug, largely because I didn’t have the language or support to understand why I felt that way. I was a bit of a tomboy who didn’t quite understand why it was that I couldn’t be more like boys. As a teenager, I had found some of that language and questioned whether I might be a trans boy. Yet, I was still missing some of the language and any of the support I needed in order to further explore who I was.

Enter my twenties: This was in the 2010’s, when more information regarding nonbinary genders was become easier to happen across online. Something about that clicked with me. And yet, and yet… It took until I was about to turn thirty before I was able to allow myself to fully accept that I really am not a cisgender woman.

Pretending to be a woman was easier than facing the task of coming out as nonbinary. It hurt, but that pain of pushing who I am down was easier than telling people who I feared may reject me. Or so, I thought it was easier. Eventually, I had to stop playing the ill-fitting role that I was assigned.

At first, I only told those who were close to me, who I trusted. As is the case for most in the LGBTQIA+ community. Then, I slowly started updating my pronouns on social media and even started openly discussing it here and there online. I was becoming more confident in accepting and exploring who I am. I tried on the label of genderfluid, which fit like a comfy sweater. But there was a hole in that sweater. Something was missing and, any time I tried to express femininity in my appearance, I felt wrong all over again.

Just over a month ago, after many months of deliberation, I started T. I cannot express how freeing taking this step has already been. I now feel ready to say that I am transmasc nonbinary. (To be clear, medical transition of any sort is not required to be transmasc. Testosterone has only given me the push I needed.) I finally came out at work. I think the genderfluid label might still fit me, but I do definitely lean more toward the transmasc side of things. Perhaps, once I can pass as a guy more easily, I will become comfortable with presenting with femininity again. If so, I suspect it would be because then, I will not always be automatically seen as a woman by outsiders. I will be more free to express myself as a genderqueer person.

I am finally becoming more comfortable with myself. And, though I know I still have a long way to go, I am beginning to understand what it means to love oneself.

Growing Pains

When my child was little, seeing xem hit new milestones and gain more independence was bittersweet. It was a relief to have xem rely on me less and less, little by little. It brought me pride to see my little one growing up. It still does, but I’ve been feeling more sad about it lately. My “little” one doesn’t seem like the same child I once knew. It’s probably past time that I face it: My child is continuously becoming their own person. That’s part of growing up. As a parent, that is perhaps the best goal to aim for. Anything that puts strict expectations on a child to be a certain way ends up missing the mark. Too many children have grown up to feel the pain caused by their parents who tried to set limits on who they can be. Many of us have experienced that pain for ourselves. Why should we want to hurt our own kids in the same way? Isn’t it enough to raise a child with compassion for others and theirself?

I spent too much of my kid’s childhood influenced by the opinions of my in-laws. I let my mother-in-law tell me that my kid shouldn’t have colored hair or certain haircuts for too long, despite my internal disagreement with such restrictions. I was afraid to really raise my child as a Pagan, limiting myself only to telling stories until we moved an hour away. To be real, I regret some of the parenting choices that I made. Some of them were based on fear of judgement from people who I now realize don’t care as much about my family as I had thought. Once we failed to meet their expectations, the in-laws stopped trying to reach out. Go figure.

At the same time, despite my feeling like I didn’t make enough of my own decisions in my earlier years of parenting, I know that I got some things right. My wife and I stood our ground with our decision against spanking. I always gave my child a choice in what to believe in, spiritually. When he asked me if Loki or fairies are real, I told xem: “I believe they are. What about you?”. The same happened with Santa and the Tooth Fairy, although I never outright claimed to believe in those two. I even allowed my kid to go to church with my in-laws until he decided that he didn’t want to. (To be fair, that decision on their part may have been influenced by my informing xem of the flaws with that particular church’s harmful beliefs.) I always told xem that love is love and that transgender and nonbinary people are valid. When my kiddo came out as liking the same gender and then as exploring their gender identity, thank the gods I had already gotten away from the strong toxic influence of my in-laws, my wife and I embraced their identity.

I’d be lying if there wasn’t one part of my child’s current identity that I am struggling with, though. As a polytheist, knowing that my kid doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs kind of hurts. It feels almost like I did something wrong. Maybe I explained my beliefs too simplisticly. But the truth of the matter is that forcing my religion onto my child is what would be wrong. As much as I would love to have a Pagan kid, religion should always be a choice. Or, at least as much of a choice that I believe it can be. If the gods call to xem one day and he recognizes it, I will be happy and willing to offer whatever help I can. If not, that is just something that I will have to continue to accept.

These preteen years are an introduction to what I may expect the teenage years to be like. This is my only kid, though, so that statement is purely an assumption. My kid still comes to me for comfort and I hope that continues, but he also spends more time hidden away in the privacy of their room. This child is now more willing to speak their mind when he disagrees with something, but is also still learning how to regulate their emotions as all adolescents are. It’s not always easy to parent with all of that in mind, though I do try.

I don’t know yet what my kid will be like throughout their teen years or as an adult. I am expecting some stumbles and troubles – we all go through them and he won’t get to be an exception. I am also hoping for the best. Not necessarily that he be the best at anything in particular, mind you. I am hoping that my parenting allows my kid to continue to be a compassionate person, able to think for xemself, able to be self sufficient and yet unafraid to ask for help when needed.

I do miss the little one that my child used to be. But, it’s a fact of life that children can’t remain the same forever. Nor should we parents want them to.

We Are The Weirdos

I was drawn to Unitarian Universalism because a Pagan friend recommended it as a safe place for Pagans who wanted a “church home”. It was described as a space where people of many faiths can worship together. Which sounds complicated, but really the services don’t feel overcomplicated. They mostly focus on what it means to be human and compassion for others. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, to be fair.

My real introduction into this congregation was through it’s Pagan goup. More than anything, I needed a space where I could connect in person to people who hold similar beliefs and practices. I love that the group is eclectic. I love that we can discuss spirituality and religion without many assumptions being made. It’s wonderful to share in ritual with them. As a whole, the people at the UUC are nice and everyone’s supportive of each other.

And yet, I often feel a disconnect. It could be that we’ve only had a handful of in-person events for the past two years. Or maybe it’s also because I’m the only active member of the group who is a polytheist and worships deities some consider “dark”. (There may be others, but they’re not often present during our discussions.) It’s difficult sometimes to click with them on a spiritual level when we talk about our paths.

It kind of hurts feeling like I’m still somehow the odd one out: The weird one among the group. It leads me to having to tone down what I disclose about my own beliefs and practices so I don’t risk being “too much” for the others. Even then, I sometimes worry I’ve said too much.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t intend on leaving the group or the UUC. The connections I make there are important to me. The people in my Pagan group feel like a family. It’s just a fact that even chosen family doesn’t always “get it” when it comes to certain things.

It’s a common enough theme in our discussions when the Pagan group is helping with a Sunday service, such as for Beltaine or Samhain, that we “tone it down” for our non-Pagan members. We usually use a shortened version of our rituals that leave some things out. To me, our rituals are tame already. There’s no invocations of deities that results in “horsing” or possession, or other “heavy” ritual work. Not that I would necessarily want to partake in these practices with my group. That would be too personal for me. My “heavy” work is private or occasionally shared with someone I am intimately close with. Besides, I get the feeling that some of those practices are something most of them would be uncomfortable with, anyway. Still, it would be nice to be able to openly talk about such things in a general way without fearing judgment from them or causing them discomfort.

It’s an odd feeling to sit among others who also follow an “alternative” spiritual path and still feel like the weirdo. It’s strange to realize that we sometimes view certain subjects so differently even when the surface of our conversations sound like we’re completely on the same page. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just makes it difficult to ascertain whether we’re actually talking about the same thing, or if we’re discussing separate concepts with shared language.

All of that said, perhaps what is needed is more openness. Not too much, mind you. I’m not setting out to divulge all of my secrets. It may be that I need to speak up more when I feel uncomfortable with feeling like I have to hide.

What Is Paganism?

A number of years ago, I was discussing a Beltaine festival with somebody and another person pitched in with interest. Knowing that this third person didn’t know what Beltaine was, I explained to him that it’s a Pagan festival. To keep a somewhat longer story short, he thought I was talking about the motorcycle group called “Pagans”. He had no idea that Paganism is a religion. To be somewhat fair, I had no idea that there was a group of bikers by that name, either.

At other times, I have heard others respond to hearing the word “Pagan” with varied confused responses from “What’s that mean?” to “You mean those weird people who believe in fairies?”.

Let’s face it: The general population doesn’t typically know what Paganism is. Why should they? It’s a religious group that many don’t ever come across. In most of my years as a Pagan, I’ve been fairly (carefully) open about my religion. I don’t go into details and, when I do, what details are given are carefully chosen. If somebody asks about religion and I feel safe, I tell them. If they ask what that means, I do my best to explain it in a way I think they’ll understand. That’s not always particularly easy. As time lingers on, I’ve found that my worldview has changed in such a way that I sometimes have a disconnect with the Christian-centered mindset of most around me. Yes, that typically includes the atheists, agnostics, and some other non-Christian folk. Not that this mindset is entirely absent from me – it’s simply not as strong as it used to be, I suppose.

By this point in time, many Pagans are already familiar with some variation of the quote, “If you ask 10 Pagans what Paganism is, you’ll get 10 different answers.” There’s a good reason for this: Paganism is not a singular religion. There are a multitude of religions within Paganism, and numbers of differing traditions within many of these individual religions. Nope, not all Pagans are Wiccan. Nor do all Pagans practice witchcraft of any given tradition, though many do. (Witchcraft, though a related subject, is it’s own thing which is just as diverse in traditions as Paganism. It is also not just Wicca.) And, yes, there are also many eclectic neo-Pagans who don’t practice a specific religious tradition.

To explain to somebody new to Paganism what it is can feel overwhelming. I don’t want to misconstrue it as a singular religion or tradition. I don’t want to make generalized claims that are true to some aspects of Paganism, but completely false about others. I also don’t want to give so much information as to overwhelm anyone. It can be a bit of a tricky tightrope to walk for somebody who cares so deeply about honesty in their practices. Or, perhaps it’s my social awkwardness and anxiety that makes it so difficult for me.

This my best definition of Paganism: “An umbrella term which encompasses many different religions and traditions. Some of which are earth-centered, some not. Some of which are polytheist (a belief in many gods), some not. Some of which believe in fairies or other spirits, some may not. Some of which incorporate witchcraft, some do not. Some of which attempt to reconstruct ancient pre-Christian religions, some do not. Some of which were entirely created in the 1900’s, some not. Some of which are open traditions (anybody can practice), while some are closed traditions (must be part of a specific culture to practice).” On and on this attempt to define something so complex can go… It doesn’t quite feel like an answer, and yet it’s much more of an answer than many of the others I’ve come across.

It is said by many Pagans that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to practice. While technically true, this generalization does lead to a lot of cultural harm and misinformation within the wider Pagan community. (I wrote more in depth on this in a previous post, Paganism: Accountability Matters.) Personally, I hate using this phrase because it can be misconstrued so badly. I always feel as if I am doing a disservice to new Pagans if I don’t follow up with some sort of “yes, but…” explanation when they’re told to do “whatever feels right”. Unfortunately, lots of people don’t like being corrected when they are contributing to misinformation, cultural misappropriation, or other harmful ideas. Those exploring Paganism need to know early on to be wary of certain sources, and how to respectfully practice in a way that feels right to them.

All of that said, when done in a respectful and fully honest manner, there is no wrong way to practice Paganism. That’s the caveat that gets so many in trouble. Respect and honesty in one’s practice: It really shouldn’t be too much to expect. It’s okay to get something wrong – we all do. Owning up to our mistakes and correcting them is what matters.

Alas, I have gone off in a bit of a tangent. So, what is Paganism? It is many things. It is a religious community comprised of people from all walks of life. It is a desire to connect to spirituality in a way that feels right to each individual. For some, it’s also a desire to connect to one’s ancestry or culture. It can be neo-Paganism, Wicca, Asatru, Hellenism, Kemeticism, polytheism, pantheism, duotheism, animism, sometimes Indigenous and African-diasporic spiritualities (not all in such traditions are okay with being associated with Paganism), and over a thousand more religious traditions. Sometimes these traditions and belief systems overlap. Many Pagan religions (as well as non-Pagan ones) share much in common, and yet they are each different. They each draw from their own cultural sources, both ancient and modern. Paganism isn’t any one religion. It’s a plethora of religions and traditions which give life to our communities.

Halloween & Samhain

Halloween was always my favorite holiday. I have fond memories of dressing up in costume, going door to door for treats, and of being frightened by someone jumping out of a prop casket. That spooky time of the year was the one time of the year when I could freely explore the weird and supernatural without being judged as harshly. As I grew older, it became the time of year when I felt more like myself. The beginning of autumn and the sense of change leading up to Halloween were always energizing to me.

For several years, I struggled to really enjoy Halloween. My dad had passed away a few days before Halloween and so the date of his funeral fell on that day. By that time, I was a young Pagan and was aware of Samhain being the same date as Halloween. There was some sense of comfort in this. I wasn’t yet actively celebrating any of the Pagan sabbats, but I knew that Samhain was the time when “the veil between worlds was at it’s thinnest”. (That particular phrasing turned out to be a Victorian-era invention, but regardless…)

This autumnal harvest holiday is a day originating in Ireland. Samhain (pronounced “Sow-wen”) is the Irish/ Gaeilge word for the month of November, in fact. Many Pagans of various traditions celebrate Samhain to remember our ancestors and beloved dead. The “dumb supper” traditionally held at Samhain to honor the dead is an Irish tradition that has been adopted by those outside Ireland.

Because of the connection to the dead, I also have a personal/ UPG association of the day with Hel as caretaker of the dead. But, relevant to Samhain’s Irish origins, there is a mythic connection to The Morrígan in the Cath Maige Tuired that I feel should not be ignored. For these reasons, I like to honor both Hel and The Morrígan, separately, on Samhain. (The Morrígan is, after all, one of my primary deities.)

Though Halloween and Samhain are typically celebrated on the same day, it would be remiss to treat them as the same holiday. I love both, but I consider them separate. One is secular fun, while the other is sacred. And yet, at the same time, they are linked by popular culture in a way that perhaps cannot be fully undone. How many Halloween-themed movies and tv shows throw in the mention of Samhain (often while butchering the pronunciation) as a poorly researched plot tool? It can be difficult to untangle the threads between the two holidays. For me, these threads are further tangled by the loss of my dad just before Halloween and Samhain. They are tangled by the popular media association of witches with Halloween, and the celebration of Samhain by many modern day witches.

Halloween is still my favorite secular holiday. I love decorating, going to haunted houses, getting pumpkins, dressing up, watching spooky movies, and all of those sorts of things. Samhain probably ties with Bealtaine for my favorite spiritual holiday. It’s important to me to remember my beloved dead, celebrate the ongoing changing of the seasons, and honor my goddesses with whom I feel a stronger connection to on this day.

Poetry: Who Are We

[The UUC wherein I am a member had a wonderful Labor Day service that inspired me.]

I grow more weary with each passing day

Of this world, by which I mean to say,

This society that we humans have built

For what is it, if not a cage

These capitalist ideals chains

Which keep us from embracing

Who we truly are as a people

As individuals and as community

Our minds and bodies kept too busy

To care for ourselves or others

To do the things we love

Or to allow ourselves to be loved

Who are we

When stripped of these boundaries

When freedom truly reigns

In balance with a sense of humanity

Would we not be a better people

Were we not focused so on survival

In a world filled with greed?

If all were equal to each other

If all took their turns in caring

All allowed to share their gifts

Instead of time and labor stolen

Would it not be more beautiful?

Who are we

These creatures who have adapted so

Learned to build and imagine

And turned it into… this

This cruel society that cares not

For anyone deemed lesser

That decides people are less worthy

What kind of injustice is this?

Why have we allowed it for so long?

This is not the way

Senseless sorrows, we’ve been betrayed

By the entire system we created

Who are we?

Learning Day By Day

When I first started thinking about homeschooling my preteen, I was under the impression that it would mean weeks (if not months) of pre-planned curriculum and hours of instruction time for my child each day. I was operating under the assumption that it would have to be a similar format as public school; which really would defeat some of the purpose of homeschool for many families. Once I actually started, it took some time, but I started to figure out what would work for us.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, for any stumbling upon this post and interested in our background story: My child [he/ xem pronouns] was an Honor student throughout elementary in public school. During 4th and 5th grade, he began showing anxiety about going to school. It became a struggle getting xem to school, though my child continued making good grades. Meeting with the guidance counselor left us with no resolution to the problem. They were aware that my child was bored because much of the work was too easy, but never followed up on any of our discussions.

Then, everything went remote due to the pandemic. My child finished out 5th grade via distance learning with his public school teacher and graduated elementary school from home. The following school year was a disaster. We tried the self-paced virtual school option, but the (out of state) teachers offered little to no support for the work they assigned. After a few months, my child began falling behind. Then, we switched to the distance learning option with local teachers and a set schedule. All I will say now about that option, is that it ended up being an even worse experience. My child lost nearly a year of education time before I realized that public school was failing xem. He had previously requested to be homeschooled a few times and I had wished that I could. It simply didn’t feel like a realistic option. I needed that push. Thus, after some discussion with friends who homeschool and looking into the laws for my state, I decided to take the plunge and withdrew my child from the public school system.

One of my first attempts when we started homeschooling in February was with a paid online curriculum. While the concept sounds nice, I learned that it wasn’t for us. My child does not do well with self guided work and I’m simply not a fan of pre-planned curriculum. Perhaps my problem was that I was relying on it more than I should have, but I decided that I would be better off saving my money in the long run. Besides, there was a (relatively minor) issue of the curriculum’s grammar unit teaching prescriptivist ideas that left us with a sour feeling toward it. This is a progressive household and we will not stand for outdated teachings. Unschooling, while it would have likely been wonderful for my child at a younger age, was not fruitful enough to continue after an initial de-stressing period. My child needed a break, but education must go on at some point.

I’ve found, so far, that I enjoy piecing our curriculum together day by day. I’m using middle school books from the Big Fat Notebook series (BFN) as a basic guideline; alongside a combination of videos, workbooks, free worksheets, games, and other resources to assist me in teaching my child. Much of what we’ve been doing so far is review work to refresh forgotten subjects and playing catch up from all that time lost. We’re getting to the point now wherein we are working on a blend of review and catch up. Slow, but steady is what I’m aiming for. I’m trying to worry less about my child being on track per public school standards, and more about being sure he is learning before we move on to the next big thing. Eventually, I do hope to have xem back on track and ready for college or trade school by the time we get through high school. If it gets to a point wherein I no longer feel that will be feasible with homeschool, I am also aware that public school may become a necessary (though undesired) option.

Currently, our routine takes place in the evenings after I get home from work and take some time to cook dinner and/or decompress. We spend around 2 hours with school, so roughly half an hour per subject. Our days alternate between the different resources we’re using. If we read a chapter from Everything You Need To Ace Math In One Big Fat Notebook, we usually practice the examples together from the book that day as we’re reading; then follow up the next day or two with videos and answering “Check Your Knowledge” questions at the end of the BFN chapter. Other days, I have xem play games (Prodigy is a favorite for math), review with worksheets or in a workbook, or do practice questions/ quizzes online (such as on Khan Academy).

It’s mostly the same for the other subjects, as well. We do often spend more time per chapter for social studies and science than we do math or English/ Language Arts (ELA). The chapters for the former two subjects are often longer, so there’s simply more to cover. We mostly watch a few more relevant videos in leiu of review worksheets and games for these. I am also incorporating more reading and writing assignments. To start out this year, once a week, I am having my child choose an article from Dogo News to read and discuss. He will be starting cursive practice again. I want to have xem work again on a foreign language (or ASL), music, and art; but this is not an immediate goal just yet.

I always plan what we’ll be doing day by day. This prevents me from stressing out about being “on schedule” and allows us to spend extra time on a subject or move forward as needed. There are some days when I have a panicked feeling of “what do we do now?”, but there’s always room to decide.

Poetry: Poem For Mamaw

[My grandmother just passed away. This is something that I wrote to help sort out my feelings. Because of this, “Poem For Mamaw” felt right as the title. That’s all I will say about it for now.]

Everything keeps on circling
Without a care for our hearts
Trees changing color
Then falling
Dancing in the wind
It all goes to the earth
And the leaves are gone
The air turns cold
Even on a summer day
Memories left…
But was it enough?
Always moving too much
To see that time doesn’t stop
The fires burn away
The clock stutters
Missed a turn
Lost a chance to remember
Hesitance stealing
The chance is gone
Was it enough?
No, no…
Not when seeds float away
Only returning
When the flower fades
The flow imprinting
Such a grandiose carving
From such a tiny river
A story worth telling
Of a formidable storm
Moving through these mountains
But a spark within our hearts
A longing to try again
Though we cannot go back

Reflections on Homeschool

When I previously wrote about starting on a homeschool journey, I never intended for this to become a home school blog, nor did I plan to entirely forgo the subject in my posts. It makes sense that, as the traditional school year has come to an end and our assessment has been done, that I finally write on my experience. We officially started homeschooling in February of this year. Those few months were up and down. I toggled between feeling as if we barely accomplished anything at all and realizing that we’re moving along at a good pace. My child struggled with keeping interest and sometimes got to the point wherein they shut down rather than do school. They’re a preteen, so one could expect it to be a difficult age. On top of that, this past year has been one full of change due to the pandemic and other life situations. That has not made my child’s emotional state any better, nor has it allowed us much of a chance for the in-person socialization that children need.

Regardless of my fears of inadequacy, I am pleased to say that our assessment went well. A certified teacher (as required) looked over the portfolio that I had put together and saw progress in all required subjects, with no subjects needing improvement. It was a relief, as well as an encouragement. My child has been learning. As it turns out, I was unfairly judging myself, as well as the kiddo, because we hadn’t crammed a year’s worth of learning into a few months. How ridiculous of me, right? The main objective of school should be to learn, not to simply move from one thing to the next. Had we managed to cram too much in for my child to learn, then I would have failed in my goal of providing my child an education.

Those first few months were a learning experience for both of us. We had to learn what methods of teaching work best for us, how to pace ourselves, and how to communicate more effectively with each other. While teaching is an integral part of parenting, doing so in the context of homeschool can be a whole other experience. I hadn’t studied or otherwise consciously (if at all) used some of the information we covered since I was first taught it. Many of the topics were a refresher for me, and many weren’t exactly taught as accurately (if at all) when I was in school. It helps my experience with teaching my child that I enjoy learning, whether it is something I have forgotten or something completely new to me. There is no shame in not knowing everything, only in pretending that there is not always more to learn. There are teachers, even in the public school system, who cling to outdated information that is not correct or unbiased. It has been my goal to avoid being one of those teachers for my child.

Because I am not an expert in any given subject, I have taken care to choose reliable sources to assist me in teaching. I learned quickly that online websites that provide specific curriculums didn’t seem to work well for us. Some are even inaccurate sources in regards to certain topics. Thus, I purchased a few books to help build a basic framework for our home school; and incorporated educational videos from trusted sources, games, written work, discussions, and real life learning experiences. It worked pretty well. My only real issue at that point was learning not to rush through each subject. There were a few times wherein we had to revisit a topic we’d previously covered. Sometimes doing so is more important than moving on to the next thing.

Despite the frustrations that came with the learning curve of being new to homeschooling, I enjoyed it. My child wants to continue their education at home. I am less nervous now and all the more excited to continue homeschooling after our summer break.

Poetry: Successful

Not everybody wants to be
What society deems “successful”
For what is success
If not an ability to enjoy life?
Some are happy to do the work
Of clerks and delivery
Of food preparation and cleaning
The only real downside
Is how society treats them
Like lesser beings
Who don’t deserve to live
And aren’t worthy of respect
It makes no sense
Because, at the end of the day,
Aren’t many who have jobs
That society deems “respectable”
Unhappy with their life?
If the stresses make them ill
And lack of life-work balance
Steals away their joy
That could hardly be called success
It’s merely a cruel manipulation
Played out on human fears
Of not being good enough
By an unjust capitalist society
We, the people, deserve better
No matter the field of work
To be happy with what we do
To know we can afford to live
Without losing our personal time
Our time with loved ones
Or our very spirits in the process
Not everybody wants to be
Some mockery of “success”
At the mercy of a cruel system

– B. A. McNeely