The Cathryn Files

Being a court reporter, Celtic fiddle, organic gardening, being a Pagan, Nia, conscious dance, cataholism…

Things that are helping me with BED

  • The podcasts Love, Food and Weight Loss Made Real, both available on Stitcher.
  • Enlisting my Bullet Journal in the struggle, adapting BuJo techniques of listing and logging to help with this.
  • Accepting that weight loss is slow at my age and focusing losing ounces rather than pounds.
  • Reading every Kindle book I can get my hands on about Binge Eating Disorder.
  • Making it a project to fall in love with the miracle that is my body, just as it is.
  • Call a binge a binge. When I come home from work, take a bite of something and just keep on eating, that’s not a meal. That’s a binge.
  • Be aware of how much I’m eating. Don’t hide it from myself by taking bites here and there and saying, “That’s got to be X calories.” You don’t know unless you stop and think. Mindfulness. Know what I’m eating, how much and why, all the time.







                                            Fairy House at Annemarie Gardens in Lusby, Maryland

April 29th, 2017. I came in from several hours of gardening. It was lunchtime, and I was excited to see the perennials coming back; hot; enriched spiritually and emotionally by several hours in the yard; sweaty; thirsty; hungry; dirty; satisfied with what I’d accomplished; a little tired. But only one of those states was forefront in my mind, that of being hungry. Everything else just sort of hung around the back, in small print, with no embellishments.

This is the type of observation I’m presently making about myself. Small steps, small bits of awareness such as this one, then asking myself questions like this one: With all of what I’m feeling, why did it seem so important to relieve my hunger first? My years of diets did more harm than good.


Not today

The plaintiff’s depo I reported this morning was unexpectedly short, so I thought I might post again, going into the BED and what’s finally helping me with that. Not going to happen.

The United States of America, of which I am a citizen, has just massively bombed Afghanistan with the intent of depriving IS “operational space.”

I am so very ashamed of what the U.S. has done here.


Well, I’m writing today, anyway.

April 12, 2017. Yes, it has been a good, long while. I am writing again for pretty much the same reason that I initially claimed this space: need for increased creativity in some form. Plus I do have a specific topic that might be worth developing into other forms of writing and also be good for discussion: my near-lifelong, chronic Binge Eating Disorder. My obsession with my weight has been wrongly focused. What successes I have had with weight loss have been based on willpower, on holding up for a certain period time, and then inevitably collapsing and receding back into old habits. This has been because I did not, or could not admit the cause; when I did so, it was in a cursory way, not troubling myself to find out its characteristics and how it is treated. I did seek treatment at one point from a psychiatrist since BED is considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. That was a complete bust, in part because she prescribed Prozac which makes you gain weight, and partly because she could not admit from the get-go that she didn’t know a thing at all about BED. That’s in my mind a lot now. I’m doing a lot of reading and monitoring my own habits and thoughts a great deal. There is, in fact, a whole lot of information out there which translates well to self-help. This hodgepodge blog may take a turn and then a deep dive into BED; we’ll see.

It’s a fact that for quite a while, I have been almost entirely oriented toward, “And how much can I get done in a day?” They’re good things; overall, I feel lucky and glad to be doing them. And the Druidry has forced a certain amount of introspection, as well, which I compartmentalized. Even that, however, has been geared toward results. But healing the BED requires a lot more self-examination than has been my habit for said quite-a-while.

Here are some things that have happened in the intervening years:

  • The horrible, horrible 2016 election results which have required a conscious coping mechanism that features low-level, but consistent activism.
  • Moving through the Ovate and Druid grades through my utterly amazing initiation into the Druid grade and then further study which took two years following that.
  • Loss of a childhood friend to breast cancer. I flew back to California to spend most of a week with her. We got her set up with aides and a LifeLine, and generally set systems in place to make what we believed were her last months comfortable. The months turned out to be weeks, but it was still worth it many times over.
  • The Brighid’s Way Pilgrimage in Ireland, June 2014. A mixed experience which overall, I am glad that I had.
  • Successful surgery on my left shoulder. I had a small tear in the deltoid muscle. I was concerned because the minimal discomfort there was becoming worse. Turned out I also had a lot of calcification in that shoulder. It was awful, of course, but going ahead with the surgery instead of punting it with a physiatrist, PT, etc. resulted in the problem being solved before I got too much older.
  • A bit less isolation here in Prince Frederick, largely thanks to attending the twice-monthly services at the local Unitarian Universalist congregation. Like a lot of Pagans, UU is a comfortable place for me, and Ted usually goes along. This particular group and its services do not in and of themselves do much for us, but we did meet some good folks, and involvement with other congregations is definitely an option for the future.
  • Taking the radical step of saying I didn’t want to work in Washington, D.C. any longer. Surprisingly, I connected almost immediately thereafter with a great agency that sends me where I want to go and most weeks, keeps me working just as much as I want to.
  • Admitting that pursuing court reporting as a career was not the best thing I could have done. Seeking a different career path really didn’t work at my age, unfortunately. In all likelihood, I will report until I retire. Realistically, I probably work about 80 percent time now.
  • Loss of two cats. Bodaciouscat had a liver tumor. Her time with us was short, but happy for all concerned. What a personality. Just a few weeks ago, we lost dear Moniquecat to kidney cancer. She and her sister Solangecat flew here from the San Francisco Bay Area with me. She was loving, smart, and funny. Her loss is felt.
  • Adoption and assimilation of Woodrowcat. This little feral boy found his way to our backyard in the winter of 2013. (We suspect that this was not entirely on his own.) He was living under our woodpile for about six weeks. He growled and hissed when I left him food and water, but he stayed. When the temperatures dropped, we bought him an igloo house since we couldn’t entice him in. A short time later, he moved onto our back porch to observe the household. The following day, I got a text from Ted saying that he’d taken himself into the guest bedroom. It took us nearly three years to get to where we could even touch him, but now he’s a total love junkie.

Well, actually, with the exception of some articles I did for the Druidry magazine, this is the longest I’ve sat down and written about myself in years. So that’s progress in the general direction where I want to go. Hopefully, it will stimulate more productive personal processing and more of an interior life, with good external results.











February 1, 2016. As I so often do, I awoke this Imbolc morning with a good friend in the guest bedroom and a brilliant, vivid dream. She’s doing what she needs to do, sleeping in, and I can continue with the dream. A sweet little black cat was near me in the dream. No real connection first, but I’m always glad to see a cat. I knew she had to be a messenger. She was indeed, and I began to hear her. The first thought was that what I needed to do was get up and exercise; that yes, for me, it was going to fall by the wayside if I didn’t do it first thing, and I already knew in a guilty way that exercise was key for me.

The problem is that I’ve always been so bad at it. Asthma certainly didn’t help. Then after my surgery, what fitness level I had went down to zero, and it’s been too discouraging to recover.

The keywords that the kitty had for me were simple, “Dig in.” Just that. dig in. With the learning, with wanting to work a little more, with Druidry, with wanting to be healthier, with everything.

I addressed the kitty as Brighid, and I’m sure that was right. I’ve encountered my matron Goddess in a profound, memorable dream the night before Imbolc. Interesting that the cat was black because I had had a conversation about crows with Pat the day before. We both like them. They take up space in the world unashamedly, and I love their glossy blackness. With Crow as teacher, I always think of her looking at me and saying crossly, “Of course it’s that way, idiot.” That’s the association I have with the deep black of the little messenger cat, profundity, tell it like it is, taking up space in the world without apology.

More Court Reporter Stuff: The New Agency Dance


Last March, this thriving little fig tree was an eight-inch-long stick!

So I have lots of extra time this week.  I had a three-day job scheduled, but it canceled yesterday, leaving me high and dry, so to speak.   This is really somewhat unusual since they had nine witnesses scheduled over three days.  Cancellations do happen, and usually, the appropriate response is to be a sport about it and promptly notify every agency you know that you are suddenly available.  Other things that happen are being given the wrong address or time; arriving at a job to find the case has just settled or that the noticing attorney brought a court reporter who by custom is the one to stay; getting there and finding out that the witness said they spoke English, but an interpreter really should have been hired.  If you are working with the right reporting agency, these will be extremely rare events.  Mistakes happen, but there should not be a pattern of them.  Some of the items I’ve listed are firmly in the agency’s control.  Others are not, but the agency is not necessarily blameless.  In a situation like the one I find myself in, it might well be that the problem lies with the attorneys to whom they’re marketing, those who think nothing of canceling at the last minute, are poorly organized, and do not treat reporters well despite expecting a low rate and lots of freebies.  I don’t know; these are the first depositions I’ve scheduled with them.  But the yellow caution light is flashing with regard to this agency.  My personal policy is “Three strikes, and you’re out.”  Three such events in a relatively short period of time, and I’m not going to lose any more time and money on this bunch.

A reporter friend of mine recently told me about working with another agency who would book her for long, lucrative realtime jobs, then call her to say that they had gone off calendar.  However, they just happened to have a doctor depo that they needed covered for the same time.  I think the second time that happened would be bad enough for me.  This particular agency did contact me once.  The rate they offered was far below standard.  Agencies — and people, for that matter — reveal themselves all the time.  You don’t need to stomp off, figuratively speaking, if you encounter an error or something you don’t like.  Just keep it in mind and watch to see if patterns emerge.



IMG_2402The Maine Coon Platoon helping me greet the garden.

Yet another big gap in this blog’s progress.  But, as the anonymous writer of the spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing says, we grow by delays.  And that fits for what I am thinking a great deal about, the necessity of incubation of ideas and the concept of initiation.

So I was accepted into the Ovate grade, second of three levels of the course from the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.  This means that I am looking to being initiated into the grade, reading about doing the self-initiation, but also remembering how significant my Bardic initiation was for me and wanting to do that.  I don’t have to do one or the other, but I’m thinking I will just do the group initiation.  Being led to a circle of Druids in the forest is an amazing experience; it felt like the real initiation.  So I think I will pass on the solitary initiation and wait until September at the East Coast Gathering.

The upshot is that I’m thinking a great deal about the concept of initiation.  There are numerous references to darkness in initiation ritual.  Perhaps not so coincidentally, on one of my storytelling podcasts I listened to yesterday (might have been Snap Judgment),  there was a truly terrifying narrative about cave diving in South Africa; one man died while trying to bring another’s body back from the depths.  Darkness has its terrors, real and imagined.  When I began thinking seriously about initiation a few days ago, I immediately thought of an interesting evening at San Francisco’s Exploratorium circa 1980.  We had booked places for the Tactile Dome, a kind of lightless chamber.  You journeyed through the chamber without benefit of any guidance other than touch.  There were no clues, no sounds, no smells, and just a few other participants.  I quickly learned to move forward with small steps, to explore with slow movements of my hands and feet.  And the way slowly opened.  There were twists and turns, different levels.  Climbing, balancing, and crawling were all called for.  Somewhere in there, I felt a great rush of joy and gratitude as I made the connection between moving step by careful step through the chamber and moving through life guided by deity which I then saw in a Christian way.  I also learned that sometimes when traveling through the darkness with others, a swift kick might sometimes be necessary in response to an opportunistic hand.  As I think of that chamber now, I understand that one of its effect was to draw out my own coping skills, to call forth knowledge I either had forgotten or didn’t know I had, and to develop new ways of progression.  For example, I remembered a book I’d read as a child about a newly-blind boy adapting to his surroundings and becoming autonomous.  A social worker taught him about checking out his surroundings and identifying potential hazards using hands, feet, and a white cane.  I remembered that book when I got into the total darkness.  I don’t see initiation as necessarily trashing everything I already know to start anew, but building upon what I’ve found to be true.

I don’t approach initiation with what Wiccans like to call perfect trust.  I don’t do perfect trust, actually.  Everyone, absolutely everyone, can be wrong or into control in a bad way at times.  I’m proud of what I’ve learned and of the permission I’ve given myself to keep safe, to follow the instincts that say, “Out of here.”  Someone wants to override that, well, I’m not necessarily out of there, but I’m on my guard.  Part of my comfort with OBOD is its emphasis on personal process and doing what is right for you.  Indeed, my very first ritual admonition from a Druid was that I was free to go at any point.

Initiation is about gathering power and knowledge in response to new circumstances.  I remember when I first began reporting, there was so much I didn’t know.  So I learned, and I developed what was needed and continue to do so.   For example, I reported a deposition in a law office in an old building in downtown Oakland.  Surprise, the plugs had two prongs, something I haven’t seen since the early 1970s.  The paralegal brought me an adapter.  But on the way home, I stopped and bought my own; it remains in my steno bag.  If I ever see one of those again, I’ll be ready.

There will always be more to be ready for.  Onward, ever onward.