Gratitude, and a new Year…

Another year, another “I’m going to post something I’m grateful for every day” on social media…another year that I am dreadfully behind.

The fact of the matter is, I’m pulling away from social media more and more these days.  And that’s actually something I’m feeling grateful for.  I have resolved to spend more face to face time with people that I love, and I don’t want to spend all my time on my phone.

As is customary for me, I always want to post a blog detailing the things that I’m grateful for.

This had been a trying year.
Tragedy struck Las Vegas just a few weeks ago.  There’s been all kinds of crazy tension between people online due to political leanings, racism, sexism…friends fighting friends.  People thinking that LGBTQ rights and struggles are a laughing matter.
I personally have seen a different side to people that I thought I knew.  Intolerance for different races, sexual preferences…even snide comments from people we were once super close with.  I’m sure they thought I didn’t notice, but I did.  Believe me I did.  And it hurt.  But I’m not letting people hurt me anymore.  Its not worth my time anymore.
I’ve lost touch with more people that I loved.  Things are weird and tense.  I’m pretty certain that I’ve been written off completely by at least 2 if not more.  I try to keep things friendly, but if they don’t want to reciprocate, I’m not going to force it.

Which leads me into my gratitude list.

First and foremost, I am grateful to have people in my life who are true to their words when they say that they love me.  They stand by me.  Even when we disagree on things, they don’t let ego get in the way.  They respect our differences.  They can recognize that things have been hard, even if we don’t confide details.  I am grateful that they know that I love them as well.  Even though I’ve been shite at seeing and hanging out with people recently (something I truly hope to remedy soon).

I am grateful for my husband.  Through thick and thin, we have each other’s backs.  Through hard times.  Through fun times.  Through arguments.  Through laughter.  We’re there for each other.  We respect each other.  He’s my strongest supporter, biggest cheerleader, and the love of my life.   I love our drunken scrabble nights, our snuggly Downton nights, our bacon and cuppa mornings, and our cooking days with music and dancing.  We have our ups and downs, but the constant is that we love each other, and I’m so lucky to have found that with you, Morgan.  I love you babe.

I am grateful for my family.  My parents, aunt and uncle.  I’m grateful that we see each other almost weekly these days.  That we are able to laugh together, talk about politics, celebrate birthdays, and being cancer free.  I love that my family has so graciously and completely accepted my husband for who he is, and that they love spending time with both of us.  I’m grateful to have spent so much time with my youngest niece and nephew, Jacob and Jillian, this summer.  It really made me happy to be able to see you two for more than just breakfast one day.  Thank you for going with me to the Goddess Temple.   I’m grateful for my seester Sara, and for Meghan, and so proud of her for going off to school, that we are able to talk with snapchat.  I’m grateful for writing letters with Aunt Norma, and even though I don’t talk to them as often, I’m grateful for Unksie, Sandra, Adam, and Aunty Kathy too.

I’m grateful for my pups.  My little loves with the stinkiest breath ever…they are just the sweetest.  They know when I’m sad, and they do their best to make me feel better.

I’m grateful for new opportunities that are starting to present themselves.  Options for a future, for a change…I’m grateful that I’m able to keep an open mind.

I’m grateful that Morgan has taught me (by osmosis, mostly, and watching) how to cook more intuitively.  I’m grateful that he’s open to my crazy ideas in the kitchen.

I’m grateful for my still new spirituality.  For the openness I have with my husband about performing rituals, for smudging, for collecting rocks and crystals, and incense. For him putting up with my failed attempt to garden. (Just wait till spring, I’m totally trying again!)

I’m grateful for my witchy sisters.  For Nina, for Brooke, for Leslie, for Janae, for Lisa, for Lala, and for Heather.  You all have provided me with much needed help, information, inspiration, and resources.

I’m grateful for dance.  Every year.  I’m grateful to Sandi, for hosting the haflas, and providing a place for us to dance for the community.  I’m grateful to Phil and BBear for asking me to dance at their many charity events…for allowing me a stage to do not only traditional Arab dance, but to dip my toes in the fusion pool in a safe space.  Thanks for letting me do shots of tequila on stage and then spin around like crazy. 🙂 I’m grateful to have been able to take a workshop with a dancer I was previously unfamiliar with, but who I LOVE now!!  I’m also grateful to have been able to volunteer at the Tribal Massive this year, and meet many amazing dancers.   I’m grateful for my dance friends, old and new, who not only believe in me and encourage me, but inspire the hell out of me.  I’m grateful for the opportunities I have coming up this coming year…I already have 2 workshops to go to, and I couldn’t be more excited!

I’m grateful to friends that I don’t want to single out, but you know who you are.  You open your home and your heart to us.  We play games together, cards, smoke cigars, drink wine, eat delicious food and cheeses.  We trade smutty stories, and cookbooks.  Your family is my family.  You come to concerts with us.  You just come over and hang out and drink, and play games with us.  You offer an ear when we need it.  You play disc golf with us.  You come to my dance performances.  You encourage and inspire me to keep trying when I feel like I can’t do it anymore.  We read books and share experiences together.  We workout together.  We inspire each other on the web.  We maybe have never met in person, but we can confide in each other about experiences, and stressors.  You come to karaoke, and drink and sing with us.  You are an ear, a shoulder, and a pair of arms when I need a hug.  You give me alternative methods of taking care of myself when I’m sick, and offer amazing help and advice.

My friends, I am so grateful for you.

In a year where I feel as though I’ve lost so much, I am so grateful to know that I really have so many amazing people and opportunities left in my life.

My year in review is coming up again, and as the holidays descend upon us, I wish you and your family a peaceful few months, whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate.  May your days be filled with joy and laughter, and your nights be warm and easy.  May you be blessed with amazing food, drinks, and time with  friends and family.

Until next time, dear readers, I remain grateful for you.

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15 years of dance

Can it truly be that as of today, I have been studying Arab dance for 15 years?

Not quite a third of my life, and yet, I have difficulty remembering my life without it.  Recalling days when some of my favorite artists didn’t include Oum Kalsoum, Abdel Halim Hafez, or Mohamed Abdel Wahab seems impossible.  Remembering life before meeting all of the absolutely amazing friends I’ve met through the bellydance world and community is strange to me.  Some of my very best friends are dancers.

I remember back to when I knew that I had to learn to dance:
I was at the Bristol Rennaissance Faire, and I saw this woman dancing.  She was just STUNNING.  I’d seen belly dancers before, but never had I seen someone embody music the way she did…and she was only accompanied by a drum!  I knew then that I had to learn from her.
I waited until the show was over, and approached her, asking if she taught.  She did, and said she would come back with a card.

This was the day that I met my first teacher, Nadia Sahar.

The first lesson that I took was, quite literally, life changing.  I searched for and bought any music that sounded remotely like what was used in class.  I fell in love with singers like Amr Diab and Hakim.  I practiced every single day.

From that first class on, I was unstoppable for a very long time. Searching for knowlege from multiple classes, multiple teachers, spending every waking moment either dancing or thinking about dance.  I took a handful of workshops in Milwaukee and Chicago, with amazing, big name dancers.

After moving to Las Vegas, my horizons expanded even more, as I was fortunate enough to join a troupe and perform with some amazing people.  I took more workshops than ever, and attended my very first dance festivals.  I even started teaching beginners classes, and was lucky enough to teach at the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive before it ended in 2015.  I also competed for the first time that year, and made amazing friends and memories.

I’ve slowed down a bit over the last few years, due mostly to my health, but my passion is still there.  When given the choice, i would gladly listen to Arab music over anything that’s played on the radio today.

I’ve found performance opportunites within the belly dance community locally, and also with friends hosting charity fundraisers. I still take workshops whenever I can, and am travelling to a festival next July.  How exciting!

As I do every year, I find it so important to thank the many amazing teachers, mentors, and peers who inspire and challenge me to become the best dancer I can possibly be.  There is no way I could possibly thank every single one personally, but here are some general notes of gratitude:

To my mentors, the teachers I have studied with in countless classes and workshops over the years. From the instruction of movement, to, folkloric dance, to Arabic words, songs, and music structure, to origins of the dance and music, you’ve given me a firm foundation to build upon.  You’ve opened my eyes to the wonder that is Arab dance and music.  You all make me want to be the best dancer that I can be.   Your passion, your patience, your continued support, your feedback…I cannot thank you enough.  Thank you for challenging me to grow.   You inspire and amaze me.  I cherish everything you’ve done for me and for other dancers, and hope that I make you proud when I dance.

To the amazing teachers that I have only studied with for a short time/taken one or two workshops with over the years:  Thank you for everything that you’ve taught me: choreographies, variations of movements, warm ups, Arabic words,  drills, props, makeup techniques, facial expression, stage and spacial awareness, and so many other amazing things.   Thank you for everything that you’ve taught me.  Thank you for what you do, and for providing areas of growth and development, inspiration, and wonderful memories.

To my peers: Other dancers, professional or just for fun, dance partners, troupe members, students…friends.  Thank you so much for believing in me.  For challenging me.  For unbiased feedback about performances.  For providing performance opportunites, and workshop opportunities.  Thank you for listening and understanding when I post swoony things about dance and music.  Thank you for your friendship.  You also inspire me so much.  I’m inspired by the dedication to doing what you love.

This dance has changed my life in so many amazing ways.  Here’s to the last 15 years, and also to many, many more.

Time to let this fall from my hands…

Random musings for a Friday morning:

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about friendship these days.
What makes a good friend.  Am I a good friend?  How strong or fragile are friendships these days?  Are you really a friend if it takes just one tiny thing for you to not want to be around someone? Is the fragility of our friendships intensified by how offended everyone gets about everything these days?

Am I a good friend?  I try to be.  I try to be supportive of my friends, and what they want to do, what they are passionate about.  When I have the ability to, I like to help my friends out: drive them places, buy lunch, get a little gift, go to a performance, babysit, pet sit, house sit.  Above all, I really try to be there and be available for them.  If they need someone to listen to, cry to.  Need advice.  Need a hug.  Need cheese and wine.  Need a night out.

By the same token…when others don’t do these things for me, it upsets me.  Not that friendship is a “Do this for me, and I’ll do this for you” arrangement, because its not.  But if I am constantly inviting you to come see me dance, because I want to share my passion with you, and you never ever EVER come to see me…that hurts.  That makes me feel like you don’t care about what I’m passionate about.  I understand that people have lives.  But if I always make an effort to share in your passion…can’t you do the same for me one time?

I think of my friends from back home.
My friends that I’ve not really been in much contact with outside of casual Facebook interactions…but these same people, the people I’ve knows for 15 years or more…many or most of them are people that I can talk to as if no time has passed.  We get along.  We trust each other.  There’s no weird tension.  I am not afraid of offending these people.  They  know who I am, who I’ve always been.  We can disagree, and even argue without worrying about losing each other.

I look at my friends here in Vegas, and I do have some friends that I feel that way about.

But the longer I’m here, the less I feel that many of my friendships are “real.”
Maybe its just Vegas.
I recently saw a girl that I am not friends with, that I haven’t spoken to for 6 years come up to me and try to hug me, and she said she loved me.    No, honey, you don’t.  You’re high, and a drama addict.  I’m not your friend, to be honest, I don’t even LIKE you.  I haven’t given this girl the impression that we are friends, but here she is, trying to be all “I love you” to weasel her way into my life.

How many others here are like that?  How many will say they love me to my face, but talk about me behind my back?
How many friends invite me over, begrudgingly?  How many friends only put up with me because I’m friends with their friends?
How many friends keep their true feelings about me hidden away?

I’m not asking for a million friends.  Lord knows that I don’t get to see or talk to the ones that I have now.
I just want quality friends.  I want people who truly care about me and about my husband.  I want people in my life who are honest, who will tell me to my face if there is a problem.  People who don’t thrive on drama or chaos. Obviously I know that avoiding things like this are difficult, but I just don’t want to be around people who thrive on it.  People who seek out drama like a bloodhound, to insert themselves into someone else’s business.

The thing is, life is too short to spend energy on people who don’t care.  Or people who have no respect for you.  Or fake people.  Or people who talk about me behind my back, and resort to high school behavior.

I want friendships that last.  I want people who are willing to fight for our friendship.  Not people who are willing to drop me (or us) without even trying to fix things.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve lost people that I thought I’d be growing old with.  People who were in and at my wedding.  People I’ve been intimate with.  I don’t understand why.  I don’t understand what happened.  I haven’t changed, other than trying to make myself a better person.  My husband hasn’t changed: he’s still the crazy, uninhibited, caring, passionate person he’s always been.  Sure, both of us have been a little on edge lately, but with friends starting to drop left and right, wouldn’t you be?

Then there’s the strain of people who want to remain friends with me, who aren’t friends with my husband, or vice versa.  Morgan has friends that I don’t want to have a relationship with.  Some of these people I still care for, but I cannot be friends with them.  It isn’t healthy for me.    Others, I simply cannot stand, whether its due to their character or something they have personally done to me…I can’t do it.  I can’t even fake being nice to some of these people.   It makes things difficult on both of us, and in turn, can make things awkward for other friends. We don’t ever want to do that to our friends…

I have friends who six months ago called me family, who can’t even give me a “like” on Facebook posts anymore.

And it upsets me.

Truly.  I don’t give love or trust easily.  I’ve been hurt a lot in the past.  Especially in the past 2 years.  I’m cautious and anxious about investing in people.  But once I’m there…once I love you, I love you.
I don’t understand how people who once said that they loved me can barely speak to me when I haven’t done anything.

Maybe I’m being passive aggressive by making this post, but if I’m honest…they will probably never see it.  I feel like they don’t see or comment on anything I post anymore, even though I do on their things.

Not that Facebook is the be all end all of friendship, but when its been the primary form of communication for years…getting cut off like that…I don’t get it.

Once again, here I am, affected far too much by other people.

Maybe the problem is my standards are too high.
I expect people to treat me and my family with respect and consideration.  I know that I certainly try to do that in my interactions with others.  I’m not perfect, by any means, but…man.  I’m just so flabbergasted at how quickly I’m seeing friends drop, and seeing other friends get dropped for ridiculous reasons.  Or with what seems to be no reason at all.

Me? I don’t unfriend or drop my friends lightly.   I do when I feel disrespected.  I do when I am being used.  And on Facebook, if we NEVER interact, I’ll unfriend you, because you’re most likely not really a friend anyway.

I miss my friends.
I know its ok to miss them.
Hell, I miss Pat sometimes so much it makes me want to cry.

But that friend…the Pat I loved and miss…he doesn’t exist anymore.

Do these friends not exist anymore too?  I hope that’s not the case.  I keep hoping that maybe…just maybe, something will happen, and things will be good like they used to be.  We can all hang out without there being awkwardness.  There can be poker games, and karaoke, and pool parties, and late nights drinking.  Dinners, and games, and all of the things that I’m missing, terribly.

I feel I should note…this is not about just one group of friends, but several people who have dropped out of my life over the last couple of years.  I know it might seem like I’m focusing on one group, but I promise, I’m not.  There have been several, two of whom basically vanished without a trace.

As it is now, Morgan and I have been spending a lot of time with my blood family recently.  This, I am grateful for.  I’m beyond grateful to have a family who is supportive, loving, and caring.  I’m even more grateful to be so close to them.  When we lived on the other side of town, we had a hard time getting over to see them.

This year, we have been doing dinner with them at least once a month, if not every week or two.  We’ve seen movies together.  2 days ago, we took my niece and nephew up to Mt Charleston together, and just had the most beautiful day.

I’m also grateful for those friends who remain.  Friends who truly ARE family.  Who can do the hard talks, and the fun times.  Who understand when things aren’t going great that we do love them, we just can’t afford to go anywhere.  Friends who consistently offer support and love during trying times.  Friends who are incredibly selfless.

I hope that someday I might get back to that point with some of these absent friends.  I know for a few, its too late, if for no other reason than I haven’t had a way to talk to them in years.  But for some…my heart still aches.

Maybe I am too sensitive.

But its who I’ve always been.

From My Hands
VNV Nation

So much I thought, I’d have to say
though I try to speak, my meaning strays
We can”t avoid the facts that brought us here
I have come to say goodbye

The lies I try to tell with my own eyes
An act of pride, a wilful compromise
Please understand how torn I am
when I walk away from here

I lament the moments we won’t share
If I am far too sentimental, I apologize
Please understand, this is who I am
and who I’ll still be when I’ve walked away from here

You know that I am not unkind,
when I say: in the future, the past is just the past
No going back, no change of heart
But this is now
Time will not defer

My thoughts betray, so easily confess,
how long I’ll wait here after you have gone
Nothing ends but I don’t believe that now
Please don’t walk away from here

When alone, when I remember days,
nothing will change a single fact of who you were to me
Oh, come what may, forever to the end
I find it so hard to let you go

Hush now
Let it go now
There’s no need for sad goodbyes

Hush now
Let it go now
I know it’s time to go

Time to let this fall from my hands

 

 

 

Can I be your GRRRL?

Its been an interesting week, my dear readers.

Nothing bad  happened, but my mood has been very low, and I’d been struggling with a lot of self doubt, and self loathing.  All I could think of are the many times I wasn’t “enough,”  and the instances right now where I feel removed from my own life.

But then, I attended a conference that was all about confidence, self love, and changing the world.  You know.  General Bad-Assery.   This conference has already changed my life, and it just ended on Sunday.

Indulge me, if you will, in looking at the thoughts that were coming up the few days before the GRRRL Live Conference.  This is going to be a long post.  Please hang with me.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

Looking back over my life, as far back as I can remember…I’ve never really been the pursued in relationships.  I’ve always been the girl with the crush on the guy that doesn’t know she exists, or only likes her as a friend.  Yes, there have been one or two exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of my memories of being a teenager into my late 20s involve me doing the chasing, me keeping up most of the communications, and me falling in love with guys who just wanted to “have fun” with me, or wanted nothing to do with me.

All of these instances, I recall wondering what was wrong with me?  Why didn’t they want me? Or, why didn’t they want more?  And the reasons…Oh the reasons I came up with:
1.  I’m not pretty enough
2. I’m not thin enough
3.  Not smart enough
4. Not nerdy enough (yes, that one actually went through my mind)
5. Not Christian enough
6. Not “freaky” enough
7.  Not close enough

You get the idea.

If I ever asked anyone, the only answer I ever got was “You’re great, I just don’t feel that way about you.”  No why.  No reason.  Nothing for me to fix or work on.

I had a chat with Morgan about this the other day, as we were heading to have dinner with family, expressing my feelings on this.  I told him that I felt silly for feeling this way…I’m married, I’m happy.  But he pointed out to me that even with him, for the longest time, I was the pursuer.  I wasn’t the first choice.  He said that it had to sting, and still hurt, even though things worked out for us.  He has a point.

I try not to dwell in the past.  In the end, he fell in love with me.  Enough to want to marry me, which he said he’d never do again.
But before all that…it was just another scenario where for years I wasn’t enough.  Strong enough, and other shortcomings.  (Morgan has told me on several occasions that it wasn’t that I wasn’t enough, he just had a different set of priorities then.  I understand that and accept it…but it doesn’t change how I felt back then.)

I can’t help but feel a bit sad about this.
I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I’m not good enough.  So even when I am happy, and I’m married, and am told that I’m enough…I still have days where I don’t feel like I am.  The past comes back to haunt me.

Of course, it bleeds over into other areas of my life too…not just the romantic side of things.  For the last 13 or 14 years, I’ve felt like I’m lacking in the dance department.  Not thin enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not talented enough.  Not connected enough.  Not good enough.  Not good enough to join troupes, not good enough to get paid gigs, not thin or pretty enough to get a restaurant gig…it gets debilitating at times.

There was a trigger to these feelings coming up now, although I’d rather not get into it.
As I said, I’m married and happy.  But it just sucks when you believe something in your gut, and you’re right about it, and then your brain says “See?  You weren’t good enough for that either.”

This concept of self love…of confidence…of being enough…where does it stem from?  Should we base our worth on the opinions of others?  Of being enough for another person or group of people?

I don’t think so, no.  Look at me.  My self worth has been based on if so and so likes me/is interested in me, etc…and its gotten me a whole lot of nothing but depression and doubt.

How then, do we change how we discover our value?  How do we look inside for our worth?  How do we, to borrow from a popular phrase these days, “Stop giving a fuck” about the opinions of others?

In short, how do I become enough for me?

Its a difficult balance, because I don’t want to downplay the opinions of the people I love.  People’s opinions DO matter (to me, anyway), but I get hung up in placing too much emphasis on their opinions instead of my own.

It doesn’t help that I generally have a pretty low opinion of myself a lot these days anyway.  I can’t lose weight.  I’m uncomfortable in my skin, and my clothes.  My clothes don’t fit, and I’ve busted the thighs of 2 pair of pants in the last week.

But…I’m healthy.  I haven’t had kidney problems since the stone was blasted in January.  I don’t have anything wrong with me medically.  My blood pressure, cholesterol, sugars, and thyroid numbers are all spectacular.  If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.

Finding a way to love myself is hard.  Its hard for a lot of us.

The best news is…at the conference this weekend, I was given tools to use.  I heard stories from women who have been in the same position that I am.  People who struggled with loving themselves.  Women who hated who they were, hated their bodies.  These women rose above adversity and grew.  They learned to love themselves.  They learned to treat their bodies well.  And now?  They are MMA and UFC fighters.  They are endurance athletes.  They are power lifters who can dead lift over 600 pounds.  They are MFCEOs of amazing companies that are going to CHANGE THE WORLD!

DO IT LIKE A GRRRL
So, this conference was presented by GRRRL Clothing.
If you aren’t aware, get ready, because this is so much more than a clothing line!  I was introduced to GRRRL Clothing by a dear friend online.  I was just starting to get into fitness again, and she knew the struggles I dealt with emotionally, so she messaged me one day and said “I’m adding you to this group.  I think you will benefit from it.  Feel free to leave its not a good fit, but I think you’ll like it.”

Well.  needless to say, I stayed an d loved it.

What I found in the Facebook Group was a ton of women who are committed to building each other up.   To being supportive.
In so many instances, society and other influences pit women against each other.  We’re told that we’re each other’s competition.

And that’s the beautiful thing about GRRRL.  #notyourcompetition is a mantra.  A code of ethics.  A lifestyle.

Think about it.  As women, how many times do we look at each other and think something negative?  “Could those shorts be any shorter?”  “She’s probably had work done.”  “Cocky Bitch, who does she think she is?”

Why do we say those things?  Why can’t we say something positive?  “Look at that girl, owning her amazing legs, and being comfortable in her own body!”   “Damn girl, you look amazing!”  “Look at all that confidence.  That is badass.”

The other AMAZING thing about GRRRL Clothing is, they don’t use traditional sizing for their clothing.
As a line of workout clothes: leggings, sports bras, shorts and tops, all of their sizes are named after badass female athletes, and are based on measurements.
For example:  I am a size Amenah in pants.  Amenah is a power lifter and competes in strongman competitions.  She’s stunningly beautiful, strong, and just generally a badass.  There’s also size Kortney, after the MFCEO of the company.  You have have seen videos of Kortney floating around the internet…she’s pretty well known for CRUSHING WATERMELONS WITH HER THIGHS. She’s a badass.  And…she’s cool as hell.

So, rather than sticking to the stigma of S, M. L, XL, XXL, etc…now women can take their measurements and say “I’m a size Kortney.  Fuck yes!”  Or, with the addition of their newest size:  “I’m a size Sam!  Yes! Samantha Coleman is an incredibly strong woman! That’s amazing!”

Do I sound like I drank the Kool-aid?  I know I do.  But I seriously love and believe in what this company is trying to do for women.  Imagine how incredible the world will be when we can stop tearing other women down, and start building other women up!  Women are FIERCE.  We just need to harness that fierceness and work together.

GRRRL Live 2017: Break Free in LAS VEGAS!
So, now that you have a little background about the company…Kortney and the crew had this incredible idea to hold a conference for the GRRRL Army.  As women, we all struggle with things.  Addiction, eating disorders, depression, self harm…there’s always something going on with us.  Even those of us who have it all together a lot of the times.  No one can be perfect every day.

I’m not going to go into explicit detail about all of the speakers, or the things that were covered for a couple of reasons.
1.  There’s a lot.  Like, I seriously took 4 pages of notes on just ONE of the many speakers that were there over the weekend.
2.  This was a conference that had sold tickets, and I don’t feel right just GIVING away all of the information.   Plus…you know.  There’s always next year if you want in on the awesome scoop.

What I will say is this.
I learned several new tools for helping myself, including one that I started last night:  Putting the fork down in between bites while eating.  Checking in with my body.  Meditations to forgive myself.  Ideas on how to really get in touch with myself on a deep level.
I heard stories from incredible women who have been where I’ve been.  Different circumstances, different problems, but at the root of it:  women who were at rock bottom, and overcame the problems.  Women who are super successful, and happy now.  They found something they were passionate about: whether it was MMA, Running, Power lifting, or Laughing.  They found what they were passionate about and they pursued it, full force.

It was inspiring.

Seeing so many women, feeling the same things.  Processing the same information a bunch of different ways…women breaking down and crying with people they’d never met before.  Being supportive of the brave women who shared their stories…learning that we are enough.  We are not things.  We are not objects.  We are women.

It kept coming back to me that I’m really not alone in my life.  No matter how isolated I might feel sometimes.  I’m not alone.  I have a motherfucking GRRRL ARMY behind me, helping me, supporting me.

And with their support…nothing can stop me.  Nothing.

 

 

Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog…

Double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…

Did you know that when Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, and was writing the witch’s scene, that the ingredients listed are code?

Witches didn’t really use Newt eyes or dog tongues.

I ran across this information the other day while researching what I’m hoping will be my new hobby:  gardening.

I’ve decided, as a newly practicing witch, that I want to grow my own herbs for spells, incense, and just for general use in the kitchen.  There’s something strangely appealing to me about being able to pick fresh basil from a plant I’ve grown and tended to from seed.

The trouble is, I don’t really have much of a green thumb.
When I was younger, I never had much interest in growing things, but I’ve managed to kill a couple of bamboo plants…and I’ve heard that this is really hard to do.

My mom, on the other hand, has an amazing touch  when it comes to plants.  I remember the last day of fourth grade, my teacher sent me home with a spider plant that was on the brink of death.   My mom nursed it back to health, and it is STILL alive.  That was 27 years ago.

My mom has kept a plant alive almost as long as she’s kept me alive.
That’s fucking impressive, I don’t care who you are.

My hope now, being older and wiser, is that I will be able to tend these plants, and keep them alive, even if its just for a few months at a time.

I’ve wanted an herb garden for a long time now, but ever since my recent venture into witchcraft, the need has been overwhelming.  Something deep in me really wants for me to get in touch with the earth.  To dig in the dirt.  To grow and tend to something.

The good news is, that I’ve had my herbs for a little over a week, and I haven’t killed any of them yet.  Granted, my Sweet non-GMO Basil is wilty…but I think it might be too humid for it?  My other basil is doing well, as is my thyme and oregano.  I had tried to set up a schedule for watering, but so far I’ve found that just checking the soil daily seems to work.  I don’t water them if the soil feels damp.  If its dry, I water them, and make sure that they drain well.

So far, its much easier that I’d anticipated…but its only the first week.

I’m excited to have a little windowsill garden.  I’m already looking at what other herbs I can grow.  I want to get some catnip (I thought I had, but the basil had been mislabeled…although I should have known by the smell. Foodie fail.), and I desperately want to get some rosemary.  That I can keep outside on the front stoop.  I just need a pot big enough, and maybe a small stool so the dog doesn’t try to pee on it when we walk him…he can’t help himself sometimes, and I want to use that for cooking and spells.

I’ve already used my thyme in a healing brew, I made some thyme tea for Morgan and I.  We both have been feeling pretty under the weather, and so I lightly bruised some thyme from my garden, steeped it in hot water for 10-15 minutes, and added a little lemon and honey:  it smelled amazing, and tasted really good too.

Having this garden excites me.  I like being able to say “I helped this grow.  This tea that we’re drinking was grown by me.  The basil in the spaghetti sauce came from my garden.”  I have a sense of pride in being able to keep a plant alive.  Unlike a dog, it can’t whine when it isn’t well, and doesn’t tell me when it wants to go for a walk.  Not really.  The leaves might wilt a little bit, but its really up to me to take the initiative to check on them every day.

I’m also starting to feel a little more connection to the earth, which is important to me with my newfound spirituality.

I’m very in touch with fire.  I love to burn incense and candles, when we had the house I loved having a fireplace.   I already use fire and smoke in my rituals.

But fire is really the only of the elements I really feel a connection to, especially as a fire sign.  I want to start getting myself connected to earth, air, and water.

Earth was the one pressing at my spirit.  For the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve wanted a garden.  I didn’t want to plant one at the old house, because I knew that we wouldn’t be there long enough.   I’ve always loved the idea of growing things to use in teas, and more recently to make incense, or bath satchels.

I’ll update again after I’ve successfully kept these alive for a month.  When I’ve made it a month, I’m going to buy myself some more herbs to grow.  I plan to have a lovely little garden on my window sills, and patio.

Basil!  Don’t worry, a friend told me that the flowers AREN’T as good as I thought they were. They’ve been removed.

Creeping Thyme.  Makes great tea!

Oregano!

 

 

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

I have a plethora of strong, amazing, incredible women in my life, and I’m beyond blessed to have them there.

Women are amazing beings.  We really are.

I’m talking about all women: Literally any human being who identifies as female/woman.

How amazing are we, ladies?

We are friends, lovers, mothers, caregivers, daughters, sisters, executives, teachers, IT professionals, lawyers, doctors, singers, artists, bloggers, stay-at-home moms, business owners, politicians.  We are warriors, fighters, queens, princesses, saviors, knights, Madonnas, Jezebels, strong women, power lifters, dancers.

My women.  My amazing, inspiring women.  My friends, my family.
Me.
We are.  We are women.  We have struggles.  We are beaten down, oppressed, depressed, repressed, pressing the laundry, pressing the grilled cheeses, pressing matters, pressing the button for the destruction of inequality.

My women.  My amazing, inspiring women.  My friends, my family.
Me.
We are.  We are women.  We are creatively mothers, even those of us who are child free.  We give birth:   We birth ideas, babies, recipes, knitting patterns, home decor, weddings, funerals, business plans.  We work tirelessly, up all night feeding our children, our infants, our pets, our spouses, our projects, our music, our dance studio, our painting, our depositions, our desperate friends.  We nurture and mother, whether we are mothers or not we are nurturers.  We care deeply.  We love.  We comfort.  We give advice freely, over coffee, over tea, over whiskey.

We are.
We are WOMEN.  We endure.  We live it every day.  The passive aggressive turned aggressive turned violent in less than 5 minutes dating site messages.  The fragile egos of the fuckboys who insist that they are “nice guys”…who aren’t so nice when we politely say that we aren’t interested.  We endure.  The constant catcalls.  The men who tell us to smile.  The ones who leer, and call us prudes for going slow when it comes to sex, but call us sluts if we admit to enjoying it.
We live through the victim shaming.  The repression of being told what to wear, how to dress, how to avoid being raped, when it is NEVER our own fault!  If I walk down the street buck ass naked as the day I was born, it will NEVER BE CONSENT UNLESS I SAY YES.
We live through being TOLD we are being repressed, oppressed, simply by dressing a certain way.  If I cover my hair, my face, my body, its oppression.  But what they don’t realize is that I choose this.  What they’ll never realize because they never ask is that I feel empowered by modesty.  I feel empowered by nudity.  My empowerment is not for you to dictate.  Only I can say what empowers me.

I am a woman.
An Amazing woman.

A woman who sees other amazing women beginning to spark changes.
Women who make it their mission to build other women up.  Realizing that we are NOT in competition with each other, but we are striving for a sisterhood.

Striving to understand one another.  To break through barriers that divide, united in the fight for ALL women.  For our right to CHOOSE.  For our right to have control over OUR OWN bodies.

Today, I celebrate WOMEN.  All the beautiful women in the world.
You are all strong, courageous and inspiring.

Ladies, don’t give in.
Don’t become complacent.  We have to fight.  We cannot be comfortable.
Stand up for each other, and each others rights. ALL rights.  Don’t tear each other down.  We are ALL in this together.