The Journey Woman Exercise/Notes

*This is another exercise for the book club book “This is Woman’s Work.”  This exercise was fun for me, as I’ve dreamed of traveling the world, to some specific places, for my whole life.  In this exercise, we were asked to actually put ourselves somewhere:  a real, geographic location or a place in our imagination, and compose postcards from those places.  Here are mine:  

 

Caire

Greetings from Cairo! There is ancient magic here, I feel it penetrating my soul. The sun is hot, it beats down on me, making me sweat, but I don’t mind. Gazing around me, I see so many colors in the souk, and look there…pyramids in the distance. Sitting at a small table, I can smell spices and coffee. The taste of hummus, REAL hummus makes me smile…the perfect hummus, not too much garlic like back home. Smiling, I sit here, eating my snack, listening to Oum Kalsoum drifting over the air…her songs tug at my heart.
I’m excited to be here, finally. My lifelong dream of seeing the pyramids, my 15 year dream of learning real Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, real folkloric dance, from Egyptian dancers…to immerse myself in Arab culture, music, movement, food…I love it here. I feel like I don’t ever want to leave.

uk-london-night-multi

Cheerio from beautiful England! Wandering through the streets, I can smell the storm approaching…its going to rain again. Grey skies, red phone boxes, although you know I’m searching for a blue Police box! I swear I can hear the TARDIS around every turn. I’m exploring at my own pace today. Popped into a little chippy for the most delicious fish and chips I’ve ever eaten. London is beautiful, even on the grey and rainy days. Rain is falling lightly on my skin…it feels more magical than a rainstorm in the states.
I could live like this…grey skies, a hot, steamy cuppa with milk and sugar, maybe a good book…Traveling all over to see the amazing historical sites…there’s magic here too. Deep, magic. Faery mounds, too. I could explore forever.

argentina

Hola from Argentina!  I’ve dreamed of coming back to Buenos Aries for a good 10 years.  Returning to Zarate to visit all the old restaurants, to taste the delicious fish empanadas.  Its humid here, I’d forgotten.  The humidity feels heavy on my body, and my hair…what a mess!  Wandering the flea market, I look at all of the beautiful colors: the blues of the flag, the dusty rose of the Rhodochrosite jewelry.  I can smell the mate, brewed hot and fresh, its bitter and delicious.  I’m so glad that I finally came back and experienced the wonders of the city at my own pace…siestas, and late dinner by the water…

chicago-2

Ah, Chicago.  I’ve missed you SO much.  As the bumpy train pulls into the station, I can feel the anticipation already.  My home.  My favorite.  Can I do it all in one day today?  I step off the train, the fumes from exhaust assaulting my nose with a loud “welcome back.”   Walking down Michigan Avenue, I hear the street musicians playing their hearts out.  The skyline is just as majestic as I remember.  All my favorites:  The Field Museum, The Art Institute, they’re all welcoming me back with open arms.  Finally, dinner at Pizzeria Uno, the cheese burning my mouth, the amazing taste of home filling me.

ireland

Is this real?  Am I here at last?  Oh Ireland, I’ve dreamed of you my whole life.  As far as I can see, rolling hills, greener than anything in the States.  The scent of fresh air and the faintest scent of heather are all around me.  I lay in the green grass near the cottage, and feel the earth beneath me…my roots.  My ancestors.  My history.  All here.  I close my eyes and I can hear the birds singing to me.  My neighbor pops in…her beautiful accent bringing the biggest smile to my face if she asks if I’d like to join her for tea.  I’m delighted.  The tea is sweet and strong. My heart is content here.  This is my home.  This is where I’ve longed to live out the rest of my days. In my beautiful cottage full of books, tea, and a crackling fire.

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Healing up…or “why I don’t get paid to read X-Rays.”

The last few days have been rough as hell for me.

I had my ESWL procedure back on the 19th…and it was by far the WORST experience of my life.  Except for that time that Dr. Lesani left a surgical clip inside of me by accident.  (I say by accident, because he not only didn’t tell me he was leaving it until 2 weeks later, when a CT scan thought it was a stone, but when I had my second procedure, my GOOD surgeon, Dr. Kassahun, said that it wasn’t doing anything in there.  Sometimes they’re left in to hold a blood vessel or something, but this one wasn’t doing anything.)

Anyway. Where was I?
Oh yeah, the ESWL.

So.  We got to the hospital at 3:00pm.  I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 8am that morning. I was feeling a little dehydrated.
When the nurses tried to start my IV…they missed.  3 times.
On the last attempt, the nurse hit a nerve, sending searing hot pain into my right hand, between my middle and ring finger knuckles.

I legit cried, sobbing hysterically, for 20 minutes.  It hurt SO bad.  I’ve never had an experience as bad as this one.
The anesthesiologist came and took me back, and he gave me gas to put me under, and HE started my IV.

Doc started my procedure off by letting me know that there was a good possibility that they wouldn’t be able to blast the stone completely in one go.  Being an 18 mm stone, it was pretty big…better to set my expectations low.

My recovery was weird.  As I got further away from the surgery date, the more pain I was in.  Specifically, this past Friday and Monday, I was in so much pain I could barely see straight.  I was miserable.  Painkillers didn’t help.  Heating pad didn’t help…

I had my follow up appointment yesterday though, and got much better news than I anticipated.

You see, when I had my x-rays done about a week and a half ago, when I got them home, I looked at them, and could have sworn that I still had a big chunk of stone left.  I was ready for my doctor to tell me that we had to schedule another ESWL.

Not only was I WAY wrong…there were just a few small remnants, which doc said he thinks will be 100% passible on their own…but we also removed the stent.  Instant relief, let me tell you.  INSTANT relief.

Today, I feel a little sore.  I’m tired from being back at work and not laying down all day.  But I’m much better.

Doc also said I can start exercising again in a few days.  I figured I’d wait till I’m no longer peeing blood, and then I’m going to GO for it!!!

Its a relief to me though.
I truly am SO excited to get back into the swing of things, and back into my routine.

The Conjure Woman Exercise

This is the third exercise I am posting from my online book club.  For reference of what book we are using please click here.
This exercise deals with The Conjure Woman.  The Magic Woman.  The Root Worker Woman. As a newly practicing witch, this exercise excites me.  I’ve had a few encounters with magic recently, and I love rituals.  The exercise calls to us to write down a recipe, or a “Witch’s Brew.”
I’ve actually taken the concept, and written a bit of a poem detailing my ritual, and how I’ve been practicing.   I love magic.  I love learning about it.  I love feeling it.  I love seeing it at work in the world.  In this day and age, we could all use a bit more magic.  

the sun is setting
preparations are underway:
Cleanse your body, wash your hair…
You are meeting Divinity tonight.
Set your altar.
Items to charge in the moonlight.
A pot for burning.
Candles.
Incense.
Offerings.
Clothe yourself all in white, in whatever makes you feel beautiful.
Adorn your head in rainbows.
Now, it is time.
Light the smudge stick:  White sage, Cedar, Palo Santo.
Inhale the purifying smoke.  Speak to the Divine within.
Prepare your spirit.
Call the quarters, with peace and love in your heart.
Send your petitions.  Speak what you desire to manifest.
Burn what no longer serves you.
Release.  Cry.  Smile.
Bathe and bask in the New or Full Moonlight.
Sit a while in silence.
The Divine, she is Within you.
She is All around you.
She is YOU.
Powerful. Peaceful.  Feminine.  Magical.
Dismiss the quarters:
In Peace With Us Abide.
Have a drink.
Remember
Your Divinity.

moon

Ghost Woman exercise Notes

This is the second exercise for my online book club.  This exercise was painful, and eye opening for me.  

In this exercise we were instructed to really connect to our body.  To sit somewhere quiet.  To listen to our breath, and think about each body part individually.  To really connect.
As soon as I really felt connected to my whole body, I started to weep.  Crying, and simply saying over and over “I’m so sorry.”  

So much hatred for my body.  So much disconnect.  So much that I’ve ignored.  Hated, dreaded looking at.  So much anger at this body of mine for not being different.  Stronger.  Healthier.  Its not my body’s fault.  I’ve made the decision as of right now, that I need to do everything in my power to take better care of myself…this goes beyond “Taking care of myself” to lose weight…this is actually really learning to love my body, and do things that it needs me to do.  Starting with the following entry, a love letter, and an apology. 

Dear Body,
My god, I am so sorry.  I’ve always felt that there were parts of you that I didn’t like.  Things I was unhappy with.  Today, I realized that for so long, I’ve been feeling hate, anger, and resentment…but it isn’t your fault.

You see, I’ve been completely ignoring you.
Ignoring steps to make you stronger.  To heal you.  To make sure that you’re hydrated, fed, healthy, happy.  I’ve done things for the wrong reasons for years.  I’ve been more concerned with the aesthetics…losing weight, toning up, being beautiful…but I’ve not thought about doing things for you…I haven’t thought about eating healthier food because its what you need.  I haven’t thought about lifting weights because it will make you strong.

I’ve felt my whole life that you are my body, so you should serve me.  Do what I want.

But I think now that I’ve got that backwards.

You’re my body…and the only one I’m ever going to have in this lifetime…so I really need to make sure that I honor you.  To make sure that I care for you.  That I love you, and give you the correct fuel.  The exercise and work to keep you well and healthy.  And in return, you’ll help me to do the things that I love…like dancing and running.  But it is a partnership, not a dictatorship.

Dearest body, I’m so sorry.  I can’t believe its taken me so long to realize this…to realize that I really truly do have to care for you, deeply, and every day…not just once in a while.

Please forgive my ignorance.  Please forgive my anger with you.  Please forgive my mistakes.

I’d like to begin again, to have a real relationship with you.  To allow you to be  cared for in the right ways.  Every day.

Because I don’t hate you.  Its not your fault.  Its mine.  And I want to fix it.  I want to fix us.  And together, we will do great things.

 

body

Shadow Woman Exercise Notes

I am participating in an online book club with some friends.  The book we are working through is:  This is Woman’s Work: Calling forth your inner council of wise, brave, crazy, rebellious, loving, luminous selves by Dominique Christina.
The book walks you through exercises, and I felt compelled to blog the exercises, in the spirit of transparency.  These exercises are not easy for me to work through, let alone post.  But here we go.  For details about the exercises, please refer to the book.

Shadow Woman Exercise in Balance:

Do you know me?  The woman who moves as the moon moves?  You haven’t seen me yet, although you may have caught a glimpse of me here or there…

Me, who moves gracefully and sensually.
The one who embodies the music, so it appears that her body is the instrument.  The one with power in her hips, and her hair.  The one with knowledge like a tree: deeply rooted, and stretching vast into the sky.
My hips orbiting, my torso undulating, creating power, controlling tides, waves, emotion.
I am here, waiting, in the dark.  Dancing alone. Emitting joy.  My body is strong.  My spirit is soaring, making music.   I dance in shadow, dreaming of the light.  Dreaming of the day that my beauty will shine.

 

Shadow Woman Exercise Out of Balance:

I see my silencer.  He looms over me, a dark void, an endlessly black figure.  Darker than the darkest night, there is no light to him.  He screams at me, breath foul and reeking of decay.
You can never afford this.
You can’t take classes:  there’s no money.  Think of your medical debts.  Your car repairs.  Your debts to your friends and family.
You’ll never pay them down.
You’ll never participate in the classes and workshops that you need to succeed.  To be born.

Behind me, they slither.  As dark as the void, but they whisper in my ear, endlessly the whispers:
You’re not as beautiful as the successful women.
You’re fat, and you’ll never lose the weight.
They’re better than you.  They have more opportunites, because they are thin and beautiful.
You are fat and ugly.
You’ll never make it.
You’ll never realize your passion.

Random Musings for mid January

The first two and a half weeks of the year have passed.
So far, I have to admit, its been pretty awesome!

We spent New Year’s Eve drinking margaritas, eating delicious food, and playing games with some of our best friends.  Its the first NYE that Morgan hasn’t had a karaoke or DJ gig in 4 years, so it was really nice to be able to just relax.

I participated in a “Decadent Desires Challenge”  through Life Transitions for Women on their Facebook page, and not only did I win some cool prizes that I can’t wait to receive, but I have an actual plan of action to start achieving some of my deepest desires this year! It seems so simple when you sit back and make an action plan.

So, the next big thing on my agenda is surgery tomorrow.
I have an 18mm kidney stone in my right kidney.

I know.

After a year and a half of not having any kidney pain or problems, almost 2 months ago, after going running one day, I came home, and when I went to the bathroom, there was blood in my urine.
Now…I know this isn’t normal, and I probably should have had it checked a bit sooner, but, I don’t have a primary care doctor, and the urologist I had been seeing for my surgery no longer takes my insurance, so I didn’t have a urologist either.
Morgan suggested that it was my cycle.  And while I know my cycle, and knew that it wasn’t that, I convinced myself that it was.  It went away after a day.
A week later, my cycle came, the way it always does.  And then a week after that, after running again, there was more blood in my urine.

I ended up waiting longer than I should have, but after the 4th time seeing blood after a run, I decided that something wasn’t right, and that I needed to go to the ER.

After my CT, they told me I have an 18mm kidney stone.
That’s the size of a dime, in case you were wondering.   Most kidney stones are the size of a period or smaller.

So, I have to have another Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (or ESWL) procedure done tomorrow.  Its non invasive.  My recovery time should be short, and then I can get back on my C25K training, and weight lifting.
This happens tomorrow, and I’m hoping that by January 31st, that I’m feeling up to exercise.  Its been a couple of weeks since I’ve actually worked out, and I’m dying over here.

Besides my health, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and research about dance.
As a student of Arab dance for the last almost 15 years, it blows my mind how much I still don’t know.  I don’t say that out of arrogance.  There is ALWAYS something new to learn.  I’m a big fan of remaining a student for the rest of my life.  The moment I think I know everything is the moment I need to quit.

However.

Sometimes I feel like I’m LOSING information I used to have because I’ve been out of classes for so long.  I have days when I listen to a song, and I simply cannot pick out the rhythm, and I should know what it is.  I find myself pondering what maqam a song is in, and even though I’ve only studied a handful of the maqam in 3 workshops….I still beat myself up when I can’t pick it out.

I think sometimes after watching my videos on Facebook that I’m a mediocre dancer.  All I can do is pick out the trouble spots.  My arms suck.  My turns suck.  My musicality has suffered by not dancing.  I feel that I’ll never be as good as I want to be.  That I’ll never travel and teach.  That I’m not as good as some of my peers.

But then I think about some of the compliments that I’ve received on my dancing, recently for one of them…how I’ve been told by 2 of the teachers that I HIGHLY respect and admire, who are in a class all their own…who are actually Arab…one has told me that I’m a classy dancer, and the other commented that I dance “very Arab” which is the highest compliment I believe I could ever receive.  These people aren’t the kind of people who will simply compliment you just for the heck of it, or to stroke your ego.

Not saying that my friends or husband would say that I’m a great dancer when I’m actually  not…but its different coming from people who are of the culture you are representing.  I want my friends to know that I love and appreciate their support and compliments too.  I always have and always will.  This is by no means a slight.

I’ve also been told by 2 strangers at different points in my dance life, just while social dancing (the “get up and dance” portion of a set at restaurants where my friends are dancing) that I must be Arab.  So I must be doing something right…

Its hard to not be in my own head sometimes though, to be honest.  Dancing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, since I was 22 years old, falling in love with the dance.  I’ve wanted to travel to Egypt to study.  I’ve wanted to travel all over the US, studying, performing and also teaching.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have taught 2 workshops at the beloved Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive before it died.  I taught a handful of extremely dedicated beginner students before I started having all of these horrible kidney troubles.
I want to get back there again, and surpass it.  I want to be able to dance full time, and actually make a living at it.

I know it can be done.  I have friends who are doing it now.
But here comes that insecurity again…they’re so much better than I am…even though I might have more years of Arab Dance under my belt, they’re able to put in the time and money to continue taking classes where I can’t right now, and haven’t been able to for several years (because of my health, mostly.)

But guess what.
I can still do it.

I just have to make getting into classes a priority this year, and I’m going to. Whether its a 5 or 6 week session, or 1 hour long private class a month, I WILL get back into class.  I WILL work my technique and improve.  I WILL perform more often, and more varied styles (Khalji anyone?  Coming up soon!).  I will make it.

Because I have the drive, and the DESIRE to do it.  To share my passion with people.

I just have to prioritize and commit…and I’m doing that right now. Insha’Allah, this year will be the year that some of these dreams come true.

Yalla!

 

Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive 2015

Me dancing at the LVBDI in 2015. This photo SO captures how dancing makes me feel. Photo by Lee Corkett

 

 

So long, 2016. You will not be missed.

This year has been a rough one for a lot of people.
From the death of legends like David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher , to the presidential election that still has me praying that I’ll wake up and this terrible dream will be over…a lot of folks have had a rough time this year.

We have too.
Long time friends have vanished, without so much as a “Fuck you.”  We moved and are struggling to pay things off, with car repairs, old bills, and new.  (We are getting there though.  Thankfully.)

This year has also been pretty damned amazing though, and that’s what I want to talk about today.  Dwelling on the negative side of life will never be helpful.  Acknowledging negativity, and allowing yourself to be in your feelings is one thing…but to dwell.  To let the bad fester…that’s not helpful.

What amazing things happened this year?
Well.
I got to spend some amazing time with friends this year.  Whether we were going to see The Cure, VNV Nation, exploring Disneyland, fan girling over The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, gothing up a good friend, playing poker, playing D&D, playing disc golf, painting, dancing, drinking, eating cheese, seeing each other for the first time in 5 years, singing,  moving, laughing, crying, or visiting the Goddess temple and sharing struggles and successes…2016 was an incredible time for being with true, real friends.

I celebrated one year of marriage with my amazing husband.  That right there feels like a huge accomplishment, even if it was the easiest thing that either of us did all year.  Being with Morgan is easy.  Even when we disagree, argue, fight, or completely misunderstand each other.  With the things we’ve gone through this year, I love that our relationship only grows stronger every day.

I embodied 6 of the 7 CDFs (core desired feelings) I set for myself this year.
1. Bliss:  I was able to find a lot of good in many things this year, many of them simple pleasures.
2. Resilient:  This year has thrown me some curve balls.  But here I am.  Bouncing back.  Coming back stronger.
3. Sparkly:  I danced  A LOT this year!  I performed at 2 haflas, Steam-A-Thon Steampunk convention, and a fundraiser hosted by a dear friend.  I took a workshop AND was able to take a 6 week long raqs sharqi class with Aradia!
4.  Abundance:  This one was hard, because my focus was always on financial abundance, which…to be honest…we don’t have.  And we haven’t found it yet.  (I’m convinced 2017 will be the year we get to catch up AND save, but more on that later.)  This year, I was reminded of the abundance of LOVE and COMPASSION I have…I’m surrounded by friends and family who love me.  Who help me.  Who listen to me.  I am, in that aspect, abundantly blessed, and rich beyond measure.
5. Uncluttered: This one started at the old house after Pat disappeared.  We cleaned up.  We organized.  We threw things away.  We had a house that was fit to throw parties in!
Then we moved, and we got even more uncluttered.  The apartment is small, and while we do have SOME spaces that are a little cluttered, its nowhere near as bad as it used to be in the house.
6.  Healthy:  I’m most proud of this one.  Since my surgery last year, I’ve been mostly healthy this year.  Minimal pain, and that’s just been recently.   I haven’t had as many colds…I’ve been eating better, and exercising too.  Health is SO important to me, now that I have it back, I intend to keep it, and work hard for it.
(*side note, the one I didn’t really get to much was “steamy” but I might keep it as an honorary CDF for this year…embody my sensuality and sexuality a little more this year.)

I also set several goals last year that I actually met!!  There’s nothing better than reaching a goal.  Here’s what I accomplished last year:
1. Found a primary care doctor
2. Had my tubal ligation
3. Set workout goals, and started working out 3 times a week.
4. Set up and use planning time in the mornings (bullet journal)
5. Keep up with household chores
6. Eat more veggies
7. Take 1 local dance workshop
8. Take 1 session of raqs sharqi classes
9. Collaborate with local dancers for fun.

I’m really proud of myself and my progress!  So, as 2017 approaches, I am preparing myself for a stellar year.  I am visualizing and manifesting greatness and success for myself and for Morgan, and all of my friends.  I have 3 categories of goals again this year, and I’m excited to get started!

Life Goals:
1.  Find a better/better paying/more fulfilling job.
2. Save money.
3. Repair my credit/pay off medical debt.

Personal Goals:
1. Lose 62 pounds.
2. Get fit, strong, and healthy.
3. Observe and celebrate solstices, and holidays: Samhain/Yule, etc.
4. Read AT LEAST 1 book per month
5. Attempt to read 1 book a week (52 books this year.)
6. Continue to keep up with chores.
7.  Run a 5K/7K
8. Finally get memorial tattoo.

Dance Goals:
1. Daily/3 times a week practice
2. Take 1 local workshop
3. Take a workshop/private class with an OOT dancer (example:  When I go to San Diego, take a detour through L.A. to study with Aubre, Courtney, Princess Farhana, etc)
4. Perform/record the duet that Nina and I have choreographed, and send to VNV Nation.
5. Perform at least 3 times
6. Try to attend the Arab Dance Seminar

I’ve set my Core Desired Feelings for 2017 as well, and I’m really excited about them.  Here’s how I want to feel this year:
2017cdfs
1. Cultivated: I love this word.  This encompasses so many feelings that I want to experience.  I want to feel cultured.  Intellectual.  Intelligent.  Rooted.  Earthy.  I want to read books, I want to experience new music, see art galleries, sing, dance.  I want to explore my roots and my spirituality.  I want to learn more about my spiritual path, but in a grounded way.  I want to be more cerebral, but keep my emotions in tact.  Cultivated, for me, has all of those feelings and emotions and plans all wrapped up into one.
2. Magical:  This means so many things to me.  I’m exploring actual magick, and learning about witchcraft.  I know that magick is real, and I want to have magick in my life.
I also want to be amazed by life.  To find sparkly wonder everywhere.  I want to take people on a magical journey with my dancing.  I want to spend time with my head in the clouds.  I want to be entranced and enraptured by life itself.
3. Connected:  I want to feel more connected to my family and friends.  I want to spend less time with my phone in my hand, and more time face to face.  Laughing.  Talking.  Singing.  Eating.  I want to connect with people.  I want to connect with music when I dance. To connect to culture, and spirituality.
4.  Strong:  Strength is something I desire in all areas of my life.
I want to be physically strong.  To do pull-ups.  Push-ups.  Weighted squats.  Lift heavy things.  To be able to run a 5K or 7K.
I want to be mentally strong.  To be able to lift myself out of my depressive times.  To deal with stress in healthy ways.
I want to be strong when it comes to my resolve:  to find a new job.  I don’t want to be complacent about this anymore, and this is going to require a TON of strength to move outside of my comfort zone.
I want to be financially strong.  Bills are paid, in full, on time.  Debts are repaid.  There is money in the bank for a rainy day.  I live abundantly, all my needs and the needs of my husband are met.  We are strong and successful.
5. Cozy:  Cozy brings to mind comfort.  I have a tendency to put off self care and self love.  I don’t take down time until I am completely exhausted.  Cozy, to me, is curling up on the couch with my love and the dogs with a hot cuppa and a good book.  Cozy is a nice, long, hot bubble bath with more tea or wine.  Relaxing.  Blankets, and sweaters, and snuggles.  2017 I will take better care of myself.  I will not be afraid to say “No thank you” to plans, and to just stay in and relax.  To have a night in where I read one of my 52 books.
6.  Playful:  We, as adults, don’t play much anymore.  I feel very stressed, and tired all the time because of work.  I want to find a job where I can be playful.  Where I don’t have to be serious all of the time.  A job where I can have a bit of  fun.
I want to take the dogs for walks and to the park, and play with them.  Throw balls, chase them, run with them.
I want to play with my husband…he likes to be goofy and playful, and I tend to be cranky and old.  I don’t want to do that.  The key to a long life is laughter and fun.  And I want to play.
I want to play games with friends.  Game nights, poker nights, disc golf.
I want my life to be playful.  My dancing to be playful.
Let’s Play!

As the new year arrives, and we release the crazy year 2016, I want to thank you all, each of you who read this, for coming on this journey with me.

May your New Year’s eve be fun, filled with joy and laughter.
Be safe.

And may 2017 bring you closer to your goals, and leave you feeling the way YOU want to feel!

Happy New Year.