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.

 

 

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.

I am Thankful! Even if its 2 weeks late.

Ah, life.
The fun never stops, let me tell you.

We’ve had a crazy couple of weeks.
Work has picked up and been busy.  Lots of busyness over the last 2 weeks, so my yearly “Thanksgiving” blog is late.

As mentioned in a recent post, its been a rough year.
People have left our lives.  We had to move.  Money has been tight.  We owe people money. People owe us money.  The election.  Standing Rock (but hooray for the victory that happened this weekend!).  So many bright stars have passed on this year…2016 has been rough for a lot of people.

Even as I write this, I feel myself succumbing to my seasonal depression.  I’m exhausted.  I’m sad.  I feel like an afterthought sometimes. I know that its just my depression, and that these things aren’t true.  They’re far from it.  Still, sometimes its difficult to remember, and it can be hard to see a silver lining.

There is, happily, much to be thankful for in my life, however.  It doesn’t matter how bad I feel, or how hard it is for me to see the good sometimes.  Its there.  Part of why I love doing this blog every year, is because it forces me to think of the good things in my life at a time when I generally feel very low.

  1. I’m thankful for our new little home.  Yes its small.  But its all ours.  We don’t have to cater to anyone but ourselves.  We can be naked all the time if we want.  We can listen to music.  We can cook at all hours of the night.  We don’t have to worry about anything but ourselves.
  2. I’m thankful for the amazing friends that I have in my life.  Near and far.  Some I’ve never met.  Some I’ve known for years.  Some I just met on Friday night after being online friends for years! (Leslie!) In a time when people seem to be flaking and dropping us, I’m truly grateful for the friends that remain.  Who stand by us.  Who still care.  Who understand that even though we may have disagreements, or even fight, that we still love and care about them.
    I’m grateful for a couple very  specific groups of ladies who I know online.
    My sounding board.  My soul sisters, across this country and others.  My encouragers, in life, in love, in dance, in fitness.  Ladies who make me laugh.  Ladies who have a love for food, and a tremendous respect for each other.  Ladies who give tough love, who tell it like it is, even if its not what you want to hear.
    I’m grateful for my core friends here in Vegas.  The friends we have dinners with.  The friends we have game nights and poker nights with.  The friends we karaoke with.  Attend children’s birthday parties with. The friends who have helped is in our time of need, be it financially, physically helping us to move, or just by offering moral support and an ear.  Friends who laugh with me.  Cry with me.  Eat delicious, stinky cheeses with me.  Share music and videos with me.  Play D&D with me.  Dance with me.  Sing with me. Share amazing concerts and other awesome experiences with me.  Just hang out with me.
    I’m grateful for my friends who don’t live near me anymore, but who keep in touch.  Who ask how I’m doing.  Who send love, and post things to make me smile.
    There really is nothing in the world like a good friend, and I count myself VERY lucky to be blessed with some amazing friends.
  3. I’m so thankful for my family.  We’ve really grown much closer over the last few months. We visit almost every week, and I’m grateful to have grown so close with my family that lives here again.  I miss my family in Illinois too.  So much.  But thanks to Snapchat and Facebook, I’m able to chat with my nieces and nephew, and my SEESTER and cousin.  I love you guys.
  4. I’m grateful for dance.  Always.  I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made through dance.  For the fun experiences I’ve had.  I’m grateful for my partners in the Gin Fizz Jezebels, even though we haven’t danced together in a long time, I have amazing memories of Steam-a-thon with you ladies, and hope we can get together again soon.
    I’m grateful for my teachers.  For the ones I’ve studied with for years, or years ago. For the ones I’ve taken workshops with, whether it was one or many over the years.  I’m grateful for having venues to dance in, whether they are community haflas or the awesome Benefit Shows put on by my friends.
    I’m grateful for the way dancing makes me feel.  For the amazing music that I love so much.  For the maqam, and the lyrics, and the instrumentation.  I’m grateful for all of the knowledge I’ve received, not only about the Dance but about Arab culture:  the culture I’ve fallen so in love with.  The culture I hope to someday be able to teach others about, and spread the love.
  5. I’m grateful for discovering my spirituality.  Learning more this year than I have in years past about the spiritual path that I want to take.  I’m grateful to have very recently (Sunday) gone to the Goddess temple with two friends who are helping to guide me on my path.
  6. Finally, I am grateful for my husband and dogs.  For OUR little tiny family.  For our little branch on the tree.
    I’m grateful to have a husband who is patient with me when I’m cranky, or sad, or crazy, or confused.  I’m grateful that he takes time to understand how I feel, and where I’m coming from.  I’m grateful that he shows appreciation for what I do every day, and for all the things that he does as well.  I’m grateful that he cares for and is training our two fur babies.  I’m grateful that he’s helped Jack come so far from where he was.  That he’s helping Phedra to learn to walk off leash, to come when called, and so many other things.
    I’m grateful that my pups are such a source of joy for us.  That we’re able to just lay in bed with them, and snuggle, or throw a ball, or take them to the park and play, and we just laugh with them so much.  I love that they both are such crazy characters.
    Weekends with my little family are my favorite times.  Playing games with Morgan, taking the dogs to the park, or just laying in bed snuggling, and watching Downton Abby…it really is my favorite time.
    Morgan, my love, I am truly grateful for you.  I love you so much.

As this year starts winding down, I choose to remain grateful for all the abundance in my life.  I am truly blessed to have the life that I have.  To all those who continue to choose to be a part of our lives, I love you.  Thank you.

a Hogswatch wish…Ho…Ho HO

“This is Hogswatch, it’s a time to be jolly, with mistletoe and holly, and other things ending in –olly.” (From Terry Pratchett’s The HogFather)

The Holiday season used to be a favorite of mine when I was a child, back in Chicago.  Snow, sledding, Christmas trees, lights, presents, and lots of time with family…

Over the last few years, however, I’ve found myself feeling a bit disillusioned by the holidays.

Part of this, I’m sure, is caused by seasonal depression.  I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, and have noticed that it is significantly worse during the winter months.  Whether it’s the cold, or the shorter days, I always seem to be a bit down once November rolls around.

This year is a little different from the last few.  While I am still struggling with my depression, I do find myself feeling a bit happier, and a bit more in the Holiday Spirit.

Could it be because I recently got married?  I’m sure that’s part of it.  In the midst of struggles, and difficulties, I find myself smiling, thinking about the day that my best friend and I officially joined our lives together as partners in life.   I’ve said it before, nothing much has changed in our relationship.  We’re still best friends, we’re still open, and we’re still crazy.  But at the same time, everything has changed.  I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I didn’t think it was possible to feel closer to this man, who I know inside and out, and he knows me the same…but I do.

This holiday season, I find myself extremely excited for a handful of parties and celebrations.  I’ve participated in a couple of gift exchanges, I’ve won a couple of items this year, I just feel festive.

I’m looking forward to our annual Hogswatch celebration.   Pork pies, sherry, and “The Hogfather” have become a yearly tradition with some friends, and I can’t wait for this year’s party.
We also have a Christmas party with our little family…the two couples who we have dinner with every Sunday night, and some other friends.

In addition, we’re also doing an after Christmas Sunday dinner complete with a white elephant gift exchange.

The only thing I feel like doing this year, that I can’t do, is decorating a tree.  I had one for a while, but the last year that I was in my apartment, about 4 years ago, it was falling apart really badly. I threw it away and never replaced it.  It would be nice to decorate this year, but with so much going on (parties, and the possibility of moving), I think it would be just too much to deal with.

As the year comes to an end, it’s natural to reflect on all that has happened this year: good and bad…and there’s been a lot of bad this year, to be truthful.
There’s been SO much good though, it really warms my heart to think about it.

I will still save my “year in review” blog for the end of the month, but as Hogswatch rolls around, I really am feeling jolly…and other things…ending in “olly.”

My beloved and I started the year off on a high note with the NYE party we worked last year on the strip.  We had our anniversary dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak with some of our closest friends, and he surprised the hell out of me with a beautiful proposal.  I’ve made several new friends through an amazing wedding planning forum.  Morgan and I travelled to California to see Underworld, the original line up!  We’ve had amazing nights with our dearest friends, Sunday dinners with people we love.  One month ago, we got married.  We had a ceremony that people are STILL talking about.  I met one of his oldest friends and his dad.  He finally got to meet my extended family.  We had an amazing weekend filled with friends, love, and each other.  We’ve had game nights, and movie nights.  Taken care of each other when the other is sick.  We adopted a puppy, so now we have TWO fur kids!  I’ve participated in 2 gift exchanges with some amazing women.  We’re looking at houses to move into that will ultimately save us some money.   And finally, we won a trip to anywhere in the contiguous 48 states: paid air fare and hotel for 3 days, 4 nights.  We can go anywhere we’d like, and so we are exploring options for a fun vacation next year.

With all the madness in the world these days, the world needs more love.  So, please allow me, from the bottom of my heart, to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday season.  Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate: from Hogswatch to Hanukah, from Yule to Christmas, from Kwanza to Pancha Ganapati, From Boxing Day to Newtonmas, and everywhere in between, may the rest of the month be full of love, light, laughter, mistletoe, holly…and yes…other things…ending in “olly.”

Another day to be Grateful

And so another Thanksgiving has come and gone.
As always, I attempt to participate in the 30 days of gratitude on social media, and I tend to do well at the beginning of the month, but always seem to forget towards the end.  That’s fine though, because when I forget…its because I’m out enjoying life…finding more moments to be grateful for.

Adopting an attitude of gratitude these days can be quite trying, to be honest.  Everyone is offended by everything these days.  Its all “PC” and “Trigger Warnings”  and “I’m offended by that” and “That’s cultural appropriation.”

People are judged by the color of their skin.  Their religious beliefs.  What they wear.  What they listen to.  What they eat, for crying out loud.

The world is a crazy place right now.
Yet, in the midst of all of this, even with seasonal depression rearing its ugly head, I have hope, and I am grateful.

I’m grateful for an amazing, loving family, crazy as they are.  I’ve had such an incredible amount of support from my entire family this last year, it blows my mind.

I have a solid group of friends:  TRUE friends…people who don’t judge.  They offer encouragement.  Support.  An ear.   Love.  Food.  Hugs.  Advice.  We have game nights, and poker, and wine and cheese nights, and D&D nights, and Hogswatch, and dance days, and sushi dates, and baby hugs, and Godtoddlers, and book clubs, and Sunday Dinner.  We trade stories, and clothing, and books.  We’re affectionate and loving.
We’re family.

I actually have a pretty great group of online friends too…mostly new friends, but ones who listen, give solid advice, and who are just really freaking cool women.

I had another surgery on my kidney, which seems to have really helped, if not completely solved my pain problem.  It may be too soon to tell for long term, but I have been mostly pain free since July.  I have a handful of days where I experience pain, but its not nearly as bad as it used to be.  My surgeon took plenty of precautions to make sure that I healed well, and I’m grateful.

I’ve started dancing again. Through the support of one of my best friends, I entered my very first belly dance competition this past September.  I performed for the first time in 4 years on the Flamingo Library Stage.  I made it into the top 12 dancers!  Not too shabby for 2 months post surgery.  I fulfilled a 12 year dream: I improvised a drum solo to live accompaniment by Issam Houshan!  Since the competition, I’ve performed with 3 other amazing ladies, and we have another performance coming up in January.  I have ideas for a new solo for myself, and have a couple of duet ideas in the works too.  Through the competition, I met and reconnected with several dancers who are awesome people.

On November 6, I married the love of my life.  Yes, that’s right dear readers.  I don’t think I ever actually updated about the proposal…but Morgan and I married just 3 weeks ago.  It was a beautiful day: The ceremony was hilarious, and we were surrounded by loved ones…Morgan’s dad and oldest friend from Alaska even came, which meant the world to us.

And so, of course, I’m grateful for my husband.  My best friend.  My lover.  My partner in crime…my partner in life.  The man who puts up with my crazy.  My lazy.  My scared. My silly.  My rock…the one with the cool head and logic…with the huge heart, incredible mind, and such passion.  Morgan knows EVERYTHING about me, and chooses every day to love me…even though I hate putting laundry away, and I’m obsessed with Doctor Who, and I’m overly sensitive sometimes.  Being married has been incredible so far.  Nothing has changed, and yet, everything has.

I’m grateful for the life I live.  Sure there are snags.  There are areas I don’t like, and want to change.  There are issues, and sadness.  There’s uncertainty.  Through all of it, and the craziness of the world, though, I choose to feel grateful for what I have.  For the amazing people I am so blessed to know, and love.

I can’t possibly tag or mention everyone, but you know who you are.  Yes, you.  I treasure you.  I value you.

And I am grateful.

I am truly thankful…

Thanksgiving has come again.  Every year I post something about what I’m grateful and thankful for. This year is no different, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my family.  My parents, my aunts and uncles, my sister, my cousin, my nieces and nephew.  We don’t talk or see each other often, but we are always there for each other, and we always love each other.

I’m thankful that I am still fairly healthy, and that I’ve made it a year and a half without being in the hospital.  I’ve had a rough year with my kidneys, but its no where near as bad as it was before.  

I’m beyond thankful for my friends…you all have a special place in my heart. I count myself as truly blessed, and consider my life enriched by knowing each and every one of you.  

I’m thankful to have a house full of people and animals that are caring, and supportive.  

I’m grateful to have attended the Arab Dance Seminar this year.  After wanting to go for the last 8 years or so, I was actually able to attend, and it was the experience of a lifetime.  I hope that fate and the universe can provide a way for me to go next year.  

I’m thankful that I’m learning to see the positive in life much more.  

I’m thankful that I feel like I’m on the right path.  I feel like while I don’t know what the future holds, I have a good feeling and idea where things are going.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I see every day, and even more thankful for the few opportunities I take to appreciate life.

I’m excited for the year to come…for all the endless beautiful possibilities to be grateful 365 days of the year….

 

No sappy person specific thanks this year…you all know how I feel about you, and it goes without saying on a public blog.  I’d rather tell you all face to face how much I love you.

Have a great holiday, everyone.  I have a chicken to check on. 😉