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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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.

 

 

A healthy shift

This past week was a little rough for me.
I’m not sure why I was so affected by the events that happened.  Maybe its because I don’t do well with passive aggressive behavior (like my old roommate Pat used to be)…maybe I still just care FAR too much about other people’s opinions of me.

Long story short, without causing more issues:  someone I thought I was fairly close to was apparently talking about me behind my back, and people were making passive aggressive statements to/about me on a forum I used to participate in quite frequently.
As of Friday, I deactivated my account there, and “unfriended” the vast majority of the women I knew from that site.  Not all.  But the only ones I kept are either: not active there much anymore, or women I actually interact with on FB.  There were a few that I probably could have kept on FB, but in reality…I was upset and didn’t know who I could trust anymore.  (If any of you happen to see this, know that I didn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings…I just seriously was unsure of who all had participated in the gossip.)

My anxiety and depression have kicked in pretty hard core.
I don’t like that I’ve allowed myself to become so upset over a handful of internet strangers opinions of me…but then I’ve always cared just TOO much.

I’ve decided, however, that this is a blessing in disguise.

At some point, we have to just move on.  At some point, we realize that not everyone we meet is a friend.  Not everyone who says they love you mean it.

What I can do right now, is I can focus on the people in my life who actually do care.  I can focus on myself, and on making my life better, without worrying about being judged.

On that note, I’ve found a spark of inspiration this weekend.  After feeling extremely low for two days, I had the opportunity to kind of immerse myself into the dance community this weekend.
The Tribal Massive is an event that takes place in Las Vegas every year.  I know the organizer/producer, but haven’t ever really done much with the event, because tribal/fusion isn’t my forte.  I do more Egyptian style, and folkloric dance, even though I do love and appreciate good fusion.

This year, I opted to volunteer at the Festival stage and the Fission show.  I was a “Stage Kitten,” meaning I helped out if costume bits/props, etc were left on stage/fell off/exploded.   It was the most fun job, even though people kept picking up their own stuff.  I had a blast.  I got to see all of the Festival performers on Saturday, and I got to watch the Fission show from the wings on Saturday night.  It was really great!  So many awesome performers.

Its put a bit of a fire under my ass to start working on more pieces.  One of my goals this year is to perform more often.  I have a Khaliji piece that I want to do in April…although it will be mostly improvised, I definitely have to start working on practicing, and work on the hair tossing…

I’d like to work more on the duet that Nina and I have put together…

I also want to put together a couple of fun pop numbers for shows put on by friends/should the need arise for a fun, peppy number.

I also desperately want to do a gooey, beautiful, classical piece.

Then, I had the brilliant idea for a double assaya piece.

Add to all this my desire for appropriate costuming, I’m actually going to be looking at asking friends for sewing lessons so that I can make my own costumes.  (the easy ones, like Saidi dresses, etc)

I definitely have my work cut out for me this year.  I just have to be diligent and not allow myself to get sidetracked.  I need to spend any free time I have working on improving my dancing instead of playing stupid games on my phone.  I need to work on conditioning, and exercise.  I need to work on strength training, and endurance.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like its possible.  But I know it is.  I know that its worth it.  I know that all the hard work, the dedication, the tears, the frustration, the elation, the pain…its all worth it.

If I can make just one person smile with my dancing.  If I can touch just one person…its all worth it.

Life is too short to allow yourself to be brought down by things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

While I’m here, I’m going to dance.

Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive 2015

Me dancing at the LVBDI in 2015.  Photo by Lee Corkett

 

furious-dancing

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.

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.