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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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.

Seems like the end of an era…

My husband and I moved into our own apartment this weekend.

This is the first time we’ve lived alone together as a couple.  Years ago, before we dated, he and I had an apartment together for 6 months, but its different when you’re actually a couple.

I found it funny that I ended up scrubbing the bathroom upstairs, just like I did 6 years ago when he first moved into that house.  “So it ends as it began,” I thought.

And yet…so very different.

That house has seen so many residents…relationships…
Morgan, Pat, and Goldy.
Morgan, Pat, Tom, and Stephanie.
Morgan, Pat, Tom, Stephanie, and Kim.
Morgan, Pat, Tom, Stephanie, and me, and the occasional stay of Jessica.
Morgan, Pat, Me, and Todd.
Morgan, Pat, Me, Danelle, Heather, Scarecrow.
Morgan, Pat, Me, Heather, Scarecrow.
Morgan, Pat, Me, and Ira.
Morgan, Me, Ira.
Morgan, Me, Ira, and Skylar.

Not to mention all of the pets:  Charlie, Harley, the ferret, Jessica’s dog (I can’t remember her name), Mossyman, Bug kitty, Misfit, Jack, and Phedra…

This house saw the start of Morgan and I as a couple. The house his book was written in.  The house where he decided that he wanted to marry me.  The house that we came home to as husband and wife.

I’m a little sad to be leaving the place where so many good things have happened.

But in truth, leaving the house is the best decision for us.

After all, this is the house that many of our friendships and relationships dissolved in…the house that so many of my personal demons reside in.  We’ve had struggles, and confrontations.  Passive aggressiveness, lies, deceit…

And so this weekend, we moved into our own space.

Its small, but its just us and the dogs.
I mean…its small.  Its a 624 square foot, one bedroom apartment.
The living room is pretty small…only room for 1 love seat.
The kitchen is pretty poorly designed…for a cook, its a bit of a nightmare.

But its ours.
We’re the only ones living here.  Using the space.  Running the air conditioning.  Using the dishes.
We don’t have to rely on anyone else for anything.  If rent is short, its our fault.  If our bills are outrageously high, its our fault.  If we leave the AC on 77 for three days, its our fault.  No one else’s.

There have been a couple of growing pains already.  The power went out last night.  Not the apartment’s fault, of course, the entire complex went out.  But while it was out, some other residents decided to have a pool party at 12:30 AM, complete with diving, splashing, screaming, yelling, and obnoxiously loud laughing.   We couldn’t reach the security guards.  I’m stopping in the office today after work, because that’s not acceptable.  We signed a “silent swimming” clause in our lease about anything after 10 pm…I only got 3-4 hours of sleep because of their noise (and the power being out.)

The pups are starting to settle in a bit too.  Jack has been anxious for weeks, and has had tummy problems for the last 2 days, but I think he’s finally starting to settle down a little bit.  Phedra is actually eating, and is SLOWLY learning to go potty while on a leash.  Its a learning process.

I’m not sure of much these days.
This year has sucked the life out of me, and its not even over yet.  But the two things I am positive of:  my husband, and the decision to live on our own.

We were trying to move in with friends, and things just never worked out in our favor for that to happen.  I truly believe that the Universe was trying to speak to us.  To tell us that its better for us to have our OWN space at this time in our lives.

This process has been exhausting.  Between not being approved for the perfect house with our 2 best friends and goddaughter (someone else applied first and was approved), to submitting an application with another friend and having him bail, to the actual physical process of moving and unpacking, I’m exhausted.

Mind you, the move itself was pretty painless.  We had some amazing friends help us with loading and unloading, but it was physically taxing.  Mentally too, to be honest.  I don’t think anyone likes to move.

I’m very ready for things to settle down, so we can settle in.
I’ll be working on our closet tonight, and maybe the book shelves too.  We have a friend coming into town tomorrow that we’ve offered our couch to…I would hate for it to be covered in junk.

The apartment already feels like home, though.  I think part of it is just intention.  Morgan and I both just want for this to be a comfortable, safe space for us, and for our pups.  A nice cozy spot for our friends to visit.

I think we’re getting there.

I’m hopeful that with this move, we can leave behind some of the negativity that has followed us around for a while…no more sadness about Pat and his ghosting on us.  No more worry about finances.  No more passive aggressive posts from others (who have no cause to bitch, really).  Less drama.  I can’t really say no drama, because that’s really difficult to come by, but that is the general goal.  More time for each other, and more time for friends.

I’ve been working through The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, a book that helps you focus on how you want to feel, and how to achieve those feelings.  I won’t go into deep detail here, you should really check out the book though, its life changing.  The basic premise is that you need to discover your Core Desired Feelings (CDFs) and then figure out ways to achieve those feelings.

This move has put me in touch with several of mine:
BLISS
RESILIENT
STEAMY
SPARKLY
ABUNDANCE
…we’re working on UNCLUTTERED.

Its exciting when things start lining up, and I can’t wait to see what other blessings the Universe has in store for the two of us.

 

The stars look very different today…

AMPAS Gold Standard Series

Jareth, The Goblin King, played by David Bowie

A great light has gone from the world.
Yesterday, I learned of David Bowie’s passing Sunday night, at the age of 69.

There have been a few celebrity deaths that have affected me deeply: Heath Ledger, Luciano Pavarotti, and now…David.

How can I explain the loss I feel?  Why should the death of a singer/actor/artist make me cry at work?
Because he was so much more than just a singer/actor/artist to me.

I remember seeing The Labyrinth as a child.  It was my favorite movie.  It still is one of my all time favorites.  My sister and I would watch it constantly, and recite the lines, and sing the songs.  And at the heart of it, was this beautiful man, Jareth.  The Goblin King.  David Bowie. I couldn’t have been more than 6 years old, but I was in love with this David Bowie.  I adored him.  I wanted to marry him.  I wanted to dance with him the way Sarah danced with him in the Labyrinth.

Later in the year, my sister and I saw a televised showing of The Glass Spider Tour, and I was hooked.  I was still too young to buy much music of my own, but as soon as I was, I got my hands on as much David Bowie music as I could.   It was because of Bowie that I got into much of the music that speaks to me today.

David Bowie is THE only artist that I learned of as a child that continues to enchant me to this day, almost 30 years later.  The idols of my pre-teen and teen-aged years have long since fallen, but Bowie is still there…and there he shall remain for the rest of my days.

Bowie was a genius.  A brilliant mind.  I did some reading today, and was reminded of some details about his life, his fame…and I saw a few things that remind me of me.  (I’m not by any means comparing myself…just noticing that some of his human qualities remind me of not only my shortcomings, but my triumphs over the shortcomings. )

David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was the first song I ever sang in a public karaoke venue, back in Chicago.  I still sing it, only now I sing it with my husband: him on the lead, and me on the harmony.  I sing “Magic Dance.”  I sing “Modern Love.”

I count myself as extremely lucky to have been to a concert of his back in 2004.  My best friend Jake (who passed away last year) and I went to the Reality tour in Chicago.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  So many classics, and new songs…and when he sang “Life on Mars?”…my heart quickens just remembering how amazing he sounded, and what a great show he put on.

I owe a lot of who I am today to David Bowie.  He influenced much of the music that I listen to.  He was unapologetically himself, which in turn, showed me that its ok to be unapologetically MYSELF.  To live my life, and to be true to who I am.  To what I want to do.

As someone who is artistically inclined anyway,  knowing that this great pioneer went before me, paving the way for the unusual, the “weird”, the different…it gives me great comfort, and inspires me anew to pursue my dreams.

I started writing this yesterday, after learning of his passing, but found it quite difficult to articulate all that I was feeling.

Sadness, of course.  But also a tremendous amount of gratitude.

And so, a bright light has gone from the world:  it is now in the heavens. (“Look up here, I’m in heaven” he sang in “Lazarus”)  The stars look very different today, for there is a new, bright star among them.   A guiding star for all of us….

“Look out your window, I can see his light…
…There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.”

The year in review, and goals for 2016

What a whirlwind this year has been.  Highs, lows, ups, downs.  Sadness, elation.

My year started off fairly well in January, with good times with my love.  January also saw the return of my kidney pain, and my meeting my new doctors.

February was a month I will never forget.  Some low and sad points, but the best memory was on February 20, at Gordon Ramsay Steak with 5 of our closest friends, Morgan proposed to me.  I never in a million years thought that I would ever get married.  He had said time and time again that he didn’t want to get married ever again.  The proposal was sweet, and romantic, and a complete surprise.  The fact that I was able to share it with some of my closest friends was amazing.

In April, I had an exploratory procedure with my new surgeon, so that he could see exactly what he was dealing with to correct my kidney issues.

In June, Morgan and I traveled to LA to see Underworld live in concert.  THAT was amazing.  I danced all night long.  We got to see the original line up, which was incredible.

Also in June, I took Karim Nagi’s “Music Raqs” workshop for the second time.  I learned SO much, and his class really sparked my desire to dance again.

July 11, I had my second robotic pyloplasty on my right kidney.  My surgeon took many more precautions than my previous surgeon did, to ensure that I’d recover with minimal issues.

In September, at the prompting of a dear friend, I participated in my very first Belly Dance Competition: So You Think You Can Bellydance at the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive.  I learned two choreographies, and made it into the Top 12 dancers.  I realized two dreams in one night:  To perform on the Flamingo Library Theater Stage, and to improvise a live drum solo with Issam Houshan.  I had so much fun, I learned SO much, and I made some great friends.

Learning those routines, and performing again has given me the dance bug again.  In October, along with three other talented dancers, I performed the fusion choreography (and another short, sassy piece) at the Halloween Hafla.  The troupe was asked to perform in January at the Steampunk Convention!

November was probably the most memorable, the most monumental month of them all.  On November 6, surrounded by friends and family, from near and far, Morgan and I were married.  It was by far the most perfect day I’ve ever had.  The ceremony was officiated by a dear friend, and it could not have been more perfect for us.  It was funny.  It was touching.  It focused on love, communications, and D&D.  Nothing has changed in our relationship, yet everything has.  I find myself wanting to be a better person, to do more, to take better care of us…

Which leads me into my goals for 2016!  I’m actually working on separate goals:  Life goals, Personal goals, and Dance goals.  Some of these are lofty goals that will not be accomplished in one year.  The point is to start working towards them, so that they are more easily achieved when the time is right.

Life Goals:

  1. Start repairing my credit.  (Pay down my medical debt.  Open a checking account.  Open a credit card, and use once a month, and pay off immediately, in small amounts.)
  2.  Save money.  Whether its $10 a week, or $100 a month, I want to put money away for a rainy day/emergency/vacation/down payment on a house.
  3. Take courses/learn about first time home buyer assistance.

 

Personal Goals:

  1. Asses the risks/recovery time for the tubal ligation surgery, and schedule.
  2. Find a new primary care doctor.
  3. Set realistic workout goals. (Starting 3x per week, etc)
  4. 10-15 minute morning meditation/planning time daily during the week.
  5. Keep up with household chores. (sweeping/dusting)
  6. Check off a couple more items from my 40 before 4o list.
  7. Find a more fulfilling and better paying job/promotion at current job.
  8. Eat more veggies.
  9. Get more information for Arab Studies degree/Apply for Grants/Apply for admission.

 

Dance goals:

  1. Attend at least 1 local workshop.
  2. Volunteer for the LVBDI
  3. Daily practice
  4. If I travel to another city for more than 1 day, schedule a private lesson with a dancer there.
  5. Continue to collaborate with local dancers for fun duets and group pieces, in all styles.
  6. Find and take 1 session of classes from a local Raqs Sharqi dancer.

 

With 2015 being so amazing, even with the low points, I can’t wait to see what is in store for 2016.  I feel that it will be a year of personal growth, change, and progress.  I will become a better version of myself, in all aspects:  a better person, a better wife, a better dancer, a better friend.

May your new year be safe, and happy.  May your goals and resolutions be attainable.  May 2016 be filled with love, happiness, and abundance.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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.”