If I had a heart…

Good morning my dear readers.
I hope this post finds you all well.
I am feeling a little better since my last update, although it has taken quite the roller coaster to get here.

Its been a trying couple of weeks, culminating in the week from absolute hell this week.  But, I feel as though I’ve come out the other side a bit stronger, and a bit more grounded, with many things that I want to work on.

Tonight, however…I dance.

Tonight, I’m excited to say, my friend Nina and I are debuting our new dark fusion dance troupe, Dualitas.  We will be performing at the Dark Arts market tonight, and have a brand new duet, custom made for this event.  Its spooky and creepy, and amazing, and I cannot wait to dance it tonight.

Its amazing how dance and music can bring you through things.  I’ve found so much solace in music lately, I’m building myself a playlist on YouTube right now that is serving to inspire me, in a more primal way.  I can’t really explain it.  Many of the songs are either by Native Throat singers, or Pagan “folk/rock” groups.  The music stirs something in me, that is just…primal.  And beautiful.

Anyway.

My dear readers, I thank you for your love and support.  It makes me smile any time I see that someone has “liked” or followed my blog.  I’m just a woman sharing her innermost thoughts for the sake of writing them down.  I appreciate you all.  Thank you.

Until next time, when I will most definitely have more things to say, and more substance to write about.

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Blessed Solstice, Merry Yule

and so, dear readers, the end of the year is upon us.
This year, I’m doing things a little differently than I have in the past.  My new year is beginning on the Solstice, with the longest night.  The following day marks the returning of the light, and I’d like to begin my new year with the promise of bright days to follow.

As I do every year, I like to recap what goals I’ve met, and set goals for the new year.

Personal Goals Met:
*Observed and celebrated Samhain, Mabon, and Yule (this week)
*Read 1 book per month
*Read over 52 books this year
*Kept up with household chores
*Started memorial tattoo

Dance Goals Met:
*Took 1 workshop with OOT dancer
*Performed 3+ times

This past year, my CDFs were:

Cultivated:  grounded, rooted, earthy, and immersed in culture.
Magical: witchy, observant of magic all around
Connected: closer relationships
Stong: physically, mentally, emotionally
Cozy: comfortable, relaxed
Playful: playful with friends and family

I feel  like I embodied a lot of these this year, particularly Cozy, Cultivated, and Magical.  I spent quite a lot of time drinking tea, cuddled in bed or in the bath with a good book.

This year has been interesting.   It hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been spectacular either.  This year has definitely been one of growth.  Outgrowing practices, people, bad behaviors.  Losing people.  Gaining others.  Connecting with different people.   I danced quite a bit.  I spent quite a lot of time with the love of my life, and with my family.  I feel as though I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge and perspective this year too.

I’m looking forward to the new year.   2017 wasn’t spectacular, but it was a pretty good year.  Lots of learning experiences.  I feel that 2018 is going to be amazing.

So, without further ado, my goals for 2018:

Personal Goals:
*Finish editing Morgan’s book
*Get fit, strong, and healthy
*write my own stories, 1 day per week
*Read 104 books
*Start language study again
*Cook more
*Fit into costumes again
*More planning time
*Monthly date nights
*Monthly friend dates

Dance Goals:
*1 workshop/private lesson with local dancer
*1 workshop with OOT dancer/musician
*1 OOT workshop
*Perform 3+ times
*2-3 times a week practice/drilling
*Purchase Karim’s sagat DVD

My CDFs for 2018 are:

Limitless: without limits in every aspect of my life.
Delight: 
Pure joy.  Playfulness.  Magic.
Sage:
Wise, and powerful as fuck.
Stimulating:
Intelligence, wit, conversation, sex
Passionate:
filled with passion for life and my loved ones
Magical:
witchy, filled with wonder at the real, every day magic in the world.

Life is what you make it.  With the returning of the light, may this year be bright and full of promise, and goodness.

I want to wish my readers, my loved ones, very happy holidays, whatever you celebrate or don’t.  Have a safe and happy new year, and may 2018 be full of joy and love for 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 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.”

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.

Happy New Year…Happy New Mina. :)

Oh 2013.

You know, every year, when I write my end of the year blog, I like to think that I’ve learned a lot, and that there will be nothing but goodness in the coming year.

 

This year, is so different, because I really have changed a lot.

 

Not changed so much, in the sense that I’m a completely brand new person, or that I’m in a new city, or anything crazy like that…

 

This year I’m changed in the fact that I can say with 100% honesty that I really love my life. I love who I’ve grown to be this year, and can’t wait to see where the journey of 2014 will take me.

 

Sure, there are still things that I’d like to change. I want to be more disciplined in my health habits, I want to save more money, I’d like a better job.

 

But all in all, what I’ve learned from this last year is to treasure the moment that you’re in, because you don’t know how long it will last.

 

This year, I’ve made many new and amazing friends, some of whom are living halfway across the world. I’ve shared amazing moments of dance, and emotion with some of these new friends.

 

This year I’ve learned so much more about love than I ever thought possible…love of others and love of myself…I’ve learned that it is a wonderful thing to be loved by people…and I have felt a lot of love from my friends, and family. But even greater is to love others with complete abandon. I’ve learned that in order to really love others, you have to love yourself…really truly love yourself…and while I may still think that I’m overweight, etc, I love who I am becoming inside.

 

I could not have learned these lessons without the help of some very special friends, old and new. You all know who you are. Even if I don’t get to talk to you or see you as often as I’d like, I hope you all know how much I love you.

 

This year too, I’ve learned something about forgiveness, of self and of others. Its always been hard for me, and to be honest, I still struggle. But there is something amazing that happens when you look at a person, or look at yourself and you say “I forgive you. Its in the past. Lets move on together and enjoy life.” Its so freeing!!!!

 

I still hold grudges and get mad. Trust me. 😉 But when I do find the strength and the courage to forgive, its amazing.

 

I’m tearing up as I think about these things…this year has been incredible.

 

There has been pain, sorrow, and loss…there always are moments like this in life. But the moments of bliss, joy, love, and wonder have greatly outnumbered the bad.

 

I have a long way to go in this journey. I count myself as very lucky and very blessed to know that I have a handful of people that I know in my heart will be there with me every step of the way.

 

To all of you, may your 2014 be filled with love, abundance, forgiveness, grace, and moments that take your breath away.

My goals for this year are simple:

 

I will love more.

I will give more.

I will spend more time face to face than on facebook.

I will be creative.

I will dance. A lot. Just try to stop me. 😉

I will forgive more.

And most importantly, I will be present more. I will enjoy every day of my life, and even when I’m sick, and whiny, and feeling like I’m going to die, I will remind myself of what a precious gift my life is.   Image