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.

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Suicide is Painless…the battle for life during depression…how I win the fight with suicidal thoughts

***Author’s note.  This blog was written on April 4. Since that time, I am pleased to say that I no longer feel this way every day.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I thought about suicide.  In light of recent events, for many of my friends across the country dealing with sadness, troubles, deaths and suicides of friends, I thought I would share this.  Please send a link to anyone who you feel would benefit from it.***

Hi. My name is Mina. I’ve suffered from depression for over 15 years. Over those 15 years, I’ve been suicidal a number of times. Over the last 3 months, not a single day goes by that I don’t think about taking my own life.

On the outside of it, things probably look pretty damn good. For you, looking in at me here’s what you see: A 32 year old woman who has a steady job, her own apartment, tons of friends, sex on a regular basis, and is a talented singer and dancer.

These are all true and valid points. I do have a steady job, my own apartment, tons of friends, sex on a regular basis, and I am a fairly talented singer and dancer.

But the problem that I have is that the bad overshadows the good for me. I have tons of wonderful things in my life. Far more good than bad.

But the bad is louder.

The bad is pushier.

The bad is more persistent.

When I’m having a rough or bad day, I can’t look at all of the amazing things that I have going on in my life. All I can see is that I’m stuck in a job that I hate, and all of my knowledge is going to waste. I live by myself and am struggling to pay my bills and rent. I have 2 people in my life that I am comfortable talking to about EVERYTHING, and a bunch of people that I’m afraid of being a burden to. I get sex whenever I want, but I’m not in a romantic relationship. The man I love is dating someone else, and will not date me until I get all my shit together, and even then, its a “maybe.” I may be talented, but there are many people out there who sing better than I do, who don’t get scared of singing. And millions of other dancers out there, who are far better at what I want to do than I am.

Now, the thing is…I know that NONE of this bad stuff is bad enough for me to ever ACTUALLY take my own life. Ever. But we’ll get to that a little later.

Imagine being overwhelmed with these thoughts every day. All day. All night. It keeps you from sleeping. You’re so depressed about all of the things that you don’t have, and all that is terrible in your life, that all you want to do is sleep, but you can’t. So you take sleeping pills. They don’t help. You might sleep, but you don’t rest.

You hate the way you look, so you compulsively start working out, trying to eat healthier. You don’t lose any weight though, not as soon as you’d like to, and you become frustrated, and start eating comfort food. Vicious cycle. You’d like to have an eating disorder to lose the weight, but you can’t. You love food too much and feel awful when you don’t eat, and you physically CANNOT make yourself vomit. You think about just using laxatives, but you’re terrified of the damage they will do to your already broken body. So, you just eat. You eat, and you cry. This is your life.

You have no desire to do any of the things that you used to love to do. Dancing doesn’t bring you joy anymore, it frustrates you. You compare yourself to every other dancer you see, and you find yourself wanting. You don’t think that you can hold a candle to what is out there…or just the opposite: you think you’re better than the girls that are performing professionally, and you become bitter about the fact that they are all being offered jobs and gigs, and you aren’t. You lose your drive. You lose your passion. And you give up.

You feel so unloved, because the one man that you can picture yourself being with will not give you a chance…he gives other girls chances all the time…but not you. You wonder what is wrong with you, that you’re good enough to be his best friend, and good enough to fuck on a regular basis, but not good enough to be in a real, romantic relationship with…and you are sad, because you know that if he gave you a chance, that you would be so good together…he wouldn’t have to compromise who he is for you. You love and accept who he is. And he does love you…just not like that. Is anyone ever going to love you the way you want to be loved? Are you asking too much? So you cry. You cry all the time…especially on the rare occasion that he shows you extra attention, like a kiss on your birthday. Well, you’re just so damn happy, you can’t sleep. You cry and you cry and you cry. And you tell him the truth, that it was the greatest birthday gift ever, but that you aren’t taking it the wrong way…but deep in your heart, you wish that he had meant it another way.

All of these things, and so much more…your inability to find spiritual contentment, your addictions, your compulsions, your cynicism about life in general…all these things begin to weigh down on you, no matter how much good there is, no matter how many great days you have…

I fucking hate my life.”

This becomes your mantra.

You say this over and over, day in, day out, and it doesn’t matter what happened. It could be the smallest thing:

You stub your toe. “I fucking hate my life.”

Your coworker makes a mistake. “I fucking hate my life.”

You say the wrong thing to your best friend. “I fucking hate my life.”

Your internet goes down. “I fucking hate my life.”

Until the thought makes its way into your head: “I should just kill myself and get it over with.”

The first time this thought crossed my mind recently, it shook me to my core. I haven’t thought about killing myself in 10 years. Well…unless you count that 2 week period on Zoloft, when I wanted to drive my car off the 15S on ramp every day…but that was just the medication being stupid.

Of course, the first thing that I thought AFTER thinking “I should just kill myself and get it over with.” was this: “Really Mina? Are you fucking nuts? Do you want to lose EVERYTHING that you have? Wake up. That’s not the answer.”

And yet…the thought continues to enter my mind, at least once a day.

Now, realistically, I know that this is not healthy behavior. I know that I should probably seek professional help, and commit myself to a hospital for a while, until I learn to cope.

But realistically, I can’t do that.

I have bills to pay. I have rent. What would happen to my apartment if I was locked up? How would my bills get paid if I wasn’t working? Short term disability does NOT pay that much.

I can’t disappear without letting my friends and family know where I’m going, either, and this would kill them. My mom, anyway. She’d die. I really think she would. She’d blame herself, like she always does, every time I show signs of being depressed. If she only knew.

Not to mention the fear I have of losing my best friend. He’s always telling me that I’m being silly when I have my sad days, and telling me all the amazing things that I have going on…I know he doesn’t understand. He wouldn’t understand why I struggle with these thoughts every day. I’m worried about his reaction when he reads this blog. I hope he understands, that he is one of the reasons I keep hanging on. He is one of the reasons that I don’t hurt myself, or take any final action.

The thing is about suicide…it is a very very permanent solution to a temporary problem. Or problems.

So things are bad right now. So I can’t get past the darkness today. There will be a time when the darkness is so far away, it will just seem like a bad dream. Hell, look at the last 10 years of my life!

Granted, no, they weren’t the best years of my life…they were rough, and they were hard. But I didn’t think about killing myself every day during that time. I know that I can get there again, if I’m persistent. If I keep hanging on, no matter how much it hurts.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, I’m making me stronger by forcing myself to stay in this world, day by day. One more day at a time. Every day, I get a little stronger. Even if its just a fraction of an inch, I’m stronger.

These hard times will pass. As impossible as it might seem…

What keeps me going is thinking about how selfish it would be of me to take my own life. Suicide may be painless for those who die, but for those left behind, it leaves nothing but a mess, bitterness, confusion and emptiness.

I think about my mom, who has so bravely battled cancer, who would be crushed if she ever received the call “Your daughter overdosed on sleeping pills.” My sister…who has a matching dragonfly tattoo on her hip just like mine…how devastated would she be if she was told that I’d slashed my wrists in the bathtub?

I consider the friends that I have…even though I don’t want to burden them with the garbage that goes on in my head…I know that they would be sad if I took my own life. Not that their worlds would be shattered, but I can’t cause the people I care for that much pain.

What about my girl friend who sends me adorable pictures every day, because she knows what I’m going through? I’ve been as much a pillar in her life as she has been in mine…how could I take away one of the only female friends that she has because I feel at this ONE moment in time that life has no meaning?

My best friend. The man I love. The one person on the planet who understands me, and knows everything about me…well…except that I think about killing myself every day…what would that do to him? All the years that he’s invested in me…all the encouragement, all of the love that he’s shown, all of the times that he’s just held me while I cried, all of the times that he’s known just what I needed…I can’t do that to him…

So I press on. Because, true to my nature, I can’t put myself, my selfishness, my selfish thoughts, above those I love. I want to take care of them…and as bad as things might be for me now, they would be worse for my loved ones if I left.

Besides, all things considered, all the bad shit that comes up every day, I have SO much that is worth living for. Things that haven’t happened yet…even things that probably have no chance of happening for that matter, but I’d rather be alive and give the Universe the opportunity to surprise me.

If I kill myself, I’ll never see Egypt.
I’ll never see another VNV Nation show.
I’ll never travel to Germany to see Straftanz perform.
I’ll never meet David Tennant and have him fall head over heels in love with me. (like that would ever ACTUALLY happen, but hey, a girl can dream right?)

I’ll never publish all of the stories, poems and novels that I have swimming around in my head.
I’ll never see who my nieces and nephews grow up to be.
I’ll never spend another birthday with my parents, my aunts and uncles, sister and her kids.
I’ll never dance again.
If I kill myself, I’ll never be able to enjoy the beauty of a sunset on the beach in San Diego. I’ll never hold another beautiful baby.
I’ll never kiss the man I love ever again.
I’ll never get another tattoo.

I’ll never geek out over Doctor Who episodes with my friends.
I’ll never enjoy the quiet of my own apartment.
Never enjoy a cup of PG Tips tea with milk and sugar while soaking in a hot bath.

Never watch Harry Potter by candlelight again.
Never laugh with my friends.
Never cry with my friends.
Never be there for my friends and family when they need me.

There is SO much good in the world…So much good in each of our lives.

No matter how bad things seem, no matter how bad things ARE, they are never bad enough that you need to end your life.

You. Yes you. I’m talking to you, right now.

Your husband cheated on you. It will be ok.

Your kids “hate” you and are on drugs. It will be ok.

You lost your job. It will be ok.

You feel that no one understands you. It will be ok.

Your ex screwed you over and took your child away from you. It will be ok.

You are bullied and ridiculed every day for your looks or your sexual orientation. It will be ok.

You have no money, no place to live, and no food to eat. It will be ok.

There is no situation so dire that you can’t get help somehow. You feel as though there is no one who would care if you took your own life. I understand, and I am here to tell you that you are WRONG. There is always someone who would be saddened. There is always someone who will care.

I care.

I may not know you, but I know that your life is precious. I know that your life is worth saving. I know that if you end your life, you will be robbing the world of a person capable of doing great and wonderful things.

Not everyone is as strong as I am forcing myself to be. I should be in counseling right now, but my situation prevents me from being able to do so. I have no car, no money, and no way to take time off work right now. So I have to be strong. I can’t let these thoughts take root in my mind any more. I try my best to squash them as soon as they come.

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I squash one, and 10 more come to replace it.

If you can’t do it on your own, please get help. Find an outreach program. If you have insurance, most places offer a free Employee Assistance program that will give you a few free counseling sessions. Its worth looking into. I saw an amazing counselor who really helped me a lot. I’d love to see her now, if I could get myself to her…

I’m telling you now, though, that you are worth it. No matter how bad things seem, no matter how bad things ARE…they are never so bad that you have to take your own life.

Hell, just tonight, I had a breakdown at Walmart because of some stupid shit, and guess what words I uttered as I cried in the parking lot? “I fucking hate my life.”

But while I may hate my life, and while you may hate yours, its the only one we have. Well, maybe not if you believe in reincarnation, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll REMEMBER this life if you are reincarnated. Do you really want to throw it away because of some hard times?

I’m not saying that things aren’t as bad as you think they are. I know that when you are feeling depressed and suicidal, that no matter how “silly” the bad things may seem to others, they are devastating to the person experiencing them. But devastating as they are, things WILL get better.

Your life is worth saving. My life is worth saving.
Keep pressing on, keep pushing. You can make it. You can do it. You don’t have to be silently suicidal anymore. Get help. Be strong. Make yourself stronger. I believe in myself enough to do it, and I believe in you, too.

the 15 things I discovered while on my walk today.

15. Proper shoes are a must. I now have lovely blisters on my feet, and they hurt. I’m going to soak in another hot bath here, in a minute. This should be a given, but my two pair of gym shoes are falling apart, so I wore my boots. Never again.

14. I must purchase a backpack that I can wear ON my back, rather than carrying a satchel type bag. The weight of what I’m carrying needs to be evenly distributed on my back.

13. Being outside makes me happy.

12. I like to sing while I walk, but…it makes breathing hard.

11. I’m so pretty the way I am. Dolores O’Riordan says so. 🙂

10. Music makes walking so enjoyable.

9. I really really REALLY do LOVE to listen to traditional Irish music.

8. Something about hearing bagpipes pulls at my heartstrings, as if I’m being called home.

7. People like to look at me funny when I belly dance down the street.

6. I am a weird, crazy mother fucker. “I like being weird. Weird’s all I’ve got. That and my sweet style!”

5. I’d like to take walks every Saturday.

4. Accomplishing a goal, even one as small as “taking a walk to the library” makes me REALLY REALLY happy, and makes me feel like I’ve actually done something good for myself.

3. I feel amazing.

2. If I focus my energy on something positive when a negative though enters my head, I really CAN overcome those thoughts.

1. My life…is really really amazing. No matter what curve balls are thrown my way, no matter how down I get. My life is amazing.