Can I be your GRRRL?

Its been an interesting week, my dear readers.

Nothing bad  happened, but my mood has been very low, and I’d been struggling with a lot of self doubt, and self loathing.  All I could think of are the many times I wasn’t “enough,”  and the instances right now where I feel removed from my own life.

But then, I attended a conference that was all about confidence, self love, and changing the world.  You know.  General Bad-Assery.   This conference has already changed my life, and it just ended on Sunday.

Indulge me, if you will, in looking at the thoughts that were coming up the few days before the GRRRL Live Conference.  This is going to be a long post.  Please hang with me.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

Looking back over my life, as far back as I can remember…I’ve never really been the pursued in relationships.  I’ve always been the girl with the crush on the guy that doesn’t know she exists, or only likes her as a friend.  Yes, there have been one or two exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of my memories of being a teenager into my late 20s involve me doing the chasing, me keeping up most of the communications, and me falling in love with guys who just wanted to “have fun” with me, or wanted nothing to do with me.

All of these instances, I recall wondering what was wrong with me?  Why didn’t they want me? Or, why didn’t they want more?  And the reasons…Oh the reasons I came up with:
1.  I’m not pretty enough
2. I’m not thin enough
3.  Not smart enough
4. Not nerdy enough (yes, that one actually went through my mind)
5. Not Christian enough
6. Not “freaky” enough
7.  Not close enough

You get the idea.

If I ever asked anyone, the only answer I ever got was “You’re great, I just don’t feel that way about you.”  No why.  No reason.  Nothing for me to fix or work on.

I had a chat with Morgan about this the other day, as we were heading to have dinner with family, expressing my feelings on this.  I told him that I felt silly for feeling this way…I’m married, I’m happy.  But he pointed out to me that even with him, for the longest time, I was the pursuer.  I wasn’t the first choice.  He said that it had to sting, and still hurt, even though things worked out for us.  He has a point.

I try not to dwell in the past.  In the end, he fell in love with me.  Enough to want to marry me, which he said he’d never do again.
But before all that…it was just another scenario where for years I wasn’t enough.  Strong enough, and other shortcomings.  (Morgan has told me on several occasions that it wasn’t that I wasn’t enough, he just had a different set of priorities then.  I understand that and accept it…but it doesn’t change how I felt back then.)

I can’t help but feel a bit sad about this.
I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I’m not good enough.  So even when I am happy, and I’m married, and am told that I’m enough…I still have days where I don’t feel like I am.  The past comes back to haunt me.

Of course, it bleeds over into other areas of my life too…not just the romantic side of things.  For the last 13 or 14 years, I’ve felt like I’m lacking in the dance department.  Not thin enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not talented enough.  Not connected enough.  Not good enough.  Not good enough to join troupes, not good enough to get paid gigs, not thin or pretty enough to get a restaurant gig…it gets debilitating at times.

There was a trigger to these feelings coming up now, although I’d rather not get into it.
As I said, I’m married and happy.  But it just sucks when you believe something in your gut, and you’re right about it, and then your brain says “See?  You weren’t good enough for that either.”

This concept of self love…of confidence…of being enough…where does it stem from?  Should we base our worth on the opinions of others?  Of being enough for another person or group of people?

I don’t think so, no.  Look at me.  My self worth has been based on if so and so likes me/is interested in me, etc…and its gotten me a whole lot of nothing but depression and doubt.

How then, do we change how we discover our value?  How do we look inside for our worth?  How do we, to borrow from a popular phrase these days, “Stop giving a fuck” about the opinions of others?

In short, how do I become enough for me?

Its a difficult balance, because I don’t want to downplay the opinions of the people I love.  People’s opinions DO matter (to me, anyway), but I get hung up in placing too much emphasis on their opinions instead of my own.

It doesn’t help that I generally have a pretty low opinion of myself a lot these days anyway.  I can’t lose weight.  I’m uncomfortable in my skin, and my clothes.  My clothes don’t fit, and I’ve busted the thighs of 2 pair of pants in the last week.

But…I’m healthy.  I haven’t had kidney problems since the stone was blasted in January.  I don’t have anything wrong with me medically.  My blood pressure, cholesterol, sugars, and thyroid numbers are all spectacular.  If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.

Finding a way to love myself is hard.  Its hard for a lot of us.

The best news is…at the conference this weekend, I was given tools to use.  I heard stories from women who have been in the same position that I am.  People who struggled with loving themselves.  Women who hated who they were, hated their bodies.  These women rose above adversity and grew.  They learned to love themselves.  They learned to treat their bodies well.  And now?  They are MMA and UFC fighters.  They are endurance athletes.  They are power lifters who can dead lift over 600 pounds.  They are MFCEOs of amazing companies that are going to CHANGE THE WORLD!

DO IT LIKE A GRRRL
So, this conference was presented by GRRRL Clothing.
If you aren’t aware, get ready, because this is so much more than a clothing line!  I was introduced to GRRRL Clothing by a dear friend online.  I was just starting to get into fitness again, and she knew the struggles I dealt with emotionally, so she messaged me one day and said “I’m adding you to this group.  I think you will benefit from it.  Feel free to leave its not a good fit, but I think you’ll like it.”

Well.  needless to say, I stayed an d loved it.

What I found in the Facebook Group was a ton of women who are committed to building each other up.   To being supportive.
In so many instances, society and other influences pit women against each other.  We’re told that we’re each other’s competition.

And that’s the beautiful thing about GRRRL.  #notyourcompetition is a mantra.  A code of ethics.  A lifestyle.

Think about it.  As women, how many times do we look at each other and think something negative?  “Could those shorts be any shorter?”  “She’s probably had work done.”  “Cocky Bitch, who does she think she is?”

Why do we say those things?  Why can’t we say something positive?  “Look at that girl, owning her amazing legs, and being comfortable in her own body!”   “Damn girl, you look amazing!”  “Look at all that confidence.  That is badass.”

The other AMAZING thing about GRRRL Clothing is, they don’t use traditional sizing for their clothing.
As a line of workout clothes: leggings, sports bras, shorts and tops, all of their sizes are named after badass female athletes, and are based on measurements.
For example:  I am a size Amenah in pants.  Amenah is a power lifter and competes in strongman competitions.  She’s stunningly beautiful, strong, and just generally a badass.  There’s also size Kortney, after the MFCEO of the company.  You have have seen videos of Kortney floating around the internet…she’s pretty well known for CRUSHING WATERMELONS WITH HER THIGHS. She’s a badass.  And…she’s cool as hell.

So, rather than sticking to the stigma of S, M. L, XL, XXL, etc…now women can take their measurements and say “I’m a size Kortney.  Fuck yes!”  Or, with the addition of their newest size:  “I’m a size Sam!  Yes! Samantha Coleman is an incredibly strong woman! That’s amazing!”

Do I sound like I drank the Kool-aid?  I know I do.  But I seriously love and believe in what this company is trying to do for women.  Imagine how incredible the world will be when we can stop tearing other women down, and start building other women up!  Women are FIERCE.  We just need to harness that fierceness and work together.

GRRRL Live 2017: Break Free in LAS VEGAS!
So, now that you have a little background about the company…Kortney and the crew had this incredible idea to hold a conference for the GRRRL Army.  As women, we all struggle with things.  Addiction, eating disorders, depression, self harm…there’s always something going on with us.  Even those of us who have it all together a lot of the times.  No one can be perfect every day.

I’m not going to go into explicit detail about all of the speakers, or the things that were covered for a couple of reasons.
1.  There’s a lot.  Like, I seriously took 4 pages of notes on just ONE of the many speakers that were there over the weekend.
2.  This was a conference that had sold tickets, and I don’t feel right just GIVING away all of the information.   Plus…you know.  There’s always next year if you want in on the awesome scoop.

What I will say is this.
I learned several new tools for helping myself, including one that I started last night:  Putting the fork down in between bites while eating.  Checking in with my body.  Meditations to forgive myself.  Ideas on how to really get in touch with myself on a deep level.
I heard stories from incredible women who have been where I’ve been.  Different circumstances, different problems, but at the root of it:  women who were at rock bottom, and overcame the problems.  Women who are super successful, and happy now.  They found something they were passionate about: whether it was MMA, Running, Power lifting, or Laughing.  They found what they were passionate about and they pursued it, full force.

It was inspiring.

Seeing so many women, feeling the same things.  Processing the same information a bunch of different ways…women breaking down and crying with people they’d never met before.  Being supportive of the brave women who shared their stories…learning that we are enough.  We are not things.  We are not objects.  We are women.

It kept coming back to me that I’m really not alone in my life.  No matter how isolated I might feel sometimes.  I’m not alone.  I have a motherfucking GRRRL ARMY behind me, helping me, supporting me.

And with their support…nothing can stop me.  Nothing.

 

 

Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog…

Double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…

Did you know that when Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, and was writing the witch’s scene, that the ingredients listed are code?

Witches didn’t really use Newt eyes or dog tongues.

I ran across this information the other day while researching what I’m hoping will be my new hobby:  gardening.

I’ve decided, as a newly practicing witch, that I want to grow my own herbs for spells, incense, and just for general use in the kitchen.  There’s something strangely appealing to me about being able to pick fresh basil from a plant I’ve grown and tended to from seed.

The trouble is, I don’t really have much of a green thumb.
When I was younger, I never had much interest in growing things, but I’ve managed to kill a couple of bamboo plants…and I’ve heard that this is really hard to do.

My mom, on the other hand, has an amazing touch  when it comes to plants.  I remember the last day of fourth grade, my teacher sent me home with a spider plant that was on the brink of death.   My mom nursed it back to health, and it is STILL alive.  That was 27 years ago.

My mom has kept a plant alive almost as long as she’s kept me alive.
That’s fucking impressive, I don’t care who you are.

My hope now, being older and wiser, is that I will be able to tend these plants, and keep them alive, even if its just for a few months at a time.

I’ve wanted an herb garden for a long time now, but ever since my recent venture into witchcraft, the need has been overwhelming.  Something deep in me really wants for me to get in touch with the earth.  To dig in the dirt.  To grow and tend to something.

The good news is, that I’ve had my herbs for a little over a week, and I haven’t killed any of them yet.  Granted, my Sweet non-GMO Basil is wilty…but I think it might be too humid for it?  My other basil is doing well, as is my thyme and oregano.  I had tried to set up a schedule for watering, but so far I’ve found that just checking the soil daily seems to work.  I don’t water them if the soil feels damp.  If its dry, I water them, and make sure that they drain well.

So far, its much easier that I’d anticipated…but its only the first week.

I’m excited to have a little windowsill garden.  I’m already looking at what other herbs I can grow.  I want to get some catnip (I thought I had, but the basil had been mislabeled…although I should have known by the smell. Foodie fail.), and I desperately want to get some rosemary.  That I can keep outside on the front stoop.  I just need a pot big enough, and maybe a small stool so the dog doesn’t try to pee on it when we walk him…he can’t help himself sometimes, and I want to use that for cooking and spells.

I’ve already used my thyme in a healing brew, I made some thyme tea for Morgan and I.  We both have been feeling pretty under the weather, and so I lightly bruised some thyme from my garden, steeped it in hot water for 10-15 minutes, and added a little lemon and honey:  it smelled amazing, and tasted really good too.

Having this garden excites me.  I like being able to say “I helped this grow.  This tea that we’re drinking was grown by me.  The basil in the spaghetti sauce came from my garden.”  I have a sense of pride in being able to keep a plant alive.  Unlike a dog, it can’t whine when it isn’t well, and doesn’t tell me when it wants to go for a walk.  Not really.  The leaves might wilt a little bit, but its really up to me to take the initiative to check on them every day.

I’m also starting to feel a little more connection to the earth, which is important to me with my newfound spirituality.

I’m very in touch with fire.  I love to burn incense and candles, when we had the house I loved having a fireplace.   I already use fire and smoke in my rituals.

But fire is really the only of the elements I really feel a connection to, especially as a fire sign.  I want to start getting myself connected to earth, air, and water.

Earth was the one pressing at my spirit.  For the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve wanted a garden.  I didn’t want to plant one at the old house, because I knew that we wouldn’t be there long enough.   I’ve always loved the idea of growing things to use in teas, and more recently to make incense, or bath satchels.

I’ll update again after I’ve successfully kept these alive for a month.  When I’ve made it a month, I’m going to buy myself some more herbs to grow.  I plan to have a lovely little garden on my window sills, and patio.

Basil!  Don’t worry, a friend told me that the flowers AREN’T as good as I thought they were. They’ve been removed.

Creeping Thyme.  Makes great tea!

Oregano!

 

 

A healthy shift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While I’m here, I’m going to dance.

Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive 2015

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

 

furious-dancing

The Conjure Woman Exercise

This is the third exercise I am posting from my online book club.  For reference of what book we are using please click here.
This exercise deals with The Conjure Woman.  The Magic Woman.  The Root Worker Woman. As a newly practicing witch, this exercise excites me.  I’ve had a few encounters with magic recently, and I love rituals.  The exercise calls to us to write down a recipe, or a “Witch’s Brew.”
I’ve actually taken the concept, and written a bit of a poem detailing my ritual, and how I’ve been practicing.   I love magic.  I love learning about it.  I love feeling it.  I love seeing it at work in the world.  In this day and age, we could all use a bit more magic.  

the sun is setting
preparations are underway:
Cleanse your body, wash your hair…
You are meeting Divinity tonight.
Set your altar.
Items to charge in the moonlight.
A pot for burning.
Candles.
Incense.
Offerings.
Clothe yourself all in white, in whatever makes you feel beautiful.
Adorn your head in rainbows.
Now, it is time.
Light the smudge stick:  White sage, Cedar, Palo Santo.
Inhale the purifying smoke.  Speak to the Divine within.
Prepare your spirit.
Call the quarters, with peace and love in your heart.
Send your petitions.  Speak what you desire to manifest.
Burn what no longer serves you.
Release.  Cry.  Smile.
Bathe and bask in the New or Full Moonlight.
Sit a while in silence.
The Divine, she is Within you.
She is All around you.
She is YOU.
Powerful. Peaceful.  Feminine.  Magical.
Dismiss the quarters:
In Peace With Us Abide.
Have a drink.
Remember
Your Divinity.

moon

Random Musings for mid January

The first two and a half weeks of the year have passed.
So far, I have to admit, its been pretty awesome!

We spent New Year’s Eve drinking margaritas, eating delicious food, and playing games with some of our best friends.  Its the first NYE that Morgan hasn’t had a karaoke or DJ gig in 4 years, so it was really nice to be able to just relax.

I participated in a “Decadent Desires Challenge”  through Life Transitions for Women on their Facebook page, and not only did I win some cool prizes that I can’t wait to receive, but I have an actual plan of action to start achieving some of my deepest desires this year! It seems so simple when you sit back and make an action plan.

So, the next big thing on my agenda is surgery tomorrow.
I have an 18mm kidney stone in my right kidney.

I know.

After a year and a half of not having any kidney pain or problems, almost 2 months ago, after going running one day, I came home, and when I went to the bathroom, there was blood in my urine.
Now…I know this isn’t normal, and I probably should have had it checked a bit sooner, but, I don’t have a primary care doctor, and the urologist I had been seeing for my surgery no longer takes my insurance, so I didn’t have a urologist either.
Morgan suggested that it was my cycle.  And while I know my cycle, and knew that it wasn’t that, I convinced myself that it was.  It went away after a day.
A week later, my cycle came, the way it always does.  And then a week after that, after running again, there was more blood in my urine.

I ended up waiting longer than I should have, but after the 4th time seeing blood after a run, I decided that something wasn’t right, and that I needed to go to the ER.

After my CT, they told me I have an 18mm kidney stone.
That’s the size of a dime, in case you were wondering.   Most kidney stones are the size of a period or smaller.

So, I have to have another Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (or ESWL) procedure done tomorrow.  Its non invasive.  My recovery time should be short, and then I can get back on my C25K training, and weight lifting.
This happens tomorrow, and I’m hoping that by January 31st, that I’m feeling up to exercise.  Its been a couple of weeks since I’ve actually worked out, and I’m dying over here.

Besides my health, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and research about dance.
As a student of Arab dance for the last almost 15 years, it blows my mind how much I still don’t know.  I don’t say that out of arrogance.  There is ALWAYS something new to learn.  I’m a big fan of remaining a student for the rest of my life.  The moment I think I know everything is the moment I need to quit.

However.

Sometimes I feel like I’m LOSING information I used to have because I’ve been out of classes for so long.  I have days when I listen to a song, and I simply cannot pick out the rhythm, and I should know what it is.  I find myself pondering what maqam a song is in, and even though I’ve only studied a handful of the maqam in 3 workshops….I still beat myself up when I can’t pick it out.

I think sometimes after watching my videos on Facebook that I’m a mediocre dancer.  All I can do is pick out the trouble spots.  My arms suck.  My turns suck.  My musicality has suffered by not dancing.  I feel that I’ll never be as good as I want to be.  That I’ll never travel and teach.  That I’m not as good as some of my peers.

But then I think about some of the compliments that I’ve received on my dancing, recently for one of them…how I’ve been told by 2 of the teachers that I HIGHLY respect and admire, who are in a class all their own…who are actually Arab…one has told me that I’m a classy dancer, and the other commented that I dance “very Arab” which is the highest compliment I believe I could ever receive.  These people aren’t the kind of people who will simply compliment you just for the heck of it, or to stroke your ego.

Not saying that my friends or husband would say that I’m a great dancer when I’m actually  not…but its different coming from people who are of the culture you are representing.  I want my friends to know that I love and appreciate their support and compliments too.  I always have and always will.  This is by no means a slight.

I’ve also been told by 2 strangers at different points in my dance life, just while social dancing (the “get up and dance” portion of a set at restaurants where my friends are dancing) that I must be Arab.  So I must be doing something right…

Its hard to not be in my own head sometimes though, to be honest.  Dancing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, since I was 22 years old, falling in love with the dance.  I’ve wanted to travel to Egypt to study.  I’ve wanted to travel all over the US, studying, performing and also teaching.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have taught 2 workshops at the beloved Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive before it died.  I taught a handful of extremely dedicated beginner students before I started having all of these horrible kidney troubles.
I want to get back there again, and surpass it.  I want to be able to dance full time, and actually make a living at it.

I know it can be done.  I have friends who are doing it now.
But here comes that insecurity again…they’re so much better than I am…even though I might have more years of Arab Dance under my belt, they’re able to put in the time and money to continue taking classes where I can’t right now, and haven’t been able to for several years (because of my health, mostly.)

But guess what.
I can still do it.

I just have to make getting into classes a priority this year, and I’m going to. Whether its a 5 or 6 week session, or 1 hour long private class a month, I WILL get back into class.  I WILL work my technique and improve.  I WILL perform more often, and more varied styles (Khalji anyone?  Coming up soon!).  I will make it.

Because I have the drive, and the DESIRE to do it.  To share my passion with people.

I just have to prioritize and commit…and I’m doing that right now. Insha’Allah, this year will be the year that some of these dreams come true.

Yalla!

 

Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive 2015

Me dancing at the LVBDI in 2015. This photo SO captures how dancing makes me feel. Photo by Lee Corkett

 

 

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.