Time to let this fall from my hands…

Random musings for a Friday morning:

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about friendship these days.
What makes a good friend.  Am I a good friend?  How strong or fragile are friendships these days?  Are you really a friend if it takes just one tiny thing for you to not want to be around someone? Is the fragility of our friendships intensified by how offended everyone gets about everything these days?

Am I a good friend?  I try to be.  I try to be supportive of my friends, and what they want to do, what they are passionate about.  When I have the ability to, I like to help my friends out: drive them places, buy lunch, get a little gift, go to a performance, babysit, pet sit, house sit.  Above all, I really try to be there and be available for them.  If they need someone to listen to, cry to.  Need advice.  Need a hug.  Need cheese and wine.  Need a night out.

By the same token…when others don’t do these things for me, it upsets me.  Not that friendship is a “Do this for me, and I’ll do this for you” arrangement, because its not.  But if I am constantly inviting you to come see me dance, because I want to share my passion with you, and you never ever EVER come to see me…that hurts.  That makes me feel like you don’t care about what I’m passionate about.  I understand that people have lives.  But if I always make an effort to share in your passion…can’t you do the same for me one time?

I think of my friends from back home.
My friends that I’ve not really been in much contact with outside of casual Facebook interactions…but these same people, the people I’ve knows for 15 years or more…many or most of them are people that I can talk to as if no time has passed.  We get along.  We trust each other.  There’s no weird tension.  I am not afraid of offending these people.  They  know who I am, who I’ve always been.  We can disagree, and even argue without worrying about losing each other.

I look at my friends here in Vegas, and I do have some friends that I feel that way about.

But the longer I’m here, the less I feel that many of my friendships are “real.”
Maybe its just Vegas.
I recently saw a girl that I am not friends with, that I haven’t spoken to for 6 years come up to me and try to hug me, and she said she loved me.    No, honey, you don’t.  You’re high, and a drama addict.  I’m not your friend, to be honest, I don’t even LIKE you.  I haven’t given this girl the impression that we are friends, but here she is, trying to be all “I love you” to weasel her way into my life.

How many others here are like that?  How many will say they love me to my face, but talk about me behind my back?
How many friends invite me over, begrudgingly?  How many friends only put up with me because I’m friends with their friends?
How many friends keep their true feelings about me hidden away?

I’m not asking for a million friends.  Lord knows that I don’t get to see or talk to the ones that I have now.
I just want quality friends.  I want people who truly care about me and about my husband.  I want people in my life who are honest, who will tell me to my face if there is a problem.  People who don’t thrive on drama or chaos. Obviously I know that avoiding things like this are difficult, but I just don’t want to be around people who thrive on it.  People who seek out drama like a bloodhound, to insert themselves into someone else’s business.

The thing is, life is too short to spend energy on people who don’t care.  Or people who have no respect for you.  Or fake people.  Or people who talk about me behind my back, and resort to high school behavior.

I want friendships that last.  I want people who are willing to fight for our friendship.  Not people who are willing to drop me (or us) without even trying to fix things.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve lost people that I thought I’d be growing old with.  People who were in and at my wedding.  People I’ve been intimate with.  I don’t understand why.  I don’t understand what happened.  I haven’t changed, other than trying to make myself a better person.  My husband hasn’t changed: he’s still the crazy, uninhibited, caring, passionate person he’s always been.  Sure, both of us have been a little on edge lately, but with friends starting to drop left and right, wouldn’t you be?

Then there’s the strain of people who want to remain friends with me, who aren’t friends with my husband, or vice versa.  Morgan has friends that I don’t want to have a relationship with.  Some of these people I still care for, but I cannot be friends with them.  It isn’t healthy for me.    Others, I simply cannot stand, whether its due to their character or something they have personally done to me…I can’t do it.  I can’t even fake being nice to some of these people.   It makes things difficult on both of us, and in turn, can make things awkward for other friends. We don’t ever want to do that to our friends…

I have friends who six months ago called me family, who can’t even give me a “like” on Facebook posts anymore.

And it upsets me.

Truly.  I don’t give love or trust easily.  I’ve been hurt a lot in the past.  Especially in the past 2 years.  I’m cautious and anxious about investing in people.  But once I’m there…once I love you, I love you.
I don’t understand how people who once said that they loved me can barely speak to me when I haven’t done anything.

Maybe I’m being passive aggressive by making this post, but if I’m honest…they will probably never see it.  I feel like they don’t see or comment on anything I post anymore, even though I do on their things.

Not that Facebook is the be all end all of friendship, but when its been the primary form of communication for years…getting cut off like that…I don’t get it.

Once again, here I am, affected far too much by other people.

Maybe the problem is my standards are too high.
I expect people to treat me and my family with respect and consideration.  I know that I certainly try to do that in my interactions with others.  I’m not perfect, by any means, but…man.  I’m just so flabbergasted at how quickly I’m seeing friends drop, and seeing other friends get dropped for ridiculous reasons.  Or with what seems to be no reason at all.

Me? I don’t unfriend or drop my friends lightly.   I do when I feel disrespected.  I do when I am being used.  And on Facebook, if we NEVER interact, I’ll unfriend you, because you’re most likely not really a friend anyway.

I miss my friends.
I know its ok to miss them.
Hell, I miss Pat sometimes so much it makes me want to cry.

But that friend…the Pat I loved and miss…he doesn’t exist anymore.

Do these friends not exist anymore too?  I hope that’s not the case.  I keep hoping that maybe…just maybe, something will happen, and things will be good like they used to be.  We can all hang out without there being awkwardness.  There can be poker games, and karaoke, and pool parties, and late nights drinking.  Dinners, and games, and all of the things that I’m missing, terribly.

I feel I should note…this is not about just one group of friends, but several people who have dropped out of my life over the last couple of years.  I know it might seem like I’m focusing on one group, but I promise, I’m not.  There have been several, two of whom basically vanished without a trace.

As it is now, Morgan and I have been spending a lot of time with my blood family recently.  This, I am grateful for.  I’m beyond grateful to have a family who is supportive, loving, and caring.  I’m even more grateful to be so close to them.  When we lived on the other side of town, we had a hard time getting over to see them.

This year, we have been doing dinner with them at least once a month, if not every week or two.  We’ve seen movies together.  2 days ago, we took my niece and nephew up to Mt Charleston together, and just had the most beautiful day.

I’m also grateful for those friends who remain.  Friends who truly ARE family.  Who can do the hard talks, and the fun times.  Who understand when things aren’t going great that we do love them, we just can’t afford to go anywhere.  Friends who consistently offer support and love during trying times.  Friends who are incredibly selfless.

I hope that someday I might get back to that point with some of these absent friends.  I know for a few, its too late, if for no other reason than I haven’t had a way to talk to them in years.  But for some…my heart still aches.

Maybe I am too sensitive.

But its who I’ve always been.

From My Hands
VNV Nation

So much I thought, I’d have to say
though I try to speak, my meaning strays
We can”t avoid the facts that brought us here
I have come to say goodbye

The lies I try to tell with my own eyes
An act of pride, a wilful compromise
Please understand how torn I am
when I walk away from here

I lament the moments we won’t share
If I am far too sentimental, I apologize
Please understand, this is who I am
and who I’ll still be when I’ve walked away from here

You know that I am not unkind,
when I say: in the future, the past is just the past
No going back, no change of heart
But this is now
Time will not defer

My thoughts betray, so easily confess,
how long I’ll wait here after you have gone
Nothing ends but I don’t believe that now
Please don’t walk away from here

When alone, when I remember days,
nothing will change a single fact of who you were to me
Oh, come what may, forever to the end
I find it so hard to let you go

Hush now
Let it go now
There’s no need for sad goodbyes

Hush now
Let it go now
I know it’s time to go

Time to let this fall from my hands

 

 

 

Can I be your GRRRL?

Its been an interesting week, my dear readers.

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

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

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

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

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

You get the idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In short, how do I become enough for me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was inspiring.

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

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

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

 

 

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!

 

 

Healing up…or “why I don’t get paid to read X-Rays.”

The last few days have been rough as hell for me.

I had my ESWL procedure back on the 19th…and it was by far the WORST experience of my life.  Except for that time that Dr. Lesani left a surgical clip inside of me by accident.  (I say by accident, because he not only didn’t tell me he was leaving it until 2 weeks later, when a CT scan thought it was a stone, but when I had my second procedure, my GOOD surgeon, Dr. Kassahun, said that it wasn’t doing anything in there.  Sometimes they’re left in to hold a blood vessel or something, but this one wasn’t doing anything.)

Anyway. Where was I?
Oh yeah, the ESWL.

So.  We got to the hospital at 3:00pm.  I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 8am that morning. I was feeling a little dehydrated.
When the nurses tried to start my IV…they missed.  3 times.
On the last attempt, the nurse hit a nerve, sending searing hot pain into my right hand, between my middle and ring finger knuckles.

I legit cried, sobbing hysterically, for 20 minutes.  It hurt SO bad.  I’ve never had an experience as bad as this one.
The anesthesiologist came and took me back, and he gave me gas to put me under, and HE started my IV.

Doc started my procedure off by letting me know that there was a good possibility that they wouldn’t be able to blast the stone completely in one go.  Being an 18 mm stone, it was pretty big…better to set my expectations low.

My recovery was weird.  As I got further away from the surgery date, the more pain I was in.  Specifically, this past Friday and Monday, I was in so much pain I could barely see straight.  I was miserable.  Painkillers didn’t help.  Heating pad didn’t help…

I had my follow up appointment yesterday though, and got much better news than I anticipated.

You see, when I had my x-rays done about a week and a half ago, when I got them home, I looked at them, and could have sworn that I still had a big chunk of stone left.  I was ready for my doctor to tell me that we had to schedule another ESWL.

Not only was I WAY wrong…there were just a few small remnants, which doc said he thinks will be 100% passible on their own…but we also removed the stent.  Instant relief, let me tell you.  INSTANT relief.

Today, I feel a little sore.  I’m tired from being back at work and not laying down all day.  But I’m much better.

Doc also said I can start exercising again in a few days.  I figured I’d wait till I’m no longer peeing blood, and then I’m going to GO for it!!!

Its a relief to me though.
I truly am SO excited to get back into the swing of things, and back into my routine.

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

 

 

Journey into Bullet Journaling…

Yes, its true.

I’ve hopped on “the bandwagon” and started a Bullet Journal.
Someone I know mentioned this lovely little system on a Facebook group I’m a part of, and I was intrigued.  I love journals!  I love planners!  I love keeping track of my time using fun, tried and true methods!  SIGN ME UP!

I have a mild obsession with planners, notebooks, school supplies…I thrill over new pens and markers, I swoon at the scent of new colored pencils, and notebooks?  Give me ALL of them!

I made the mistake of doing a quick google/Pinterest search about bullet journals, (or #bujo for Instagrammers)and was immediately overwhelmed.  So many beautiful pictures of art, doodles, trackers, spreads, layouts!  It was inspiring, but a little frightening at the same time.  I’m not artistic.  Do I need to be artistic to do this?

The good news?  Nope!  You don’t need to have an artistic bone in your body to be a successful bullet journaler!

I watched this handy dandy video, which set my mind at ease.  The actual process for bullet journaling is SO easy, simple,and minimal!  I hope you’ll watch the video, but you basically have monthly, weekly, and daily “logs” where you record tasks, events, and notes.

Bullet Journaling, like so many things, has taken off all over the world.  The awesome thing about it is, its completely open to interpretation and expression.

I’ve modified the set up several times now.  I’ve been using this system for 3 months, and its very helpful in making sure that I take care of things that I tend to forget about.  I’m still working out which layout is best for me.  I felt that daily logs weren’t beneficial, because I’m honestly  not all that busy, but at the moment, weeklies are feeling very small, and like I don’t have enough space for everything that I want to log.  I may have to find a happy medium.  And a bigger notebook!

That’s the other amazing thing about this system.  Unlike other planners you have to order and wait for, you can use literally ANY notebook for this!  Of course, the Bullet Journal website sells notebooks specially designed for this system.  The many Facebook groups I’m a part of (seriously, I’m in 3 or 4 groups JUST for people who Bullet Journal!) tend to recommend Leuchtturm, or Moleskine notebooks.  Some people recommend just a standard Composition Notebook.   Me?  Right now, I’m using this beautiful journal that was gifted to me last Christmas.  This particular journal feels too small for me, but its definitely getting the job done.

A lot of people have asked me “Don’t you have an app for all that?”  “Why not just keep your calendar on your phone?”  “Don’t you hate having to lug a notebook and pen with you all the time?”

The answers, for me, were simple.
1. I don’t have access to my phone all the time.  In fact, the majority of my day, I cannot take my phone out.  At work, I only get to have my phone out during breaks and lunch.  Plus, I really want to start unplugging more.  I feel like I’m attached to my phone when I’m out, and I don’t like that.  I don’t want to add one more thing to the list of reasons why I NEED my phone.
2. I’ve never had much luck getting my calendars to work on my phones anyway: reminders don’t occur, or the events just don’t save.
3.  I always have pens with me anyway, and have you SEEN my purse?  That thing is a bottomless pit of doom.  Carrying one notebook is definitely not going to make a difference in how heavy it is!  Plus, this way, I don’t have random post-it notes floating around my purse anymore.

I love the freedom I feel with this system.  I can keep track of my work schedule, what days I’m working overtime, when my husband has gigs and court dates, etc.  Plus, like many bujo users, I also use mine to keep track of other things like water intake, workouts, knitting projects, and my weight loss!  I’ve also done two monthly challenges that I track as well.

I’ve added a few pictures below, so that you can see the progress I’ve made in my bullet journal.  You can see that I’ve gone from daily logs to a more weekly approach, at least for now, and how things are working for me.  I’ve also included pictures of my tracker pages and challenge pages:  my “No Candy October Challenge” spread, and “No Coffee November” spread.  I had a Countdown to California page where I was able to count down the days before our trip to see our favorite band and go to Universal Studios.  And finally, the spread keeping track of my knitting progress on 6 projects I’m working on.

If you are artistic, you can decorate, draw,  washi tape, etc to your heart’s content. That’s the beauty of this system.   It can be tailored to your liking!

I’ll leave you with the photos.  If you have questions,  let me know!  Check out Instagram and Pinterest for some awesome ideas! please excuse my sloppy handwriting.

This is the “yearly” spread at the beginning of the journal, or the “future log.”

This is what my first two monthly spreads looked like. Simple.

This is the new monthly layout I’m trying.

This was the first daily layout i used.

Slightly different daily. Had some fun trying out a “hand”: the American Horror Story font/hand!

Daily spreads were a little too much, so i moved to a weekly.

My current weekly

Countdown tracker

October’s Challenge: a sticker for every day I didn’t have a candy bar.

“No Coffee November”

My weight tracker!