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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Seems like the end of an era…

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

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

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

And yet…so very different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think we’re getting there.

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

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

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

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

 

Performance, self confidence, and acceptance…

This past  weekend, I was fortunate enough to perform at a charity event that a dear friend hosted.  We were raising money for the Sin Sity Sisters of Las Vegas, who promote HIV and AIDS awareness/assistance, and safe sex education.

Since I’ve only started dancing again recently, I’m dealing with some issues as far as body confidence, especially when it comes to my belly.

I’m usually the first to jump in and promote the amazing benefits of belly dance, one of them being increased body confidence.  Its amazing thing, to suddenly find something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin.

The last time I had performed without a body stocking was about 6 years ago.  I had just finished 6 months of P90X.  I was ripped.  I was thin.  I didn’t have back fat.  I had also been performing monthly, or bi monthly for about 8 years.  I was comfortable as a dancer, performer, and student.

As I started having issues with  my kidneys, I started dancing less.  Having constant chronic pain tends to take away a person’s desire to do anything other than lay in bed on the heating pad.  I also started putting on weight, which made me feel uncomfortable again.

For this performance, I had a friend loan me a really beautiful bedlah (bra and belt set).  I tried it on without a body stocking, and found myself looking at my reflection thinking “I’m almost there.  If I can drop 15 pounds, and wait until my scars lighten up a little, I can dance without a body stocking. ”  As if she was reading my mind, my friend said to me that I should dance without one.

Initially, my big issue was that my scars would be visible.  I’ve had 3 laproscopic procedures done:  2 robotic pyloplasties on my right kidney, and one tubal ligation/salpingectomy.  I have a total of 13 scars on my stomach.  Some of them have already faded quite a bit, but some of them are red and angry, due to post surgical weight gain.  They are truly very ugly scars.  And now, I am about to do something I never thought that I would do.  I’m going to share pictures of my scars on the internet.

Its really difficult for me to look at these scars, especially the big, misshapen ones, and think of them as anything but ugly.  They’re all over.  They’re big.  They’re even visible THROUGH my body stockings!  For the longest time, I’ve been super ashamed of them.

After this friend and I spoke, and after my husband continued to reassure me that I looked beautiful, and thin (even though I know I’m not, he complimented me on how much the costume and bare belly accentuated that I do have a small waist), I started thinking more and more about my scars.

Who would really see them?  The performance was going to be in a dark nightclub/bar setting.

Shouldn’t I be proud to show them off?  After all, 10 of them are from fixing my kidney.  Its because of the biggest and angriest scars that I’m able to dance at all right now.  If I hadn’t had the last pyloplasty, I’d probably still be having bouts of horrific pain every couple of weeks.  I’d be in the hospital, or taking pain killers just to function instead of taking classes and workshops.

As much as I wanted to accept myself, scars and all, as a plus sized dancer, its intimidating to dance without a belly cover, even without scars.  There are so many critics out there.  People who will look only at the physical appearance, and ignore the technique, passion, or musicality.  There was a video floating around a couple of months ago of a really beautiful and talented dancer performing a drum solo in her living room.  She had a beautiful shape:  not super skinny, but smaller than I am.  She was curvy and toned.  She had great technique, and really wonderful musicality.  People commented on the video about how fat she was, and that she wasn’t “a real belly dancer” because she was “fat.”  “Real belly dancers are thin” they said.

Imagine my worries about people saying similar things about me, with my much bigger waist line, and 13 ugly scars.  Similar or worse.

Of course, I know all of that is a load of bollocks.  Belly Dance is for all shapes and sizes.  I’ve seen amazing performances from dancers who are thin and muscular to thick and curvy, and everywhere in between.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.  I wanted to free my belly again.  I wanted to proudly show off my battle scars from the victory I won over hydronephrosis, and papillary necrosis.  I wanted to show that good technique and musicality doesn’t depend on what size your costume is.   I wanted to challenge myself to feel good about who I am RIGHT NOW, not who I will be in a few months.

I’ll readily admit:  I packed the body stocking, just in case I chickened out.  I also happened to be on my cycle at the time, and my emotions were a little out of whack…I wanted that security to be there and available in case I arrived at the venue and decided that a bare belly wasn’t going to happen.

It didn’t come out of my suitcase.

I’m extremely proud to say that I performed for the first time in 6 years with a bare belly.  No one commented about my scars.  No one commented about my weight.  I had people throwing money at the tip chest, and at me as I danced, which has never happened before.  (all of the tips went to the charity, by the way.)  People enjoyed my dancing.

More importantly, I enjoyed myself.  While I was up there, I had no second thoughts.  I had no thoughts of  “Can they see my scars?”  “Do I look bad?”   No, the only thing on my mind was how much fun I was having…and trying to remember Ashtelea’s choreography.
(Forgive the blurry images, sometimes dancing and snapping photos don’t mix.)

I feel liberated.  I feel free.  Who would have thought that leaving behind one extremely uncomfortable accessory would be this big of a deal…but if you look at the photos, the scars aren’t visible from the stage.  I don’t look that big.  I actually feel like I look fairly beautiful.  (A big deal for me to say that…those of you who read regularly know that I struggle with self image and confidence)

This dance style is one that should be empowering for all who perform it.  I’m proud to say that I’ve finally taken a step toward empowering myself as a woman who has been through a lot, and as a dancer.

I’m grateful for the support of my friend, and of my husband.  Without the two of them, I’d have donned that body stocking, and continued to feel bad about myself.

That’s not to say that I won’t struggle.  I’m also not saying I’ll never wear a body stocking again.  Sometimes, they are appropriate.  But at least now, I feel as though I have the freedom and confidence to choose.

**Side note:  The benefit raised $600 for the charity that night, with all of the different performers and raffles.  I’m proud to have been a part of it!!

 

Is it me, or did the room just get darker?

2016 has been a horrific year so far.
We’ve lost so many amazing artists, and today, we’ve lost another one who has touched my life on a deep, personal level.

For years, I didn’t like Prince.  Or, I should say…I never listened to him, and didn’t like the idea of him.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I thought I was too cool to like someone as big as Prince.  (I was a bit of an elitist back then…not so much now.  I like what I like, damn anyone who judges me for it.)

Then, one day, when I was about 24, I was visiting my dear friend Jake, and he put on a Prince cd.  I tried to resist.  I started tapping my foot, and bobbing my head…and after just one song (“My name is Prince”) I was hooked.

My relationship with Prince’s music wasn’t as long as David Bowie, but let me tell you…his music inspired me, and got me through some really rough times.
Specifically…I recall finding out that my first love was marrying someone else (years ago), and I listened to “There is Lonely” from Old Friends 4 Sale on constant repeat, weeping uncontrollably, and desperately trying to curb the desire to cut myself.  I didn’t hurt myself that day.  Prince’s lyrics reached out to me, and comforted me…knowing that I wasn’t alone in how desperately lonely I felt.

I have amazing memories set to Prince’s music.  One of my favorites was a night out at karaoke years ago (long before I ever sang in public)…a guy sang “Darling Nikki”, and Jake gave me a lap dance! It was hilarious.  I remember so many karaoke nights here in Vegas, where my love, and my dear friends would sing “Seven”, or “Musicology” or “Purple Rain.”

I’m heartbroken today.  2016 has claimed another of my favorite, most inspirational artists.

Thank you, Prince, for all you shared with the world.
You will be missed, greatly.

“Is it me or did the room just get darker, oh?
Is it me or did I just lay down and die?
Is this a dream or did the world just crumble at my very feet?
How in heaven will I ever be alright?
There is lonely and there is lonely
And then there is how I feel right now
Perhaps only Cain when he’d slain his brother
Could ever come close to knowing how, yeah
There is lonely and there is lonely
And then there is how I feel right now
Perhaps only Cain when he’d slain his brother
Could ever come close to knowing how
There is lonely and there is lonely
Then there is how I feel right now…”  ~There is Lonely, by Prince, from Old Friends 4 Sale

 

The year in review, and goals for 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Goals:

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

 

Personal Goals:

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

 

Dance goals:

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

 

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

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

Happy New Year, everyone.

40 before 40…a bucket list of sorts…

A dear friend of mine created a 40 before 40 bucket list a couple of years ago.

I followed her lead and made my own, either a year or two ago.   After reading the blog about the 100 things list…I decided to look up my 40 before 40…

Surprisingly…I’m actually able to cross a few things off!! Not a bad little start!!! I can’t wait to cross more off.

  1. Travel to Ireland.
  2. Learn to play a few songs on the guitar.
  3. Have a decent savings for a down payment for a house.
  4. Eat at Guy Savoy’s Vegas restaurant.
  5. Travel somewhere in the US I’ve never been, on vacation with Morgan.
  6. Cook at least 5 recipes from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
  7. Make Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington.
  8. Learn to speak Arabic semi-fluently.
  9. Make my own wine or beer.
  10. Dance in NY or Boston.
  11. Run a 5K.
  12. Dance in a pro-show.
  13. Find a job that’s satisfying, while allowing me to be financially secure.
  14. Publish my blog about suicide somewhere (paid.)
  15. Learn to Sew.
  16. Finish my arms/sleeves tattoos.
  17. Learn to make hollandaise from scratch.
  18. Develop a home yoga practice, 1-2 times per week.
  19. Kill my own dinner. (Fishing, hunting)
  20. Write a song.
  21. Go to/cosplay at GenCon.
  22. Go to the Doctor Who museum in Cardiff.
  23. Perform and record “Ghost,” and send to VNV Nation.
  24. Read the books on the “100 books to read before you die”list.
  25. Buy a car with a warranty.
  26. Plant a garden.
  27. Learn to knit socks.
  28. Knit a sweater.
  29. Knit a blanket.
  30. Get my CCW.
  31. Find out and resolve what is causing me pain in my abdominal region.
  32. Learn to hand make pasta.
  33. Volunteer at least 5 times (once a year)
  34. Go to a book signing with Neil Gaiman.
  35. Host a 1950s themed cocktail party.
  36. Make Elite Gold.
  37. Visit all of my Yelp bookmarks.
  38. Try Uni.
  39. Enter a karaoke contest.
  40. Pay off all medical debt.

a Hogswatch wish…Ho…Ho HO

“This is Hogswatch, it’s a time to be jolly, with mistletoe and holly, and other things ending in –olly.” (From Terry Pratchett’s The HogFather)

The Holiday season used to be a favorite of mine when I was a child, back in Chicago.  Snow, sledding, Christmas trees, lights, presents, and lots of time with family…

Over the last few years, however, I’ve found myself feeling a bit disillusioned by the holidays.

Part of this, I’m sure, is caused by seasonal depression.  I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, and have noticed that it is significantly worse during the winter months.  Whether it’s the cold, or the shorter days, I always seem to be a bit down once November rolls around.

This year is a little different from the last few.  While I am still struggling with my depression, I do find myself feeling a bit happier, and a bit more in the Holiday Spirit.

Could it be because I recently got married?  I’m sure that’s part of it.  In the midst of struggles, and difficulties, I find myself smiling, thinking about the day that my best friend and I officially joined our lives together as partners in life.   I’ve said it before, nothing much has changed in our relationship.  We’re still best friends, we’re still open, and we’re still crazy.  But at the same time, everything has changed.  I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I didn’t think it was possible to feel closer to this man, who I know inside and out, and he knows me the same…but I do.

This holiday season, I find myself extremely excited for a handful of parties and celebrations.  I’ve participated in a couple of gift exchanges, I’ve won a couple of items this year, I just feel festive.

I’m looking forward to our annual Hogswatch celebration.   Pork pies, sherry, and “The Hogfather” have become a yearly tradition with some friends, and I can’t wait for this year’s party.
We also have a Christmas party with our little family…the two couples who we have dinner with every Sunday night, and some other friends.

In addition, we’re also doing an after Christmas Sunday dinner complete with a white elephant gift exchange.

The only thing I feel like doing this year, that I can’t do, is decorating a tree.  I had one for a while, but the last year that I was in my apartment, about 4 years ago, it was falling apart really badly. I threw it away and never replaced it.  It would be nice to decorate this year, but with so much going on (parties, and the possibility of moving), I think it would be just too much to deal with.

As the year comes to an end, it’s natural to reflect on all that has happened this year: good and bad…and there’s been a lot of bad this year, to be truthful.
There’s been SO much good though, it really warms my heart to think about it.

I will still save my “year in review” blog for the end of the month, but as Hogswatch rolls around, I really am feeling jolly…and other things…ending in “olly.”

My beloved and I started the year off on a high note with the NYE party we worked last year on the strip.  We had our anniversary dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak with some of our closest friends, and he surprised the hell out of me with a beautiful proposal.  I’ve made several new friends through an amazing wedding planning forum.  Morgan and I travelled to California to see Underworld, the original line up!  We’ve had amazing nights with our dearest friends, Sunday dinners with people we love.  One month ago, we got married.  We had a ceremony that people are STILL talking about.  I met one of his oldest friends and his dad.  He finally got to meet my extended family.  We had an amazing weekend filled with friends, love, and each other.  We’ve had game nights, and movie nights.  Taken care of each other when the other is sick.  We adopted a puppy, so now we have TWO fur kids!  I’ve participated in 2 gift exchanges with some amazing women.  We’re looking at houses to move into that will ultimately save us some money.   And finally, we won a trip to anywhere in the contiguous 48 states: paid air fare and hotel for 3 days, 4 nights.  We can go anywhere we’d like, and so we are exploring options for a fun vacation next year.

With all the madness in the world these days, the world needs more love.  So, please allow me, from the bottom of my heart, to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday season.  Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate: from Hogswatch to Hanukah, from Yule to Christmas, from Kwanza to Pancha Ganapati, From Boxing Day to Newtonmas, and everywhere in between, may the rest of the month be full of love, light, laughter, mistletoe, holly…and yes…other things…ending in “olly.”