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.

 

 

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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

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.

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!

The Great Divide…

“Just for a second, look into your heart as you stand and look across the great divide. Remember all the things that you will leave behind as you set out to cross the vast and great divide…You still pulled victory from shattered hope. Count your doubts with broken smiles, covered your hurt in your pride. No need for reasons, none to confide. Look back and bid farewell for one last time.” ~VNV Nation

Yes, I will admit…I’m posting VNV Nation lyrics because I am so unbelievably excited for the shows next week. 3 shows, 3 cities…I can’t wait. But I’m also posting these particular lyrics because they are speaking volumes to me, to my life recently.

I feel like I have grown so much in just a few short months. My outlook on things has become decidedly more positive. Yes, I have my days. Everyone does. Especially the last few days, with the migraine from hell wreaking havoc on my body, mind and emotions; the last few days have been a downward spiral of negativity for me. But, I’m feeling physically better today. I’m feeling emotionally pretty damn good today. I had a really good day yesterday. I got a lot of work accomplished that I’d been putting off all week, due to the migraine. I baked a “dark chocolate” and raspberry cheesecake. (Dark chocolate was in quotes because it didn’t quite turn out as well as I’d have liked.) I made spaghetti sauce from scratch. I cleaned the entire apartment…other than my office. I still need things for that room before I can clean. I cooked a really good, nice dinner for Morgan and I, and we vegged out and watched “Buffy” last night. It was a really good day. The best part was…I was by myself for most of it.

I’ve gotten a bit off topic here, sorry about that.

I believe its an important part of my growth, to show that I’m ok being alone. I still don’t prefer it. I’d rather have friends with me, and around me a lot of the time. But if I have to be alone, I’m ok. I have things that I love to do that I can do. Cooking all day yesterday made me feel wonderful! Granted, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but I took some advice about how to make it better, and will be working on it for the next time I make the sauce. Before I would have just cried. I didn’t even tear up!

I went to the library the other day and picked up a ton of books. I go through cycles where I forget just how much I LOVE to read. Reading is nurturing to my soul. Whether I’m reading a good novel, or self help books, or biographies…I LOVE to read. As an aspiring writer, it also helps to motivate me. I’m going to work on my short stories tonight, and then…well…I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I’m still not sure, but its something that I desperately want to try…

I’m doing things for me these days. If other people happen to benefit, so be it. But I’ve gotten back on track with my new year’s resolution: to be #1 in my own life. I’m not putting up with drama, or drama causers, or bullshit anymore. I’m doing things that I enjoy, and that I think are fun. Yesterday was just one example. I LOVE to bake. I don’t do it enough. It just so happens, that I decided to try to bake a cheesecake…and Morgan benefited from it. (as will others, if I decide to share. It was pretty good. Not as good as the red velvet, but its a work in progress!)

The other thing I’m very proud of myself about is my will power this week. I decided after trying on my dress for my Black Belt Ceremony/birthday bash that I need to drop a few pounds. So…I stopped drinking coffee. I stopped drinking soda. All week last week, after Monday (or was it Tuesday?) I had water only. Yesterday I had a cup and a half of tea, and about a half a cup of Dr. Pepper. Today, I’m having a cup of Earl Grey while I sit at Starbucks and write. I have 2 bottles of water in my bag for the rest of the day. After cutting out JUST coffee and soda, and watching what and how much I eat (no fast food), I’m down 2.5 pounds in 1 week. Healthy, and happy. Now that this stupid migraine has gone away, I’m going to do some cardio and yoga this week as well. Partially to help me lose this weight, but partially because I feel better as a person when I work out. I have more energy, I’m happier…especially yoga. I love the mind/body connection.

I feel like I’m taking better care of myself, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’m spending more of my time talking with people who uplift and support me (thank you Morgan and Joy) and spending less time worrying about those who bring drama into my life. I’m watching what I do and say, to make sure that they align with how I truly feel, lest I bring drama into my OWN life. I’m continuing to be true to myself and my feelings. I feel less like a doormat.

“ Remember all the things that you will leave behind as you set out to cross the vast and great divide.” I’m remembering. And I’m bidding “farewell” to the doubts. The Negativity. The drama. The fear. The helplessness. The lack of self control. The craziness. The jealousy. The self-loathing, self-defeating…the self-hatred.

I’m stepping out across the great divide…and into a better, brighter, more healthy future for myself.