Of taking 10 seconds to think and where your heart is

In the spirit of being authentic-

I don’t know about y’all, but my brain has only 2 speeds. Fast and hamsters on cocaine. I get an idea and it’s off to the races. I’ll change my plans a million times before I decide on something or I’ll make a snap decision and realize that’s not what I really wanted. This makes life especially difficult for those who are stuck hauling me around until March. It also forces me to slow down and consider what I’m trying and / or wanting to do. It’s one thing when you’re only accountable to yourself and can go anywhere on a whim or change your mind at the last minute. It’s entirely another when I’ve told someone I want to go to a certain place at a certain time, then change my mind. It never hurts to take things into consideration a little longer. That’s a huge challenge for me. I know it’s not fair to the people around me to put them out of their way at the last minute. It doesn’t have to be done rightthissecond. I have the ability to slow down, think about it, and mull over what I really want out of a situation / plan of action. I’m just not used to doing it that way. As the mantra for the last year has been, trust the process and have patience.

For example, it’s no secret I’m a spender. I’ll decide I want something and I buy it. If I don’t have the cash on hand, I’ll put it on my credit card. That got me into a lot of financial trouble very quickly. I finally worked up the guts to ask someone their opinion on my finances and suggestions to improve it. I rarely give something a serious amount of thought before buying it. Even then, it only took me a week to pick out, scope out, and purchase my car when I needed a new one. My new budget doesn’t allow for that sort of thing and nor should it. Of course it allows for “fun” money and non-essential spending, but not the kind of extravagant purchases I was making. I don’t even have custody of my credit card or access to my savings account any more to prevent falling back on old (unhealthy) habits. I know what my goals are now. I know my endgame. I have the proper motivation to actually stick to the plan. By sticking to the plan, I’ll have almost all my major debt paid off in 18 months. I know when to ask for advice or help if I’m hit with unexpected expenses. Fortunately, we’re about to renew our benefits for next year. I fully intend on picking the brains of the reps for the health plans. Knowing what kind of regular care I’ll need for (likely) the rest of my life, I can make a much more informed decision. It might cost me more on the front end, but I won’t be stuck paying over $3000 in medical bills later on. It’s remembering the give and take to stay on track. It’s reminding myself of my larger goals and resisting the instant gratification. Even if I do get whacked with an unexpected expense, I’ll have the savings to cover most or all of it (though at least I know I’ll never get another DUI again. Those suckers are pricey).

This also holds true for activities. When I sit down and really think, my heart is in dance. It’s been that way for 16 years. I define myself first and foremost as a dancer (more specifically a ballet dancer). Aerial work is a nice balance to dance because it works the other half of my body. If I take the time to really listen to what that little voice is telling me, it’s to go back to my roots. The odd pole class here and there may be fun, but I know from my past experiences trying pole and other exotic dance that it won’t feed my spirit the same way traditional dance does. It’ll cost me double what it did to sign up to get out of the pole contract. If I’d tried out a few classes first and thought about it, I wouldn’t have signed a contract. The dance studio, bless them, offered to waive the reactivation fee if I wanted to sign up for the membership there again. I’m not sure quite yet how I’ll get to and from class there, but again, that will take some consideration. And consistency. My friends, family, and boss are doing me a huge favor. I at least owe it to them to be considerate of their time, schedules, and limitations. I can’t ask someone to drive 2 hours every morning in traffic just so I can go to an hour long class the night before. It’s not going to be a snap decision. It’s going to take some thinking, consulting, and possibly bribes to work things out in a way which works for everyone. Then in 133 more days, I can do what I want and go where I please. And you can bet I’ll never take that kind of freedom for granted again.

To those of my friends and family who read this, let it be known how much it means to me for all you’ve done. From sending me a card or a text just to brighten my day to hauling my ass all over creation on a regular basis, I love you all for it. I owe you a debt of gratitude that will take a long time to be repaid. This has been one of the most challenging years of my life and you’ve all been there to hold my hand, let me cry into your shirts, and make me laugh. From halfway across the world to just down the stairs, I have a support network the envy of all. Y’all fucking rock and I love you each and every one of you more than I’ll ever be able to express in words. And now it’s on the Internet, so it will be out there forever.

XOXO!

Of daily lovefests and free lunches

Let’s perk things up a bit in here, shall we? A Sunday morning lovefest to kick off the new week.

*Riding with my boss on Friday. It was absolutely hysterical. That made me love him even more.

*Buying groceries to save money and hone my cooking skills. I stuck to fairly basic options like heat and serve or various pasta options for most of the week (I’ll be at Boy’s for 4.5 days this week). We also decided to limit ourselves to one meal out a week. Takeout gets really pricey really quickly.

*Green smoothies.

*Trying something new today. Boy & I are going to climb Stone Mountain later this afternoon.

*Working on my budget. I have a fairly simple, doable plan. I just need to stick to it now.

*Redoing my nails.

*Practicing my Italian and French consistently for over a week.

*Handstand class.

*Trader Joe’s. Inexpensive high quality food. Yum.

*Play testing one of our friends’ games last night.

*All the laughs that come with good friends and good times.

*A free lunch

*Fall weather. Time to bust out the boots and scarves.

Off to say hi to my aunt and cousins, then lunch, then a hike. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

XOXO!

 

Of the burden of pain and letting it go

It’s amazing how much pain I’m carrying around until I finally let it go.

At the last minute yesterday, Boy’s boss told him he would have to come in early and stay late today. That would mean dropping me off at 7a and waiting until God knows when to be picked up. After some scrambling, my boss agreed to pick me up and drop me off today (bless him) so I wouldn’t be stuck here for 12+ hours not being paid for at least 4 of them. All that scrambling was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I cried on the ride down and then let it go when we got back. Everything, literally and figuratively, came pouring out. I’m exhausted and I didn’t even realize it. I’m tired of being at the mercy of other people and their schedules. I’m tired of getting back up just to be knocked down again by life. I live in fear of having another seizure and having to start all over again. That I’ll get this close to being able to drive again and the clock restarts. I feel like I’m balancing plates and one misstep will set me back to the beginning. Whatever I did wrong, I’m sorry. Just stop punishing me. I’m afraid that I won’t get back up one day. That I’ll make a decision I can’t reverse. Some days, putting on clothes or brushing my teeth feels like climbing Mt. Everest in shorts during a blizzard. I put on a good face and say I’m okay because it’s not socially acceptable to say otherwise. Even if I did, no one would know how to react. It’s not a flaw on their part, just a fact of life. No one understands. I didn’t even hurt any more. I just felt a numb hole. I’ve been down that hole before. That’s a darkness I wouldn’t wish on anyone ever. It takes everything I have sometimes to fight it off. Letting all of that out finally brought the pain. As bizarre as it sounds, that’s a step. Hurting is a step up from numbness. I’m still 10 seconds away from bursting into tears if someone says a cross word to me, but I’m here. I’m doing the best I can with what I have. I haven’t really felt like working the past few days, but I’m trying. What needs to get done will be done and ready for inspection. Everything else, it’s a bit of a crapshoot.

Obviously, I didn’t go to pole class last night. It took everything I had just to get up and walk. I confirmed with the studio that it wasn’t a big deal. They’ll review everything at the beginning of class next week. I’m going to the drop in class tonight just to see what it’s all about. This will be the third pole class I’ve taken in my life, but I can follow along. If nothing else, a decade of dance classes can help with that. I can take an hour and forget about my life. I can just move my body and worry about the rest of it later. I also called the dance studio and asked about renewing my membership there. If all goes well with the new job, I’ll be able to make classes a few days a week there. They also agreed to waive the activation fee since I had to quit for a medical reason. I appreciated the gesture. Tomorrow is circus training and Sunday is canoeing. I’ve never been canoeing, so this will be interesting. If nothing else, I’ll get an arm workout out of it.

I got up. I did my hair. I put on a tiny bit of make up including red lipstick. I’m happy with my outfit. I brought my lunch in a (failed) attempt to save money. I didn’t burst into tears when I accidentally dropped my lunch in the trash. Riding in with my boss was hysterical. He’s a lot more candid outside of work. I have my heating pad to keep me warm. I’ve gotten to spend the night with Boy the past 2 nights. I have someone who is able to pick up lunch for me. Boy attempted to cook dinner for me last night. I had a candlelit bubble bath. I have a weekend full of activity, family, and quality time. I’m feeling positive about the job situation. Yoga classes start at work next week. In the last 7 days, I’ve gone to class or done some kind of exercise 4 days. I’m trying my hardest given where I am and I can be at peace with that.

My “get back up no matter how much it sucks” playlist:

Pink “Fucking Perfect”

Katy Perry “Part of Me”

Kelly Clarkson “People Like Us”

Marvelous 3 “Cigarette Lighter Love Song”

Goo Goo Dolls “Slide”

Ludo “Topeka”

Fun “Carry On”

Glee version “We Found Love”

XOXO!

Of celebrating the good moments, big and small

I looked at myself in the mirror this morning as I was getting dressed and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t judge my body and find every little thing I didn’t like. It was more “huh, I look pretty good”. That’s a really big step for me, even if it’s just a slight shift. I’m starting to see my body for the shape it is and not how I think it should look. I turned sideways and it was apparently just how much weight I’ve lost. And how much I’ve toned up in just a week. I suppose when you’re starting from scratch, early progress is a lot easier to see.

On the same topic, I took advantage of the pull up bar and captain’s chair in the house last night. One of the other aerialists said that was the easiest and best way to stay in shape if I can’t practice more complex moves. On Saturday, I got a tip to put as little weight on my feet as possible when doing negative pull ups (chin above the bar then lower myself down as slowly as possible). Ideally, I’d be only putting weight on the tips of my toes to steady myself as I lowered down into the chair. That definitely made it a lot more challenging. I tried a regular pull up and was able to bend my elbows just a little bit more than last time. Previously, I’d barely been able to life myself up. My shoulders would engage and that was about it. This time, I actually got myself to move a little bit. I’ve been doing bent leg lifts in the captain’s chair to work my lower abs. I noticed those were getting a bit easier, so I tried straight leg lifts (most advanced is straddle lifts). I was actually able to do 10 of them, granted I wasn’t getting into a perfect pike. I was still getting my legs up to about 60* before having to go back down. That was all the motivation I needed to keep going. It’ll be tough giving myself the night off tonight, but I’ll probably still stretch. My first pole class is tomorrow and I don’t want to start out after doing an arm workout the night before. Maybe once I get a little stronger we can do that.

On that note, off to take the night off.

Of pearls of wisdom and the two men who love me the most

From my dad:

His side of the family is notoriously judgmental. It’s something he’s had to work on curbing over his lifetime. I know I can be extremely judgey. If I think you’re less intelligent than I am, I judge you. If you participate(d) in Greek life, I judge you. If you’re into certain things or certain kinds of humor, I judge you. It’s extremely rare that I’ll change my opinion once I’ve made up my mind. If I like you, I’ll make any excuse in the world for you. If I don’t like you, you can’t do anything right. Ever. I don’t take time to get to know people (or situations) and see them for all their attributes, positive and negative. My dad reminded me that not only is it counterproductive, it’s a huge time suck. It also makes me come across as a bitch and that’s not my goal. Unless it’s in a work environment and they report to me, how they choose to live their life is none of my business. As long as they aren’t hurting someone else or breaking a law, it’s none of my business. I need to be more open minded and willing to accept what people throw at me. It doesn’t mean I have to be BFFs with everyone. It means I need to give people a chance rather than writing them off or not questioning them at all. I’ve found a lot of things, and people, I actually enjoy by being a little more open minded. I don’t have the whole picture and it’s not fair to class people based on a very small sample of who they are.

From my boyfriend:

One of his favorite mantras when I’m sobbing or frustrated is “it’s going to be okay”. He’s been telling me that since day 1 (or day 0 as he prefers :D). I was sobbing into his shirt last night over not being able to get the hospital’s online payment system to work. He told me it was all part of the plan. I said “but you don’t believe in that”. He said “but you do”. And that’s what matters. It’s easy to lose my beliefs and get a little sidetracked. I wandered away from them, tripped over a few things in the process, and let myself get wrapped up in that. Even if I can’t believe in myself some days, I trust him and I can believe him. I can cut myself, and other people, a little slack. I don’t have to constantly compare myself to others. The bills will get paid. March will be here soon enough. I never used the epilepsy as an excuse to phone it in. I get out of bed every morning and go to work. I take care of myself as best I can on any given day. I joke about my condition and situation because laughing about it is a hell of a lot easier than crying over it. I allow myself to feel, throw tantrums, and cry if I need to. And I apologize after the fact if I took it out on someone who was just an innocent bystander.

I know both of them would do anything in their power to see me happy, healthy, and successful. And I would do the same for them. Which is why I wanted to share their words to me with the greater world. I respect their opinions and their advice, even if I don’t always take it.

To end on a positive note, I got an email for a job interview on Thursday morning. I only applied for the job last Thursday. It was an opening in the department 3 managers have told me to move to if an opening was available. I got an email this morning directly from the hiring manager asking me for an interview. It didn’t come through HR which I took as a good sign. I later confirmed that’s a very, very good sign. It would amount to a lateral move so it’s unlikely I’ll get a raise. However, they have a ton of overtime available in that department. It’s expected that you work overtime, too. At my current salary and working an extra 10 hours a week, that would amount to an extra $17000 a year. For those keeping score at home, that would be significantly higher than the management position I was passed over for. Then there’s the merit based raises come review time which can be up to 3%. I know my boss has been signing my praises in that department, so we’ll see. On that note…

I got an email from a rep thanking me for helping him out and asking where he could send positive feedback about my performance. I gave him my boss’ email address and told him to send it there. That was a very nice surprise as I don’t consider myself terribly patient with the reps. Go me!

Tonight is going to be a chill night. I’m going to redo my nails, work on my Italian and French (my French is coming back really quickly) and stretch out all the kinks from contortion class last night. And I must consider what to wear for my interview on Thursday morning. I think I know and it’s been universally admired. Can’t hurt.

XOXO!

Of slow going and pole dancing

Y’all, I am *so* sore.

I went to handstand class yesterday and I was easily the least advanced one there. The teacher was really encouraging and helpful. I managed to hold a handstand against the wall for about 30 seconds. Our “homework” is trying to beat that time by next week. I’ll need a spotter, but I’m going to give it an honest go. I’ll never progress if I don’t take some action toward trying. Going to class once a week and calling it good isn’t going to hack it. At least, not if I want to progress. I had some time to kill after class and the level 1 class was full, so I worked on my pullover a bit. A pullover is the basic mount into aerial hammock. You do a pull up, then flip yourself over landing at your hips or upper thighs in the sling on your stomach. I never got this the first time around and I was actually taught to climb to help build my strength. One of the guys there broke it down into segments and had me try to hold just the pull up position for 15 seconds. I made it to 14 and averaged about 10-12 seconds thereafter. He coached me on my technique, keeping my elbows tucked into my sides, and emphasized the progression is slow and requires patience (recurring theme, anyone? Maybe it’s time I started listening to it). Once I can consistently hold myself up for 25-30 seconds, then it’s on to flipping myself over. He’s really passionate about helping people get what’s arguably the hardest basic move. I’m always amazed at people who can do a pullover when the hammock is over their heads. I’ll get there and I need to stop saying “I’ll never do that” or “I can’t do that” because all that’s doing is limiting me. Incidentally, holding myself up also worked my upper abs a good bit. As in, it hurt to sit up without using my arms. He also gave me some tips about doing negative pull ups and how to not put weight on my legs or feet and keep it all (or mostly) in my arms. I’m giving myself today off to recover before contortion (taught by a woman who used to teach Russian gymnasts) & level 1 tomorrow night.

I talked to the trainer who does the acro classes and told him about my reservations going back to class. I’m worried if I have a seizure, I’ll hurt someone. He said that wouldn’t be an issue. He’s happy to spot me and it’s unlikely I would hurt anyone unless I forcibly threw them. Even then, he has a size advantage and could still catch them. That made me feel better. I’ve tried acro a few times and really liked it. It’s got a whole different vibe because it’s partner based. For someone with trust issues like me, it’s a practical way to learn how to trust myself and other people. He also does a conditioning class that I really want to try. I watched about half of it yesterday and he had a completely different approach than the other trainer who usually teaches it.

I signed up for the pole series yesterday and paid in advance for it. No excuses not to go now. They also offer an open practice every Sunday. I’ll try to go to that as consistently as possible. I perused the drop in classes to see what else they offer. There were a couple that piqued my interest. The slightly annoying thing is the classes aren’t consistent. A class will be at one time one week and then a totally different time the following week. On the one hand, that means I’ll have plenty of variety. On the other hand, I’ll have to check the schedule fairly closely to make sure I don’t double book myself. I also make sure I give myself at least one day off a week to recover. As my dad (the marathoner) likes to remind me, a rest day is just as important as a day you work out.

Speaking of my dad, when I was throwing my temper tantrum on Thursday about not being able to drive, he said “Maybe this is all a lesson in how to overcome adversity”. Cue surprised elephant noise. I’ll come out on the other side all the better for this (crappy) experience. I have to be creative in how I handle things. I’ve certainly overcome it in the past. It’s a choice. I can either throw a fit and whine about how much this sucks and I hate it. Or I can take a few deep breaths, put my brain to work, and figure out ways to deal with it as painlessly as possible. Just like in aerial work, it’s a hell of a lot easier if you remember to breathe.

XOXO!

Of Butch Walker and taking your own advice

It’s funny how things come full circle. Not 12 hours after I posted yesterday’s entry about not comparing myself to others progress, I got to hear another one of the aerialists give one of the teenagers the exact. same. advice.  I’ve been so hit and miss with classes, I miss a lot of new students who come and go. Last night there were  a couple girls who were high school age. One of them was practicing a drop and the other one started crying out of the blue. From what I understood coming in later in the conversation, she wanted to go to circus school in Montreal. She was lamenting the fact that she started too late and would never be able to do it. This is ignoring the fact entirely that circus classes have only been mainstream for about 3-4 years (I jumped on the bandwagon in 2011 & it was *very* new here at that time). She was talking about how she wasn’t as good as one of her friends who started at the same time and how she’ll never meet all these goals to get into the school. I just sat and listened as the other aerialist told her to stop comparing herself to other people. Stop writing yourself off so quickly. You can’t judge yourself for your past. All you can do is compare yourself to where you were before and look at how far you’ve come. I know it’s hard to internalize that when you’re 15, but I hope she did. Hell, I’m almost twice her age and I have to remind myself of it daily. It never hurts to hear it reinforced, though.

I was introduced to Butch Walker back in his Marvelous 3 days. A friend of mine in 8th grade told me about the album and said she thought I would really like it. I bought it without ever hearing a note of his music prior to that and I’ve been hooked ever since. I give a shoutout to my parents who were letting me listen to music that was decidedly not what a 13 year old should be listening to. Though they’ve always been pretty cool about letting me do not age appropriate things. I saw Halloween for the first time when I was 10. But I digress. Butch’s music has been the soundtrack to my life for over 15 years. “So At Last” off his second solo album Letters, is one  of my favorite songs ever. I sob my eyes out every time he plays “ATL” live (from Sycamore Meadows), including this last time he came through Atlanta about a month ago. I had a seizure early on during the opening acts, but I refused to leave until I heard it. I probably know almost every word to every song he’s written. And I can tell which ones he didn’t write, or someone else had a hand in them, because I like them a lot less (Lord, the man *has* turned me into a snob). More to the point, he wrote a book about 2 years ago covering all manner of sins up to that point. I bought it the day it came out. It got me through healing my rib injury when I was literally in too much pain to do anything but lay in bed or on the couch. Of course, he’s got some hysterical stories which doesn’t help when one can’t laugh without searing pain. An overarching theme in the book is let go, stop taking yourself so seriously, and be open to evolution. Humans are ever changing. Things just go better when you stop trying to control the entire universe and start taking yourself a lot less seriously. For that, among many other reasons, I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Walker. He’s also one of the few people I might fangirl over if I ever meet him. The closest I’ve gotten so far is saying hi to his mom in the bathroom of the Variety Playhouse (again, not as bad as it sounds). Someday…

A list of my favorite Butch songs, both from the M3 days and his solo career in roughly chronological order. Seriously, go look them up on iTunes or YouTube right now. Your ears (and music tastes) will thank you. And if you ever get the chance to see him live, do it.

“Cigarette Lighter Love Song” (best love song ever. This one makes me cry, too)

“If (Jeannie’s Song)”

“So At Last” (as previously mentioned)

“Hot Girls in Good Moods” (appeared on The OC once. I started screaming and pointing because I knew the song)

“Bethamphetamine”

“ATL” (also previously mentioned)

“The Weight of Her”

“Ponce de Leon” (not because I’ve driven on it or by it a million times in the past 16 years)

“Closer to the Truth and Further from the Sky” (mandatory song to kick off all roadtrips in my world)

“Trash Day”

“Don’t You Think Someone Should Take You Home”

“She Likes Hair Bands”

“Freak of the Week” (sorry Butch, but I still like it after all this time)

“Maybe It’s Just Me”

“Mixtape” (again, sorry Butch)

“Dublin Crow”

“Synthesizers” (didn’t like this one the first time I heard it. It grew on me)

“Bodegas and Blood”

“Summer of ’89” (I’ll blast this driving home from work to get me out of a really shitty mood)

“Day Drunk”

“Coming Home”

“Peachtree Battle” (again, not just because I’ve driven by that street a million times)

“Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To”

And his cover of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me”. Definitely better than the original (sorry T-Swift, but does prove my point that country artists do have to actually be able to sing)

Now off to binge on some Butch until it’s time to get some dinner. Hope everyone’s weekend is fab, sparkly, & otherwise awesome.

XOXO!