Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Why I am not resolving to lose weight this new year:

Photo by Levi Thomas
I'm fat.  I hear you my friends, telling me, "You're not fat, you're perfect the way you are," and I know you mean well.  But fat is merely an adjective, and one that describes me.

I know which foods are good for me and which aren't.  I've done Weight Watchers, I've counted calories, I know.  I still eat ones that aren't.  Am I trying to eat less of the bad ones and more of the good ones?  Yes.  Am I cutting out the bad ones completely?  No.  Am I dieting?  Oh hell no.  Because when I worry about what I should and shouldn't eat, it makes me feel bad about myself.  When I focus instead on giving myself the nutrition to function at my best, it makes me happier.  When eating ice cream is my choice, it's a lot easier for me to say, "Nah, I'm not in the mood."  When I think of ice cream as something I can't have, it's all I want.

I don't exercise.  Wait, before you start telling me that the things I do are exercise, hear me out.  Exercising is a chore, a thing to cross off a list.  On the other side, I'm finding that being active makes me happy.  When I dance, I get lost in the music, and all meaning of time floats away.  Learning choreography gives me a mental challenge.  Hiking gets me outside and gives me peace of mind.  Trying new things, like the aerial silks class I just took, satisfies my desire to explore, and when I find myself becoming stronger because of it, I am proud.  

Photo by Michael P Hoover Photography
I am proud of my body.  I find joy in it.  Where I used to be critical of every picture taken of me, now I find that I'm looking forward to seeing pics of me in action.  When I see these pictures, I think, "Look at this thing I can do.  Not everyone can do that."

My body is not an achievement or failure, my efforts are.  I'm a dancer and an artist, and I want to get better.  So I push my body to its limits so I can build up the tools I need to improve.

So what if I'm fat, I can still move in amazing ways.  I challenge those who call me unhealthy because of my body, for them to do the things I do, and to improve in the ways I strive to.  Because I'm not done yet.  I will never be done.  But on the way, I'm not focused on the way I look, I'm focused on what I can achieve.

Fat or not, I'm going to keep rocking.

Friday, August 07, 2015

I'll Miss You, Grandma Hubbard

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck
And a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck
And a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap 
And I'm talkin' in my sleep
About you
Doodle oodle oodle ooh doo
Doodle oodle oodle ooh doo
Doodle oodle ooh ooh doo!
I can remember being a little kid, sitting in my grandma's lap, her arms tight around me, her bouncing me up and down, singing that song.

Or a few years later, sitting next to her in a car, her arms around me, swaying us both back and forth, and singing.

Or when she had just come out of the shower and was laying in bed watching Golden Girls, I crawled under the covers with her, and she rubbed my back and sang.

The first time I flew in an airplane, I got the window seat, she sat in the middle, and as we took off, she patted my knee to the rhythm and sang that song.

Earlier this year, I was down in Florida at her house, just me and her, sitting in the living room, still watching Golden Girls, and she just started singing...

When my grandma used the word Love, she said it with all of her heart every time.  With every Christmas card, birthday card, Valentine's Day card, Easter card, St. Patrick's day card, thinking of you card, because really, they were all thinking of you cards, every single time her pen wrote Love, I could feel it reach off the paper at me.  Every card was signed with X's and O's, and every single X was a kiss, and every single O was a hug, the ink was merely a carrier.

I wish I had the stamina that my grandma had.  She'd work all week, and when I stayed the weekend, would pick me up on a Friday night.  We'd stop at KFC, get fried chicken and mashed potatoes and I would get a parfait.  And we'd stop at the video store and rent movies, a nice one she would watch too, and sometimes a horror one for me and grandpa, and a Nintendo game.  Once at her house, we would sit down at the table, with real plates and silverware, and eat our fried chicken before watching the first movie.  And if we cheated and used paper plates, she'd always apologize.

But the dishes were always done, and her home was always spotless.  Her hair was done, her makeup was done, the house was managed.  We'd have homemade strawberry shortcake for lunch, and a full home cooked dinner.  Every Christmas, everyone would get a huge heaping platter of cookies and fudge sent home with them, not just any platter, but a Christmas themed one, complete with colored saran wrap.  I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and it's because of her.

I don't know how she did it all.  Yet she was always there to give me a hug, and to worry about me every second I was out of sight.  And it wasn't just me, she cared about everyone.  I learned courtesy from her, generosity, forgiveness, selflessness. 

Independence.  When we'd go on vacation, I always had a job to do.  I'd navigate, help look for road signs, remember the license plate number of our car, talk to the clerks with heavy accents that she couldn't understand...  From her example and encouragement, I learned that I needed to take care of things in life, not have someone do them for me.  But I learned that in a soft, nurturing way, and to appreciate every person that I had in my life.  Everything she did, she did out of love.

Earlier this year, Grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She fought it, and she did it for all of us as much as herself.  So when she passed, it wasn't entirely unexpected.  But I'll admit, I wasn't ready.  But she worked so hard, it was time for her to take a break.

Yet, I can still feel her love for me, and I will carry that forever.  I'll miss you Grandma.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Are You Nervous?

Bloomington Belly Dances is tomorrow night!

I'll be dancing with Different Drummer Belly Dancers and Caravanserai Dancers.

I'm so excited!  I can't stop talking about it.  And the first thing my friends say when I bring it up is, "Are you nervous?"

My nerves seem to work differently than most.

Monday morning, I woke up at 4am, and spent the next two hours thinking about Bloomington Belly Dances.  I don't know if that was nerves, or not being prepared, or both.  I still had one costume to finish.  The practices the day before had been cancelled due to weather.

I could hear the songs in my head.  My mind churned over the moves.  "Be sure to remember that this move comes before that one in the second song," I told myself.  "Do this to keep from dropping that prop.  What can I do to keep from smacking myself in the face while doing that?"  Problem, solution, problem, solution... I wasn't dwelling on worries, I was solving them over and over again, yet I still didn't sleep.

But the show is tomorrow night.  Am I nervous?

Today was a long day at work.  The hours seem to drag by.  When I went to lunch, I played the CD of the songs over and over again, going over the moves in my head.

No, I am not nervous.  The closer it gets to the show, the less nervous I am.

So that must mean that I'm confident about the dances?  That I have them down pat?  Oh hell no, I'm not!  There's this one spot that no matter how many times I run over it, I have to look up what move comes next.  I'll have to rely on fellow dancers to hope that someone remembers.  I don't like doing that, I'd rather not put that responsibility on them, not give them that stress.  So even if it's just in my head, I practice and practice and practice.  And then as the show comes up, I let it go.

The first time I performed in any sort of crowd, it was a tiny hafla.  I was nervous.  I'm an introvert, and here are these people who are looking at me.  There's no redirecting the conversation so I can just listen.

And then I shimmied out onto that makeshift stage.  People were smiling, eager to see what we were going to do.  And then, a couple moves into that first dance, I forgot what came next.  I glanced over at my director, had only missed about half the move, and picked it back up.  The audience had no clue that anything had gone amiss.  I smiled at the person in the front row.  They smiled back.  We shimmied, people cheered.

After that dance, I was ready to run a marathon.  I was energized, I was euphoric, I could take on the world.

"Don't look down," my instructors tell me.  "Smile."  "Look over the audience members' heads." All the tips for getting over a fear of public speaking are repeated over and over again.

Last year, when I performed at Bloomington Belly Dances for the first time, I had never been in front of a crowd like that before.  Yet, before we went out, a sort of calm washed over me.  There seemed no need to be nervous, because there was no way that would benefit me or my dancing.

My very first time, performing in front of any sort of crowd ever, and I was front and center.  I didn't remind myself to smile.  I didn't try to look over the audience.  I looked at them.  They looked back at me, smiling, cheering, having a good time.  I didn't do the moves, I felt the dance, I felt the music, I felt the energy from the crowd.  I stepped off that stage grinning from ear to ear, my heart beating a million miles a minute.  I was exhilarated, I was high on the energy of the crowd.

It surprised me.  I wasn't expecting that.  But at that moment, all I wanted was to do it more.

I know it sounds cliche, but belly dancing, especially performing, is like a drug for me.  My pulse races, and I am in ecstasy.  I'd like to see a brain scan from while I'm performing compared to a brain scan of while I'm making love, because I'm guessing the same regions light up.

So no, I'm not nervous.  I'm excited.  Every hour until then seems to drag on forever.  It reminds me of waking up the morning before my birthday party and having to wait until people started showing up.  And so I practice, I plan, I pack and unpack my costumes, I make lists, I do everything I can related to belly dancing to satiate me until the big event arrives.

And heck, it's so much fun, I don't even need cake!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Please Keep Arms and Legs Inside the Vehicle...

I'm out of breath.  2014 has been one hell of a ride!

This year I've taken on a lot, made lots of friends, earned some more best friends, gotten closer to old friends, had so many new experiences, and have just had a friggin' good time!

Of course, I've got another book written.  For now, it's called Red Amnesia, and it's a vampire novel.  It needs a lot of rewriting, but I do think I'll do something with it someday.  The writing process was tougher this year, but I ended up learning a whole lot about myself as a writer.

I think I already know what I'm writing for NaNoWriMo 2015.

Yes, The Three Zombies and Other Undead Fairytales will be published someday.  I don't do New Years Resolutions, but it'll be out in 2015, I promise.

Of course, this has been The Year Of Belly Dancing!  Not to repeat the posts I made before, but belly dancing has changed my life.  I am more confident and I just feel more... me in a way.  It's like I've found myself.  It's like my inner rock star had been hiding inside me all along, and I finally let her out.

I've made so many new friends this year!  I'm not the type to need a whole lot of friends, but I wouldn't trade any one of them for the world.  Old friends have gotten closer.  I feel like I have a whole troupe of sisters who I love dearly.  I have friends and confidants, and I feel loved.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't give a Braino update.  Brian's drawn over 100 pictures this year.  He's working on a book of pictures and poetry, which we'll publish next year.  And of course, he's as gorgeous and supportive as ever.  God, I love that man!

Speaking of love... My sister is engaged!  Her fiance is a good guy, and geeky, so obviously I approve. ;)

Time to start 2015.  Here's to another year of love, life and adventure!

Friday, July 25, 2014


I'm feeling extremely thankful today.

Life is pretty darn good.  But the best part of all is the 11 years I've been married to Brian.

I'm thankful for when I get home late and he makes me supper.

For making special time just for me every Saturday and Sunday morning.

For accomodating me and all my weird idiosyncrasies.

For helping me when I have too much on my plate.

For supporting me and all the crazy things I take on.

For being my biggest fan.

For holding me when I need held, and giving me my distance when I need to be alone.

For kissing me every night before bed.

For every single time he tells me he loves me.

For doing little things to show that he thinks of me even when we're apart.

For planning all possible future scenarios, good and bad.

For his dedication and loyalty.

For imagining how we would be in a different universe, where we made very different choices, but are still together.

Because we're meant to be.

For being the best part of my life.

Because he's meant to be.

Happy anniversary Baby.  Thank you.  I love you!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Zombies and Vampires, oh my!

In April I started a vampire story, which I will probably finish in November.  I also recently went to see Only Lovers Left Alive (and now it's my new favorite movie).  I've been asked this question multiple times lately:

I thought you liked zombies?

First I have to note that liking zombies and vampires is not mutually exclusive.

Secondly, the zombie thing is relatively new to me.

Yes, I've written two inspirational zombie books and support the Zombie Rights Campaign.  As much sympathy as I have for zombies, that doesn't mean I would want to be one.  The genre is different too, most zombie related movies are about survival one way or another.  Also, totally off the record, I find zombies to be funny.

I think I was 11 or 12 years old when I first read Interview with a Vampire.  I loved it immediately.  One of my favorite books of all time is The Vampire Lestat.  When I think of vampires, it's Anne Rice's portrayal that I immediately associate with them.  Ever since then, I've been a fan of vampires.

Vampires are romantic and tragic.  In many stories, vampires don't have to take human lives, but they do for many other reasons.  I love the juxtaposition of love and lust, of vitality and death, of sophistication and savageness, that's present in many vampire stories.

Becoming a vampire is both a blessing and a curse.  That being said, I would probably give in and want to become a vampire.

Basically, I want immortality.  Don't get me wrong, I don't fear death.  But life is too short to do everything I want to do.  It would be hard, seeing loved ones die.  Restraint to let them die instead of making them all into vampires with me would be a constant battle.  I would also miss the sun very very much.  But to be able to write all the books I want, learn all the things I want, see all the new innovations we come up with, all the things left to discover, it might just be worth it.

A note on Twilight:
I feel like if I'm talking about modern vampires, I have to address Twilight.  I read the books, and even enjoyed the first couple as light reading.  I did not like Stephenie Meyer's version of vampires though.  The sparkling bugged me.  Not because it's pretty, but because by making vampires merely sparkle in the sunlight, she removed their greatest weakness.  Sure, it's a problem, but compared to death, it's slight.  Especially in the second book, when the whole point was for Edward to be his own undoing, threatening to kill himself would've been a lot more tragic than threatening to out himself.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kind of a Princess

Or, another unexpected benefit of belly dancing.

My life is one big ball of graphic design, writing, and belly dancing, and I love it!
DDBD at Spencer Pride

I love the practice, I love learning new things, and of course, I love the dancing.  I was worried that I'd be nervous on stage.  Sure, I'm nervous beforehand, and oddly enough, the biggest butterflies come right after a performance.  But once I step out on that stage, once I start dancing, there's nothing but joy and dance.  Sure, I may screw up a move here or there, but dancing makes me happy.  I look out into that crowd, and I see happy faces.  Belly dancing encourages a rowdy crowd who claps and yells and cheers, and I love it.

While I wasn't sure if I would be okay with that, it doesn't surprise me too much that I am.  Margaret told me that random people would come up to me to talk about belly dancing, so I'm not surprised when they do.  And I can talk about dancing as easily as I can talk about writing, so some of that social anxiety dissipates.

But there's one thing happening that I didn't expect.

I should also mention that I'm not a big kid person.  I don't want any of my own.  While I adore my nieces and nephews and friends' kids, I'm not the type to engage random kids.  I just don't know what to say or do.  I guess, just like adults, I need to know the kids a little bit first.

We danced at a wedding a couple weekends ago.  A few kids came up and danced with us afterwards.  I love it when the kids dance.  They aren't bound by social constraints, being embarrassed, or how they should dance.  They just get up there and feel the joy of the song.  Kids are natural dancers.

One little girl came up to me and asked, "Are you a princess?"
It melted my heart.  There was no way I could tell this kid no.  So I said, "Yeah, kinda."
And in that moment, I did feel like a princess.

Last weekend, we danced at the Arts Fair on the Square.  Again, when we invited everyone up at the end to dance, some kids came up too.  And they danced their little butts off.  Afterwards, one girl came up and gave me a huge hug.  Of course, I hugged her back.  Then a minute later, she gave me a gift of a rock.  It was the same rock that I had taken off of our bit of grass that we had used as a stage, but still, I almost kept it.  I almost wish I had.

I won't ever forget these two girls.  And the next time I dance, I'll dance like a princess that earns all the rocks in the world.

DDBD at Arts Fair on the Square