ladysprite: (steampunk)
Once again, time for my favorite game, what did I learn in the past year? So... what did I learn in 2015?

I learned that I can run a business.
I learned how to use Quickbooks.
I learned that publicizing myself is emotionally challenging, but necessary.
I learned that my clients trust and respect me enough to recommend me to their friends.
I learned how to do my first double-dive on aerial silks.
I learned the basics of aerial sling.
I learned how to draw blood and give IV injections without a tech to help me.
I learned better and smoother ways to premedicate animals for euthanasia.
I learned how to place subcutaneous ports.
I learned how to place nasogastric feeding tubes.
I learned that I can rock a pixie cut.
I learned that my spinning has become consistent enough to be not just usable but objectively good.
I learned that I can make an entire dress out of construction paper.
I learned the story of the day my mother was born.
I learned that if you tell people it's for a scavenger hunt they will let you get away with almost anything.
I learned how to make broomstick lace.
I learned that my Spanish is good enough that I can converse easily with native speakers after a day or two of acclimation.
I learned that sometimes depression will hit you, no matter how objectively good your life looks on the outside.
I learned how to use Hair Product.
I learned that I have enough professional expertise to write a blog that people actually find kind of useful.
I learned that my friends trust me and my skills, and will turn to me for help when they need it.
I learned that those same friends love me, and appreciate me.
I learned that it's almost impossible to fit a full-sized stretcher in the back of a Honda Civic.
I learned just how much paperwork goes into the day-to-day running of a veterinary practice.
I learned that tomatillos and Napa cabbage grow remarkably well in my yard.
I learned to get comfortable with video chats.
I learned that Peter Beagle is an amazing man, and that meeting your childhood angel is just as amazing and heartbreaking and healing as I imagined it would be.
I learned that the hardest thing about owning your own business is managing your downtime.
I learned how to drive a snowmobile.
I learned that gabapentin is a better medication for chronic pain in animals than tramadol.
I learned that nopales are delicious.
I learned that the only way to solve a problem with Mass Health Connector is to go through your state representative.

It seems like, most of all, I learned - or at least started to learn - to see myself the way other people see me. It'll take a long time to finish this lesson, but it's a good path to be on right now....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So tomorrow is the day that I go back through the year and think about what I've learned. But this has been such an eventful, change-ful, complex year that there's more going on in my head than I can just sum up there.

I've had so many good things happen this year. I went from 'hey, maybe I'll start my own practice' to a business with over a hundred clients, turning a profit, and on the path to be one of the first certified veterinary hospice practitioners in the world. (Dude. How many people get to be part of the world's first ANYTHING?)

I've gotten good enough with my crafting to win prizes for my crochet and my spinning. I remember the first skein of yarn that I spun, and how frustrating and lumpy and ugly it was. I've gotten good enough with aerials that my teacher is pushing me to perform, and to branch out into other apparatuses.

I cut my hair for the first time in almost 30 years. And in the process, I shed not just a foot of hair, but most of those 30 years of body-baggage. It's bizarre, but somehow getting rid of the one part of my appearance that I took the most pride in changed my body image enough to let me see myself with new eyes.

At the same time.... I lost another dear friend to cancer, and I'm still facing emotional aftershocks from that. My father started facebook-stalking me and having family members send me threatening messages. My husband was out of work again, and is still doing contract work. I spent nearly a year fighting to get the health insurance that we've been paying for all along, and dealing with collections agencies in the meantime.

My new car was rear-ended by a semi, and the trucking company is still refusing to take responsibility for the accident, and are fighting any request to pay for the repairs. I'm still dealing with residual pain from my spinal surgery. I've had pneumonia twice.

I've dealt with depression before, but this year it got bad enough to actually seek out meds. And owning my own practice has led to some toxic mental and behavioral patterns around work hours, as well as anxiety when calls don't come in as frequently as I hope they will.

It's been a roller-coaster of a year. I'm not the same person I was at the start. But... I think I like who I am right now.


Aug. 26th, 2015 04:17 pm
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Seriously, can I tell you how much I love my new hair?

For years (decades) I was convinced that my long hair was not just crucial to my self-identity, but one of the only things I liked about my appearance.  I wasn't beautiful, or sexy, I didn't have perfect skin, I wasn't busty, I was too thin for people who like curvy girls and too heavy for people who like petite little waifs, but I had pretty long hair.  Never long enough, or thick enough, but.... long.  Pretty.  Shiny.  I wore it down every chance I got, and decorated it with baubles and trinkets when I couldn't, and promised myself that I'd never cut it, and pinned most of my self-esteem on it.

And three weeks ago I chopped it all off.  And it wasn't as scary as I thought it'd be, though I also admit that for the first several days it didn't feel quite real - more like a costume that I'd eventually be able to take off and go back to looking like me.

But it's been almost a month now, and I can't get over just how awesome this is.  I'm still learning just what to do with it (texturizer is a must; odd for someone who's never put product in her hair since the Great Bangs of the 1980s) and how I can and can't style it (sleek? yes.  messy?  yes.  rag curls?  hilariously no), and what I honestly and for true look like with it.

And I think that's the crux of it.  For the first time in adult memory, I'm actually looking at myself and seeing myself honestly, instead of looking at a mirror or picture and just confirming my own preconceived mental image of what I expect to see there.  I look different, and that's making me look and think and reassess instead of just continuing to repeat toxic mental patterns that were ingrained way too long ago.

I don't know where I'll go from here.  Maybe I'll grow it back out eventually.  Maybe I'll keep it pixie-short for the next year or so.  Hell, maybe I'll go back to my natural color and then bleach it and dye the front wisps robin's-egg blue.  No matter what, it's going to be pretty damn awesome....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
It's time for my favorite end-of-the-year game; y'all are probably familiar with this by now....

So here goes - and feel free to play along. What have I learned from 2014?

I learned what it feels like to have a car's airbag go off in your face.
I learned how to use a therapeutic cold laser.
I learned how to take and interpret dental radiographs.
I learned the difference between an LLC, an S-Corp, and a C-Corp.
I learned that when, 2 years ago, a client of mine told me that if I ever wanted to start my own practice that he'd mentor me, guide me, make it happen, and if possible quit his job to be my business partner, that he meant every word of it.
I learned how to pick my motorcycle up and get back on it after dropping it on the road.
I learned what a carburetor is, and how to find it, take it apart, and clean it.
I learned that I can hold my own in an intermediate Argentine tango class.
I learned how to decorate cakes - buttercream flowers, basket-weave frosting, and the basics of gum paste and fondant.
I learned a lot about hospice medicine.
I learned that, on the OUCH scale, flu shots hurt more than nipple piercings.
I learned that ending a relationship - of any sort - never really gets easier.
I learned that it's harder than you'd think to motivate people to donate to charity, but that it gets a little easier every time.
I learned that heated ceramic lounge chairs are the most amazing invention on this planet.
I learned about dysbiosis in geriatric cats as a potential cause of unexplained weight loss.
I learned some things about my own sexuality that I really don't need to go into detail about here.
I learned a hell of a lot about aerial silks.
I learned the basics of parkour.
I learned that I'm strong enough to climb a rope.
I learned that being upside down in the air is *exactly* as much fun as I thought it would be.
I learned that starting a business is both far more complex and far easier than I thought it would be.
I learned the basics of how to start overcoming my phobia/anxiety about having my picture taken.
I learned how to spin laceweight yarn.
I learned that I like dubstep and electronica, but only live - recorded, it still just sounds like noise.
I learned how to make hairpin lace.
I learned that hypnosis is not quite as horrifying as I'd feared.
I learned that smartphones have their uses
I learned Lindy Hop.
I learned what it felt like to be on the opposite side of the continent.
I learned that I'm not as afraid of fire as I used to be.
I learned that, in a beehive, there are bees whose entire job is just to thermoregulate the hive by fanning their wings.
I learned how to use Skype.
I learned a lot about the physics of motorcycles.
I learned that Disney really will go ridiculously above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to customer service.
I learned that my sister's wife is a pretty cool person.
I learned that my sister was married (apparently for two years; she... forgot to tell me?).
I learned that the Honda Civic is almost a valid substitute for a Saturn.
I learned how to play with a levi-wand.
I learned how to dye my own yarn.
I learned that I am really not cut out for being unemployed or inactive.
I learned that, with enough time, effort, and patience, I can heal from almost anything. What did you learn in 2014?
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Everyone has things they're afraid of. It's normal; it's part of having a mammal brain. Spiders or clowns or heights or snakes or whatever.

I've always had an odd relationship with fear. I'm not afraid of most of the common things - spiders, heights, edges, pain, death.... I really have no problem with them. On the other hand, I have always had some pretty serious and odd phobias. They've always just been there, a part of my life, as long as I can remember.

I'm afraid of fire. I can't remember ever not being. It's not something I think about, or examine; it's just part of my life in the back of my head, up there with knowing my shoe size and my birthday and my allergies.

Except I was talking about this with a friend the other day (in the context of fire-spinning), and I was trying to explain my fear, and it was hard to describe. And as I was talking about how, precisely, my fear manifests, I tried to explain that no, I didn't mind fireplaces, or bonfires, or fire in general as long as it was where it belongs; I just don't want uncontrolled fire being blasted at me suddenly, or flailing around my head.

....and that's not much of a phobia. And that wasn't always true. I remember crying uncontrollably when I was little because I had to light the matches for the candles in our menorah. I couldn't use a lighter. And now.... I just don't want it swinging around my hair.

I'm not as afraid as I was.

I used to be afraid of drowning. When I went snorkeling for the first time, when I went rafting for the first time, it was all I could do not to hyperventilate and crawl back to safety as quickly as possible. Now.... thinking about fire made me think about that too, and realize that, while I'm aware of my limits (I'm not a strong swimmer) and I have a healthy respect for the ocean, I don't start every trip into deep water with dread.

I still have things I'm afraid of. Losing my memory. Singing in public. Movie gore (though I'm building up a bit of a tolerance to that, too). But... I'm not *phobic* of most of the things I used to be. And it's a bit liberating, and a bit scary in and of itself. It's a clear indicator that I'm not quite as aware of the inside of my head as I like to think that I am, and that I need to pay more attention to my internal and mental landscape. And it means I don't have the excuse of fear to keep me from trying things, which is a mixed bag as well.

Still.... it feels good not to be afraid, and to be aware of it....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
It's time for my favorite end-of-year game, What Have I Learned? And this year has been full of a lot of unexpected lessons.... So, what have I learned from 2013?

I learned how to ride a motorcycle.
I learned more than I expected about motorcycles themselves, and how to take care of them.
I learned how to Navajo ply yarn on my spinning wheel.
I learned Tunisian crochet.
I learned to always keep Addison's disease on my list of differential diagnoses, no matter what.
I learned just how miserable chronic severe pain can make you.
I learned that I can't take oxycodone.
I learned that there are board games that I like, and that [ profile] hungrytiger has a knack for finding them.
I learned that it is both more difficult and more rewarding than I had expected to give out free books to people.
I learned that, when you're trained in grief counseling, calling the suicide hotline doesn't really help - you already know the tricks they'll use and what they'll say.
I learned that giving up financial autonomy is terrifying.
I learned that Concord grapes grow unnaturally well in our yard.
I learned my first lift in Argentine tango.
I learned that I can find something positive in every single day for a year.
I learned that I needed to come to a healthy definition of friendship for myself, and that a lot of people were more willing than I feared to come with me when I did - but not everyone.
I learned to dye my own yarn and fiber.
I learned a lot about writing RPG rules, and realized that it's not that I'm rules-stupid - I just prefer a different style than many of the folks I tend to game with.
I learned that epidural injections in your neck hurt, even when they numb you in advance.
I learned just how extremely broken our health care system is, and how even individuals within it go out of their way to disenfranchise those they feel are unworthy.
I learned what it feels like to stay overnight in ICU after major surgery.
I learned a lot of fiddly details about pet nutrition and how to actually translate the labels on pet foods, and what those words actually mean.
I learned that, while we do need to rethink our current strategies on protein restriction in cases of chronic renal failure, that the veterinary industry as a whole isn't quite there yet.
I learned that, in a crisis, my city pulls together, copes, and gets things taken care of better and faster than I ever would have imagined possible.
I learned just how much I love Boston, and how much it hurts me when she hurts.
I learned how to identify marijuana toxicosis in pets.
I learned that tramadol causes seizures in some patients.
Related, I learned what it feels like to have a seizure.
I learned that ziplining is amazing.
I learned that I should have taken [ profile] dagibbs up on his invitation to his cottage party years ago, because it is wonderful there.
I learned that, while I have no interest in being a player in a boffer larp, being an NPC can be a lot of fun.
I learned that I don't like raw oysters.
I learned that donating money for charity becomes a hell of a lot more meaningful when I think of it in terms of hours worked.
I learned that my friends can be incredibly generous in joining me to donate to charity, if I just think to ask.
I learned that I need to go to the beach more often.
I learned that institutionalized sexism is far more rampant than I ever would have imagined.
I learned that I need to learn how to define myself more by who I am than by what I do.
I learned that pretending to be a zombie is enormously fun.
I learned how to apply for disability, and all the hoop-jumping that involves.
I learned that you can't bleach henna out of your hair.
I learned that, while I'll always have work to do, I've come a lot farther in pursuing my own wellness (both physical and mental) than I thought I had, or ever thought I would.

So... what about you? What did you learn this year?
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I just finished my last day of work, at least until sometime next spring.

I'm not quite sure how to feel about this. I haven't had this much downtime since I was fourteen years old. On my 15th birthday I got my working papers and started my part-time job at the Ocean County Library, and since then I've either been working, in school, or both. I think the longest break I had was the 3 weeks of winter break my sophomore year of vet school.

I know I need this downtime. I need to rest and heal, but it's hard not to feel lazy. I think about the money I should be earning, the chores I should be doing, the space I'm taking up and the resources I'm using, and it's hard not to fidget and fret. I feel like I'm forgetting something, like there's something I'm supposed to be doing, obviously, because it's not normal to have this much free time.

I have people who are helping me. [ profile] ubran and [ profile] metaphysick are taking care of me and going out of their way to make sure that, when I'm supposed to be resting, I'm actually resting. Friends are lending me books and DVDs and planning low-key social time. And I'm doing my best to think of this as an opportunity and not a punishment.

Still, I think the hardest part about this is going to be changing my mindset. For as long as I remember, I've defined myself by what I do. I'm a veterinarian. I'm a dancer. I'm an exercise junkie. And now I've had that all taken away from me - it's hard to avoid feeling like I'm a non-person; like I'm not myself anymore. I need to learn to define myself by who I am. At least I'll have plenty of time to work on that....

In other news, the insurance company apparently still hasn't authorized my procedure. The one I'm supposed to be having in four days. I'm doing my best not to freak the hell out, but after all of the previous screw-ups, I'm not too comfortable with this....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
And yet another year gone by. My biggest, grandest wish at the start of this year was just that 2013 be better than the year before. And I suppose it was, for the most part. It wasn't the smooth or easy ride I hoped for, but it still could have been much, much worse. So, at the end of the year, it's time for my most important personal tradition - what have I learned this year?

I learned that digital radiology makes it much easier to measure vertebral heart score, and that it's absolutely a habit worth getting into.
I learned how to manage a wet-to-dry tie-over bandage.
I learned a lot more about Argentine tango, including beautiful turns.
I learned that my community of choice can be incredibly, heartbreakingly generous given the slightest opportunity, and that goals that seem impossible to the point of being ludicrous can be achieved if I try.
I learned that Norovirus is quite possibly the least fun thing in the world.
I learned that my Italian is better and more fluent than I ever would have thought.
I learned how to make pasta by hand and by feel.
I learned what it looks like to watch the sun rise and set on another continent.
I learned what green almonds and fava beans and fresh chickpeas and real gelato taste like.
I learned what getting your eyebrows waxed feels like.
I learned that it's possible to take an idea to a tattoo artist, instead of just a picture, and that sometimes when you do that you wind up with something different from what you imagined but still incredibly perfect.
I learned how to use a spinning wheel to spin and ply yarn.
I learned that somehow, rewriting something can be harder and scarier than writing it in the first place.
I learned that honesty can be both scary and liberating.
I learned that my favorite cousin was a lot less sane and healthy than I knew, and that this cost him his life.
I learned how to make lekku (for all you Star Wars geeks out there).
I learned that, if something is making me scared or uncomfortable, it's best to actually tell people, and that my friends will trust me and try to help me when they can.
I learned that I can run a 5K if I put my mind to it.
I learned that even fake zombies can put you into a state of adrenal overdrive.
I learned that Venice is even more beautiful than I ever would have imagined.
I learned that too much history can overwhelm me to the point of existential crisis.
I learned what acupuncture feels like, and that one session can do more to heal me than 2 months of physical therapy.
I learned the best ways to diagnose leptospirosis in varying circumstances.
I learned that even the Committee to Form A Consensus on Lyme disease couldn't form a consensus on diagnostic and treatment plans for lyme disease, and that this is oddly reassuring.
I learned how to make bentos, and that lunch is just much more fun when it's varied and packed into a cute little box.
I learned that cancer is everywhere, no matter how old I'm not and how hard I try to fight it.
I learned that, no matter how hard I try to fight nature and entropy, it's a fight I cannot win - and that taking on broken animals is an inevitable ticket on the heartbreak express.
I learned that 4 days on vicodin is enough to make me incredibly sick with withdrawal when I stop taking it.
I learned that I am good enough at my job that, when I tell a client I'm moving on, they will not only offer to follow me, but offer to fund me and be my partner/manager if I ever want to open my own clinic.
I learned that, as hard as it is to cultivate the habit, that positivity is an important lifestyle.
I learned that I still need to work on trusting the people who love me - and that, thankfully, those people are willing to be patient with me as I try.

This year felt very much like falling forward, and trying to keep my feet under me. It started off wonderful, though it took a turn for the worse somewhere around midsummer. And it seems like I spent a lot of time focusing on experiences and events - traveling, running, crafting, cooking. I think my goals for next year will be to tuck in and focus more on personal growth. I'm still working on my selfwork, but it's worth putting in the effort to make that a forefront priority.

Well, that and getting my motorcycle license.

Happy New Year, everyone, and may 2013 be better than 2012.

What did you learn this year?
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I never thought of it in these terms, but when I was writing about game-editing a few days ago I had a realization - when it comes to hobbies and crafts, I far prefer projects that involve creating to projects that involve changing.

I like spinning and crocheting - making yarn, making the fabric of an item, worlds more than I like sewing - cutting a fabric that already exists and turning it into something else. I like cooking, but I like baking much, much more - it feels more like creating when I'm transforming random things like flour and sugar into a cake than it does when I'm just turning raw meat into cooked meat. I've tried my hand at things like altered books, but I've never felt entirely comfortable with the process as a craft.

It's an interesting way to categorize projects, and I'm kind of curious about the why. I think it mostly comes down to the fact that when I'm changing something, I always have the niggling worry that I might just wind up making things worse. That the finished product won't be as good as someone else could have made from the original material, or that it just won't be as good as the original material itself. When I'm creating something completely new, whether it's good or not, there's no original item to compare it to.

I have no idea where I'm going with, or what the point of it is, but it just occurred to me as a curious observation and something to keep in mind as I inevitably hunt down future hobbies....
ladysprite: (Default)
Every once in a while, as I'm getting into my workout clothes and heading down to the gym to go jogging on the indoor track, I wonder what pre-20th-century cultures and civilizations would think about the fact that we as a society have progressed to the point where, in order to stay healthy, we need to spend a half hour three times a week or so running in circles for no other reason and to no other purpose.

Don't get me wrong. I love working out. I need and crave that activity in order to stay sane, let alone healthy, and I look forward to it with an enthusiasm that chubby, sedentary, teenage me would have shuddered to think of. But at the same time, I acknowledge that it's rather ludicrous, purposeless activity, instead of the naturally-integrated activity that animal bodies and metabolisms were designed to both provide and utlitize. And, as such, it's a pretty impressive sign that our current culture and lifestyle are so far from what is natural for us as biological organisms that they're not even in the same solar system. We are physical beings as much as intellectual beings, and our current way of life, at least here and in most other first-world countries, no longer functionally takes that into consideration.

Unfortunately, in order to fix this we're either going to need a major overhaul of everything in our day-to-day life, or a major overhaul of our entire metabolism at the level of every system, organ, and cell. And I don't see either of those happening in the foreseeable future, or in anything like a pleasant way.

So until then, I'll go run in my circles, and jump up and down in place, and lift things I don't need to lift, and contemplate the definition of 'progress.....'
ladysprite: (MoonSun)
Another year has come and gone, this one full of a lot more pain than I would have liked.... though I do have to admit that there was joy, in places, to balance it. So, here I am today - older, wiser, happier, sadder, and in my own personal tradition, looking back over the year, what have I learned?

I learned how to diagnose blastomycosis.
I learned the proper way to extract teeth, complete with drilling and root sectioning, and how to read dental x-rays.
I learned that I really don't like open-casket funerals.
I learned how to dance Argentine Tango.
I learned a lot about the new World of Darkness Vampire rules.
I learned what EMDR is, and how well it can work.
I learned what it felt like to lose my last living grandparent.
I learned that I'm a good enough writer to earn the interest and admiration of a professional I very much admire.
I learned that, while volunteering for the 3 Day is a fascinating experience, I much prefer walking.
I learned that I can sew an entire dress by myself, if I set my mind to it.
I learned that I can't ask anyone else to euthanize my pets for me - that when the time comes, I need to be the one holding the needle and wishing them goodbye.
I learned that pancreatic adenocarcinoma sucks.
I learned that sometimes new things come into your life just when you need them most.
I learned that bottle-feeding a kitten is much more time-consuming, messy, heartbreaking, frustrating, and fulfilling than I ever thought it would be.
I learned that Persian cats are high-maintenance.
I learned a lot about myself, much of which isn't for public consumption.
I learned, yet again, how strong my marriage is and how wonderful and devoted my husband is.
I learned some things I didn't expect about my faith and spirituality.
I learned that obstacle courses are even more fun as grownups.
I learned a lot more about the insides of mental hospitals than I ever wanted to.
I learned what it feels like to hold my mom's hand, metaphorically speaking, while she decided to take a family member off life support.
I learned that Martha's Vineyard is beautiful and very close to my personal vision of heaven.
I learned that going to Spy School is just as much fun as it sounds.
I learned that shellac manicures are awesome and addictive.
I learned that running is easier than I thought it would be.
I learned a lot about love, and my friends, and how no matter what happens and what I do, they'll be here for me - and that makes the rest of it okay.

This was a year of damage control; of having things happen to me and around me and in spite of me, and I spent most of it trying to keep up, trying to cope, and trying to figure out how to keep myself and the world around me alive and thriving. And I guess years like that happen to everyone. Next year, my wish is for a year of learning in times of peace and happiness and plenty, for myself and for everyone I love. I know I can't just order something like that off a Menu of Life, but I can hope.

So, what did you learn in 2011?
ladysprite: (tangy)
So last year at about this time I posted a long, introspective, meandering ramble about the fact that somehow, when I wasn't looking and wasn't paying attention, I slipped into 'old' - or at least, 'older than I ever intended or wanted to be,' and how I wasn't quite sure how to cope with that.

I'm still not.

It's partly mental image, and partly worrying about what's appropriate at this age, but even more than that... to be honest, I had kind of figured that by the time I was this age, if I ever actually reached it, I would have all my petty, youthful crap sorted out. Not that I'd be problem-free; I know that doesn't happen. But I figured at least they'd be different problems.

I'm the age my mom was, more or less, when she started registering on my mental radar as a person, instead of just as MOM. And I don't remember my mom worrying about where she rated in her friends' lives, or about things from her childhood. She worried about grownup stuff.

I'm old enough that, when I went to type this sentence and start it off with my age, I got embarrassed and didn't want to write the number. There's a large part of me that feels like, at this point, I shouldn't still be dealing with issues from my childhood - I should have grown up, gotten over it, and moved on by now. I shouldn't be worrying about looking good, or social drama; those are games for people younger than me. I shouldn't be insecure; I've been on this planet long enough to figure this stuff out. I should be worrying about... I don't know. Other stuff. Grownup stuff.

I know, objectively, that none of this is true or even rational. And I know that this year is worse than most because I've been feeling sick, overwhelmed, stressed, isolated, and exhausted for the past month, give or take, so I'm already in a morose frame of mind. But at the same time... I figured by now, if I wasn't dead, I'd be somewhere mentally... better than this.

My challenge for next year is to figure out a way to be happy with where I am in life, when this day rolls around again.....

Free To Be

Sep. 29th, 2011 12:46 pm
ladysprite: (MoonSun)
There's something that's been going back and forth through my mind a lot lately. It's something that has occurred to me in passing before, when a friend would say something to me or when I'd see or hear people reacting in certain ways, but it's come up enough times recently that it's been in the forefront of my thoughts, and I kind of want to talk it out, even if it's only with myself.

So many times, people have asked my permission to feel a certain way - asked me if it's okay for them to have feelings for me, apologized for having feelings - or for not having them, asked if I was hurt or upset or angry when they told me that they felt this way or that way towards me. And I've seen it happen with other people, too; I know it's not just me. There seems to be a prevailing idea that Person B has the right to allow or refuse Person A permission to feel attracted towards them, or not attracted - and with that, the idea that Person A can just decide to feel or not feel.

And I don't agree with either half of that statement.

There is no right or wrong way to feel. Feelings just *are.* They're part of who and what we are, what make us human and individuals. And a person, as far as I've ever been able to figure, can't just decide to feel a certain way. You can't wake up one morning and decide to love someone, or not to; you can't just decide to be sad or happy or angry (within reason - I think that most of these feelings are inside most of us most of the time, and we can choose to focus on one aspect or the other, but that's not quite the same). No one person has the right to tell another that their feelings are wrong, or bad; no one person's feelings, by themselves and in isolation, hurt another person. Your feelings do not create any obligation in me.

The challenge comes in how people react to their own feelings. Your emotions, good or bad, are your own responsibility and no one else's. Own them, accept them, and accept that no one else is obliged to react in any particular way just because you feel something. You can choose to focus on your sadness, to the exclusion of everything else, and stay in a negative place; you can choose to highlight your happiness instead, and try to live in that. And when it comes to feelings involving other people, it can become dangerous. There's nothing wrong with being attracted to someone, there's nothing wrong (at least in my opinion) with telling that someone how you feel, as long as you don't demand reciprocation. Your attraction does not entitle you to my love, or my body. But it does not give me the right to hurt you, punish you, or tell you you're wrong, either, as long as you keep that in mind. I'm not sure why anyone would want to, to be honest; there's little enough love in the world as it is, and I don't think that being loved *more* would hurt anyone.

So I'm declaring today to be Emotional Amnesty Day, and my journal in general to be a Free Emotions Safe Place. Angry? Sad? Happy? Secretly in love? I give all y'all permission today - and always, here - to tell people how you feel. Don't blame, and don't presume obligation, and I will give you the same respect and courtesy.

(Me? Today I'm happy, and tired, and a little worried, and very much in love, and appreciative of the people who do love me, and kind of frustrated, and excited/anticipatory, and... yeah. I'm just a little emotional rainbow.)


Aug. 14th, 2011 05:51 pm
ladysprite: (Default)
Last night was just about perfect - [ profile] umbran and I went to go see the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's production of 'All's Well That Ends Well' with a handful of friends, and I can't imagine a better evening. The weather was gorgeous, I got to spend time hanging out and chatting with people I don't see near often enough, there was a surfeit of delicious food, the blending of social circles went off without a hitch, and the play was wonderful.

I had never seen 'All's Well That Ends Well' before, and I don't remember ever reading it, which made watching it an interesting experience - usually, when I watch Shakespeare, I've read it beforehand, and I'm familiar with the language and the story. This time I had to pay a little more attention to the exact phrasing, but it was still delightfully entertaining - and it's fun to encounter the more humorous parts for the first time as they're supposed to be seen; puns and slapstick just don't play as well on paper as they do on stage.

It did leave me wondering, though, what pieces of our current art and entertainment will still survive and be remade and replayed 400 years from now. So many of our stories are interdependent, or genre-specific, or rely on references to pop culture - will they be comprehensible to someone who didn't grow up in this culture? And even if they are comprehensible, will they still be interesting or funny?

Genre stories might survive - but then again, will they still make sense? Will the genre tropes carry down enough for them to be entertaining and comprehensible? And there are stories, both in literature and on film, that set out to Create Great Art - but then again, Great Art isn't always what survives. Shakespeare wasn't trying to write for the ages, and his stories have outlasted a lot of other stuff. On the other hand, as trite and occasionally irritating as romantic comedies are... their appeal is universal, if only because romance and comedy are things that transcend era. I don't want to believe that, far into the future, Bridget Jones' Diary and Noises Off will be studied in literature and theater classes while Unbreakable and The Matrix vanish without a blip, but something tells me that might just be the case.

On the other other hand, epics are universal, too. And superhero stories are just demigod stories with new clothes. So... who knows?

What are your picks for the stories that will survive?
ladysprite: (Default)
Once again, I'm participating in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer Research and Awareness. It starts tomorrow morning, and goes through the entire weekend; in a couple of hours I'll be heading out to the pre-walk training session and meeting.

I haven't talked about it that much this year, mostly because I'm not participating as a walker this year - [ profile] tpau and I are working as part of the support crew instead. So, given that, there hasn't been a lot to talk about. No fundraising, no training walks; the only real prep work we've had to do is find some stickers and pompoms to go with our Crew Unit's "cheerleading" theme.

There are a lot of reasons we decided to work crew this year. To be honest, one big reason for me was not having to fundraise again - I could imagine that, if I had to hit people up for donations every year, this would rapidly go from 'that cool and awesome thing that [ profile] ladysprite does' to 'that annoying nuisance we're tired of hearing of and funding.' This way, when I do walk again, at least I've given my friends' wallets a year off.

Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to help support the walk itself. The walkers are the rock stars of the event, but the crew are the people who make everything possible. The event wouldn't happen without them; there wouldn't be a route or food or a campsite or medical support or moral support. They are necessary, if anything more so than the walkers, and I figured that it would only be fair to spend a year filling that role. So we're working as bus liaisons, helping out on the shuttle buses that take walkers who are unable to walk for medical reasons from rest areas to lunch and back to the camp. We're a little bit entertainment, a little bit moral and emotional support, a little bit driver's helpers, and a little bit triage.

And I know this is important. And I know I chose to do this. And at the same time, I am sad and frustrated because, more than anything, I want to be walking.

I know, intellectually, that walking last year was hard. I know that I was so hot that I was stuffing ice under my hat and down my shirt by the fistful. I know that I was exhausted and blistered, and by the end I was counting steps and dragging my feet. I know that I wound up so sick that I was kneeling and shaking in the shower, too nauseated and weak to stand up. But I know all of these things as abstract facts, the same way that I know that Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota, and with about as much emotional significance.

When I think about the event, what I remember and what I feel are the emotional highs - the enthusiasm of starting, the triumph of returning back to camp at the end of the day, the people I met on the road, the cheers and support and the feeling of Doing Something, and being part of something so big and significant. And I want to have that feeling again.

I know that crew is important, and I'm looking forward to being part of the event, if in a different way. But at the same time, I'm impatient for next year, and being able to walk again.

Last year I walked in memory of my Aunt Susan. This year I'm walking in memory of her, and my friend Jane. I just hope that the numbers don't keep increasing like this every year....

I'll be heading out around 4am tomorrow, and I'll be offline after that until the end of the weekend. So I'll see you all on the other side. Until then,

For Susan Drucker
For Jane Waks,
and in the hope someday there won't be more names added to this list....


May. 27th, 2011 06:34 pm
ladysprite: (MoonSun)
I feel like I should be Accomplishing Great Things right now. And yet... I'm not.

Work is a little slow for the next couple of months, and to be completely honest, I've made a conscious decision to let it stay that way. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done - growing up poor, there's a constant pressure to work more, work harder, earn more money, save more money, prepare for the inevitable catastrophes that will come your way. But while I'm not wealthy, I have to admit that I can live on what I'm earning with my current level of work, and that it'll probably be good for me to slow down the pace I've been living at for a little while.

The challenge now, though, is the feeling that I should be doing more with the downtime. I'm still working 4 days a week, but free time is free time, and part of me keeps shouting that I should be able to Accomplish. Get more translating done. Clean the house. Take on challenging cooking projects. Practice tango more often. Write something deep and meaningful here. Learn something useful.

Unfortunately, all I seem to really want to do is read, and go for walks, and play games. And while people tell me that this is okay, that it's allowed, that part of being a grownup is being able to choose to fritter your time away, it doesn't quite feel true.

So I read, and I play, and I feel guilty, and I sit down to write, and nothing comes out but this. Which, while it counts as writing, is neither deep nor meaningful. I thought that maybe by putting it into words I would be able to make myself understand it, feel better about the minutes and the hours and the evenings where I'm not driving myself, but I'm not sure I do.

Most of all, I want to have fun. I don't want to feel like I'm working, and I don't want to feel like I'm drifting, and I don't want to feel like I'm wasting time with whatever choice I've made. I just want to enjoy whatever the heck it is I've chosen to do....
ladysprite: (Default)
We tend to think about happiness as a state of being - just something that you are or aren't, based on outside circumstances and internal factors, but it's interesting to realize that, in a lot of ways, it's a learned skill.

I'm a fairly positive person. I tend to be optimistic, at least when it comes to things other than myself. My default assumption is to generally think the best of people. I'm easy to please; I generally like stuff. People, stories, things, the world. I never developed the trendy cynicism that seems to make so many people generally unsatisfied with life. But, all that said, happiness has never been easy for me. It was something that I had to ponder for a long time before I even recognized it, and I spent a lot of time both consciously and unconsciously working towards learning to be happy. And it's something, apparently, that can be easily forgotten.

Objectively speaking, things are going well for me right now. [ profile] umbran has a new job, a good one - it starts as a contract, but will hopefully parlay into a full-time position. This is years of worry taken off our plates, right now. I have enough work, at the moment, and cases are going well. There are blossoms on my lilacs, and the daffodils and tulips I planted last fall are coming up. The sun has made a few appearances; yesterday it was bright and warm enough that I wound up walking to my brunch date instead of driving. I have a whole lot of love and friendship in my life, and I'm doing my best to remember to make time with friends instead of hiding by myself or narrowing my life down to one or two people.

And yet, I've spent so much of the past month or two - of the past year or two - scared and sad and overwhelmed and exhausted that it has become a mental and emotional habit that it's almost impossible to break. I look at my life, and the world, and how good it is... and if I don't pay attention, and work at holding that mood and that thought in my head, it starts to fade. The tension crawls back into my shoulders, and the doubts and worries start to repeat, and my brain starts digging up reminders of everything bad that has happened, or could happen - and once that starts, it's easy to fall back into familiar mindsets, like familiar postures, or the space on the sofa that after years of sitting there has shaped itself to my body.

The solution is as simple as it is challenging. Make happiness the habit, instead of misery. Relearn the skill, rebuild the thought patterns. The thought of doing emotional isometric exercises sounds kind of stupid when I put it like that, but it's exactly what I need. Find the bits and pieces that make me happy, seek them out, and then hold onto that feeling and frame of mind as long as I can. It'll mean shouting inside as hard as I can to drown out the negative influences that want to take over, and there will be habits of automatic responses that I need to break, but I can do this. I've done it before.

I just wonder sometimes why trying to be happy, why seeking out little things that make you feel good, feels shameful and embarrassing and immature, and why we put such a disproportionate value on being hard to please, or jaded, or pessimistic. I wonder what, as a culture, we gain from that frame of mind....
ladysprite: (Default)
So long, 2010. You've been a mixed bag, start to finish.

I've never been a big fan of making resolutions; in general, I just do my best to grow and learn as time moves forward. But I do like to do my best to look back and acknowledge everything that I've learned over the past year - it's a tradition I picked up from a dear, old friend, and one of my favorites.

So, what have I learned from 2010?

I learned that patience is generally more useful than panic.
I learned how to make soap.
I learned that I have 187 cookbooks, and that most of them are more useful than I had thought.
I learned how to make ravioli.
I learned that topical epinephrine will stop uncontrollable bleeding.
I learned a lot about muscular dystrophy in Labrador Retrievers.
I learned that sting rays are friendly, curious, and feel a lot like wet leather.
I learned that there are things about myself that I can't change on my own - but that I can, with help.
I learned that there's a lot more to taking care of myself than eating right and exercising, and that I'm not as good at those other things as I'd like to be.
I learned what sweetbreads taste like, and that vanilla and salmon make a better blend than I had thought.
I learned the bare-beginner basics of how to spin poi.
I learned that the SCA has a better sense of humor than I had feared, and that if I ask half a dozen of my friends to get up in public and dance the Thriller dance, they will leap at the chance.
I learned that my friends - and people in general - can be breathtakingly, heartbreakingly, world-changingly generous if given the chance.
I learned that 60 miles is not too far to walk.
I learned that [ profile] tpau and I make a killer team in just about any setting.
I learned that, no matter what shape you're in, dehydration can still kick your butt.
I learned how to properly use henna, and that it makes at least as good a hair coloring agent as the chemical dyes I've been using, if not better.
I learned that hang-gliding is quite possibly the most amazing experience in the world.
I learned that my friends are far too fragile.
I learned what it feels like to lose a father figure, and to watch my husband hurt more than I know how to heal.
I learned what it feels like to go to a (semi)-political rally, and that seeing that many people in one place, being cheerful and polite to one another, is pretty mind-bendingly cool.
I learned that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to end a toxic relationship, no matter how scary it may be to do so.
I learned that keeping warm makes a huge difference in my frame of mind.
I learned that what I do is appreciated much more by other people than I had thought, in a lot of different settings.
I learned that I have enough friends to fill my little house to bursting at a holiday dinner, and that that feels pretty darn awesome.

When I look back, it's a little shocking to me to realize just how much I did this year - it didn't feel like a lot at the time. And while I'm a little afraid, when I think of it and wonder how I'm going to make next year measure up, it's also kind of amazing to think that I - *me* - I did all of this. And that I've already got plans in the works for next year, and that if past experience is any reminder, it'll be even bigger and more full than this one.

So, what did you learn from 2010?
ladysprite: (MoonSun)
It's my birthday today. I'm older than I ever thought I'd be, and that's... an odd feeling.

When I was growing up, I decided that I wouldn't live past thirty. I wasn't a very happy kid, and I had watched my great-grandmother fall apart at her mental seams from dementia. I knew that, for large chunks of my family, our bodies tended to last a lot longer than our brains, and I didn't ever want that to happen to me.

I had things that I wanted to accomplish with my life, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realized that if I stayed on track I would be finished with all of them (move to Boston, go to college, be a veterinarian) by the time I was 30. So I just figured that that would be it - I'd make it to 30, do everything I wanted to do, and then there wouldn't be much of anything left, I wouldn't miss anything, and I'd just.... stop. I wouldn't live past that. And while this was mostly a joke, there was a lot of truth in it too. My mental image of my life always stopped there.

And then thirty came, and there were enough other major life changes going on around it - getting married, changing my name, quitting my job, starting my own business - that it was just one more little change in among everything else. While it registered on my mental and emotional radar, it wasn't nearly as major a moment as I had thought it would be. By the time my self-identity truly updated to register that I was past my self-imposed expiration date, it was almost a year later.

And then there were other goals, and other big life moments. Mountains to be climbed and houses to buy and shows to rehearse for and crises to maneuver through, and the passage of time just kind of drifted past me. Until I wound up here.

I don't know why, but for some reason this year I'm suddenly realizing how old I am. I never wanted to be this age, and I don't know quite how I feel about it. I'm old enough that, if my life had taken a different path, I could be the parent of a high school student. I'm old enough that I've spent almost as much time after college as I did before it. I've known my husband more than half my life. I identify more with the parents than the kids when I watch movies or read books. Magazines tell me that I should start Botox treatments ASAP, and that I need special creams and potions to get rid of the lines around my eyes. People tell me that my hairstyle is "inappropriate for my age."

I know that, to a lot of the people reading this, I'm still just a babe in arms. I know I'm not Old. But... I'm older than my image of myself, and that's just starting to hit home.

I don't want to stop being here. As much as the idea may be appealing sometimes, I'm still very much in love with the world and my place in it, and I'd rather get old and have fun than die young and avoid any risks. Especially this year, when death has been such a constant specter in the lives of my family and friends, I want to cling to every minute allotted to me. And I suppose that it's fairly telling that the mental and emotional repercussions of leaving my 20's are only just starting to hit me now, at 36.

I guess I just need to decide whether I want to recalibrate my mental image at all - whether it's more inappropriate and embarrassing to keep on thinking of myself as young, or more depressing and limiting to think of myself as mature. And what the hell does that even mean, anyway? I have no interest at all in becoming sedentary, or giving up my long hair or my nerdy-kid hobbies and interests... but at the same time, I don't want to be one of those awkward frozen-in-time people who still wear miniskirts and haunt college campuses and hang out with teenagers when they really ought to have moved on.

I don't know. I don't even know what questions to ask, right now....


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