See Ya 2019

We come to the close of another year– another decade in fact.

2019 was a mixed year for me. It was a struggle. It did not start off well. My father had to have emergency open-heart surgery and shortly after he had a major stroke. My family had to learn how to live differently. Especially for my mother. I am amazed by their resiliency and can proudly say, that I have inherited that.

I moved across the country (again!) to Tampa. Admittedly, it was hard to leave the desert. I loved the desert in Tucson, AZ. Whenever I see images now, I can smell it. Arizona was the first state that I ever lived in besides Massachusetts. It was definitely four years of growth and learning that I can, truly, bounce back from all the shit that life throws at me.

Moving Florida was a great decision simply for the fact that family is here (and those who are not are only within short driving distance or a four-hour flight). I am also making new friendships that I can already tell will be lasting– and one of my best friends from Boston moved here shortly after I did, and we hang out a lot… Can I tell you how important it is to have awesome friends?

Of course, moving to a new state comes with its ups and downs. So far its been a lot of downs, but I am hoping that will change in 2020. One of the hardest things of 2019 was the loss of my spiritual teacher and mentor Brad Kinne (or as I knew him, Balaam). It was a strange loss for me and I had to learn a different way of grieving.  I dedicated the first book of my writings and photography “Grave Spirits” to him…It’s still hard for me and when I think about it too much…well…it hurts.

My Belly Dance business is flourishing more here in Florida than it ever did in Arizona. I am already being booked for some awesome gigs in 2020. It does feel good to be dancing and performing again. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I have been professionally Belly Dancing for 15 years.

Oh yeah…I did also publish my first book! It’s short, but its a start. 2020 will be a year of writing as I am preparing my second (and longer) book. I am also doing research for a future long term writing goal-focused mainly on the occult workings of Grigory Rasputin.

One of the most important things that happened in 2019 was that I am finally accomplishing my goal of going to college. In 2020 I will be a junior in college. Two more years and then on to my Masters.

I learned in 2019, that you are never too old to follow your dreams. And it’s not to late start fresh. It does mean some heartbreak and frustation- but the road is always open.

2020 is shaping up to be a good year already. I have decided to be softer in the new decade. To let my guard down a bit more than I have in the past-and allow more people in.

I have also decided to do a 365-day gratefulness challenge.

Here is 2020…a new chapter in this book of life.

You Are Worthy

As 2019 exits its way to a new year, I always reflect on what I learned over the past 365 days. The biggest less I learned was to value my self worth– and to not be afraid to walk away from situations (and people) who don’t.

Oddly enough, when it comes to my dance career, I always knew my worth. And it’s why over the past 15 years I have been able to essentially have my own successful business as a Belly Dancer. For the most part, I have the entrepreneurial stuff down pretty well. When a gig request comes in, I know what my value is. Its years of dance classes, rehearsals, performances. Its years of directing and producing and choreographing. When I give a quote, 90% of it is my value. I do not negotiate my rates. I do not do performances for “exposure.” I am a  professional performer. I am an artist. And while people do not always understand artists — we do expect to get paid for our worth and work.

When it came to my everyday life, I had such a hard time excepting my worth. I found myself falling into the habit of being putting myself down. I have always been hard on myself. I was raised to be a perfectionist. But I never learned to value my worth. 2019 changed that. Almost 20 years working in the same field, I knew my education and experience were worth a lot more than what was being offered. It took the entire year for me to finally find the right place and the right people who saw my value.

I also learned that there are people who will not recognize your worth.  I am not talking about monetary worth. I am talking about people who do not recognize you and your creative abilities, your intellect, your personality, your humor and so much more. I learned that those people are not worth wasting your time on. They do not value you. I’ve taught myself that it’s better to not allow those people to take space in your head. Knowing who you are and what you deserve — what your worth is–its important. And I am grateful that this was the lesson I learned in 2019.

Now…..what does 2020 have to teach me?

The Unattainable

We all have something: a person place or thing that lies just out of our reach. So close that you can touch it with your fingertips and yet it’s so far away. And it not that you couldn’t have it- but just that you can’t. You can’t because after all the wishing, work and desire- it is just not meant to be yours. You relish in your mind, the moment that you have it. Even for a little while. You relish the way it makes you feel. The way you imagine yourself in that place where you always wanted to go. Mending a relationship that was shattered. Holding something/someone in your arms that you can almost feel and smell. Hearing words you wanted to hear. All the magic in the world couldn’t change the fact that what you want you may never get. The proverbial “follow your dreams,” just doesn’t happen. It may to some, but not everyone. We all have an unattainable. And there needs to a moment where you take a breath and accept that the journey has gone as far as it can, and its time to let go.

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Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Xanax and Caffeine

I am really good at introverting. I think I have surpassed the skills required to be an introvert. Wait? How could I be an introvert? After all, I am a performer. I am a professional dancer. I have performed for audiences between 10 and 500. I am also very outspoken. I say how I feel and fight for what is right. So maybe I am extroverted???

Whether introverted or extroverted, I know one thing for certain: I have an anxiety disorder.

I wake up with it. I go to bed with it. I perform with it. I work with it. It’s always there. Anxiety is a part of me. I am not defined by it. However, I do not believe I would be me if I didn’t have it.

Yes. There are days when my anxiety is so bad, its almost impossible to even walk out the door of my house to go to work. There are days when grocery shopping makes my heart race. There are days when I hate driving because my brain keeps telling me something dangerous is going to happen. Do I BELIEVE that something is actually going to happen? No. But anxiety thinks I should believe it. And that is what helps me live my life with anxiety.

Anxiety makes me want to believe that at any moment, the floor is going to fall out. I experienced this daily. But I do not let it control me. When it tells me something it wants me to believe, I have to mentally challenge myself to realize it’s a lie.

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Do I require benzodiazepines? At one time, I thought I did. I was hooked on Ativan. It was my lifeline. I became dependent on it because my anxiety wanted me to believe that if I didn’t take them- then something was going to happen. It took me years (and therapy) to learn how to control my thoughts and feelings. How to talk myself down from panic attacks. Not that I do not have one here or there. I do. And I do have Ativan to help me. However, I only take it when I really need it. When I can’t control my thoughts. And that’s ok.

There are still days when I have to cancel plans last minute or think it’s just to peoplely out there. I know those days will always come. But I have worked hard to recognize when I am able to talk myself down from a panic attack. I have recognized when my anxiety is trying to make me feel scared- and I have learned how to quiet the noise.

Whether I am introverted or extroverted who knows! What I do know is that learning how to live with anxiety so it doesn’t control my life is what is really important.