Spirit Branch

So, I was supposed to be super productive today.  I was going to finish my Full Moon Offering incense, write about my 5th patron deity, maybe write a bit more about my complicated relationship with Inanna, clean my side of the room, bathe the doggies, maybe even collect some cherry blossoms.

It didn’t work out that way.  I’ve been having quite the fibro flare for the past few days, and it culminated in a lot of pain when I woke up.  So I already knew that things were going to work out a little differently.  Sometimes I have to pick and choose where I spend my energy, especially when it’s limited with a flare up.

So first, Bear and I spent some romantic adult time together.  We don’t get a chance to do that often these days, what with work, our other work we take on, our hobbies, and my health stuff.  It was tough for me to talk myself into it today, hurting as I was, but SOOOO worth it.  It always is.  We need to reconnect, and that needs to be a bigger goal than what it is sometimes.

Josef and Amie Ravenson

Josef and Amie Ravenson

Afterwards, I was struck with the inspiration to start a project that I’ve been noodling for a while.   I wanted something that was rather simple and beautiful to reconnect with my spiritual practice, and with the full moon in particular.  So I was thinking about something that would be creative and meaningful, and maybe even something that Bear would want to participate in.

Thus was born the idea of the spirit branch.  It will not only be beautiful, but it will give us a focus for each lunar cycle.

So we spent the next hour or so searching for the perfect branch to use.  (We have a lot of branches around, as our yard is heavily wooded in the back.)  I found a really pretty maple branch covered with lichen, but I couldn’t bear to damage the pretty lichen with what I wanted to do.  I found an ash branch, which I liked because it would tie to Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  But it was old, and I didn’t know if it was already rotting.  So after looking around, I was drawn to a section of a dogwood branch that was leaning near our woodpile.  The energies of dogwood are good for love magick, protection, and also WISHES.  Bingo!  It’s also prevalent here in the South in the Spring, and I thought that was fitting.  It will tie our wishes to our home, and also to the time of year when we started this practice.

Cornus florida inflorescence, showing four lar...

Dogwood magick- Cornus florida inflorescence, showing four large white bracts and central flower cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the idea is that on every full moon, we raid my (considerably large) yarn and ribbon collection to find something that represents what we want to manifest for this lunar cycle.  For example, this cycle I will choose a purple yarn, maybe some purple beads, and I will tie it around a quartz crystal, because I want to bring more ritual and a spiritual practice back into my life.  Then, I will tie the yarn to our spirit branch, maybe light a candle, and meditate on the significance.  Bear will do the same, probably without all the meditation, etc.  But in the end, a wish is a wish, positive energy is positive energy.

I will also tie charm bags, dried herbs, stones, etc to the spirit branch on each full moon, and over the years it will become more and more beautiful with all of our wishes, focuses, etc. there for us to see.  I’ll post an after pic once we’ve attached our first wishes.

Blessed be! 🙂

English: Lunar libration. see below for more d...

English: Lunar libration. see below for more descriptions Français : Librations de la lune. Voir une description détaillée en dessous. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Energy Redirection

I’ve been going through a bit of a crisis lately.   The fibro has pretty much changed the way I look at everything.  It made me reexamine how I spend my energy, who I give it to, and what actually feeds me energy back.  I’ve spent the last 2 years getting more weak, feeling less ME.

From the embers of my old life...

From the embers of my old life…

THE LONG STORY

Part of this is due to my retail job.  Anyone who thinks that retail is a nice, easy job has never done it.  The energy output is boggling.  Even if I don’t step out from behind my counter once the entire shift, the running back and forth, twisting for cigarettes, bending over for dropped change, etc. makes the shift seem more like 8 hours of Jazzercize than 8 hours of honest work.  Add in people who can’t summon up even the most basic politeness, and my energy plummets.  When I have a true problem with a customer over some misunderstanding or miscommunication, it truly wrecks my day.  Those are the days that ensure I’ll be in pain for the rest of the night and part of the next day.

But I’ll get to that later.

I attempted to take a class for a work-at-home customer service job.  I’ve done it before, and while it is a bit more stressful taking call after call, it’s also less stressful in that I don’t have to constantly rearrange my sleep schedule based on what days I’m opening or closing, and I don’t have to try to arrange for a ride.  I also wouldn’t have to stand/Jazzercize for 8 hours at a time, and I was really looking forward to how that would help my body.  So I was taking classes from 9-1pm, then going to work 3-10.  This all sounds reasonable until you factor in the 2 hours of homework, and the fact that I didn’t get home/fed/tired until somewhere around 1am.  So I kept getting behind on homework, losing sleep, stressing over the class, and I realized that it just wasn’t going to work if I was still working my retail job at the same time.  Sadly, I can’t quit retail for a month of unpaid training for what could have been a temporary job, either.  So it was a no-go.

And suddenly, I was stuck in the same position.  All my hopes for getting out were dashed.  The problem is that I have a very limited time in retail before my body just crumbles.  I can feel it coming.  It’s getting worse and worse, and there’s going to come a time when I really CAN’T physically do it anymore.  Some people may have passed that threshold a while back, but unfortunately for me, I have a lot of experience with pain tolerance.  So I’ve been sticking with the situation that’s hurting me.

So this leaves me with some interesting questions.  First and foremost, what the fuck do I actually want to do?  I love writing, and would love to be a full-time author, but that’s the kind of thing that makes money in the long run.  I may look into freelance writing or editing, but those would just bring in a little money here or there.  You can’t really make a career out of those things.  I’m almost 40.  It’s time to think bigger.

Then I flashed back on a company idea that Bear and I were kicking around a year or so ago.  I made a huge batch of kyphi, intending to sell it on Etsy for basically enough money to buy more incense ingredients.  I had an aromatherapy company a long time ago, and I burnt myself out on it by working too many 16 hour days and eating/sleeping/breathing aromatherapy.  There came a point where I realized that I didn’t even enjoy it anymore.  I tend to be a bit Type A about these things.

This time, I’m going to take it easier.  I’m going to work on a few things at a time, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  One company that has really inspired me to try it this way is MoonaLisa, whom I’ve never managed to order from because her products are in such high demand and I miss the window to order.  If you look at her catalog, you’ll see that everything is sold out.  I love that.

THE SHORT STORY

So, we reopened the topic of Ravenson Reagents.  We’re going to sell on Etsy, maybe Ebay, and probably end up with a full shopping site at some point, but with a limited product range.  I’ll have some incenses that are available most of the time, but there will be special lines when I get inspired.  Right now, I’m working on one called ‘The Temple of Morpheus’, which will have incense, tea, bathsalts, and candles to assist with dreamwork.  I’m also going to list my first batch of kyphi, and I will continue to tweak my recipe and offer the results for sale.  (Hint: the next batch will have about half as much frankincense.  I love frankincense, don’t get me wrong, but I wished that some of the other ingredients could have shone through a little more.)

I’m also trying to visit here more often, and I’m sorry to say this, but I might start placing ads here.  It’s not something I wanted to do, but if it helps me through this transition, so be it.  Since nobody wants to place ads on a blog that doesn’t get many hits, there will be some more promotion work going on behind the scenes.  I’ve always had a linked Twitter and Facebook, I just haven’t used them much.  Now I will.  For other places to visit me, click here.

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I’m also noticing how certain people impact my energy level.  I’ve always been relatively empathic as far as sensing how people are feeling, despite what they say.  But more and more, I’m letting their energy impact my own.  It’s like I had stronger boundaries once, but they’ve weakened with the rest of my body.

I’ve always believed in the energy exchange of personal interaction, and I’ve always had a huge aversion to attention whores.  There’s a big difference between a happy extrovert and an energy-sucking vortex, and I’m really noticing that there are a lot more of the latter types than what I initially suspected.  Again, I think I had better boundaries and shields at one point.

So, that’s something that I’m needing to manage as well.  I need to make sure that I limit my time with people who exhaust me and make sure that I have some sort of shield up when I am around people I don’t know or who drain me.

It looks like some deeper energy work is in order.

I’ve been doing some meditating, which is a practice that I always seem to let go of after a while.  I’m trying to figure out a way to make a daily practice of it, something short and sweet.  We’ll see how that goes.

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While I was at the sauna, I did a reading with my new The Enchanted Map Oracle Cards.  These are supposed to be used as a companion to The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life, which I haven’t read yet, but it looks interesting.  At any rate, the art on these cards is gorgeous, and the meanings are relatively easy to glean.  So I bought them as an unbirthday present for myself.

I did the 6 card spread, and this is what I got.  (My descriptions are paraphrased loosely from the handy-dandy included booklet.)

The Enchanted Map Spread, sauna, 1/20

The Enchanted Map Spread, sauna, 1/20

Card 1: The Past Influence — 38. Heal the Ouch — Healing and soothing heart, body, mind, and soul.  This is a time of healing and spending time with the healing arts.  (I’m seeing this as me trying to heal myself of all the physical pain of fibro, as well as letting go all of the things that were holding me down.  I can also see this as representing Bear’s heart attack, and just all the chaos of our lives, and having to get through that to get to this point.)

Card 2: The Present Point of Vantage — 34. Spark — A spark of creativity, and moving on with optimism and hope.  Good time to give birth to an idea or begin a new endeavor.  (No-brainer.  I’ve been creative and manic, and the spark is CERTAINLY there.)

Card 3: What You Resist — 52. Magical Map Shifter — People who come into my life to affect personal growth.  “The Magical Map Shifter always initiates you into a better version of yourself.”  (This is true.  I resist this.  I tend to keep people at arm’s length, most especially when I’m in one of my tender creative periods.  I have NO desire to ask for, or even accept help, and this seems like a very foreign concept to me.  Also, I really don’t think this is Bear.  He’s absolutely my soul mate, and he’s willing to help me with this, but I know that this isn’t his dream, and may not be part of his life path.   So I’m cautious about asking for him to do too much for Ravenson Reagents if it’s going to keep him from pursuing his personal goals.)

Card 4: Unexpected Help — 2. Gentle Gardener — A reminder that my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs help create my reality.  Stay positive and expect a wondrous return.  (I love this card so much.  It’s very ‘Law of Attraction’, and that’s something I’m striving to work with right now.)

Card 5: The Next Right Action — 16. Rescue — Ask for help to expand your life.  “Ask and you will receive.”  Also, ask for divine assistance.  (I did ask Bear if he would help me with small things, but again, that just doesn’t feel like what we’re talking about here.  I don’t honestly know who else to ask.  But I’m going to keep an eye out, and spend time with my meditation to see if I can deepen my connection with Goddess.  Karmically speaking, I think I’m about due for some good things to come my way.  I don’t feel entitled to them necessarily, but I’d like to think that all the BS was building up to something beautiful.  :-))

Card 6: The Probable Future Destination — 28. Movement — “This is the time for positive momentum as you come out of a time of restriction.”  The fog lifts, I feel compelled to move forward, and I take the right actions to change my life.  (Ye Gods, I hope so.  This is a wonderful card, and the ‘period of restriction’ really spoke to me.  I’ve mentioned to Bear and J how much I’ve just felt ‘stuck’ lately.  I’ve been feeling like I’m out of options.  Maybe that’s not entirely true.  What a wonderful feeling that would be, to actually move forward with something and be successful.  :-))

So this was all a really positive reading.  I loved it, and I want to work with these cards A LOT.  Again, they’re beautiful, from the artwork to the gorgeous gold-leafing on the edges, and I love the archetypes and their influences.  It brings me back to the bosom of Jungian theory, and that’s always been something I’ve loved.

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This is the last of my obsessive self-analysis posts for a while.  I’m actually boring myself with all this processing here, but it IS that inner exploration time of the year, after all.  I promise to get back to something much more fun and upbeat next time.  Maybe I’ll post my recipe for Imbolc potato soup.  Actually, there’s not really a recipe, it’s just something I make up every year.  There’s always onions, potatoes, milk or a milk substitute, and lots of garlic and herbs.  Sometimes there’s also cheese.  🙂

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Warmth

Today Bear and I are here at our local Korean sauna, doing the annual ‘I don’t celebrate my birthday anymore, but I still want to go to the sauna’ trip.  I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.

There are so many good things about this place.  Right now I’m sitting in the red clay room, which is supposed to help remove toxins from your body.  I like it because it’s one of the cooler of the hot rooms, and it’s a good way to start.  We’ve been here about an hour, and I’m just now starting to break a sweat.  Other rooms include the charcoal, jade, gemstone, salt, and silver and gold rooms.  There’s also a pool, and men and women only areas with hot and cold tubs.  No clothes are permitted.

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One of the main drawbacks is the insanely delicious restaurant right in the middle of the common area.  It lures you with its intoxicating scents to eat until you’re stuffed.

But the main thing that I really crave here is the warmth.  From the moment you walk in the front door, the heated floors on your soon bare feet feels like a hug.  To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed the heat much.  I’m very much of Anglo-Saxon/Celtic stock, and sweating usually isn’t my thing.  But the warmth just soaks into your muscles and joints the way that the cold soaks in on cold days like today.  You don’t even notice how cold you were and how tight your body was until you aren’t and it isn’t.

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Love that.

There are also other lovely touches, like the bags of herbs hanging from light fixtures in each room.  From what I can tell, mugwort makes up a large percentage of the blends. I’ve always been very scent-oriented, and the scent of mugwort now takes me here to the place where I can be warm and comforted in the middle of winter.

I highly recommend this.

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Continue reading

How fibro feels.

Snow Tree

Snow Tree (Photo credit: Lapse of the Shutter)

I try not to bitch and whine too much about health stuff here.  Honestly, nobody really wants to know that much detail about the pain that others go through, and who can blame them?  Life is filled with pain and health trouble, so why dwell on it?

But here’s the thing.  I tell people that I’m ‘having a flare-up’ or that it’s a ‘hurty day’, and they don’t know exactly what to say because they don’t know exactly what that entails.  People who know me really well, like my family or Bear, know that I have a hugely high pain tolerance.  So if the pain is enough for me to even mention, it’s pretty bad.  Others don’t exactly know that about me, so I’m going to go into detail about what hurts and when.  Just for future reference.

Starting at the top:

1. Neck.  Fortunately, I don’t have the gnarly headaches that a lot of people get with fibro, and I’m grateful for that.  However, I do get some pretty serious neck pain and stiffness.  I got whiplash in a car wreck when I was in my early 20s, and I think the flare-ups just enflame that.  This happens once or twice a week.

2.  Shoulders.  Shoulder pain isn’t terribly common, but when I get it, it feels kind of like when you sleep wrong with your arm underneath you at a weird angle, and it’s sore, crampy, and sometimes tingly.  Sometimes it makes my arms weak or makes it tough to hold my hands over my head for any period of time.  This can be troublesome when doing things like washing my hair in the shower.  This happens like once every 2 weeks or so.

3.  Collarbones.  This one’s weird.  It doesn’t seem like they should hurt, but boy howdy, do they!  There are three types of pain here.  There’s just general muscular tightness and crampiness, white-hot burning/stinging sensations, or the feeling that someone is literally trying to pull my collarbones out through my skin.  Sometimes I get all 3.  JOY!  This happens like twice a week or more, depending on stress.

4.  Chest.  This is my main source of pain/discomfort.  Sometimes it feels like my entire rib cage is filled with hot, sharp gravel that’s cutting me from the inside.  Sometimes it feels like there’s a big rock where my heart should be, and that’s poking me from the inside.  Sometimes I feel like I have a large toddler standing on my chest.  Occasionally there are shooting pains in my breasts that go along with all of this.  Sometimes I get short of breath when everything is really enflamed.  It’s always scary, and I’ve been to the ER twice over the past year or so, thinking I was having a heart attack.  I really hate this one, and there’s at least one of these things happening ALL THE TIME.  It’s really not fun.

5.  Ribs.  I think I actually injured a rib, possibly dislocated it.  For almost 2 years now, I’ve been having a stabbing, tearing pain in my right ribs, in the back.  Sometimes it migrates up around my shoulder blade, sometimes it migrates to the front, but it’s usually on the right side.  I used to get really sharp spasm pains that took my breath away, but it seems to have mellowed a bit.  They still make me grunt and grab something nearby, but I can breathe.  I just usually don’t want to.  This happens on nights after I’ve worked, and is one of the major reasons I’m switching jobs.  It’s especially bad when I’m sleeping, and twist ever so slightly in bed to turn over or something.  So this happens like 3-4 times/week.

6.  Elbows.  This is a WTF kind of pain.  I’ve never injured my elbows, I don’t play tennis or do any of the things that should hurt my elbows, so this is just random and annoying.  They usually just feel really enflamed and sore, like they should be about the size of grapefruits.  They aren’t.  They also pop now, which they never used to do.  Sometimes my wrists hurt a bit, but not nearly as bad as when I had tendonitis in one wrist a few years ago.  This is almost constant nowadays, and I wonder if it has to do with winter.  Will it get better when the weather gets warmer?

7.  Lower back/upper butt.  If I stay in bed for more than 7 hours, my lower back and pelvic bone are going to start complaining.  It’s kind of an ache/cramp that feels like I would be fine if I could just get everything to pop.  But it doesn’t pop.  Also, when I’m standing at work, I can slightly stretch and pop my lower back, sometimes 3 or 4 times in a shift.  This is the main reason I don’t get a lot of sleep these days (that and the fact that my cheewawas have tiny bladders), and it happens most nights/mornings of the week.  Once in a while, I’ll wake up feeling OK, and it’s surprising and delightful.

8.  Hips.  This one is really scary for me, as I had a full hip replacement about 8 years ago.  I really don’t love that it’s starting to ache/cramp again, especially since I really don’t have the money to have another surgery.  I also don’t like that my GOOD hip hurts too, as the idea of having two bionic hips at my age is just depressing.  This happens mostly when it’s about to get colder or rainier.  It’s very much like the arthritis that caused me to need the hip replacement to start with.  It’s getting more and more pervasive, however, and sometimes has to do with how much work I do at work.

9.  Knees.  This one isn’t terribly common, but sometimes I’ll go for a few days where my knees pop over and over.  I don’t know what triggers this one.

10.  Overall.  You know how you feel when you haven’t worked out in several years, and then you get the idea that TODAY IS THE DAY?  So you go to the gym, and you do cardio, you lift weights, you isolate muscle groups, and maybe even do something really ridiculous like lunges or crunches?  Then you go home, and you feel great, right?  Maybe a bit weak, a bit sore, but still really good.

Now, think about how you feel when you wake up the next morning.  All that pain, regret, lactic acid and evil?  I feel like that every single morning that I wake up.  On some days, I can take a few Ibuprofen and get moving, and I start to feel better.  Some days I just don’t.

Add to all that random pains from out of nowhere, and you’re there.  For example, two nights ago my ankle started cramping for no reason whatsoever.  I didn’t hurt it, wasn’t laying on it funny, there was no reason why it should have started hurting like that.  But it did.

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So every day for me is a mixed bag of the above-mentioned problems.  It sucks.  It really fucking sucks.  But I try really hard to grit my teeth and go on with my day, and I try to be nice to everyone because it’s not THEIR fault that I’m hurting so bad.

Yes, I get depressed.  Yes, I feel hopeless.  Yes, I want to crawl under a rock and die some days.  But I get through it.

So when I say that I’m ‘having a flare-up’, or ‘feeling hurty’, now you get a little sense of what that means for me.  It’s pervasive.  It’s changed me in ways I don’t like.  It’s sucked away a large part of my joi de vivre.  I feel guilty that Bear doesn’t have a more fun, carefree wife who can go do fun things with him.

I threw Bear a huge party for his 30th birthday last weekend, and it cost me 2 days of bed/couch time, one night of calling in sick, one night of working while out of it on painkillers, and then another day of lounging around after that.  I just can’t expend large amounts of energy without dealing with how that will affect me anymore.

But this is the life that we’ve been given, and we do the best that we can.

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I’m making some changes to help mange the fibro.  I’m phasing out my retail/stand up job so that I can begin working from home again.  This will allow me to do several things.  1.  Sit down to work.  2.  Choose my hours so that I can avoid the stress of an unknown schedule from week to week.  3.  Try to establish a regular sleep schedule.  (Lack of sleep really increases my symptoms)  4.  Avoid the stress of having to schedule my rides to and from work.  5.  I’ll have more home time to start a daily yoga practice and cook healthier meals.  6.  Make more money, which will also help relieve some stress.

The main things are that I need to get sleep, avoid stress, and leave my stand-up job.  This is all coming to fruition.

I”m going to stop focusing on other things that don’t feed me.  For example, I’m making no time for casual sex anymore.  Maybe someday we’ll find someone who’s on the same page with us as far as relationships go, but I’m not going to compromise anymore.  And I’m going to devote less time and energy to ‘the search’.  My main prerequisite is that whomever we get involved with is really into us, and really fits into our life, to the point that I know they would visit one of us in the hospital if we were hospitalized.

I need creative outlets.  Right now, I’m still writing sporadically, and I’m working on a cross stitch.  I need to find ways to express myself.  This blog is also a good place for that.  I’d like to start drawing again as well.

Reading is also a good escape, and is a great way to get to sleep, escape stressful monkey mind, and pick up tips on writing that works and doesn’t.  To that end, my Goodreads page.  Sadly, fibro helps kill your focus as well, so I read much slower and I read less complicated stories these days.  Still, I crave it.

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My next post will be about something happier, I promise.  In 2 weeks (give or take), we’ll be spending a day at our local Korean sauna.  I’d love to post pics and maybe find some recipes for the delicious Korean food there.  Maybe something about mugwort, as they use a lot of mugwort to scent their saunas, etc.

Also, Imbolc is coming.  If I’m honest, I’m usually a LOT more introspective and gloomy this time of year, so I’m happy that that hasn’t taken me over yet.  We’ll be getting Bear his birthday tattoo in the next few weeks, and we’re talking about finally getting our wedding rings tattoed for Valentines Day as well.  I’m also hoping for a day trip down to the location where I’m setting Willowisp.  So there are good things happening for me this winter.  I’ll be avoiding any mention of my birthday, as usual, but I have a lot of other good things to look forward to.

I also REALLY want to try to garden something this year.  I want to grow some food, even if it’s just one lone tomato.

Despite all the pain, all the fear and uncertainty of my future, I have a lot of good things.  I just try to hang onto those as much as possible.

English: Galanthus nivalis, snowdrops in the s...

English: Galanthus nivalis, snowdrops in the snow (sneeuwklokje) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Another naNOwrimo.

I tried.  I really did.  I got to 17,451 words.  But I haven’t written in the past 7 days, and I just don’t see myself making it, even though I logically know I could just bust my ass and finish it.

There are a few reasons (excuses).

One, sitting in bed for long hours is painful.  It hurts my butt, my hip (the bad one), my back, etc.  And sitting in the living room means that the TV or loud Xbox is usually on.  So I just don’t have a great space to sit for the hours and hours it takes for me to quiet monkey brain and start writing.  I’m going to work on that.  I’m spending today cleaning my office, and making the desk a workable space again.  For the last 2 years or so, it’s just been the place where I put shit that I don’t have any other good place for (TM).  Here are some before pics.  I’ll post after pics, you know, AFTER.

Nasty messy office

Nasty messy office

 

You can see my attempts at TRYING to organize

You can see my attempts at TRYING to organize

 

Let's make this more peaceful and useful, shall we?

Let’s make this more peaceful and useful, shall we?

 

Two, stress is bad for fibro.  I’m definitely a type A personality when it comes to reaching goals and accomplishing things, and I’ve been driving myself to write around my work schedule, write when I hurt, write, write WRITE!  I’ve been causing myself so much stress, that I started having a major fibro flare.  My life is stressful enough without adding my own obsessiveness to the mix, and I needed a break.  Another thing that’s bad for fibro is not getting enough sleep, and NaNo is the great sleep-killer.

NaNo was productive, however.  I did get those 17,451 words, and I’m very proud of them, as I don’t think they’re all that bad.  I also hit on the idea of writing ritual, and I realized that I need to dedicate a quiet space to writing (hence the great office overhaul of 2013).  I also discovered some fabulous writing YouTubers, and I’ll be following them for a long time to come.  I’m also going to keep a date book where I write down a word count for the day, as I think that making less of a word GOAL, and more of a writing RECORD (to look back on and be proud of) will help my mindset immensely.  I also learned a lot about making really good coffee.  🙂

I’m certainly not beating myself up over this.  My life has taken a lot of turns over the past few years, and I can honestly say that I gave it a good shot.  I just have a lot of other shit that needs to be addressed as well.  So I’ll definitely continue writing, (I like this book SO much more than the first one), but I’m going to continue plodding away at it slowly and steadily.  And I’ll be plodding away in a new space, with candles and stones, and the right music, and etc.  Lots of etc.  I particularly enjoy the etc.

Now the question remains: What do I do with all this leftover candy??

Health issues and the drive to have fun, dammit!

So, we recently went through another bout of health scares here in the Ravenson household.  What a great way to pull my head out of my ass and put everything RIGHT back into perspective.

Long story long:

I went to the ER for chest pains and trouble breathing.  It’s not really new, I’ve been having chest pain for about a year now.  The breathing trouble IS new however, and it freaked me out.  I had an EKG, blood tests, and a chest Xray and all checked out fine.  I was told to schedule a stress test, which costs $8000-$10,000 with a $1000 deposit.  Thanks, but I’m poor and uninsured, so if there’s something wrong I’ll just die tragically thankyouverymuch.

My snazzy outfit.

While I was there, waiting to be discharged, Bear had what can only be described as ‘an episode’.  It’s happened a few times.  He got the cold sweats, got dizzy (room-spinning dizzy), and began throwing up.

Since we were there, I asked the nurse if she could take his blood pressure.  She said she’d need to check him in first, and since he’s had all the heart issues, we both thought that was a capital idea.  So they checked him in.

They ran the same EKG, blood tests, chest Xray, etc.  They didn’t come back OK, but that’s to be expected.  He has 4 stents from a previous heart attack.  So we found that his heart function is about 40%, which we knew already.  (Believe it or not, NORMAL heart function is only about 60-70%.)  The doctor was concerned with the damage to the heart muscle that was still present, and they decided to keep him overnight for observation.

I stayed with him.  My chest hurt, I felt like shit, but I wanted to be there regardless.  He’s my Bear, after all.

While we were there, he mostly slept while I mostly brooded, wrote, and brooded some more.  It occurred to me that we just aren’t those people who are going to live long, healthy lives.  We aren’t going to make it to 80.  We aren’t going to spend our golden years rocking on our front porch.  Chances are, the Bear will die earlier than most other people.  My dad passed at 57, and his mom passed in her early 50’s (54 I think), so it’s not unprecedented.  I’ve also had health troubles my entire life between the leg perthes, surgeries, adenomyosis, more surgeries, and now fibromyalgia and costochondritis.  While none of these will kill me, my quality of life just isn’t what it should be.  There’s always this pervasive background pain and the worry that it brings.  So, when the Bear is gone, I’ll likely choose to follow him.

I realize that’s all kind of sad, but it is what it is.  These are the lives we’ve been given.  On the plus side, it means that we need to have fun while we can.  I want to start making some more money so that we can travel.  I need to get him to New Zealand at some point, and dammit, I want to get to make my Scotland/England/Wales trip before I’m too hurty to enjoy it.  I also want to get my novel edited and published, so at least I can say that I’ve put something of myself out there.

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On that note, a few days after we left the hospital, we had a chance to go to the county fair.  We got to see cows and goats and chickens, and we ate a shit tonne of fried foods.  Granted, that’s probably just hastening the inevitable, but it was also part of enjoying the experience.

Nighttime view

Can't remember which ride this was

fewds.

Cow.

Sometime next week, we’ll be making our annual pilgrimage to the apple orchards in Ellijay, GA.  We usually have a great time moseying up through the mountains, and we’re hoping to bring back enough cider to ferment and enough apples to make apple butter for Yule gifts.

Life is fucking short.  We WILL enjoy ourselves.

DragonCon debriefing

DragonCon is really my favorite holiday of the year for various reasons.  First, I get to see friends that I don’t see at any other time of year.  And it’s always so familiar and lovely, and I can’t hug them enough when I do see them.  Second, there are amazing writing panels there that really inspire me to do the writing I should be doing anyways.  This year was no exception.  Third, several tens of thousands of geeks.  What’s not to love?

This year was a little different for us.  Bear actually took part in 3 performances with the Atlanta Radio Theater Company.  It was great, because it gave him a lot of exposure and confidence.  He’d never really performed in front of that many people before, and it was a fabulous experience.  He got to feel more professional, and have a serious rockstar moment during ARTC’s performance of War of the Worlds: The Untold Story.  It kind of took away from his happy Dcon time, but it was also pretty fuckin’ cool to actually be on the schedule for some events.

I also found that I AM actually kind of into celebrities.  I always thought I was too cool to care about all the celebrities there, but there are 2 words that summarize the change in my attitude this year.  LUCY LAWLESS.  She’s not just gorgeous, but she’s also charming and very grounded.  I wish her panel had been 10 hours long.  I would have stayed for the entire thing.

Here’s my day-by-day:

Thursday: Standing in line for passes, met Sam and Adrienne @ food court, then on to Trader Vic’s.

Friday: LUCY LAWLESS.  Stolen moments in a panel.  Crazy proud of Bear, though I missed his performance of ‘In Need of a Bard’.  Picked up Duncan from school.  Realized I hadn’t seen my husbear all day and freaked out a little. Need Coffee’s recording of Weekend Justice, then Karaoke in the Xtrack room.  Didn’t get to nearly as many panels as I’d hoped.

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Saturday: Holy shit, I AM into celebrities (wandered into the Walk of Fame, where I saw Gigi Edgely, Adrian Paul, Lou Ferrigno, Malcolm McDowell, and George Takai.  I was a little star struck.). Bear didn’t have a ton of panels scheduled, so he hung out with me most of the day (lovely!).  Went to the dealer’s room and only got as far as the Chessex table before the crowds pissed me off.   Ate at Willy’s where the superior tofu tacos live.  A local man selling ‘NINJA TURTLES!!’ (Tiny, scared baby turtles being shaken around in tiny plastic boxes.  Made me cry.  I wanted to go buy one or two to rescue them from him, but I didn’t want to give that asshole my money.  :-().  Favorite two panels (Supernatural Playlist: Music in Urban Fantasy, and City of Dreadful Night: World-building in Urban Fantasy).  I almost thought about not coming next year due to the crowds.  *gasp!*

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Sunday: Much less crowded, panels started later in the day so I found an alcove in the Hyatt Tower to crash.  Author James R Tuck from the two panels the night before came and sat there while I slept, was kind of funny.  Someone walked by, saw me laying down facing the wall, and said “Now THAT is a DragonCon moment!” and took a picture of me.  More panels.  Bear’s a-fucking-mazing performance in War of the Worlds: The Untold Story.

Monday: Blew off several panels.  Went back to the dealer’s room where we decided that a bear picture was more important than the nice anniversary dinner we’d planned (an obvious choice!).  Bear’s performance in Scouring of the Shire.  Make the Bad Men Stop (the very best way to wrap up DragonCon weekend- friends being hilarious and wonderful).  Hugging everyone until next year.  Dinner with friends at High Velocity (we were too broke to order real food, but ended up full anyways because they ordered the chocolate nachos for our anniversary.  <3)

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I was a bit worried about how I would do on Dcon weekend with fibromyalgia, and it turns out that I was mostly OK.  I had trouble breathing, and that’s something I’m going to get checked out, but for the most part, I was so pumped-up on adrenaline that I carried through OK.  However, I worked Tuesday and Wednesday, and that was ROUGH.  So the weekend itself wasn’t too terrible, but the recovery period gave me some trouble.  Maybe next year I’ll suck it up and get a disability sticker.  *shrug*

All-in-all, it was a lovely weekend.  I can’t wait until next year! 🙂