Monday, March 30, 2020

The Domesticated Goddess

So much has changed in the last few months.

First, I bought a house.  This is a house that has been in my family for almost 70 years.  It was my grandparents' home, which they purchased in the 1950's.  It is where my dad grew up.  After my grandmother passed away five years ago, my brother continued to rent it from my uncle until his expanding family required him to find a bigger place.  So my uncle sold the house to me.  I have lived in a rented condo for the last ten years.  Although the location was awesome, I was definitely tired of living the "apartment life."  I also wanted to be closer to my family.  My commute was going to go from 5 miles to 24 (or, in California-speak: from 10 minutes to anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour) each way.  But I was willing to make that sacrifice to make a change.  I'm 43.  Unmarried.  No kids.  I often feel lost in the world.  And I felt like being closer to the kids was going to give me more purpose and joy.

Second, while re-modeling this house, I met the love of my life.  And it was someone I already knew!  When I started wanting to work on the house late last year, a co-worker told me that another co-worker did side work and could help me with paint.  Ed entered the picture to help me with the house in December.  We would be in the house working at the same time almost every weekend.  We would BS with each other, and we would share our nightmare dating stories.  He kept telling me that he felt like once I moved to Brentwood and got out of the bar scene, I would settle down.  My dad came to town in mid-January and we had a couple of family birthday celebrations.  My family started asking me, why aren't you dating Ed??  I kept deflecting: Ed hasn't asked ME out!  Co-workers started teasing us and accusing us of dating.  We kept denying it.  Around the same time, our texts back and forth moved from just about the house, to be a little more curious about what we were each doing outside of working on the house.  They got a little more flirtatious.  I started inviting him to do things with my friends and me -- like hot tub night.  Then one night after the hot tub, he kissed me.  And it was such an amazing connection.  We've essentially been together ever since.  I've never had something be so effortless.  One of my issues in past relationships was that I always felt like I was too much, so past boyfriends perhaps tolerated me.  And Ed doesn't tolerate me.  He celebrates me and tells me every day how lucky HE is.  All while continuing to work on my house (for free now, though...sorry honey!).  He makes dinner for my family and me more nights than not.  He cleans.  He does yard work.  He's easy to get along with.  He tells me I'm beautiful.  My family adores him.  I seriously keep pinching myself because sometimes I can't believe this is real.  I've never been treated so well, or been so happy.  I never knew it was supposed to be easy.  I always fought for the wrong relationships in the past.  I didn't realize it shouldn't be such a fight.  He is everything I've ever wanted in a partner, and I am so fortunate we found each other.  You never want to believe that you weren't a whole person when you were single, or say that another person completes you, but you never know how awesome things really can be until you find that healthy, happy relationship.  All the puzzle pieces that you didn't even know were missing just fit together.

Third, holy shit, this covid-19 virus.  Nothing like a worldwide pandemic to lock you down and test a brand new relationship.  We are two weeks into the shelter-in-place order that is keeping the "non-essential" workers at home.  What I'm learning is that people are still walking around doing whatever they want to do.  I know so many people who will be financially devastated by this in the long run.  There is no unemployment or stimulus package for a lot of small businesses who literally can't open their doors right now.  I feel very lucky that Ed and I remain (for now) employed.  Ed has to go into work, but I get to work from home.  I go into the office for a few hours about once a week to get the mail and process some things that are just easier to do in person.  Again, I want to express that I am very grateful that I have a paycheck coming in, have an amazing partner who is taking care of me emotionally, and that I'm in this home rather than that tiny, dark condo while we are all being quarantined...but as someone who often struggles with depression, and especially when I am basically being locked down, I worry about the emotional toll this could take on me.

I felt the beginnings of it last week.  I couldn't shake the dark feeling.  I try not to watch the news if I don't have to, so I don't have the barrage of bad news and overwhelming statistics constantly being shouted at me.  I try not to engage that much on Facebook about it.  But the shadow was looming over me.  Then I get mad at myself:  I have no business being sad!  I am healthy.  I have a paycheck and I am blessed to be in this house and across the street from my brother.  I don't get to be sad when other people are actually suffering.  But that's not how depression works.  It's like a blanket someone is slowly covering you with.  Sure, when it's just on your feet, it's warm but you aren't worried.  Then it's around your knees, then your waist -- you have clothes on, so it's a lot warmer than you'd prefer.  It's covering your chest, so it's harder to breathe.  Suddenly, it's over your face, and you panic.  But it's too late and someone is holding it on you so you can't get out.  The more you struggle, the hotter it gets and the harder it is to breathe.  By then, you're in a full-blown freak out and the come down will take days...weeks...sometimes months.  Sometimes it requires medication, and professional help.  Sometimes you can figure it out on your own.

I have watched depression take me over many times.  My last bout was when I was trying to do school last year, and it was too overwhelming.  I was staying in the house crying almost every night, and still not getting my homework done.  I stopped hanging out with my friends, and I didn't feel like going anywhere.  It was a rough time.  These times we are in certainly have the potential for putting me in that place again.  I'm somewhat isolated at home during the day.  I am not going to the office every day, and not seeing my co-workers.  I am not doing my regular activities.  My saving grace is that Ed and my brother's family are here most nights and we eat dinner together.  We are essentially operating as one family unit during this shelter-in-place.  It is keeping me sane.  When I felt the first inkling of a problem last week, I warned Ed.  I told him I can't always control it but I recognize when it's coming on.  So he made sure we got out of the house.  We have taken some hikes.  Done yard work.  Last weekend, I even went on a little bike ride.  We are doing yoga 4-5 days per week (online class).  I feel a lot better today.

This covid thing is unlike anything I've ever witnessed before.  I am still struggling to see how things got out of hand this quickly.  I know most of us hate the saying "everything happens for a reason."  But perhaps we can all take a step back and take this time to figure out what is actually important to us.  For me, I couldn't have been in a better place for this to happen.  I am surrounded by love and joy.  I have a five year old and a one year old to keep me entertained (I also have White Claw for that).  I enjoy spending time with my brother and sister-in-law.  I have an amazing boyfriend.  Ed made a fire pit so we can sit in the backyard and roast marshmallows.  Maybe I needed to slow down a little so I could see exactly how lucky I am.  Although I miss some of my friends during this lock down, I don't miss the bar scene.  I am so content with my little house, my yard and my family close.  I am praying that you all stay safe and healthy and I hope for relief for the entire world.

Unrelated to this post but right before the shut down, I got to see Pepper...always happy to see this band!
(Pictured here with Kaleo.)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Time to pass the torch

On September 28, 2019, Ellen and I produced our sixth and final NCPP.  Life is taking us in different directions.  Ellen with her nutrition empire and me buying a house and moving to the outskirts of the Bay Area.  I am so proud of what this event has become.  When Amy Bond brought the idea to me years ago, I thought it was a great idea, but just couldn't launch it by myself.  When Ellen came on board, that changed everything.  Every year presented new challenges, but the end result was the same:  people felt safe to participate in our event and express themselves in ways they may not have felt comfortable to do otherwise.  That is the reason we showed up every year.  

Initially, when I first mentioned to Ellen that I might be done (surgeries ending my love of pole and a plan to return to school), there was no thought we could find a way to let it live on without us.  However, we realized there are probably other polers with event experience and/or time and passion to carry this event into the future.  So, we started our search after the show was over.  After speaking to several people, we found what we believe will be the perfect people to carry on the love and acceptance that I believe defines NCPP.

On January 17, we made the announcement:

NCPP LIVES ON!

Lori and Ellen are thrilled to announce that, under brand new ownership, NCPP will continue! It has been an absolute joy and privilege to provide this space for dancers in NorCal over the last 6 years. Despite our busy lives pulling us away from this, we wanted nothing more than to see NCPP continue to grow and thrive.

Announcing the new owners: Morgan Castillo and Kimmy Fitzpatrick!

"When we heard the news that Ellen and Lori were looking for someone to take over NCPP we were both so excited at the opportunity! Morgan, a Bay Area pole dancer, who has successfully competed and performed for the last few years, has had nothing but positive experiences when participating in NCPP events. With her incredible history of event planning including starting her own event company in 2011, and successfully selling it to what is now Live Nation, she’s had the itch to get back into the event industry. Being able to combine her love for pole and her love for events is just icing on the cake. Kimmy has also been in the Bay Area pole scene since 2010 and has competed and performed all over the United States. She is a 4x Nationals Runner up, and is the founder of By KimB and Endless By KimB, where she keeps us all outfitted in sparkly accessories and affordable pole gear. We are both incredibly grateful to Ellen and Lori who have paved the way for this event, and created something that continues to unite our community year after year. We hope to continue this legacy and keep this space available for all of us in the community to enjoy for years to come."

We know NCPP couldn't be in better hands! Thank you again to everyone who has supported and encouraged us, our vendors and judges over the years, and to all the beautiful dancers who have graced our stage: we truly could not have done this without you. Keep your eyes peeled for news and updates about NCPP 2020!

~~~~~~

I am so excited that NCPP is in the capable hands of Kimmy and Morgan.  I want to thank everyone who has supported us over the years.  I also want to thank Ellen.  Our partnership was always so effortless and I couldn't have done this without her.  I am so proud to have been part of this small piece of pole history.  I can't wait to see what the future holds!
That's a wrap!

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Ordinary Goddess

Last week, while recovering from surgery and on the same day I was (still unknowingly) beginning to detox from pain medications, I went to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to walk the labyrinth with my friend, Ginger.  I had had a particularly emotional therapy session earlier in the day, which had already exhausted me.  I am also fairly moon sensitive and all signs were pointing at the weekend's full moon being a powerfully cleansing (i.e., emotionally draining for me).  While laying in bed at 1 PM on a Friday afternoon, I thought briefly about canceling on Ginger, but I felt very strongly that I needed to go (and I didn't want to let her down since we had been talking about doing this for a while).  I had never walked the labyrinth the "right way," so we attended a quick informational meeting when we arrived.  I can't even remember what was said to touch off the flood of tears, but they showed up pretty quickly during the presentation.  Ginger slipped her hand into mine and squeezed.  I really can't say enough about how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.  During the chat, I kept hearing the words "the mediocre goddess."  I took out my phone, made a note of it, and let it leave my brain.  Once the meeting was over, we dispersed into the main hall at Grace Cathedral.  As I was still overly emotional, I wasn't ready to walk the labyrinth with other people.  I tucked myself into a dark corner facing the front of the church, and I just let myself melt down.  I don't even know what I was crying for anymore.  By that point, probably the souls of people I've never even met in this lifetime.  I had a couple of people stop, confused, not sure if they should comfort me or leave me alone.  They all left me alone.  Another woman on the other side of the church was crying even harder and louder than I was.  We both needed this apparently.  Eventually, I cried it all out, and I was ready to re-join the rest of the event.  I walked the labyrinth (if you don't know what you do with a labyrinth, think walking meditation), and just felt completely cleansed. 

I almost forgot about the note I had made in my phone.  I pulled it up today and remembered I had thought maybe it would make an interesting blog.  The Mediocre Goddess.  But I just didn't like the word mediocre -- it didn't feel right.  The notes I made after it were:  we can't all lives extraordinary lives, can we?  Then I saw this meme on Facebook that my sister posted.  Man, that hit the nail on the head.  So, that's how The Ordinary Goddess was born. 

We aren't all here to cure cancer.  Or be famous.  We can't all possibly live what society considers extraordinary lives (what does that even mean?).  However, our life could look extraordinary to someone else.  We all want to leave some kind of mark, don't we?  A legacy for after we are gone.  As a woman in her 40's who has chosen not to have children, I sometimes wonder what that would look like for me (although if you meet my four and a half year old niece, she didn't come out of my body, but completely embodies me, so I don't think I have anything to worry about).  Does my legacy need to affect millions of people?  Or even thousands?  What if my legacy is just being a good aunt to the babies?  What if my legacy is something like Nature Goddess Adventures?  Sure, the Facebook page only has a couple of hundred fans, and I am pretty sure I personally know each one of them, but we have plenty of positive interactions with each other.  I would rather cultivate a small group that actually helps and inspires each other than have millions of followers who don't look at my content.  I want people to recognize that we are all spiritual beings connected in this Universe.  I don't even think you have to believe in God or a higher power to accept that.  Did you know that a mouse's DNA adapts so quickly, that within a generation or two (which is pretty fast for mice), people have to change the poison they use to kill mice because they know not to eat it anymore.  There is no newspapers announcing this.  No listserv is cluing the mice in.  They know it deep down in their cells.  This is the connection.  We have that in us.  (Sorry for the morbid example, but it's so fascinating to me.)  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.  I truly believe that. 

Ginger had asked me how things were going with Nature Goddess.  I had so many plans when I first came up with the idea with Vanessa.  I was excited to set up a hiking/yoga event with a little bit of an inspirational speech for a small group of friends as my test subjects.  Then reality hit.  My first event right out of the gate gave me so many road blocks, that I decided I need to take a step back and take my time.  I probably need to make a real company and get insurance before I can truly set up the events that I want to have.  So, I didn't let it stop me, but I did want to do things right rather than throw together something that wasn't going to work.  I have continued to share inspirational posts on the Facebook page, and am still hoping to make my ultimate dream come true -- in addition to the local hiking/yoga events, I'd like to do weekend retreats. 

So, in the meantime, I am content with the slow building of this tribe.  I appreciate every single one of you.  I love the engagement on the Facebook page.  So maybe I wasn't put on this earth to change everyone's lives, but I am so happy to be part of this supportive group who can make a difference in our small part of the world on a daily basis. 

I sometimes struggle with how vulnerable I should be on these posts.  I swear if you just read my blog posts, I probably look like I'm depressed and crying seven days a week.  I promise that is not the case!  I do want to be real about what depression looks like for me in particular.  I feel like we spend so much time expecting people not to talk about their demons, which just seems to create more demons for future generations.  So, I am happy (no pun intended) to talk about what depression looks like for me, or when I'm just feeling emotional and need a good cleansing cry.  That's what this was for me.  Thank you for being part of this journey.






Thursday, October 10, 2019

Tales of the Traveling Burrito Blanket

Hawaii
Earlier this year, I saw a Facebook ad for a burrito blanket.  It's a blanket.  That looks like a tortilla.  And I needed to own one.  Immediately.  I ordered one for a ridiculous price.  I think I paid more than $30.  When it arrived, there was something wrong.  It looked nothing like a tortilla.  It looked like someone was stabbed while wearing a white blanket (we called it the murder blanket or the period blanket).  It was horrible and looked nothing like what was advertised.  So I emailed the company and demanded my money back.  They responded that they had been given a "bad batch" but that they had new ones and they promised it would actually look like a tortilla.  So, I let them send me a replacement.  When it arrived, I was ecstatic!  I could make a burrito!!!  Finally!  

So, with what you know about me, you can guess that I did the only thing you could possibly do with a blanket that looks like a tortilla: I decided to make a photo album of the burrito blanket's adventures.  


 Muir Woods
First stop:  Hawaii.  I thought my burrito blanket deserved a vacation, so I took it with me on my trip to visit friends in June (in addition to looking like a tortilla, it is actually a light, soft blanket that is perfect for air travel).  We had adventures all over the island of Oahu.  On my last night, I packed up my little blanket, in preparation for flying home the next day.  When I got home, I couldn't find my blanket anywhere.  I was devastated.  I checked with my friends to see if I had left it on accident.  They didn't see it, and I very specifically remembered packing it into my bag.  So, I did what anyone would do...I took to social media to shame the TSA for stealing my burrito blanket!  I also immediately went to Amazon to order myself a replacement.  I figured I would have more protections if I used Amazon, plus they had a million options for size and color.  


Meet the Murder Blanket
A day later, my friends sent me a photo of the burrito blanket, still living in Hawaii.  And then I remembered that yes, I did pack my burrito blanket, then I worried it was still damp, so I took it out of my bag, and it got thrown into the washer with some towels.  Whoops!  Sorry, TSA!  I quietly took my post down, and told my friends that they were now the proud owners of a burrito blanket.  A day after that, Amazon Prime paid off, and a package showed up at my door.  I picked it up off the doorstep and excitedly opened my new burrito blanket.  A second later, there was another knock at the door, and another box was delivered.  It was the same exact size and weight as my first box.  Could it be??  Was the Universe rewarding me with TWO burrito blankets?!  YES!  Yes, the EXACT same burrito blanket was in the second box.  Again, I took to social media to talk about my amazing good fortune.  
San Luis Obispo

I got a message from my friend Heather a minute later.  She couldn't stand the thought of me being without my burrito blanket, so she bought me one as well.  She literally chose the same brand, size, and color as the one I chose!  She's so amazing.  So, now I have two burrito blankets.  One lives in my car for those impromptu burrito blanket photoshoots.  And the other lives in my house, ready for any travels we may want to take together.  

I know some people question my mental state sometimes.  I don't consider myself immature.  I am able to hold down a good job and pay my own bills.  But I do appreciate the silly things in life.  So, I will leave you with this quote and a few photos of my burrito blanket's adventures:  

It's okay to be absurd, ridiculous, and downright irrational at times; silliness is sweet syrup that helps us swallow the bitter pills of life.
~ Richelle E. Goodrich


Las Vegas
Family Reunion in Tracy

One Last Ride

Buy nine, get one free...  There should be a punch card for surgery.  Strangely, that kind of happened.

Last week, I went in for my tenth, and hopefully final (for now) surgery.  Last year, I posted about my ninth overall surgery, a (surprise) replacement of a leaking breast implant.  I had to go back in for another surgery because they were so uneven.  Any time I did downward dog in yoga, one nipple was constantly coming out of my sports bra.  Just one.  I have an all or nothing requirement for nipples hanging out of my bra.  So, this surgery was a scar revision to even them out.  Everything appears to have gone well.  My pain is well-managed.  I'm resting fine.  I am hopeful that this will be the final resolution for my poor abused boobies.  The next surgery I have on them will be when I have my implants removed when I'm 70. 

What does this mean for my (already non-existent) "pole career?"  I'm essentially done with pole.  Other than teaching a few classes for friends here and there, I haven't poled regularly in a long time.  It is very uneven and painful for my body.  I have had a good ten year run, and appreciate the opportunities pole has provided for me, but it is time to retire my hooker heels.  I never could walk in them anyway. 

I am also in the middle of some other life changes.  I had started school a couple of months ago (which I don't enjoy), and am going to be buying a house in a few months.  I just have new priorities.  I would like to focus on Nature Goddess Adventures, which I believe still embodies the Confessions of a Twirly Girl message of loving yourself and finding joy in life.  So, this blog will continue because I believe the Twirling Viking Warrior will live on, just in a different form.  Although, I do need to decide how helpful it is to write these blogs publicly.  Facebook very clearly hides the links in order to force me to pay to boost them, and I have noticed that my clicks have gone down significantly in the last couple of years.  I guess as long as I'm getting something out of it, I should continue.

So, thank you to all of you who have come along on this bumpy ride with me over the last ten years.  I hope that you will continue along with me as I transition more to hiking and yoga with Nature Goddess.  I appreciate all of you!

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Path to Joy

In July, my friend Cathy Weiss talked about joy on her lightworker Facebook page.  You can watch that video HERE.  She said something that really resonated with me.  Everyone's path to joy is different (as is everyone's healing path).  What works for me might not work for you.  The ocean calms me and makes me happy.  Maybe you hate sand between your toes and seagulls trying to eat your snacks.  I can be in the middle of the craziest hike and want to give up, but seeing the most beautiful hawk fly overhead takes me out of my head and reminds me of why I do these hikes. 

There is no one size fits all.  And that is true of everything in life. 

Cathy had us do a photo challenge in August:  31 days of joy.  I love challenges like these.  It actively reminds you to seek out joy on a daily basis.  Sometimes, it can become tedious to find something that brings you joy every single day and then post it on social media, but then I think you're losing sight of the purpose of the challenge.  Just find joy in the small things.  I find as much joy in seeing a ladybug on a flower as I do a huge gathering of my friends.  I feel like people who are most resilient and best able to handle the hardships in their life are the ones who can find love in the world where it seems like there may not be any.  Yesterday was a very emotionally draining day for me (actually, this whole weekend, and probably the last month or so have been).  As I was stopped at a light on my way to work this morning, with puffy eyes and a foggy head, I saw a feather float by my car window.  That's a sign from my grandfather who passed in 2000.  Everything is going to be okay.  It made me smile. 

If you want to see some of the photos I posted for the challenge, you can find them on my Nature Goddess page HERE

The challenge ended on my birthday, with me visiting a place I had wanted to see for the last year.  In fact, when I saw a photo of this location on Facebook over a year ago, I made it the locked screen photo on my phone.  Then a couple of months before my birthday, I remembered I had the power to make it happen.  Check out the photo of me above McWay Falls in Big Sur.  I had such a wonderful birthday weekend.  We got to kayak with otters in Monterey.  We drove through Big Sur and hiked around the gorgeous trees and beaches.  We watched sunset on the beach in Carmel.  I couldn't have asked for a better celebration of my years on this earth. 

If you are struggling to find your joy, just look around.  Our world might sometimes feel like it is full of chaos, but I bet you can find one thing to bring you some joy. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

This is the cry for help...

This month is National Suicide Prevention Month.  

In 2015, I lost my boss to suicide.  In 2009, the person for whom I was named took her life.  Recently, a friend's daughter took her own life as well.

When people take their lives, so many confused loved ones ask what signs they missed.  They ask, why didn't the person ask for help?  Maybe they did.  When I am struggling, I feel like I'm screaming: THIS IS MY CRY FOR HELP.  And most people are patting me on the head and telling me I'll be okay.  I want to scream: I AM NOT OKAY!  When I try to share some of my struggles with people, you watch the uncomfortableness wash over them.  What do they say?  What do they do?  Most of them do nothing.  And I can't blame them.  I don't even know what I need in that moment.  I don't need them to fix it.  I know I can do that for myself eventually.  I guess I just want someone to be there.  

Depression fucking sucks.  I don't always see it coming, but once it hits, it can be so hard to dig out of it.  I'm a functional depressive person.  I still shower every day.  I go to work.  I just feel empty and alone.  I start to lose interest in things like food or being social, and can't sleep much.  I try all the positive affirmations to help me feel better.  They don't work.  If I try to talk about it, I feel like I'm being dramatic.  If I don't talk about it, I feel like I'm drowning.  Sometimes I am laying in a dark room crying -- what you'd think depression looks like.  But a lot of the time, I'm sitting in the real world, surrounded by tons of people, feeling like I'm the only person there.  I feel like a ghost -- invisible to everyone around me.  I scream: I AM NOT F*CKING OKAY!  But no one responds.  So we put on the brave face and continue on.  Smiles for everyone.  Hey, fake it til you make it, right?  

And at the end of the day, the only person who can save you, is you. 

If you want to know what depression looks like, this is it.  

If you need help, please reach out.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.


P.S.  I have a lot of amazing friends who hold space for me without pushing when I'm not in a good place.  For them, I am eternally grateful.  They have helped me through some extremely dark times.  I feel very fortunate.  Thank you.