Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Talking with the Mirror

Dear mirror -
See that girl on the right with the colorful scarf? That's me. Now, she doesn't look 'fat', does she?

Well, she thinks she's pretty chunky.

Isn't it amazing how distorted my body image can become from a a number on a scale?

When I look at this picture, she looks pretty cute to me, but I'm a month away from this joyous moment. Hindsight is 20/20, so they say.

Through my most recent step (hiring a personal trainer for 3 work outs/week for the next 4 weeks), I've quickly rediscovered the athlete in me that I was so disappointed in when I bonked a 5k in December of 2011, and life got busy. Sure, I've done a 5k since then, and I'm proud of finishing, but I didn't feel like an endurance athlete. I felt like a girl that just stumbled through a 5k obstacle course filled with mud traps. I 'finished'. But it makes me wonder - why did I ever let go and give up training?!

Well, now I seem to be hungry for more.

I don't want to be "skinny", Mirror. No, don't tell me that my face is too round, or I'll lose my breasts if I lose weight or some other such silliness. Yes, I do have a target number on a scale I'd like to see when I get on it, but I don't need to hit that number to feel like the athletic, strong woman that I am.

That woman is already taking over, Mirror.

This morning, from the moment I clocked in for work I found myself watching the clock, waiting for it signal my lunch break.


Because on lunch, I'm going to the gym again for some Zumba and a walk. Sure, I'm still deliciously sore from my last work out. I just can't wait to stretch those muscles.

There is nothing like a hard work out. Afterwards, I feel like a swimsuit model, even if I know my body has a LONG way to go before the strength outweighs the flab.

But every mountain is climbed one step at a time, right?

I feel like I did back in 2010 when I was running everyday - but better. Stronger in every way. Deployments test and build my emotional strength. Making new friends and keeping old keeps me on my communicative toes. Working keeps my logic center sharp, despite the fact that I know this isn't the career for me long term. Testing my body can only make it stronger.

No matter how long deployments last, or how long adoption takes, or how much money I earn, in the end, the person I have to be happy with is staring me in the mirror every day.

So thanks, Mirror - for always keepin' it real.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. – Socrates

Deployment Self Check in

This one is pretty much overdue... not that anyone is counting.

Emotional: It's been a rough last few days. I can't pinpoint any specific reason, but I've been generally blue. I guess lots of stuff going on. Lots of change and a lot of things I can't control.

Physical: SORE but AWESOME! So far I've been to 2 personal training sessions and I'm excited to see what else Trainer Guy has in store for me, but I know I'll see some visible inch loss before month end! Yeah! 

Communication: Limited, but I keep shooting emails into the ether. I think it's more for me than him at this point. lol

What's something fun you did this week:Dinner and Wine at my favorite local haunt while reading Mamalita, An Adoption Memoir by Jessica O'Dwyer. She was kind enough to send me a copy and it seems like we have a lot in common.

 What are you looking forward to next week:Not being in the middle of Month End at work and maybe taking a day off!

What made you happy : Surprising my Trainer with my speedy sprints today. My flab can be fast!

What made you sad/mad this week: Hearing about people flat out sabotaging their marriages. I hate feeling trapped in the drama, so I'm kicking it to the curb.

What do you miss this week: My Sailor's Smile. It's a great one!

How has the dog's weeks been this week:Good! We're doing some leash training and they LOVE going for walks. Walks are even better when I have a pocket full of treats.

Favorite song/show/movie of the moment: The Following! I'm sure it won't be on TV long, since most people don't know their Poe from their toe, but I'm enjoying it!

Pictures from home:

 This isn't from this week, but every time I see it, I'm reminded of the funny stuff from our wedding toasts.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Being Enough is more than Enough

I stumbled across this as part of a Health, Heart, and Happiness group I'm part of (online, yes, read the previous post if you don't know how awesome these communities are).

I couldn't have put it better myself.... (Watch the video first and then read on.)

I never felt a huge pressure to be "pretty" from my mom. I mean, I've always felt my mom is gorgeous - far above the average. Any pressure I felt came from my peers and the media... and honestly -me.

Do you know for YEARS I couldn't look people in the eye? I was always playing this dialouge in my head about what they must think of me. "How's my posture?" "I hope they don't notice that zit on my lip." "Oh geez... I haven't been able to get my hair waxed." "I'm so fat... I hope they don't notice that I'm fat." "I'm less of a woman because I grow this crazy dark body hair...I hate PCOS..."

Gets kinda noisey in my head sometimes.

Once I accepted that "Yup! I'm physicially flawed, but so is everyone one else!" I was able to grow past that.

I'd rather be "pretty" the adjective than "pretty" the verb. If I pull off the later, cool!

If not, I don't particularly care.

(Warning - it's a little R rated - there is a single solitary curse word... and pretty has 6 letters, but ya know...)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Some Communities Make Strange Bedfellows...

When I'm curious about something, to slate my anxiety, I try to learn as MUCH as I can about it. Whether it's traveling to a Disney Park, going into a new job field, or moving to a new city. I want to know everything I can. I'm hungry for knowledge - but beyond book knowledge. I want personal accounts - what works, what doesn't, what was their experience like? Each person's experience with anything is unique, but I believe there is always something to be learned from everyone. Even if it's a cautionary tale.

The Fabulous Barries
So I get involved in communities. Online communities have been a wonderful resource for me, and I've actually brought a few of my digit friends into my flesh and blood life! For example -
 The handsome couple on the right are Tairy and Paul Barrie. While we met through a mutual love of  Disneyland (Paul is the host of one of my favorite podcasts - A Window To The Magic) and Tairy is his partner, wife, and a fellow author/poet! They both stepped up to help out at my wedding, Tairy offering her services as a coordinator, and Paul offering to work his video magic. We'd only met on a couple passing occasions, but when you have some passions in common, it's amazing how quickly artists can bond. 

Following along that vein, I "e-met" an author and she was kind enough to send me a copy of her book. While she was 10 years my senior when her journey started, we have a startling amount in common. We both were divorced once before we found our forever loves. We both got into endurance sports shortly after getting divorced. (Maybe something about losing excess weight in your life makes you want to lose excess fat in other areas of your life as well....) We both dated long distance and uprooted our lives to rebuild elsewhere. Some of the conversations recorded in her book are strikingly similar as well, though we are (most likely) not adopting internationally. I'll have a full review of the book once I finish (I'm about 60 pages in right now), but I've found other mentors and friends along our journey as well.

The Hendersons
  There is the maven of photography, Jenna Henderson, who we connected with digitally to do photography for our wedding. Before we even met (and my dreadful first impression the morning of my wedding - oops! I was a bit stressed! SORRY JENNA!), I noticed that she had a blended family! That got us chatting about adoption and before I knew it, she became my sounding board and venting central. As we chatted, I realized that we didn't need the questionably regulated international adoption in order to integrate a new culture into our lives. (Originally, we were very interested in adopting from Japan, but that's next to impossible for 2 blond-haired, blue eyed American's to do, so we we considered other places, but they had length of marriage requirements and/or travel requirements that we hadn't met yet. As an adoptee of a closed adult adoption, I share what comes up with me, in the hopes that it might just help them out in the future. Ya never know!

I could go on and on about the awesome people my online life has brought into my life - not the LEAST of which is My Sailor  (of course).
First Dance
Not everyone understands the artist types... My mom admittedly felt a bit lost at her first Trader Sam's Meet -  but it's really amazing what happens when you come into things with an open mind and an open heart. It may make strange bedfellows.  Through the magic of getting involved via the web and turning that into my real life, I've been able to cultivate relationships with people I never would have met otherwise. People who continue to inspire me every day.

After all, I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for where I've been - and who I've met.

"That's how it's done" or "Flabby joins the Japenese British Navy Special Forces"

Today I had my first appointment with a personal trainer.

I was expecting to sign up with a girl named Beth - one of the trainers through my local YMCA. After getting the "all clear" from My Sailor to try a personal trainer, and being desperate to lose some of these unwanted inches, this sounded like the healthiest way to accomplish my goal.

Through the YMCA, "The First one's Free, Then you gotta pay" and they hooked me up with whoever was available for my first session. It's a great way to see if you're really serious about the work, or if you're just playing at it.

As I said before, I was fully expecting Beth, but instead, I got TRAINER GUY!

Now, I was already scared/nervous about going, but I know myself well enough to know that this was a fear worth facing. Change is always scary, and so is admitting you need some help. Pushing fear is what actual bravery and courage are all about, right?

I had read Beth's profile and what turned me on the most is that she is certified in Crossfit, which is supposed to be an amazing, yet challenging, work out,

I HAD read Trainer Guy's profile. I was immediately intimidated. Here are just a few bullet points from his profile:
- Represented Scotland in Rowing
- Head Coach of the Tacoma Rugby Team
- Multistate champion cyclist
- Training with British Special Forces

Intimidated yet? That's not exactly where I am physically, though I am aiming for a 1/2 Marathon this fall. 

When I met him, I'm sure he thought I was just another Navy Housewife with some extra fat to lose, rather than a woman who loves a hard work out, and is ready to slip into the athletic skin I know I've always had.

While he didn't tell me much I didn't already know (my body is probably very happily settled in "starvation mode", and I need to eat more often). After we started warming up, the nerves faded and we were in it to win it.  He seems to be the right combination of motivator and encourager. What I really needed though, isn't a cheer leader or a butt kicker.

What I really needed is his experience.

And boy, was my first work out an experience!

I went in with sore thighs from Friday night's  Zumba. After about 30 minutes of a work out with this guy, using Japanese methodology and some interval training, I came home, added to my cool down by taking the dogs on a 2 mile training walk.

I knew I was going to be feeling it.

But I didn't expect to feeling it so soon!

After a shower, I got back to work and sat down...and then every muscle in my body ACHED. Well, maybe not EVERY muscle. I could still type, sit, and move my head comfortably.

But after an hour of sitting, I got up to go downstairs and it was slow going!

Please don't read this as complaining. The pain actually felt amazing.

When I was enjoying a guilt free glass of wine, spinach salad, with a side of salmon for dinner at a local haunt, I truly felt like I'd earned dessert...

So I came home to some... a hot steaming cup of diet hot chocolate. :)

Good day done.

Now, the hardest part I'm having trouble digesting is the investment. Now that my freebie is out of the way, the best package runs $150/week. "Yikes." How can I possibly justify this when we're trying to figure out how to pay off a pesky credit card AND fund an adoption?!

This is how:
My health is worth every dime. I'll take these next 4 weeks and learn all I can from him. Then I'll taper back to weekly check ins or something like that to keep the costs down until my 1/2 marathon this fall (assuming I can afford to do said 1/2 marathon).  The funny thing about money, there is always a way to work out whatever is a priority.

And this has GOT to be a priority. Like parenthood, it's not going to get any easier as I age, so it's best to tackle it as soon as possible.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Odins make good Blankets and a Project on the horizon

Odin warming up the love seat
Clydas trying to get comfortable in my lap
Finally comfortable... as long as I don't move
It's another exciting Friday night at the house. The roommate is in his room, probably indulging in a healthy portion of amine. I'm out in the living room, sharing the loveseat with Odin, our Great Pyrenese, while Clydas, my beloved Boxer boy, enjoys the heater and a warm blanket nearby. Unlike his Boxer bretheren, Odin's breed was born for the mountains in Asia, so he's more comfortable at below zero temperatures. He's still a puppy (under 2 years old), so he LOVES to snuggle - but  he quickly over heats and hops off to find cooler ground to lay on.  Sometimes his snuggling includes laying his 80+ pound body on top of Clydas. Odin makes Clydas (the 55lb Boxer, all muscle) look like a "small dog" so I occasionally have to reign in Odin's affection for his brindle brother and remind him that's bigger and Clydas can't breath when, say, Odin decides to lay on Clydas' head...

It's a comical balance I keep every day.  They certainly keep me on my toes, as visitors can attest to, but they couldn't be better company on these chilly winter nights. 

They never fail to wake me up with a smile.  I think Clydas' favorite time of day is morning. He wags his little nub off every morning without fail, and Odin LOVES to sneak up on the bed and completely lay on top of me to get a morning scratch in. It's cute... until I try to reason with the huge dog on top of me that I need to be able to get up in order to get him breakfast...

It's a crazy, funny, unconventional dynamic that I wouldn't change for the world. I've never been the type to want a conventional life. You know... 2.5 kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence, and it's funny that the animals in my life have come to reflect that. They are two very different breeds physically speaking, but the mesh beautifully.

That said, there may be a new project on the horizon - and God knows I NEED something else to do than work, working out, daydreaming about travel, and preparing for a Gotcha' Day that's realistically still nearly a year or more away.

So I need something I can do that won't take away too much of the precious little time My Sailor, but something that will get me closer to my goals. While I miss theater, our schedule is yet again so unpredictable, it makes this a patron year rather than a performing yet. I can hardly believe I'm giving up another year of acting and singing...

But an old friend of mine has been struggling to write a book. While it's not my usual genre of literature, I'm finding that it might just be an important project. I had the brain storm of co-writing a book together - a non-fiction, honest, hard hitting story. We'll have to see what comes of it, but I think it's a good solid, attainable goal for the year. Most of my published work has been non-fiction, so this new venture isn't entirely foreign to me, but since it has a personal connection, the integrity of the work make it something I can really get behind. No details at the moment though.

You'll just have to wait and buy the book.

For now, I'll enjoy what I can without kiddoes. Yes, it's my usual evening ritual of furkids and movies.

For tomorrow, starts my journey with a personal trainer!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Paper Pregnancy - Yes, we Waddle

I haven't spent much time writing about my pregnancy. My paper pregnancy that is.

Like any expectant parent, I can sheepishly admit to having bought a parenting book (it was nearly completely hog-wash, for the record, and shall go un-named on this blog as it isn't worth a recommendation much less acknowledgement), and visited multiple blogs and photolisting websites. Some are for advice. Some are for stories and inspiration. Some are just to help keep me motivated along the process, as it's so easy to feel like we'll never 'get there'.  I even maintain a blog with letters to our future kiddoes chronicaling my journey, and theirs, and maybe even a hit of their father's journey through this wilderness as well.

One of the blogs I stumbled across is one that talks about Adoption issues in media - especially movies. It's made me think. (You can find the blog by clicking here - and reading one of my all time favorite entries. )

It definately makes me stop and think -

Being an adoptee, I am always just a tad more sensative to adoption related issues as they pop up in movies and things.  For example, I notice that there is usually a "villian" made out of either the adoptive mother or the biological parent. If you've watched Once Upon A Time on ABC lately, you know what I mean. In that scenerio, the biological mother couldn't care for her son, so she gave him up for adoption. Who adopted dear Henry? The real world equivilent of the Evil Queen from Snow White. Who is the Biological mother? Well, she's the reluctant hero of the series, eventually winning over her son as his adoptive mother's deeds go awry. Currently, the Evil Queen is trying to change into someone worthy of her son, and Henry (the aforementioned son) lives happily with his biological mother...

See what I mean? Someone is the "bad guy".

Another movie that moved me deeply is AI.  I felt that it was truly a great story about every adoptee's worst fear - being disposable. Somewhere inside, most adoptees (not matter the age) wonder, "Well, I was disposable for someone else, so what makes me think that these people won't just throw me away too?"

My adoption experience couldn't have been further from that, but still, it struck a chord. As an adult, I realize I was put exactly where I needed to be in life - and it all started by being claimed by the right people. As a child, I often felt lost and questioned my value exactly as the robot child did in AI, seeking some external, distant, imagined Blue Fairy to make me whole. As an adult adoptee, I have no doubt at all that my life is working out just as it was ment to. I realize that I didn't need to be made whole - because I was never broken. I didn't need to be 'found', because I was never truly lost.

Now, I'm NOT as overtly sensative as some. For example, much of adoption community was angered by a joke made in The Avengers last summer. Thor (a hero) mentions that Loki (the villain, and Thor's adopted brother) behaves badly because, "He's adopted." Honestly, I am guilty at smirking and perhaps even chuckling at that joke. Being adopted in my house has NEVER been an acceptable excuse for behaving badly or treating others poorly, so it struck me as someone saying, "She's different. She's just... her." I didn't take it as a personal afront to all adoptees everywhere.

Why was my adoption so different? I think it's because our parents claimed us. When we were introduced to people, it wasn't "These are our adopted kids!" It was, "These are our kids." And that's where the sentence ended. We addressed that we were adopted- sure! It wasn't a secret. But it wasn't what defined us as a family either. We were kids of parents who desperately wanted kids. That's no different, in my book, than kids concienved using some of science's most cutting edge technologies.

ALL that said, the process is long and challening - extra long and challening in our case since My Sailor will be spending most of this year in and our of the Nautilus while out Finding Nemo. Many things I just can't do without him - not because I don't want to proceed, but because, well, just like with bio kids, it takes two. Next on the list is completing our 90 pages of autobiography (EACH) and our homestudy (including coming up with the $1500 to complete it). Then come an onslaught of home visits and interviews with our agency worker/social worker. Once we get a completed homestudy, we have some big decisions to make (like where exactly are we going to come up with the money to cover the fees which can range from $300 more than we've already paid, to $25,000 more? Loan maybe?), how we're going to handle going from 2 adults, 2 dogs, and a roommate to 2 adults, 2 dogs, and 1-2 kiddoes.

Of course, I worry about the stuff that can't even be measured right now. Like, "how will I help jr. with his/her dad going away with almost no contact for months at a time?" Then again, my mom handled it as my dad traveled for business for large chunks of my childhood.

And the age old... "Am I ready to be a single mom?" That one gives me a moment's pause. I mean, I like our life as a couple, and there are moments where I think, "Yeah, it could just be the 2 of us forever and I'd be okay with that. And if I magically turn up preggers, we'll roll with that too. But if it never happens, eh, that's okay too."

Then I think about it a bit more and I ask myself, "Is this an experience I would look back in 10 years and regret not having?" There isn't even a second's pause before my heart screams "YES!" So I know we're headed in the right direction.

Being patient with all the factors I have zero control of is what makes me hesitant though. For example, I would really LOVE to take our little family to Disney World between Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate our first holiday season together. BUT right now, the only person I'm able to book that for is the one behind the keyboard - and since I'm no longer a family of one - that means waiting to make dreams come true.

Operating on faith that our family is out there, somewhere, and will look just like it's supposed to can be a tough thing to balance when I'm also balancing that My Sailor is out there somewhere keeping us all safe.

I can't wait for My Sailor's next leave though! Vacation... just the 2 of us...might be just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Housework Holiday and A Marriage Unbroken

Today is Martin Luther King Day and I have the day off work, so I'm taking it!

Finishing up my birthday bash by going to the movie today - but I'm using it as a reward for cleaning the house. It's been overdue since I was sick last week. Time for some good ole' elbow grease!

Recently, it's come to my attention that a good handful of my friends are 'keeping up appearances'. My heart bleeds for them. I've been-there-done-that. I remember well hiding the anxiety, insecurity, and the shame that my "happily ever after" actually wasn't. I have very little advice for these friends, other than 'Build your own happiness, and you bring a happier person to the relationship,' and 'Treat each other with respect always.'  It's making me feel like my mom a bit, but I'm guessing that's a good thing. Married 41 years and counting, my parents are obviously doing something right, and I'm happy to take a page out of their playbook. My Sailor and I aren't perfect, but we're really good friends and genuinely like each other. That doesn't mean we don't occasionally stomp on each other's feelings, exchange a harsh word, or disappoint each other. That's just part of being in a relationship (any relationship) with another human. That just means we're not fooling ourselves or putting a good face on things that sometimes legitimately suck.

 But love always seems to win out.

Quitting isn't an option - and doing things to sabotage this aren't an option either. We're as we've always been - in the trenches of life together, and we're always a work in progress (individually and as a couple). There is always something to learn.

My heart bleeds when I hear "Should I fight to save my marriage?" My advice seems inadequate, but is always this: "Define fight."

 If that definition includes doing your level best to change your spouse, you're going to lose that battle. No one likes being told what to do, when to do it, who to be friends with, how to feel, etc. It's largely met with rebellion rather than change, especially when you're already on the defensive.

But if "fighting" means things like being open to change and growth, showing love freely and openly, forgiving and learning to apologize sincerely, getting help if you need it, and developing healthy boundaries, then by all means - FIGHT.  Even if the marriage ends, you'll have learned some value skills to take with you into the future. That kind of fighting makes you a better person no matter the outcome.

The tales of woe have really made me appreciate the dynamics in my marriage on a whole new level. Yes, I remember what it was like to be unhappily married in my early 20's.  It was short lived, and full of heartbreak and anxiety - for that I'm grateful though. I wouldn't be me if it weren't for that experience. But no, I don't worry about My Sailor in a tin can under the ocean w/ female sailors. I trust him. I know that if he does get a rare port call, I HOPE he's able to get some much deserved R&R! A decade ago, I wasn't that secure either.

We trust each other to take care of ourselves and our marriage. End of Line. It saves a HUGE amount of head/heartaches.

Now that the serious stuff is out of the way, it's time to get some serious soap scum out of the way!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Part 3! Free lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe.

My favorite salad (China Island Chicken Salad) and a cup of Tomato basil soup. Added a glass of Sam Adams. Spurling w/ a dessert of root beer float. Cost? Tip.

Part 2!

It's a good day to have a Disney Gift Card!

Flying solo blogging birthday shin dig on a shoestring! Part 1 Breakfast for free

Thanks to a Christmas gift card from dad, breakfast is on Starbucks! :) Spinach feta wrap and skinny vanilla latte. Waistline friendly to! Refilling my water bottle while I'm here too! And then it's on the road to Tukwila!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fear, Need, and The Friendship Cure

I am a relationship girl. What do I mean by that?  I mean that I have never been the type to be completely satisfied by just 'dating' and 'seeing where things go'. Oh, I did my fair share of online dating, and one or two daters, and even 'dating' for years without anything but foolish faith that things would turn into something 'more' than they were, but that was after I was divorced.

And in the middle of that whole beautiful, treasured, messy romantic past I discovered that I had changed...

In my early 20's, I was very opposite to who I am now. I was dependent to a fault and put a lot of my self-worth as a woman on how successful (or unsuccessful) my relationship was at the time. I rated my desirability based on what others (namely men) thought of me.

But the seed was always there. I always knew that the one person I had to look in the mirror be okay with every day - was me.

Alas - People don't change unless they REALLY want to, or they are FORCED to. I am no exception to that rule.

As a result, I've grown into the fiercely independent woman. I've been able to financially support myself (with a little help every now and then), and often times, I leaned on no one- even when I should have. I learned a lot about the 2-way street of friendship, and how to judge myself based on my own scale. I realized that life isn't a race. It's a challenging, astounding, incredible journey that each of us take. Each journey is different and unique, and the people that travel with us on our journey may travel with us for a day, or forever, but most of the time, we have to stand on our own two feet.

Even my ex-boyfriend said I'd make a great military wife, due to my fierce independence.

But my mom hit the nail on the head when we spoke recently. She noticed some changes in me lately. And, as Moms have a habit of being, she is right.

And they are big scary changes.

See, part of that fierce independence included an "I don't really NEED anyone, I just WANT people in my life" attitude. In part, that was a healthy departure from the "Like Me! Like Me! Like Me! PLEASE like me!" that dominated most of my early 20's. But now that's changed as well.

It's a little scary to realize that I DO need people. I need different people for different things. I need good friends like Sistah' Girl  and Mrs B and Bon Bon to really let myself unwind and unravel in a no-judgment-zone where I find that female side of awesome. Where a glass of wine and some girl time can fix just about anything (even if that glass of wine is over the phone). And, I'll admit it, I do rely on My Sailor (my husband) for a whole different type of support.

Sure, NO ONE is responsible for my happiness but me. THAT hasn't changed.  My Sailor just enhances that happiness, and I get accustomed to that, so when he's away, there is a void left. Not talking about that void is like not taking about the elephant in the room. And as his deployment status has sunk in, I'm now better able to break up my day and get in my Flying Solo groove. That doesn't mean the void isn't there. It's constantly there - even amidst distraction. But unlike when I was in my 20's, the void doesn't threaten to swallow me whole. I mean, sure, I have my tearful moments, but they pass.

For me, it was a pretty scary realization that I actually, legitimately, need someone for a million of those little every day reasons...but not a single one had to do with physical "things" (like chore help, financial assistance, etc) and they had everything to do with a kind of vulnerability I'm still exploring.

I'm incredibly grateful that I have had such circumstances in my life which have enforced change, and I have some wonderful people in my way -near and far - to help me grow through it.

And I'm grateful that while I'm here, trying to sleep through 140 collective pounds of snoring dogs on the bed, he's somewhere out there, on a tiny rack of pacing the halls, watching over all of us.
Though being truly vulnerable is sometimes terrifying, I know that deep down, my heart could not be in safer hands.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Cents and Carrying Water

Today I did the great banks shuffle that I do every 2 weeks. Only this time, with some tweaks.

See, we keep seperate accounts, but we both contribute to a "house bill" account. Well, our housebills went up, but our input, well, didn't. That was causing a problem (as you might imagine). so we boosted our contributions big time this month.

The result? The bills are paid sooner, and we STILL have a whole paycheck to go this month! I'm breathing a sigh of relief over it. I really hate being tight on money, even though I've lived fairly frugally for most of my adult life. Still, we're DINK (duel income no kids) household at the moment, so we get to enjoy some perks here and there.

To keep our bank accounts looking that way, I opted not to book a flight home for the long weekend after my birthday. It wasn't an entirely easy decision, but I know we'll need a loan this year, so the more we save and pay off now, the better we'll be for that turn of events. It's about the cost of a new car (though we're not using it for a car, we're spreading it out for home improvements, adoption, etc). 

It's amazing how much money you save when you don't go out. I know that sounds silly, but seriously - when it's just me, I go out to a movie or a meal about once a week. My weekends turn into more "get chores done" time than anything else. The biggest motivator is usually homecoming, or the dogs.

But Odin is turning me into a much better housekeeper. Though he's FINALLY stopped shedding entire small animals when he walks by, he still sheds enough that vaccuming once a week doesn't really cut it (especially since I don't like my house smelling like dog). Vaccuming turns into dishes, which turns into laundry... heck, I spent New Years day MOWING THE GRASS and spray the damned Blackberry bushes that are popping up everywhere. Which has yet to work, but I digress...

But the question that pops up more often then not is "How are You holding up?" It feels great to have friends and family concerned about me. I won't lie. With regular work stress, raising young dog stress, adoption, deployment, and sick family member stress... it's a LOT. And yup, I cry a little now and then. It's especially hard when, honestly, I haven't had human touch in over a week. That's probably the hardest part.. My Sailor and I aren't crazy physically affectionate in public. But just imagine going a full week without touching another human being.

Are you there yet?


Well, if you can, try it sometime. It's an... odd experience. No hugs hi and bye. Not even so much as a handshake.

 Now, add to that having tough times. Times where a hug could really make you feel like you're burden is being lifted or shared.

And there you have it.

It's not that the WONDERFUL people in my life DON'T share it. It's just that they are physically pretty far away at present, which gives me a whole new perspective. I really appreciate every friendly voice and email in a whole new way when I'm flying solo.

And sometimes, I watch a sappy movie JUST so I cry and have a chance to tip my bucket, empty out some of the load, and look forward.

My dad is doing well. He just started radiation and chemo today. I'm hopeful he doesn't feel too many ill effects over the next few weeks, and I do worry about my family down there. I miss coffee w/ the folks on the weekend all that jazz. I love my life here, don't get me wrong. In fact, I think that everything I'm feeling is very healthy.

It just sucks sometimes.

But right now, right this second, I'm thrilled to see there that we're making financial headway - and our taxes aren't even started yet. Yeah!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Deployment Check In and Entertainment of the Evening

 Emotional: Been pretty stable this week, but very, very busy and focused. Tonight - Friday night, it's a bit tougher.

Physical: Good! Tired, but that's not new.I've lost a few pounds (through healthy means) this week so that's a trend I plan to continue if I can control it. And (TMI) It's nice not to have 'TOM' visiting, since I only got about 1 week of a break from it last month.

Communication: Non-existant. But I sent him with a small bag of goodies and a box of goodies as well, so I'm hopeful those will tide him over. I still write every day, but have no way to confirm anything is getting through and no replies is just part of the silent world of submarines.

What's something fun you did this week: Wine at MorMor and Red Dawn w/ the roomie and some fellow shipmates, tied w/ taking a couple youngsters to check out some Christmas lights.

 What are you looking forward to next week: Figuring out what the heck I'm going to do for my birthday. So far, the highest things on the hit list are are Tukwila Mall for my free meal at the RainForest Cafe, and a movie while I stroll the mall. The funny thing about this idea is that pretty close to what I did last year for my birthday with My Sailor (though I was moaning and groaning that it wasn't 'special enough' the whole time - then again, I'm a spoiled Southern Californian - and now I'm CHOOSING to do it. I love a good irony...)

What made you happy : Odin being an especially good dog today!  Playing with my new running app and nice weather. And a few phone calls home. It's always nice to hear a friendly voice. Starting to write about Sihaya again boosted my spirits big time this week.

What made you sad/mad this week:Lack of communication, work feels like trudging through mud, and the realization that I'm getting closer and closer to 35 and the goals of family, being debt free, and being a professional writer seem just as far away as they did last year. (Adoption and "debt free" don't exactly go together.)

What do you miss this week: Snuggling w/ My Sailor and, well, lots of R rated things I won't discuss here.

How has the dog's weeks been this week:Well, let's just say running with both dogs, to an interval set in my headphones was NOT a good idea. But I got 1/2 the run in, and the dogs got a good walk in while the weather was clear (yet cold). Odin has 2 serious issues: #1 - I mowed the tall weeds grass in our front yard and he no longer feels like King of the Jungle walking around and pooping in there... so he takes FOREVER to find a new poop spot. At least, 10 minutes feels like forever when you're standing on the other end of a 20 foot leash in your pjs and snow boots waiting for a dog to poop.
#2 - Odin HATES pooping in the rain and will take twice as long if it's raining outside. If I get tired of the tug of wills trying to get him to poop, he has to go directly into the crate until I'm ready to let him out again because he'll slink off and find a place to poop IN THE HOUSE... It's eternally frustrating, but I'm sure we'll get through it.

Favorite song/show/movie of the moment:Beauty and a Beat (Justin Biber - I know, I know... I'm not into HIM, I'm just a sucker for a song that talks about winning a woman over and guys that want to show off their girls. It's VERY rare that I've been in that position in my life, and I'm sure the fantasy is much better than the reality, but - hey - a girl can dream can't she?); Star Trek: Enterprise (re-watching some old episodes courtesy of Hulu - it's like sitting with an old friend; and Porthos is a pretty cool name for a Beagle); Tangled... probably because it's the first Disney movie My Sailor and I saw in the theaters together, so it's nostalgia.

Pictures from home:

Clydas (the 8 yr old boxer) showing the pup (Odin, the Great Pyr, under 2 years old) who's boss in a tug of war match
Some of the best entertainment doesn't need a remote control. Just a rope.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

My beautiful world of Fiction

"The Storyteller’s Creed I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge, That myth is more potent than history, That dreams are more powerful than facts, That hope always triumphs over experience, That laughter is the only cure for grief, And I believe that love is stronger than death. —Robert Fulghum"

I've been a story teller for a very very very long time. From the first whooper of a lie I tried to tell my parents ( "No! I didn't eat the brownie! It was the...ants! Yes! That's it! We must have had black ants break in and eat the brownie and carry it off! Why does my breath smell like chocolate? It does not!") to the poems I wrote (about 300+ from 1994-1996) to the songs I've written, to the stories I created online and the characters I've created on stage - above almost any other label I have in life, being a story teller is one of them. In fact, one could argue this blog is part of that. After all, it's part of My Story.

Now that that fact is out there, I thought I'd share this snippet with you. See, I had no idea what to write to My Sailor yesterday, so I sent him a story I've been flushing out. Now, I've been batting this around in my mind for a while now. I'm not sure where it's going. All I know is it felt amazing by the time I was done. I could have written all night! Maybe it was inspired, but I realized how amazing it feels to breathe life into characters on a page. I'm not the "plan out your entire storyline ahead of time" type author. I'm the "create amazing characters and let THEM show you their story".

So here's a little bite of one of the tales of Sihaya that I've been working on. (My Sailor already is well aquainted with the back story of the characters, so I didn't go into unnecessary detail, but I'll probably flesh them out more for readers so you can see them the way I do later.) Maybe, just maybe, if I keep chipping away at this and letting them show me their stories... maybe they'll take me into the world of publishing. What do you think?

(One more disclaimer - I would have made this tale a bit more gruesome, but I was sending it over monitored email and words like "rape" would probably have triggered an alert!)

Sihaya knelt by the stream wringing water out of her long raven hair. 
The glacier river water was icy cold on her fingers. It was a far cry 
 from the steaming swamp they last found themselves in. Her lover lay 
sleeping my the remnants of the previous nights' fire. She'd awaken him 
soon enough, but for now, she enjoyed the rare sight of his rythmic 
breathing and peaceful body. A soft smile touched her lips as she rose 
and braided her hair over one shoulder. Her fingers were so practiced 
at the movements that she didn't think twice about throwing the heavy 
finished braid over her shoulder, not until the chill of the icy water 
between her wings cause a sharp gasp of surprise.

That was all it took to wake him up, her Lazarus. Sitting bolt upright, 
his hand already gripped the dagger beside him, his emerald eyes alert 
and ready to take on any threat. They both knew that he didn't need a 
dagger to render his prey immobile. His speed and teeth made him a 
formidable force indeed.

Frozen in place momentarily by his surprise, the winged woman blinked 
at him curiously through crystal eyes and spoke softly, "We've a long 
way to go before we discover The Order." Relaxing a little, she 
continued back towards the dying fire to warm her nearly frost bitten 
hands. "I don't expect we'll see people for some time." Her hunting 
leathers creaked as she crouched to warm her hands on the embers.

"Aye, but if they're growing everyday," his speech was interuppted by a 
brief yawn and his hand on his dagger relaxed, "what's to say they 
haven't begun hunting?"

Her crystal gaze turned to the fire and the softness of her graceful 
features turned a shade of deadly elegance he'd seen more often than 
not these days. With the smallest bit of reluctance, she nodded as she 
warmed her palms on the embers. "You're right." she answered in quiet 

"Immortality..." his voice turned quiet as well, "An intoxicating 
proposition for man." He turned toward the embers, though his kindred 
skin didn't need warming.

It was a lesson both the Balance Keeper and the Kindred knew all too 
well. She glanced up, meeting his gaze steady - the unspoken burden 
they both shared also allowed them to enjoy their love beyond mortal 
life spans. "It's not immortality they truly seek though. It's your 
curse. Eternal youth."

His eyes narrowed for a moment. He knew the Keeper had no great love of 
the blood drinkers - the Kindred - such as he was. But he couldn't 
argue the point. Their love had crossed that boundary. And - for all 
purposes she was right. "All of the life line, but none of the mess," 
he joked back, lightening the mood.

She smiled a little, both of them relaxing.

Lazarus continued, "No. They've been after your specific form of 
forever for far too long. It's time we put an end to this, Sihaya." He 
reached out and tenderly took one of her hands over their small 
firepit. His voice and sharp features softened ever so slightly as he 
kissed the back of her hands and squeezed them. "No more running." The 
words were nearly whispered breath over her hands.

Sihaya nodded once more, her wings rustling softly at her back as they 
flicked off the last of the cold water droplets left by her hair. "I 
know. They should have tried for an Angel's or Kindred's immortality 

One of his blood-thirsty, dangerous smiles flickered across his face. 
Lazarus answered, "That, my love, would have been far too easy to 

Sihaya retrieved her hands from his grasp and sat on the ground as 
Lazarus rose to stretch. He wasn't full Kindred, and for that, she was 
grateful. The Bond of their marriage had kept him from joining their 
ranks entirely. Centuries ago, when he thought Sihaya lost, he joined 
the ranks of the blood-drinkers seeking more power. Sihaya didn't blame 
him. She had made her own poor decisions as well out of that grief, 
including marrying a dragon and ruling as his queen over a human 
kingdom. But when life saw fit for them to rediscover each other, their 
souls knew the true strength of their bond, beyond time, distance, and 
poor decisions. In a way, it worked.

Things have a way of happening for a reason. Being around a Kindred 
allowed the Balance Keeper to leave more light in her wake than 
darkness. After all, one could not exist without the other. Sihaya and 
Lazarus both knew they would rather not exist without one another. They 
had tasted that life, and it left their hearts broken, stomachs soured, 
and inspiration fleeting.

In a way, they had saved each other from their shadows. In Sihaya's 
case, that was about to literal.

The Order of the Immortal Hand had been hunting down Untamed Balance 
Keepers all of Sihaya's life. At first, it was only a mild effort to 
try to understand how the Balance Keepers could hold the magic over the 
elements that they do, without corruption. That study turned into a 
thirst to own and control that power for themselves. For nearly a 
thousand years, Mages ruled the Order with an silken glove - coercing 
the most wounded, twisted, and hungry of souls into their ranks with 
promises of eternal life and immortality. What had started out as a 
science became an obsession. Obsession became religion and religion 
gave birth to the cult of The Order.  The mass amounts of followers saw 
Sihaya for what she was, rather than the winged, elvish woman she hid 
beneath. Once discovered, she was hunted relentlessly. Now, Lazarus had 
decided it was time the hunters became the hunted.

Now, they were heading to the desert, to destroy the cult of The Order. 
Walking right into the lion's den may be the only way to defeat those 
that wanted nothing more than to drain the Balance Keeper's life force 
and pervert nature with it's magic. When the Mages realized that the 
Balance Keepers can not be Tamed, they began taking more drastic means, 
capturing them, bleeding them, and finding any other means possible to 
control them. In the hands of The Order, Sihaya knew she'd live out her 
days in her true form, that of a large white winged unicorn, and 
strapped to a barbaric device where her blood could be drained slowly - 
just enough to experiment with in their quest for Immortality and to 
harness the powers of an Untamed Balance Keeper. The last of the 
Untamed Balance Keepers as far as the rest of the world knew. Sihaya 
would just as well like it to stay that way.

With Lazarus at her side, she knew they had a small chance at taking on 
the vast tunnel systems of The Order and ending their 'experimentation' 
for good - or at the very least, slowing them down and giving them 
something to consider before they continued in their hunt. They'd 
journeyed through forest, swamp, and mountain and soon would be heading 
into the lowlands.

"A few more days..." she breathed, her gaze locked on his for 
reinforcement and encouragement. He nodded once.

"Once we reach the desert." Lazarus nodded.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Beautiful day for Goodbye

One more notch to add to my sub wife belt. Saying goodbye on a holiday. But at least today wasn't pouring rain, and maybe that's why it hasn't really struck me yet. I'm in that "excited to get stuff done before he gets home" phase, rather than the expected "tears and achiness" phase.  I expect that might creep up as my birthday does, but it's still weeks away, so I'll take my currently found motivation and run with it. (Literally, I'm starting my 1/2 marathon training tomorow!)
  I had lunch w/ a friend and her youngin's today, and explored a new park a little bit. It's inspired me to get another year's worth of a Discover Pass (a pass that let's you park and camp in Washington state parks, rather then pay-as-you-go parking). Between that and my brother's idea to check out some local museums and history, I'm feeling pretty inspired to keep getting out there and having more local fun. Lately, it's felt as though all the work with the house has kept me, well, around the house. Remembering the adventurous feeling I've been lacking in 2012 will really help me find some more bliss- especially since I'm going bread free this month! ;) Gotta keep my spirits up w/o the self-medicating effects of big doses of carbs (which no body needs).
Sweet dreams 2013. Thanks for coming so quickly.

Dear John... I mean 2012....

Dear 2012 -
  As I sit here, mere hours away from recycling my calendar and embarking on the hunt for a new one to love for 12 months, I find myself thinking back on our relationship.
  2012, you were quite a handful. I recall precious few quiet moments, doing a puzzle, listening to music, or playing games. You brought me the joy of My Sailor's first homecoming, the stress and confusion of moving into our new home. You brought me our new furkid, Odin and all the challenges that come along with an 80 pound snowball of fur. You brought me my first adoption meetings as a prospective adoptive parent, and you brought 5 more pounds to lose. You introduced me to Zumba and proved me to that I could move my feet even if I don't have the grace I'd like. I patronized two professional theatrical productions with My Sailor, and a couple local community ones solo as well - though I performed in none of them.
  You brought me a lot of sunny, dry days, and a really hot, beautiful summer day in Anaheim when My Sailor and I finally had our wedding. You brought me a trip to Michigan, and to Florida, to My Sailor's home town, and to Disney World. You brought me new friends and neighbors, strengthened some of my childhood friendships, and helped me let go of others.
  You've shown me some weaknesses that I still need to work on, and helped me tap into my emotions more than perhaps ever before.
  You've brought pain as well as I peeked into the mortality that we all have. But you also brought me closer to my family with it as well. You also taught me a new sense of gratitude for all the people who stepped up and made our wedding an amazing celebration of life where our families could gather, despite illness or distance, and find a beautiful sense of love in that vulnerability.
  Tonight, you fade into memories and I'm grateful for having known you, for the lessons learned, the tears shed, the sleepless nights, the passionate moments, and the brilliant sunrises.
  But for all of that, I must leave you and move on, for there is no room in the rear view mirror for tomorrow.
  Respectfully and sincerely yours,