I want the world to know I burn for you

OK.  So here we are, almost a month in to 2014, and I feel quite behind.  Not behind where it counts, on my thesis (157 pages and counting) or on my books (finished the rough draft of Book 3, Book 1 is almost finished and ready to go to beta readers, and Book 2 is in its first round of edits), but on self-care, and setting my goals for this year.  Last year, I made a list of 10 goals, and I achieved six of them.  Not too shabby!  In the last month or so I’ve realized that I’m definitely a person who needs something to strive for, something to drive my nature.  2013 was SUCH an amazing year.  As soon as I got over the hump of my divorce and setting massive goals for myself, I went on to hit most of them — and feel really good about myself in the process.  So without further ado:

Goals for 2014:

1. Graduate.  Well, this is a no-brainer.  Right now I’m slated to graduate on May 15, 2014.  I’d say “fingers crossed”, but I don’t believe luck has anything to do with it.

2. Complete my Master’s thesis.  Obviously this goes along with 1.

3. Get a second job.  Ah, this is the toughie.  My hopeful plan is to start shopping my resume even before graduation, in the hopes of getting a summer job.  I’d love to be teaching this summer, and hopefully I’ll score a teaching position by fall.  But even if I don’t, I’ll need to find a second job to pay for my student loans.  Even if I have to work retail, I’ll have to grab something.  I’m fortunate enough to have a really great, secure day job right now that pays enough for me to live on (but probably not enough when the student loans start rolling in, come June).

4. Finish C25K.  I was doing SO WELL with this last year!  I made it all the way to Week 7 before arthritis sidelined me, and between school and the book, I gave up on it.  I restarted C25K this week, this time with a 1.0 incline, so I didn’t feel like I was completely back at square one.  So far, so good.  I’m doing Week 1, Day 3 today.  We’ll see how this goes.

5. Climb Bear Mountain.  I climbed Mt. Washington in September of 2013, and it was an amazing, amazing experience.  And one that I will never repeat.  In hindsight, with my physical issues, it was dangerous and foolhardy and I was in no way prepared for it.  But that doesn’t mean I want to stop climbing in general.  Drea suggested Bear Mountain in CT for this summer, and I think I’ll go for that with her.  Could be fun!  And at 1/3 the height of Washington, it isn’t nearly as dangerous.

6. Work out an adult budget.  *sigh*  I am so bad at this.  I’m great at paying my bills, I’m great at putting money away, I’m not so great at avoiding skidding into payday with minimal money in my checking account.  This needs to stop.  ESPECIALLY with the possibility that I very well may be living on my own come May, with student loans rolling in.

7. Stop having kittens over it and send the book out to more beta readers. Drea read Book 1 and she loved it.  She keeps asking for more.  I need to get over my ridiculous fear and send it to other people.

8. Get over my fears and ship the book to a publisher.  Damn right.

9. Work on my fire spinning, get more prolific with staff and flow wand.

10. Lose at least 10 lbs.  I’m on MyFitnessPal and I’m back to three times a week at the gym.  Hopefully this sticks this year.

I think that’s quite enough to be going on now.  Obviously I’m allowed to add goals as I go.

 

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I need to update this thing more…

Sorry, guys.  I’m doing an absolute shit job of keeping this thing updated now that the divorce is over.  Even though I said I would be transitioning this blog into something other than a ‘divorce blog’, I haven’t been doing a great job of that.  I may have made my life something more interesting than just centering on the end of my marriage, but I certainly have done a shit job of documenting it.  The last time I updated was July 23rd, over two weeks ago.  So let’s see where we are now.

Wildfire is in a week and a half.  As in, a week from Thursday.  Holy cats.  Right now, the state of my car and packing is, shall we say, utter garbage.  My car is still full to the gills with stuff that I took from David’s apartment and haven’t found space for in my own apartment (I really need to take a Saturday to just unpack shit and move things around), and I still need a sleeping bag and ear plugs.  Oh, and a can of fuel.  Fortunately, I have everything else I’m going to need.

My thesis is…stalled.  Even though the Graduate Studies Office approved the prospectus (did I mention this?  Oh well, if I didn’t — the GSO approved my prospectus), I’m realizing that I am terrified of actually starting the stupid thing.  I don’t know why it’s so daunting.  It just is.  Stupid, I know.  (In hindsight, I realize that I did write about that.  See?  I need to post more often)

I learned how to sew this past weekend.  Or, more accurately, I learned how to use my sewing machine.  The sewing machine I got for my birthday in September of 2012 (I have been busy.  Sue me).  My first project is a cotton peasant skirt for Wildfire next weekend.  I’m making it in green and white, and if I have time I’m planning on putting a Tudor rose on it.

Speaking of Tudor roses, I designed what I hope to have tattooed on my body one of these days:

It’s a Tudor rose, the white inside the red, symbolic of my obsession with history.  I’ve been trying to figure out what would best illustrate my love of history, since I’ve wanted a history tattoo for a while, and the other day thought, why not a Tudor rose?  They’re beautiful, I’m obsessed with Tudor history (not just Henry VIII — the Wars of the Roses all the way to Elizabeth I and beyond fascinates me)…it’s perfect.  Around the circle, in Gaelic (little nod to my Irish heritage) are the words of my favorite saying: “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”  Because I like to plan, I’m going to sit on the design for a while before committing to having it inked on me.  I don’t know how long.  I also don’t know where I want it — I’m thinking back, but I don’t know if I am brave enough to have it out in plain view between my shoulder blades (which is my ideal location, really), or lower back.  But I love it.

And for your edification (ha) here is a picture of my in-progress green and white peasant skirt:

2013-08-04 18.18.48

Front and back.  I’m pleased with it so far.

I wish I had more exciting things to write, but nothing really is going on.

More (and more progress pics, most likely) when I have time again.

Even if the sky is falling down

I am…not in a good place today.  And I couldn’t tell you why.  I got home yesterday feeling low, and it hasn’t improve one bit since then.  If anything, it’s gotten worse.

I mentioned in my last entry that, while I was at Wildfire, my hair caught fire when I was doing a trick with my fire staff.  I brushed it off as “no  big deal” and at the time, it really wasn’t.  One of my friends said “I don’t understand how setting yourself on fire is ‘no big deal’.”  But I really wasn’t trying to be cavalier.  It just…didn’t upset me as badly as I had thought.  Well, karma had it in for me, because on Saturday night, I really did catch on fire, and it was not good.

I was spinning fire staff at a friend’s house.  My safety was my friend Drea.  The treeline at my friends’ apartment is low, and I didn’t properly “spin off” the excess fuel on my staff before beginning.  During a trick, I accidentally brushed the wick of my staff against my shirt.  And my shirt went up in flames.  Drea, who hadn’t been safetying long, saw the flames and froze.  I tried to brush them off but I only succeeded in making a bad situation worse.  With nothing left to do, I threw the staff aside in order to “stop, drop, and roll”, like we’re taught when we’re little kids.  Until age 29, last Saturday night, I’ve never once had to do that.  But it was instinctive, and it worked — sort of.  There were still a couple of live flames on my shirt when I hit the ground, and those were quickly beat out by a couple of my friends.

Unbelievably, I wasn’t burned.  My left side was slightly singed, but the pain stopped after a couple of hours.  I’m very fortunate.

I have been feeling off ever since this happened.  There are so many stupid, ridiculous, painful feelings right now.  Something that usually makes me feel so powerful, so happy, so free, is frightening to me.  That primary rule “respect the flames” — I feel like I only thought that I did, but I wasn’t taking it seriously enough.  How could I have been, to have screwed up so badly?  I’m lucky I wasn’t severely hurt.  I’m embarrassed that I screwed up, and so badly, in front of my friends, most of whom are much more experienced than I am.  It’s also two times I’ve set myself on fire in two weeks.  The first time was no big deal — a lot of people screw up tricks and hit themselves with their wicks, especially when learning.  The second was a stupid, stupid mistake — an incomplete spin-off that left an excess of fuel on my staff, which transferred to my body and set me alight — that could have easily been avoided.

I don’t know why it is hitting me so hard lately, but I feel like an overwhelming failure.  Which is a complete 180 from where I was a couple of weeks ago.  Back then I was feeling powerful, strong, smart, talented.  Now I feel…empty.  Useless.  Weak.  A failure.

There aren’t too many lower points that I’ve hit, than lying on the ground, crying from fear and pain while my soon-to-be-ex husband frantically beats the flames out of my shirt.

 

 

In any case.  I’m fine.  Everyone’s fine.  I’m just…not where I was a couple of weeks ago.  The path my life has taken in the last eighteen months has been very “two steps forward, one step back”, and sometimes…I’m just not in a good place.  Like right now.  I hate that, but it is what it is.

The good thing about the low points is knowing that — like the high points — they’re not forever.  Life is a series of ups and downs.  I am out of the horrible darkness I was in a year ago.  I am not quite where I want to be, but I’m in a better place than I was.

 

And when the darkness begins to lift once more…I will spin again.

Little Victories, Week Twenty-Three (with bonus Wildfire recap)

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week MOST weeks (let’s not even kid ourselves anymore), for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

I really should have come in here after Wildfire and do a proper recap, because it was an extraordinary trip that really lit me up (pun intended) and left me feeling fantastic.  I definitely suffered the “post-WF crash” after coming home (I didn’t start feeling like myself until around Thursday), but all in all, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to (hopefully) do it all over again in August (if I get a ticket! — we’ll find out on June 23rd)!

I talked a really big talk about being so assured that David and I would be fine going to Wildfire together, but NOT together (as in, hanging with the same people, but not actually camping together or being together at all).  The first night, my anxiety was almost crippling.  BUT.  I pushed through it, and we had an amazing time.  All of us.  There was no drama, there were no issues.  It was truly wonderful.  I’m so glad that we were able to put all of that baggage aside, so that we each could have a kickass weekend.

– I learned how to do fire staff at Wildfire.  I took four classes, I was kickass in two of them, and managed to keep my head above water in the last two.  I also did an impromptu affinity class with David and my friends Lyndsey and Matt, on Sunday, just playing around and practicing different tricks.  It was a lot of fun.  I lit up on both Saturday and Sunday evenings (Friday evening I did fans), and even though it was terrifying, spinning fire is one of the greatest natural highs you will ever get.  It’s like playing Prometheus or something.

 

 

Unfortunately, on Saturday night, while attempting a round-the-world with my brand new sexy staff, I accidentally clocked myself in the back of the head.  No harm done, but I did (briefly) catch my hair on fire.  I had a safety (David) who put the flames out instantly, before I even realized my bun was on fire.  The smell of burning hair really shook me up WAY more than the fact that dear God I just lit my hair on fire.  Lesson here, kids — if you have long hair, spray it down well with water before you spin fire.  Or just do what I did when I got home:

And cut it all off!

It was high time.  I had singed hair in the back, my hair had gotten seriously long (people were commenting on it) and because I can’t straighten it in the summer, I said “fuck it” and cropped it.  I. LOVE. IT.  It takes me about five minutes to get my hair styled in the morning.  No more messing with a straightening iron or tons of brushing or binding up when it gets too frizzy.  Love it.

– Set up my appointment to discuss the THIRD round of edits to my thesis prospectus, for next week.  Argh.  If the prospectus itself needs three edits (at least, who knows if it will need more?), what’s going to happen when we got to the actual thesis?  Can’t think about it, won’t be able to cope.

– This doesn’t TECHNICALLY count as a “little victory” for this week, but last week I ran C25K Week Five, Day 2…and did it the first try!  I can now run for 8 minutes at a stretch, no sweat!  (Well, okay, there was a lot of sweat, but I DID IT!)  Because I took a week off of running due to Wildfire and a particularly glorious sunburn (that made bra-wearing impossible), I’m going to dip back down to C25K Week Five, Day 1 today, and see where that takes me.  I made up my mind to not try and put a time limit on how fast I complete this, so I’m okay with holding back a little bit.

– Crazy Bruce has decided that after three years of weekly therapy sessions, I have finally “graduated” to bi-weekly sessions.  Instead of going every Wednesday, I will go every other Wednesday.  I was a little nervous at this idea, but he pointed out that, had the crap with my separation and divorce not happened, I would have reached this point a long time ago, since the reason why I first started seeing him (my anxiety and panic attacks) were almost entirely a thing of the past.  So rather than be nervous, I’m pretty proud of it.

PLANS FOR THIS WEEKEND!  My friend Jess is having a Tastefully Simple party tomorrow (really more a get together than anything) and we’re going over there tonight to help make up the samples.  Tomorrow: gym again (with any luck) and then cleaning the apartment, Jess’s party, and then off to Joe and Lyndsey’s for a spin jam (if the weather cooperates) or Cards Against Humanity (if it doesn’t).  Sunday I’m going to Mass at the retreat center with my father (it’s a once-a-year occurrence), and then…who knows?  Hopefully relaxing at some point.  Knitting has completely fallen off the radar in favor of fire spinning.  I really should try to get back into that…before throwing myself headlong into yet another round of prospectus rewrites.

You have to set yourself on fire

The last few weeks have been a roller-coaster, and of course, the ride isn’t over yet.  I am putting the finishing touches to the edits on my prospectus…and it’s a nightmare.  The fear of not being good enough is all-consuming.  Worse, there’s a depression that’s hung over me since the move.  It’s not the apartment (I love it), it’s not my roommate (she’s wonderful).  It’s just that I put way too much pressure on the move, too much emphasis on thinking that once I moved, I wouldn’t hurt anymore.  Surprise!  Not the case.  If anything, I think I may have felt worse, because the move, with the due date for three major papers just behind it, combined with the choice timing of some douchebaggery from David, spiraled me into a very bad place over the weekend, and I’m still struggling to crawl out of that, and get back to where I was before.

Depression, stress, anxiety, and way too many tears, combined with work pressures (I’ve had to go into work on a weekend two weeks in a row) and some overwhelmingly bad nightmares, and the result most days is…this:

Sometimes, I just want to give up.  My life took an abrupt turn for the worst on September 26, 2011.  It has been twenty months since then.  And twenty months is a fucking LONG-ASS time to be sad a majority of the time.  Sometimes I get so damn frustrated with myself.  Why are you not over this yet?  Why is this divorce still bothering you?  Why can’t you move the fuck on and stop living in the past?  Why do these things still make you sad?

It has the combined effect of making me irrationally angry.  At myself.

But you know, I looked back in my blog a few months, to the entry dated January 29th, 2013, entitled “Death of All Dreams.”  And I read back to those words that I wrote, pre-filing, pre-moving, pre-…everything I’ve done since January:

There before me, on a funeral pyre, are all the dreams I had for myself, all the unfulfilled promise that we had when we met, aged 23 and 24, so ridiculously in love, ready to embark on this great journey of life.  We were going to be different.  I know that nobody goes into a marriage planning on divorcing.  From day one, we said that divorce was not an option.  And then…it was.

They lie there, on this mythological pyre, so many memories and dreams and plans.  I turn them over in my hands before putting them back down…

And although he has stripped the memories, the dreams, the hopes, even the love, bare, and laid them on the pyre, I haven’t been able to set the pile alight.  Because you see, he won’t.  He won’t do it.  Only I can do it.  Because he never will.

He left them there and walked away, he thinks I can never bring myself to end what I never wanted to end.  To light all of those dreams on fire, watch them melt and run together and evaporate into thin air.

He doesn’t realize that once they are burned, once they are gone forever, once I give them up…I can start dreaming again.  I can hope again.

I just have to find a way to strike the match.

Lord, help me find a way to strike the match.

 

And sometimes it seems like I haven’t come so far.  But when I look back on there…I did find my way.  I filed.  I moved.  I struck the match and burned it to the ground.  The only way that I could move on was by burning the past, and I did it.  I did it.  I burned it.  It’s still burning.  There’s no sense staring back and trying to reach in to salvage the pieces as they catch and burn.  I’ll only hurt myself.  Even if I pull them from the wreckage…they’re still charred, they’re still gone.  No sense in looking back.  Burn it.  Burn it all.

And then, when it’s over…it’s over.  And you can begin again.

When there’s nothing left to burn…you have to set yourself on fire.