Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Life after illness

A Life Begun and Truly Lived.

As many of you know, my journey has been a growing adventure. Tonight was amazing. Fantastic enough to have me blogging at 2 am in the morning. Since coming out, Zain and I have parted our lives, live in separate apartments, and though we stay in touch, we are much distant. Life has undergone a huge upheaval and I’ve been learning to live alone once more.

Which brings me to my topic for tonight. Alone. This is so much different from the loneliness I have been feeling in life, swamping me for the last few months, and threatening to drown me.

Tonight I went out on the town alone and I had a wonderful evening.

I didn’t know what the night held in store for me, only that I was drawn to attend the First Friday (of the month) Art Walk held here in Fort Collins. I would go with or without someone, but as it turned out I met a new friend at a coffee shop and we went together for the first hour. She and I ended our hour at an art gallery that was hosting free beer (yay!!!) by my favorite brewery, New Belgium.

Even though I’d walked the entire gallery, when she left I opted to stick around and collect my second free beer. I headed outside to where there was an amazing mural painted on the wall of cats in a different galaxy (somehow I felt drawn to the cats, perhaps some kinship??) and I started to enjoy my time as Cat, alone. After taking the required selfie and noticing a woman nearby watching with happiness in her eyes at my freedom, I wandered further down the wall to see more of the mural.

It was here I met my first complete stranger for the night. I have no idea her name, but she was standing alone and I chose to join her for small talk. We ended up joining a pair of men she also didn’t know and stood around talking about nothing. Looking over my shoulder, I saw someone taking my picture and this was when my night would begin!

Baili (as I came to find out her name later) was taking a picture of the mural and I just happened to be in it. Deciding to be photogenic I tossed her camera a smile and then grabbed some other random stranger to be in the picture with me. Afterwards, I introduced myself and in small talk found out we are both in the same field of study – Natural Resources!

I shall digress a moment… I changed my major from engineering to Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism last November after feeling all the calculus wasn’t for me. I did end last semester with a “B” in calculus and thus was eligible to enter engineering school, however chose not to.

Anyways! Baili introduced to me to her two other friends and the night was on! Somehow I am dazzling at times, and managed to be entertaining. Though we split up after a lot of conversation so they could enjoy the art gallery, Baili saw me later and invited me to join them.

After much time enjoying the art, I asked if they were interested in continuing the night, still early at 9 pm, and with a little persuasion all of them agreed. We ended up at a bar new to me, Lucky Joe’s, where one eats peanuts and tosses the husks on the floor. We all got drinks and talked for possibly another hour – at this point I stopped keeping track.

As they all left for the night, phone numbers exchanged and new friends made, I opted to stick around as there was a live performance by this solo guy at the back of the bar. Spying a seemingly empty table next to the stage, I grabbed my beer (New Belgium of course!!) and trusted in my instincts to move from my middle of the bar table – a much sought after spot and try for the other table instead. When I arrived, it turned out to belong to a group of people who were unsure of letting me join even though they were standing to the side of it several feet away. I explained I only wanted to sit and enjoy the music, but would try to go back to my old table instead.

Over the music I barely heard one of them say “stay” as he walked away and so I settled down in a chair. Next thing I know, they all left and I had a prime table to myself.

There was an older couple who started dancing at one point, well into their 70’s at least. They were amazing and adorable. Time easily passed as I enjoyed my beer. About this time, must have been 10, Zain texted to say he was done with his last night of work (ever) at a bad job. I invited him to join me as I was having a fabulous time. Little did I know my night would get even better!

He took a long time in coming to the bar and had to wait in line to get in. Meanwhile, I decided during a break in the music to introduce myself to the table next to me – a group of people who simply looked fun to know. I walked up and said “I’m alone, can I join you?” and strangely that was all it took! Several of them turned out to be good people to know for the night and we had a great time.

After Zain joined me, the night took a different shape. No longer was I alone, but had a good friend with me too.

Tonight included much dancing and laughs, so many I can’t possibly count them. It felt incredibly good to be alive and tonight is what I strove so hard to endure for. I lived 9.5 years of hardship in the tent to find my way out and live.

Tonight I lived.

I stopped caring what others thought. I simply enjoyed myself and found others enjoyed my happiness too. I was told they wished they had my confidence (I wish I did too!!) and that they had a good time meeting me. I simply did what my heart told me it wanted to do, danced when it wanted to dance, laughed when it found life funny, and when it became sad because I no longer had a partner to share my life with I told it to let that feeling go and enjoy the night.

It was beautiful being so in synch with my life and my heart. Being human. Being me.

At the end, I made many new friends who though I doubt much will come of it, I can ask if they will be bar hopping and join them confidently.

As Zain gave me a ride home on his motorcycle it was at first bittersweet. For years I dreamed of what life would look like when well, much of it lost when we went separate ways, and including someone who drove a motorcycle (this was my first ride with him); yet, I also had such a wonderful night of living that wasn’t possible before. The ride was wonderful and gave me time to enjoy the surprising ending to my night.

Never would I have thought tonight would be this way. I simply went where my heart said to go and trusted I would keep myself safe. It was definitely one of the best nights of my life.

Thank you to Zain and everyone else who made this night the amazing adventure it became. This world is a wonderful place if you step outside your boundaries and let go.

Just let go.

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First Day of School

Today was my first day at Front Range Community College. I started my day off with a hard workout at our CrossFit gym (CrossFit North Fort Collins) to burn off some nervous engery. Immediately after I finished the workout, still trying to catch my breath even, I found a quiet spot next to a nice view of a wildlife area and burst into tears.

This isn’t actually the first time I’ve cried after a workout there. Something about pushing my body so hard, going well beyond my mental blocks that would keep me weak and quitting, it takes me to a place where I can finally feel all of the hard years behind me. As someone who’s had chronic fatigue syndrome, working my body as hard as I can and still feeling good – it’s a huge neon sign to my brain that life is much different now; I am well.

Today’s cry was sparked by the chasm of time between the last college course I took in 2001 and starting back to school today. So much has happened. So much pain. The losses during those years are indescribable in their depth to destroy a soul. Yet, here I am having conquered them and returned to a full life once more.

This journey has been rough and one way to make it through was to keep locked up the knowledge of just how bad things were. It’s times like this morning when that door is unlocked and I view the truth laid out before me. How can one do anything else but weep in that moment? To keep in the pain would only give it more power over me, power I have chosen to take back as my own. The tears let it go.

I grieve for the innocence I’ve lost, the hardships I have endured, and the incredible struggle I had to fight in order to heal. This healing process has been huge. Enormous. Gargantuan is really the most apt word to describe how much I have worked and accomplished to become well.

It was never easy.

After grieving for my past, I dried my tears and went back inside the gym. A little more weight lifting helped get my endorphins kicked back into gear and by the time we left I was feeling as though I was ready to make my new start this afternoon.

My first impressions of pre-calculus?

Tough. I’m thankful for the studying on trigonometry I completed on my own last week, because apparently we are going to skip the whole algebra portion of pre-calculus and focus mostly on trig and a couple other advanced concepts. This frustrates me as I’d hoped to have a well rounded class – not be told to study algebra on my own from the book so I can understand the concepts in class.

I’ve been reminding myself this is about much more than simply learning math. Today I sat in a classroom full of people and had to focus on difficult material. I took notes at the teacher’s pace for the first time in 13 years. There was a group activity and I was a good partner who helped us complete the work correctly.

I also felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work – this course is only 9 weeks of instruction. Tons of homework each day, quizzes and tests on a fast paced schedule. It’s crazy! This is a good obstacle for me to face when I only have the one main class and can afford to get a lower grade than my usual A.

All in all, I’m not paying to take a math class – I’m paying for the experience I need to step into CSU in August and have already overcome these challenges as a returning student after long term disability. This isn’t something I could learn in a book or figure out on my own. I needed to be in the classroom smelling the tobacco lingering on a heavy smoker’s clothing, leaning to the side to get a better view of the diagram being drawn on the board, and having to make my head think faster to keep up with everything being taught.

I need this classroom experience to prepare me for success at CSU and becoming an engineer.


Countdown

Almost a year has passed since my last post here, yet I am disappointed with my lack of posting at the second blog site Jeremy and I teamed up for. In truth, though he is a great partner for many things, blog writing is not one of them. This sapped my enthusiasm for writing and over the months turned into more silence than anything. In that time, much has happened, but what brings me back here today is this blog itself. Several weeks ago I began to reread my old posts here and appreciate once more how much Sundog Tales has always meant to me. I’ve shared so much of my journey, it’s only fitting that I come back here in these final months before I begin to attend Colorado State University in August.

Where does one begin? Perhaps there is no need for a beginning, for you already know me so well. A quick catch-up then.

In short, life in Colorado has been filled with many ups and downs, as any life is – healthy or chronically ill, and I’ve been undergoing tremendous growth to overcome these challenges. I’ve had the excitement of applying for and being accepted to CSU for the fall semester. This in turn kicked off a world of doubts and fears about my capabilities to return to school, being productive once more, and in some ways more importantly – to feel successful while doing it.

All those years living in a tent, day dreaming of being healthy again, working or going back to school – the reality is both much more fantastic and also more difficult that I had imagined. Somehow in each of my daydreams, the me I would become when well was the same me I had been before becoming sick. Other than knowing I was mentally a lot stronger and physically a lot weaker now, in my mind’s eye I was still the same 24 year old woman I used to be.

Boy was I wrong!

I am vastly different than who I had been. Though the tent felt like time was suspended within it’s walls, it was in fact not a time machine at all, waiting to deposit the old me 13 years in the future the same as I’d been before, but instead a device slowly molding me into a more mature and motivated person.

This is ever so obvious when I attend functions at CSU, surrounded by undergrads who are often half my age with problems I no longer identify with, such as which party to go to or who is dating whom. Worse yet are the functions for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The freshmen are often accompanied by parents who are the only ones asking questions, a glazed look on the kid’s faces, and everyone wondering where the dorms are. These are not problems in my world. My world is about paying rent, walking the dog, spending time with Jeremy, and otherwise devoting myself to my studies.

No, the me of 2001 who would have been only a bit older than these kids is as surely gone in the past as VHS tapes and a world without cell phones.

This morning I was writing an essay for a scholarship (something else past me had never done) and one of the questions was on how have I grown as a leader through my leadership activities. Well, as someone who was bedbound much of the last decade of my life, let me tell you – there wasn’t much call for leadership activities. Then I woke this morning with the thought on my mind, this right here is a leadership activity. I have reached lives I have never known, inspired people with my words to be more than they were before reading my stories, and that to me is a leader.

It reminded me of how much this blog and all my readers have meant to me over the years and I realized that at one of the greatest points in the story – I left. I went elsewhere and was hardly there too. It’s time I remedy this and finish this story, you all deserve nothing less.

So pull up a chair and settle in, because there will be more blog posts to come over the next few months as we count down to the first day of school – August 25, 2014.


Chakra Meditations and New Blog

I have enjoyed this chakra meditation video very much over the last few months. It has a nice grounding effect and is quite relaxing.

Each day Jeremy and I do some combination of between 2-4 meditations spread throughout the day. It is part of the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Technique we have been doing and it helps immensely. Though the program starts you off with guided meditations of their own and cd’s to help you get started, we’ve taken it beyond those to now encompassing other meditation styles too.

Sometimes we skip the afternoon meditation in favor of a walk in the park or around our semi-rural neighborhood. This also seems just as relaxing and really depends on the day as to which we do.

Over the last several months of this program I have had a lot of time to think. Originally I was unsure as to when I would share with my reading community that I was doing the Gupta program, as it is a bit alternative and honestly, I wasn’t ready to face people judging me or how I choose to heal myself. Sad that even with all I’ve been through from these illnesses, there are those people out there who will harshly judge anyone who dares to break their own boundaries by becoming well.

Unfortunately, I did indeed face some negative criticism and a fair bit of what I felt to be an irrational anger towards me for not sharing on my blog all the intimate and private details of my life. As though somehow by denying this person those details, I am not only standing in the way of their own healing, but outright doing them harm.

Ridiculous.

I hate to admit it, but even despite finding their position to have been in the minority it did take away some of my enthusiasm for sharing this healing journey with you, my readers and friends. At this same time in life, I found myself to be going into a bit of a downturn in health because of our cat, Tashi, waking us multiple times a night and causing enormous difficulties. I love that cat, but she knocked down a considerable part of my health for the better part of four full months. All in all, as you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting very much for sometime now.

But that’s about to change… just not here.

Now I’m bouncing back quickly, more quickly than I had even dared to hope! With this gigantic boost in health is also the same boost in motivation to get a move on life. Jeremy and I are going to see about moving to Colorado, sooner rather than later, and start the process of getting back to school through the work training programs available to us.

CSU – Fort Collins, Colorado

Jeremy and I started a new blog for us to share, A Thousand Miles, where we will detail out more of our adventures while trying to find enough money to make the move. Being on Social Security Disability and food stamps doesn’t leave much money to try and save up for a big expense, and being on an island means big expense if you want to move off it. Plane fare alone starts around $1200! If we actually want to take with us anything besides carry-on luggage, such as shipping our computers to Colorado or blankets, well the costs skyrocket.

Life is full of challenges and as any who’ve read my blog here for very long knows, we take each challenge and overcome them. It’s all just a matter of time.