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

Posts tagged “Colorado State University

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.


Unexpected Turns.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to post here. Life has been an interesting place to live in the last couple of months and there are two really huge things going on which I have not mentioned here. It can be hard to balance private life with what I want to share on a blog. I’ve really enjoyed sharing my healing journey over the years and it’s always been a source of strength for me to share it openly here.

The next few posts are going to be the most difficult ones to share. They are probably some of the most important ones to share as well.

I’m coming to find out that the healing process can take many different roads and sometimes you have no way of guessing which way it will take you. It can be a place of both sadness and great joy all at the same time – which is a hard place to live in.

For many months, in hindsight maybe even a lot longer than that, Zain and I have been growing apart. It’s taken a big leap over this summer when we both hit huge milestones in our individual healing journeys. We’ve now grown far enough apart that it’s time to move on as friends, but nothing more.

When I started writing this blog five years ago I really wouldn’t have thought I’d be where I am today. Going to college at CSU and rocking a calculus test I took this afternoon. Feeling more healthy than I ever have in my life, both physically and mentally. Having an amazing dog who just gets more awesome every day. Grieving for the loss of my relationship with Zain. Exploring new realms of adventure that have opened up to me and which I will most likely speak of in my next post. If you’d told me five years ago that this would be life today, I’d have sworn you were off in a fantasy world.

It’s all so … big. When this blog started, my life was simple. Survival for another winter and keep hope alive until the day when I found a way to heal. I can hardly believe I’ve healed.

Yes, I am almost fully healed at this point. I feel like it must all be a dream still. Especially as life keeps taking weird turns that seemed so far away from possible reality as to be fiction.

Yet here I am working on my degree in mechanical engineering while having to relearn how to be 100% independent from Zain because we need to move into separate homes sometime soon. It’s all part of the healing process and so I’m happy, but I’m also sad. My world is opening up before me, though it also means closing the door on the some of the dreams I had been working so long to make happen.

Living life with an open heart and drive to improve, never settling for less than you are capable of doing, it’s simply amazing where that can take you. Where will I be in another five years? I truly wonder.


Frustration to Beauty

For the last six months, I’ve been doing my best to relearn all the math I once knew, but lost to 20 years of disuse. Twenty years is a long time, especially as my brain atrophied while living in the tent just as surely as my body noticeably did.

I have deadlines I must meet for some of this math. Two of the classes I want to take this August require I pass proficiency tests before I can register. Chemistry only requires I know algebra, but calculus requires a knowledge of trigonometry as well. It’s been rather frustrating to have this roadblock before me. The sheer volume of past college credits I bring with me to this school means I have to pay over $1000 more each semester for my classes – yet the credits do nothing to meet any of my requirements because they are over 10 years old. Seems a harsh welcome back to college after all these years.

Therefore, I do what I must to try and relearn the math as quickly as possible. My hope is to pass the placement tests in time to register for my preferred class times – or even to get the class at all. It’s a very real possibility that chemistry or calculus could become completely full, with wait-listed students ahead of me, by the time I can register.

What does this mean? If I don’t take calculus this August, then I must wait another full year before joining the mechanical engineering degree program. I already feel on the old side of going back to college for a potentially 5 year degree. To add on a sixth year is a hard concept to contemplate and so I push myself very hard to complete my math studies.

Yet, I struggle.

I recently completed intermediate algebra and it actually went pretty easy once I was able to focus and commit to regular study hours. I’d struggled the first few months of this year with it, largely because I was undergoing a lot of mental and emotional healing from scars left long ago. The healing process took almost all of my time and left me exhausted, too tired to focus on mathematical concepts. I felt the weeks passing by, only a bit of math done here and there; my time before CSU in August growing shorter.

As I said, finally I am done with that – only to be faced with college algebra and trigonometry still to be learned. These are proving to be more of a struggle to learn on my own, hard concepts without the aid of someone to help explain small details I do not inherently understand. Its so frustrating to do this on my own. Without a doubt, I could easily ace these topics if I were part of a formal class. I just can’t afford the tuition for summer school and financial aid for college will begin in August.

It’s also frustrating because we were told, repeatedly, that there would be no wait-list at Vocational Rehabilitation and that they would be able to help with retraining costs to a new college degree. I’ve now been on their wait-list since September 2013 and have no idea when I will finally receive their aid. Were I off the wait-list and fully in their program, then it is likely they would pay for these summer courses I need.

It’s all just so frustrating. I’ve said that word many times here, but it is true in so many ways. It is hard to have your life taken from you by a series of mishaps, overcome the challenges of long term chronic illness, only to be met by more roadblocks when trying to rebuild your life again.

Then last night a new thought occurred to me.

In winter of 2010 and spring of 2011, I honestly began to question how I would survive another winter spent living in our tent. It was a terrible time, my health was horribly low, and though I still had the fight in me to keep living, my body had become very weak – perhaps too weak to handle the rigors of a Washington winter. Every year I would come out of the previous winter happy to have made it through, yet already dreading the return of winter in six months time. That last winter was different though, there was a lot more snow and freezing temperatures. As well, living outdoors was taking a serious toll on us by then and the thought of another winter began to look rather grim.

It was in that moment of time when life miraculously shifted and within six weeks we found ourselves in Hawaii. Six weeks from wondering if we’d even live another year to instead living the next two years on a tropical island. Simply incredible.

Last night I was lying in bed, my head resting on Jeremy’s belly and the dog’s head resting on mine. I found myself enjoying the moment of peace and wellness life had brought me and reflecting on the differences between this life and the one I had in the tent. In that moment, I also found myself realizing that I have all the time in the world left to me because only three years ago I thought I had no time left at all. Every moment I have now is an amazing gift.

Why am I so worried about this math stuff? I’m worried because it will take me another year of college if I don’t teach myself trigonometry this summer. Yet, that extra year is a year I very nearly didn’t have. I now have to ask myself – is spending this next year enjoying life, enjoying my hard earned health, and savoring my return to college really that bad, even if it becomes an extra year of school?

I think not.

I’ll still try hard to finish my math studies and take calculus this August. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t work hard towards difficult goals – it seems to be what I do in life. However, I hope to keep this new sense of perspective. Every day is a gift I created from the darkness my life had become.

Every day I am living a life I would have considered the best dream in the world just a few, short years ago. Every day I want to remember that I should stop and enjoy this journey, no matter how long it takes me to get there, because its amazing I was even able to find this road to walk.

This is a beautiful road.


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.