Friday, January 2, 2009

reflections, gratitude, goals

Reflecting on the past year kind of makes my head spin. Is it any wonder? In 2008, I lost 100 pounds (I lost the first 30 in 2007). I started writing again after a long, stale hiatus. I began to face my fears, and the reasons for my food addiction. I came out to myself, my former partner, my kids, my friends, and some of my family. My brother almost died. My relationship ended. I went to my first-ever writer's workshop, met fabulous women and had an amazing time, in the middle of all that stress. I went back to work. N moved out. My oldest moved back home for a few months. She got hit by a car in November. I met Amy Ray...and a few other amazing people. I'm preparing to move to a new home (hopefully) that I can afford.

I've gone from a size 26 to a size 13 in fifteen months.

I found my voice.

I bought a new guitar.

I learned so much about myself. But I'm still reeling. It's like being in the center of a tornado. So much has happened, so quickly, and with an upcoming move, I know that it's not over.

I have many things to be grateful for:

-My kids. I learn as much from them as they learn from me.

-My health. Wow. I can walk. I can run if I want to. And exercise, and hike, and go camping, and ride a bike. Without pain, without getting winded, and with enthusiasm. It's hard to do all of those things when you weigh 300 pounds.

-My family.

-My brother because he's still alive, and fully recovered. When you get 520 volts, there should be some damage, right? But even his memory is intact. The only thing he can't remember is the accident, and some of his hospital time. And personality-wise, he is very much the same brother I've always had.

-Megan. It could have been much, much worse.

-N, my ex. For being as supportive as can be when I came out. And for continuing to act with compassion and caring. He puts his child first, and he's a fantastic co-parent. And a good friend. There have been bumps, there will be bumps, but I am blessed to have him in my life.

-Ferron and the Wet Ink workshop, and all the women who formed a community for five great days, for helping me rediscover my writing voice, and the "woman behind the door." If she's still running them next year, and you can get to kalamazoo, I highly recommend it.

-All those independent women who make fabulous music.

-Ditto, for my favourite writers.

-My dog, who loves me unconditionally.

-Chocolate, which doesn't love me at all. But that matters not a whit. I can still indulge once in a very little while.

- Me, for finally having the courage to live my life authentically. And for being who I am. I love who I am. Tall, redheaded, clumsy, quirky and gay.

-You, for reading, and for supporting me always.

And my goals for 2009?

-Independence. Financially, socially, emotionally. I'm already well on my way, but I need to know that I don't have to rely on anyone else for company, for money, as a crutch when I don't think I can do it on my own. I always figured - it was conditioning as a child - that there would always be someone to take care of me. A man - of course. Why bother with college if you're going to get married anyways? I want my kids to be self-sufficent, as I have never been, until now. I want good credit, and a bank account that's not always in overdraft. I want to know that I have enough to live comfortably, and then some.

-A more active social life. This may or may not include dating in the future. Right now it does not. I need to seek out other people. I spend way too much time at home alone. Which is good for writing, but eventually I'll run out of things to write about....

-A stronger body. I walk 4-6 km a day. I need to do more strength training, work on my abs and lower body. Because I want to be healthy, and I'm desperate to lose that "wrinkled skin" look.

-More and better writing. Regular, disciplined writing practice.

-Spiritual practice that's solitary and meaningful. I need to do more than work with my coven, but finding time is a challenge.

-Community. I need a writing community. Even with blogging, I often feel like I'm pouring myself into a void. I don't post a lot of fiction or poetry because I feel rather naked when I do it - I get a comment or two, which is great. But I'm hungry for feedback. I want support from other writers and I want to support them in turn. The Wet Ink workshop was a great start, and it showed me that the kind of community I'm looking for is possible. I started going to witchcamp about five years ago, and after a year or two, I started thinking to myself - this is great, but what about the other 360 days? And then I became part of a coven, a community of like-minded women with a common spiritual practice. That's how I'm feeling right now about writing - if I can find community with other women who write for five days, why not the rest of the year? I've looked at writing groups locally, online groups, meetups, stuff like that, but they're not quite....right. I need to be able to write freely, about whatever I choose, without judgment or bias, without being attacked for my beliefs, my writing style, whatever.

If I can't find it, I'll start one on my own. I've been mulling the possibilities. And then last night I had a dream.....

I won't write the whole thing down because a lot of it isn't relevant. But at the end of the dream, this teenage boy comes up to me, and he gives me a plastic travel mug. He's written a song down in the bottom of the mug, etched it into the plastic with chord diagrams and everything. (which is how I feel about my writing - it's accessible only to me - in the back of a closet, between the covers of a notebook that no one ever reads). The lyrics are pretty banal, and I'm trying to think of ideas for him, to help jump-start his writing skills. Prompts, tricks, different techniques to draw out images...because he has the desire to create, but has no one to help him. I'm standing at a counter, musing aloud, and another woman says to me " My teenagers had a ning once. It would have helped you. Too bad they threw it away." I remarked carelessly that if I needed a ning, I could always get one from my ex, because he's a computer whiz. I look into the bottom of the travel mug and mutter "what's a ning? What's a ning?" and then I wake up.

I feel like whatever a ning is - and it could be some nonsense word for something buried deep in my psyche - it's the key to helping me create the community I desire. If only I could figure it out.....

It's a lofty goal, but it's really important to me to step out of the void, share my work, and create community with other women. I need to make this happen.


dharmajune said...

Hi Arial, this is such a lovely posting. All the wonderful changes you've made in your life and your unfathomable gratitude for what you have and what you'll become is inspiring. I look forward to reading your blog and am sending you good vibes and best wishes for a wonderful future.

dharmajune said...

Hi Arial, just got a look at your photos from the day after christmas, and you are so pretty (and slim)! Have no fears about your desirability, they are just insecurities that gnaw at each of us at some time or other. Maybe get a hip new hairstyle, something that reflects the interior changes and will show off your lovely eyes. Ask some younger people, like your kids' friends, for makeup know they'll be honest with you and at the very least it will give you a good laugh. Get a free makeover at an expensive department store, just for the heck of it, and buy the same colors on your own at the drugstore! I hope you'll see yourself as you really are, Ariel, and will have the time of your life!

Rose said...

You sound like an amazing woman who hasn't quite discovered how really amazing she is. I read a lot of your blog but am only commenting here so if what I write doesn't quite make sense, that is probably why.

I learned a long time ago that 'Feeling is the Secret.' The more you feel the more alive you will be. I read you were abused as a child and protected yourself from you pain through food. As a child you were a victim. You are no longer a child and it sounds to me like the adult Arial is taking care of little Arial. Beautiful. I love that kind of work. It is tough to do but so worth it.
I don't know you but dang, girl I am proud of you. I look forward to reading more of your story.
BTW, you look happy in your pictures. Great eyes. My hair is the only straight thing about me and I wish it was curly.

Keep writing, I will give you feedback. You are not alone.

Camlin said...

These comments are bringing tears to my eyes this morning. Thank you!

greg said...

I have been MIA (I call it vacation brain) so I'm still catching up and just saw your pictures - you have great hair!

This was an excellent post and so impressive. It's fantastic that your ex is supportive, it brings some peace to a difficult time of transition. Happy New Year to you & may 2009 bring you much happiness.

QueerRose said...

Hey Arial, nice to meet you. Happy New Year and good luck with your goals - maybe you can do anything you put your mind to? Love your blog. QRx

Sinnerviewer said...

Very worthy goals and I wish you all the best in attaining them. I have left you a major award on my blog post today. Congrats!


Earth Muffin said...

Happy New Year to a New You! You've reached quite a turning point in your life and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to read about it. I'm sure this year will bring great things for you and you deserve them! Enjoy the New You!

kimber p said...

what a wonderful're very inspiring :) I came to you through my friend Propane Amy's blog..nice to "meet" you :)