The Halfway Point

Ok, firstly I have to say WHOA… I’m a little mortified that it’s been two months since I last posted!  Holy cow, how time flies.  It’s been flying and I’ve been busy busy busy and enjoying every second I can.  I have a lot of years to make up for if I can, and I’ve been  totally focused on my life anew, making strides to figure out my shady mental state, and accept my circumstances.

It has become something of a tradition for me to evaluate my goals at the halfway point, so here were are – June 1.  Half the year is over, and half the year still to come (although technically, I suppose July 1 is actually the more appropriate date for half the year passed.).  At any rate, here I am.

I did not have much in the way of goals for 2016, but I did have a few.  The goals I did have, some of them have changed shape or been shelfed completely.  I’m starting to find pieces of myself that I once remembered and long since thought I lost, and those pieces are starting to fit together like a comfortable old pair of slippers and they are starting to shape my new life going forward in their own way.  I am exploring new endeavors, trying things I have never tried before, and learning skills and more about myself that I never would have been able to realize living in the conditions I was.

So, let’s see where I am at.  My original goals for the year were to:

  • Photograph Bald Eagles
  •  Build new costumes – a Castithan/Stahma Tarr from Defiance costume, an entirely new (and hopefully improved!) Predator costume, also a couple other costumes, including Princess Nuala from Hellboy 2, and the dark dancer from Legend.
  • Resume attending Science Fiction Conventions, and most of all attend my precious Dragon*Con again.
  •  Compete with Luke or Jesse in the Hickory Knoll CDE and/or another CDE in the Midwest.
  • Attend the National Drive in Kentucky
  •  Take a photo journey to the Florida Everglades
  •  Finalize divorce
  •  Go skydiving (in Florida!)

Well, I have definitely done some Bald Eagle photographing, including taking another trip to Horicon Marsh, where I spotted 2, so I would say that is one complete.

I’m going to skip the costume building & Sci-Fi con goal for the moment and discuss that in a second.

I have also changed my goals a bit with the horses. Because of the previous goal (costumes & conventions) taking new life, it’s pushing my horse activities back a bit, and I feel a bit like I’m standing at a cross road – horses going one way, conventions and costuming going the other.  There’s a truth here that I should share at this point.  In 2003, I sold my horse and all my tack.  I did that because I chose science fiction conventions and costuming over horses.  I wanted to build bigger, better costumes, and pursue this love I have and travel to cons.  I made that choice because although I love both things dearly, there is one thing that has more of a driving force in my life than horses ever have.
And then, it was all shut down.  The beauty of narcissistic abuse- the abuser shuts down your passions, and takes them away from you.  I held on to horses throughout my marriage because it was the one thing I was allowed, in some degree, although it became troublesome when I wanted to show or travel with the horses.  At least the horses kept me grounded, “forced me” (in a matter of speaking) to remain home, local, and bound to my marriage under threat of them being taken away from me if I left.
Now that I have this freedom again, I am able to pursue both interests, but one is coming out full-force while the other is shifting away again.

I’m still working on both the trip to Florida and the skydiving thing.  Both are dependent on money, of course, and also both are weather dependent.  I can’t skydive when it’s cold or raining, and I don’t want to try to hit the Everglades when it’s 2,000 degrees in Florida!  LOL!!

My divorce was finalized on Feb 26, so that is one major goal accomplished!

But that is far from the only goal.  Let’s back up to the whole costume building thing and conventions.

Goals met – check, check, and check.  I began working towards accomplishing those goals starting January 2.  I bought admission to Dragon*Con and organized a hotel room in the hotel I am compelled to stay in – the one I stayed in during the con in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and also insisted on staying in after my wedding, despite my nasty husband’s objections.  I got a room at the Marriott Marquis.

A month later, I had attended one small Sci-Fi con in the Stahma Tarr costume I made, which also involved me getting a sewing machine and putting some paltry sewing skills to use.

I also started building my beloved Predator costume at the beginning of January.  Three months later, the suit was complete and I attended my first convention in ten years as Predator (Wizard World Madison).

 

I also attended another large convention (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) out of costume, and then in May drove to Michigan to attend another convention with a group of Predators at the Motor City Comic Con.  I have 2 small events in June, currently nothing in July, and then 2 major events at the end of August and beginning of September, with another small event squished in between the two.

mypred

mccc

(Above, 2 photos from Motor City Comic Con, including the group shot featuring 9 of the 11 Predators and 2 aliens.  There were also 5 Colonial Marines and a Ripley, even Jonesy Cat and a facehugger, making up a huge 19 person group Cosplay event)

When I built the Predator suit, it made me utilize new materials I was not familiar with – foam, latex, and airbrushing paint.  I realized while doing it that I love … I mean LOVE… airbrushing.  It sparked a fire in me, and I am now in “airbrush everything” mode, and have even gone so far as to drive 8 hours from home to learn from a professional airbrush artist.  I have also begun sculpting and have some vague plans to perhaps put my growing knowledge base to use and earn an income with that.

For me, life has been taking me in a direction I had not planned on, and I am loving it.  For the first time in a long time, I feel right.  I feel like I am tenderly stepping out into a world where I am happy, and enjoying all life has to offer, and I am letting the waves carry me, so to speak.  I have made major changes and I’m trying to let it all absorb.

For me, Predator has always been something that inspired me – to paint, draw, sculpt, create, and even socialize.  It’s always elicited good impacts in my life, and when my love of the Predator fandom and attending conventions was squashed out of me for 10 years, it took a toll on me.  I’m back to doing what I love, and I really hope the next 6 months prove to have as tremendous waves as the last 6 months have.

One other major change that the Predator suit elicited was a physical one.  As I started into the build and saw that it was coming along well, I began to realize I needed to change my body shape in order to present the suit to the best of my ability.  I had once lost 45 pounds, before I discovered cancer in my leg in 2011, and in the subsequent years, stress, depression, and lack of….anything…. led me to gaining 65 pounds back.  As I looked at myself during the Predator build, I realized the weight needed to go, because I needed to be at my best for my much-anticipated return to Dragon*Con after 12 years.

So, with 7 months before the con, I started dieting & exercising in February.  I set myself the goal of walking to Dragon*Con.  It is 668 miles from my front door to those wonderful glass doors of the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta.  So, my distance to Dragon*Con plan was born.  As of now, June 1, I have walked/biked/jogged/run a total of 353 miles towards that goal, and have lost approximately 60 pounds.  I have dropped almost 10 full sizes of jeans, and have lost almost 10″ off my waist.  I have a 90 pound goal, so I still have work to do, but I am hopeful that I will lose the remaining 30 and be at my goal weight for the great con!

So that is where I am at this halfway point through the year.

The horses are fine and wonderful, and I am have been working them on trails during nice weather.  Chewbacca is enjoying his retirement along with Dixie, and both are doing well.  Luke is ready to go whenever there’s a trail waiting, and is perfectly happy hanging out the rest of the time.

As for me… I can only hope to be lucky enough to ride this ride for a long time.

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Busy Bees and Birds!

Well, technically I am the busy bee.  But that has led to an awful lot of birds!  I know it seems like it is few and far between updates.  That is a testament not to having nothing going on, but having everything going on!

The horses are great, but intermittent good weather (or should I say mostly lousy weather) has not led to much work for them. I did get them out once this year already for a brief jaunt down the road, but that was about it.

In the mean time, I am definitely fully immersed in a massive (almost overwhelming) amount of new changes and activities and living a life like brand new.  I’ve been crazy busy working on projects at home, but I have also been getting out for nature walks and photos.  So, I present the gamut of captures I’ve taken since my last update.  Enjoy!

Below:  A  Cooper’s Hawk

hawk 2

hawk 3hawk

kingfisher

Above, a Belted Kingfisher (my best shot of one yet!)

Below, a Gold Crowned Kinglet (first time for me!)

kingletmergansers

Above:  Common Mergansers (best shots yet)

Below, a muskrat

muskratsap sucker

Above, a yellow bellied sap sucker (another first for me!)

Below, a Northern Shoveler (also a first)shovelersparrow

Above… ummmm…..  song sparrow I think??  turns out I’m not too good at ID’ing the little birds.  And try to Google “small brown bird”.  Yea…

Below, Blue Wing Teals

 

teals

turtles

 

Above, turtles basking in the sun.  I normally don’t photograph the turtles, but it was cute how they were all lined up.  They are red eared slider turtles.  This is what happens to all those pet store turtles when the kids grow tired of them or the parents realize how much work is actually involved in keeping a turtle – they are prolific reproducers and rather invasive.

Below… again, this is where my Google search of “little brown bird” fails me.  I don’t know what this is, but it’s a first for me as well.

unknown

Below, also a first for me (yay, I love all these firsts!) – a yellow rumped Warbler.  This little guy  loved having his picture taken.  I must have 30 photos of him.  He actually kept following me around the park.  He would fly from tree to tree behind me wherever I went and followed me for over 1/2 mile.  He was very cute and put on quite a show for me.

warblerwarbler2

In the coming weeks, I hope to plan for another trip to Horicon Marsh, with spring weather (supposedly) here, and all the migrants coming and going, this seems to be the best birding time right now.  The herons & egrets & cormorants have returned and are nesting and all the little song birds are putting on shows singing for mates.  I can’t wait to see what I find around the Marsh in spring instead of late summer.

As 2016 has brought about dramatic changes in my life, and shifts in my activities, opening doors to past loves that I am happily able to pursue again, my equine activities are going to spiral downward just a little bit, and at this point, I have no plans to horse show in 2016.  I may try to hit some trails here and there, but otherwise, there will be plenty of other activities and events for me to pursue.

Stay tuned!

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I’m Still Here!

Time has really gotten away from me, I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I last posted.  It’s also been over a month since my divorce was finalized!  Yay me!!!  I have just been suuuuuuper busy and let my blogging upkeep slide a bit.  But that’s a  good thing, I guess, right?

Just wanted to share some photos I took recently.  The horses are doing great, and the 2 that are in work for 2016 have already been started back lightly with the warm weather slowly creeping in.  As spring comes in, I have plans to get out to some more parks – including just a small little place in Florida called the Everglades. :)

Stay tuned for photos!

garternuthatchSHCswallow

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What Was I Thinking?

Today, I got my divorce finalized.  It is a happy day, and probably this post is most appropriate on this day, to reflect again on just what I went through.

As I have made the truth about what has happened to me and what has been going on in my life more known, one thing I hear quite often besides people wondering “how” or “why” I put up with it for so long, was this question…

“What Were You Thinking?”

Now, mostly, this question isn’t being asked with a condescending tone, so don’t read it as if it’s being said snottily (like “oh my gosh, what were you thinking…”).  Mostly, this gets asked of me in a tone that means more “what was my thought process during all this”, or that is to say, how did I deal with staying so long, and why didn’t I see my way clear sooner?

From any woman (or man) who’s been abused, I can assure you, that we all want to tell you, that to be asked this question is teeth-grittingly frustrating.

It is very easy for someone who does not know what it is like to endure an abusive relationship to simply shake their head and ask these questions as if the answer was so simple.  To the abused person, the answer is far from simple, and it pains the heart to the very bottom of its core.

So, what was I thinking?

I have previously stated that I had doubts and regrets before I had ever even gotten married.  While I was still engaged and I was being hurt, controlled, and abused, I second guessed my intentions to marry this person, and still told everyone who told me I shouldn’t marry him that they were “‘wrong'” about him.

I think mostly the sum of what I was thinking throughout 12 years of abuse was:

It will get better

I know I opened myself up to abuse because of a condition called “co-dependency”.  Co-dependency goes something like this…..

You want to go see a movie.  He wants to stay in and watch sports.  You decide that you really just want to please him, and if he doesn’t want to go see a movie, then you’re fine with just staying in to see sports that you don’t really want to see, but since he does, you just want him to be happy.

We’ve all been there, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that scenario at all.  In a relationship, we all want to please our partner, and sometimes that means changing up what we envision in order to accommodate the other person enough to make them happy.  To some degree, every one of us is co-dependent.  We can’t be happy unless we know we’re making the other person happy, even at the risk of sacrificing your wants/needs/desires.

Now, the above scenario is pretty harmless, right?  I mean, in the greater scheme of things, does it really matter if you go out to see a movie?  Maybe you’ll see it tomorrow.  Maybe you’ll both decide that you never really wanted to see it in the first place.  It’s a pretty harmless thing.

However, when those small, harmless, “loving” accommodations occur regularly – multiple times a day, multiple times a week – and you realize they are solely one sided (one partner always sacrificing for the other and not vice-versa), you are co-dependent.

And the biggest thing a co-dependent person does is convince themselves that it’s OK to forfeit the things they love/desire to appease the other person because one day you “know it will get better”.

You figure that one day that person is “JUST” (there’s that word again – the JUST TRAP) going “see” your sacrifices and start to give in to you a bit to see you be as happy as you are clearly trying to make your partner.

You go on telling yourself that maybe next year you’ll do that thing you’ve wanted to do.  Maybe you’ll just catch the movie on Netflix in 8 months.  Maybe you really don’t think taking that trip was really that important.

Maybe he will “just see”  how much it means to you and he will try to “accommodate” you.  Maybe he will try to deal with it, and put up with “your demands” if you just work harder/try more/appease him greater.  Maybe you know if you perform action A, you might stand a good chance of eliciting response B.   And you convince yourself for a while that you’re finally getting through to your partner, because sometimes (just enough to keep you on the hook), your partner gives in to you if you meet enough stipulations.  And you convince yourself for a while that this is how it should be until it gets better.

And suddenly, you look back on more than a decade of your life and realize you’ve been saying “maybe next year” for a whole lot of years…..

Coming to grips with realizing that “maybe it WON’T GET BETTER” is an extremely hard thing to do, especially after you’ve had your entire self-identity torn away piece by piece.  Especially when you think you’re a “good person” and they should be a good person too, so you try extra hard to be “even better” in the hopes of eliciting some iota of a desirable response from your partner.

Ultimately, you get berated and demeaned for trying too hard to bring out the person you “THINK” is in there, and eventually you begin to think that you can just get by without.  You think about being cursed at or yelled or hit or who knows what else happens in that cycle of abuse you endure if you “try” to step over (or out of) the line that has been drawn around you that you can’t ever cross.

Eventually, that all leads to you thinking that you can’t ever get free.  It leads you to thinking you don’t deserve to get free.  It leads you thinking you are gone.  You are lost.  You don’t matter.

That, to all those wondering – is what I was thinking while I watched the core of myself as a person be stripped away and abused for 12 years.

Now, what am I thinking?

I am thinking about moving forward!  I am thinking about taking that trip that was too far, too expensive, too much “work”.  I am thinking about watching the sun rise tomorrow and thinking about savoring life as it should be savored.  I am thinking about living, as the song says, like I’m dying.

 

 

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Super Bowl Sunday Photos

So, as I understand it from the countless millions of people talking about it, I guess there was some big game on Sunday?  Something to do with a ball and a bunch of men running around?  Maybe someone can explain the appeal to me, because I really don’t get it, and know nothing about football.  I hear the commercials were pretty terrible, too, including the Budweiser one.

For me, I spent part of Sunday watching the Walking Dead marathon on AMC and while I wasn’t home working on projects while watching TV, I was out taking photos, and I was quite happy doing so.

 

 

gull

Above, a gull.  Don’t ask me what kind.  I have no idea.  About the only thing I know about gulls is that the term “sea gull” is not really a term.  There is no such bird as a sea gull.  It’s just a catch all phrase that encompasses the hundreds of varieties of gulls you might see near a sea  (see?!)

Below, a ring neck pheasant.  Not to be confused with a ring neck gull or a ring beak gull….

pheasant

Below, and yep!  Another coyote!!  Woot to photographing things that don’t have feathers…

coyote

Although, I won’t complain when that feathered thing is a beautiful Bald Eagle!  Hoorah!

eagle

kestrel

Above, another American Kestrel.  Not the best photo, but this is a small bird (like the size of a cockatoo) and it was far away.  Pretty though.  I hope to get better photos of Kestrels later in the year when there are more of them around (more chances!)

Below, and speaking of needing to get better photos…. this was sooo cool!  I get super duper excited when I see new species that I have not photographed before.  This is a harrier hawk, and she was very very very far away.  The only reason I got this quasi decent photo of her is because this bird was huge — ie… bigger than the Bald Eagle.  This was an amazing bird, gliding and stopping mid-air over the field, diving down to get prey and coming back up.  I watched her for several long minutes.  This was about the best shot I got.

harrier

Must go back and attempt better photos.  I know the spot where this bird lives.  I’ve seen her at least 3 times, but this is the first time I managed a photo.

Have a great day and enjoy!

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The “Just Trap”

I have mentioned it in a previous post, but I decided the “just trap” needs an entire post of its own, because I believe, from all that I have learned about enduring narcissistic abuse (or probably other forms of abuse, too), that almost every abused person falls into the “just trap”.

That’s what I call it, anyway.  The “just trap“.

This ties directly into co-dependency and is just another element in the circular cycle of abuse.  The narcissistic abuser knows quite well how to manipulate you – in fact, they do it so well it simply becomes second nature to them – absolutely inseparable from who they are as a person, kind of like trying to unmix the ingredients of a cake after they’ve been blended together.  It simply is not possible to separate the egg from the flour, just as it is not possible to separate a narcissist from his abusive mindset.

It is best not to think of narcissism as a “habit” or some kind of separate entity of a personality trait.  It isn’t a “quirk”; it isn’t “just” a “bad day”; it isn’t excusable; and it is also not separable from the person as a whole.

However, all of us; especially those who are sucked into a narcissistic relationship, want to believe that there really is a way to separate the ingredients.

Imagine for a moment, my cake batter example. Imagine the batter after it’s been stirred just a little bit, but while it’s still lumpy – you can pick out a little chunk of the flour, maybe even see the grains of sugar in it and you can probably pull some of it out if you tried.  However, odds are pretty good you’re not going to get much of a “clean” piece of those ingredients.

Well, that’s a bit like what happens in a narcissistic abusive relationship.  You get to see little glimmers of the person you are led to believe is still there, and you try to convince yourself that you can pull that part of the person out of the mix and let the rest dissolve away.  The narcissist is quite capable of throwing on the charm and the kindness and the good gestures purely to suit his own needs, and it will be “just” enough to convince you that either he really is a great person and you’re “just” going crazy, or that if you “just” try harder, you’ll get to see that great person all the time.

The narcissist will make it into your fault if he doesn’t act the way you envisioned, and he will do anything to convince you that you are wrong, and that you haven’t tried hard enough.  He will savor it like a fine wine while you implode in upon yourself fully convincing yourself you really are wrong, adding yet another element to the vile circle of abuse that he will make you endure.

And so, you know you have fallen into the “Just Trap” when your thought process in your relationship includes a majority of thoughts like this….

He/she is just having a bad day.
He/she was just kidding
He/she just doesn’t realize how much that hurts when they say/do that
He/she just doesn’t understand
He/she just says those kinds of things when they are angry
He/she just has to have it the way they expect
I just wasn’t thinking about how that would make him/her feel
I just don’t understand why he/she acts that way
I just thought it would be fun to do
I just wanted something for myself
I just need be careful to not upset him/her
I just have to try not make that mistake again
I just thought it would be different
This just isn’t how I thought love worked
If only it could just be like it used to be
If only it could just be like I imagined it would be
Why can’t he/she just see/do/try/understand
Why is he/she always just so mean/angry/unhappy
If I try harder, then just maybe he/she will see how hard I’m working
That might just help make him/her try harder
I just can’t keep doing this anymore
It just has to get better
It just can’t keep going on like this
I just wish it was different
I just want to be free
I just wish I was dead

 

…..That is the “Just Trap”

 

And the only solution to it:

 

JUST GET OUT.

 

What you have is NOT love.  LOVE is good.  LOVE is beautiful.  LOVE is kind.  LOVE is mutual.  LOVE only hurts when your lover passes away.  LOVE does not cause pain and heartache and misery at YOUR expense while you JUST make excuses for someone else’s behavior.  YOU are the only one that matters, and YOU are the only one with the power to make yourself happy.

No one deserves to be mentally (or physically!) abused and broken down until they feel they have no meaning and that all their dreams are poisoned and destroyed.   You do not exist to fill a void of another person – you exist to make sure your own voids get filled.  You are not the cause or the effect of another person’s actions.

The end of the “Just Trap” is hard to achieve, but it can happen.  It takes a self awakening, that unfortunately it seems that most abused people have to find only after they hit the absolute bottom.

For me, it was when I began to think of suicide as a viable option to get away from the hell I was living in, that I realized I had sunk to the lowest of the lows and nothing else mattered except getting away and wrangling in the pieces of myself that had been lost and destroyed over the years.

You have to realize you are stronger than you might think you are, and you do not belong in the abuse you are enduring.  Leave, and you will tackle your challenges and come out strong on the other side.

Maybe the path to Heaven is through Hell.  For, as a good friend put it – raw ore must first be melted down through burning flames before it can be forged into a sword.

I once was raw.  I once was burned.  I once was destroyed.

Now, I am a sword.

 

 

 

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Love Thy Neighbor

That was today’s sermon at church.  I have to tell you, church is new to me.  I’ve always known “God” has been there somewhere, but I did not realize, until about 14 months ago when this journey I began started– the journey to finding myself, my strength, my spirit.  It started with music, and slowly this entity who had never “really” been a part of my life began seeping in bit by bit, song by song, lyric by lyric.  I heard these words and they began to make sense and in that sense I found strength and in that strength, I found the realization that God has influenced, changed, and controlled my life in every way since the day I was born.

If I was to write my life’s story, it would be no easy read.   But I think back to the abuses I endured as a young child… to the poor decisions involving heroine addicts as a teenager…. to the continued allowance of abuse in my life when I said “I do”, and I realize that God had to pretty much use a jack hammer to drill the lessons I needed to learn into my thick head.

It took 36 years— I’ve got the next 36 years to figure out what to do with myself now.

So… I’ve made many mistakes and met many less than awesome “neighbors”.  Love them?  Well – yes.  I can.  I can forgive, but that is not to say I want to invite them back into my life, either.  I can forgive because my heart craves it.  It craves peace.  It craves to provide a love that I’ve never had for myself unto others.  Every life’s lesson I’ve had in my life — all of them — have empowered me, as poor and difficult as they were to experience when I went through them.

The next point of the sermon I heard today was, that although you should love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-48), you should also mark them and avoid them. (Romans 16:17-18)

I realize I’m taking a little bit of a stretch at this interpretation since the verses I refer to specifically address those who try to take you away from God, but truthfully, it applies to anyone who willfully does you harm – those who use you, persecute you, curse you… your enemies.  Love them, pray for them, but stay away from them.

Even if you’re not spiritual (notice, I said SPIRITUAL… not religious) – those are powerful words, and they are in the Bible.  Those words tell you what to do for yourself.  They tell you to be strong enough not to live in hatred… not to seek revenge against those who had wronged you, but to forgive and love them so your heart can be filled with light, not darkness.  But those words also tell you to stay away from them in the future — and that advice right there is worth cracking open the Bible alone.

So simple, so powerful, and so true.

So, love thy neighbor.  Be strong within yourself.  Stay away from those who have wronged you.  Let your light shine.

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