Horses and Art Projects

Just an update since it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything.  I have had tons and tons going on.  Expanding my creative skills into new areas and planning out and prepping new costume builds, working on dioaramas for display pieces, making artwork, and messing with the horses now that the weather has turned finally sunny and beautiful.  Only took until June!

First things first, the horses are all just doing awesome.  My little gang is likely to be going be experiencing some major new changes if all goes as planned towards the end of

the year.  Fingers crossed!
It’s hard to believe, but I have owned Dixie the longest.  I bought her in April 2006, which means not too long ago, we had our 11 year anniversary.  I didn’t bring her flowers.  LOL.  But I did bring her carrots.   She is 22 years old and she is showing her age and out of shape-ness from not being worked in at least 6 years.  Dixie doesn’t do much, but she does whatever she wants.  She’s getting gray through her face, and her top line is getting pretty thin, but the old lady will still be an uncooperative pain in the butt.  Still, it’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years.  Her foaling date is, I believe without looking up her records, June 6, 1995.  So, Happy Birthday Dixie.

June2 DixieJesse I’ve now known for 8 years, and I’ve been driving him since 2011.  He was just about 10 when he came to the barn, which makes him around 18 or 19 now.  All of my horses are getting old!  Jesse is still working and going strong, but you can see the grays on his head now too, and his top line is getting a little weak.  He was off all winter, so he’s just getting back to work this summer now, with his teeth recently floated, and coggins pulled and shots/worming done, he’ll be headed to his first (and probably only) show in 2017 in July.

June2Jesse

And the next horse I purchased was Luke.  I brought him home in January 2007, and he was also around 10.  I’ve never been much of one for young horses.  I prefer them over 10, so every single one of them was at least 10 when I bought them.  Luke looked nothing like he does now when I brought him home.  He was a scrawny, thin, unmuscled little thing, but he was a driving machine then, and a driving machine now.  He is approximately 20 this year, I don’t know his exact foaling date, so I just gave him the honorary birthday the same day as Chewbacca’s, which is April 25.

Luke has been with me, and working every step of the way, for 10 full years now, and he has countless hundreds of miles on him.  He knows his job, and although Jesse has only been working with me for about half that time, the two of them are experts at their jobs, with the same training and experience.  Luke doesn’t love going through water, but he will do it after a while with a lot of coaxing and a lot more fighting.  Jesse will practically swim for you, so that’s the only real difference between them.

June2LukenChew

And Chewbacca, who I purchased in August of 2010, is 18 this year.  He’s been retired now since about April of 2015 unfortunately due to suspensory degeneration and lameness in his hind legs, but there are moments he has where you’d never know he’s lame.  He’s doing great, holding his weight, unlike last summer when things got pretty hairy for a while, and is just a wonderful and happy go lucky kind of dude.  Every once in a while when I hang out with them, Chewbacca will decide it’s my job to scratch/massage him, and he will stand there for half an hour and let me do it, without even moving.  If I dare stop, he will follow me and present whatever area he wants done and gives me the “you’re not done yet” look.  I feel so privelaged when he gets into a lovey mood.  LOL!

So anyway, some of the artwork I have been getting into trying to do some different things, include painting canvases and making some display pieces for a diorama for toys.

First up, two brick building facades I made for my boyfriends’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures.  The addition of a street and sidewalk will be coming in the near future.

walls
walls2

bttf

Above is a painting I made for him, since he likes Back To The Future, too.  Well, it was my first – and probably only- attempt and painting a person,  so hey, I’m no artist, but I tried.
canvas

Above, the first canvas I painted this year and below are a couple vases I painted up too.  They all have Bible verses on them.  I’m pleased with how they came out.

vases1vases2

heron

Above and below, my next couple of canvases I painted.  I decided to paint some of my photos I’ve taken over the years so I started with the Great Blue Heron in flight and then tried a green heron.

green heron

After that, I just haaaad to paint this, after watching the movie 😀

titanic

Back to birds, I painted up a little Goldfinch next.

goldfinch

Then I painted up a downy woodpecker, and I think I see improvements now.

woodpecker

The most recent canvas I painted, I actually just finished up a few hours before posting this photo, was another green heron.  I can definitely see major improvements but of course I also see the mistakes.  Either way, I’ll be painting more and more over the summer, I have to hit up Hobby Lobby again for canvases.  I’ve even gotten a request for a Sandhill Crane painting, so I’m  happy to say I’ll be working on my first commission piece.

All of these paintings will be for sale soon, but first I might enter a few into a fair.  I never thought I would ever be the type to paint, but it’s super enjoyable!  Love doing it.  Sooo many projects this summer to look forward to!

heron2

Have a great day!!!

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C2E2

Last year, 2016, after a solid 10 years absent from one my great loves – Sci Fi & Comic conventions, I returned to my very first one.  I admit; at the time, my life was a whirlwind of emotions and turmoil and being back in the thick of things – the massive crowds of people, loud music, tons of toys and collectibles, and the costumers – oh the costumers! – was actually overwhelming.

At that time, I did not have the costume I was working on ready yet.  That was my Predator.  This year… I was ready.

My boyfriend (eeeek!  I get to say that, it’s so awesome!!!) and I attended C2E2 (his first, my 2nd) and I brought not one… but TWO costumes.

First of course, my Predator…

Pred C2E2

(And yes, that IS a baby in my arms.  I did make that myself, too.  Actually I made 2 of them, and I have parts to make a 3rd one, but I just have not done it yet.)  Very cute and fun little thing for something different.

And second… something quite different.  I started working on this one back in September 2016, after Dragon*Con.

Over 10 years ago, I first saw Hellboy II and I said to myself — Self, you are going to make that amazing costume some day.

So, I finally did.  I spent a solid 6 months working on it, and this past weekend at C2E2 was the debut I had been waiting for!

Here’s the clip from the movie, in case you are not familiar with it.

 

And… I introduce my own Angel of Death:

Aod3Aod2  Aod4

AoD

I also made it into this video at 00:24, with my amazing boyfriend standing nearby.  He was an incredible “handler” helping me dress into this thing, which I absolutely could not do myself. I also could not walk, and I could barely see.  But I made it to 7 foot tall, and in my home, my wing tips nearly hit the ceiling when I tried it all on.

The wings each have about 350-400 real feathers on them.  They are completely finished, front and back, but for safety’s sake I stood backed up against a wall.  The wings move, if you look hard enough you can see fishing line attached to them and to my arms.  The wings “flap” back and forth and they curl down into the position as pictured above.  In the video below, they are flexed out all the way.

The head and chest pieces are made out of foam – just those little 8 x 11 “sheets” of “fun foam” that you can purchase for about $1 at any crafting store.  Yep.  That’s all.

Overall, I was thrilled with the costume and it’s first debut.

Future fixes/modifications include :  more feathers on the left wing and a slight repaint of the chest piece.

Below is the video I made it into at 00:24.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April Showers

It has literally been raining here non stop since the beginning of April.  We are submerged.  Seriously!  It can stop any time.

But, to that end – lots of rain sure does make for lush spring grass.

Horses 04-04-2017

Here is a very, very rare photo of all four in one frame!  This does not happen very often for several reasons… besides the fact that the 4 horses to 1 human ratio can be challenging at best, especially when there’s bright green grass as incentive, Dixie (at the front) is also easily the worst one to lead out of all them.

HA!

I mean it, she really is!  At 22 years old, I’ve given up on ever trying to get her to be a cooperative or mannerly animal.  (Heck, I gave up on that 10 years ago…)  She is a little butt.  A smart little butt, but still a little butt.

And another reason for not brining them all out together is because Luke and Chewbacca (especially Chewie) absolutely despise the minis.  Literally every other horse on the entire property gets along fine with the minis, except the 2 that I own.

Chewbacca has, in the past, viciously and aggressively attacked Jesse,, trying to pick him up by the back of the neck and shake him.  He was trying to kill Jesse.  Luke had once viciously attacked Dixie, knocking her to the ground and kneeling on top of her, biting her before I was able to break it up.

When I say my horses do not get along – I mean it.  I’ve never dealt with truly aggressive horses before – I mean, they all fight and bite and pick and do the squealing kicking baloney, sure, but Chewbacca is downright a pit-fighting horse.  He has been in serious fights with other horses – actually trying to kill them.  It can be a little shocking to see 2 horses truly trying to kill each other, and when you know Chewbacca is a sweet and gentle horse that would never do wrong around a person, then he turns and violently attacks another horse trying to kill him, it can be shocking to see.

Just call him Jekyll and Hyde.

He used to live with a small group of geldings, then a couple mares, and he got along fine with all of them.  His aggressiveness started about 2 years ago – not coincidentally around the same time he went lame due to his suspensory ligament desmitis.  Hmm…

But he loves Luke.  They are buddies.

So they get to run free on the property sometimes and eat the front yard up.  This day, I also brought the minis with us.   And after I brought the minis back to the barn (down a hill, around the house, and well out of sight of the front yard…. I simply rattled a bucket of treats and watched Chewbacca and Luke come shooting down at full on gallop to get their treats.

What good horses!

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Transformation

I realize that it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything.  Certainly not for lack of anything going on!  Quite the opposite, actually – I’ve been crazy busy.

I’m still waiting on spring to arrive and the weather to turn so I can enjoy some outdoors time, but for now, I am biding away the last bits of cold weather battling the flu which attacked me twice in 6 weeks  (ugh!) and exercising in the gym.  I’m also spending every second I can with the amazing blessing in my life that is the man of my fantasies come true 🙂

I also, of course, spend time with the horses, but I have yet to put anyone back to work yet.  It’s just too cold.  It will probably be late April or maybe even May before Luke or Jesse get up and running again for 2017.

EveryoneMarch 22 2017

Lined up and waiting.  It’s a small, medium, and large assembly line!

 

I have almost no plans to show either of them, but I do hope to get them out to a couple trail drives.  There are 2 fun shows I might be interested in doing, I usually do them every year and have a blast.  It will just depend on if I am available on those weekends.

chewie21Chewie March 2017

Then and now. Chewbacca from the week I got him, back in 2010 at 11 years old.  And just the other night in March 2017, at almost 18 years.  I guess he doesn’t look that different.

 

Chewbacca is doing just fine.  He’s holding fairly consistently lame at about a grade 2. Some days he is terrible- with a severely swollen fetlock and cannon area, and quite lame.  Some days, he runs like he’s got thrusters on.  So as long as he’s mostly happy, I’m happy.  He is 18 years old this April.  I would hope he will make it plenty of more birthdays.

 

Dixie 2008 Dixie Feb 2017

A little then and now of Dixie, sort of.  I actually purchased Dixie in 2006, but I don’t have any photos on the computer of when I first got her.  The photo on the left is from 2007 and the photo on the right is just a couple weeks ago in early March 2017.  10 years later.  She shows her age.  I really can’t believe the difference when I was looking through other older shots of her.

But, she is still Dixie and still her usual happy self, the Queen Diva of the barn.  At 22 years old, she is showing her age.  I’ve noticed not only has her face turned gray far more this year than ever before, her body shape is changing, muscle mass across her back is going and she is just starting to look like an old lady.

 

Luke Jan 2007Luke March 2017

Luke, the first day I got him, January 2007 (left), and on the right, a few weeks ago in early March 2017.  10 years later.  I’d like to think there’s a tremendous difference in how he looks.

Luke isn’t far behind Dixie in years, at 20 years old.  He is still one solid pony and will be happy to get back to work this year, I’m sure.  OK, well, maybe he won’t be happy, but he will go work.  Luke recently had an issue pop up (literally!).  I noticed a lump on his face.  At first feel, it seemed apparent to me that his tooth was broken and was pushing out under his cheek.  When I looked in his mouth, I did not see anything that appeared to be a broken tooth, and nothing seemed painful to him.  I thought maybe it was something else, but none the less, Luke was scheduled to see the dentist.

If you think going to a human dentist is bad…. be glad you’re not a horse.  Just sayin’.  You’ve never seen tooth extractors the length of your forearm until you have a horse with a broken tooth.

Turned out, that was indeed the culprit of Luke’s lumpy face.  My first instinct was right.  His 2nd molar on the top right was split clean in half.  Well, at least he’ll be feeling better and will no doubt be more comfortable when I finally do get to driving him this year.

tooth2    tooth1

I titled this post “Transformation”.  I guess it’s appropriate, because there have been quite a few before & after photos.

In a recent post, I mentioned that I am learning airbrushing skills, and using them to complete movie-props.  well of course, by “movie props”, I mean Predator stuff…. so here’s a transformation of that as well:

beforehead

Before and after.  On the left is what I started with – a “raw” cast of a lifesize Predator head.  It required cleaning, fixing, and assembly.  On the right is my completed head.  I made the dreadlocks and the beads in them., and for that, I learned how to sculpt, make silicone molds, and cast using foam and resin.  The entire  project was a 7-month long learning curve, but I was so pleased with the final result.  I made the head solely for the purpose of learning and selling, and it has recently been sold all the way to Hong Kong!

And, the final transformation I wanted to share.  The hardest one to share…. ME!
I cannot obviously take a photo to document the emotional and spiritual changes I’ve gone through in the last couple of years, but I do have a then and now of the physical changes.

As I move on with my life in my new relationship, and experience – quite literally for the first time in my life – what a healthy, happy, normal relationship is, I find myself every day growing more and more happy internally and externally.

There is an immense spiritual peace in coming to Jesus, and truly experiencing happiness on this Earth.  I actually find myself thinking (more often than I truly want to) about my ex, and the torture he put me through.

I look at a photo like the one below left, taken on Valentine’s Day in 2015, just two years ago, and I can only think about the ridiculous argument we had that morning, the tantrum he threw that I was working at the barn in the morning to cover for someone who had surgery; the fight we had about where to go and what to do that day; the fact that I had to pay for all of it; and the way I had to force getting this photo taken.

02-07-2015

In the end, I’m glad I have the photo (obviously, I cropped the ex out of it), because it also shows something else – the physical effects on my body that stress, depression, anxiety, and abuse had on me.  I spent the last 60% of my marriage enduring endless snide insults about my weight (from someone who weighed almost double what I did) and my “unattractiveness”…  it was nothing short of mental and emotional torture and I wore the effects of that torture in a pair of size 20 jeans.
I actually know a girl that is going through the same kind of abuse as I endured, and also like me, the physical effects of that abuse are visible on her waistline.  This kind of cruel abuse has both deep as well as superficial effects and quite literally cause the complete breakdown of a human being.

That’s what he called “love”.

Now I know what love actually is.  I’m experiencing every time I am with my new dream– no, fantasy– man.  He makes me smile and laugh and feel good about myself and I’ve never known a more kind and passionate person.

We “met” on a dating site.  So there’s that –at the risk of sounding like a dating site commercial — what they say on those commercials about a “spark” and “instant chemistry”… it’s 100% true.  I am living proof of it.  And I was on the dating site about 20 hours when he first contacted me.

I could almost not believe his profile was real.  I couldn’t believe someone so kind and smart and funny and gorgeous was really on a dating site — and really interested in me.  But we talked more and more and finally met about 10 days later.  And the first time I saw him, I just about squealed like a little kid.  I wanted to simply take his hand and never let go.  He was perfect. He is a true Gift from God and a blessing in my life that made all the shattered roads it took to get to him, worth it.  It is like he is made out of diamonds, and shines like a beach full of them in the sun.

He took the photo of me below, on Valentine’s day – just two years later – 2017.
Not only am I living a dream come true, I have lost 70 pounds in the process, and I’m still working this year of a goal of 15 more.  These last 15 pounds don’t seem to agree with me that they should come off, but I am hopeful that by Dragon*Con time this year, they will be gone.

If these two photos don’t speak for themselves, I don’t know what would.

 

2-12-2017

 

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Living The Dream

Well, 2017 is well under way, and it’s about time I got up a post and made a few changes to the look of the blog.  So here it is.

One year ago, I was on a roller coaster.  Oh my my.  I was writing posts about my experiences with a narcissist, and the subsequent abuse and eventual mental breakdown that came with that.  One year ago today, I was writing about learning to love thy neighbor, and ultimately, learning to love thyself, though I had no idea how or if such a thing was possible.

One year ago, I was shattered and lost and not really sure where I was going, if I could afford it, or who would want me.  I had a simple goal in mind – attend Dragon*Con again.

Literally – that was it.

You wouldn’t think that some Science Fiction & Fantasy convention could have that much meaning and that much impact on a person’s life – but it does and it did.  One year ago, I was focused on going to Dragon*Con, and look at the ripple effect of it that completely changed my life.

I will be honest — going back to Dragon*Con (one thing that was taken away from me immediately after I said “I do” so many years ago) — was actually one of the many driving factors to getting myself out the marriage.  I knew in my marriage, among other things like being happy & wanted – I would never be able to do the things I enjoyed.  Dragon*Con being one of them.

So, in part, yes, that played a role in getting me out and free. So one year ago, when it came to realizing that simple (though expensive!) goal meant building a Predator costume.  In order to do that – I needed to learn new skills…. working with foam and latex… airbrushing.  All of those things became a newfound skill I discovered I loved and wanted to pursue more and more.

One year later, I try to airbrush as much as I can, and I am currently expanding into painting life-size movie replicas as well as experimenting with canvas.  I love airbrushing.  I want to airbrush everything.

One year later, I’m building another complex costume from foam.  I’ve learned beginning steps into sculpting, molding, and casting resin and latex costumes and props.  I’ve sold my own creations as well.

So, there’s one major change – I suddenly found an inner artist I never knew I had.    Ever. In fact, in the past, whenever I tried anything remotely artsy (photography, graphic design, drawing, you name it)… I was ridiculed endlessly.   I still don’t consider myself an artist (insult to artists!), but there is a creativity that my desire to attend Dragon*Con sparked.

And of course – as I began building that Predator suit, I realized I needed to change my body in a BIG way.  I was no longer the slim twenty-something that I was the last time I went to Dragon*Con.  In fact, I was more like pushing 40 and carrying 90 pounds more than I was so many years ago.

So, the journey began into weight loss almost one year ago to the date.  It was right around the beginning of February when I made one very simple change to my diet – I cut out processed sugars (high fructose corn syrup).  Then I made another change – I cut out carbs.  Then I made another change — that gym in my apartment complex… the one I said I would never use.  I started using.

One year later, I have lost 70 – yes seventy – pounds.  I’ve dropped 12 sizes of jeans, 4 sizes of shirts.

And I’m still not done.  If I’ve learned one thing in the last year – it’s that I can do anything at all I put my mind to.

So, the ripples expanded.  From that one simple goal of going to Dragon*Con, I completely reshaped my life, and it does not end there.  After Dragon*Con, I came back to my wonderful home which I love and am so happy at, and realized that I had finally gone through enough recovery I had done something I never thought I could — I began to love myself again.  I found confidence.  I found happiness.

And I took another chance.   One more chance that led to something incredible.

I signed up for a dating site and within 30 hours, I was contacted by a man that has literally been God’s gift in my life.  He is everything I ever fantasized about having in a man, and although I have only been with him now for 2 months, I have been happier in those 2 months than I’ve been in the last 20 years of my life.

So – the other night while I was laying watching him sleep, I realized something that truly floored me.  One year ago, I was dealing with the after-effects of living in hell.  Today – I am living a dream come true.

I am living in a place I love, working in a place I love.  I have my wonderful horses, a beautiful car (despite its maladies….), I’ve gone on 2,000 mile trips, I’ve found my soul and a soul mate and I’ve discovered a life I never knew I could have, and I have this man – this amazing and perfect man — in my life that is everything I could have ever wanted from a partner, a soul mate, a friend and a companion.

Today – I live a dream.

It took going through hell to get there, but yea … it was worth it.

What a year 2017 is going to be.

 

And – those horses… they are doing just fine.  I was very worried about Chewie, as he has some days that are very hard for him.  Then he has days like this, with the recent spring like weather we are being treated to in January… and well…..  he’s just fine.  His weight is up, he is happy, and he can still do this at nearly 18 years old.

2017 is going to be an amazing year.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

DREAM BIG

 

 

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2017, Here I come

Well, this is definitely an annual tradition of mine.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I what I do is make goals for each new year.  In June I check back to see how well I’m doing with realizing those goals, and at the end of the year, I’ll recap and see what happened and what I accomplished.

It’s interesting for me to look back at the last several years’ worth of posts and see how my goals have changed and what I did or did not accomplish.  Most of my goals have been horse-related, but in 2016, everything shifted when I realized I was finally free to pursue some other goals that I had not been able to pursue since 2004.  They were goals I gave up on, hopes I lost, dreams I realized were not meant to be fulfilled.  I let those things all collapse; I stopped trying to hold on to them, and I let God take the lead in my life.

seek

And suddenly, dreams were being fulfilled that I had only ever given a fleeting glimmer hope to.  Life changed for me dramatically in 2016 – spiritually, physically, emotionally.

So, that means for 2017, my goals are once again re-shaped.  I’ve figured out I really can live and do the things I want, and make the most of every day.  So, here are some of my goals for 2017:

*Be happy (I think this is reasonable, right?)
*Live every day to the fullest (OK, I did this in 2016, so I am well practiced, right?)
*Lose 30 more pounds (hey, I lost almost 70 in 2016…)
*Stay Healthy  (this is a given, right?  5 years cancer free down and done.  I’m ready for 5 more…)
*Enjoy every minute I possibly can with the most amazing new man that has blesses my life  (yes please)
*Photograph Eagles (that’s the bird, not the football team…and it involves a long trip to find them)
*Photograph at the Everglades ( yep… this.  This is happening in 2017).
*Complete my newest costume (already started in Sept 2016 – ETA to finish, end of Jan 2017)
*Put together 1-2 more costumes for 2017 for myself
*Build 1-2 costumes for my boyfriend
*Suit up at C2E2 2017
*Suit up Wizard World Chicago 2017
*Attend Dragon*Con 2017  (already on the docket! Ticket bought, hotel room paid!)
*Attend New York Comic Con 2017 (hmmm… maybe!??!)
*Go to Seattle with my most wonderful man!

Very different goals for 2017 – no horse related goals at all.  I think it’s safe to say, I have hit a point in my life where I am just simply happy to have the horses, blessed to know them, and lucky I can afford them 🙂 .

Of course, I should list win the lottery as a goal -LOL!!!

But I no longer have goals of owning a farm, or pursuing showing, or even going to the National Drive.  I just want to enjoy the horses, watch them continue to be happy, and hopefully support Chewbacca as long as I can, or at the very least make the best decisions for him as I need to when the time comes.

2016 has taught me so much, and I thank God for every single day I’ve been given.  The hard lessons learned are a blessing, and without them, the good and beautiful and wonderful things in my life would not be so appreciated.  I put my faith in God that He will direct 2017 for me exactly as it should.

I wish you the best for next year, and may you find your joy!

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It’s Nearly The End!

WOW!  It is so hard to believe that in just over 2 weeks, 2016 is going to come to an end.  Holy COW!
What a YEAR!!!!
WHAT AN AMAZING YEAR!!!!!!

There is so much I accomplished this year, it’s almost too much to recap, but of course, I will!

I rang in January with starting the build of my all new Predator costume – this coming after I purchased ticket & made hotel arrangements for my beloved Dragon*Con in September.  After 12 years of being unable to go, I was super hyped up to go once again!  In the process of starting my suit, I realized I had a major need to lose weight, so by the end of January, I was beginning into that journey.

On February 26, I finalized my divorce!  Yay me!  I also had lost so much weight by the end of the month, that many of my clothes were getting loose.

March brought more weeks of working on my Predator suit, and by the beginning of April, it was done, and I attended my first comic convention in 10 years!  I had lost around 20 pounds by the end of March, and was happy with how I looked, but I was determined to reach a major goal-weight by Dragon*Con.  I was walking 3 miles a day, and pushing to get to 652 miles walked by the time D*C arrived.

May, June and July all brought me to more conventions around the Midwest, in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  I also took Luke out for some drives, although I did sort of back down considerably on the horse-work in pursuit of other goals. I  also started learning to sculpt, mold, and cast, in addition to learning airbrushing.  I continued losing weight and exercising and by July two major things happened — I had to purchase a completely new wardrobe because I had lost 50 pounds in 5 months, and I had my first experience with vertigo which put me in the E.R and brought my exercising to a screeching halt as I tried to get better before Dragon*Con.

August included 2 major conventions – Wizard World Chicago 2016 (the last convention I ever did was Wizard World Chicago 2006 – amazing!) and then of course, Dragon*Con.  OK, technically that’s September, but I left for it in August and included an additional 4 days just to travel throughout the country to see places I had not been to in 12 or more years.  I finally felt the vertigo alleviate about 2 weeks before Wizard World, and I took no chances through the rest of the month.  I held off on exercising because I needed to be able to do the road trip driving to Dragon*Con, and wanted to be healthy for D*C.  My weight loss had slowed down, and I did not reach my goal weight by D*C, nor did I hit my 650 mile goal due to taking nearly 6 full weeks off from exercising.  However – I had lost 56 pounds by the time I got to Dragon*Con, so I can’t honestly complain.  I had also gotten to 590 miles, so I was not terribly short.

I visited the Kentucky Horse Park, a good friend in Kentucky, and drove through 8 states, touring various parks and seeing the sights — finally a road trip the way I wanted!  It was amazing!!!  Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri were all on my list of places to go, and in the end, I was gone for 9 days and 2250 miles.  What an amazing Journey!  I visited everything from the Shawnee National Forest to the Titanic Museum in Branson, MO – with beautiful weather every day and the sunroof open.  It was perfect.

That little tour of the U.S. was of course surrounding my return to my beloved Dragon*Con -the biggest and best science fiction/ fantasy/costuming convention in the U.S.  September could not have started out any better!

In October, I attended my last convention of 2016, also in Michigan, which means including MI and WI, I actually visited a total of 10 states this year alone.  Only 40 more to go!  LOL!  (goals….)  I worried over Chewbacca as I watched his legs get a little worse and his weight drop, but after a few months of struggling to manage him, things slowly began to look better.

As I came into November, Chewie started to put on more weight, which made me happy.  I took Luke to the annual corn maze and had a great time!  I also celebrated FIVE YEARS CANCER FREE as of “cyber Monday” -now that’s something to be thankful for…and yet, that was not the end of what I had to be thankful for surrounding that particular Thanksgiving… because  something incredible happened.  I took a chance, and stepped out of my comfort zone.  (Well, that was something I had done all year, really wasn’t it?)  And it paid off.  Big time.

This entire year, I made so many changes – mentally, spiritually, physically.  So, here it is the middle of December, I have lost over 70 pounds in about 10 1/2 months’ time, I have dropped 12 sizes of jeans, and 4 “letter” sizes of shirts.  I’m back down to (almost) what I weighed the last time I attended Dragon*Con in 2004 – still have 15 pounds to go to get there, but it’s a goal I will realize in 2017, and I’d like to lose 30 more if I can.

I have made an incredible amount of new friends brought together by the mutual love of costuming, and I’ve put myself – my flaws – and my unusual personality – all out there for the world to see.  I struggled with severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and I made great strides in battling all of those things and finding myself once again.  And once I did – once I decided I was finally ready for something more – I did something I had spent the better part of the year convincing myself I could not do – and did not deserve.  I met someone.

I met a man who just came into my life out of the blue like a gift from God, and he is the living, breathing, walking, talking incarnation of every dream I ever had of what a man should be.  This most incredible person is a new, blazing beautiful, shining light in my life, and as November came to a close

Now, I end the year and look forward to spending a very special first (of many, I do hope) Christmas with someone incredibly amazing, I can sit back, reflect on this year’s many accomplishments and count every one of my blessings, starting with him!

Chewbacca is holding out, doing OK, though his weight is still not where I would personally like it to be, he is much better.  His legs are having more bad days than good, and remaining quite swollen, so I am wary and watchful, trying to do what I can and see what happens.  Regardless of what happens, I am blessed to have him in my life.  I got him 6 years ago, and he’s been nothing but the perfect horse since; equally as perfect as Luke, and between them and Dixie, I am lucky to have them.  And of course, Jesse who is “mine in spirit”, and has been an amazing horse for also the last 6 years for me.  I look forward to doing a little toboggan riding with Luke and Jesse when it isn’t bitterly cold outside.

We have an incredible 2017 planned, with many goals.  Some may prove more do-able than others, of course (I didn’t even get all my 2016 goals accomplished, despite as much as I actually did).  But that’s just the nature of things.  Unless that winning lottery ticket finds its way into my hands – lol!!!

I can honestly say that I’ve tackled 2016 like I have never done anything before, and God works in wonderful ways!  Who would have thought that Predator could be such a blessing in my life – spurring me to be creative, outgoing, and giving me joy and happiness enough that I could be confident enough to put myself out there, which in the end brought about meeting the most amazing man I never thought existed.

2016 has been an amazing year, and I look so forward to 2017.  Whatever it is going to bring – good, amazing, or rather shitty..- I am ready for you.  17 days to go and counting!

 

 

 

 

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