Grateful #46 – Controlling Time

ImageI have wonderful news that deserves a post of it’s own…and it will have it. However, today I am grateful for time. You see, I am writing from the future…at least as far as this post is concerned. Those who are following the personal side of this website likely know that I have been battling cancer– Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to be exact– for the better part of a half a year.

Spoiler alert!!!! (I win!)

However, the journey has been far from boring and unfortunately some of the tolls it took were on my ambition, my inspiration, and my motivation. Although I knew that the end was in sight, that end often felt like a barren, endless tunnel that repeated itself into infinity.

I’d like to think it never stole my joy, because there were a myriad dazzling moments of relief, excitement, and revelry amidst the turmoil. Here, on the other side of it, I’m willing to admit that there definitely were some very dark moments too.

It wasn’t an easy time. …And despite my own best intentions, I fell into that hopeless, awful hole once or twice.

(I met Artax there… poor Artax. I knew him well.)

In my defense, I’m not a horse. I had a lot of things to hate.  A lot of things I’m glad I’m rid of. A lot of things I pray I’ll never encounter or deal with again. I have more things to be grateful for than ever.

Maybe I shouldn’t have hated those times. Maybe I shouldn’t have feared them…but I did. Maybe that’s what dragged me down.

However, here? Now? I’m glad for everything.

Glad it’s over.

Glad I’m done.

Glad I have time.

I’m not giving this project up. Grateful 365 is important to me. It means that this year was more than the worst bits. I’m behind, but not quitting. Not the project. Not writing. Not the site. Not my ambitions.

Oddly enough, the project represents endurance to me. It’s a year long marathon of celebration via keyboard.

I just realize it will take awhile to catch up.

Apologies to those looking for anime or comics or cons…but for the next several days (and possibly weeks), a lot of that work will be waylaid in order to catch up on gratitudes.

Why?

Yes, cons and costumes bring more views and follows.

Yes, games and reviews are topics that reach a broader audience.

Yes, eventually this gratitude blog and my professional blog will be two separate entities.

HOWEVER– this year has opened my eyes to things I’ve never seen.

I’ve seen grace, beauty, kindness, love, friendship, wholeness, wellness, faith, joy, camaraderie, and LIFE in frames I’d never known before.

I’ve also experienced loneliness, grief, anxiety, depression, isolation, futility, devastation and anger such as I’ve never, EVER known.

Today though? Today I’m glad I’m here. Today I’m glad to know I’ll be here tomorrow…and the next day…and hopefully the day after that. Not only will I have them, but I will have them as a healthy individual.

There will be time for all of it. For gratitudes and conventions and anime and video games and cats and costumes.

I’m glad I have time.

Time enough to make good on everything I appreciate.

Time to love and live and share more.

Time enough to fill your feed with things I think are worth noticing, loving, and lauding in your life…

…Because we only get one.

Sometimes it takes a hard look into the shadows to make us appreciate all the good things that shine so brightly.

I’m glad for every single pain I suffered…because it makes every smile that much brighter. Every laugh that much lighter. Every morning that much more amazing.

We live in this construct of “time”. I’m grateful for every single moment of it that has passed and hasn’t passed yet. I’m glad I have a chance to catch up and backlog over a month’s worth of gratitudes.

I’m glad for every single person who takes the time to read them.

Thank you.

~all the love~

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Grateful 365 #45 – Love

loveHappy Valentine’s Day! Over the years, this holiday and I have had a strange relationship. I recall one time when I had a Valentine, and it was very nice. The funny thing is that I remember the Valentine’s Day I spent downing monsters in the Plague Wing with my guild on WoW better. Why? Because everyone was far more surprised by the latter and so I wound up discussing, thinking about, and writing on it.

I like Valentine’s Day. I think it’s an awesome time to appreciate your loved ones- romantic, platonic, and familial. I like to take a moment to reflect on all the love that I’ve recieved over the years. The family that raised me. The friends that supported me. The people who believe in me and stand by me day by day.lifelove

If we’re going to get romantic, I’m grateful for every moment I spent in a relationship. I’m glad I had those experiences and got to know those people better. I hope I’ve learned from each attempt so that if and when it’s time to give it a go again, I can do so a wiser, stronger person.

So today I’m grateful for love in all it’s many splendid forms and all the faces it’s worn in my life.

I hope everyone out there has a beautiful day filled with love!

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #44 – The Only Girl in the World

If you’ve been within 100 ft. of the news (televised, telegraphed, written or otherwise), you’re probably aware that it’s been snowing in Georgia again. Yes, yes. Infrastructure breakdown, power outages, a city in turmoil…

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For me it was a snow day. I felt well and was able to eat, chat on facetime, do some writing for myself and for the site. …And then in an amazing atomic-level attack on productivity, I decided I would do my first few dungeons with others on Neverwinter. When I looked back up from the screen, it was 3am, and I was stir crazy.

So I bundled up and went for a walk.

snowwalkNow everytime I mention a late night walk, there’s at least one person who gasps in horror. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and get it out of the way. I’ll wait. Done? Awesome.

Personally, I was more worried about slipping and unceremoniously busting my face or ass or both. Bodily harm a la ice was, and continues to be, much more real to me than this idea that as night falls, serial killers spring from the bushes and wait for unsuspecting prey. 29 years and I have yet to meet any representative of  these burly, hand wringing, darty eyed, collectors of lady-organs, but I honestly feel that if any of them wanted my kidneys, they’d likely take them regardless of what time it was. Ice, on the other hand, puts the fear of God and gravity in me. So if it was icy or I had any trouble with traction, I’d just head back in.

I passed the overhang of the carport and took my first tentative steps. The snow compacted underheel with a satisfying crunch and I sighed with relief. Snow, I could cope with. …And it looked like it was all snow. I proceeded forward.

It didn’t look like 3am. The blazing white blanket that covered the snowalk2entire landscape caught the moon’s gaze and spilled mystic blue light into the air from all angles. The roads were barely touched. The sidewalk even less so. I made it a fair half mile before I saw another set of foot prints, and even those were shrunken and faded by the still falling snow.

The illuminated evening glittered with lazy flakes that twirled down around me. Beyond the crunch of each step as I moved, there was no sound, no motion at all.

I felt like the only girl in the world.girl

Kroger was open and I bought a soda and drank it while talking to the sole clerk and security guard–both stuck there and bored from an inactive shift. It was a nice moment of camaraderie, but I found myself anxious to get back out into the night. Snap some more pictures. Drink in the scene with my eyes. Immortalize the moment.

It’s rare to feel so alone, but there’s a peace to it that is just indescribable.kroger

I’m so grateful I was able to experience it. …I may have to rethink my once negative opinion of snow.
~all the love~

Grateful 365 #43 – A Beth

bethI talk a lot about friends in these grateful posts…and I regret nothing! Even if you don’t know my friends personally, I sincerely hope that everyone has had the good fortune to know people like them. If you haven’t found people like them, you should go out and start vigorously looking for some. (Pro-tip: I’ve found that the short ones tend to be fiesty. Bring extra pokeballs.)

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Beth brought the balloons. And the tiaras (unfortunately not pictured.)

Today though, I’m grateful for Beth. She’s far and away one of the hardest working, most selfless, big hearted people I have ever run across. Here’s a perfect example: It was set to snow Tuesday morning (or so the weather said), and without any prompt, she offers to come pick me up to take me grocery shopping before the storm hits.

If that’s not impressive, keep in mind that she works hellishly long hours, is always running around keeping social appointments with people, and probably had slept like…4 hours in the past three days if I were to guess. She also lives a good 20 minutes away and had already brought me V8 & Mio and then driven me to Microcenter during my chemo-computer crisis last weekend.

beth2This is a girl who chases her dreams and ambitions with tenacity and purpose. A girl that cares deeply, genuinely, and unconditionally for the people in her life. A girl who knows loss and fatigue and frustration, but never lets them get the best of her. A girl that faces the world fearlessly and honestly. Everyday. She even manages to continuously care for people who have hurt her– an epic feat of strength and will and something we should all aspire to.

If there were any hours left in her days, I would wager that she’s a superhero on the side too. Knowing her, she could probably pull it off.

Even with everything she has going on at all times, she somehow manages to always be thinking of others. No, not just thinking–figuring out ways to help others and acting on it. It’s really unbelievable.

If you can find a Beth, hold on to her tightly…because she’s a friend that will always leave you in awe and make you want to be better at friendship yourself.

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #42 – Lint Roller Toilet Paper

DSC_0520There are many amazing things about living with housemates. The first is the housemates themselves (and mine are spectacular to say the least). Another is arriving home and finding surprises. Surprises like having your toilet paper replaced by a deceptively similar looking lint roller spool.

I believe it was placed in the shared bathroom over a week ago now, but I’ve left it because it makes me smile everytime I see it. A little practical joke (and a nice one! They left all the real toilet paper) of the sort we all need now and again. It’s only gotten me twice, but reaching over and feeling something sticky where soft cottonelle should be definitely gets your attention.

So I’m grateful for my housemates and the strange ways they make me smile.DSC_0521

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #41 – Feeling Competent

You know that terrible thing when your glowing, globally connected, technologically powered magic box stops working? Well that happened to me the other day at (of course) the worst possible time. The cool thing about my computer crash though was that as soon as it happened, I knew that I could fix it.

It was a nice feeling to say the least, especially when you take a quick glance back at my history with things like computers and vehicles.

WebPixieA few years ago, I operated my word processing video game box with the assumption that tiny fairies on the inside of the case shuttled my commands to and fro– probably carrying them to dazzling crystalline portals too small for the human eye to see. This microchip wonderland’s atmosphere relied heavily on enchanted blue smoke. The pixel pixies needed it like we need oxygen, and thus if the blue smoke started escaping into our world the fairies died. That was why things stopped working sometimes.

During these dark ages, I would rage and despair when things went awry…and finally I would beseech my friend, the technowizard, to come and resurrect the motherland of the motherboard.DSC_0505

As years went on, the technowizard told me a few of his secrets, and gradually the inside of a computer case stopped looking quite so mystical. I mean, it was still super cool and all, but it was less like Narnia and more like legos. This went here. That went there. Little slots and pegs and holes for everybody! Sure, there were still a few magic words as far as the language that made all the chips and dips run, but with help I was slowly able to grasp the basics.

After my tutelage, I installed some ram, assembled my first computer with help, and finally put one together all on my lonesome. I’ve been growing progressively bolder, and although I’m more than aware that I still have a lot to learn, my confidence has soared.

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So when my power source unceremoniously whirred the death rattle of my computer a few days ago, my first thought wasn’t “PANIC!! Call tech support!,” it was, “Well shitballs, now I have to fix it.”

I suspected my harddrive because it’s super old…as in, I’ve transferred it over and over and over already. I had meant to replace it multiple times, but had never gotten around to it. Not a big deal, harddrives are cheap. So I turned off and unplugged the machine, opened up my case, grounded myself, and then turned it back on. I went to BiOS, fiddled with settings, checked all the connections. I felt super accomplished by remembering the “paper clip test” to see if the power supply (I like to call it a computer heart) was working.

Even though I wasn’t feeling well during the process, the ordeal was actually quite enjoyable– I knew I could do it. I had leveled up.

DSC_0518Longish story slightly shorter, I put in a new harddrive and a new video card (it would have been the next thing to go), and installed Windows 7. I managed to retrieve some information left on the old bricked harddrive (all my Steam user data! Hooray!), and sent it off with a mournful tune.

I’m now typing on my resurrected computer and have already been enjoying the improvements! So here’s to feeling competent!

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #40 – Winning at Technology

DSC_0510Just to mix things up, I’ll begin this entry at the end. As a shiba inu would say: “Computer. Wow. Very fix. Much work. Good run. So satisfy.” My computer not only works, but it works better than it did before. It has a new expanded harddrive, an updated OS, and a better graphics card. The best part? As though following orders from Jean-Luc, I made it so.

Alright, that’s enough backward story telling because my head feels like it’s having a brain baby and thinking too hard makes it kick. Chemo hasn’t been kind to me this round, and yesterday was a great example of just how many things can go wrong with a body at the same time. As I was key-poking my way around in an attempt to pull something of worth out of my addled brain meats, I noticed that things weren’t quite acting right… And then the screen did it’s best impression of that lights-out moment in a slasher flick — pitch black and filled with a sense of impending doom.

It was very doomy indeed.

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I’m going to go into more detail about how the rest of the ordeal went in my next entry “Feeling Competent,” so that I don’t ramble too long. Bottom line though– my harddrive had magically transformed itself into a paperweight. (I have been advised to go rip it apart and take its magnets as trophies, and I’m definitely thinking about it).DSC_0528

From here, the challenge became timing my technological tinkering. The problems hadn’t sent me postcards and so I was left to do piecework problem solving. One test here and a hopeful attempt there– all in the lulls between my body deciding to reject the water I dared to put in my stomach and my bones demanding I lay down before they set fire to my nervous system. I’m not trying to whine either -I’m grateful I had those lulls.

Even more, I’m grateful that I DID it. It’d be a small accomplishment under normal circumstances, but I feel like I just replayed a game on insanity mode. I’ve never felt more victorious.

So I’m grateful for having a computer to type on again. I’m grateful it works because I was able to fix it. I’m grateful that even on a no-good, very bad day, I managed to pull off a win.

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #39 – Waking Up

2/8

sunrise

Today I woke up. It’s an astonishing sentence and a great feeling. For one, waking up means that you are alive, and being alive is amazing. Forming the sentence “Today, I woke up.” implies sentience and with that the ability to be glad that you managed this often overlooked accomplishment.
Waking up is also the first step to every other choice you have from this morning until whatever day you don’t wake up, and that’s an amazing gift indeed.

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I once had an idea to do a story series that began with this premise and then went on to detail how a day could change based on decisions from one moment to the next.

“Today I woke up and got ready for work.”
“Today I woke up and decided to walk to Canada.”
“Today I woke up, took a pee, and went back to sleep.”
“Today I resisted waking up, but found that more sleep wasn’t what I needed. I supposed it was time to get those aliens out of my closet.”

Stuff like that, but maybe with a few more paragraphs in between.

Point is-anything is possible after waking up, assuming that you woke up first.

eyeI didn’t manage it today, but tomorrow I think I’ll try to appreciate the process of waking up more. I’ve never devoted too much thought to it, but it’s impressive to think that every night our conscious thoughts relinquish control to the subconscious and then manage to boot back up in a matter of minutes hours later.

Just from a sensation standpoint, I’m pretty sure it feels neat.

And so today I’m glad that I woke up. The hours of sleep were tumultuous at best, but at least I know I have a lifetime of choice and decisions right around the corner. Everything could change today or everything could wash back into that pleasant fog of normality.

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #38- Beanies

hatI was never much of a hat fan, really. That’s changed recently. You see, chromedomes are super awesome for upkeep and easy cleaning…not so stellar on that whole “keeping your head warm” angle though. It’s also interesting to note that even with thin hair, having or not having hair at all will drastically alter how hats tend to fit you.

So beanies are best hat. Period.

I have one that a mother of a child I teach hand knit me, and it’s by far my favorite. Not just because it’s filled with love, but also because it’s neon green and softer than a kitten’s tail! In a close second though is the beanie I purchased that has round, flat headphones built into it. It’s kind of perfect for laying down in without the sensation of having something slowly boring into my ear canal on one side or the other.

I’ve got a few others that I tend to lose in the wash or under pillows or in pockets, but the bottom line is that I love my beanie hats. Head-warmingly good and fashionably cool!

~all the love~

Grateful 365 # 36- My Happy Box

happybox4

I’m something of a sentimental squirrel in that I like to gather and hide things that make me smile. Over the years I’ve had dozens of chests, bags, and boxes in which I’ve stored my treasures, but recent events have made making my happy hoardings a little more portable.

Thus we have the Happy Box 2013-14 edition! A stylish something or other box (I don’t remember what it began as) coated in reflective tape and emblazoned with rainbows.
Inside we find holiday cards, small gifts, drawings from children, printed prayers, letters from loved ones, ticket stubs, pictures, and assorted other things that remind me of someone or something awesome!

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It’s a silly little thing, and truth be told, I open it at home more often than I do when I take it out with me. I know most of the things I’ve put inside it by heart…I just like having them nearby. There’s an energy in positivity, optimism, and love– and everything in my happy box are just brimming with them.

It’s comforting. It’s supporting. It’s a reminder of what’s really important in life- the people and times that fill it.
So I’m grateful for my happy box, but even more gratefulererer (hee) for the people who have allowed me to keep such a thing filled year after year!

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~all the love~