Something Must Be Better Than Nothing

A view from our afternoon walk on 5/8/19

I feel somewhat guilty that I’ve let writing in this blog fall by the wayside so I’m going to start posting again. They probably won’t be lengthy posts like before, perhaps just some pictures and some inspiring words.

I do still write quite often, just not here. Life has gotten rather busy as my daughters grow up and I continue to work as a transcriptionist to pay the bills.

But with the handy dandy WordPress app I should be able to post a little something a few times a week. After all, something must be better than nothing. 😉

A Halloween Adoption

Loki in her carrier when I first brought her home.

When my cat Daisy disappeared, my house felt out of balance and empty in an unhappy way. I endured a week and a half of that empty feeling before I reached my limit and decided it was time to try and fill a bit of the space she’d left. I knew no other cat could ever replace Daisy, but I thought by saving another cat from the shelter and giving that cat the happy life Daisy and my other pets have, I could start to heal my heart a bit.

I decided I wanted a kitten who was outgoing enough to play with Angel and Owl even if they didn’t want to play. I have adopted older cats in the past, but I just knew in my heart that this time an adventurous and mischievous kitten was required. So on October 31st, Halloween morning, I headed out to Lollypop Farm, the same place I’d adopted Angel and Daisy from four years prior.

I’d seen some kittens on the shelter’s website that looked like they’d fit the open job position. I prefer female pets because my house is already all female with my daughters and I and I don’t want to upset the balance. There’s lot of girl power in my house and I imagine any male stepping into it would find it a bit overwhelming.

I arrived early to the shelter and sat in my car reading until they opened for the day. It was a reasonably mild day for the last day of October with temperatures near 60 and overcast skies.  When the shelter opened, the person at the desk told me go back and look at the cats and then come out when I saw a kitty I wanted to meet. I saw several adorable cats and a few kittens, but none of the ones I had seen on the website. I went back out to the desk and told them I was looking for a female kitten three months or younger and they said they’d send an adoption agent in to see me shortly.

I then went back into the cat area and had a lovely chat with one of the volunteers there who has a few cats herself and had several stories to tell. I told her about Daisy running away and my desire for a kitten and she was certain I’d find the perfect pet to take home. I hoped she was right because I really didn’t want to leave without a new pet to add a new adventure to my life.

When I met with the adoption agent, she told me she had a handful of kittens in back that fit what I was looking for and when I told her about my dog Jazzmin and how she likes to play chase with Angel and used to snuggle with Daisy, the agent crossed off a cuople kittens that she knew were too timid for such a situation. She then went off to retrieve the first kitten on the list and I waited in the glass enclosed room until she returned.

The agent came back carrying a small cat carrier. She said this kitten was named Loki and she was three months old. As I love the Avengers movies and am a big fan of Loki, I thought that was a perfect name! The agent set the carrier down on the floor, closed the door, and then opened the carrier. Out came a long-haired black kitten who immediately tried to jump at the glass walls to find a way out of the room. The little fluffy girl walked all around the room sniffing and I eventually scooped her up and began stroking her between the shoulder blades. She weighed under five pounds but she started emitting the loudest purr I’ve ever heard! My other black cat, Owl, has a loud purr, but Loki had her beat! Suffice it to say, I was smitten.

I knew after meeting Loki that I’d probably be adopting her, but I agreed to meet a few other kittens before I made my choice. I then saw two sets of litter mates, a black and white pair and a tabby pair. They were all adorable, sweet, and purred when I picked them up, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to adopt just one of the siblings and as I’d already adopted Angel and Daisy as siblings and Daisy had disappeared, I just couldn’t do that again. So I had the adoption agent fetch Loki again and as soon as I held her again, I knew she was meant to be with me. Besides, what could be more perfect than adopting a black cat on Halloween?

Loki on my living room window sill.

After waiting for Loki to get her final checkup, I then had to sign papers and pay the adoption fee. She was already fixed, had undergone flea treatment, and was de-wormed, so I felt the adoption fee was more than fair. Plus the shelter includes a free follow up at my vet, coupon for free bag of food, and a coupon for half off my purchase at a pet supply store they’re associated with.

Loki laid quietly in her carrier the whole ride home and once home, I set the carrier nearby and she just relaxed inside it for a while, even with the door open. She’d just been fixed the day before so I think she was still recovering from that a bit. My dog Jazzmin was eager to meet her, but Loki was not fond of dogs and hissed and swatted at Jazz whenever she came near. I know Jazzmin wouldn’t intentionally harm any of my cats, but Loki is such a small thing and I wanted to play it safe.

Angel on my lap eyeing Loki in the carrier.

Owl and Angel were not thrilled about there being a new kitten in the house, but I hadn’t really expected them to be. There’s always and adjustment period with a new pet and I’ve gone through it many times in my life. Loki snuggled with me on the bed that first night and it was so bewildering having such a tiny thing compared to my much larger cats and dog. It’d been a long time since I’d had such a baby kitty because even Angel and Daisy were five months when I adopted them. Owl was probably as young as Loki when I found her in the barn, but that was 12 years ago and I couldn’t remember much of her being a kitten.

Loki sniffing sleeping Owl while Angel watches in surprise.

Loki adjusted quickly to her new home and bravely explored everywhere those first few days. She seemed to be a reasonably well-behaved kitten and having one kitten instead of the two I’d have with Angel and Daisy was much easier! My daughters met her that weekend and they all immediately loved each other, so I knew I’d made the right choice.

Loki snuggling on the couch with me.

I still missed Daisy and hoped she’d return home, but Loki proved to be a more than sufficient distraction as the first week of her life at my house began. But that’s a tale for another day…

Loki snuggled under my keyboard like Daisy likes to do.

A Surprise Happy Ending

Daisy relaxing on the floor by the couch as if she’d never left.

I knew when I woke up yesterday morning that it wasn’t going to be a normal day for me. I had appointments in the morning and afternoon regarding the evaluation and continued support of my youngest daughter and her developmental delays. With those taking up half my day, I knew I wouldn’t be doing my normal routine of work, homework, writing, and beading. However, I had no idea the surprising and unexpected turn my day would eventually take.

I got home from the afternoon meeting with the school about my youngest daughter and I was pleased by how the meeting went. It had gone better than expected and I was relieved that she was going to continue receiving the services she needs to succeed in school. On a happy high from that, I took my dog Jazzmin outside as soon as I got home and even the overcast weather, strong winds, and cold temperatures didn’t bring me down.

Then as I was outside with Jazzmin, I thought I heard a meow. I held my breath for a moment and listened again and sure enough, I heard a meow. Hoping beyond hope that it was my missing cat Daisy, but not seeing her anywhere immediately, I quickly took Jazzmin back in, closed the door, and went out into my back yard again.

I went around the back of my house and to my utter shock, joy, and amazement, there was Daisy crouched on the doors leading down into my basement. I could barely believe my own eyes! She was emitting this mournful meow I’d never heard before, but she looked unharmed. When I tried to grab for her, she ran off and crawled under my mower shed. I called for her a bit and I heard her meowing at me from under the shed, but she wouldn’t come out.

I quickly went back inside the house, grabbed a bowl of food and ran back outside to the shed. I then crouched on the muddy ground by the shed calling to her and shaking the food bowl a bit as she meowed at me from beneath the shed. I called her name and told her it was okay and that I wasn’t mad that she’d run away. I eventually reached under the shed slowly to where I could see her tail and to my relief, she came toward me and didn’t run away.

I placed the bowl of food down on the ground near where she was and kept calling to her and slowly and nervously, she finally emerged. I swiftly picked her up when she was within reach and carried her and the food bowl back into the house. I couldn’t believe I was holding her again in my arms and that she was okay! She’d lost a bit of weight, but had been a bit fat when she disappeared. She wasn’t so skinny that I felt she hadn’t been eating at all during her disappearance, but she certainly wasn’t well-fed.

Once I had Daisy inside the house, I put her down by the food bowls and she eagerly began eating. I sat down on the floor next to her and she came over and started rubbing against me and purring and I just couldn’t stop petting her. It felt so surreal having her back in my house, eating her food, rubbing against me. I’d had dreams that she’d returned home and even a day later, I’m still wondering if it’s a dream. To have a pet I loved so much and that I believed loved me back just as much is an indescribably wonderful feeling.

Daisy enjoying food when she came home.

Petting Daisy as she rubs against my hand.

As I write this blog post, Daisy is sitting in my lap at my desk, using my right forearm as a pillow. My arm keeps moving as I type, but she doesn’t care at all and just keeps purring away. She seems as happy to be home as I am to have her home and I’m mystified as to why she ran off in the first place. She certainly doesn’t seem like she enjoyed her two and a half weeks outside and I sincerely hope she never dashes out again!

Daisy snuggling on my lap as I write.

Daisy has been eating, drinking, and using the litter box just fine since she returned home. She meows a bit more than she used to and it’s a slightly confused and worried meow, but I think that confusion will pass. She follows me wherever I go and slept all night on the bed with me last night, only leaving now and then to eat and such.

Daisy remembers her litter mate Angel and her other sister Owl and she even remembers Jazzmin and was snuggling with me and her on the couch last night.

Daisy and Jazzmin snuggling on the couch with me.

She doesn’t know quite what to think of my new kitten Loki (a story for another day) and Loki is equally confused, but they’re getting along relatively well. The only issue is that they both want to snuggle with me at the same time and that doesn’t always work. I said that if Daisy returned then this would be a four-cat household and that’s exactly what it has become. I never expected or planned to have four cats at once, but I have the room and they’re all good kitties and keep me company when I don’t have my girls.

While I held hope that Daisy would return someday, I also knew that there was a possibility she wouldn’t. I live in the country where there are raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and other manner of creatures that could have done her harm. My heart would ache thinking that something terrible had happened to her and it’s such a relief to have her back, safe and happy. Daisy’s return home was a very surprising and welcome happy ending and it’s an amazing holiday present/miracle after a year that’s been full of challenges. Somehow the purring of Daisy and all her familiar mannerisms and sweetness tells me that everything will be okay.

Wingspans of Imagination

turkey vulture in the sky

Turkey vulture soaring on today’s walk.

Whenever I see turkey vultures soaring in the sky on my daily walks or when I’m out driving, they remind me of a time when I imagined them as dragons. That might sound odd, but hear me out. It was during a time of my life where I felt trapped in an unhappy situation and I just wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out. I remember being in the car as a passenger and looking out the window to see turkey vultures soaring in the distance, their great wingspans impressive even so far away. They were soaring further out of view and as they did so, I was able to envision their shapes as not those of turkey vultures, but of dragons.

You see, I believe in magic and I’ve always believed in magic. And in that moment of rather deep despair, I really needed to believe that those turkey vultures were dragons because it meant that they were magic. In believing in magic, I find hope, strength, and power. Believing in magic helps me hold on to the idea that anything is possible if I just put my mind and spirit into it and send the right energy out into the world. Seeing those turkey vultures as dragons soaring out of sight helped me believe that I too would somehow soar out of my then unhappy situation and be free again.

Freeing myself of that unhappy situation didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. It took longer than I wanted it to, but it’s behind me now and I’m able to soar free in ways I couldn’t even fathom back then. The wingspans of imagination on those turkey vultures was much greater than their five to six foot physical wingspans. For me, the wingspan on those creatures extended beyond reality, as they transformed into dragons that helped carry me to new breadths of imagination, hope, and happiness.

Turning Over Familiar Leaves

Canandaigua Lake, September 1 2018

Winds whipping the leaves of a tree on the shores of Canandaigua Lake, New York

As I imagine most parents know, summer break from school tends to create some notable schedule changes. I am fortunate that I work from home as a transcriber for Rev.com because I get to spend time with my girls when they’re home. I do however still have to work and it can be challenging finding a balance between family and work during the summer when they’re home all day. Even so, I love my girls and I do my best to work just enough without having them think that all I do is work. Not easy, but I try.

Nonetheless, summer break doesn’t last forever. I’ve enjoyed every extra moment I’ve had with my girls, but school starts up for them again this coming Tuesday and it will then be back to the usual school year routine. I do my transcribing work while they’re at school Monday and Tuesday and then focus on them when they get home. For the remaining days of the week they go to their father’s house and I focus fully on transcription and college work. While I always miss my girls when I don’t have them, I know that my days without them serve and important purpose.

Along with school starting soon, my favorite season of autumn will also be starting soon. We’ve already had a couple of days of pre-fall weather here in Upstate New York and I enjoyed the cooler temperatures and ability to turn the air conditioning off and leave the windows open. Summer weather has currently returned to my area, but I know fall will settle in eventually and I look forward to it with enthusiasm.

As the familiar predictable school schedule returns and the leaves begin to turn, it’s time for me to turn over some familiar leaves. By this I mean it’s time for me to get back into blogging more regularly. With all the things I have going on in my life, writing tends to get lost in the chaos and I can’t continue to let that happen. Writing is a big part of who I am and most of the writing I’ve done over the summer has been for college courses.

College writing is very important of course and it’s earned me some wonderful grades, but I know that writing for pleasure is also essential for my creativity. My creativity is what gives me the ability to take subjects I struggle with (or even dislike) and mesh them with subjects I’m passionate about to write some pretty astounding papers. I say astounding because I am usually astounded with what I come up with.

Fortunately, I’ve already got a jump-start on flexing my writing for pleasure muscles thanks to being given the opportunity to play World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, when it was in beta testing. I’ve never played a beta version of World of Warcraft before so I was very excited to receive such an immersive first look at a game world that I already love. Playing Battle for Azeroth Bet was an amazing experience for me and I loved having even a small impact in the final release of the game that was released on August 13th of this year.

What does World of Warcraft have to do with my writing? you ask. Well, playing in that new world with its beautiful settings and interesting new story lines inspired me to start writing about new characters in my Warcraft based books. I base my characters off the “toons” I play in the game because to me, they all already have unique personalities and stories to tell. That comes from being a writer perhaps.

I’ve already written several chapters in what will eventually be a complete book that follows a handful of rather diverse characters as they journey through Azeroth. I don’t really know what will happen with the book or what can happen with the book, but that’s not going to stop me from writing. It took me so many years to get my muse back after my father died that I’m not about to let her slip away again!

One Pow-Wow, Two Seasons

pow-wow dancers

Saturday morning of the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow I woke early (as I always do, even on vacation), enjoyed the hotel breakfast, and worked on a beading project I’d brought with me. I never go on a road trip without some beading supplies, as I know I’ll always have some time to work on new creations. It was already humid when I got up and I knew the day was predicted to be just as hot as Friday had been during setup.

Once fed, washed, and dressed, I headed to the Marshfield Fairgrounds to help out at with the final setup of the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow. I arrived a few hours before the gates opened and helped the board members and volunteers that were already there finish setting up the MCNAA booth. The booth usually has three tables, one covered with free, helpful information about various Native American topics and the other two holding MCNAA merchandise such as shirts, patches, and bags. One of the board members was nice enough to say I could set up a little spot on the tables to sell my beaded jewelry and I’ll go into that more in a future blog post about my first experience as a pow-wow vendor.

I set my bag with some beading stuff by one of the chairs in the MCNAA booth and I enjoyed the shade of the canopy as the day quickly warmed up. There was a breeze, but it was still quite hot by the time the event started. In previous years, I have gone out and danced in the heat and the sun, but on that Saturday of the pow-wow I chose to remain in the shade of the booth to assist other MCNAA volunteers with answering questions, selling merchandise, and helping out however I could.

While the heat was too much for me to dance in, there were many dancers that went out into the Circle and danced. I have the utmost respect for them and don’t know how they do it sometimes. I was sweating just sitting in the shade, so I can only imagine how hot it was dancing in the sun in full regalia. (All images courtesy of MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow Page)

Despite the heat, I enjoyed my time volunteering at the MCNAA pow-wow on Saturday and made sure I stayed hydrated. When I wasn’t busy helping people who came up to the booth, I would work on my beading project and also on mending my fringed shawl that I accidentally ripped at a pow-wow the previous year. Overall, I felt it was a wonderful day for the pow-wow and that MCNAA received some nice donations, sold several shirts, and some patches.

We had a special meal that evening to celebrate Harry the Hawk’s birthday and it was nice sitting down with dancers, volunteers, and vendors to discuss various things.

pow-wow meal

The weather prediction for Sunday called for much cooler temperatures with a chance of rain and that prediction arrived quite accurately. While Saturday felt like late summer, the weather Sunday felt like early spring with temperatures in the 50’s, overcast skies, and a cool breeze. I welcomed the change wholeheartedly as it meant I’d be able to dance in the Circle that day without worrying about getting sunburned or becoming overheated.

As the morning was quite chilly and there were fewer attendees expected due to the weather, the grounds were quite deserted when I arrived in the morning. I sat in my car while myself and the other volunteers waited for people to arrive. I busied myself putting the finishing touches on the jewelry display I’d updated for that day (again details will follow later).

Eventually I ventured out of my car to see where I could help MCNAA that day. I asked one of the board members if I could set the booth up and she said yes and that was the first time I’ve set up the entire booth mostly by myself. I was thrilled to do it! I love volunteering because I feel needed, useful, and helpful. Being able to set up the whole booth by putting on the tablecloths, setting out the information, and setting out the merchandise made me feel like I served an important purpose. I may not have set everything out perfectly, but I did my best and was proud of what I accomplished.

MCNAA booth

On Saturday, I was too hot to wear my shawl, but on Sunday it was so much cooler that I kept my lighter shawl around my shoulders and used my heavier shawl as a blanket on my legs. I was happy with the cooler weather though and eager to get out and dance when the drums started. There were far fewer people in attendance that day and not many dancers, but that didn’t keep me out of the Circle. My two favorite dancers, Harry the Hawk and Lee Braveheart were out there dancing and I joined them whenever possible. They were happy to see me in the Circle and their smiles and encouragement always lift my spirit, and my feet!

I danced almost every inter-tribal song that day and found the weather pleasantly cool. I did realize that I was very much out of pow-wow dancing shape and vowed to work on that before the next pow-wow. When I wasn’t dancing, I was at the MCNAA booth helping where I could. Despite the low attendance, I felt it was still a good day and I was invigorated by the dancing.

sneak up dance pow-wow

Sneak up dance featuring my favorite dancers, Harry the Hawk and Lee Braveheart.

The pow-wow wrapped up early when it started to rain and the cooler temperatures made it much less exhausting during take down of the pow-wow. Everything that we had put up Friday had to come down and usually the taking down goes faster than the putting up. It was still a small but determined crew of volunteers doing the work, myself included, and we got things down relatively quickly. I said my good-byes to Harry and Lee and promised them I’d try to make it to the September pow-wow at Plug Pond in Haverhill, MA.

When everything was down and the MCNAA crew was ready to head out, I said goodbye to everyone and enjoyed the hugs and well-wishes. As I drove back to my hotel for the night, I was beaming with joy and my spirit was soaring from the pow-wow atmosphere. For me, nothing compares to volunteering for the MCNAA and being able to dance in the Circle. It is a much needed reminder that I matter in this world and that we can all make a difference, if we’re just willing to make the effort.

Setting Up the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow

MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow

Pow-wow grounds before people start arriving.

When I first started attending the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) pow-wows, I had no idea what went on behind the scenes. I just knew that I enjoyed every aspect of being at the pow-wow including being among the people, watching the dancing, listening to the music, sampling the food, and strolling through the vendor booths. I would just go, set up my chair somewhere near the circle, and watch.

Not long after I started attending MCNAA’s pow-wows, I felt compelled to do more. I’d made and brought some baked goods to share with the MCNAA volunteers and dancers, but I hadn’t fully stepped into what would become a very fulfilling volunteer role for me. I was actually reluctant to offer too much help at first because I thought they might wonder why I was being so helpful. An odd thing to think now that I know how much help MCNAA needs and appreciates, but it’s kind of how my mind works.

As the years passed, I went from making baked goods, to helping with a few setup things on the weekend of the pow-wow, to going to the grounds on Friday morning to help set up the area for the pow-wow and then volunteering in the booth during the pow-wow weekend. The main reason I went out to Massachusetts during Memorial Day weekend this year and the past couple years was to help MCNAA as much as possible with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow. I always find it to be a very rewarding experience and as anyone who knows me understands, I love being useful!

To help with setup this year, I headed down to Marshfield, MA from Seabrook, NH in the morning. I knew from previous years that there would be a lot of traffic due to the holiday weekend, especially the further south I went because people were heading down to Cape Cod. As I had nothing pressing holding me in Seabrook, I headed down earlier than necessary to the Marshfield Fairgrounds where the pow-wow was taking place. Even with the slowdowns of traffic I encountered around Boston and as I neared the Cape Cod access, I arrived at the grounds an hour earlier than I was expected to be there.

It was a beautiful, breezy day on that Friday, but quickly becoming rather hot and humid. I’d thoroughly sprayed myself with sunblock to avoid getting burned and was stocked up on water and Gatorade to stay hydrated during the day’s work. I parked my car in the shade at the fairgrounds and finished eating the breakfast sandwich I’d grabbed from Dunkin’ Donuts in Seabrook. The Marshfield Fairgrounds have permanent outbuildings setup for food during the Marshfield Fair and a few larger buildings around, one with a nice little pond and waterfall out front. There’s ample parking at the grounds and the restrooms are quite large and always clean.

MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow

Grounds before the circle and canopies are set up.

Although I was there earlier than expected, I was not the first to arrive, as one of the board members who lived nearby was already there. I chatted with him and one of the vendors who always arrives early until the rest of the MCNAA board members arrived with the Uhaul full of pow-wow necessities. In hindsight, I wished I’d gone to help load the Uhaul because I obviously had time and it’s usually only a few people loading it up, most of them MCNAA board members. Perhaps next year I’ll think of that sooner.

This year on the grounds a mother fox had decided to have her babies under one of the outbuildings and there were signs up telling people to keep out. I saw the mother fox once during my time there, but never saw the babies. I love foxes and considered them a good omen and sign of good luck, so I knew it was going to be a great weekend.

fox sign

Setting up for an MCNAA pow-wow requires setting up the canopy the drum groups play under, putting up the dance Circle, assembling the canopies for the MCNAA booth, and making sure the vendors know where to set up when they arrive. Vendors arrive all throughout the day to set up and there’s a master map showing their spots, although many of them have the same spots every year and know where to go.

One of the biggest things to set up is the drum canopy because it’s so long and tall, but myself, a board member, and another volunteer got it set up in record time this year. Although I’ve been helping with setup for a couple of years, I was called a “newbie” a few times this year, which actually made me feel good because this newbie learns her way around pretty fast!

MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow

A small but mighty crew of volunteers and board members.

Once the drum canopy was set up, I helped with the dance Circle. There’s always a discussion about how large the Circle should be and it usually goes from too small to too big or vice versa before it’s just right. I just help by carrying stakes or rope because I’m not that great at pounding the wood stakes into the ground. By the time I was done helping with that, the other volunteers and board members already had the MCNAA canopies set up and the folding tables out and in the usual pile until they were needed the next day. I paused to eat some of the lunch wrap I’d bought at the store that morning and drink some Gatorade before looking to see where I was needed next.

I then spent some time trying to help set up the canopy that goes at the main gate to the pow-wow, but we didn’t have much luck because the canopy was on its last legs. After that, I hung around with the board members as more vendors came and we chatted about various things. It was quite hot by that time and I spent some time in the air-conditioned Uhaul enjoying the cool air and shade. Although I was hot, tired, and sweaty, I was happy because I was being useful.

Volunteering my time to help the MCNAA always makes me feel so fulfilled, wanted, and needed. It’s always a rather small crew setting up the pow-wows, despite various requests for volunteers before the events. I come all the way from the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York to help them out for their pow-wows and it’s always well worth the trip. I truly wish more people would come to volunteer with set up and/or during the pow-wows, but I don’t know what the magic spell is to make that happen.

I know that people are busy with this, that, and the other thing, but I also sometimes think that everyone just expects “someone else” to do what needs to be done. I think this because I used to be one of those people. But now that I volunteer regularly for the MCNAA pow-wows and whatever else I can help with, I know that I’ll never think that way again. There is always a need for help and if a shy, semi-introverted girl like myself can put myself out there into unfamiliar territory, so can anyone else. I promise it’s a truly rewarding experience that renews the spirit, energizes the soul, and warms the heart.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the MCNAA (no matter where you live), visit this Volunteer Opportunities page on the MCNAA website. The MCNAA needs grant writers, office volunteers, volunteers for special events, volunteers to serve on the MCNAA fundraising committee, and volunteers to serve on the pow-wow committee. Native and non-Native are welcome to help!

Birthday Gifts To Myself

calendar page Lidancie Arts

Today’s the day!

Today I turn 41 years old, but honestly, I’ve already felt 41 for a while. This year I was fortunate enough to have my girls the weekend before my birthday and I’ve been essentially celebrating my birthday all weekend long. On Saturday, my mother treated my girls and I to birthday lunch at Olive Garden (one of my favorite restaurants) and then we spent the rest of the day just relaxing at my mom’s house in the lovely weather. As a continued celebration of my birthday yesterday, I took my girls to see the new Star Wars movie, Solo, and treated us all to overpriced movie theater snacks. We all enjoyed the movie and then went to ice cream afterwards.

I’m quite sure I’ve never celebrated my birthday over more than one day, so I’ve been enjoying this unusual treat this year. For me, the best gifts are spending time with my girls and family, having good friends, and being able to do what makes me happy. If I need material items, I can just buy them for myself, so wrapped gifts aren’t really necessary anymore. Thus far, 41 is off to a really good start!

As I continue to celebrate my birthday today on the actual day I was born, I decided to give myself a very important gift. This year’s birthday gift to myself is that I will spend the entire day while the girls are at school writing. Writing future blog posts, writing in my Warcraft fan fiction, writing outlines for future stories, whatever I want!

When I was a teenager, I promised myself I’d be a published author by the time I was 30 years old. That deadline came and went without realizing that goal, but I haven’t given up on that dream. I do have one self-published Kindle book, but it’s non-fiction and while I think it’s a good story, my heart is really in fantasy fiction writing. I love that anything is possible when magic is involved and that type of freedom helps my writing go wherever it wants to take me. My muse is very much alive these days, but I have trouble making the time to let her out. Hence, today’s birthday gift of writing!

I think like any writer, I doubt my own abilities to tell something new and different in my own interesting style. However, as I’ve read in many inspirational writing quotes, although something might have been told many times before, it hasn’t been told by ME and with my voice. Therefore, I feel like I still have much to offer this world as an author. At my core, despite the many paying jobs I’ve had and have in my life, I am and have always been a writer. The universe gave me this crazy imagination for a reason and today I’m going to channel it into my keyboard and onto pages and pages of new adventures!

October Already?!

October sky

Evening sky during our walk yesterday.

My oldest daughter went through the house last night flipping all the calendars to October because I hadn’t yet. I’m still trying to adjust to the fact that October is here already. September went by very fast and while it started out fall-like, there was a lot of summer heat in the middle and end of the month that made everything seasonally confusing. The poor trees that had started to change colors during the first bout of cool weather didn’t know what to do once summer heat returned. A lot of them just seemed to give up and start dropping leaves without much color change and I fear it won’t be a very colorful autumn this year. Nonetheless, leaves are still changing and falling and autumn is tied for spring with my favorite season.

As I wrote in last year’s blog post at the start of October, I’m finally able to welcome October again. Losing my father in October of 2009 made it difficult for me to truly embrace what had until that point been my favorite month and season. On the 21st of this month it will have been eight years since his passing and that doesn’t even seem possible to me. While I still miss him every single day and there will always be a void inside me without him here, I’ve healed enough to understand that his spirit wants me to be happy. I’m sure there will be the usual random bouts of crying and sadness throughout the month, but I know it won’t be as overwhelming as it’s been in the past. Life is about moving forward and not allowing yourself to be stuck in a moment that can’t be changed.

I don’t know what this October will bring, but I’m looking forward to it. I never really know what each day will bring. I have a plan for the day and most of the time it follows a predictable routine. But honestly, every single day is full of amazing new experiences and gifts and I make sure I take the time to notice them and feel grateful for them. I’m sure October will be full of new adventures and of course my favorite holiday of Halloween. Maybe I’ll make it to a Halloween party of some type this year, one never knows! Whatever comes this October and beyond, I know that I’ll get through it just like I always do, with strength, determination, optimism, and hope.

New month, new possibilities

image

It’s hard to believe it’s August already! It seems like it was just 4th of July when I was out mowing my lawn back before lack of rain fried the grass. July was certainly a busy, productive month and I have a feeling August will be similar.

I got an early start to this first day of August when Jazzmin came into my room at 4 a.m. I’ve been a light sleeper since I had babies and as Jazz usually sleeps in the girls room, it was unusual for her to be in mine. I heard her footsteps into my room and her wagging tail whacking my hamper and was then fully awake. I figured she had to go outside and I was right.

When I took Jazzmin out in the pre-dawn darkness, the air was thick with fog and the grass and dirt were damp beneath my feet. I’m not certain if it rained again or if it was just the excessive humidity but the wetness felt wonderful on my bare feet. Along with the moisture in the air, I also felt a change in the air. It wasn’t weather-related, it was just a feeling I had. A feeling that August is going to be full of positive changes and new opportunities.

I went back to bed after taking Jazzmin out and she settled on the floor between the girls’ beds like she usually does. When I woke again a few hours later that feeling of positive impending changes and opportunities remained.

The girls and I had to do some running around today and while doing so, I saw four hawks, a great blue heron and my first monarch butterfly of the year. All very positive signs! I believe that the universe was reaffirming the feelings from the morning darkness with Jazzmin and I’m curious to see what new adventures August brings.

The Power to Write the Words

dreamstime_xxl_3501203

Just as I said I was going to in my last blog post, I sat down at my desk this past Sunday and started writing in my fantasy novel “Unbroken Flames.” During the past few years, whenever I’d sit down to write, I’d feel all nervous and restless, as I doubted my own abilities as a writer. I didn’t know if I still had “it” anymore and when I’d start writing, I couldn’t remember what tense I usually wrote in or what my writing “style” even was.

Fortunately, that nervousness didn’t exist this past Sunday and for the first time in many years, I was able to put on music and just start typing out whatever was in my brain. The ability to listen to music and write was something I’d lost and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because I can’t concentrate on my work writing if I listen to music. Writing for pleasure is different though and I was finally able to let the music help inspire me and move my fingers across the keys.

I only wrote a few pages but those few pages were the start of something important and they represent a shift in my life. I’ve finally managed to close the doors on certain chapters of my life and restore my eternal hope for the future. Those feelings flowed into the main character of “Unbroken Flames” as I realized that she needed to transform just as I have these past few years.

I may not be able to rewrite what’s happened in my life, but I can rewrite what’s going to happen in hers and perhaps as I write the future I want for her, it will create the future I seek as well. That may sound absurd, but I know better than to underestimate the power of the written word…

Walking Alone

view from top of hill

I’m good at being alone. I didn’t used to be, but I am now. Do I think that’s a bad thing? No, not really. Did I used to think it was a bad thing? Oh yes, of course. However, life has taught me how important it is to be good on my own rather than thinking I’m somehow incomplete because I’m single. I have been an independent woman for several years now and I’ve become quite good at taking care of myself and others and I’m proud of that, but I do not believe that humans are meant to be solitary creatures forever.

It’s important to understand that I’m not always alone. I have my daughters for half the week and my adoring animals at home always. Although I may be physically alone at times when I’m away from home, I am never truly alone as my ancestors and the universe are always with me, watching me, guiding me.

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time I started taking walks alone. I had been walking Jazzmin twice a day and that’s great exercise for both of us, but I really needed some “me” time. I love Jazz and she’s a great pup, but she’ll always be on the lookout for squirrels, birds, other dogs, cats, bugs, leaves and anything else that can easily distract her and because of that, I’m always on my toes when I walk her and not entirely relaxed. With the weather turning nicer and the days growing longer, I concluded that it was possible to take Jazz on a nice, long walk and then take myself on a nice, long walk alone and then we would both feel happily fulfilled.

Therefore, on the most recent warm, spring day we had a couple weeks ago, I walked Jazzmin in the late morning and that made her day. Once I finished my work that evening, I then placed Jazz in her crate with her peanut butter filled Kong and radio playing and set out on my own. I don’t listen to music when I’m walking Jazz because I have to listen for critters, but on my own I happily put in my earbuds and let the beat of the music set my pace.

There was a steady breeze that day (as there always seems to be lately) but the sun was shining and it was warm enough for me to wear shorts. As I tend to burn easily, I’d slathered on a fresh coat of SPF protection to prevent the lobster look. My hair was up in a ponytail and it bounced from side to side as I found my stride and took on the walk up the big hill.

me and my shadow

Just me and my shadow

As I walked, I breathed in the fresh, spring air and kept my gaze ever upward at the beautiful sky. Even though I had my earbuds in, I could still hear the familiar songs of birds and I watched them as they happily flew about in their spring mating rituals. While I walked the road alone, I felt my father and ancestors with me, walking with me, lifting my spirit. Shortly after summoning such thoughts to my mind, two hawks emerged from the trees ahead of me and began circling slowly in the sky, rising gracefully toward the clouds. A reminder from the universe that I’m never truly alone and that when I release my stubborn independence long enough to ask for help, I will receive it.

By the end of my four-mile walk, I was both tired and exhilarated as I wore a huge smile and felt as if my entire body was glowing. I’d used those four miles alone to sort through all kinds of thoughts and feelings and re-familiarize myself with how amazing I am, how amazing we all are. I’m not afraid to walk alone and I never will be, but I imagine eventually I’ll want company of the male persuasion that can keep up with all aspects of me and not just the walking pace I set. The thing about that to remember though is that although someone else may walk with you on your path, the journey is yours alone to take.

The clarity of low visibility

image

Low visibility looking down the big hill

The very wintry weather lately has made it difficult to walk Jazzmin but with all the roads plowed today, I decided it was time to set boots and booties to snowy road and take a walk. Once my girls had been picked up, I changed into my walking clothes, got Jazz sweatered, backpacked and bootied up and headed out.

It was lightly snowing as we walked carefully down the driveway to avoid slipping on the ice below the most recent dusting of snow. Once safely on the salted and slightly snowy road, we easily found our pace and the fresh, chilly winter air felt wonderful to breathe in. By the time we reached the end of my road, the light snow had turned into big, heavy flakes and shortly after turning left onto the next road, the snow changed again to a mix of fluffy flakes and tiny snowballs.

image

Light snow shortly after we turned onto the second road

I wasn’t sure how long of a walk we were going to take, but I enjoyed the tranquility of the snow and crispness of the air so much, we kept going right up the big hill. The snow got progressively heavier as we walked and the visibility became quite low, but as I was walking, I didn’t mind at all. It would’ve been a different story if I was driving, but when I’m walking I can see exactly where I’m going and don’t have to worry about my car tires slipping or sliding. My boots and Jazz’s booties had no problem keeping traction as the road and our bodies became coated with snow.

image

A very snowy Jazzmin

When there weren’t any cars driving by, it was very calming listening to the falling snow. The air was still and the limited visibility from the heavy snowfall helped bring clarity to my mind, heart and spirit. Walking always helps recharge me and quiet my hectic mind as the fresh air fills my lungs and the exercise works my muscles. By the time we reached the top of the big hill my thighs were mostly frozen, my hair was coated with snow, my glasses were wet and foggy and Jazz wasn’t exactly thrilled to be covered in snow, but I was still smiling and she was still trotting along.

image

Jazz trotting along

I’ve said this before but it still holds true, taking a walk when you’re down, confused, anxious or worried can do amazing things! It does amazing things when you’re feeling up too, but when your mood really needs a boost, get off your butt and walk! I know I’m glad I did and it helped remind me how resilient, strong, determined and amazing I am. With my pup beside me and a path before me, there’s nothing I can’t handle!

Unconditional Love Wrapped in Yellow Fur

wpid-imag5907.jpg

Four year ago today I adopted my pup Jazzmin from Happy Tails Animal Shelter in Canandaigua, New York. I’d wanted to get a dog since my divorce in the summer of 2011, but I hadn’t found one that looked like the right fit yet. I grew up with family dogs and loved them, but had been unable to have one during my marriage because my ex didn’t like dogs. He wasn’t overly fond of cats either, but he put up with them because I wanted them. The freedom to get whatever animals I want and love them without concern for allergies or lack of a partner’s fondness is one of the many reasons I enjoy being single.

Jazzmin and I were a perfect fit right from the start and a friend has called her the canine version of me. She’s full of energy, optimistic and has the most adorable brown eyes. Just like me 😉 She goes a little heavy on the 80’s black eyeliner look, but it works on her and adds a deeper patheticness to her puppy dog eyes.

I was trying to keep Jazz's ears warm. She was not impressed...

I was trying to keep Jazz’s ears warm. She was not impressed…

Jazz and I have had our ups and downs as we’ve figured each other out. I didn’t really know the proper way to walk a dog, ie they walk next to you or behind and not in front, but I learned and taught her. Nowadays she stays by my side with only occasional reminders, as long as a squirrel doesn’t run across the road or we encounter another dog. She’s like me in the social aspect, she likes other dogs but gets overexcited and isn’t sure how to act. Whereas I tend to become shy in similar encounters with humans, she gets exuberant. We may never have the “social with our own kind” thing figured out, but she LOVES people of all kinds and is a favorite visitor at the boarders when I go on my road trips.

Jazzmin panting a smile after our walk.

When I adopted Jazzmin, they guessed that she was around two years old, which makes her around six now and she shows no signs of slowing down. She still walks the road like it’s going to disappear if she doesn’t keep moving and she’s my almost constant shadow when we’re inside. Most days I almost trip over her when I turn around and while I appreciate the loyalty, I don’t need help being clumsy.

I’ve managed to teach Jazz a few things over the years. I taught her how to play fetch indoors. We try it outdoors but she loses all focus and just runs in a circle like a lunatic. I’ve taught her to wait patiently for food and treats and can almost balance a biscuit on her nose before she gobbles it. I’ve advanced the traditional “shake” into a “high five” where she raises the paw a bit higher and while I can’t get her to speak on command, she will howl-talk at me sometimes when she’s impatient. My 9-year-old black cat Owl and I taught Jazzmin that cats are pretty cool and while she may never really “love” the younger cats (neither will Owl), she definitely loves Owl.

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me today

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me

Jazzmin has taught me some things over the years too. She’s taught me that no matter what I do, I’m always worthy of love and that the best snuggles on the couch usually involve a big pile of yellow fur that twitches and snores. Jazz has taught me a new level of patience as I’ve worked to improve her leash skills over the years. I’ve become more aware of my surroundings too as I try to spot squirrels and other distractions on walks before she does.

Jazzmin and the sky

In honor of today’s adoptiversary, I gave Jazz a nice big beef bone and she’s been working at it with occasional water breaks for almost two hours. She’s very determined when it comes to getting every last ounce of marrow out of a bone or chewing on a new toy until the squeakie is suitably dead. There’s a lot to love about Jazzmin. Her porcupine quill-scarred nose, perky ears (her right is always slightly higher than her left) white chest, buns of steel as my vet calls them and upright tail that’s wagging almost all the time all make her uniquely adorable to me.

She's rather fond of lobster tail

She’s rather fond of lobster tail

I can’t imagine my life without Jazz and she’d best live forever! I know I’ll own dogs for the rest of my life and every last one will be a rescue like her because every dog deserves a loving home. If you’re ever looking for a new companion, I urge you to go to your local shelter or contact one of the many pet rescue organizations to find the perfect compliment to your life. I see so many dogs and cats I wish I could adopt, but I don’t have the room or the money to create my own “circus.” Maybe someday, but not now. For now I’ll just love the animals I have and do my best to provide them with a very happy home. =)

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

Another New England Adventure Awaits!

 

Wampanoag post at Plymoth Museum

Informational sign at Plymouth Museum

As I don’t have my daughters for the upcoming school break, I’ll be heading to New England Wednesday morning on another adventure! It will most likely by my last trip out that way until next year so I plan on make the most of it.

My plans include attending The National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA, heading into Boston for a day and attending the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Annual Inter-Tribal Potluck Social. While I’ve visited Boston several times, this will be my first time attending the two Native American events. I’m eager to partake in these new experiences and further expand my knowledge and understanding. I urge anyone in the area to attend one or both events as everyone is welcome.

It was only a few months ago that I uncovered my own Native American ancestry and I’m constantly working on learning more about the culture that was kept secret in my family for generations. To that end and to acknowledge what this time of year means to Native Americans, I started reading The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving by Larry Spotted Crow Mann last week. I saw Larry Spotted Crow Mann at the very first pow wow I attended at UMAss Amherst in Spring of 2014 and I found him to be a very engaging storyteller. Although I’m only a few chapters into the book, I’m finding it very educational and interesting and I feel it’s something that everyone should read to help learn the truth about this time of year.

I am a solo traveler and to some, the idea of being alone in a hotel room during this time of year might not appeal, but as my days will be quite full of new and exciting experiences, I’m sure I’ll happily collapse into bed every night I’m there. I’ve been making these road trips out to New England since November of 2011 and while I didn’t know during the first trip that it would become a regular thing for me, I’m very happy that it has and I look forward to every single one with the same excitement of my very first trip!