This past weekend I was in Atlanta, GA for DragonCon 2019. I have been going to DragonCon for about 14 years now. I started going because of my friend Johnny, I met in high school, who introduced me to the world of science fiction conventions and henceforth, changed my life. Each year a group of us meet in the ATL and party during Labor Day Weekend. DragonCon is one of the largest fan-run conventions in the world, upwards of 90k people in attendance and growing. I knew going into this weekend, that this was going to be my last DC for a while, as many of us have decided to do some different types of traveling, still meeting up once a year, just at different venues, so I was prepared.
What I was NOT prepared for was a dear friend passing away Thursday night here in Salt Lake City, which changed my perspective on life, the universe and everything. Rachael Emborg was a force of good in this world that will be missed not only in the sci-fi community, the online community, and the SCA community but also the planner community. She was truly a kind soul and while we all knew she was not doing as well as we had hoped after her bout with breast cancer, none of us expected her to pass so quickly from this world. It definitely came as a shock Thursday night, and that kind of set the mood for my con.
After spending Thursday evening in my room in quiet reflection of the news and having a much needed conversation with my best friend Kelli when she called to check on me (which I cannot even begin to tell her how much that meant to me), I pushed on into Friday determined to have a great panel, no matter what. “Forging the Path: Modern Sword Fighting” was a huge hit and everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves. I ventured over to the Vendor’s Hall and lost myself in shopping for 5+ hours amongst the 4 floors of sci-fi vendors and then wandered back to my room for another evening of much needed quiet. Saturday I emcee’ d the Dragons Cup Tournament and Dragon’s Duels for 5+ hours and that helped re-invigorate me quite a bit. This was my first foray back into steel fighting, in a non-fighting way, since my retirement last year and it went really well. The fighting was spectacular and the crowd was beyond compare. Hyping up a room of 1500+ folks is always a rush!!!
Sunday I ran in the Geek Girl Run and attended their Running panel afterward and got some great insight into issues with runners who are also geeks & gamers. A sedentary lifestyle is the norm and having a room full of folks who actively try to help this cadre of people overcome issues they are having was awesome. I was also able to finally attend the BSG (Battlestar Galactica) Fleet party, a rather exclusive shindig that years prior, friends and I ended up crashing and enjoying time with some of my favorite celebrities from the show and as a result, I became quite good friends with one, still to this day. Fortune favors the bold, and damn if I’m not a bold kind of girl lol.
That night I had a wonderful dinner with many of my favorite people and ended the night and con with them dancing and having fun, which meant the world to me. So that Monday morning, at the butt crack of dawn I could board the MARTA train to the airport knowing that, at least for the short term, my time at DragonCon was done. I flew home to my adorable husband (with Guss’s chicken tenders packed in my checked baggage for him) and when I fell asleep in my own bed, surrounded by my furbabies, I knew it was the right decision.
When you have someone close to you pass away, there are all sorts of things that go through your mind about your own mortality. Many folks swear they are going to take better care of themselves, or tell folks they care about, how much they love them, or do things they’ve always wanted to do…but then a few days pass and life sort of gets back to ‘normal’ again and those positive momentum moments you have seem to get lost in the chaos of everyday life. Bills, to-do-lists, work, hobbies, politics, all the noise we endure on social media, push those thoughts out of our head, until the next person passes away, and it all becomes a reminder again.
Over the last couple of years, I have faced several changes in my life, my hobbies, my body, and my mind. I realized growing up that I had let life dictate how I lived, and I knew I needed to change that. I am not one to sit idly by and endure the world, thus, when I decide to make changes, I do. I have tried many different lifestyle changes and practices that either get tossed by the wayside or incorporated into my daily routine. I don’t do stagnant or sedentary, that’s just not who I’ve become. After my gastric bypass I couldn’t sit still, and today, that still holds true.
Last October I started having laser focus around my sleep and how the lack thereof was affecting my entire world. I really started paying attention to getting better sleep and doing everything possible to increase my sleep, so that my body is in the best position to heal, recover and be ready to adventure at any given moment. That practice has definitely paid off and I know that I am a healthier, happier Valkyrie because of it. Over this past year, I have added in healthier food choices, I haven’t had a Coke since New Year’s Eve, and don’t plan to have one again until I ring in 2020! I track my food, I track my runs, I take stock in how I treat my body daily, I got past my aversion to Yoga and find that I love it. I pay attention to different ideas and practices to see what I could possibly implement into my daily routine that would be helpful to extend my life expectancy and I do them, with a passion.
But I also try to keep a good balance and realize that too much of a regimented practice can begin to wear away what I have already built, so at times you have to shake things up a bit. And today, as I was listening to a podcast & they made a random reference, it flat out hit me, I want my life to be a snow globe, not an hourglass!
It’s so funny how one offbeat comment can take you down a crazy path but for the past couple of months I had wanted to get an hourglass for my desk at work that poured away 45 minutes at a turn so that every hour, when the sand ran out, I could stand up and go get water, take a walk or do something that moved my body. Great visual reminder right? It is, but when you think about it the soap opera voiceover booms in my head “Like sands through the hourglass, SO are The Days of Our Lives” (bonus points if you know this reference, bonus BONUS points if you hear it in the announcer’s voice in your head). It occurred to me that I literally wanted to sit and watch my “future drip, dripping down the drain” (sorry, was listening to Hamilton earlier).
Hence, my desire is to NOW have a Snow Globe on my desk instead, because I can shake it up, just like I do my world, at any time of my choosing, to keep me on my toes. The sand in the hourglass has only one path, one way to get from point A to point B. When you shake a snow globe, all the stuff inside never lands the same place twice. It is a never-ending chance for change and learning and that gives me endless opportunity to be better. To make better choices, to learn more, to have the opportunity to help more people and to gain more meaning while I am on this big blue marble floating in the expanse of space!
I want to travel, I want to learn, I want to experience everything I haven’t gotten to experience yet! I don’t want to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing, year after year, not growing, not learning, not finding out what’s out there. I’ve said more than once that Greg and I would jump at the chance to go to Mars, but in all honesty, why not jump at the chance to go to Indiana? Or Costa Rica? Or explore Moab? Do things you haven’t that are in your own back yard – before the opportunities no longer exist.
One of the reasons that Greg and I started “Adventure Date Night” and started going to places we have never been for dinner or a night out once a week is because we wanted to shake up our world a little bit. It got too easy to go to the same old places, ordering the same foods and call it good. And while there is something to be said for comfort and reliability, at times, those same things can become crutches or even worse, handcuffs. I remember when I first started working at AT&T back in the ’90s, the ‘old-timers’ called it the “golden handcuffs” when you got to max pay and max hours, because then you were too afraid to quit because you were hard-pressed to find any company back then paying what AT&T did at the time.
I used to worry about losing my job a lot more than I do now because I didn’t have faith in myself. Now, I know, that no matter what, I can do whatever it takes to make a living. However, I also know that me being Happy tops almost anything. I choose not to work at a place that makes me miserable because my sanity is worth more than a paycheck. I have skills, I have the knowledge and I can do what needs to be done in a way that I am comfortable with, as opposed to being tied down with golden handcuffs ever again in my life.
A few years ago I could have never written that paragraph. I would have been too terrified to even utter (or type) those words. But we each have a limited time in this world, and we all know that can be taken away at any given time.
I choose not to endure my life or watch it drain away into the bottom of an hourglass.
I will shake it up every chance I get and let that snow globe glitter fly Every.Single.Time!
I hope you do too.