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Time in a bottle…

But there never seems to be enough time

To do the things you want to do

Once you find them…

All too often, time slips away from us and even though the best-laid plans are made, you still have missed opportunities.

I have been keeping up on my “50 Firsts before my 51st” birthday challenge to myself and it has gone really well.  I am actually surprised I have so many, 42 to be exact, and I still have 120 days until my 51st birthday!

So I thought today I would update everyone on what “firsts” I have managed to accomplish in the 245 days I have been 50 years old.  My last update was in March so the list has grown quite a bit.

My 50 Firsts before my 51st Updated List!

  1. Climbed the Teotihuacan Pyramids, Mexico City
  2. Ate Crickets & Ant Larva, Mexico City
  3. Fought professional MMA Fighter, Josh Tyler
  4. Did my first Facebook Live Feed, in conjunction with Readyman.com
  5. Started Crossfit @Brickwall Crossfit
  6. Did my first official Crossfit WoD Competiton
  7. Drove thru Donner Pass
  8. Camped out in my new car
  9. A 17 Year promise finally fulfilled
  10. 1st Cortisone shot in my knuckle ever (ouch)
  11. 1st credit card strictly for flight benefits
  12. Traveled to Barcelona, Spain
  13. Tried Calimocho in Barcelona
  14. Had coffee & Cake at Satan’s Cafe
  15. Fought in an actual Bull Fighting Ring
  16. Missed my first flight ever!
  17. Tried PODS from Australia (so damn good)
  18. “Acquired” my first BOTN banner
  19. First punch in the face without a helmet
  20. First pour-over in Europe
  21. Tried Kumbacha (and liked it)
  22. Ran my first International Conference
  23. First A-Line bob haircut
  24. Ran the Spartan Sprint (and survived)
  25. Received my first package from Japan
  26. Got my first Hobonichi Planner
  27. Started Kali
  28. Started my first Happiness Journal
  29. Purchased a Paipur Journal
  30. Started my first Bucket List
  31. Bought my first set of Kali Sticks
  32. Started Jeet Kune Do
  33. FIKA
  34. First Long Black
  35. First Shakerato
  36. First Gibralter
  37. First time demonstrating positions for Kali
  38. Tried Baba Ganoush
  39. Bought my first Espresso Machine!
  40. Purchased our first Dyson
  41. First Colonoscopy (and 2nd the next day!)
  42. First Affogato

So as you can see, things are moving along nicely and I am quite sure I will go above the 50 firsts before my 51st birthday but I decided to write down EVERY first, no matter what, because I wanted to be sure I had a complete list, and it’s been nice going back over them actually.  Mostly all good memories really…

Now, I know some have asked what I plan to do NEXT year.  Well, again, TIME is always fleeting and I want to experience so much more.  So the idea I have been thinking about is setting goals and trying to reach those goals (big and little ones) within a set period of time.

I know that “101 in 1001” is popular, which is to try to accomplish 101 goals within 1001 days, which is 2.75 years and would go from 12/13/2017 to 09/09/2020 (which is a very cool finish date).  But I may end up with “51 in 501” instead which would end on 04/28/2019 instead.

I don’t know for sure what I may end up doing, but I have started thinking about some of my short term & long term goals already and getting them down on paper, just in case.  If you have suggestions, please feel free to let me know!

Interestingly enough, when I was researching the dates above, I found out that as of today I am 18,508 days old.  If you look at that number and think about 1001 days, it doesn’t really seem like a long time.  But when you consider I am 50 years, 8 months and 2 days old, and 1001 days is 2.75 years, it seems much longer.  I guess it’s all in how you look at time and even how you measure time.

I want my life to be measured in moments, adventures, experiences and explorations, so the minutes, hours, days aren’t soooo important.  But I do want to keep track, because days, especially now, go by so quickly.  And while I can’t slow down time, I can slow myself down and enjoy all those wonderful things within the constraints of time. I just have to be more aware of it passing I think.

Too many people in my life have suddenly been taken out of the time loop we all enjoy, and many of them were unprepared.  When I stand at the gates of Valhalla, I want to know that I spent my time well, that I left nothing out, and that I made a difference to someone, somewhere.  But most importantly, that I got the most out of life, without having too many regrets.  Live. Love. Laugh. Fight. I want all of those things and more. So while some may

Live.

Love.

Laugh.

Fight.

I want all of those things and more. So while some may think all my list making and idea processing is silly, it helps to keep me on the path that I want to end on.

Death will come for us all eventually, and I am perfectly fine with that, although I would like to live well beyond this century and I think I will, if it’s possible soon enough.

But I also know the Nornir have woven my destiny long ago, and while I still have some time left in my bottle, I want to be the one who spreads it around the way I want to…

a little here, a little there…

pouring a bit of it over those who keep me wild…

just for good measure.

 

 

 

 

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Adventures, Armored Combat, bariathlete, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Dragon Con, Full Contact Medieval Combat, gastric bypass, HMB, HMBIA, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Travel, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

2017…Balance and Gratitude

2017 is finally here.  I have been embracing it for a full 5 days now, pondering where my focus might be this year.  Balance.  Along with gratitude, satisfaction and appreciation. These are what I plan to focus on.

  • Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; rediness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
  • Satisfaction: fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.
  • Appreciation: the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.

I am a woman who loves extremes.  Extreme sports, extreme lust, adrenaline, fear…anything that gives me that rush that drives me. My highs are pretty high but my lows can get pretty low.  When you find something that drives you, there comes a point where you exhaust your input and you seek more.  I will be the first person to tell you that “I want what I want when I want it”.  Period.  End of story.  When I don’t get what I want, or things don’t go the way I think they should go, I get pissy.  I know this about myself and I try very hard to NOT be this way, but, again, I am a balls to the wall kind of girl.

I won the husband lottery when I met Greg.  He understands the way I am, he navigates it VERY well and is pretty much the one person who can tell me NO and I listen.  Mostly.  And he knows this about me, and we have yet to have an actual fight.  Some of you more alpha males out there might think that he doesn’t have “control” in our relationship…and you would be wrong.  We have balance.  In my own life, I may be wild and chaotic, at best, but in my relationship with Greg, we actually have a very balanced lifestyle and it works very well for us.

A lot of folks who meet me first, or hell, have known me for years, and finally actually MEET Greg face to face are quite surprised at how we are together, as a couple.  I am very much the person I am when I am on my own, but I am also a wife and a lover and a partner when I am with him.  Thus our dynamic is very different, for each of us, when we are out together.  He has never felt the need to “control” me, nor does he need to.  When we are together we are balanced.  That actually happened very early on in our relationship and I think its one of the many reasons he and I clicked so well, because we just fit. We knew it from the moment we sat next to each other in his tiny little apartment and talked about getting married the night we met; and we know it now, 21 years later.

Greg is someone I am grateful for. Some one I appreciate and someone I am satisfied with. There is not another person on this planet that I can say that about.  He is my anchor in this crazy world and he is always my happy place.  Its funny, when I call him my anchor, he always thinks of it as a big weight that gets tossed overboard from a boat.  When I say it, I mean that he is what holds me in place and lets me bounce back to my home, my life and my happiness when I am stretched too far beyond my limits.

Which brings me back to BALANCE.

I have spent the last few years going to extremes and last year I entered 2016 with 2 major injuries, my ripped IT band and a tendon release on my left wrist.  I had a rough time recovering from both of those and I am very thankful I entered 2017 injury free.  But with the injuries I learned a very important lesson, one my body has been trying to tell me since I started training for this sport in 2013, I am NOT young any more lol.  I am 50 years old and I can’t train like a 25 year old and expect the same results.  My body is physically and metabolically different.  I don’t perform the same, I don’t recover the same, and finally I have realized I can not train the same as a 25 year old.

Thus balance is key.

Now, before we all start getting crazy ideas that I am hanging up my kit and walking away from fighting, remember…I am still that balls to the wall girl who THINKS she can do it all.  So, what I have come to realize is that in order for me to still be able to do this craziness, I have to find my balance, in my eating, in my training, in my running, in basically everything.  Even gaming!

After my big 50th Birthday celebration I needed down time.  And in typical Amy fashion, I went to the extreme and pretty much just gave in to everything.  I drank Coke, I ate sugar cookies, I played WoW all day long, and I sat on my ass.  It was the holidays…and the end of the year…and I needed to reset.  So I sort of just sat in my study, played video games and snuggled my furbabies all day long.

Did I need it?  Yes.  Did it feel good?  Yes.  Did I throw out most of my good habits for two and a half weeks?  Yes.

I don’t regret doing it…but I do wish I’d had a little more balance (and so does my scale).  But I do feel more clear about facing the new year and working on my 2017 goals.  I don’t really do resolutions as they are firm decisions to do or not to do something and the only place I like rigidity is in men and weapons, thus I prefer goals.

I had my first test of balance today actually.

I went into my running app to get my 2016 numbers. I was not a happy girl (injuries be damned).  So I did what any self respecting data tracker does (yes, I might be a little OCD when it comes to my body stats), I pulled ALL the numbers, all the way back to Jan 2013.  I started this sport in June, 2013 so this is even before then!

Instinctively, I started freaking out.  Running is the one place I have hard, solid numbers. Numbers don’t lie.  Numbers are how we win.  Winning is important…right?

(insert rabbit hole here)

I immediately wanted to top whatever the highest number was, because I had to be better than myself this time last year and I failed.  Then I started comparing this year’s numbers to last year’s numbers, then I broke it down by month. Then I went a little more crazy and went back 2 years.  Then 3 years.  How am I supposed to WIN when I can’t prove it with numbers…write down ALL the numbers…figure it out…make it work!!!

and that’s when I finally stopped myself.

What I ended up with, finally, was a way to “balance” my insanity…because not even getting HALF as many miles this year as I did last year was wigging me the fuck out.

I wrote down my monthly miles for the past 4 years.  I averaged them by month and decided to make a goal of the highest monthly average, which is 33.85 miles/month, which will put my mileage for the year at 406.20.  My highest monthly mileage was in August,2015 and I ran 90.13 miles that month(wtf was I thinking).  My knee jerk reaction was to run 91 miles every month…and I realized I was going way too extreme and reigned myself in.  So instead, I set a stretch goal of 41.66 miles/month which will put my mileage at 500+ miles at the end of the year if I meet it.

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Yes, there’s a little part of me that says “round up the numbers it’ll be better” but again, I am trying to find balance, even in my ocd-edness.

After actually typing all this out, I wondered what my actual average mileage was, overall. Its 23.18 miles/month.  I went back and looked at my stats. I met it once in 2016.  4 times in 2015, once in 2014 and 4 times in 2013.

I kind of see a pattern.

Go to an extreme, body forces rest.  Go to an extreme, body forces rest.

Balance.  I need it.  Numbers prove it.  Time to do it.

So folks…there’s a little peak into what my brain goes through in setting goals.  Yes, I know it STILL sounds a little insane, but that part is just Me.  I have other fitness goals for the year that I will not bore you with, but I am also going to focus more on gratitude and being grateful.  Satisfaction, even when I don’t meet my goal for a month or I miss something that could have been added to my “50 firsts by my 51st” list.  I am still so much more satisfied with my life, than I have ever been and that gives me an appreciation for this beautiful world that we live in and the people I choose to have in my life.

I am typically a positive person, I look at the world through the eyes of an optimist.  I prefer seeing the good in all things, and I want us to all be happy. Yet I know things will be hard, especially for us as a nation, over the next 4 years.  But I hope we all try and look at the world around us and figure out how to make it better, and how to find balance, even when most think we are surrounded by chaos.

Chaos isn’t a bad thing…you just have to be brave enough to face it and work through it. That’s it.  What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  So find your strength, find your happiness…

Find Balance and be Grateful

Here’s to a great 2017 – skål

Amy Graham – The Bad Ass Valkyrie

 

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Imperfection…

Not the worst Monday morning I have ever had but I can certainly tell you waking up for a consultation to see if I am a candidate for a Panniculectomy/Abdominoplasty was certainly up there on moments I could have lived without.

Normally I am not really too self conscious about my body these days.  I have no problem getting in and out of my armor in front of whomever is around.  However, with that being said, standing in a room in front of not one, not even two…but THREE complete strangers and being completely naked was indeed not fun.  Now, for the record, all 3 of those folks (2 men, 1 woman) were all doctors and probably had no interest other than medical necessity to see this 49 year old woman’s naked body.  But for the past 72 hours I have been dreading that moment. When they took my blood pressure and it was 148/95 that definitely told me that I was much more stressed than I had really admitted to myself.  That is much higher than I am normally…ever!

I have been torn between being ‘body positive’ about myself and worried about what the doctors might have to say about my body.  In the end, I sat in a very large chair, one I probably would have been thankful to have at my original body weight, and waited to meet the judges aka doctors.

Prior to this appointment, I had no other real interaction with plastic surgeons other than those involved with my initial gastric bypass and them discussing future options once I lost my weight.  Things were drastically different 9 years later.

First and foremost, we have to see if my insurance will cover the Panniculectomy.  We already know that they will NOT cover a Abdominoplasty and I can live with that.  If they will cover the panniculus removal, I will move forward and will see if I will need other surgeries down the road.  This is the bare minimum that will get done once approved.  Depending on what happens when the surgeon gets inside, will be up to him, but he is limited to certain things within the confines of coverage.  With a panniculectomy my down time of NO exercise whatsoever will be 2-3 weeks.  After that I should have no restrictions, other than any unforeseen complications.

My maximum time of recovery may be as long as 6 weeks, depending on how the surgery goes.  Typically its not that long unless there’s something inside that they need to deal with that they don’t know about.  So all in all, my recovery time is much less than originally described to me.  But its also a much less invasive surgery than what I was described too.  Originally I was told I would need a full body lift and that would require a much more in depth recovery time.  I don’t need that.

There is some worry as to how the rest of my tummy, above the incision line, will look if they only do a pannus removal.  They will not go in and remove any excess fat storage from below my breastbone to my belly button, so I may end up with something that looks like a muffin top with the way my body is right at this moment.

I do not think that would be too much of an issue moving forward and if it does bother me more than I think it will, there is always liposuction that can be done down the road.  My main concern is my pannus aka the ‘pontoons’.  I need them removed.  Plain and simple.

I was lucky enough to have Greg with me all morning and he has been a rock for me.  When I forgot to mention certain things to the doctors, he stepped in and gave them more info than I could have remembered on my own.  He kept me calm and seemed surprisingly appreciative of his nude wife in front of complete strangers.  That made me feel awesome.

He knew I was worried and he took it in stride.  He never fully gets all the ins and outs of my chaotic brain but he definitely gets it more than most.  He was just there, supporting me and loving me the whole time.  Even when I was nervously playing with all the breast implants and talking wildly about which ones would feel better when he would hold them lol.  He probably would have drawn the line at me juggling them, but then I am a horrible juggler…and would be an even worse jubbly juggler I am sure 🙂

In the end, its a waiting game and I am sure my blood pressure isn’t going to go down anytime soon until I know whether or not my particular insurance policy will cover it.  I was very surprised at the cut and dry of it all though.  There won’t be any submitting photos or proving past medical problems.  If my insurance covers the panniculectomy that is what I will have.  If the answer comes back No, then we figure out what it would take to pay for a abdominoplasty ourselves and start from there.

Either way, today wasn’t as bad as I had thought, but it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped.  I did have to get naked infront of strangers, but I wasn’t subjected to every single flaw of my body being pointed out.  I guess that’s what an ex is for lol.  So all in all it wasn’t horrible.

Do I still feel conflicted about being happy with one’s body and wanting to make improvements when possible?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But Greg’s words to me on the drive home keep ringing true.  He just kept telling me to do what makes ME happy.  That’s all he cares about, is that I am happy.  It doesn’t matter what my body looks like, he loves me.  And he is what matters most to me in this world.

I do want to remove the excess skin & weight that I don’t need.  I do want to look better, and be that girl I see under the weight.  In truth, I want it all.  But if absolutely NOTHING changed about my body, I would be happy.  I would still be married to the most amazing person on the planet.  I would still wake up every morning and smile at the person in the mirror.  I would still have lovers who cared about me for who I am, not what my body looks like.

But yea, I want to remove what still remains of all the hard work and pain my body has gone through.  There is nothing more nature can do.  My body has bounced back as much as it can.  I gave it 9.5 years and have worked my ass off the last 3 to push myself as far as I can.  Its time to see what else can be done.

The paper work is being submitted and all I have to do is wait.  Its just another step in this whole adventure that is my life.  There will be good and there will be bad with both options, but taking this step was the hardest part…

Let the Fates be kind…

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Extensions of Me…

Along my path I have been asked about various things that I do when I fight, when I make my weapons and what prepares me to do what I do.  Last night I finished up my new axe and was painfully reminded of why I don’t skip steps.

Years ago at Melee Madness, an awesome SCA event that gets held at the closest thing we have to a castle here in Utah, I was awarded a prize, a beautiful axe, and proclaimed the “Meanest mother” for that event.  Not in a Motherly sense…in a bad motherfracker sense just so you know.  That axe was awesome but using it in steel practice had cracked the haft that came with it (hard woods don’t last long in this sport) and thus sat on my work table needing to be fixed for several months.

I decided to re-haft it with rattan and put my own energy into it so that I could use it in competitions when I wanted to use a punch shield & single handed weapon instead of my halberd.  I also wanted to be sure Hannah had something to fight with at ITOC in a week, so I got to work on Sunday.

Everything went smoothly once I got the old haft out. I shaved down my rattan, formed it to fit the head almost perfectly and then got it all stained.  I let it cure in the heat of my garage for a full 24 hours and last night I was ready to put my finishing touches on it, knowing I wanted Hannah to have some time with it to get used to the feel.  Only I had to work late.  So, once I made it home I got to work.

I had everything I needed, I’d done the rune transcription and all I had to do was put it all together!  Easy!  Or so I thought.  Since Hannah was going to be using this weapon I decided not to follow my regular hafting rituals.  Normally I rune my own inscription into my weapons as an extension of me, putting part of my energy into it, as I have taken away some of the earth’s energy that it had.

However, I knew this weapon would be used by others, so I inscribed its name instead, therefore letting it carry its own energy to the user. I usually also add a few droplets of blood to the weapon, its a personal thing for me and something I learned from someone who has much more magic inside them than I ever hope to.  But because again, I felt that it might interfere with the energy of another user I decided not to.  In that very instant that I made the decision not to, my lovely furchild Heimdall, the BattleCat pushes my leather shears off the table and some how manages to carve a nice gash into the tip of my big toe.  Then he jumps down, and promptly lays on it, rolling around in it like a wee devil of a beast.  For those of you that know me personally, you know I tend to follow the Norse Gods, and I found it quite fitting that the message I got, was in the form of a cat.

Thus, I did end up adding several drops of blood to the weapon (some not by choice), whether it was a message or not, and decided then and there I would never forego a step in my own ritual again.  Feline message received, loud and clear.  Raven’s Beak feels great in my hands and I can only hope that the energy that went into it, will flow freely for anyone else that wields it.  I will also take care when and if that weapon gets used against me, for a weapon will always transfer energy back into its owner…one way or another lol.

I talk a lot about energy.  I truly believe in good and bad energy, and that you can transfer that energy from one thing to another.  A tradition I learned many years ago from a man I admire greatly taught me that everything in this world gives something up to become another thing.  Camric and his crew that were visiting us from Gleann Ahbann burned their shields at the end of an event, returning the energy to the earth. The shields had protected them and given their energy to the bearer and thus that energy was returned.  At my squiring ceremony a year later, Camric, who is also known as Green Shield, sent me part of his ducal shield, that had won him two crown tournaments.  It was to be burned so that the energy released would protect me, as it protected him.  At the time it was the most touching thing a fighter had ever done for me, and I didn’t want to let it go!  But when it came time to put that relic in the fire, along with bits of my fighting history and other relics from fighters I knew and cherished, I knew my first personal ritual had been born.

Now, when I retire a shield or a haft is broken, its burned. When I haft a new weapon, bits of it are saved and I burn them at various points when I want to put a little bit of me into the earth.  I took shavings from my halberd to Prague this year and burned them in the campfire at our encampment, to add my own bit of magic in a far away land.

I rune my weapons, I engrave my swords.  I carry Valkyrie wings into battle, so that I can pass them on to people who have inspired me.  I have small bottles of earth, rocks and other natural tokens from my battlefields because I was given a small container of earth from the first battlefield the United States team ever walked on to…and that meant the world to me, so I have carried on that tradition.

Simple things and simple actions, with sentiment behind them mean a lot to me.  The tokens I have received from fighters these past few years aren’t expensive or laden with gold, they simply mean something to the giver and to me.  That type of tradition, that type of ritual…that type of energy, is what I feel when I talk about magic.  They all invoke a spirit of togetherness, of inspiration and of a moment in time that can never be taken away.

So when I create a weapon, or hand sew a garment, or give away a token, its all an extension of me.  There is thought, inspiration and yes, even a little bit of magic in everything I do.  Its a part of me, a part of who I am…of who I’ve become, because of all those that came before me, of those that inspired me to do more.  Who gave a little bit of their magic to make mine stronger and to help me confront the negative we all inevitably have to face in one form or another.

Put good into the world.

Return positive energy to the Earth when you can.

Live a life worthy of inspiring.

Pass on your own magic.

Believe…

 

 

 

 

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You can’t please everyone…

I had a long talk with my husband Greg yesterday, I simply asked him if I was enough.  His answers were pretty amazing, just like he is.  But one thing he said really stuck with me, “Baby, you are the Queen of Trying.  You try to please everybody, all the time.”

I realize he is right.  I do try to please people.  I can’t help it.  It’s simply part of my nature. But I also realize when I do that, it opens me up to accept a lot of stress and pressure (and sometimes abuse) that I probably don’t need when I can’t please everyone.

Whether I am trying to be the perfect wife, the perfect friend or the perfect lover, I will never win.  I can’t.  The game is rigged against me, because all I can do is try.  Yet, at times you feel like you can almost reach perfection…but you can also fall flat on your face.

At 49, you would think I would have already realized I am enough.  But evidently it takes a lot to let that sentiment sink into my not so thick skin.  People say things that hurt me, criticize me, accuse me, whatever, and I let that sink in just fine, but people praise me or tell me I am good enough and it takes forever to scratch the surface.

Well…I am enough.  I am perfect just the way I am, flaws and all.  I can’t be the perfect wife, I can’t be the perfect friend, fighter or lover either.  All I can do is be me…and whether I measure up to anyone else’s vision of me is something I need to quit worrying about.

The only person I need to be better than is the me I was yesterday, and even then I doubt I will always be better.  Some days are great and they can’t be topped…and that’s ok.

I did some longsword work last night and it suddenly occurred to me that no matter what I do, what I accomplish in my life, I will never please everyone.  Some people will be inspired by me, some people will feel the need to compete with me, some people will fall in love with me and there are even people who will want to do me harm, simply because of what I have in my life, and I can’t control any of that.

I love and adore my husband more than anything else on this planet, and his opinion of me matters more than anyone’s, so even if I don’t measure up to that…its still nothing I can control.

That’s the key…its nothing I can control.

I am enough for me.  Whether I am enough for you is beside the point.

Love me

Hate me

Kiss me

Fight me

It’s all up to you. Because I am enough.

I’m just a girl, figuring out her place in this world, one step at a time.

I will accept you just the way you are…hopefully you do the same.

 

 

 

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No Fear…and strange men

I often find myself perusing the Facebook feature that allows you to look back through the years at your timeline for that day in history.  Today I was struck by several things.

The first was 8 years ago I had just gotten my dragonfly tattoo that was designed for me by Derek, a wonderful tattoo artist out of Sacramento.  He designed it just for me and I have loved it from the moment I saw it.  It was ink to celebrate my 200 pound loss milestone. Derek has done 90% of my ink and I trust him like no other, and we met in a game called Everquest in 1999.  It’s crazy to think that I have known and loved this man for 17 years now and how strange just how much of an effect he has had in my life.

Derek was the first man I fell in love with due to words on a screen.

It would be years before I met him in person, but I knew I loved him.  Greg, my husband knew I loved him.  In fact, Derek was the person that led us into an open marriage, not by his guidance really, but by his willingness to be open with me, understand the fact that I was married and happy, and still be willing to love the person I was, no strings attached.  It wasn’t really a sexual bond, not in a traditional sense really, because simply put there’s only so far you can go with words, texts and phone conversations, but there was a bond between us…and our characters online.  Selor and Sorcha belonged to one another, and that bond carried us through many games and many characters through the years.  The last time we spent any time together in a game was World of Warcraft.  Hellfyre and Hellfury were the same as we had always been, devoted to one another, we were the hellions!

Through those 17 years we’ve seen each other off and on, I’ve gotten a lot more ink on my body because of him and he has even inked Greg now.  He gave us beautiful works of art for our 18th wedding anniversary when we stopped in to see him on our way up the coast.  He has gotten married, has a beautiful wife, adorable children and we have all ended up perfectly happy.  He is someone who will always be in my world, one way or another and 17 years ago I am not sure how I would have described the us that would exist today…but no matter what, I am sure the reality is much better now than anything I could have come up with at that point.

I love him dearly and he is one of the boxes in my heart, and always will be.

Second, I was also reminded of that same trip to California that I got my dragonfly.  After I saw Derek for ink, I traveled down the coast to visit other friends I had gamed with in WoW.  Caught and Hawkke, two men I had gamed with for several years and never met in person, yet there I was, going to spend an entire weekend with them, in their home.  Alone.

I can vividly remember the moment I pulled up to their house they shared as roommates, and I knock on the door but there was no answer.  All of a sudden all those stories you hear (especially back in 2008) about never going to someone’s house you’ve only met on the internet.  How so many women end up murdered or tied up in the basement for years.  But there I was knocking…only to find out they had misjudged the timing of my arrival and were only minutes away.  I meet them, and was immediately put at ease.  I had talked online with them for hours on end for years, my husband (also a gamer) had met them on vent as well and we were ALL comfortable with my trip, albeit some of Greg’s friends thought we were all crazy, and we probably were.  But that’s not a negative in my book lol…

I look back at the photos of us (see below) and at that point in time I would have thought those two would be in my life forever, but now, 8 years later, I couldn’t even tell you their real names.  Hell I don’t even know which city I drove to from Derek’s tattoo shop to meet them!  Its so interesting the path that life takes us sometimes.  I honestly would have told you I was in love with those two as well.  In fact part of that weekend there was some true awkwardness because I really wanted to sleep with them both, and to be truthful, I couldn’t make up my mind, so NOTHING happened at all lol.

One of the TRUEST things in my life is this…

Rare people come into my life for a reason.

Whether its for me to help them or for them to help me is often unknown, but when I meet these people, I know.  I do find it interesting that most of the time those people are men, but I really have a hard time getting along with “normal” women.  They make me crazy and I simply prefer the company of men, which lends itself to that skewed ratio, but the women that are close to me in my life are truly phenomenal and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Today was an interesting day for introspection on my life with men who start out as complete strangers and who end up lovers.  But the converse can be just as true. Because I have no fear of men, or falling in love or even lust with them, it tends to open me up to some that can do more harm than good.  Like I said, people come into my life for a reason and sometimes that reason is to teach me a lesson, which isn’t necessarily a good one.

There have been people in my past that I’ve loved, cared about, treated with way more respect that they deserved and gave more chances to than I would have given to almost anyone else in my life.  I grew up in an abusive home and spent my childhood in fear and being psychologically manipulated, but I also had prime examples of what a great man can be like, so I realized early on how to shield myself.  My weight always allowed me some blatant honesty and in the end, I learned to defend myself against just about everything, but sometimes you still have to learn the hard way.

And I have.  Many times over.

I don’t draw a line in the sand on when my heart has to stop loving someone.  Or even whether or not I can or even should love someone.  It just simply happens.  Sometimes before I even know it.  At times that love is so bright I fear it overshadows everything else in its path…and I am the first to admit that sometimes that newness is what I needed, what I craved and so I forgive a lot of hurt because that rush I feel is worth it.  Then, its not nearly as bright and you start to see the hurt and pain that’s being heaped on you when you don’t even know it.  That’s when I have to walk away, even when I don’t really want to.

Sometimes I can put all those feelings and memories away in their own little box in my heart.

Its like I have a shelf, with all these various beautiful boxes.  Each box is different, and they hold the memories and thoughts about one person I love and care about but they are someone I can’t have in the forefront of my life any more.  Either they have moved on or I have, it doesn’t really matter,  but when I hear a song or see something that reminds me of them, I can move their box to the front, go through the memories and feelings and still feel good about them, about me loving them and I usually enjoy the moment, even if it tugs on my heartstrings.

Those boxes are precious and very few…but they will always be with me.  Derek is one of those boxes…his art is a part of my body, his love is a part of my soul.  Whether or not we ever see each other again, in game or out, doesn’t matter.  He will always be a happy place for me.

For a long time I held on to other boxes, filled with hate, anger and pain.  I thought it would help me remember to not let it happen again, but in truth, all it did was radiate self loathing and hurt.  It took me a long time to realize I could throw all those memories and pain away and not have them stuck in the back of my mind, growing strong in the darkness.  There was a certain comfort in them, because I could always feel right in my decision to be rid of whomever hurt me.

But in the end I realized I just had to clean house and get rid of all that pain.  No matter who caused it, or why.  Letting it sit inside me was no good for myself or anyone else that was around me.  Every so often I have to remember to clear those boxes out and get rid of all the lingering bad juju that can cloud my judgement and cause fear, even when there isn’t anything bad going on.

Past history does count, and while I will never forget the pain someone has caused me, I can at least let it go and not carry it around with me any longer.  I don’t usually care about revenge (I can’t say never because truly there are some people on a list that will some day pay for their mistakes) but generally, its just easier to let go of it all and toss those big crappy boxes away.

So while I love the “looking back” feature of Facebook, sometimes those little reminders can be a little painful.  All you can do is look to the future and be happy.  I have so many people I love and adore in my life.  Many of them are people I can only interact with as “words on a screen” due to the distance between us, but that never stops me from loving them or enjoying them for who they are.  If we are lucky, we see one another once a year and if I am VERY lucky…we get to hit one another with swords too.

I am not really sure why all this came out of me today, but I knew when I saw the pictures that it needed to be said.  And maybe it was as simple as I had to clear out some old boxes that I’d let sit for too long…or maybe I had to start making some new boxes for good memories.

Either way, it feels good to have it all out…and I know that whatever comes my way I will be ready…to love, to feel, and to enjoy…the strangers that cross my path.

No Fear…and strange men

It’s just simply how I roll…

 

 

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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, BotN, gastric bypass, Hockey, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday & a little Dorian Gray…

Throwback Thursday to July 28, 2008

The 2008 me on the left versus Me today sitting at my desk trying to do the same looks.

Its funny the things you forget, like how happy yet unhappy I was with both of the photos back in 2008, which would have been just over a year post-op for me. Greg and I had gone out to brunch with Johnny Hunter and sent him on his way in the top photo. The lower photo I was sitting on Vent listening to my guild bitch about Black Temple in WoW.

I hadn’t hit my lowest weight yet, that wouldn’t come for a few months, and my boobs hadn’t really started shrinking yet. But I’d dropped my first 150 pounds at least, probably close to 175 by these photos and while I was putting together this comparison it just struck me the differences in the way I feel, the way I look and the way I enjoy my life now.

The girl in the 2008 photos never thought of herself as an athlete. I never thought I would be good at anything really. I’d given up my dreams of becoming a musician, I’d been sucked into the world of online gaming and was still struggling to break free of that monkey on my back. I looked at my pictures back then and while I was happy with the weight loss, I hated how old I looked. I was torn by being happy to get skinnier but despised the way my face sagged and I wasn’t seeing any resilience in my skin, and up til then I had hoped it would bounce back a little bit. It didn’t.

I was 41 years old. I was on the verge of being the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Yet I had put my body through hell and it was starting to show. My hair, my bones, my boobs, even my teeth were paying the price for the war I had waged on my body with so much weight for my entire life.

It was shortly after these pictures that I started figuring out I couldn’t sit back and let life pass me by. That I couldn’t sit in the basement and hope the weight stayed off. I had to get out and keep moving, and get active. Constantly and consistently. There was no ‘magic potion’ that was going to do it for me, other than getting off my ass and working for what I wanted.

Its funny, I look back at the ‘transition’ photos and think yea, actually there was some magic happening…because I compare then to now and I look younger, I feel younger and my entire perception of life has changed. So some where in that mix, my world magically changed for the better and I have never stopped pushing forward.

But its hard some days, looking backwards.

Its not the 450+ pound Amy photos that bother me the most, its the ones where I look my age, I can see how hard this whole thing was on my body and I know at some point that all will come back again and I don’t want it to. I know I’ve cheated Death, and I am so thankful for the second chance at living, that I can never regret a second of what I have now.

But when I get glimpses of what that transition period was like, I begin to feel like Dorian Gray and I wonder when it will all come back to haunt me again. My 50th birthday is December 13th. A mere 137 days away. I feel amazing, I am happier than I have ever been in my life, and I my body & health are more balanced than they’ve ever been, so why worry right? But I do…and I will get through it.

The things I constantly forget about are those bits of wisdom I gained through the struggles I hated, that push me through to the next level, the next wall, the next obstacle life gives me.

I weighed over 450 pounds and I got through it. I lost half my body weight and I got through it. I lost most of my hair and I got through it. I lost friends, lovers and family and I got through it. And yes, I’ve looked old…and some how I got through it.

Who knows, 8 years from today I may look back and think damn I looked old and wrinkled at 49, who the fuck cared…because honestly, 8 years ago from today I looked old and wrinkled at 41 and no one cared. But me.

Back then I was the happiest & skinniest I’d ever been in my life. In those pictures and even with time marching right across my face, I was fine. 8 years from now, I can only hope to be even better and who knows what the hell I will be doing with my life then. I can only hope I am as thankful as I am today.

I always need to remember to be happy with the NOW (and the then), live every day with as much verve and gusto as I can muster and be the best me possible. There are no guarantees in this life, we get whatever we can make of it. If you’re unhappy with something, change it.

Time is not on our side…so get off your ass

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