Archive for November, 2014

“I think I’ll wait another year,
It’ll be the best year ever.”

If you haven’t listened to Amanda Palmer’s “Another Year”, go do it immediately. This song is on to Top 5 list of the soundtrack of my life, I swear.

tolive

Now, I have done many, many things in my life. I’ve worked in a haunted house, and a Halloween costume/supply store. I’ve left the country. Twice. Swam with dolphins. Also twice. I attended a writing conference in New York with Best Selling authors and agents and other passionate writer people like myself, and even read part of a manuscript out loud to two agents (both of which were interested in reading more) – before I started my senior year of High School. I’ve been to Orlando four times. I’ve been to Boston and Salem. I’ve been to Chicago, New Orleans, and Nashville for cons. I’ve been to James Marsters birthday party. Sean Patrick Flanery has called my boyfriend and made me blush, and just been an all around awesome dude to me. David Della Rocco kissed my cheek. I’ve met amazing actors, artists, comedians, authors, etc. I’ve met Stan Lee. Multiple times. I met Robert Englund and cried. I’ve been to Batman Live!, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and a variety of other plays and shows. I’ve had VIP passes and been allowed into areas others have dreamed of. I’ve shot fashion shows, had photos and articles published, and occasionally feel like maybe I’m going in the right direction.

And so, so much more. So many people and places I can’t even list them all.

But, I somehow still want more. I have worked myself to death to feel like I’m somewhere, or doing something, and not wasting my life behind a desk at a day job.

It feels like I have been stuck in a state of Almost Something. I have almost been published. Almost graduated with my degree as an Art major. Almost stepped up to the next level in photography. Almost almost almost. But I don’t won’t to fall short anymore. I want to move from Almost Something into Definitely Something.

So, next year, I will try to do more. I will try to top everything I’ve already done, just because I have the drive to do it. I don’t want to live an average life. It will drive me insane. I want to feel like I’ve accomplished things and lived a life I was proud of by the time I’m dead.

I’m working on a list right now of things to do in 2015. Because while 2014 had some very good things, it also had some horrible things. And I want more good days than bad. I’ll post a finished list closer to New Years Eve, but there are some points I will definitely touch on:

I will do something writing related, whether it’s a published novel, or another article. Even a baby step forward is better than a stand still.

I will work on my photography more. Because I miss it. Because I need it. I will do shoots and get my work out there.

I will do something more with my art. It’s improving, though not quite where it was art. I would love to start selling prints and pieces to people.

Travel. Experiences. Health.

There is no point in wasting time, when there are adventures out there waiting for me. I just need to seize the chances I’m presented with.

~Angel

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makenicethingsI could easily admit Sjogren’s Syndrome when I was diagnosed. I was scared, but I could easily say that yes, I have it. And Fibromyalgia didn’t scare or surprise me, mainly just irritates me.
The new specialist I’ve been seeing about my ovaries diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s not something I scream from the rooftop, but I can still admit it.
But I can’t deny the one disease, of all diseases, I have dreaded being told I have. Because Thursday, it snuck up on me, in blood work I never imagined it appearing on. Diabetes.
Mind you, I have not been a diabetic. I have my blood drawn and checked a bizarre amount. I just had it checked right before my dental stuff. But there it was, plain as day, looking back at me. And when the nephrologist that had drawn the labs called me, I hoped he would say it was a fluke. But nope. It’s all mine. A new diagnosis.
And I don’t like it.
I literally fought the diagnosis, denying that it could honestly be happening. But today, I can’t deny it anymore. I started to feel horrible at work, and sure enough, when we checked my blood sugar, it was elevated. Very elevated.
The best guess anyone has as to why I have had normal blood sugars, and now not normal blood sugars, is a combination of horrible genes and my last steroid treatment being such a high dose so many times a day, that it pretty much caused a steroid induced diabetes.
Basically: The medicine to help the rest of me not be sick, woke up another sickness. (Which, I must say, is bullshit. Stupid body.)

But, why am I throwing all this out there? Because I am ashamed. And I shouldn’t be. I don’t want to be. I’m posting this because I need love and support to get me through it, and I won’t have any of that if I pretend I don’t have it.

Diabetes is a disease that, in both Type 1 and Type 2, is frequently misconstrued by the media and society in general as something to be embarrassed of. People suddenly think it gives them a license to be an asshole to you, because you obviously “did it to yourself.”

Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. So, why don’t I want to treat it like Sjogren’s, where I can just as easily say that I have Diabetes as I do with Sjogrens?

I don’t want to perpetuate this idea that I need to be ashamed.

And I am going to fight like hell to turn this mess around, not so people don’t judge me: but so that I can live this fabulous, adventurous life I have dreamed of.

 

~Angel

I was overjoyed most of this week because of good news. It was finally looking like things could actually be okay, and I could move forward with my life and get out of the rut I’ve been in. Until yesterday.
Yesterday was a bad day. Today hasn’t been too swell, either. A lot of it has to do with health reasons. Bad tests. Bad news. News I don’t need.
The worst part of it all is that I felt like I was finally getting somewhere, I finally had a direction to go. And then I hit a wall just as I started. And I’m staring at it, unsure of what to do. Unsure of what I can do. It terrifies me.
Last night it left me so lost and scared, I didn’t know if I could function.
Today, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was done. Done with everything. Because I took one step forward, and it launched me three steps back. Suddenly, the things I wanted to do, the things I had set my heart on, seemed like they weren’t worth it. And yet, they seemed to also be the most important things in the world.

I considered buying a one-way ticket anywhere but here.

I considered things much, much more permanent. Because I am scared, and I am human, and I am overwhelmed.

But instead of giving up, instead of running, I’ve decided I just need to work harder, and save up faster, and just use this all as fuel to get me somewhere I need to be. Whether my health gets better or worse, I need to continue forward.

It is time to change my stars.

Motivation-Picture-Quote-Later-Never

I’ve decided:

+ I’m paying off my medical debt ASAP when my check comes in.

+ I’m going to save up for a new car, if I can’t fix mine.

+ I’m saving up for England, and going in the next few years, even if I have to go alone.

+ I’m quitting NaNoWriMo to focus on the project I had been working on, because I want it ready to go by February to agents.

+ I’m going to begin selling my artwork, and taking it more seriously.

+ I’m going to take my health back. My life back.

+ I’m going to break away from all the negatives in my life, and start fresh. New home. New work. New life. No more toxic people slowly killing me.

 

So I will work harder to earn more. I will write, make artwork, sell Scentsy, do photo shoots, sell my own stuff, save birthday/Christmas/bonus money.

I will not be dust. I will burn up in a brilliant blaze and be ashes.

I am not done yet. There is so much more I have to offer the world, and myself.

 

~Angel

Inspired by posts from Sky at Sky vs World:

Saving for Travel – April Spending Freeze

Saving for Travel – September Edition

Saving For Travel – No Spend November

travel

 I get a lot of questions on how I manage all these trips I’ve been going on, and sometimes these are less intrigue than people trying to remind me I need to be saving for other things. But, more and more, I’m getting people genuinely interested in how I do it, because they want to embrace the idea of seeing more of the world. And when I was reading the new post on Sky vs World about saving, and it made me decide to post my own ways of saving for travel.

Now, the type of traveling that I am doing usually requires different types of saving methods.

When I’m preparing to travel for a Comic Con, I figure out the exact amount of money I need and keep that number in my head. Then, I will put away random amounts of money in a jar behind my computer that I regularly forget about, so unless some sort of emergency comes up – I don’t touch it. Then, the actual paycheck or two before I go, literally every cent aside from what’s needed for bills goes straight to that trip: Be it for the con itself, or for travel expenses, or whatever. Usually, I hit over my goal and have random spending money. Sometimes, I have a desperate scramble last minute because I’m a bit short. One time, I spent my taxes right after I got them back, and was both relieved and heartbroken that I did.
For other travels, I do a similar jar-behind-the-computer concept, and I have some sort of end goal amount in mind, and then write down every dollar I put in the jar and keep that log inside of it. Sometimes, I decide one month that every single $1 bill I have goes into that jar. I’ve had a lot of success with deciding to save every $5 bill that comes into my possession. I am a change hoarder, and separate dimes into one jar, quarters in one, and a huge jug for nickels and pennies (this particular jar I plan to leave alone until it’s absolutely full, then use it for whenever I move away from home for whatever expense I need.) And then, again, the paycheck or two before I leave becomes devoted to my trip aside from bills.
I also sell Scentsy products, which brings me a little extra cash I forget about every month and leave alone until I use it for trips. A few months ago, I started doing surveys on a site called InboxDollars, and was surprised it actually paid off when I made $30 from just doing surveys and random junk, and that went to my most recent Orlando trip. Plus, I’ll save any gift money, do some extra photo shoots, maybe sell some random junk I really don’t need, etc. I always find a way to make it work. Currently, I’m (attempting) to start saving for a road trip to New Orleans in January. It’s always rough around holidays though, and with all the medical nonsense being extra awful lately. But I’m working on it.

Plus, on top of that, I’ve decided today to start planning a BIG adventure. Quite possibly the biggest one I’ve been on, if it works. No details yet. But I’m ready to figure out the financials and a solid game plan so I can pick a date.

But, basically, that’s how I do it. Not a millionaire. I just work hard at it.

~Angel

I had a bad day yesterday. Not the worst day ever. I didn’t have a great appointment about my kidneys. Not the worst news ever, just more worry and stress. But because of the bad day and the bad news, I decided I’m not devoting any more energy to bad things. So, today I want to focus on something good.

Here’s something about me that confuses people: I hate Christmas time. I’m getting better about it, but it’s mostly one of those situations where 1.) there are several bad memories tied particularly to Christmas, and 2.) I get irritated with people that ruin it for me because everyone seems offended by something, or people lose the basic point of Christmas, or whatever. That isn’t what I want to get into, since it isn’t the point of this post.

Now, while I become a tad bit Grinch-y during Christmas time, I do love giving. I try to do what I can for people I love, pick a perfect present (in my mind at least), to let them know I actually put thought into what I bought instead of generic body wash gift baskets and junk they won’t really like or use.

But besides the things I buy for friends and family, I also work with local organizations as much as I can to help get things for people who have lost everything, or who are alone (a lot of times, these are Veterans), or people who just don’t have the money to do anything for their family for Christmas, etc. My mom and I will buy the things, give them to the organization responsible for distributing them to families in time for Christmas, and go on with our lives. We don’t give our names. Most of the time, my friends and family don’t realize I do this, except in instances where they ask me what I want for Christmas and I give them one of the people on my list to help and have them buy for them instead. Because trust me, I’m not in need of anything. I’m perfectly fine buying myself Batman collectibles and random other junk.

Another thing my mom and I have done over the years, which even less people realize, is buy a bunch of things for the residents in nursing homes and deliver them for Christmas. It can be anything from crossword puzzles, card decks, or handheld poker games, to body wash or blankets, treats, etc. There are a surprising number of people that are alone on Christmas in those facilities, because their families don’t bother to visit, or maybe they don’t have families for whatever reason. This kills me. If I had more free time, I would like to go in and visit the people that won’t have visitors but would like to. I can’t imagine myself ever being in that scenario, where I’m alone in a home with strangers, bored and basically waiting to die.

Again, we don’t give our names, we don’t want to be praised for doing something that I wish more people would do, just because it’s the right thing. We’ve started involving Lillie and Dica, my two nieces that live with me 50% of the time. One year we dressed them as little elves and took them into the nursing home with us to drop off the presents. The residents that saw them loved them, and the girls liked being “Santa’s helpers.” I was proud to have started showing the girls at a young age the benefits of giving to someone, not because you have to, but because you want to. Because it feels good.

This year, I hope to involve them more in the buying for families tradition, and have them help me pick out things for little kids their age that aren’t going to have much of a Christmas. I’d like for them to help with that every year, to see that not everyone gets quite as spoiled as they do every year, and that they can help make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

But I don’t just do things at Christmas time. Many friends, family, acquaintances, people through work, etc will tell you that I readily give when needed, and sometimes just because. If I can avoid people knowing I did something, I will avoid it, and let it be a miraculous gift from the Universe. My mother and I have bought and delivered an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a family I barely knew, because they had just lost everything. The home of some of my friends burned to the ground and they lost everything in it,  just a few days before Christmas, and we didn’t hesitate to go get them some clothes, food, random things they may need until they could get back on their feet. Mom and I have bought groceries for families struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table.

I’ve bought many, many friends random little gifts, just because. I’ve offered to buy or help with paying for the purchases of someone in front of me in Walmart, because they didn’t have enough to buy the things they need. I donate to the local no-kill shelter, where I got my big baby boy Lenny. I’ve donated to random charities, both with money and item donations (food drives, toy drives, etc). Every single time the gas station I frequently use has the donate $1 or $5 Shamrocks for Muscular Dystrophy, I buy the $5 shamrocks every time I’m in there, or at least the $1 ones if I’m short on cash that day. And trust me, I’m in that gas station A LOT. I organized the Legends of the Knight screening in Eric’s memory and, while I’m still gathering the money from that event, I’m happy to say that so far we’ve sent more money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association than I ever thought I could from one thing. At Hot Topic, and various other stores, when they have the round your purchase total up to donate your change – I usually do it. I leave some really good tips for exceptionally nice waitresses having really bad nights. Plus other things I can’t even think of at the moment. When I have more free time, I plus to volunteer at a place or two locally, even if it’s just a few hours one day of the week. If I ever make it big as a writer, and am more than financially stable, you can bet I will be donating monthly to Muscular Dystrophy, and offering any and all help that I can to the organization.

Now, here is the point of all of this babbling, because I sure as hell wasn’t doing it to praise myself. I wouldn’t keep most of the stuff I do a secret if that was the case. I don’t do any of this because I want people to think of me a certain way. I don’t do it for brownie points with God or the Universe or any other deity or religion or cosmic force you can think of.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

I do it because I want to give the world my very best. I want to do the best I can to put everything I can back out there into the world. I do it because I’ve been there, stuck at rock bottom, and I’ve been lucky to find my way out. I do it because of the kindness of strangers and family and friends that I witnessed as a child, when we were going through rough times. I do it because my mother taught me by showing me how good it feels to know you’ve helped someone else, whether they know it was you or not. I do it to pay it forward for the help I’ve been given in life. I do it because I don’t want to be part of the problems in this world, but rather because I’d like to help see those things change. I’d like to teach other people, whether or not they know it’s me, to give back too. Because maybe some day their stars will change, and the opportunity will present itself for them to help someone else. I’d like to think I could be a part of something like that. That if I’ve inspired at least one person to help another, that maybe my life has been worth something.

And since it is November, and this is the time we all try to mention the things we are thankful for, I thought I’d mention a slightly different group than I normally do in my Thankful posts.

creativeminds

I’m becoming surrounded by these wonderful people in my life. Even though they may not all be physically close to me – some several states or farther away – they help and inspire and teach me to grow.

There are plenty of friends and other people that inspire me in some way, but these people inspire me, motivate me, and make me want to keep growing as a person and giving back to the world. These are a very particular set of inspirational people:

First, I do need to say that a lot of my drive to do better, to give, to inspire, and just live the best life I possibly can, comes from my friends Eric and Whitney, both of which are no longer with us. Eric died many years ago, and Whitney died in 2013. Both of them were dearly loved, and deeply missed. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of either one, because I miss them both more than I can say. They were some of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. I know I have to live the best life I can, or it would be a dishonor to their memory.

our dead

I have a friend, Sky, that’s about to embark on an amazing adventure, volunteering in other countries and traveling for at least 11 months. She’s saving and working hard to pay her way on this trip to help other people and grow as an individual through this experience. And you know what? I think that’s absolutely beautiful. You can check out Sky’s journey on her blog: Sky vs World.

There’s Brett Culp, his amazing family, and the incredible people in Legends of the Knight. Because of the hard work Brett and their team and the people interviewed put into Legends of the Knight, so many people all over the country have gotten to host screenings of the film, and not only inspire everyone that watches it, but also help raise money for so many different charities and people that need it. I’m one of the many people that were inspired by their great work, and was lucky enough to hold a screening myself for Eric. I was even more lucky that Eric’s mom and brother were there, and we could cry together when we thought of how proud Eric would be. This is a blessing I will never, ever forget. You can learn more about Legends of the Knight on their website and order a copy of the DVD.

Which leads me to the amazing duo: Tommy and Samantha Castillo. Tommy is an incredible artist, and Samantha is his amazing wife (with quite a bit of her own talent.) They were kind enough to donate several signed prints of Tommy’s work to us for the Legends of the Knight screening. Tommy and Sammy visit a TON of conventions, if you want to meet them in person for some prints, or you can order online on their website. I have a huge collection of his work, myself, and it is gorgeous.

And these are just a few of the people I can think of that inspire me on a regular basis. People that motivate me to keep going for my dreams, and to keep trying to give the world my best.

Now tell me: Who inspires you to give the world your best?

~Angel

dancinggroot

The Universe is rewarding me for giving Sunday to myself and my passions, I think. Because since Sunday, good things have been happening:

+ I made a significant improvement health wise from where I was post-procedure.
+ Kicking my NaNoWriMo project in the teeth and getting that sucker DONE.
+ Found a way of making serious headway in my medical bill mess, so I will not longer be The Walking Debt. Well, IF it works out. That’s still up in the air. So cross all things that are capable of safely being crossed.
+ The Jessica Lange cover of “Gods and Monsters” (On American Horror Story: Freak Show) is available on iTunes, and I bought it, and it pleases me greatly. I know that’s a random thing, but hey – gotta appreciate the little stuff.
+ I have a shoot Sunday if all goes as planned.
+ There is a light at the end of the tunnel for something that has been a nightmare for two years now.
+ I feel like I’m making some improvements in my art, and I’m hoping to take some steps forward with that soon.
+ I have adventures to look forward to next year. Plus little get together things with friends the rest of this year.

 

And what may be the best of it all, is that I am learning to redirect negative thoughts as soon as they enter my head. For example: If someone is making my life miserable, and I start to let it get to me, I remind myself that there are billions of other people in this world, and that it is absolutely ridiculous to let one person ruin my day. I take a deep breath and push the thoughts aside, and focus on one of the many good things I have going on. No one is going to take the good going on right now away from me.

~Angel

“Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.” ~ Dr. Dale E. Turnerwherewasi1 wherewasi2

 

Those of you that keep up with me in real life, and those that read my health update post, know that I have not been well. After my previous post, I ended up getting even worse, and was out of work most of last week thanks to it. It seems in combination with a rough wisdom teeth extraction, I also developed an infection, which sent my body into a horrible flare mode. Long story short: I was miserable.

I was out of work longer than I had anticipated I would be over this, and most of the time I couldn’t function enough to watch a movie or catch up on my DVR shows. But I started getting frustrated with being sick and useless, so I did what I have done many times before when I’m sick: I started drawing.

At first, I barely managed some terrible little demented sketches. But I kept at it during the periods of time that I felt like I could function, and it distracted me just enough from how terrible I felt. This is how I coped up until Halloween.

Friday, when I woke up, I started crying. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I’d planned for months to dress up for work, and see my boyfriend that night, and go see Horns in theaters if possible – and if not, they had it available On Demand, so I could watch it that way. But of course, Friday I was still in terrible shape, so: No work, No costume, No going out with the boyfriend. I did watch Horns via On Demand, but that didn’t change how bummed missing my favorite Holiday made me. So, I watched horror movies on the couch all day and rested.

But by Friday night, I was down again. Seeing all my friends posting their Halloween costumes, going out, doing stuff other than being sickly… just made the depression from being sick that much worse. And it’s hard to make your body feel better when the rest of you isn’t up to the task.

Then, I saw someone on my friends list post their costume makeup, and I thought “Hey, I’d like to draw that.” Not just a rough, crappy sketch for practice. I wanted to actually make a piece of art off of what they looked like. So, I grabbed some paper and pencils and set to work. Once I had the basic sketch down, I grabbed my colored pencils and started on the colors. I didn’t finish it that night, because I felt awful, but I was proud of what I had accomplished of it.

Saturday is a blur to me. I know I woke up feeling even worse, and spent a lot of my time trying to rest. I was bummed that my brain fog was at a max level of suck, because it was Day One of NaNoWriMo. So zero words were accomplished.

Now, by Sunday, I was frustrated with myself. I wanted to feel better, not just for NaNoWriMo, but because I was tired of being a slave to my sickness. So I made a plan: I would pace myself, and take the whole day to do it, but I would 1.) work on something photography related, even if I just edited one of the many photos I’m behind on, 2.) work on the piece I started on Halloween, and 3.) I would start on my NaNoWriMo project, even if I only typed 50 words. Getting 50 words into the project was a hell of a lot better than having nothing.

There were naps involved, and I really did only edit one of the photos I’m behind on. But I managed to get quite a bit of progress made on my art, as well as nearly 3,000 words into my NaNoWriMo project. And the best part of it? I was proud of myself at the end of the day. Despite the horrible way I felt, I accomplished something I set out to, even though it took all day.

But it didn’t stop there: Today, I feel SO MUCH better than I have. I’m still not functioning at 100%, and I don’t feel well at all. But compared to how I have felt for nearly two weeks now? Major improvement.

Was it the boost in my spirit? Or just the illness calming down from running it’s course with this flare up? Who knows, for sure. But I would like to credit it to doing the things  I love most.

Here’s to what I hope is a very successful November!

~Angel