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[Jan. 4 2010 — Odd thing just happened. This post disappeared from WordPress so I’m reposting it. Apologies to all of you who already read it and commented. I’ll try to find the comments too.]

And 2009 is….. outa here!! Enter 2010! Not to slag on ‘09 or anything, but damn! But before I get into all of that — an update on Daddy

The good news!! – He appears to be recovering some of the usual thought processes but also his sense of humor. He even jokes about it, “Let’s head over to church and see who else I don’t remember.” Names and past events are a problem but he is certainly able to engage. 

The bad news – The personality shift is very apparent and, if not permanent, will take a while to recover. He will engage in conversation but only if you engage him first. Otherwise, he’ll sit in silence. His curiosity and desire to explore and expand his understanding of people and places is simply gone. He’s “Daddy-lite” so to speak. 

And that’s part of the problem with wrapping up a year on such a crappy note. You look back through a haze of negatives and the only things that seem to stand out are more items that match it. 

Well, to hell with that. 

On New Years eve, as my Beloved and I sat on our back porch, drinking vino and otherwise recovering from the week and year, I decided to focus on only the good things that came out of the year and I must say, it was quite a cool list. And since I’m not much of a “resolutions” kinda gal, I decided that my plan was to identify what really worked for me last year and to do more of it all the while making note of those things that I realize no longer serve a purpose, and cut that shit out wherever possible. 

So with that in mind, a few highlights: 

Oct. 2009 -- Testing for my Green Belt in Karate. Yeah, I passed.

I conquered a demon last year — body image. After four decades of self loathing, I’d had enough and discovered I didn’t have to wait until I was thin happy with my body to start enjoying it. I still don’t think I can accurately describe the positive change this even brought to my (and Mike’s) life. With that in mind, in 2010 I plan to remain vigilant on this. It’s possible this monster isn’t dead but just resting will creep back into my life. I will not let that happen in ‘10. I will visit more nude resorts when I have the time and write about the experiences; I will buy and wear attractive and sexy clothes; I will flirt shamelessly and will welcome the attention that it brings. I’ve earned it.  

SIDEBAR: After the body-image epiphany I actually lost about 20 pounds. Yippeee! I plan to lose another 20 – 30 in 2010. But here’s the thing — in 09 I discovered the only way it works for me. 1) Total caloric intake daily average:  1000 – 1200. 2) Total caloric expenditure per day [exercise and base metabolism]: 2200 – 2400. 3) Gross average weight-loss per week: 1/2 to 1 pound. You read that right, cowkids; it takes having an AVERAGE caloric deficit of roughly 1000 – 1200 calories per day for me to lose almost a pound in a week. Sucks, doesn’t it?  

I also realized that event did more than conquer fat-fear, it proved to me that I can conquer any fear, any self-imposed limitation, without any help from anyone. Mike and I’ve talked at great length about how much it hurt that he can’t or won’t embrace something that finally works for me. He says he’s ambivalent about it. But I don’t want to go explore this new and awesome experience with an ”ambivalent” companion by my side so my option is to continue on alone or to forgo it altogether and once again wait for someone else’s “approval” to live my life fully. In his defense, he says he’s perfectly fine if I go solo but I’m not sure how well that will stick if I start to develop friendships, spend money, and otherwise create a separate life from him. I’m also pretty sure it won’t work for me. He is my Beloved, and to know that he doesn’t want to be with me sucks the joy out of any activity. It’s a fuckin’ rock and hard place and I don’t know how it will resolve in 2010. 

Another highlight was getting published. Now I’m a writer/producer by trade but my work doesn’t show up in print magazines. However, I wrote an article for “N” Magazine (FYI – for some reason the formating on this article is awful. I swear, I didn’t write it that way!) based on my trip to Cypress Cove and was even paid for it! (A whopping $50 but who cares?! I had a byline! Wheeee!!!) In ‘10 I plan to write more and expand beyond my work and blogging life.  

Speaking of blogging, the Dogged Pursuit is a major highlight of ‘09. The feedback I get is fantastic (who doesn’t like to be told they’re wonderful?) but more than that is its effect — on my and on others. For me, I’m clearer. Writing here helps me focus, plan, and place a critical eye on the bullshit that espouse every day. I think I am a better writer. I know I am a better person. But that’s small potatoes compared to the effect it’s had on others. For those of you who’ve found something useful on these pages and have let me know, thank you. I’m so very glad you found something of use here beyond just “Hey, did j’a see what Stasha said this time! Da-um!!”  If something I wrote here resonates with you, I’m glad I was able to give it a voice. I’m also glad when it helps us both see that we are not alone. I’m going to continue with the long form format and am going to revise my target number of posts down to just one a week. I’d originally planned to do 3, but that’s too much for your humble  servant. (Curse your productivity, Joan!) 

Speaking of productivity, I realized that while I did a lot of things last year, I could’ve done a lot more. I spent a lot of well-worth-it hours reading blogs, reading books, learning and generally exploring new concepts and ideas that for reasons explained in other posts, I’d missed most of my life. But in ‘10 I think it’s time for a little more action. I’m not a TV watcher per se (except for a couple of favorite Tivo’d shows) and there’s no reason I can’t get a few more things done.Reading and learning is swell ’n all, but doing is sooooo much better! So, in addition to more writing, organize my damn photos! They’ve been in plastic bins for years. Also, now that all of my grandparents are gone, I’m going to do the same with the mountains of old photos we’ve found around the houses. If I can accomplish this in a year it’ll be a freakin’ miracle but my work in museums has taught me much about the importance of archiving your history. Wish me luck on this one. 

Moving on, I also had some fantastic individual days last year and several stand out — too many to detail here — but they did have a couple of things in common. 

April 2009_ A refuge in Wyoming. What a day.

First, they were all spent getting to know people. One day in particular I spent on a wildlife refuge in Wyoming with an uber-awesome park ranger. She took me on a 5-hour tour and it felt like we were the only two people on the freakin’ planet. In that time we chatted about life, nature, work, art, etc. and it was time well spent. By far one of the best days not only of the year, but of the past several. More of this please. I also expanded our local circle of friends. We had more dinner parties and I invited people we wanted to know better; we attended regular parties (one group in particular — Nutsy, anyone?), we met more friends and neighbors for drinks at our local watering hole. I’m also making a wide range of interesting discoveries in the blogosphere –fascinating and wonderful people. Some are old friends I never really knew until I started reading their blogs, others are folks that have reconnected with me and we send private emails back and forth now, still others are new and growing friendships with people who are at the same time radically different but remarkably similar to me. More, more, more please!! 

Jan. 2009 Hancock Shaker Village Massachusettes. Beatiful! But cold!!

The second thing about most of the aforementioned ”great days” was they included my camera. Now I’ve never been great at taking pictures; not because the shots don’t turn out, but because I forget to take them. But I’ve gotten some fantastic images this past year and want to take more. My beloved was going to get me a new camera for my birthday but we can’t find exactly what I want to I’m going to continue with my old 4 mega pixel Kodak and iPod but I’ve decided to follow Hubman and Emmy’s example and participate in Project 365 this year. I may do a post a week here with the week’s shots all at once rather than once per day. I’ll still try to upload daily on the Flicker site, but we’ll see how that goes. 

The second to last most wonderful thing about 2009 was the intensely increased communication between my Beloved and me. Though a complicated series of events, we became closer, discovered what real honest marital communication feels like (both good and bad) and consequently have become much closer and more committed than ever before. That’s not to say that all is hunky-dory fairy-tale story perfect around here. In what marriage is it ever? But I certainly want this part of who we are to continue growing. On the more challenging side, it is intensely difficult and frightening to share your inner self with someone, even someone you love and trust. The potential for hurt magnifies right along with the potential for understanding. It’s worth it, but it still hurts. It also means laying bare your innermost desires, dreams, hopes, and fears before someone to ridicule or be repulsed by. It also means offering them an oportunity to help you make them come true. And for you to do the same for them. What an awesome responsibility. What a frightening sense of vulnerability. 

And finally, full circle, to Daddy’s stroke and Granddaddy’s death. The latter was a longtime coming, and his passing was life-changing but also a relief. The former was a bolt out of the fucking blue and I’m still reeling. But both are a continuing reminder that our lives are short and unpredictable. That memories and the people and events that make them matter and are very, very fragile. That relationships are everything. The experiences make up the sum of your life. That now matters more than then; and that you (me, you, us) matter more than them — those who would limit us, those who mock our dreams, those who embrace ignorance, those who peddle fear. 

July 2009 Mt Airy, NC - On the road of life, how can you beat this?

So in 2010, I am not resolved to do any more than to simply do more of what seems to work. I will work harder, play more, be more aware in my travels, more eager to embrace all the good that comes my way. I will deal with challenges in the only way I know how, one day at a time — and be more attentive to the beauty and grace that appears to follow me around. I will love my friends more and will continue to hold my Beloved close to my heart as we journey on together. 

Happy New Year! 

Stasha 

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“HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!”

 Though I’m an avowed agnostic that was the only thing that came to mind as I lay flat on my back, knees apart, while a tiny Korean woman (or Vietnamese, Japanese, whatever! I cannot be bothered with those politically correct details right now!) ripped the short hairs from my, ahem, very delicate, delicate place.

“Oh! So sorry,squeaks out with a giggle while a gloved hand covers her half-sorry smile.

She doesn’t know it but the real reason for the emphatic nature of my exclamation was not the pain (which was, indeed, intense) but rather at that moment I realized I was soon going to be paying this tot-sized terror $45 plus tip (TIP!!!!) for administering this particular and peculiar womanly rite. Fifty-five dollars to apply hot wax to my nethers and snatch it off with gusto. (more…)

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So I’m standing around the Maitland Art Center chatting with one of the fabulous artists, whose new show, Confluence, I’m thoroughly enjoying, when a woman approached us. 

“Excuse me. I’m Jane Patteson with the Orlando Sentinel and I have a fashion column. I couldn’t help noticing how stylish you are and would like to take a picture of you for my on-line ‘Snapped’ series. Would you mind?”
Snapped! at 'A Confluence' exhibition, Maitland Art Center

Snapped! at 'A Confluence' exhibition, Maitland Art Center

I looked over at Anna (Real name. Go see the show if you’re in the area.) and she’s looking back at me. I wait for her to accept the invitation then suddenly realize they are both waiting for MY response. WTF?! I look back and forth for a second until it finally registers — I’ve been selected out of a crowd of good-looking, stylish, artsy, classy, rockin’ people because I STOOD OUT as having my own sense of style. Check. It. Out. Seriously, click the link and see what ya think.

I almost fainted. Seriously. (more…)

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Most of you are well aware that I am, in fact, a word nerd. I like the way words sound. I like to understand their meaning. “Semantic” arguments are worth having. Understanding yourself and the world a little better is a result of studying words.

So I was pleased and delighted to come across a word I’d NEVER heard before — compersion. Say it out loud. Roll it around your tongue. It’s just sweet! Cuhm-purr-szun. Lovely. Even lovelier though, is its definition: “the ability to take personal and sincere pleasure in the pleasure that your partner derives from either someone else or something else that is unrelated to you.” Joy from someone else’s joy; happiness at someone else’s happiness, not because you are a participant in the joy, but simply because you know that they are experiencing joy even if you yourself don’t share in  it.

I discovered this word on a blog jaunt, where I find a cool blog and then start riffing through the links, one to another.

WARNING – Some of the above links are adult sites and yes that means you may find neckid pictures and “sex talk.” One of the above links is written from a very out of the ordinary point of view, one usually judged very harshly; definitely NOT for anyone insecure in their relationship. Another has great stuff scattered throughout but also a few things that may be complete bullshit. I don’t know. There. You’ve been warned.

But here’s the freaky thing — I can’t find the word in the dictionary. Nor on MS Word, nor in my trusty Webster’s or Roget’s. The only place I’ve found it is on-line and in reference to polyamory, the idea that you can truly love more than one person at a time. (more…)

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My hair is driving me insane. My last trip to the hairdresser was a cluster f#&% of errors with a color screw up, try to fix the screw up, make it worse and damage the hair, then try to cover everything up with a bad cut on top of it. It’s been a month now and just getting worse and worse. My formerly luxurious tresses have the look, feel, and manageability of hay. I know, I mean I just KNOW that my hair looks like crap. It’s an absolute, hopeless mess.

The above statement would also be absolutely unremarkable except I’m currently sitting stark naked, poolside, at Cypress Cove Resort.

And I just realized that I’m worried about my hair and have been for about 25 minutes. (more…)

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I am trembling. My mouth feels as if it is stuffed with cotton. My shaking hand lays across my mouse and I try, and fail, to click the “reserve” button. All I want is a weekend! Two nights at Cypress Cove; a local resort with a lake, and a pool, and restaurants, and the promise of gentle Florida breezes while sipping Mai Tai’s and enjoying a good, rockin’ massage.

But my head is filled with an echo… voices… that just won’t quit.

“Heyyyyyyy, fatty, fatty!” The juvenile taunt comes in the same sing-song inflection often heard on the ballfield – “Heyyyyy, batter, batter!”

Cypress Cove is a Naturist Resort. Nudity. Naked. The full eff-in’ monty. And my demon, my constant companion, screams my lifetime nickname. (more…)

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