Friday, September 4, 2015

Camp Tips with Kitten

Musique - "Open Your Heart to Me" by Madonna
Here are my personal tips for women attending Stratejoy Summer Camp:
For the love of all that is holy, if you are high maintenance like me, drive. Trying to fit all you need for camp into carry-ons is hard. It would have been nice to have my own sleeping bag and pillow and a cooler full of adult beverages or a stockpile of snacks that would be safe from prowling animals. At least go ahead and check a bag. I did the carry-on only route and I managed it, but I’d rather not rough it so much next time. Also, do not take a red eye. It’s just not worth it. Unless you are capable of getting quality sleep on airplanes. I am not.
Do not bother with rain gear. Rain coats and rain ponchos are hot in North Carolina. I lasted all of 2 minutes with my rain poncho on. You will be wet anyway with all of the humidity. Wear flip flops and put your cray cray over your head if you don’t want your hair or face to get wet.
Bring bug wipes or bug spray or a goddamn mosquito net and bee keeper’s uniform. Apply anti-bug stuff regularly—especially before you go to bed. They will get you. So be sure to bring some anti-itch cream too. It’ll be a lifesaver.
Make friends with the critters. I have no issues with mice or raccoons, but I don’t necessarily want them in my living space. And I HATE spiders and other bugs. HATE. But there’s no escaping bugs in nature, so just get used to them. You will most likely be showering with multiple daddy long legs. Get over it. Hide your food away in a place where no mouse or raccoon can get at it. Throw any food garbage away in the big camp garbages or a critter will go through your garbage and wreck your entire bathroom in the process. True story. Thank you to my cabinmates who cleaned that up—I was late for morning movement, I couldn’t have possibly done it. ;)
Just know that your hair will not do what you want it to do—unless you’re from North Carolina and you’re used to that humidity. If you have long enough hair, you can put it in a ponytail 24/7, but if it’s shorter, like mine, you’re pretty much just going to want to cover it with the bandana they give you when you show up. At first, I was like, I’m not going to wear that! But since everyone’s bandana color corresponded to their cabin, it became a badge of Happy Turtle pride to wear it. Plus it hid my hideous hair. Also, on the beauty front, do whatever you want in regards to makeup. Many women decided to go sans makeup all trip. Others put on full face. Some made do with only mascara. No one’s going to judge you for any of it. I thought it too humid to try any kind of makeup and I was worried I would be viewed as vain, so I went without. But seeing the pictures now, I’m kind of wishing I had put on at least a little. Do what feels right to you.
Be prepared for some serious homesickness. The first day at camp, I wanted to leave, BAD. I very nearly burst into tears, and all I could think was “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” Some women were sad about leaving their kids, I was sad about leaving my cats. I also missed sleep in my own bed and our glorious Washington weather. And alone time. Plus, I had been awake for over twenty-four hours. All of that combined made me think camp had been a horrible, horrible mistake. For all of an afternoon, anyway. Getting a hug from Molly, a little solo journaling time, meeting my awesome cabinmates, cocktail hour, dinner, and an awesome evening session with Molly all conspired to put my mind at ease. And while I didn’t get very restful sleep that first night, it was enough that the next morning, I was super pumped to be at camp. I still missed my cats and showering indoors, but I was now open to all camp had to offer.
Don’t be shy about making friends. I say this as a very shy and introverted person. But I guarantee you that every single woman at camp is cool with talking to you. Molly attracts a very wonderful tribe of women and maybe you won’t click with every single one of them, but no one that goes to camp is so uppity as to shun anyone. Go up and talk to strangers—I promise, it’s okay. Don’t wait until the last day to strike up a conversation with the girl in the funny t-shirt or the one who told that really moving story the night before. You just might meet your soul sister.
Don’t be afraid to open up. You might feel like you’re the weirdest or awfulest person on earth for something you’ve done or thought or how you handled a certain situation, but I guarantee that you are not. Not only are you not weird or awful, but you are not alone. Someone else at camp probably has experienced something similar and did something similar in response. Sharing your experiences not only unburdens you, but creates bonds with others who have experienced the same things. This group of gals is there for you and won’t go blabbing your business all over Facebook when camp is over. Feel safe sharing. (Unless you don’t feel safe sharing, of course. Trust your gut.)
Don’t be afraid to set your alarm. I was on west coast time, so a 7 a.m. morning movement class was 4 a.m. to me. I missed morning movement all but one day because my internal clock was still in Seattle. You’re not supposed to use your phone, but if you put it in airplane mode and set your alarm, you’ll be all good.
Don’t feel bad about not doing it all. There are a lot of activities going on at camp. I was totally planning on going canoeing, doing a morning movement class each morning, doing the ropes course, etc. Yet, most days I felt more like arts and crafts than going out on the lake, sleeping in rather than working out, and I totally chickened out on the ropes course. I felt bad briefly, but hey, I got lakes and workouts at home. I can do those any time. Arts and crafts and conversation with a bunch of other creative ladies? Well, that doesn’t happen every day. And deciding not to do the ropes course because I might get dizzy taught me that I still have issues of being fearful of what might happen instead of what is happening. A great life lesson. So, what I’m saying is be flexible and do what you need to do in that moment. You just might learn something and enjoy yourself at the same time.
Enjoy yourself. You bought a ticket and traveled to camp to have a great experience, so enjoy it! Breathe. Smile. Be in the moment as much as you can. I tried to do this as much as possible, but sometimes it was silent hour before I was able to really feel it in my bones what a great time I was having. Maybe some things at camp are more your jam than other things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the other things too. I hate getting dirty, but I kinda loved getting floured. It took days to get all the cupcake mix out of my hair, but it was so worth it because I had a blast! 

Summer Camp

Musique - "Want to Want Me" by Jason Derulo
Photo courtesy Molly Mahar

I recently went to Stratejoy Summer Camp at Camp Kanuga in North Carolina. It was summer camp for grown-ass women. For five days, we did camp stuff like canoeing, arts and crafts, and lawn games; we also did some woo-woo/self-development stuff like journaling, meditating, and having sessions with Molly Mahar, Miss Stratejoy herself.
Photo courtesy Stratejoy website

I first started doing Molly’s courses in 2012 and found them immensely helpful in creating a better, more joy-filled life for myself. In fact, she was the one who suggested I write a book—and I did! When Molly announced her first ever summer camp, I was very intrigued. I’m not exactly a camping kind of girl, but the thought of working with her in person and meeting members of the Stratejoy tribe IRL was very tempting. Bugs and dirt be damned! I also figured that something out of my comfort zone, like camp, would be instrumental in further positive change in my life.
Photo courtesy Stratejoy website

Before summer camp, I was able to meet a couple of the girls from Seattle who were also going, Domino and Buttercup. [Note: these are their camp names. I am going to use everyone’s camp names in this post. Mine was Kitten, btw.] We also had a summer camp Facebook group so we could all get to know each other before camp started. That was really awesome because I am a total introvert and I enjoyed being able to connect with people online before I met them in person. I like preparation.
Something I don’t like is not getting enough sleep. Domino and I took a red-eye from Seattle, and I was unable to sleep the entire time. The seat was uncomfortable and there were small children behind me yelling about Pikachu. Even with an eye mask and ear plugs, sleep did not come to me. When I finally got to camp, I was soooo ready for a nap. Molly greeted all us with a hug, which was awesome. She told me she was excited I was there and I told her I was excited for a nap. Yeah. I felt bad about that one later. I really was excited to be there. However, I was also excited for a nap.
My cabin

Alas, a nap did not come. Maybe it was the coffee I had in Charlotte or the excitement of finally being at summer camp or the uncomfortable camp bed and the sound of cicadas, but I could not fall asleep. I finally said fuck it and went to go on a tour of the camp. By this time, it was raining pretty hard. All through the tour, I kept feeling this intense overwhelment. I was so. fucking. tired. And it was raining, but it was hot. And I missed my cats. And I hadn’t been alone since 7:45 the night before. I am a girl who loooooves her alone time. I wanted to go home. A lot. I very nearly burst into tears many times on the tour. All I could think was “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” But I kept reminding myself that I was there for a reason and that I totally could do it, if I just persevered.
My bunk

And persevere I did. I was able to do some journaling by myself in my cabin, which restored my spirits a bit. Also, I got to meet camper Bliss, who I’ve known since Molly’s Find Your Passion Work course in 2012, but had never met IRL. I was super pumped to finally interact with her in person. And she was just as great as I had imagined. Also great were the other campers in our cabin, Ya-Ya, Gypsy, Spike, and Kerbear, and our counselors, Moonshine, Cozy, and Flygirl. Molly and her team have some serious skills in matching up cabinmates. We all got along famously. And most everyone in the cabin was an introvert. The lone (I think) extrovert, Gypsy, was not one of those in-your-face extroverts that can be jarring in a group of introverts; she was very introspective and self-aware and brought a healthy enthusiasm and energy to the cabin. She was also in her early to mid-twenties, like Domino and some other campers. I was almost envious of these ladies who had discovered Molly at a younger age than I had. At their age, I was more concentrated on “fixing” myself because there was something wrong with me than doing self-development work because I wanted to be the best version of my already awesome self. But there were plenty of us in our mid- to late thirties and others in their forties and possibly even fifties. It was a great assortment of women of all ages and backgrounds. The younger ones were inspiring and the older ones had a valuable point of view that comes with experience—I felt the like the ladies in their forties and beyond were wiser and more capable of seeing others more clearly. And since I’m way closer to forty than thirty, I hope I’m achieving some of this wisdom and clarity.
My cabinmates; photo courtesy Gypsy

Because these women were all part of the Stratejoy tribe, I felt way more comfortable with them than I would be around other strangers. Molly seems to attract a special brand of women—those who are searchers, who want more joy in their lives, who are incredibly supportive and open and positive. I didn’t care as much about what they thought of me because I figured they weren’t judging me harshly (fearing that others are judging me harshly is definitely an area I am working on).
Where I spent more than one silent hour

One of my favorite parts of camp was silent hour. For a full hour, we weren’t allowed to interact with others in any way—no eye contact, no opening doors for others, and definitely no talking. We were allowed to journal, meditate, and walk, but not read, sleep, shower, or get on our phones (phones were actually in “phone jail” for most of the day, which was awesome). I usually chose journaling. Silent hour was right after Molly’s morning session, so I had a lot to think and write about. And it was absolutely gorgeous out in the woods of North Carolina. Silent hour was very productive and extremely refreshing. I feel like my cabin of introverts excelled at silent hour. [Side note, we had to come up with names for our cabins and ours was Happy Turtles—a very fitting name for a bunch of positive introverts and definitely not flashy. ;)]
Camp definitely had its moments that were out of my comfort zone—being surrounded by bugs, getting dirty, not doing my makeup or hair, being around other people pretty much 24/7, sharing deeply with others, talking in front of a group, dancing sober to music I’d never heard before, and the camp-wide Amazing Race challenge. I’d never watched Amazing Race, so I had no idea what happens on it. We were just told to wear clothes we wouldn’t need for the rest of the trip. It involved some things I was totally comfortable with, like eating a spoonful of hot sauce (others got mayo and cornstarch—ew!), brain teasers, trivia, tossing a water balloon around, and making up a song to the tune of “Give My Regards to Broadway” (what up, my love of Al Jolson coming in handy!). But it also involved spinning around and getting really dizzy (I get dizzy sometimes and I don’t care for it), running around all over the camp (I am so not a runner), and having a “Cupcake of Doom” made out of flour, water, and whipped cream dumped on my head. I actually volunteered for that last one because getting dirty is out of my comfort zone. And guess what? I survived! And the Happy Turtles got second place!
Part of camp was sharing our stories. In our morning sessions with Molly, we could share journal excerpts. At lunch, we sat at tables with different topics like transitions, career, money, dating and sex, etc., and shared with each other. At cocktail hour, we had “story share” in front of the whole camp. Before bed, we had a cabin download with all of our counselors. And in between all that, there was plenty of sharing going on. So many moving, inspiring, and heart breaking stories were shared. I cried and laughed and even shared some of myself. (I did take part of the official story share one night, but it was for comic relief—Shamrock, Suddsy, and I shared our amusing pee and poo stories inspired by the prompt “I’m scared to tell you this . . .” and 1.5 beers on my part.) With every single story I heard, I felt compassion, sympathy, and/or empathy. I was surprised at how many of these women had dealt with issues similar to my own. I felt like I wasn’t alone. I felt completely supported. I felt completely safe opening up.
Photo courtesy Camp Kanuga website

One of the days at camp, we did a ropes course. Or rather, other campers did the ropes course. I chickened out. Before camp, I had been pumped at the thought of a ropes course. I’m not afraid of heights and it sounded like fun. But once I got to the top of the ladder and was facing actually doing the Kitten Whiskers of Doom, I decided I didn’t want to do it. I have intermittent dizziness like I mentioned before, and have had to call in sick to work a couple of times because I couldn't walk straight. I haven’t been diagnosed with vertigo or anything, but something's not right some of the time. In any case, I felt like trying to concentrate on the rope high up in the air and also seeing the ground far below would make me feel dizzy, so I went back down the ladder and refused to try any of the other stations (even though Kitten Whiskers of Doom was one of the harder ones and probably not one to start out with for the ropes course unitiated). Some other ladies opted out too, which was totally cool and I never once thought they were chicken not to go, but I felt like I had seriously chickened out. I wasn’t dizzy at the time, I was just scared of becoming dizzy. I was also scared of looking like an idiot in front of these other women. Meanwhile, Bliss was killing it. Ya-Ya, who wasn’t sure she wanted to go up that high, kicked some ass up there. Tiny Dancer, who btw has a below-knee amputation and a prosthetic leg, not only climbed up an entire rope ladder and crossed a rope to the other side, but did some pull-ups on her way over and leaned gracefully back as they lowered her, like a beautiful aerialist. And then there was Feather, who was terrified of heights, but climbed up that rope ladder like a boss, crying the whole time, but doing it anyway. I really felt bad for not participating. I felt like I had let myself down. But one of the good things about camp was that it taught me how to learn lessons from my experiences more quickly. In olden days, I’d make a mistake, beat myself up for it, try to forget it ever happened, and then make the same mistake again. Over and over. And some of those mistakes weren’t even mistakes, really, they just weren’t what I had planned. Anyway, at camp, I was able to see that me not doing the ropes course meant that I was afraid of what might happen, not what was happening. This was a valuable insight into my behavior. This translates into many areas in my life. Seeing this about myself kinda made skipping out on the ropes course worthwhile.
80s Turtles photo courtesy Cozy; Molly session photo courtesy Stargazer

Other awesome parts of camp that I’d be remiss not to mention that I loooooved were the 80s dance, the wall of love with hearts of heart-felt messages from other campers, morning sessions with Molly, and the final night campfire and dance party! At that final campfire, we each put a nature offering into a bowl of salt, which was then mixed with essential oils. Every camper got a little baggie of it so she could take a piece of her camp sisters with her. I'm going to soak with my camp salts tonight, whilst drinking out of my camp mason jar!
I came away from camp with a lot. I learned that I am never alone. Never. It’s okay to be vulnerable and to have juxtapositions. I can be okay with who I am right now, even if I want to make changes. I have so many new and amazing friends all over the U.S. and Canada, whom I legitimately want to keep in touch with and remain friends with forever. And probably most important on a day-to-day basis, I learned that it’s ooooookaaay!! Whatever it is, it’s okay.

For those of you interested in going to Stratejoy Summer Camp, be sure to get on the mailing list to be notified when tickets for 2016 go on sale. Also, check out my other blog post with some of my tips—stuff that I think would be good to know for first timers or good for me to remember next time I go.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Long Time No See

Musique - "I'll See You in My Dreams" by Matt Berninger
Soooo, I haven't posted since February. Let's just say that I've been busy. Working, writing, traveling, spending all my time on other sites (Pinterest, Tumblr, I even rejoined Facebook). . . .

I don't really plan on blogging here regularly, but I do have a blog post planned for the wonderful Summer Camp trip I took last month. It was life-changing in the best way. :)

So, see you soon. But not often.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What It Feels Like to Lose—SEAHAWKS!!

Musique - "Blue and Green" by T.N.T.
Last year, after the Seahawks won Super Bowl 48, I blogged about how it feels to win. This year, after they lost Super Bowl 49, I feel compelled to blog about how it feels to lose.

Let me just say that I have nothing against the Denver Broncos. I think Peyton Manning seems like a nice guy, and his SNL appearance was hilarious. So, winning against the Broncos last year didn't feel like a triumph over someone else, it just felt like a triumph. I do NOT like the New England Patriots, however. I think Tom Brady seems like an ├╝ber douche, and whatever the facts of the case may be, the whole Deflategate thing is pretty shady. So, had the Seahawks won this year, it would have felt like a triumph over someone.

However, the Seahawks did not win. They lost. :( I really did believe with all my heart that we were going to win. We were SO close. If that last play had ended differently, we totally would have won. However, we lost. It was very disappointing. Very. It didn't seem real. It seemed like a bad dream. However, after the initial shock and disappointment (and maybe a few tears), my thoughts veered back toward the positive. I believe so strongly in the Seahawks that I believe we'll be back in the Super Bowl again. Next year. And the year after that. And so on. I believe they will get up and try again. And keep trying. And succeed sometimes. And fail sometimes. Such is life.

This Super Bowl loss has really put things into perspective for me. I don't feel like the Seahawks are any less awesome because they didn't win. I don't believe their loss reflects poorly upon Seattle or Seahawks fans. It's just what happened. It's just life. You win some, you lose some. So why did winning feel so different? Football is a game and is really meant to be entertainment, but it can get pretty serious. I know it brings out some of my not-so-great qualities. Like how I almost tripped a 49er fan in a bar (I stopped myself because I realized that it was stupid and childish and "What did he ever do to me?"; he was still not very pleased, even though I did not actually trip him). I yell "Suck it, [insert team name or player name here]!" a lot. I mistrust people wearing non-Seahawks jerseys—I furrow my brow and shake my head at them. What?! Why?! Football plays into my "separatist" thinking—there's us and there's them. But that goes against what I really believe, which is that we are all one—there is only us. And that's what losing has made me realize—I can no longer look at football with a separatist view. I must look at it as the entertainment it's meant to be. I must see all fans and players as equal and inherently good (even if it's people like Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, and Clay Matthews, all of whom I've previously wanted to smack in the face, just because). I need to get over myself (and my team) and realize that no one (and no team) is better than any other. We are all equal. We are all good. We are all one.

Football can also be a great life lesson. I plan on blogging in more detail about the wonderful life lessons taught us in the NFC Championship game between the Seahawks and the Packers, but for the sake of brevity here, let's just say that never giving up is a good lesson you can learn by watching football.

So even though I'm going to try to be more inclusive and equal with football from now on, the Seahawks are still my team. They will always be my team. I will always root for them to win (I just won't taunt the other team or its fans). I will always show my enthusiasm, respect, and admiration for them. They arrived home in Washington yesterday, and I wish they had made a bigger deal about it so more people could have been there to welcome them home (like we did to send them off). As it was, yesterday afternoon, I heard honking outside my office window and I looked out to see several Seahawks buses passing down 188th in SeaTac on their way home from the airport. I jumped up and down and waved like a maniac, hoping they could see me, even though I was two stories up. Even though there weren't crowds along 188th like there were for the sendoff, they did have people cheering them home in Renton, close to their practice facility, which was nice. It just shows that Seattle will always love its Seahawks, win or lose.

Long story short, losing kinda sucks, but it's just something you have to go through in life. Losing can spark positive changes, like trying harder or choosing to see the world differently. I'm very grateful for the lesson I learned when the Hawks lost the Super Bowl. I would not have learned it had they won (however, had they won, I'd be celebrating my ass off right now). So, basically, win or lose, it's all good. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

One of My Earliest Novels

Musique - Matterhorn soundtrack
At some point this year, I plan to self-publish the novel I wrote for 2012's NaNoWriMo. To whet your appetite until that happens, and because I wanted to give you a glimpse into what you can expect from my writing, here is one of my earliest novels. This was written thirty years ago after my family's first trip to Disneyland. As you will see, I was highly influenced by the Matterhorn and its Abominable Snowman.
Because I didn't have an editor at the time, and well, I was seven, there are some misspellings and such throughout the book. To preserve its historical significance, I am presenting the book in its original glory. I give you, Night at Switzerland:
Night At Switzerland by Kate Ziemer [Author's note: my first grade teacher could not remember that my name was Adriane, not Andrea, so for a brief period of time, I changed my name to Kate.]
Once ther was an old old woman who knew Evrey thing but about the Night time. the old women said she was so scared that A Abdonable snow man would come.
One Night the old women stayed up All Night and Abdonable snow man came!
The old women set a trap For the Abdonable snowman. And the Abdonable snowman got traped!
The old woman laufted. and said Oh that will take care of you!
The End

When my new novel comes out, I think you will find that even thirty years later, I am still writing strong female characters.
And, outside of my writing, I am still incredibly in love with the Matterhorn and the Abominable Snowman. Especially the little Abominable Snowman that makes popcorn in that popcorn cart in Fantasyland. Seriously. So cute.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I Deleted My Facebook Account

Musique - "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
I deleted my Facebook account today, and here are the reasons why:
Reason five: I got overwhelmed. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in the world. Like just the thought of how many people, places, events, viewpoints, emotions, colors, smells, thoughts, foods, hair salons, animals, things, etc. there are in the Universe overwhelms me to the point where I don't want to do anything. The internet is definitely something that overwhelms me—and Facebook especially. My Facebook friends are posting stuff, the pages I like on Facebook are posting stuff, I'm posting stuff, there are ads and links to news stories and so on and so on. It's too much to handle sometimes. I just wanted to make it all stop.
Reason four: I cannot stand dumb/mean/negative/judgmental/ ignorant comments on posts (and yes, I realize that by me judging these comments thusly, I am being judgmental myself). Reading the comments on an internet article is one of the most frustrating things you can do, and reading comments from strangers (or possibly even people you know) on Facebook is equally aggravating. I get all worked up when I read a comment that irks me, so why should I subject myself to that nonsense? I shouldn't. (I should also learn to not let others opinions irritate me, but that's an issue for another time.)
Reason three: I've developed a Facebook compulsion over the years. I will seriously check it every time I get bored—even if I just checked it five minutes ago and there was nothing new to see. It's a seriously bad habit that I've been unable to break myself of.
Reason two: There's so much drama in the LBC. I'm picky about my Facebook. I only want to be Facebook friends with people that I interact with on a regular basis and/or want to know what they're up to frequently. I hate feeling obligated to be Facebook friends with someone just so I don't hurt their little Facebook feelings. I've been called out, called mean, and had people get mad at me for unfriending people, and I got sick of it. It's my Facebook, and I should be Facebook friends with whomever I want. I have unfriended people for mean or judgmental comments. I've unfriended people who I just didn't interact with on the regular and didn't see the point in having them as a Facebook friend. I've unfriended people from work because I decided to keep my work life and personal life separate. I don't hate or even dislike these people—I just didn't want them on my Facebook. I know you can just unfollow your Facebook friends so you don't see their shit, but they can still see your shit, and sometimes I just don't want that. Besides, I resent the fact that I should have to unfollow the people I don't want to be Facebook friends with in the first place. Fuck all that shit. I've had people unfriend me too, of course. Sure, I might be curious as to why they did it. But hey, there are about a million reasons why they'd unfriend me that have nothing to do with hating me or being mean people, and I don't feel that they owe me any explanation. I did post a lot of pictures of my cats. ;)
And the number one reason why I deleted my Facebook account: I should actually be living my life. I should be appreciating each moment as it happens, not wondering how I'll look when the photos get posted to Facebook, or how something that happened might make an amusing status, or getting upset when no one likes or comments on something I post. Seriously. The internet isn't real life, and I shouldn't treat it as such.
Admittedly, I will miss parts of Facebook—mostly being connected to my friends and family who live in other states and other countries. But hey, they all have my email address and phone number, so hopefully we can catch up that way. I will also miss being friends with the Bouncing Souls. No, not just the band's Facebook account, but the original three members themselves. Greg even commented on one of my pictures once. :D Who knows—perhaps I shall return to Facebook one day, but for now, I'm am SO done with it, and I feel SO good about that!