Join me as iShimmy and Shake Things Up – Zaina’s Zany Point of View

I have been gone, but now I am back. A bit of a cliché but true.  Admittedly, it has been odd not sitting at the computer these last few years pounding out a review, or story with a looming deadline hanging over my head. Over the years I have written not only for dance publications, as well as owned my own magazine, (iShimmy.com, The Belly Dancer Magazine), but I also dabbled outside that realm. I knew early on in my life I enjoyed writing and as luck would have it, nearly every company I have ever worked for sat me at the helm of their company newsletter. That seat has clearly helped develop the zany writer I have become.

Since I write, pretty much just like I talk you may have to cover your ears (or eyes) every now and again. I have never shied away from the use of a descriptive four-letter word, or two or three. Now I am not talking about those benign words our language is fraught with, but rather those gritty words that raise people’s eyebrows, or give some the vapors. And, I am apparently in tandem with “the times” as they say because recent studies show the use of those wonderfully colorful words are actually a sign of intelligence. I did pass the Mensa test after all – apparently not that I needed to take the silly thing, especially if just cursing could have shown my intelligence. The articles I have read go on to further site those who curse as being loyal, honest and forthright. The last three adjectives are accusations I have personally lived with for a good many years, sometimes to my own demise.

But I digress, and I will occasionally (this is your only warning). When you see those colorful words just remember I am just being really smart and no doubt very honest. And, yes I know, sentence structure and English 101 rules are broken as I write, but I don’t really care. At least my written and spoken words are not fraught with, you-know and like at the beginning of every sentence. And the only additional codification to my writing is, “I write about what I experience as me”. Basically, this is me-telling-you, about what it was like being me, seeing from my own eyes, in the moment of the experience. Capiche?

Back to where I have been. It started with the death of my dear friend Oberon, which really rocked my world and in so many ways. On the heels of this came the relentless onslaught from my sister and mother.   More lies, hate and discontent (LHD-remember this acronym because I will use it often) than anyone should suffer at the hands of family. But that is a story for another day, and when I am less angry. And I don’t need a therapist to tell me it is all right for me to say “I am angry”, I am an Aries after all. I may share a chapter or two of that story as time goes on, but I have lots more fun and important things to share first.

At the same time all of this was happening I was working in the worst and most demanding job I have had in 45 years; suffering bullying, harassment and plain old hate and discontent.   I should have left much sooner than I did but, I was left with little time or emotional energy to look for another job. And according to the agreement I signed I am not supposed to discuss the details of my departure, but I can tell you what serious ass hats some of the individuals I worked along side are. That said, the lesson is; take a cut in pay, drive a little further and work a job you “like” rather than stay where you are miserable every damned day you walk through the workplace front door. And I did that for two and a half years, when no one else in my position had survived (so they told me) even a year. Complacency is not your friend in this scenario because like a husband who beats you, they only hit you harder the next time and so on. Tanks, haters, and mean people should have no place in your life. You’re welcome.

There are other stressful events over the last few years that will go unmentioned here but suffice-to-say by the end of 2014 my creative and articulate sides seemed to systematically shut down, one horrific stressor, henna application, and panic attack, at a time. But while she is no longer in my life, if my Mother taught me anything, it was how to survive. I have taught myself how to come back out of the darkness, how to rise from the fire and how to thrive in what is often a burning briar patch.

Writing was not the only thing that I have not been able to do. I could neither emotionally nor physically keep up with my dance career. Dance is what has always relieved stress and emotional and physical fatigue – for over 40 years it kept me upright and feeling whole. But, my body was no longer cooperating, pain was at times too intense and the emotional cesspool accumulating was blocking any creative thought or movement. Then there was the added weight (literally and figuratively) and wretched feeling of no longer fitting in to the dance scene (or my costumes) because I could not participate at the level I always had in the past. And when you participate at that level the community still has that same level of expectation. It is disappointing to not see you at events and then there is speculation in the “not knowing why” you are absent. I had gone from teaching five times a week, dancing locally several times a month, and flying around the country teaching and performing at events many times each year – to being lucky to work with troupe once a week and dance once a year. My troupe and dedicated students and dance peers thankfully refused to give up on me and just kept pushing me along anyway. It seemed they would take me anyway they could get me. I am grateful for them.

I am also grateful for my children and grandchildren who have watched much of this, and at times been drug into the LHD from my mother and sister, often not knowing what else to do except to tell me they love me. I am lucky in that. I am blessed to have their support, although I know at times it has been very hard on them.

All this said, after the court case was over in 2015, I was still not rebounding.   I was trying to look for work in the spring, but my health and stamina were just not there. As already mentioned one of my better characteristics is rebounding, so what was wrong with my rebound switch and why was I so fatigued? And, if I was so damned tired, why couldn’t I sleep?

I wondered how much was due to my age, which seems to be the first excuse the Doc gives you, right? The next thing blamed is peri-post-menopause. Admittedly, some of it really is age, but ultimately, three years of this onslaught of stress and daily need for “flight or fight” led to the failure of my adrenal glands. Vitamin D level was incredibly low, but my thyroid, which had failed years earlier was functioning thanks to the daily pig thyroid replacement I was taking. But for me anything that has the word failure in it is simply not acceptable. The Doc told me I was “in a danger zone” and I absolutely had to offload some stress.

Thank Goddess I was not yet laying in the corner in the fetal position, wrapped up in a blanket with my thumb in my mouth. Okay, well, maybe I did have my blanket in hand as I stood staring, longingly at the corner. But since I am not a quitter I turned around, put one foot in front of the other and tried trudging away from that fucking dark corner.

Then I was told, again by the Doc, “time heals all”. But here is the reality for me; when you’re 60, you don’t have “time” to waste on liars, bullshitters, haters, sociopaths or any other pathological disordered ass hat. And I considered this adrenal failure to be in the same category – I didn’t have time for it. With age, you realize the best commodity is in fact TIME, and I didn’t and still don’t intend to waste another minute of it.

But back to that diagnosis, which led to me getting seriously pissed off, well as pissed-off as those failing adrenals and lack energy would allow. I start taking back pieces of my life. With some assistance for the adrenals I was slowly getting a little of my former strength back. The job bull shit came to a head in June, well, really in April when I came to work with Henna on my hands and was sent home for having tattoos and breaking the coveted but archaic (IMHO) dress code. I resigned in June, and finally left the job in November. Why November, if I resigned in June? This I can talk about. As it turns out, I was harder to replace than they may have thought. Not enough applicants had them asking me to stay longer; until they found a replacement. Still being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel was as though the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. So I should have been feeling better right? November should have been celebratory, and it was in part.

Then in December 2015 the pain came again; muscles cramping, joints, aching, too hot all the time, the days I could barely lift myself out of a chair, the internal vibration, couldn’t stand clothes touching me, rashes on my rashes, brain fog, RLS, etc. etc. I have been going through some of this for the last five or so years, but usually one of those symptoms at a time, not everything at once. And this round was worse than ever and it was just “different”. The intensity was frightening. What was happening?

Diagnosis:

Well, the words that had been uttered – considered so many years ago, that, a) I didn’t really believe and b) I have tried so desperately to ignore and like everything else, just work through was rearing its big fat ugly head.  I was told in December I have FM, Fibromyalgia, and it was apparently hitting me like a full on freight train at high speed.  After years of stress that I could not get away from had become the beast.

Sweeping it under the carpet and ignoring it was not going to work this time. And neither was taking a pill or combination of several as was suggested to deal with the discomfort and pain, at least not in my book. I have watched my mother take various drugs, sometimes anything they would give her for pain with no consideration for addiction or side effects. And I have no intention of going down that same road to finish my life barely able to move or think rationally. Bottom line – NOTGUNDOIT.

There are good days and bad days and again, the best medicine is and always has been my kids and grandkids, dance, writing and friends. I am choosing a different path.  I am working, so medical Mary Jane is not an option. When I was diagnosed, to get me on my feet, a short dose of prednisone, a trip across country (has anyone else ever fainted on a plane?) and spending time in a warmer, dryer climate seemed to be the kick in the pants my body needed.  That was December.

In January and February there were conversations with a Naturopath, an Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist, and Chiropractor.  Between them all, I have some great options – drugs not being one of them. Cutting out gluten, large amounts of dairy, getting back to fast walking a couple miles a day, a stand up desk, and dancing are the life changes that are making a huge difference. Now that I am not working in a bad environment, but rather an encouraging one in which I am surrounded by, caring, kind people, I am left with more time for me to take better care of me. And while I am not functioning yet at 100%, and may never be there again, I will happily settle for 99% any day of the week, with a few at 50% functionality – here or there.

The Flood:

All that said, over these last 3 – 4 years I have taken copious notes, so I am finishing the written words from there. In time I will mention some of the crap I dealt with, or maybe even the loss of my mother, but for now, it is important only to know where my current attitude comes from – a place of death, destruction and disappointment. For 45 years people have referred to me as THE PHOENIX and it appears this is another “rising”.  The talons are out, the wings are spread far and wide, and the beak will be moving fast and furiously, not out of anger, but out of that good old Aries style impatience. I have much to say and it seems the floodgates have blown open, so the sharing of story begins, one silly or serious event at a time.

So, sit down, or stand up, but strap in because, I’m back and iShimmy a story, a tale, a review, an event, or a DIY for you.