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Feb. 27th, 2016 @ 04:08 pm Good and bad
The bad in life right now is that I'm still very sick. I've seen lots of specialists. I was afraid the brain surgery (a spinal decompression, technically) needed to happen now. The severe headaches I get from the Chiari are much worse. They still are 2-3 week apart, usually, but when they strike I debate going to the ER every time. I can't cope. But my new neurologist is very proactive and is trying new therapies for that - so we'll see. And the doctors are leaning towards fibromyalgia for the mystery pain/fatigue/awfulness that's on month five. I'm taking 14 different supplements, 3 daily prescriptions, and am on a 100% organic, nutrient dense, gluten-free, paleo, low glycemic, anti-inflammatory diet. I get monthly massage, and use a TENS machine nightly. I also got an exercise bike and manage to eek out 30-45 minutes a night. Maybe those things help a little? Not sure. I go see a naturopath on Tuesday, so we'll add another opinion to the mix. I just want to feel like myself again, and this might be a new normal.
The good is that my kids are awesome and my husband comes home from China tomorrow night. Work is very interesting, and I've been studying implementing content marketing strategies on Chinese social platforms. I love learning new things. I'm still working on the novel and I love it more and more as I go along. I'm going to St. Croix for my birthday and hopefully will snorkel with sea turtles. I'd rather have experiences than things. I'm hoping I'm not too sick to enjoy the trip - rather, I'm hopeful I'm on the mind.
Even with the sickness, I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I like my life. I wouldn't change it. That's a good feeling.
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me in my orange shirt
Jan. 28th, 2016 @ 10:42 am EBV, YA, ETC
I have been sick since my wedding and it is awful. Started as a cold, turned into pain, evolved finally into crushing fatigue. I tested positive for Epstein Barr, and it could be that. Or it could be "Chronic Fatigue" according to my doctor, since they can't figure out why I'm so tired I can't cope. The stress of moving and planning a wedding (although in truth, the wedding wasn't that stressful for me because I delegated) has triggered some latent condition in my body. I'm trying my best and I'm lucky - I have a very supportive husband and have better financial means that I ever have, so I can afford organic meal delivery services, high quality supplements, alternative practitioners for second opinions, etc. But, so far, I'm not improving. I'm frustrated. I can't do the simplest thing, like cook a meal. It actually makes me cry in frustration, but I'm trying not to wallow. I'll find a way out of this. It's harder to find a way out when you're totally flat, but I still know I will. Baby steps. It's hard for me to let go of my responsibilities. I hate having to miss work, but decided to take a few more days for pure rest. It's all I can do right now. Which is the SUPER awful part for me. I'm a planner and a launcher-into-wellness-programs to soothe my mental health. I like feeling like I'm DOING something, so when I must do nothing, rest, to heal - it's so hard.
The happy part of this? My life is good otherwise, and I'm even having inspiration somehow and managing to write a little nearly daily on the YA book. It's cool. It's more than cool. Writing fantasy is kind of hallucinogenic. So I'm escaping from the part of the world that's not awesome (fatigue land) into an awesome where my imagination runs at a full gallop. Maybe not a full gallop. I used to bang out 2000 words a day easy, and if I get 500 now, I'm more than pleased.
The other thing making me happy is reading. I'm a reading fool.
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me in my orange shirt
Nov. 8th, 2015 @ 11:49 am Everything
Big general update on life:

I got married and all the cliche stuff about it being the happiest day of your life? It pretty much was true in my case. I had a fair bit of nerves, because we'd planned so long, and I'd put a lot of energy (and money) into the wedding. I never thought it would be as amazing as it was. After all the planning and dreaming - all I could see was my groom waiting for me, and really felt like we were the only two people around. Amazing and magical.

We went to Alaska for a week long honeymoon and it opened up something in my heart - the drama of the landscape. A person could live and die just watching the low clouds change the color of the dark mountains and studying the quality of the light. We stayed in a little cabin overlooking the harbor in Seward. Almost daily we saw the exploits of a humpback whale who'd decided to stay quite close to shore, delighting even the locals. There's something wonderful about standing next to a clear and cold, prohibitively deep bay and watching a whale surface 10 feet in front of you. Remarkable.

Back home I'm wondering about how to let go of more. Slow down even more. Take on even less. I have a job that demands a lot of my creativity, which is so terribly delicate. I have to forgive myself when there's nothing left. It's hard.

I'm starting to understand something about myself, about my delayed reactions to things. I feel so deeply that I isolate feelings and project them onto other things not seemingly related. That's important to understand. It's important to understand our motives, and when we are or aren't being honest and rational. If I'm trying to quell feelings by stuffing them down (literally or metaphorically) why? What am I protecting myself from? Because I'm safe.

I'm working on a novel again, slowly. Ever so slowly. Because see above note on slowing down. I'm cooking in my fantastic new kitchen, which I am grateful for whenever I'm in it. I've planted a garden, though it's touch and go. Gardening makes you humble. It's not all up to you - sometimes a cloud of aphids will undo what you've done.

Everything I thought I'd never write about is turning into the only thing I'm interested in writing about. Connection, people, domestic life, small small small worlds. Although, on occasion at work, I'll be reading a Chinese folk myth that's so strangely constructed and wonder how to bring some of that oddity into the work.

I'm lucky. Life is wonderful. Sometimes I still feel sad, because my feeling muscles are super strong. Today I'll listen to the radio, make some soup, focus on just being.
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me in my orange shirt
Jun. 2nd, 2015 @ 07:57 am Being Myself
I think my socialization was like many girls - be nice to others. And I think my socialization, or maybe my family dynamics, made it NOT okay to be angry. At least, at others. I had to be "nice." Somewhere along the way, I turned the anger on myself. In my late 20s, I realized that didn't work for me anymore. I didn't want to be angry at myself. Through therapy I safely explored feeling letting go of that anger I'd had that I turned inward on myself, and I did a pretty good job at learning to feel it and it let it go.
A few months ago, I realized maybe I wasn't doing the best job overall managing my emotions. Issues with my teenage kids were there and needed to be adjusted to, the complex feelings surrounding my impending marriage and all the change that means for the rest of my life, just lots of things. I decided to find a therapist.
I like therapy. I like having an objective person point out patterns for me. I can choose to change them or not, but once it's pointed out, for me it's so much easier to change.
My goal right now is to have less 'rules.' I tend to appear to be a free spirit, but in truth, I have always given my life lots of rules because I crave order. So rather than seeking an arbitrary order by making rules to feel control, I'm experimenting with less rules. Control helps the anxiety I feel, but it also heightens the anxiety I feel, because philosophically I know control is illusory. And so, part way through this experiment, I'm learning that letting go is no more anxiety inducing for me than a million rules.
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me in my orange shirt
Jun. 1st, 2015 @ 07:17 am Good days
No matter what happens with our actual living situation (move or stay here) we know that within the next year we'll be buying a house. If we move, we'll be buying a smaller house than we would here. I'm very attracted to minimalism as a lifestyle. I've been downsizing over the last year or so. And I have seasonal capsule wardrobes of 37 or so pieces each, probably since last summer.
A few weeks ago, I read a book called "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. It's absolutely the best. Her thoughts on ridding your house of what you no longer need and keeping only what "sparks joy" made a very deep mark on me. I went through my office and threw away bags and bags of papers, including all my printed manuscripts of my previous work. And all of my old journals. It was time to let go. I feel so free after having done so, that's almost hard to explain. We've donated 3 or 4 SUV loads of clothes, housewares, and furniture to my favorite local charity. And that's after having been regular purgers already. I can't imagine how dramatic following the plan in the book would be for someone who had more stuff accumulated.
The biggest shift or "life-changing magic" for me has been more room for creativity. Walking from room to room with stuff in order and everything contained in its own place, I just feel more peaceful and able to focus more.
That's just one change I've made with this go around of a 'project push.' That's what I think of it as, gathering the creative energy to write a long manuscript. It takes a lot of energy, and a sustained energy. I think that's one reason it's vital to write what you care about. Without conviction, very hard to see a longform story through, and it sucks to abandon them.
Writing this, I've been in my quiet office. The only thing I heard for a long time were birdsongs, and I watched a pair of cardinals playing on the palm trees in the yard. They've flown off, and now a garbage truck is making its way down the street now, loud and mechanized.
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me in my orange shirt
May. 31st, 2015 @ 11:22 am New novel, China, New Nephew, etc
I started a new novel and one way I free myself up to write fiction is to journal directly before writing. I have decided to resurrect that habit electronically, rather on paper.
I'm about to start a crazy month. June 2015 will be a whirlwind. My therapist also thinks journalling probably is my best technique at thwarting anxiety (writing about uncertainty can frame and contextualize, to help prevent needless worry that comes by bundling real concerns into a perma-snarl).
Next weekend I fly to Colorado to visit my sister and new nephew. He'll be two weeks old when I arrive. I'll see the Rockies, too, I guess. That's very cool.
Before that I have a major conference call on a new park we're working on, this one with a world fairy and folk-tales theme. It's so much fun, but hard. As chief writer/researcher, I feel big pressure to pull this off with sensitivity and respect for the diverse cultures we're proposing to represent. It's challenging, in a great way.
I fly to China on the 20th. I'm slightly nervous and I'm sure I'll write more about it (as I ease into making journalling a daily practice).
The biggest uncertainty on the horizon: my fiance was headhunted by the very best company in our industry for a major executive role. It's his absolute dream job. He's 75% through their vetting process, and within a few weeks we might have an offer on the table. There's nothing that sounds bad about that, EXCEPT it means a cross-country relocation. I'll be able to fly my kids back and forth to visit, but it isn't ideal. I like being nearer to them. They are getting much older (college sophomore not in the same city anyway, rising high school junior, and rising 8th grader) but still. My fiance is much older (I think I've written about this) and this is one of those, once-in-a-lifetime kind of things. This opportunity wouldn't be available to him in even five years. So we'll see. We'll follow our hearts, talk to the kids, try to figure it out. IF he's selected. I can't imagine living in Southern California yet. Too strange. But everything is figureoutable.
When I write about my life here, in this place where I used to write such sad and small stuff, I thank God and my lucky stars that I respected that light inside my heart that said choose joy, choose health, choose love.
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me in my orange shirt
Dec. 28th, 2014 @ 10:41 am What will 2015 Bring?
You can't know what the future brings, though I'm planning for so much this upcoming year. I don't make resolutions anymore, not really, because I like myself and don't need to radically change. The things I want to tweak are generally small and behavioral, and can be altered by better habits.
Here are areas I know will be part of my focus this year, and I think I'll later enjoy looking back on this, as 2015 closes.
1. October 3, 2015. I'm getting married to the love of my life. He's a quiet, steady, wonderful partner who brings out the best in me. The wedding will be intimate, solemn, and formal. We'll marry in the church we attend, then have a reception at a local historic home and garden. As a perfectionist and former event planner, I need to let go of detail control and just enjoy this day. It's not a pageant, it's a new beginning (repeat to self, over and over!). It's so wild to be getting married again. I'm glad I'm doing it as a fully formed woman who knows herself, her dreams, and her reality.
2. Finishing the YA book. I've been working on a new book for months, and it's going well. This year, I want to get a draft finished, edited, and submitted. I find it much more pleasant to write than the lit fiction I was having some success with. It started to feel really hollow.
3. Health. 2014 was a year of strange health problems. Auto-immunity, burnout, etc. I've already made huge strides and feel ready to flourish. I've eliminated gluten (for good), most dairy, poor quality processed foods, almost all sugars, high-carbohydrate foods, alcohol, and many other things. I'm starting to feel much better as a result.
4. Kids. Josephine is doing well at college. She's her own woman. I have to work to deepen a relationship with her as an adult. Jack is struggling with motivation and being 16. I need to be tolerant of him. Whit is 12 and at the end of the adorable boyhood ready to drop into puberty, and all the (ultimately good) change that brings. Motherhood isn't easy, but it is rewarding.
5. Simplicity. This year is about less. Donating things I don't need or use. Buying only really high-quality stuff I want forever. Minimizing whenever I'm able.

So 2015. More tea, more reading, more quiet, more writing, more softness and comfort. Less worry, less rigidity, less negativity or comparison. I am lucky. I have a wonderful life. I'm grateful. So even, more of the same 2015, would be just fine.
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me in my orange shirt
Apr. 12th, 2013 @ 11:48 am Spring 2013
I never thought my life could match my vision for it, until one day, I did believe it. Then I made it so. Now, I'm the grown lady I dreamed of being, and it feels as good as I imagined it would. My favorite thing about getting older is making better choices.

Growing my business continues to occupy me. I’m grateful to work for myself. It’s very satisfying to build a satisfied customer base. Trying out new project types is very enriching as well. By working hard and applying myself, I’m making a solid living on my own terms. That’s freeing.

I’ve been working seriously on repairing my health. Years of making odd food choices have left me a little tattered, plus, I’m not getting any younger. I made a switch to a modified Paleo diet in January and with the exception of a couple of spectacular fails, I’ve come to easily accept these drastic dietary changes into my lifestyle. Do I miss gluten and sugar, diet coke, energy drinks . . . yes, sometimes. But I don’t miss feeling sick, having undulating blood sugar levels, and a growing malaise. What you put in your mouth makes a difference, so chose wisely.

My birthday gift to myself is an intensive 11 day bootcamp and nutrition program. When I was single, I’d gotten serious about my running habit. I lived in a dangerous neighborhood and after getting followed once in the early morning by a creepy guy in a van, I joined a gym. I’d run on the treadmill and listen to old soul music. I felt like Murphy Brown. When Bruce and I started dating, I ran regularly, and had a stretch when I got back into longer runs. We even ran together around the lake we lived across from, downtown. But in mid-2012, I had serious skin problems (both hormonal ones and yeast ones - ick) and sweat made the problem much worse. I backed of running, walked some, but I miss it. I think the skin problems are under control, so this jumpstart program back into physical health is the greatest give I can give myself.

Bruce continues to be a source of love and comfort. His kindness and unfaltering support help me continue to grow. His belief in me allows me to be braver than I’ve ever been. If there’s one bit of advice I could give myself or anyone else, really, it’s this: love a person who is exactly what you need now and who gives their love freely. If you’re hoping that somebody is going to grow up and become the person you need and you excuse their selfish or unloving behavior all the while, you do yourself a huge disservice. The first step to finding healthy love is knowing that you’re worthy of it, exactly right, from this moment on. That kind of a partnership is very mutual, one of two best selves striving to be even better, and so very rewarding.

I’m publishing some now. One story pending soon, and I’m short-listed for another, so we’ll see. I don’t send much, even, but I think my writing is so much stronger now, that I feel far more confident. However, what I want to SAY has changed. I’m still not writing as much new material as I could be, but I’m finding peace with that.

I love decorating the house, bit by bit. It’s fun to see it all come together.

My children are a joy, though one a step removed. The helplessness of that I can’t change, so I do what I can. I spend as much time as possible with them, and love them. We see each other at least twice weekly now and I love that. They’re wonderful and flawed, real little humans.

I try to push negativity out of my life now. The dark thoughts in your head are just that, thoughts. You make the decision to stop thinking them. That’s powerful stuff, and it is truly all it takes, though easier said than done. However, it is worth that to believe and understand the impact of that: you are in control of your own thoughts.

This summer I’ll go to the beach, I’ll walk under the moon, eat lazy dinners on the porch. I’ll work hard, write as much as I can, and keep dreaming.
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me in my orange shirt
Oct. 11th, 2012 @ 09:38 am How Wonderful!
I loved that so many of my Livejournal friends are still here, active, and posted responses to my last entry. My other blog is http://www.rachelleonakapitan.com/craft-blog.html though I've been remiss in updating since work is so busy!

I think I'm going to keep posting here for awhile. It's a private and confessional space, and it's good for breaking blocks and ruts. So you'll probably see me around a little. Also, I am on Facebook -Rachel Leona Kapitan - if you want to friend me there. I like staying in touch. Many of you I've been reading on and off for ten or more years, since the Hip Mama days.

It's so good to feel connected to people, even those you have never met face-to-face.
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me in my orange shirt
Oct. 9th, 2012 @ 04:22 pm Weirdly home
It's been a long, long time since I've even thought about writing here. I keep a public blog now, but I want to write about things that I don't really want read by people I know in daily life. I can hardly remember when I wrote here last. But I think it was before I met Bruce.

I wrote in this journal mainly through the last years of my marriage, in 2005 and 2006. In 2008 I was divorced. I lived with another writer for almost two years, but he was a drunk and crazy, and it didn't work in the end. In 2010, I dated around, wrote a whole bunch, and watched my life transform. Actually, I transformed my life. I started by being the person I wanted to be, living like I was where I wanted to be already. Things feel into place.

I worked for a tea shop for awhile. It was chill and easy for the first year. Then I became their event planner, and it lost its charm. Or I lost my charm with it. I loved the details of successful event planning, but didn't like the weekends, or the pressure, or the not enough compensation.

Around the same time I got into the event planning, I met somebody special. We met at an art gallery where my poems were on display. He came up and started talking to me about art and I was about to blow him off, when I looked at him, and something clicked. Just like that. And for almost two years, since January of 2011, we've been inseparable. He's 24 years older, not a writer or even a reader, is not like anyone I'd ever thought I'd be with, and I can't imagine life without him.

Since we've been together, my personal odyssey continued. I'm still trying to find my way as a writer. I quit the underpaid job at the teashop last year, started freelancing, and now am making double what I've ever made before as a communications officer for a startup. It's dry writing and it takes a lot of my creative energy for no good use, but it's more money than I've ever made and it helps me to accomplish some of my larger goals. It's hard to feel free when you're broke.

We've travelled the world together. We took an amazing trip to eastern Europe. I saw Prague, Bavarian towns, sailed the Danube, went through Austria, ended up in Budapest. It was life-changing, really. Seeing so much of the world changed how I felt.

I lost my grandmother last year, and her death still hits me sometimes, the temporary nature of things. I held her cold body in the funeral home and felt her love, from wherever it is a soul goes. Love doesn't leave us.

My partner and I moved into together last year. We live in one of the nicest buildings downtown in Orlando, overlooking the iconic lake and fountain its center. I've walked to the park, to the library, to get coffee - it's been a dream. To say we live a charmed life is an understatement. My worries are often small or self-made. I'm very comfortable and happy, which is almost an oddity if you haven't had those things.

He's an architect working mainly in China, so he travels there frequently. I'm going with him one of these days. He's smart and kind, the best man I've ever met. His kindness has allowed a softer part of me to emerge, and that's strange too. I thought I'd write books about grit and terror, then my life went the opposite of that, to sweetness and light. I've had a bit of an identity crisis as a writer on that.

I'm on the Board of Directors of a writing charity now. I volunteer, have many wonderful friends from that. I love what I am able to do in the community.

My children are doing well. My daughter is a chronic overachiever whose giftedness has been her blessing and curse. She lives with her grandmother and is too busy to believe. She is funny, smart, conflicted, brave, and amazing. She was lucky enough to travel to Europe in June, all around Western Europe. She's going back to Spain and Portugal in November, and Italy in April. Her sixteen years have been interesting.

My boys are a constant source of delight. I see them weekly now, with more consistency than I've been able to since the divorce. I was able to afford bass lessons for my youngest, the first time I could swing such a thing. We go out for Thai or Pho on Tuesday nights and I marvel at the little men I made.

This weekend my partner and I are moving into a new home. It's bigger than any I've lived in, and nicer. We talk about furnishing it, dream about the future, and are happy in the present. What's different, I ask myself, from the me of 6 years ago, lost and aching? I didn't change, not at all, in who I was. I've always been kind and loved people, wanted to do the best. The thing I stopped doing was the self-talk that crippled me. No, you aren't a real writer. No, you aren't a good mother. No, you aren't beautiful. No, you aren't a good person. I stopped. When I start it now, the inklings of it, I stop. I ask the same of the people I surround myself with, too - that they are positive. And it works, little by little.

Nothing's perfect. I still have faults. I struggle from time to time, but that's life. I've learned to focus on more than the thing in front of me. This morning, in bed, B ran his fingers over my shoulders, and said he wanted to pamper me every day of my life. I feel the same about him. It's so good to share that kindness and love with someone. But it isn't the love that makes things okay - it's that I was okay that I could live with and accept this love. I almost didn't. I almost threw it away. But I've learned the hard way enough. I'm ready for the easier.

I like thinking about my life in context, which I've always done here, in this space. I like where I am, on this day, ready for more beautiful adventures.
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me in my orange shirt