Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year New Goals

I want to amend this year's belly dance goals. Not only do I want to work on form, technique, and flexibility, I want to be confident that starting in January 2014, that I'll be good enough to compete in at least one intermediate-level dance competition and kick butt. And with the help of Michelle, Jamie, and Amina, I see that as a real possibility. Not to mention what I've so far learned from Kelsey, Mecha, Thia, Kitty, and the fabulous workshops I've attended and plan to attend have contributed greatly.

The strengths I believe I bring to belly dancing, so far, are 
  • a desire to learn new techniques and props, 
  • exploring what I can do with those techniques and inventing new moves, 
  • a love of the audience, 
  • energy in form, and 
  • the capability to improvise.

I need to start doing the following:

  • Work through my existing belly dance videos, focusing on technique and form,
  • Find and study belly dance videos of artists I would love to emulate,
  • Carve out improvisational time to randomly selected music,
  • Three times weekly instruction: 2 troupes and one technique, and 
  • Find some flexibility training and add it and meditation to my private practice. 
The virus better give up soon, because starting tonight I am making Thursdays BD DVD night. I have had a video for a year and a half titled Rough Guide to Belly Dance (2nd Edition). She has some flexibility as well as technique on the video. Well, tonight, Mama's going to get busy and start dedicating an hour every Thursday to this DVD until I complete it. I will be flushing out the rest of my schedule on a day by day basis, but for now, it's going to be:

  • Monday: Intermediate/Advanced technique class with Michelle Sorenson
  • Tuesday: Azalea performance troupe with Mayada.
  • Wednesday: Fusion choreography troupe with Amina
  • Thursday: BD DVD night, starting with Rough Guide to Belly Dance (2nd Edition).

Tomorrow, I'll probably start hunting down the first belly dance performance on line that I would love to emulate.

Hugs and Blessings,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Belly Dance Decision

When I was between 2 and 4, we lived in Ismir, Turkey. My father was in the Air Force and he had recently returned from his tour of duty in Thailand. It was the first foreign country I had traveled to, having moved to New Mexico from Maine, shortly after I was born.

The air was rich with culture. You could walk down the cobblestone streets and go from radio to radio playing music, overlapping in cacophony as you left the zone of one person and entered the zone of another.

In the evenings, a man would climb one of the minarets and chant out the call to prayer. The whole scene was both overwhelming to the senses and mesmerizing. We stayed in one of the hotels when we first moved to the city.

The hotel provided evening entertainment by way of belly dancers, young women who were working for their dowry. One of the women was so fluid, graceful and flexible, it was like watching the most beautiful serpent dance. She also was able to balance a candelabra on her belly. She must have noticed my studied gaze, because she started asking my mother if she could take me up to her room while she practiced.

I vaguely remember a room filled with rugs and knick knacks, and on the coffee table in front of the divan where I sat was a silver platter with Turkish pastries. I couldn't get enough of her. Something in me craved to move like she did, becoming at one with the music. When I asked my mother later if I danced in a more male or female style when I was little, she said, mysteriously, "You just got it."

We left Turkey when I was 4 and moved to Germany, where I would spend my next 4 years. Even though Germany had good traditional music, which we discovered while we were touring, it didn't seem to call my soul to dance; but the food was great.

And so, dance slipped out of my life until I was 16 in Texas and panicking over my prom. My Mom, who had taken the opportunity with my Aunt and our next door neighbor to study belly dancing while we lived in Michigan, showed me some couples steps and encouraged me to dance without holding hands, as was now becoming vogue.

And so dance awakened was again in me, and with my love of music, I couldn't get enough, although I was afraid of formalized dance instruction and choreography for the next 26 years. I married at 28, and the dancing became very subdued. My soul was crying out for more, until we separated and I moved to Kentucky. There, a woman I met invited me to a free swing dance lesson. Over the next 10 months, I worked my way into twice a week lessons and was hanging out with the swing dance crowd. Before I left Kentucky to pursue a job in Utah, another friend was selling her red baladi belly dance skirt, and I took the opportunity to buy it for her half of what it's actually worth.

I met my new best friend Robin where I now work when I first started working there. I went to an event at my church where she was selling some of her photos. On the next table over was a coin hip scarf in the same color as my skirt. It didn't take much longer until I was 20 dollars lighter in my wallet and the proud owner of the beautiful scarf.

At work the next day, I mentioned my find to a friend in the break room, and she showed me the list in her hand of available continuing education fitness classes. At the top of the list was a Belly Dance Fundamentals class. She, I, and 4 other girls signed up for the class. When I saw the syllabus on the first day of class, I almost freaked out: we were expected to learn a choreography in the last few weeks of class.

While the class continued on, my instructor invited me to various Belly Dance shows, and one of those was the day long Spring Fest, hosted by Thia. There, my body couldn't stop moving to the music, and I met Kitty Screwfoot, and a few people that would ultimately become my teachers. Kitty is now my mentor, and my first instructor wound up taking me private.

While I was at Spring Fest, I found this red sequined top that matched my skirt and hip scarf for only 50 dollars. Later I returned to the same merchant and committed myself to belly dancing by purchasing a beautiful brown costume that came with a bra, belt, skirt and veil for 250 dollars. It was a tough decision to make, but I haven't regretted it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Worlds Apart

We all travel this universe,
Content to our own worlds,
Wondering why
We never meet
Someone new
Someone who
Will rock our world apart.

How can we meet
Someone who've
We've never met
When we stay within
Our own bubbles?

The answer lies
Where worlds collide
Crossing the cosmic gap.

Love does not wait to be found
It is a pulsating energy
Invading the worlds that surround.
A bold adventuress
Making her presence known
Lighting up a room
Leaving behind a dance
To the rhythms of the
Strange, exotic place.

Ecstasy is born
Where the exotic meet
And overlap
Pulsing and feeding one to the other.

If you have not yet found love
In your own world
Seek another
Or make it larger.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Insurance and Mammograms

This week a New Jersey transgender woman, finally convinced Aetna to cover her mammogram after two years of rejections. I saw someone post that this sense of gender identity being separate from sex has only been with us for 40 years.

Here I must disagree with them. Magnus Hirschfeld encountered transgender people who knew their gender identity was separate from their physical sex and could not change how they felt. The Nazi's destroyed his offices, burning them to the ground, and added his patients to their list of undesirables. It was not just jews who were sent to concentration camps.

Before Hirschfield, at the turn of the last century, some the world's first sociologists visited the Zuni tribe to discover that 1 in 300 people lived in the gender role not consistent with their anatomy, a rate that is fairly universally consistent even today. Our budding nation pretty much wiped the Zuni out.

The Zuni were not the only Native Americans who had trans people living in their midst. The early explorers from Europe found them honored in the tribes under such appellations as the Berdache. The Spanish found their existence against their religion and proceeded to wipe them out, mutilating them before exterminating them. The whole Native American culture was almost completely exterminated and the remainder forced to live under other people's religions. Those who have returned to the old ways, recognize the two-spirit among them and honor them today.

There were Indo-European priestesses who drank the urine of pregnant mares in order to feel more at home in their own bodies.

It's only in the last 40 years that the rate of massacre has dropped off to allow some trans people to live.

Science is showing, and has shown that trans-identified people have a different brain structure than cis-identified people; in fact, their brain aligns more with the gender they claim to be than otherwise. The impact on the brain is that the neural circuity at birth is pre-wired to develop as the gender that does not reflect the genitals they carry. In addition, until hormone treatment is started, the presence of testosterone on a female mind and the presence of estrogen on a male mind cause severe emotional crises, from chronic anxiety to chronic depression. Hormone treatment actually make the person more productive in society. And because estrogen develops breast tissue, those who are on it will grow breasts, which will need care.

We are complex organisms. Even the the birth process is complex. A strange phenotype or external hormones added; a genetic failure or mutation; there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of ways that a child can be born intersex; and if the hormone levels are not right or a testicle doesn't work, or a gland doesn't work, or the hormone receptors don't work; you wind up with someone who's brain structure doesn't match the body they're born in.

I ought to know. I am an undiagnosed intersex woman. In 1974, the military doctors sent me to a specialist to correct a dilated urinary bladder and perform a minor hypospadias repair. I also had an undescended testicle that would cause me severe abdominal pain on an almost monthly basis before making its appearance each and every month. I also had signs that I had some form of endometrial tissue at that age, and through the rest of my life, even though I didn't understand the implications.

I felt wrong in my body, and I knew from a tender age that I expected female genitalia. I also had difficulty hanging with boys and felt absolutely comfortable with the girls. Because I had no idea on how to get help, I lived under the testosterone-induced chronic anxiety until I was in my early 40s and had a wife and two children, both girls. What I saw as the problem would not go away.

I started counseling and, seeing no other way to inner peace, began a trial with hormone therapy. While I lost my family as a result, it quite literally saved my life. The anxiety had gone on for so long that I was quite suicidal.

Everything gradually improved in my life as I embraced who I was instead of fighting it. Eventually I had surgery, and thinking that it might be covered, I filed a claim. At that point, practically all my care was denied, even the exploration into my intersex condition to verify it was not cancerous. Eventually, during the appeal process, everything but the surgery itself was covered.

Until yesterday, when I received an explanation of benefits that my mammogram, the mammogram that the insurance company themselves called me to take, was denied. So it is very obvious that if I had kept quiet about my surgery, my mammogram would have been covered. Instead, they seek to punish me, and like Ms. Scott, I am going to fight them every step of the way for such prejudicial treatment.

Another person writes that doctors can't create women, that transwomen are brainwashed into surgery and that they regret being mutilated by them, because this person listened to a group of women supposedly put together on the Howard Stern Show.

If you believe that, I recommend that you look up the WPATH Standards of Care. Also section 802 of DSM IV. While you're at it, check out True Selves by Midred Brown, et al. You don't want to base your knowledge on an interview on the Howard Stern show. Surely you know that he self-identifies as a shock-jock.

I had to get several letters of approval before I had surgery, and it took me four years. The first letter was for hormone treatment. Even though I was diagnosed in 6 weeks with gender identity disorder, it took me a year before I started HRT. Why? Because, we wanted to exhaust other alternatives, like living as a cross-dresser, because I was married. The second and third letters came from my next therapist, and endocrinologist, who concurred that I had been on hormone treatment for two years and indeed, would benefit from the surgery. I had had to change therapists, because I moved to another state, thanks to losing my job in a round of layoffs. I had been living full-time outside of work for 6 months and full-time female for 4 months before I had that letter. It was three years since I walked into the counselor, with me driving my own transition. My early counselor had only provided the resources and the pros and cons of the choices I could make. No one tried to convince me to get surgery. Once I was comfortable with who I was, I didn't need them to.

It cost me 16,000 dollars to have surgery in Thailand with a world-renowned surgeon and there was a 10 month waiting list. This doctor requires 2 years of hormone treatment and 1 year of living as full-time female before he would operate. I had to get another letter from my endocrinologist for the gender marker on my passport, and when I got to Thailand, I was given another psychological evaluation before the would operate. That was almost exactly a year ago. I don't consider myself mutilated, nor do the people I met in Thailand that I keep in touch with or any of the post-op women that I have met in Fort Worth, Dallas, Louisville, Lexington or Salt Lake City.

For a sample like Howard Stern put together, it was obviously not drawn at random, and can therefore not be used to infer a statistical rule. There are a lot of substandard doctors out there, and many transwomen cannot afford one that's worth his salt, thanks to insurance not covering and people not employing. Those women I do know that have some complaint don't regret having the surgery, they regret having the wrong surgeon do it. They are still happier as women than they have ever been as men.

Hugs and Blessings,

Hope to see you at the Utah Rennaissance Faire and Festival on the 19th. I'm unveiling a new solo with veils and zils.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Even in this early stage of our conversation, I am struck again by why I have repeatedly returned to Joyce's books for guidance. She gives me courage. She is honest and open, not afraid to admit her insecurities, and it is evident by her "spiritual success" that she has not been held back by them.
-- Janice Lynn Lundy, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be

Somehow, my compassion has been leading me to be an advocate. I follow my heart and act before I can even think whether I should be an advocate or not. It is a maternal instinct to protect the members of my group and my friends. It is deeply seated in compassion. I don't want the suffering.

Just a few days ago, I heard the DJ on a local radio station trying to refer to Jenna Talackova, the Miss Universe contestant who was ejected from the competition because she was a post-operative transsexual woman, in terms bordering on dehumanizing. I couldn't believe I was hearing that in Salt Lake City, where there has been a lot of education. Apparently, not enough. I was calling the radio station before I could think not to, and correcting the DJ. I found out later that the call was live.

A transsexual woman has a lot to overcome to be able to compete in a beauty pageant with cis-gendered women. If she's able to overcome the effects that testosterone unwillingly made to her body and is able to catch up and compete in physically feminine areas, including manners, grace and deportment--if she is able to overcome, let alone compete--it is a massive accomplishment and she should be allowed to compete.

I went to an intersex support group on Friday, and while I was there I encountered an article about mistreatment by the Utah Driver's License Division. When I read the article, I was immediately angered that someone I knew was treated this way. Krystal is a wonderful woman, and when the driver's license division worked to progressively remove her female identity, it was nothing short of abuse, grounded in ill-informed cultural mores. She walked, rather that subject herself to further humiliation, and I am proud of her decision. This tactic by the DLD is not new, as they did the same thing in Draper last year. They seem to not have learned.

The solution is simple, because the problem is readily apparent. The policy about misrepresentation is written in such an ambiguous way that it is applied subjectively instead of objectively. Not to mention, the staff needs to be educated that by forcing a person's identity to match their preconceived ideas of what someone with that gender marker would look like is setting them up for discrimination and abuse at the hands of anyone who reads the ID, especially law enforcement, which is a know occupation of choice for psychopaths. The one thing worse than a jerk is a jerk with a gun and a badge of authority to use it.

Moreover, it makes it more difficult for a person to live full time for a year in their target gender, if their license states the contrary. They will not match their public ID and that will cast more suspicion on them. Living full-time for a year is a requirement to getting surgery, which itself is a requirement to get some birth certificates amended with the new gender marker, which Utah requires before they will change the marker on the driver's license. The only out is via a U.S Passport, because federal ID trumps local and state ID.

The solution is to add a guideline that states that a person's gender expression  shall not be construed as a misrepresentation of gender identity. And then to educate the staff in sensitivity and compassion.

As for me, I am ready to do whatever it takes to get the policy amended.

Hugs and God Bless,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Petition Started

SelectHealth has an exclusion in their insurance plans that is over 20 years old that prohibits coverage of "transsexual surgery," or any complications with regards to those procedures.

They were presented with the following facts, and asked why the exclusion exists in the first place. They did not provide that answer, only going on to state that the exclusion (which was cleverly concealed in a mental health rider at the back of the employee guide behind a blank page behind the glossary) must be upheld because it's there.

The American Medical Association passed resolution 122, which specifies that Gender Reassignment Surgery is neither cosmetic nor experimental. In Tax Court vs. O'Dhonobain, the federal tax board came to the same conclusion. Also, it's been proven that given the rate of incidence, new federal legislation and the actual cost of the procedure, the cost is itself negligible.

The procedure is a reconstructive one in which all functionality is maintained and has been so for over 10 years. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has a detailed standards of care for optimizing safe transition between genders.

SelectHealth was provided with specific instances of the self-mutilation, medical issues and suicide that happen when an individual can't afford surgery

The World Health Organization lists full medical transition as a cure for gender identity disorder. The Appeals Board was asked, "What is the cost of a human life?" They were challenged to determine the reasons the exclusions were created in the first place. They could not provide, nor did they seek to find an answer.

As the American Medical Association stated, the refusal to provide life-saving treatment for pennies on the dollar, given significant medical information and progress over the last 10 years that gender identity disorder is a congenital defect that sometimes requires full medical transition, is blatantly discriminatory.

Is it the right of a a medical insurance corporation to disregard medical progress in order to justify it's discrimination?

What's even worse is that SelectHealth does have a rider to drop the exclusion against "transsexual surgery," but they don't publicize it and they don't offer it to the Companies covered. They must magically know about the hidden exclusion, that there's a rider to drop the exclusion and that they can simply ask for it.

In a recent hearing, the committee stated in their denial letter, "The Committee understands your request but determined that the services are specifically excluded by the Plan. We regret this result could not be more favorable, but the Committee has a fiduciary obligation to consistently administer the Plan." Signed by Thomas B. Morgan, Chairman of the Board.

You can sign the petition here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Appeals Committee

Yesterday, I contacted a legal organization to bring teeth and claws into my case with Select Health.
I live in Taylorsville, Utah, a community on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. My healthcare plan is Select Health Plus PPO + HSA, and it is offered through my employer. On Monday, I met with the Appeals Committee for my third-level and final internal appeal.
The case I made was based on the following bullet points:
·         Why Select Health needs to drop the exclusions against Gender Reassignment and treat my policy as if they never existed:

1.     A transgender woman was sentenced to 30 years in prison for robbing banks to be able to afford gender reassignment surgery. After she was incarcerated, she attempted to remove her penis with a knife. Attempts like this are more costly in medical treatment than actually supporting gender reassignment surgery, and are very common.
2.     A friend of mine changed her insurance company from Select Health to Blue Cross Blue Shield in January of this year. Blue Cross Blue Shield has promised to pay $19,000 dollars of her gender reassignment surgery. Given her delight, she'll probably be their customer for life.
3.     Google in California now covers Gender Reassignment Surgery in their insurance policy.
4.     So does American Express.
5.     So do 10 of the Fortune 20.
6.     The exclusions themselves have references that are over 20 years old. What are the assumptions behind those exclusions? It's quite likely that whatever they were, they are no longer valid.
7.     There has been a lot of medical advancement with regards to understanding the eschatology of Gender Identity Disorder and its treatment in the intervening 20 years, most of it in the last 10 years.
8.     The assumption that gender identity disorder can be treated effectively using reparative therapy is now no longer honored among professionals who deal with transgender people, because of the underlying eschatology. In fact, the only treatment that does work, has been found to be transitional therapy, which necessitates in some cases, gender reassignment surgery.
9.     The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association have stated that gender reassignment, including surgery in some cases, is medically necessary treatment; and that failure to provide or cover such treatment can be considered discriminatory.
10.   The US Tax Court agrees.
11.   Select Health prides itself on being a discriminatory-free insurance company; but these exclusions are discriminatory against people who suffer from GID.
12.   Select Health, however willingly or unwillingly, made my employer a participant in that discrimination by not providing an option whereby gender reassignment would be covered.
13.   My employer, with over a 1000 employees, is currently interviewing insurance providers, to make sure that the insurance provider meets employee needs within corporate resource boundaries. I have started working with the company's human resources to let them know that these exclusions are in direct contradiction to their employment policy.

The committee also had in front of them the presentation I prepared for my prior presentation. They also had hundreds of pages to reference, including AMA Resolution 122, Tax Court vs O'Dhonobain, the WPATH standards of care as well as my documentation showing that I had followed WPATH SOC.
Monday, when I met with the three members of the trustee board, a lawyer, medical director, note taker and organizer, as well as one other person were present. One of the trustees served as facilitator and after reading my case and complimenting the presentation booklet I had prepared for the last meeting, proceeded to inform me that “it all ends here,” and that they change policy. I stated a summary of my case, and emphasized why the exclusions in their policy with regards to gender reassignment need to be dropped. In the end, I challenged them to determine the thinking behind the exclusions, treat those reasons as assumptions and to strike them from the policy if the assumptions cannot be validated.

During the meeting, the facilitator grilled me over choice, why I went to Thailand instead of having the procedure done in Colorado, why they showed no records of me pre-vetting the insurance policy ahead of time (I just did it anonymously), and if I knew I was taking a risk that the procedure would not be covered.

The trustee sitting to his left seemed to be more concerned with penny-pinching and whether coverage of the surgery had “market penetration.” In fact, his first words, before I knew what he was talking about were, “I’m wondering about the penetration.” I felt rather shocked by that particular statement until he clarified his intent later.

The remaining trustee’s frame of reference was on the public perception of Select Health. He seemed amenable and didn’t have any questions for me.

So, in summary, I feel that they are at least slightly worried about their public image; and yet, there is a hesitancy to take a risk to pay for the surgery without knowing that their competitors have already profited from the risk.

So, even though I came in trying to argue that coverage is the right thing to do, I had to digress to argue about cost. I even asked the penny-pincher, “What is the value of a human life?” I  later referred to calculations by the AMA and myself that the total cost is negligible.

At this point, I give it a 50/50 chance of going either way.

Hugs and Blessings,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vagina Monologues Audition

But I assert that every woman, in the present state of society, is bound to maintain her own independence and her own integrity of character; to assert herself earnestly and firmly as the equal of man, who is only her peer. This is her first right, her first duty, and if she lives in a country where the law supposes that she is to be subjected to her husband, and she consents to this subjection, I do insist that she consents to degradation; that this is sin, and it is impossible to make it other than sin. True, in this State, and in nearly all the states, the idea of marriage is that of subjection, in all respects, of the wife to the husband--personal subjection, subjection in the rights over their children and over their property; but this is a false relation.

--  Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Debating Marriage and Divorce Laws at the Tenth National Woman's Rights Convention in New York, 1860
 Today, I auditioned for my third performance in Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues. This morning, I accidentally slept in til 9:30 AM, awoke for a quick bath, printed off the audition pieces, and updated my entertainment resume. It took me awhile to find the head shot I wanted to use as well as format the resume to fit one page with the dance experience that I added. I finally got to the audition about two minutes before my slot at 11:10 AM, despite the rain, getting a little lost and parking halfway to the other end of the parking lot.

As I was filling out my resume, I overheard the director talking about someone who was a belly dancer and was pretty good, because she had seen me practicing. It had to have been me she was talking about, because it was my slot, she had seen me through the door, and she had indeed seen me practicing last year while we waited for the performance to start.

So when I walked in, I said, "Hi. Are you talking about me already?"

I couldn't make up my mind which monologue to read, so I was encouraged to read them all, and I did, all except for one that is. They looked at me and said, "That was awesome."  Wow, two compliments in one day. So now I'm waiting for the casting to be completed and announced. Practice is supposed to begin this week.

Meanwhile, I continue to practice my routines for Azalea and my solo at Divine Love. For some reason it took about an hour and 20 tries to get the former right today, but the second, which I've been having difficulty learning, just flowed out very naturally. I'm 2 seconds over 2/3 of the way through the piece. On Monday, I pick up the remaining pieces of the choreography and take them home to study.

On Monday, I am also appearing in front of Select Health's Appeal Committee to try to explain in 30 minutes why they need to drop the exclusions for Gender Reassignment Surgery and cover my claim.

That's about it for now.

Hugs and Blessings,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nature vs. Nurture

I am a female computer scientist and software engineer. I am also a poet and dancer, as well as tuned to empathy and support. I find meaning in artistic forms of expression and nurturing activities; yet I found that through persistence I was able to be good enough at math and science to excel in my studies and draw a really nice paycheck in computer programming.

Nature wired me with an inclination for nurturing and creativity, but I was nurtured in science and math, as a boy, because that's what I was assigned at birth. I struggled at first, but was able to eventually outperform anyone to whom I set my mind, especially in the field of logic. Meanwhile, I suppressed my natural proclivities.

I am a transsexual woman, who was born with a mild disorder of sexual development, invisible to the doctors and my parents.I played with all the toys I was given, but craved dance and nurturing toys. I learned spatial skills as well as military concepts because my father was in the Air Force. He had a vision that I would grow up to be a scientist or engineer, even though I preferred hanging around my mother.

Nurture won, but when I finally stopped suppressing my natural proclivities, I found I was able to develop them as well, in lightning speed over the last few years, and I know now I am the person I was meant to be.

In summary, while gender and a natural aptitude is programmed into us, shy of severe brain damage, the brain is plastic enough to mold skill in other areas. Men can learn to develop an artistic and empathetic sense, and women can develop a sense of reasoning.

What also comes into play is the theory of framesets. Many girls are told at an early age, when they achieve, that they are pretty and smart. Boys are told that they can achieve if they keep working at it. People internalize this. If they are told they are smart, they tend to believe that intelligence is something you are born with, and any failures they encounter may cause them them to doubt their own intelligence. On the other hand, people who are told they need to work harder to achieve, may come to believe that intelligence can be increased through dedication. This at least partly explains why so many female engineers are Asian.

In the end, Nature cannot be ignored, but Nurture can help to to round people out.

Hugs and Blessings,

Sunday, January 8, 2012


We kept Oz on the old sewing machine in the bedroom. Oz had no plugged hole on the bottom, and the slot on the top was too narrow to work bills out, even if you used a knife, so once you'd put money into Oz, it stayed there. We tested it to make sure. We couldn't count the money, but because Oz was translucent, we could see our cash accumulating inside when we held him up to the light.

-- Jeanette Walls

 My Capital One debt is finally over. I sent the last payment two days ago. It took forever to pay it down, and it loomed over my head. I even inherited it as part of the divorce agreement. But finally it's gone. Meanwhile, my Discover and card is pretty close to full, so it's time to start paying it down; not as quickly as I'd like since I'm also making new car payments now--but the money I am saving on gas, since it's a hybrid will definitely help.

In addition to my daughter's flute payments, I am now also sending money for her private lessons. She's been first chair, and she has a dream. If her lessons will help her achieve that dream, I'll do what I can while I can.

My dream of dancing is about to hit the new year. I'm now taking three lessons a week. On Mondays, I'm about 20 seconds into a new choreography that I plan to solo as soon as I master it. I can only hope that I look half as awesome as my teacher as she does it. If I can get it done in time, I'm hoping to unveil it at the Divine Love show on February 11th. I'm also hoping to get Myst in the show as well.

Myst is a new troupe that grew out of a temporary troupe that was put to together for Night at the Casbah last year. It was done to spotlight the students of my intermediate dance class. New Beginnings got great reviews that night. Three of us went on to perform at the Halloween show. I did my solo and two of the others did a mini-troupe routine. Now three of us, who joined Azalea together, formed Myst so we can dance again at Dancing in the Snow on Saturday. We just had an awesome rehearsal on Saturday, and I picked up some hair pieces that go with my new costume so my hair doesn't get in my eyes. Deborah also volunteered to be our stage manager; I am excited about how this is coming together. You are going to have your socks knocked off when you see what we came up with.

Hugs and Blessings,
- Sofia Featherwind