So I missed last week’s blog because I was still in California – giving my presentation. I had a great trip. I talked to some fabulous people. I learned some things and was inspired. I also hope I taught some things and was inspirational.
I think I’m pretty much back in Central Time, but even that’s challenging. My darling daughter wrenched her ankle in a bad fall coming home from work this weekend. 2am in Urgent Care doesn’t help me adjust. But the sun has been shining, the days have been warm. (In Minnesota if the snow is melting it’s warm – even at 39 degrees.)
Looking at traveling as part of a career I’m going to have to find a way to do the body/time adjustment thing a little more gracefully. At least I was kind to myself with scheduling. Aside from the unexpected (there was a trip to the Apple Genius Bar as well) I haven’t had any “extras” on the calendar. That’s about to change!
One of the things I got to do at Pantheacon was Tarot readings. When I do readings I always get good feedback from the clients. This was no exception. But I also had some down time with the cards, so I asked a question for myself about preparing for my presentation. That was a little frustrating. I was committed to being “on my game”. I wanted to be a professional level presenter. I’m invested in preparing to do my best. The cards kept saying, “Give it up. This is something you can’t prepare for.”
My time slot was unfortunate. I presented early in the morning on the last day of the convention. Most people are packing to check out or catching early flights. The audience I was targeting are, as a rule, worn out by this point. I had no idea what kind of crowd to expect and the cards were not helping.
However unhelpful, they were correct. I had a small enough group that sitting down and having a discussion, a personal conversation, was much more appropriate than a presentation. In that kind of setting my goal is always to address the specific needs of those present. It’s not something you can prepare for. You just have to know the material inside and out. I do and I thought the workshop went really well.
I didn’t take a lot of photos. I did get a lovely sashimi dinner one evening. My roommate (who I met when I arrived) was fabulous and we had a pleasant evening together over dinner as well. I sat in on conversations about accessibility for People of Color and for the Gender fluid community. I actually went to one of the ritual presentations (something I’ve not had the energy for in previous years) and enjoyed myself. I spent some time with old friends and made some new ones.
I still have to finish unpacking. I need to sort through all the cards I picked up and find new contacts on Facebook. I need to remember to check my email and gather all my receipts. It’s less than a month until the next one. At least I won’t have to change time zones!
I’m traveling again this week. I’m going to present a workshop at Pantheacon. Today I’m feeling just a little overwhelmed because there’s so much still to do!
I have arrangements for hotel and my flights are booked, but I’ve given no thought to getting back and forth from the airport. I’ve got Orion covered and his meds sorted, but I still have to arrange his transportation and think about what else to put in his bag.
Karina will be staying with Orion for at least some of the time I’m gone. I suppose that means rather than entirely emptying the refrigerator I should give some thought to what they might eat. Do I trust that Karina will keep Minnie off of my bed or do I pack away the good blankets?
Then there is my own packing! Do I bring books to sell? How many? Which ones? Can I do that and keep my luggage under the weight limits? Packing for the workshop I’m presenting, and preparing for that, is its own little piece of extra, but exciting.
I’m sure some of my stress is because of what happened last year. The workshop I’m giving is the one I was planning on doing then. Having to cancel at the last-minute because of https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/a-big-wrench/ was more than a little discombobulating. I’m grateful to be doing well, healthy and able to go back this year!
It’s 11 F here and the temps are dropping. The high today in San Jose is 77 F. Packing and planning for what to wear on the plane is an interesting logistical dilemma. I will definitely throw in a swimsuit! I may have to pack a winter coat as well. That depends a lot on how I get back and forth to the airport which puts me back at the beginning of this post.
I need to just breathe. I need to remember I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again. I need to trust that whatever decisions I make will be fine. I need to remember that if I forget anything there’s a good chance there are stores in California.
See you at Pantheacon!
Past blogs about my experiences at Pantheacon:
As Burns said (after his language was updated) “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” According to Murphy, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” One way or the other, as the idiom goes, “someone has thrown a wrench in the works.”
I really wanted to spend last weekend in California at Pantheacon. I was scheduled as a presenter and I was really excited about the workshop I planned. It was about energy management, specifically in ritual settings, called “Sitting down or sitting out”. Maybe the universe thought I needed a refresher course first!
It has been a busy month with lots of medical appointments. My regular readers have heard me talk about dealing with a DVT (blood clot) and blood thinners and anemia. Every single appointment I’ve had since the beginning of the year has started with the statement, “You need to know I’m getting on a plane February 13th.”
I didn’t get on the plane. Instead I got scheduled for surgery. In fact, if you’re reading this on President’s Day Monday, I’m certainly at the hospital and may be “under the knife” even now. Scheduled publishing is one of those handy WordPress features.
The truth of the matter is that I’ve known for several weeks that surgery was the plan. I just insisted that I get the California trip out of the way first. In looking for ways to address the anemia I was referred to a Gynecologist who, as part of a standard exam, did a biopsy. It turns out that I have endometrial cancer.
It’s been 24 years (to the MONTH!) since the last time someone told me I had cancer. Back then it was colon cancer and I was relieved to get the news that being sick wasn’t just in my head. There was a little bit of relief this time as well. My first thought was that my PAP smear was off, and it was cervical cancer – which is really nasty. Endometrial cancer tends to stay localized. Most of the time it’s an easy fix. Have a hysterectomy and you’re good to go.
Even the idea of a hysterectomy is kind of a relief. I’ve been experiencing peri-menapausal symptoms for a very long time. I have ZERO interest in more children. I’m a lousy candidate, medically, for any kind of pregnancy. Happy to be done with all of that.
The concern is that it’s a second occurrence of cancer. The concern is that this cancer doesn’t explain the blood clot. The concern is that maybe I’m one of those people who is prone to getting clots and cancers. Unless you’re me, in which case the concern is missing the trip to Pantheacon.
I’m not a great candidate for surgery either. This will be my (count them) sixth abdominal surgery. The last one was the bariatric surgery less than a year ago. The nutritional complications from both the bariatric surgery and the cancer can impact recovery time. The scar tissue could prevent the procedure from being done laparoscopically – significantly impacting recovery. The blood thinners and anemia add additional complications.
So please send warm thoughts and prayers for an easy surgery and rapid recovery. I’ll add an update a little later in the week so you’ll know how I’m doing. I may take a bit of a blogging break while I process all of this and try and get a handle on another version of “my new life.”
And if you’re interested in what I’m missing, here are links to the blogs I’ve written about Pantheacon and flying to California in years past.
Home from the hospital. Everything went really well. They managed to do the surgery both laproscopically and robotically! Got everything and no surprises. Now it’s recovery. I hurt and I’m really tired, but I’m glad to have that part behind me. Thanks for the well wishes!
A friend at Gilda’s club asked me if I planned to have a big party when I hit my goal weight. It hadn’t occurred to me at all, so I gave it a moment’s thought. No, I could take or leave a big party. What I’d really like to do is travel. I want to go somewhere and do something fun. Like go dancing, or take a hike in the mountains or something I haven’t been able to do for years. Maybe New Orleans, maybe Italy, maybe my dream trip taking the train across Australia.
It’s fun to dream about travel, even when coming up with the money seems impossible. But it’s travel season. The stores are stocked with “sale on cruise wear” for people who stayed through the holidays and want to get out of the cold now that family obligations have been met. This month the tags on my car and my drivers license need to be renewed. Maybe I should take a look at my passport while I’m at it.
Karina was off on a short trip, not too far from home, this weekend. This means I had Miss Minnie. She looks sweet and adorable all cuddled up in a blanket on the couch. That’s because she’s all worn out from running away from me every chance she got!
Pantheacon is coming up again in San Jose. I’m trying to get all packed, making lists and making arrangements for Orion. I’m excited about doing another workshop this year. This one is about mobility issues and energy management. I think I could use a refresher!
I’m fighting anemia while I’m trying to pull this all together. My brain doesn’t work at 100% and I get “the dizzy”. The extra doctor appointments haven’t helped either. I start every one of them with, “You need to understand that I AM getting on a plane.” It’s all about managing the blood thinners and continuing to dissolve the DVT without setting off a thrombosis.
To give myself a boost I made Karina make me an appointment with her fancy hair dresser. Jesse at Hair Police is a dear. He was very sweet, fussed over me, didn’t mind that I am incapable of making any decisions about my hair and I think he did a nice job. It certainly brightened my mood. It will also look a lot better in California!
Winter storm Seneca stranded me without the internet on my way back from Pantheacon. Not that this was a great hardship. I had to go pick up Orion from my parents home in Northern Minnesota and the idea of a 3 hour drive back into the storm vs a few extra days with my parents made for an easy (smart) decision.
Being without the distractions of “coming back” for a few extra days gave me a chance to really absorb my Pantheacon experiences. Crystal Blanton suggested to me that Pantheacon might be a pilgrimage. I dashed off a response and she included it in her article for The Wild Hunt. That thought has stayed in my mind throughout the coming home process, especially given the weather delay. What if this were a spirit journey? What opportunities has this apparent obstacle put into my path? How would my experience have been different if I had approached the entire event as a pilgrimage?
There were plenty of extra obstacles in the way this trip. There was the issue leaving and almost missing the plane. They called at least 10 names on that flight over the speakers. Southwest didn’t staff for the possibility of the Atlanta flight being canceled. We ended up in line behind them.
I did everything right, pre-printed the boarding pass, got to the airport early. I’ve never waited so long just to check my bags! I asked and was told there was no other option. As we pushed ahead in line at TSA the agent decided that the 3 people who’d seen my boarding pass already were wrong and I wasn’t on a flight out of Minneapolis at all! He was corrected and facilitated my EASY pass through security in return for his mistake. The flight crew was extra kind, knowing how frustrated we all were with the ticketing window. What a way to start the trip!
Transferring planes in Denver the gate got moved so the walk was further than I’d hoped. At the hotel room wasn’t ready and the convention didn’t have my registration. One step at a time, one problem at a time, one solution at a time and a little help from my friends. That first day I ran into old friends and joined them for lunch. I got hand-held by the convention staff. I got invited to “hang out” in another friend’s room across the hall while I waited for mine to be cleaned. I found the woman I’d agreed to share a room with and we spent some time getting reacquainted. I attended my first workshop and made a new friend. I had dinner with Crystal and her family.
Any convention or festival like this is an exercise in priorities and pacing. There were a lot of workshops I was interested in: a panel on privilege, a workshop on medical clergy, a celebration of the Mighty Dead none of which I attended. The things I did attend where exactly what I needed and sometimes I opted out just to take care of myself. Elevating swollen ankles beats sitting on an uncomfortable hotel chair hands down, no matter how good the workshop might be. It’s an age thing I suppose. I even left the convention one evening to join local friends out for dinner. That was an extra treat and well worth the time. The fact that the food was as good as the company didn’t hurt either. Hotel food is expensive and a little boring.
The highlight of this year’s Pantheacon for me wasn’t the workshops I attended (although they were spectacular) but having the opportunity to present one of my own. I suspected that I would have a larger turn out than I’m used to for my presentation of “Daily Practice Sucks”, but I never expected I’d fill a double conference suit and that the staff would need to bring in extra chairs! It’s a good title.
It was also apparently a good workshop. For the rest of the conference I found myself in conversations with people who’d attended. People would stop me in the halls and thank me for such a great workshop. I’d sit down at breakfast and somebody would come by and tell me that my workshop was exactly what they needed. I had one woman tell me she’d already put some of my suggestions into practice and it changed her life!
My ego almost as swollen as my ankles, I floated through the rest of the convention. I visited some of the hospitality suites. I attended a few more workshops. I even managed to squeeze out some time in the hot tub, although that’s because we stayed an extra night. I’m always impressed with the quality of the workshops I find at Pantheacon and this year was no exception. The vendors also tend to be high quality with some real artistry and reasonable, but appropriate pricing. Year after year, what I come back for are the people. It’s great to chat with other workshop presenters. It’s pleasant to strike up a conversation over breakfast. It’s fun to pass on a kiss to someone you’ve never met from a mutual friend. (Stephanie, I’m going to tell this story for a long time.) And best of all is connecting with friends across the country that I don’t get to see very often.
I really think my head may explode. I’m busy trying to get packed for Pantheacon. I’m presenting a workshop this year and so on top of just figuring out how to get myself there and dressed I also need to pack my books and my workshop materials. Do I send things to the hotel via U.S. Post? Can I keep my bags under the checked bag weight limit when they’re full of books? Can I pack the clothes AND shut the suitcase? Crazy!
On top of that it’s time to be planning for Paganicon – in March. I’m also presenting there and so I have logistics to figure out as well as preparing the workshop. The good news is that (keep your fingers crossed) my second book When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity Based Perspective is due to be released in time for the event! All that is dependent on me finishing a final edit – one more thing on my list.
In the land of “who thought this was a good idea?” I have scheduled a doctor’s appointment for Orion on the day before and the day after this trip. One of them is with a new doctor (that’s the before). The immediately following appointment is because the doctor was out sick when we had the appointment reasonably scheduled and this was his next available date. It’s NOT MY FAULT! Doesn’t change anything does it?
This morning I can’t find my cell phone so I’m in a panic. (Did I leave it somewhere yesterday?) I’m pretty sure that the bag with the books is too heavy and I’m going to have to get to the post office after all. I’m not convinced my carry-on bag will be small enough. Oh and the cat has noticed I’m packing and is – well, doing what cat’s do to express their displeasure. ICK!
It’s Monday, so tonight is adaptive yoga. Whoever put that into the schedule was brilliant! (If I do say so myself.) Just what I need is an hour to unwind and be in the moment instead of planning for tomorrow, and the next day, and so on into the future. Thinking ahead is making me CRAZY!
Did anyone notice these are the same links as last week? I think I need a new groove!
OH – I found my phone buried under a pile of clothes. No wonder I couldn’t hear it ring.
Orion and I spent the weekend in a hotel room. We were there as volunteers to keep things tidy, put out food, answer questions and talk to folks. Actually we didn’t even stay at the hotel, just spend long hours hosting the hospitality suite – the actual con suite -for Paganicon.
Our local Pagan Pride event has been going on for years in the Twin Cities (Paganistan) area. They’ve held events that were like weekend psychic fairs or community meet and greets. They’ve had Big rituals and small workshops.
A couple of years ago it became clear that Pagan Pride needed to serve two purposes. First to be “out loud and proud” in the larger community. That’s kind of tough when your event is holed up in an odd community building off the beaten path. The second purpose was to provide an opportunity for those who’ve been long time members of the community to network and expand their own knowledge base. To become an event that went beyond 101.
In 2009 Pagan Pride started doing a fall event with vendors, music and public rituals in an outdoor setting. Pride at Minnehaha Falls is an event that the general public can see and participate (or not) along with the existing and exploring Pagan community. It’s a great idea and a pleasant historical venue. The “meeting place of waters” is appropriate for expanding awareness and acceptance.
In 2010 Pagan Pride held its first Paganicon. A hotel based convention loosely modeled on Pantheacon. This is still a small convention but it has good buzz. I haven’t gone in years past because of scheduling and money issues but I’ve certainly heard about it from the community at large. The convention/fair model seems like an excellent expansion of Pagan Pride for this community.
I don’t know if I would have made it to the convention this year either. Money is tight since I came back from California. Orion is not too keen on sitting through the workshops I’m interested in, and he’s not quite independent enough to manage a convention on his own. We come as a pair most of the time and for a weekend long event I certainly couldn’t afford to get away. At the last minute the Pagan Pride committee discovered their regular “Suite Goddess” was swamped at work and were scrambling for someone to take her place. It sounded like the perfect solution to my predicament so I signed us up.
Someone asked me how I managed to deal with “missing” all the workshops and stuff. Essentially ‘why would you do so much work when you don’t even get to go to the convention?’ My feeling was pretty much that the convention came to us. Sometime during the weekend almost everyone attending made their way through the hospitality suite for a cup of coffee, or a snack or to sit for a minute and chat.
It’s not like we were all alone. The roving volunteer crew – the “Flying Monkey Squad” – were available if we needed help lifting heavy things (like coffee urns). Often they sat “on call” in our suite knowing that when they were needed this was where people would look. If nothing else they swung by to get those fabulous capes to wear during their shift.
There were several times during the weekend when we were “standing room only.” People would come in crowds talking about the workshop they’d just attended. Or they’d sit for a minute before the vendor room or the ball opened up. I did manage to stick my head into the vendor room (and immediately left lest I be tempted.) I also got to wander through the art exhibition which was a new and delightful addition to this year’s convention.
Yet another opportunity for me to explore community and my relationship to it. Again I got to meet new people and visit with old friends. It was nice to have an opportunity to be of service to something I support and still reap the benefits of the social support of community. I’m pretty sure Orion had a great time too. Win/Win.
So here I’ve been in sunny San Jose. The weather has been delightful all weekend. Today there is a slight chill in the air. It’s 45 this morning. The natives are reaching for their winter coats. I’ve put on a sweater and am happy to be outside. It’s all relative. I understand back home the high is predicted at 32 with snow and winds gusting to 40 mph. How could I complain?
I’ve been attending Pantheacon. This is a large convention (2300 ish) of Pagans (definition still to be determined) from mostly the Bay area, but actually from all over the country. I’ve visited with people from New Hampshire, DC, New Orleans, Portland and Wisconsin. Even those coming from California come all the way up and down the coast. It’s quite the event.
The thing about Pantheacon is that it really is a convention. Sure there are vendors and hospitality suites but it is really go – go – go to attend the workshops and other events. There are at least 10 choices in any given session and inevitably more than one of them is appealing. There isn’t a lot of time to just hang out and talk and get to know folks. Even the post session schmooze is limited as the crew doesn’t have much time to clean up and set up between events.
This makes things a little hard for my midwestern sensibilities. Anyone who’s heard of the “Minnesota goodbye” understands that it takes us awhile to move from one thing to the next. When you add my physical challenges to the mix I’m probably skipping as many sessions as I’m attending. Oh Well. I’ve been doing this long enough to understand that I have to take care of myself first.
I have managed to do quite a bit. I’m talking about my book Manifest Divinity. I even got to finally meet my publisher face to face!
I’ve been talking to the Pagan News Collective about journalism and contributing to their work. I’ve talked with a lot of other authors both those working with publishers and those who are self published.
There is a great deal of diversity at this convention. I think they work hard to achieve it. There was a panel on privilege. There was a session called Women of Color Caucus. Some of the women who contributed to the anthology Shades of Faith conspired to put on a ritual that included elements from each of their diverse practices.
It was beautiful and affirming, and you can see these are amazing and powerful women!
I’m always eager to learn new things and meet new people. This has been a great trip to recharge and inspire me. I promised my publisher I’d get him a proposal for my next book SOON. I have a list of several books I want to get from the authors I’ve meet. (I just didn’t want to try and pack them home on the plane!) My next reviews on LisaSpiral Reads will probably include a few of those author’s works.
In the meantime I’ll enjoy the sunshine and try to figure out how I can get on the plane in sandals and off in a winter coat. Especially since I didn’t pack one!