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:
I’m posting late today because I went to get a haircut. You must understand that I am entirely incapable of maintaining my hair style in a traditional (cut every 6 weeks) kind of way. My last hair cut was in February.
I’m lucky to have hair that is flexible, adaptable and generally enviable. My regular readers have seen photos of me in the last 8 months and none of you have commented “Looking good, but you could use a haircut”. I’ll take the leap and say that mostly I haven’t looked like I needed one.
Thankfully, Jesse (my stylist at Hair Police) is pretty accepting of my cavalier attitude towards my hair. He believes me when my response to “what would you like?” is “That I don’t need to fuss with it.” We probably spend as much time chatting as he does actually cutting. That’s “normal” in the stylists chair, but it’s not typical for me.
In February I was getting the “new look” in preparation for flying to California and presenting at Pantheacon. (Go ahead and search that term out on my blog page. You’ll find lots of entries.) I didn’t get to go to San Jose, but the “new look” was helpful in the “keep your spirits up” department while I dealt with the cancer surgery.
Now I am again getting ready to travel. I’d like to make a good impression on the people I’ll meet. I’d like to do some networking with folks who speak on Spirituality for a living. I’d like to look good, approachable, and “put together”. I hope I’m not setting my bar too high!
Packing is still a challenge. I can get twice as many clothes into the suitcase as I used to! The problem is that I don’t have twice as many clothes that fit. I don’t even have the dreaded swimsuit in a size that won’t fall off if it gets damp. Usually before a trip I’m shopping for things like sample sized deodorant and toothpaste. This time it’s about what do I have to wear.
I’m grateful to the thrift stores. We went to one for Orion’s birthday and I picked up a few things for me as well. I’m grateful for my friends who clean out their closets and hand stuff my direction. I’m grateful for the women in my life (Karina and Carla) who are fond of “styling” and pick things out for me if they run across something that looks promising and size appropriate. (They have a better eye for my size than I do!) And of course I’m grateful to Jesse, not only for the haircut but also for taking the photo I promised:
Sadly I’m still going to have to shop for that swimming suit.
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!
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.
You all thought I was going to write about gun legislation didn’t you. I’m not. I’m trying to look at packing as a metaphor. It seems like a better approach than looking upon it as a chore.
We use the term baggage a lot to talk about all the “stuff” we carry with us through life. I suspect the reference is effective in part because so many people tend to over pack. In the era of weighed checked luggage where we pay $25 + per bag, that overpacking issue gets tackled head on.
I think about the ways people have packed in the past. Traveling by ship with steamer trunks is a little different than flying with a carry on tote. On the other side of it we’re going the distance for a weekend when back then it could be a month or more before even arriving at your destination. I look at old movies and watch actors skip down the road swinging those old suitcases. I’ve seen those suitcases in thrift stores. They’re tiny. They’re heavy!
Of course the actor has an empty suitcase, if it’s not a piece of plastic painted to look like one. But even back in those days most people had the clothes on their backs, one set to wash and one for church on Sunday. There were no shoes in those suitcases. If there were books it was probably just one small Bible. Jewelry for common people wasn’t particularly abundant either. I wonder how often they changed their underwear?
Those small suitcases (and this goes for carry on bags) are an issue as well. I’m not a small girl. I’m 5’10” and grossly overweight. For any one piece of clothing I get into my bag my daughter (5’8″ and fit) or my son (weighing under 100 lbs) can pack 2 or 3 of the same. Either of them can wear vintage clothing (although with my daughter it’s tougher for the height and shoulders). It speaks to that old fashioned luggage, people were smaller. I’m lucky if I can wear a vintage hat. ($25 to check that hatbox Ma’am.)
Then there is the issue of seasonal travel. The Twin Cities in Minnesota has the largest temperature range for its population density in the world. Any time of year the “average” temperatures give or take 20 degrees. It’s hard to pack one outfit that’s reasonable for both 75 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Temps in that entire range are common any day in 6 months out of the year, and possible in all of them. (Well maybe our highest temperature ever in January was 69 degrees but our lowest in July was 24!) When traveling to multiple climate zones (or a crazy place like Minnesota) layers are essential and that means less room in the luggage. A sweater takes up a lot more space than a swimsuit!
I’ve done enough traveling that I do pack well and can travel lightly. I have trouble lifting or carrying a bag that weighs as much as that 50 lbs excess baggage limit. Still I’m often amazed at what I choose to include on any given trip. How much of my “good intentions” packing (sure I’ll work on that project while I’m away) do I ever really get to do? Other than reading on the plane, do I find myself reading in hotel rooms? How much of what I run to Target to grab before I go would be just as easy to pick up once I arrive?
I’m still reaching for the metaphor. I’m not sure what packing says about me, about us. I do feel better about doing it. Packing as a meditation……….
Thanks for listening.