Electric Forest Festival

Electric Forest ❤

My adventure to the forest was magical and like nothing else I have experienced in my life. Allow me to create an image in your head of this refreshing and liberating four days that I experienced and I hope it will change your beliefs or pre-judgments of this festival.

Sure, there are many misconceptions on how it’s full of “druggies” and bad news but in all reality, doesn’t every event in the U.S. have a diverse population that consists of these stereotypes? Of course there are always going to be those who do not handle drugs responsibly or create a bad time for themselves and the others around them. Not everything is “free” of that in life and we take that risk all of the time, even going to the grocery store.

Being a person that has never done psychedelic drugs before, I was considering trying something out in the forest. My boyfriend has always been an advocate for psychedelics due to the intense positive experiences he encountered each time. This was not my main focus though and not the reason I decided to give this festival a shot. I wanted to escape society for a moment and I felt like this was a place that I could do that.

Let me stop babbling and get to the good stuff. As I arrive to the festival of Electric Forest, it didn’t take long getting into the main gates with a long line that went rather quickly. The guards searched everyone’s cars before being able to enter the campsite at JJ’s Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan. Luckily, we got in safe and sound and we were rushing around to the campsite to get our tent put up before walking to the forest that was about a mile away from out campsite. We got luck with a campsite in General Admission that was fairly closer than others and I didn’t mind the walk that much. It would have been nice to get a ride from the bicyclists but 20$ a ride was not happening.

The first thing I noticed when we got in were a bunch of animal statues that signified each campsite so people could find where they are supposed to go. It was really easy to find our campsite and I never got lost. My boyfriend and his two friends were with me and we all got along really well the whole time which is a definite plus. As I started walking toward the forest decked out in glitter and my fresh dyed blue hair I started feeling free and my ego was slowly shutting down. I can wear glitter and have on crazy colors in public? I thought “this is great!”

Everyone looked like “dirty hippies” most would say and it was perfectly okay. People were dressed in anything they wanted to wear and more skin was showing on some but I was all for it. The body is a beautiful thing. I felt like I was in a different world because I could literally feel like love and acceptance from every stranger around me. The first thing I saw before entering the forest was food stands and a special wall with paint beside it that allowed people to paint on there what pulls them back in life or what they struggle with the most. As I was writing “anxiety” it was so eye opening and comforting to know I’m not the only one. The wall was already so flooded with words.

Right when you enter the gates of the actual forest where the many concerts and activities are, they check your items again for any drugs/alcohol/etc. They are pretty lenient about letting most items through. Once I got through security, I fell more in love as I look over and see a stage that is lit up with many colors and statues of Egyptian faces. It was SO cool to see. As you continue to walk about a half a mile, you find the giving tree. This is my favorite part of the whole experience. The giving tree is a beautiful big tree that is a place where everyone can give an object such as food, bracelets, and even band aids for whoever might need them. The motto is to “take what you want, give what you can.” It is like a trading post of giving and caring.

Keep on walking and you see another stage that is huge and a field where there are so many people watching the different venues which are mainly electronic musicians. The music is VERY loud to where you can hear the bass pretty clearly all the way back to the campsites. They usually start the loud music around 2 in the afternoon all the way until 2am. So if you think you’re going to get any sleep within that time, good luck unless you have ear plugs. After the stage, you finally see the forest that goes for miles and you are welcomes by upside down umbrellas above you that are in all kinds of colors. Every year there is a phenomenal large art piece that represents Electric Forest and this year it was two hands making a heart made up of hundreds of colored flowers.

Walking into the forest, there are so many people and everyone is giving each other high fives and smiles. You constantly hear “Happy Forest” and strangers exchanging hugs. The forest trees are tall and the sun was shining through. It is a glorious feeling to know there have been so many memories in this forest throughout the years and it holds so much magic and love. I felt like this forest had an effect on me to where there was no chance I could be mad or sad but just joyful and at peace. There were hammocks set up to relax on and artists stroking away at canvases. People meditating in the more quiet parts of the forest and others dancing to the sounds of their favorite musicians. I was intrigued by how some girls could hula hoop and the tricks that they did were astounding and mesmerizing. There were fairy doors all throughout the forest on the trees like mini giving trees but doors with trinkets you find from others. It makes it so much more special that people all over the nation come to this festival and you can find things that they leave behind and keep. There is food everywhere, and the food is good but it is expensive. Packing food to camp is a must or your bank account will bust. Games and missions are going on all around the forest, to solve clues and keep you busy between the raves. There is never a dull moment.

Night time in the forest is the best time. The lights are vibrant and beam above the trail through woods with art lit up all around you. It is like you are walking through a coloring book that has come alive but in nature and it gave me such a sense of peace and happiness. There is something about the beauty of this place that really makes you realize how beautiful life is. The stages are lit up and the audiences get packed at night to where everyone is close together and you feel love from everyone and not so much the craziness or hate you can feel from other concerts. As you walk out of the forest you can see the bright moon and all of the stars as there as wide fields all around and the sky is open. I was drawn to a calmer and prettier sounding set at night to really relax and take in nature.

I am a baby when it comes to trying new things such as psychedelics but I micro dosed shrooms and acid while I was in the forest and it didn’t do much to me but I did feel giggly and relieved of my daily stressors that are in the back of my mind. I plan to do more next time around but knowing you can be sober and still have the time of your life while connecting with nature is a blessing. If you get tired, there are options outside of the forest to rest in free hammocks, couches, and even a choice to watch television. These are especially nice if someone is having a “bad trip” on psychedelics or just having anxiety from all of the commotion because it is a lot to take in at first. This was my first festival I had ever been to and I am going to make sure I go every year. I have never felt so worthy being away from the toxicity of society and lost into nature with beautiful people and music. Please, enjoy the pictures I took while being there, not the best and some blurry due to walking. You will rarely see someone with a phone out and this was how everyone really connected. I love Electric Forest. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.

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I’m Not a Good “Mom”

Here I am sitting in bed, I have to work tomorrow and my stress levels are high. Just took my medicine and I hate that I have to take it. T.V. is blaring pretty loud and I can faintly hear my boyfriend and his two kids out in the living room playing. I feel pretty shitty right now. Just left my bedroom for a minute and anger took over my whole body and my blood boiled after seeing him texting the mother of his children. I’m so selfish and I am very aware of it.

We have been dating a year now and when I first met him, I fell so deeply in love, hes perfect for me in so many ways. So spiritually connected, our souls dance together. Around four months after dating, I met his kids, at the time they were 1 and 2. Still so young, still a lot for me to take in. I always told myself and others, “I will never date a guy with kids” and I literally swore by it. I would turn down any guy that had kids instantly. There was something different with my boyfriend because I was the happiest I had been in a very long time. We stayed up late every night and could not get enough of each other and just talk and talk about our lives. He didn’t talk about his kids much at all though, like never. I guess I was so caught up in him that I didn’t think about asking about them much. 

It was great at first because I would come over to his house and we rarely saw the kids and I didn’t really have the responsibility yet. A few more months pass by and we decide to have him move into my apartment, we were absolutely crazy about each other and we still are, with some issues. After moving in, he decided to take the kids more often now that he felt settled and not living with his crazy roommates. After the kids started coming over, I started to get a lot of anxiety and a lot of jealousy run through my mind and body. It almost feels as if evil takes over my Being and who I truly am and its strong enough for me to distance myself. I felt that pressure of being a “step-mom” really fast and it came on strong. I was still the party girl that met him through partying and I wasn’t ready in any way shape of form for kids yet. I am still immature myself, in some ways and mature in others. 

Why am I having such a hard time? It’s a year later and I am still this way.. but I only feel it getting worse. I feel like I can’t handle kids or something but I babysat my family in my past, so why is it still SO hard? I know that I am jealous because they aren’t my kids and I wish we could have had our first child together and went through it later in life, when I was ready. That’s selfish of me. Why do I think this way? The kids’ mother is so beautiful and such a good mom, and here I am jealous and distant. I have the hardest time communicating and talking to the kids because I stop myself and I don’t know why. I always wonder how other step-moms do it and how they can step up without all of these thoughts 24-7. Just thinking about having to go through having my boyfriend and her communicate for the next 18 years eats away at me. Shelbey, its a part of life, a lot of people do it! I keep telling myself this over and over but my emotion still overcomes whats best to do.

I hide. I come in my room and I hide. I don’t want to call it hiding but that’s what I am doing and I sit here and get angry with myself for doing it. My boyfriend knows exactly how I feel and I feel bad for him. He deserves better. Someone who can take care of his kids and really handle them without all of these emotions and fear. He always tells me he doesn’t know if it will work out because of my jealousy issues and he thinks I “hate” his kids. I will never hate any child, I do know that. I love kids! I am just having a rough time being nurturing and acting like they are my own. This has been so hard and probably the biggest issue I have been going through the past six months. I love him, I love us together, but when the kids are over, its different and I feel like i’m alone and they’re a family in the living room. I hate it. I don’t know what to do. 

Daily Tarot Reading

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Today, my reading consists of The II of Pentacles, The III of Wands, and The V of Pentacles. 

I am going to start by saying that I believe in reading cards based on their upright position and upside down, holding different meanings. Lets begin with The II of Pentacles, the first card starting on the left, which basically means what the card shows, finding a balance between decisions. This could mean that I am having interests that are conflicting with each other or the need for balance between work life, family, and my own well being. This is a time to use my energy to it’s greatest potential on my priorities and managing time wisely. The II of Pentacles indicates paying attention to bills and keep up on daily affairs. This card could also mean a situation that causes a lot of worry and to stay on top of the problem with order and time management. Go with the flow but with caution as there will be changes that come to me.

Secondly, The III of Wands means future plans and focusing on expanding and committing to goals. This card connects with the first card, showing that time management and planning ahead can lead to opportunities that could mean travel, work, or expanding knowledge. At this time, it is important to take advantage of the opportunities that arise while being open-minded because the odds are in my favor of success. Try new challenges without fear. This card also can predict traveling and taking the leap of faith to great opportunities that lie ahead.

Lastly, The V of Pentacles means worrying and hardship, especially with finances. This card normally shows a financial loss but can also mean a loss of something else important in life. This card could mean loss of a job, poverty, illness, or someone close. There is light to this card, signifying that there is a way out of this misfortune. It could also mean problems in a relationship due to financial issues that create a fear and anxiety of never having “enough” money. Changing my attitude towards money is important rather than focusing on how much money I have. The rough area of this card could mean feeling lonely or ignored, excluding myself from others or activities.

These meanings are the basics of each card, as I could go more in depth, but I am willing to read anyone’s cards through my writing. I am willing to connect spiritually with anyone who wants answers for their day, or even the past, present, and future. You can email me at shelbste26@gmail.com or just comment and I would love to!

Fear of Death

Lately I have been trying to focus on how to be in the “Now” as I am in the middle of reading the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I have always worried ever since I was little, about everything from getting my hands dirty to ghosts. Being so young, I always wondered why I couldn’t sleep without the T.V. on or why I always needed night lights because I never really watched scary shows/movies. Maybe in my past life I went through a lot of scary events, who knows.

I worry more and more every day, never seems to lighten up. Today, I worry about losing my job, losing my place, running out of money, getting old, getting sick, being hurt again by someone close, and many more thoughts that run aimlessly through my mind every day. Most of all, I am scared to die. I am scared of death and the thought of nothingness after passing away. Dying is my biggest fear and it makes me sick every night when I go to bed thinking about the unknown. My stomach twists with anxiety while I toss and turn restlessly trying to calm down after taking my daily benzos. Although, the thoughts don’t stop and nothing helps. Counseling, meditation, reading, breathing, you name it I’ve tried it.

Maybe the fear of death is the core to all of my depression and makes it hard for me to truly enjoy life. I am not so much worried about how or when I die, but what will happen after. Questions run through my head like, “Is there a God?”, “Will everything just be black?”, or “Will I see my loved ones after I pass?” I have tried church and I feel like a terrible person for feeling “odd” when I am present in one. Faith is hard to find for me when I always question it and I am so deep into fear.

I am searching for suggestions to reverse my negative cognitions. The Power of Now is helping me when I read it, but then I get right back into that negative thought process almost as if it has taken over my “Being” with no turning back. I have hope for it to turn around thought because I can’t live like this much longer.

Two Souls Gone Too Soon

 

Last year I lost two very special friends in my life and I want to share my experience with this drastic change in my life. Their death wasn’t just any “normal” death, it was an odd coincidence or maybe it was “meant to happen.” I was friends with both of them for almost 10 years and they both had totally different personalities apart from each other and different from mine as well. I have always been the crazy friend that likes to take risks but was always more cautious of our decisions when we would come together. They were two distinct things they had in common, they both were free spirited and both lost their father at a young age. Sarah and Lexy were both 21 when they took their lives. Sarah’s father had left her family and became an alcoholic, eventually committing suicide. Lexy’s father passed of illness. There were many instances where they would vent to me about their loss and how much it bugged them.

We all shared the same interests, we were intrigued by the other side and what happens after death. Every weekend we would meet up and play the Ouija board and visit psychics every now and then, driving hours just to meet up with one and try to get answers. The Ouija board was very active with all of us on it, every single time. We would always play it in Sarah’s apartment and get her “dad” to come to the board but she never believed it was really him and neither did I. It was common to get a few bad spirits to the board that would play mind games with us and we truly believed in connecting with good spirits. The board once told us that there was a girl that hung herself on the corner of the street and we thought we were connecting with the girl’s spirit that had done this.

Several years later, we grew apart a bit and I would only talk to them every now and then as we got older. I had seen Sarah a week before she passed at a local bar and we weren’t very close anymore but something in my head kept telling me to give her a hug. I looked at the friends I was with and kept questioning “Why do I feel so compelled to hug her?” I then walked toward the bathroom and it was just me and her in the hall and she looked at me and said “you’re so beautiful” and I replied back “so are you” as I brushed my hand against her cheek and walked away. There was something about this moment that was so liberating to me at the time and I wasn’t sure why.

Then a week later I felt the need to text Sarah for the first time in months, and it was about the psychic we usually go and visit and she never read the message. This was the night that Sarah took her own life. She hung herself in her apartment. I always ask myself if I would have texted her just an hour earlier, would have I been able to stop her somehow? Maybe the company of my text would have excited her? Everyone was confused. There was no explanation and no warning signs that anyone recognized. I have always wondered, was the board trying to tell us about Sarah when it mentioned a girl taking her life on the corner? Sarah’s apartment was right on the corner of an intersection.

Lexy passed away around a year later. Lexy and Sarah were roommates for a long time in this apartment and Lexy had moved out several years before all of this happened. She lived with her mother’s ex-husband after she moved away from Lexy out of state. Lexy has played the Ouija board by herself a few times and one day it kept telling her to “get out” and that was one of the reasons she moved out of the apartment she shared with Sarah. She never really let it bother her though, kind of like Sarah, they were strong about it and not scared, unlike me. Lexy was just a little freaked out by it but she wanted to leave any way after some every day girl drama between the two.

Lexy and I kept in touch and never really fell off of the friendship wagon but we were distant at times and then we would get super close again, on and off. After Sarah passed, we were there for each other the most. We started to go out more and drink at the same local bar I saw Sarah last at. The night of my birthday, Lexy came to see me at the bar and I remember vaguely that she had one beer. She left and offered to take me to her house with her, but I refused and wanted to stay out for my birthday. This was the night that Lexy got into a bad car accident. She ran her car into a barricade on the high way and was knocked unconscious and the police found her and she survived with many cuts on her head and body. Lexy let me know a few days later about this, I was worried because she wouldn’t text me back that night. After this accident, she drifted apart from me again and I felt terrible for even letting her drive but I figured one beer wasn’t bad and I was so confused as to why she would go into a construction zone, was she drinking at her house before she came out?

I questioned her, of course, and there was a voice in my head telling me she was lying to me. She said the police said she blew a very high number on the breathalyzer and that there was no way because she had one beer. Now, I know Lexy when she drinks and she gets a little crazy and chatty and I am telling you, she did NOT seem drunk AT ALL when I saw her that night. Something else was up. She never was completely honest with me because I was the kind of friend to get on her about doing stupid shit and she didn’t want to hear it. A few months go by, and she is blowing up my phone out of nowhere trying to talk and hang out. Thing is, she contacted me from the hospital, again. She had recently lost a new boyfriend of about a month that had just got out of jail and overdosed on heroin. Of course I didn’t approve of this, and why is she in the hospital?

Lexy told me she was in the hospital because she passed out from taking benzos. This is the day I found out she’s been prescribed Xanax for over two years. She never told me she took Xanax and here I was drinking with her every weekend after Sarah’s death. Now it made sense, every time she would drink she would get super black out and do the craziest of things that made me not want to let her drink anymore. Lexy finally got discharged and sent me disturbing texts about how she would be okay with being on the other side and how she won’t commit suicide, but she’s ready. I was upset still about Sarah and I knew where she was coming from, but I didn’t think she was serious. I comforted her as much as I could, but I knew she was going down the wrong path after hanging out with this guy she met before he passed away.

Lexy passed away in her sleep a few days after telling me this and my heart sank deeper than it ever has. All I could think is HOW?? Who was she with? What was she doing? In her sleep? She’s so young! Drugs. I knew it was. I still do not know what she took or how much but I know it was some sort of drug(s). After hearing this news for the second time in a year, all I could think is how this could happen in such a short period of time to BOTH of my best friends for completely different reasons? I couldn’t sleep for weeks, I couldn’t be alone, and I lost 25 pounds because I was so depressed and most of all, confused. I have so many questions for them and it sucks to live every day not having any answers. They were two souls that left us too soon and I ponder on the coincidence of them both leaving my life so quickly. I always think about the whole Ouija board thing and wondering if I’m “next” but then I also don’t want to think that way and maybe it was just their time. We were all so spiritually connected that it hurts every day that I can’t ask them “What’s on the other side? Tell me!”

 

Lessons of Love

“Get out of the car, before I start shooting,” the love of my life screamed with immense anger. I was slouched in the back of a diminutive car crowded with guys, all of us beset by the shocking appearance of my boyfriend. My life was flashing before my eyes and my heart beat felt faster than a horse’s speed at the Kentucky Derby. I know I had done wrong, I was guilty with no way out of a problem I put myself in, and this changed my life dramatically.

I sat there in my chair, listening to the teacher give lectures in the classroom and trying to concentrate through every text that was getting sent to me incessantly from my boyfriend, Alex. Nothing could get in the way of our love; we were always stuck together like glue. His deep brown eyes, pleasant smell, and even the way he walked and talked is what drawn me to this handsome young boy. We were both sixteen and met in high school in chemistry class, everything clicked and we knew something was there between us; we had chemistry in chemistry you could say. Alex asked me to be his girlfriend with great passion on New Year’s Eve; I couldn’t help but say yes, that’s the question I’ve been waiting for from him. Everything was perfect; we got along excellent for the first few days, and then an incident occurred. I was out with my friends one night, and I kissed another man. I told Alex what I had done, selfish and cold-hearted I was for making such an action when I knew who I wanted, and that was Alex. This incident was the one event that made our relationship totally different till this day, there was instantly no trust. We both turned seventeen in 2011 and he graduated and I had one more year left of high school.

Sitting in this classroom, I am getting continuous texts from Alex that are awfully cruel. I knew at that particular moment that enough was enough and I wasn’t going to take the emotional stress anymore. My palms start getting sweaty and finding it difficult to keep my thoughts to myself, I sent him a text saying I wanted to breakup. My heart was telling me not to say these painful words to my first love, but my mind was telling me I deserve better. The thoughts in my head got to me and a force of confidence ran through my body, knowing what I had done was better for my well-being. He is one of those guys who would always ask “Where, when, who, why?”, because he has major trust issues for a reason that I’m unsure of. I’ve always had a few guy friends at school that would talk to me whenever I was upset but it was hard to communicate or even look at them without having a boyfriend that would get unbelievably jealous. Lunch time finally hit after this stressful class and I needed to get my mind off of the breakup before I broke down crying dramatically, so I asked my guy friends to leave with them for the remaining time of lunch. I quickly went outside with the boys and hopped in the back seat of one of the gentleman’s car with three other guys in there with me. As my phone kept ringing and getting texts from Alex, I got annoyed and angrily turned my phone off. Knowing this was a bad thing to do with a jealous boyfriend and just getting out of a relationship, I was sure that I didn’t want to be with him anymore.

My friends and I all drove over to the community college to park and talk about why I was upset and I told them everything that was going on between me and Alex. The three boys told me I deserve better and to not let him bring me down, this conversation made me feel a lot calmer and opened my eyes more. Just as I was starting to calm down, I look out of the car window and see a Toyota Camry driving aggressively towards us, it was Alex. I saw a glimpse of his face in his car window, his evil eyes staring right at me through my friend’s windshield. I quickly ducked down hoping he didn’t notice me as I yelled to my friend, “Go back to school, hurry!” At this point, it was too late; Alex was parked by the car me and the three others guys were in.“Get out of the car, before I start shooting” Alex shouted. Everyone in the car said he had a gun, but I was slouching too far down into my seat to see anything, my life was flashing before my eyes and hearing the guys say he had a gun was shocking. His words kept getting louder and louder and then the boys told me to get out of the car before things got too ugly. Scared for my life, I got out of the car and felt like a mouse crawling out in the open with cats everywhere and all I could hear was cuss words and putdowns out of Alex’s mouth. He pulled my arm and took me to the passenger side then tried pushing me into the car continuously as I resisted. I fell to the ground, dropped my phone, and starting crawling towards it before Alex could get it. He beat me to the phone; before I could even say anything he picked up my phone and threw it on the concrete, shattering it everywhere. At that moment I cuffed my face in my hands, laid on the ground, and balled my eyes out as Alex left the scene as fast as he could. Behind the noise of my cry I could hear the boys in the car telling me to get in so we could go back to my high school and call the cops. I got up and ran to the car and we immediately started driving to the school, then I ran inside when we pulled up and everyone saw me crying for help and telling the principal what happened as I tried to catch my breath.

This was it, the officers finally showed up to my high school and I pressed charges. Never did I see myself in a relationship that would get me in this much danger, drama, and abuse. My parents picked me up when they heard about this incident and they took me straight to the courthouse and I was being practically forced by my parents to motion a Personal Protection Order against Alex. This was one of the hardest days of my life and I still blame myself till this day for getting in that car, when I know I didn’t mean any harm to anyone. I realized being in love meant happiness and joy, not always stepping on egg shells and getting emotionally, physically, and mentally abused. This event in my life has made a big impact on how I handle situations today and made me stronger as a person and to love myself first. I have never felt so much hate towards someone so much in my life, when it comes to him it isn’t a frowned upon word and it fits my feelings perfect. I will never stick around for someone like that again because my worth is much more important and anyone going through this, you are worth it too.

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