So, with repeated encouragement from friends, I’ve decided to give this YouTube thing a go. Just me and a camera and my thoughts. Sometimes a little dog named Lafawnduh. Here’s the first one. Let me know what you think. If there’s something you want me to talk about, let me know.
It’s been a busy few months and I’m excitedly preparing to embark on a major new project that I’ll have more information for you on soon. Until then, please consider registering for this amazing conference. It’s virtual, so you can listen to it from a computer or phone anywhere. I’ll be speaking with many other talented and amazing people.
“It’s all messy: the hair, the bed, the words, the heart. Life….”
I’m having a day. A day in which it feels selfish just to say that, let alone write it down and share it with whomever might read. And yet, I’m doing just that…’cause, well, I’m having a day.
There is an incredibly big world out there, with so much going on. Today especially, but really every day when one thinks about it. And I do. A lot. And yet, right here right now, there are lots of things going on too. Do you ever get shut down by the big picture? I do. Overwhelmed by all there is to do and all I want to do and knowing that there just isn’t ever going to be enough time to do it all anyway, so I just keep plugging away at the smaller things; the things that seem less important, less big, less incredible. And they are, but they also aren’t, because everything; even the little things are important.
I’ve been beating myself up lately for feeling stuck. And I’m not stuck, it just has that appearance. By stuck, I mean working an 8-5; not socializing much; and being more sedentary than I’d like to be. But at the same time I’ve been feeling “stuck,” I’ve become president of a nonprofit board of directors; am pursuing a second advanced degree; am in the planning stages of a large project for said degree; am working both a full-time job and picking up some extra work each week as a virtual assistant; submitting writing for publication; occasionally dating; meeting new people and building friendships; taking care of myself and my space; committed to a regular yoga practice; pursuing creative projects; and maintaining communication with friends around the globe. Whew…that’s a lot! So clearly, the only thing that is stuck, is my head up my own arse!
Funny how it can be hard to see that about oneself.
I’ve been showing up to life a little bit messy lately. Unorganized, late, sometimes tired; often just shut down…compounded by this feeling both “stuck” and overwhelmed at the same time. I don’t like being messy, but I’ve been trying to cut myself a break and I’ve also just been trying to think about life in terms of waves and stages, or cycles. Everything, every living thing has a life cycle. And most living things have life cycles that are dependent upon the life cycles of others, creating systems that are often nestled within other systems and so on creating and sustaining everything we know that is in existence. I’ve noticed a cycling trend in my life that goes something like this…
These moments in my life where I focus on professional pursuits; educational pursuits; and/or a full balanced life, cycle but they are also connected like cogs in the wheels of my existence and they pretty much make me who I am. So I need to find a way to just accept that. Besides, every moment I exist in right now, is because of every decision I’ve made either actively or out of absenteeism throughout my life.
So I’m having a day…one of those days. The kind where I wake up a little bit from the stupor I’ve been stumbling through and look forward to a new day, or maybe just the next day, where I’ll hope to show up just a little less messy. But if I don’t, that will be ok too.
Like most people I know, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook’s reminders of posts and events from 1 year ago, 2 years ago and more. And don’t even get me started on their attempt at allowing you to filter out the memories you don’t want to see, by date and tagged friends, seriously? But today, remembering was good. Although, lets not give all the credit to the book of face, I’ve been thinking about today for a while now, remembering, taking inventory, reflecting on the year gone by. There are milestones in all our lives that we mark, both those that are common (birthdays, weddings, deaths) but also those that are unique to each of us….
Today is the “official” anniversary of the #adventure2015. On this date last year, I was packing up the last of my belongings in to my car and heading off away from the home I’d known for 10 years, friends, job security in search of adventure on the open road, new experiences, and good works. I’ve shared a lot about this journey in various forums and the posts where I captured some of the more engaging moments of the adventure can be found here in this blog over the past year. For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about today, the past year, how to mark it, what to say and share with others, all these things. Life has changed a lot for me. It started before I left on the adventure and that change and personal growth has continued, IS continuing everyday. And while I have moments of wishing I would have stayed put in my comfortable apartment, dancing on the weekends with the girls, and enjoying life in the sweet little niche I’d carved out for myself, I really have no regrets about the decision to go, explore, adventure.
After sharing that today was my “adventure anniversary” with a friend via text, she responded with “Ten things you’ve learned. Go.” I couldn’t think of a better way to share today with all of you, than to share the most salient things I’ve learned from the past year. I’ve added an 11th thing, because it resonates with me in ways that I’ll write about down the line. My take away from all of this: adventure is always a good idea.
Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown as you’ve gone along on this adventure with me. The adventure is never over…
Slide show from Presentation At Popular Culture Association Conference, New Orleans 2015
It’s been an important year for all of us. Eye-opening (hopefully) with a call to action around issues of power and privilege that are impacting (infecting) our daily lives and killing (literally) others. I’m sitting with both sadness and empathy, but also a great deal of hope for what our future holds; even through these challenging times.
I’m living in Houston now. It’s good. I’m happy. I’m starting over, once more and while the past few months have been challenging, they’ve also been months of personal growth and more learning about who I am and who I want to be.
I’m in graduate school, too. In an amazing low-residency program at University of Vermont, Leadership for Sustainability, M.S. I’m learning both “book” knowledge and a lot about building relationships and gratitude.
I’ve also been learning about relationships and people who will sit in your corner even when it’s risky for them. I’ve been let down, by those I trusted. I’m learning to trust people’s actions, more than their words. I’m giving fewer chances, which may not seem positive, but I’m also learning I’ve given far too many chances to people who only use them to hurt me or others more. What’s been reinforced for me, is that the people you can trust the most, are those willing to sit through the hard times with you; those who will struggle with you to figure things out; will “grow through it” with you. I’ve been lucky to have these people in my life, these are the people I treasure and relationships I will nurture. For the others, all I can say, is “people will notice a change in your attitude towards them, but won’t notice their behavior that made you change.”
Lots of challenge and change. That seems to be the theme for this year. I wouldn’t undo it. I have zero regrets. I’ve had moments where I’ve been at my very best and others where I left my best self at home.
That’s what I have for an update, with a hopeful thought (as always) that I’ll do better at sharing more regularly.
I haven’t been writing. I could write lines and lines of why that is and not a single one would matter really. Tonite I write in search of something; solace, substance, truth, peace… It feels incredibly selfish in light of all that goes on around me to focus on what I’m learning about myself and why that matters, and it is. But it does, matter, that is.
It’s been exactly five months since I left everything I’d grown to know as home and comfort to set out on this adventure. The irony of this moment is that when I began to envision making this adventure a reality, I felt completely confident and comfortable doing so because I knew myself, I’d become the most authentic me, living life out loud, taking advantage of opportunities without fear or trepidation, and loving the heck out of myself and others. What was missing in my authentic self, was experience, exploration of new places and challenges, and a very honest desire to use the gifts and talents I possess to do work that supports opportunities of growth for others.
Here’s the crux…. Somewhere along the path of this adventure, when things started getting really challenging, when there was trial and hurt and sorrow, I unpacked a less authentic version of me, I hadn’t experienced in years. Those who knew me well in the ‘90s will recognize this self. Angry, hurt, afraid, cynical, frustrated, uneasy. I didn’t like this self much in the 90s and I really am not enjoying her now and neither is anyone else. Here’s what, I know that this is not who I am at my very core, but throw me into a situation where everything that is familiar to me is completely indiscernible as present in my life and those walls go up and authentic me sits quietly inside while this version lays waste to all who shall dare to approach. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is honest.
I wasn’t prepared for some of the challenges and changes, the culture shifts, quieter life, the loss of my animal companion. I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgment. I’ve tried to be accountable for that. I’ve misjudged other’s communications, intent, and willingness to forgive, move on and try another day. I’ve led with pride when I should have followed with curiosity. And maybe most importantly, I’ve hid myself in ways that have hurt others as well.
I don’t know what this means. I’ve never before been this aware of the fluidity of authentic self between those layers of protection that we keep “just in case” but which can wreak some of the worst havoc when they reappear. Truth is, its definitely all a part of who I am. Each day is a practice in peeling back those layers and shedding that skin to grow ever increasingly authentic. I know there is more change on the horizon. I am hopeful for what both this insight and the coming days brings. The one good thing about things falling apart, is the opportunity to put them together again.
It happens, some days are better than others. Yesterday I was able to talk and write with confidence about the changes in my life. Today…not so much, for a variety of reasons. Every day I’m making what feel like fairly significant decisions. They aren’t life or death and most of them are not unrecoverable. But it’s still hard. I often feel isolated and alone in a place unfamiliar to me.
To complicate matters, today I let someone I once trusted minimize me. It hurt and it made me angry. Mostly, it hurt. I was upset, so I thought it might help to get out of the house for a bit. But I was crying, a lot. I mean probably in a way that could have had a positive impact on the drought in California. Less than a mile from home, I got pulled over by police. FOR CRYING! He approached the car, “Ma’am, you look to be a long way from home and really upset, is everything ok.” Seriously, perhaps if one is going to get pulled over for crying, the South might be the best place to have that happen. He asked if he could give me a hug and because I really needed one, I got out of the car on the freeway and let a stranger in uniform give me hug.
Change isn’t easy. I used to avoid as much change as possible, to my own detriment. Now, every day is about embracing change.
It’s scary as hell, too.
Some days are harder.
And that’s ok.
For the rest of the day, I’m just going to choose to let it go.
I’ve fallen a bit behind in planned blogs and quite frankly so much has happened since the last one that I wouldn’t really even be able to catch up. But I’ve realized given recent FB comments and a couple of phone conversations with close friends, that those of you who are kind enough to follow my adventure may be wondering what is up with what appears to be an abrupt stop in the adventure as I settle in to a new apartment home in Jackson, MS.
My last post ended with my arrival in Las Vegas. Having learned to love Vegas in a way I never thought I would, I stopped here for a brief visit with one of my super good and amazingly talented friends, Charles. We spent an afternoon in “old Vegas” on Fremont Blvd and at Gold Spike, this little outdoor oasis of giant sized board games, really strong drinks, and a great place to smoke a smooth stogie. It was a good day. I left Vegas early the next morning with a long drive through Arizona, partially along Route 66, and in to Albuquerque where I spent the night at a hotel. I may kick myself for this later, but I did opt to skip Grand Canyon (I know, nature’s wonder and all).
From Albuquerque I drove to west Texas where I visited my friend Big E, who’d moved there from the Bay to be with his kids and where he just this past weekend, married his life’s love. So good to see him and meet his family.
Then it was on to Houston, where I landed for a few days at Don and Sid’s. This was a much-needed rest, Texas made me road weary, Leila had been getting carsick and I was ready for a bit of respite. After a few days, it was on to Jackson, MS that is where the story takes a bit of a twist.
While I was in Oregon a few weeks prior, my friends in Jackson sent me an email with a grant opportunity and said something like “lets do this.” And so we did. The three of us spent the next couple of weeks writing a 25+-page grant and preparing a budget to open an Adolescent Evening Reporting Center in Jackson, MS. The AERC is an alternative to detention centers and provides skills training, counseling, recreation and a warm meal. Our proposal was to do it in a different way, with a curriculum based on restorative justice, principles of democratic education, trust and respect. And the morning after that long trek through the desert in to Las Vegas that had left me feeling desolate and discouraged as I contemplated whether I was making the right decision about embarking on this adventure, the call came that we had received the grant! And so I arrived in Jackson knowing that this was now going to be my home for awhile…6 months, a year, or longer.
I landed in Jackson and almost immediately contracted a raging fever. Then I headed to New Orleans for a week to present at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference.
Upon returning to Jackson, I started looking for a place to live and in the past week, I’ve moved in and begun to settle in. And here is where the questions from you have arisen. As I’ve posted pictures of my new #home with connected hash tags and indicators that I was indeed settling in for a long while, you’ve asked about the adventure.
Some of my dearest friends have been quite direct about it, calling to find out what was going on and asking how I felt about not being able to continue the adventure or keep traveling. And what was I doing settling in somewhere? My gut response to all of this is that the adventure is NOT over. When I set out on this journey/adventure, I was open to whatever it held in store for me. Whatever it asked of me. I didn’t know where I would end up or where I would go. I had an initial “stop point.” That was Jackson. What the journey is asking of me now is to settle in for a while. I believe in this project, and I want to put in the effort to get it off the ground and operating. I’m still doing some consulting work and also maintaining operations for IDEA. What I know about me, is that in order to be my best professionally, I need to feel settled. I need to have a retreat that is my own, a place to rest; regroup; and start again the next day. And so Leila and I are making Jackson our home.
But here’s the thing. Jackson is located in an incredible part of our country. The South is rich in history and natural beauty and amazingly kind and generous people. I’ve never been here, I’ve never traveled around the South and there are so many parts of it I want to explore. And there will be time for more travel and exploring and adventure.
The adventure is NOT over. Life IS the adventure and every day I am learning something new, meeting someone new and having experiences I’ve never had. That is what this journey is about…and so it continues.