Life’s Roller Coaster…

downloadI want to share all the things that have been going on in my life. There are so many changes that I don’t know where to begin. There’s too much to catch up and yet, so many important things to say.

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.

Peace

Some days are harder

blackbirds

 

Like today.

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 exciting.
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.

What I’m learning…

IMG_7332When I made the decision to quit one of my jobs, pack up my car, and go on an adventure, I knew there would be lessons. I mistakenly thought they wouldn’t start until I hit the road. The past month has been a bit of a roller coaster, filled with excitement; fear; and if I’m honest, second thoughts. The following are some reflections on the lessons that I’ve been learning recently.

Take a chance on a chance at love. Even if its not in your plans. Even if it has the potential to derail everything. Even if you aren’t prepared for what might happen, good or bad. And believe me, you aren’t prepared–ever. Whenever you are given the chance to connect your life and possibly your heart with someone very special, do it. Be open to all the possibilities. Don’t be cautious–let whatever will, happen. And then figure out how to deal with the outcome when it is time. If I’d have taken much time to think about it, I would have said I didn’t have the time to let this person in to my life right now; so I didn’t think about it. I let him in. Things didn’t work out the way I might have wanted. The timing was wrong, maybe it was all wrong. Maybe it was right and yet we couldn’t get beyond the chaos in our own lives to find a way to make it work. I’m not sorry I gave it a chance; even in the chaos that is my current life, risking everything for a chance with that ever elusive, potential life partner was important. Disappointing. Emotionally painful. But, important.

Stress doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, perhaps just the opposite. I’ve had a few days where I’ve allowed the stress of everything that packing up my apartment in to storage and preparing to drive across the country entails to paralyze me completely. Which meant nothing got accomplished that day. I did take a couple of days for myself to work through some things related to the previous lesson that I just needed to deal with and let go of. I don’t regret taking that time, it was important. I do however regret every minute that I give over to stress. I also regret the beast it sometimes turns me in to and how I talk to or treat others in the wake of stress. I don’t want a life full of regrets, so I try not to let stress take over. That’s gotten harder given all the changes. I’m working on it. It’s a daily process.

Crying is healthy and helpful. I wrote about how much I’ve been crying in an earlier post. I’ve never been afraid or ashamed of tears, they seem to come much more quickly lately and I am very clear about how raw and on the surface my emotions are right now. Not everyone knows how to handle emotional reactions and so it is tricky to navigate sometimes with my friends. I find that taking and/or making the time to cry or emote in whatever way is necessary when I’m alone is critical to keeping my “shit” together at the moment. And so I cry and laugh and even scream whenever it feels natural to do so or is desperately needed.

Take advantage of every moment. This is true for all of life, not just this adventure. I’m finding that I wish I had more time to spend with people. And if you know me at all, you know that I’m already a bit of a social butterfly and I’m often on the go with friends. Yet, there are new friendships just blossoming and other friendships that I just want more time with. The good thing is, I’ll be back around. Some friends I’ll see in New Orleans in April and others I know will come visit me somewhere along the path of my adventure. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had and will cherish every opportunity to share time with them before I go. Also, distance won’t change how I feel about these people so keeping in touch will be a priority.

Embrace fear. Fear is natural. Even more so under these conditions. I’ve had friends say that if I wasn’t afraid, they’d be afraid for me and question my decisions. I’m afraid of many things related to this adventure–the journey, the experiences I will have, far out-weigh any of the fear I’m experiencing. I will listen to the fear, but I will not let it hold me back.

These are just a handful of the lessons I’ve been learning. I know there are many more in store for me. I’m anxious to get on the road. There are a couple more weeks of packing and preparing and then the adventure will begin for real. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me.

 

Wandermust

leila drive 1

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” -Meister Echkart

If you know me well and/or follow me much (fb, ig, twitter) you know that change has been kind of a theme for me over the last 6 months or so. Mostly small changes in how and where I spend my time socially, using my free time to significantly engage more in my passions around activism and writing and attempting to live more simply. Internally, I’ve felt that more significant change has been headed in my direction. Subconsciously I’ve been preparing for it for months. And now its upon me.
I’ve been in California now for just over 9 years, the longest I’ve lived in any one place since I was 18. Frankly, I never intended to stay this long. I disliked the Bay Area a lot after moving here, but slowly it grew on me and there have been times in the last couple of years that I’ve actually referred to myself as a “Californian.” I’ve definitely become acclimated to the mild weather and semi-infinite sunshine, as my multiple freckles can attest to. I have found favorite spots I really like to hang out. I have friends here I love dearly and relationships that have opened my eyes to a wide range of experiences. And a job, which though it barely pays the rent, I love. I also have a second job, which does pay the rent almost anywhere else in the United States and likely beyond.
Working two 32+ hour a week jobs for almost 4 years has begun to wear on me a bit. I’m more eager than ever to spend time and energy on creative pursuits and anxious to also put all of my work energy in to one job. My lease at that $1900/mo 700 sq. foot apartment I’ve made home is up at the end of February.
I’ve been having conversations about my options with close friends and with some suggestions and encouragement, I’m taking some chances and heading out on the open road.
I’m guessing right about now you may be wondering…what is she talking about? Is she moving? Where is she moving to? What is she going to do?

Some of those questions have answers, others not so much.

I’ve given notice at Santa Clara University, last day is February 6th. I’ll be working my full-time gig as Director of Operations with The Institute for Democratic Education in America. It’s a remote job, meaning I can work it from anywhere, literally anywhere that is conducive to video calls, online collaboration, and access to a major airport. I’m giving up my little apartment, selling or giving away most of my furniture and other such stuff. Storing the things that matter most and I’ll want for starting over in a new place some day in to a portable storage container. And packing up only the necessities into my little blue Honda Fit and hitting the road with Leila as my copilot. Princess Ophelia, my lovely long-haired cat, will be going to Oregon to live with my very best of friends. She has been talking about bringing a cat in to her home and having spent a month there this summer, we both think it’s a great place for Ophelia. She’ll get the one to one attention she deserves being the only pet in the home.
Where am I going, may be the bigger question. The answer: I don’t know. And the beauty of it is, I don’t have to.

Cynefin

It’s Welsh for a place where a being feels it ought to live. So if there’s an answer that must be had, I’ll be in search of that place.
I do have some destinations in mind and while my initial travel will be to Oregon and Washington in late February/March, I’ve committed to heading south, first to Jackson, MS for a bit of time where I’ll work with some local organizers and parents to help start a new school. From there, I hope to explore more of the South. Then, who knows. I’ve always wanted to live for a month or two in the heart of New York City. It could be fun to spend time back in Nebraska at some of the old places I knew growing up and reconnect with family and friends. And Puerto Rico, definitely Puerto Rico. There’s also Minnesota, the East Coast, and Florida.

So that’s the plan. Drive to where ever the road takes me. Work. And Write.

I’ll chronicle my adventures here, on social media (fb, twitter, ig) and am contemplating a video channel on YouTube.

I hope you all will follow along, keep in touch and maybe even consider visiting me at one of my new homes on the road.

The next few weeks will be a blur of spending time with friends, packing, and preparing to start this adventure. I’m sad to be leaving behind so many great friends, although I’ll hang on to those friendships as each and every one is so important to me. I’m really excited to start this new adventurous chapter of my life and currently resisting the urge to frequently break out into my own version of John Denver’s “Leaving on Jet Plane.” I’m so appreciative of all the support and encouragement I’m receiving from those I’ve shared the news with personally before sharing with all of you here and on social media. It reminds me of how blessed I am to have so many amazing people in my life and also makes moving on that much harder. Moving on, but not letting go.

I hope you’ll come along with me, in whatever way you can, on this adventure!

“You can’t always wait for the perfect time. Sometimes, you have to dare to do it because life is too short to wonder what could have been.” – Unknown