Life IS the adventure…

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.

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Playing Checkers in Las Vegas

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Worthy Opponent

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).

Arizona

Arizona

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.

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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.

 

Desolation by design

Somewhere near Barstow, CA

Somewhere near Barstow, CA

If I gave or even had the impression that this road trip adventure would be easy, I was wrong. It’s not. I knew (in my head) it wouldn’t be…logic and all. But damn if I didn’t just throw my heart right in, free-fall in to the deep end.  After three weeks in the NW with my BFFE (Best Fucking Friend Ever; aka Buffy), a visit to Portland friends, and my mom and sister in Seattle; followed by two days back in the Bay Area, I drove away from everything familiar in to the desert. As I was headed south through Cali, I had this thought: “damn, I love this place.” And I do, I love Cali, I love the people and the weather and I love the person that I became while living there. I love that while living in Cali I gave myself permission to be my authentic self; a blending of the young girl from sleepy, Nebraska; the well-educated career-focused woman from Oregon; and the all-out, life-is-too-short-to-work-too-hard, social justice minded, activist, party gurl from Cali. I really like this person I’ve become and I’m liking even more the person I’m becoming.

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t think more than once today about turning around and going back. “Go back where?” asked a friend. A very good point. When I arrived at my destination tonite, one of my host’s roommates helped me with my bags and asked where I was coming in from?   “California” would have been the simple answer. But some answers, especially right now, just aren’t that simple. So I laughed. Later, he stepped in a surprise Leila left in a dark doorway and so I’m guessing that I’m probably not his favorite house guest and it doesn’t matter where I came in from anyway.

Also, the inevitable desert experience as spiritual pilgrimage metaphor of all of this is not lost on me. Not even in the least. And I have many many more miles of desert to drive.

So, today I panicked. Just a little bit, I phoned a friend who talked me through it and I drove on. Tomorrow (well not tomorrow), soon will be another day of driving in the desert. And I’ll deal with that when it gets here.

This is the adventure…

I have not traveled far, yet I am weary from the journey.

the-journeyI’ve heard you say I’ve been quiet. There’s truth to that. I haven’t traveled far. The boundless travel part of the journey has yet to begin. It’s approaching and I’m eager. But this respite; this down-time to regroup, take care of some business, visit with friends and family, is much-needed. It’s what a wise friend might call a “grey road.” Off the main interstates and highways.
There’s something to be said for these off-road journeys. Learning to be had, if we’ll have it. And for me, some reconciliations of sort. Both internal and external.

This is the adventure. It won’t be all unknown roads, anticipation and excitement. Sometimes, like now, it will be about retracing beaten paths, revisiting old haunts and sharing a drink or two with friends. And like the challenges, the unknown that is before me, I welcome these comfortable silences and the known. I’ll just be resting here for a moment, asking what there is to be learned, before continuing on.

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.

 

2012: The Year of the Revolution

rev·o·lu·tion  /ˌrevəˈlo͞oSHən/  a sudden, complete or marked change in something

The prelude to 2012 started much in the same way it will end, on the red carpet at a Plush Productions NYE Party. As my friend and I approached the camera filming party-goers sharing their new year’s resolutions, I turned to my friend and said, “we do not resolute, WE REVOLOOSH!” And we did. Those who knew me prior to 2012, may find this amusing, but I feel as if 2012 brought me out of my shell.  I know, right??  Yes, believe it or not, I was still holding back in many ways. As for all of us, becoming the person I want to be is a journey. And this journey for many years has been about becoming my most authentic self, without pretense.

It’s been an amazing—if not complicated—journey, this year especially.

A large part of my 2012 revolution was to open myself up, freely—without previous fears and judgments, to new opportunities and experiences both personally and professionally. And to more thoroughly engage in the activism and social justice movements I feel so passionate about. When I gave myself over to all the possibilities that lay before me, the world seemed like this wonderful new thing to me.  It changed me.

Vermont, Boston, Oregon, Puerto Rico

Vermont, Boston, Oregon, Puerto Rico

I traveled, without fear: Puerto Rico, Oregon, Vermont, Boston.

I attended conferences and activism events that fed both my mind and soul: Fatty Affair, IDEC, NAAFA Convention, NOLOSE: the revolution just got bigger, National Women’s Studies Association Conference.

eShakti (dress)/Size Queen shrug, Curvy Girl Lingerie, Size Queen (liquid blue sex kitten dress), SWAK top

eShakti (dress)/Size Queen shrug, Curvy Girl Lingerie, Size Queen (liquid blue sex kitten dress), SWAK top

I bought new clothes and wore outfits I wouldn’t have a year ago: dresses and more dresses from eShakti, Size Queen, and SWAK and silky sexy things from Curvy Girl Lingerie.

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Friends: Courtney, Fabulanza, Patti, Lonnie, Shawn, Jenn

I strengthened existing friendships, made new friends and reconnected with friends I thought it unlikely I ever would.

I attended concerts, events, and parties.

Oh, the parties, the dancing, and the men…and women.  I danced; teased; flirted; dated; and yes even fucked a few of them (keeping it real people).

And I fell in love…with Hip Hop/Rap and Dancing.

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Friends: Kate and Drea, Shar, Marilyn and Orion, Christine, Dana, Chris

There was soooo much Dancing. From weekend Belly Dancing classes with Raks Africa, to Big Moves Bay Area Free Day of Dance Hip Hop class and more.  The occasional Friday night in Oakland at Full Figure Fridays! And every, yes EVERY Saturday night at Thick and Sexy Saturdays, unless I was traveling or sick, I was there!!

Music, Parties, and Dancing

Music, Parties, and Dancing

And the Hip Hop? Yes, seriously—white chic, driving down El Camino with her Lt. Blue Honda Fit loud and bumpin’ (oh the stop light stares). A friend recently asked me why and my answer made him laugh. I can’t explain it in a way that anyone will truly understand. So I won’t try. Just take a few minutes to listen to a couple of my favorites, Big E “Stay Dry” and “Leave this Club” …perhaps you’ll understand.

As revolutions go, mine has not been without casualties. A very dear friendship came to an abrupt, painful and really unexplainable end. I frequently neglected my writing, even when inspiration hit, I’d opt for social interaction over shutting down and spending time with my words. In the past month this has changed. Expect a book release (and party) in 2013. I made some unintentional, yet glaring missteps in the work environment that challenged me to the core and led me to make a public apology and begin a process of exploring the impact of my personal privilege on others. And with my barriers down, I’ve given people access to my life who don’t deserve it, allowed them to mistreat me, and have lost some of my safe space. But over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a shift. Those people I gave access to, have fallen silent.  At first, a bit jarring I can see that this is part of the revolution, the cycle of change. The upshot of these casualties, in hindsight, is that they’ve contributed in so many ways to bringing me to a more authentic place within myself.

The many faces of 2012.

The many faces of 2012.

And so I prepare to begin 2013 with a clearer vision of who I am, what I’m passionate about, what I want, and how all of that combined impacts others in the world around me.  I have no idea what the next year holds in store for me, but I know that I am more open to it, more patient for it and more willing to do what it asks of me than I have ever been before.  I’m all in!  Bring it on!

 

Wishing You and Yours a Happy and Joyous New Year!