A year ago, I had my DSLR.
A year ago, I had my tripod to hold my camera.
A year ago, I had my nice external flash units.
A year ago, I had fully-charged batteries for the camera and flash units.
A year ago, I had my light stands and diffuser umbrella.
A year ago, I had access to a blank wall.
A year ago, I had my model (o hai, it’s me!).
A year ago, I had that black shirt.
A year ago, I had that red lipstick.
A year ago, I had a great haircut.
A year ago, making this photo would not have been possible.
I spent a lot of years feeling like a failure for not finding a lasting connection to someone where we complement each other. There have been lots of misses, but no real hits to speak of.
And I’m (now) okay with that.
First I needed to go through the difficult journey of learning to love myself. Learning that it is OKAY to love myself. That loving myself is not being selfish, but filling my own cup so that I have plenty to share. (Which I do, in my own, socially-awkward way.)
But romantic love? I’m honestly not sure that it’s for me.
At this point in my life marriage would be mostly a business venture. And after working in pension administration for 14 years and seeing some of the viciousness from divorcing couples splitting assets, you’d better believe that, were I to marry, I’LL KEEPING ALL OF THE DAMN RECEIPTS.
So, yeah, it’s possible that I’ve grown too cynical for Love And Marriage.
On the other hand, maybe I just function best as an independent woman. And by that I mean independent of an intimate partner but not independent of my community, my family, my squad. Because the love that I share with them has lifted us all through good times and difficult times. And that’s more valuable to me than a dozen roses and a box of chocolates1.
Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.💘
1If you were to send me a box of chocolates, though, I would not refuse delivery. 😘🍫
In addition to being the one month anniversary of my leaving the Bay Area, Wednesday would also have been my mother’s birthday.
Sort of a strange set of baggage I’ve got there.
And given the cargo of those Relo Cubes, I figuratively and literally carried much of that baggage across the country, some of it out of necessity. What I cannot leave behind I have to integrate into my life in the most healthy and productive way.
As I push to move things along in this reboot of my life I’m learning to let go of the guilt that my mother’s life was so short, and the guilt that I have achieved things that she was unable to.
That second guilt has been the toughest to put down because so much of our life together was me trying to justify to her why I deserved, well, most anything. I still catch myself doing that and playing the old tape about how selfish it is of me to create a life that I want to live.
And yet I had an experience recently that showed me that I’m not the only one who benefits when I’m living in my truth. Even my small acts made a big difference in two lives. Because of that, this work I’m doing, creating the life I need to live, no longer feels so much like an act of rebellion.
Throughout the day on Wednesday I wove in mini-ceremonies to honor her life and our time together and the lessons that came from that (and that continue to emerge to this day). I honored the fact that we BOTH did our best and that we BOTH deserved to live a fulfilling life. She had her reasons for not pursuing many of her dreams and ambitions, but those should not, and will not, divert me from my own ambitions. My road ahead will have some potholes, just as the road behind me did. But I’m hard-wired for resilience and creative problem-solving. If I’ve learned anything about myself over the last 18 months it’s that I may feel like I’m coming apart, and that may cause me to recalibrate, but I don’t give up.
Speaking of potholes.
I painted again, for the first time in /mumbledy/ years. My apartment complex held a “wine and paint” night and getting back in my art is part of living my truth and also I need to get my ass out of the apartment and talk to people.
I didn’t drink any wine though: maybe I should have.
1) I hadn’t picked up a brush in a very long time; 2) we worked with acrylic paint which is VERY UNFORGIVING for us slow painters; 3) the instructor had us paint the cupcake first and the whole time I heard my old art teacher screaming in my subconscious “PAINT THE BACKGROUND FIRST!!!” and 4) hey, at least I got my ass out of the apartment and talked to people! I even remember their names (for now…I think).
Truthfully, I can’t even pick this apart because I remember enough to see how I’d improve the next painting. It may be the least appetizing-looking cupcake in modern history, but it still whetted my appetite to create more. My easel came across the country in those Relo Cubes, and I’ve dug out my sketchbooks and am ready to get some of these ideas flowing out of my head.
Which brings me to my mantra:
The more I do to create the life I want to live
The more accessible to me that life becomes
I am at the point in my planned relocation to North Carolina where I’m marking my remaining time in the San Francisco Bay Area in weeks, even days.
Today I sent my property manager notification of my intended departure date (we had talked previously about my plan to move, so it will not be a surprise). As I had given notice at my job nearly two months ago, with this notification I have completely let go of this life in the Bay Area.
Before I sent my notice to my property manager today, I was thinking about it and, quite unsurprisingly, felt some jitters in my gut. After all, I’m letting go of “security”. It’s kind of daunting until I realized that none of this belongs to me anymore.
As I wrote the letter I noticed that those jitters had gone away and I wondered if they would reappear as I got closer to hitting “Send”.
I sent the notice hours ago: still no jitters.
I find myself in a strange limbo where I’ve released the bar I’ve held onto for nearly a quarter of a century—the bar that is no longer mine—so that I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me.