Monday, September 22, 2014

Something Shifted

I am happy, yes happy, to say that I am doing so much better. Between the increased exercise, solitude, and time with close friends and family I feel like I am in a much better space these days. Thankfully.

Something shifted for me this time during this battle with depression. After spending most of my life chasing an idea of love out of the shear desire to be loved, I find that I've completely stopped chasing it. I can't, without a doubt, say that I'm not just completely shut down due to the depression, but right now there is not a single part of me that has any desire to be in a romantic relationship.

I'm not brooding or saying that from a space of pain or hurt where I feel like I'm just done with it all. This is new for me. I'm in a space where I am truly happy being single and spending time alone.

In this space I find that the relationship I have with myself is deepening, I'm being much more honest with myself, and I'm also focusing on strengthening my relationships with my family and my closest friends. It's the deeper connections that I crave these days.

That deeper connection that I crave leads me to send a personal email or message to those farther away or getting together with those who are close by. I always look forward to catch up sessions with my friends and family and we make it a point to schedule them. I appreciate them immensely.

I also love my job(s). I'm working with dogs and other animals when I house sit and it fills me up with so much love and true companionship. I can't remember a time in my life where I've ever loved and enjoyed my job so much. My happiness and contentment with that part of my life seems to be flowing over into the other parts of my life, which is what I had always thought would happen and am grateful to have finally discovered that to be true.

Because I love my job(s) so much, I am rearranging my life to fit into the income bracket and if the income improves, I am very happy to watch my savings account grow after paying down more debt. I will soon share living space, I live simply and I am content and happy with this lifestyle.

I've also stopped chasing the past. I have completely released it all, forgiven myself, and no longer pine for what was. If I could find better words to convey the magnitude of this, I would surly use them. This is huge for me.

This shift is substantial and life changing, to say the least. I am cautiously optimistic and excited to see what the future holds. I continue to plan for my eventual return to California to care for my parents and my tiny home that I will one day build. Of course, this is not to say that a romantic relationship will never again happen in my life, but at the moment, I am honestly ok if it doesn't. I no longer feel that desperate need to be loved. I don't yet know myself well enough to know whether or not I feel like I'm meant to be partnered up with someone in a romantic sense. Perhaps that will come with time.

I'm also finding that in this space, I don't feel as comfortable with putting myself out there the way that I used to. My online presence has changed both here and on the social media sites. Even writing this blog post feels a bit too self centered. I don't mean that as a judgement, I just don't feel as comfortable with it for myself these days.

I've separated my personal life from my online/public life so most of what I post these days on social media is stuff that I can talk about with anyone. The more personal things stay personal and I talk about them with those who are closest to me. I don't feel the need to talk about it in a public space anymore. 

Not to say that I won't write in this blog anymore. The topics of future posts may be a bit more general, is all. Perhaps one day I'll find myself back in that space where I feel the need to put myself out there again. That avenue is always open, of course.

If I'm really being honest with myself, I could wake up tomorrow and this could all change. Even so, it'll still be me and who I am. I will honor that shift, as well. But right now, I like where I am mentally, emotionally and physically. That is a very good thing. 

A very good thing, indeed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Again, and Again, and Again

Third time's a charm, right? Well, it's really the fourth but enough with the counting. I gave up numbers years ago.

That path that I talked about starting down again back in November of last year was briefly sidetracked. I thought I would be able to handle dating while remaining committed to being single but I just don't seem to be built that way. Thankfully one of us was smart enough and brave enough to cut things off so we could both continue down the healing paths that we forged for ourselves.

So, here I am again. Processing grief, battling depression that the grief seems to have triggered but I am winning the battle. The battle happens daily, sometimes moment to moment but I keep reminding myself that I'm still here so I'm winning.

On the first of this month I finally got myself outside on the track to try out my knees with running again. While running I had an idea to start tracking the things that I do to battle this disease of depression through photographs on my Instagram account. I'm using the hashtag "fuckdepression". It's a knock off from "fuckcancer" that I've noticed some of my social media connections have been using. I like it. It helps me stand up to it and do something for myself. The photographs will serve as reminders for me. Perhaps they will inspire someone else who is waging the same war.

Other changes are coming that will help with my intentions of continuing to work on letting go of the past, being grateful for what I have, focusing on work and paying off debts, finishing the book (I am currently in talks with a local indie publisher!), getting to know me, and learning all I can about care giving, gardening and building a tiny house. Care giving because at some point in my future I will move back down to Southern California to take care of one or both of my parents, gardening because I will one day grow my own food again and building a tiny house because that's where I want to live. In a tiny house that I built with my own two hands on a piece of land with a small pack of dogs. 

Hopefully, I'll keep coming back to this space to write about it.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Macro Photography

Hey everyone! I've gotten a lot of really great feedback on my macro photography images and have chosen 24 images to create some really great blank note cards. 

The note cards are made from tree friendly sugar cane and post-consumer waste fiber and have a beautifully printed matte photograph on the front plus they come with envelopes. I've assembled them myself and signed the backs. 

If you're interested in purchasing some, please visit my online gallery for more info. Credit cards are welcome! Please feel free to share, as well! You can also order prints for gifts or your home/office space! 

To visit my online gallery and find information on how to order please click here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Butch and Her Dog

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about this dog. Her name was Sumatra and we spent 7 wonderful years together in this life. From the moment she burst out of the car and ran around the yard with me when my then partner brought her home until the day we said goodbye, we were inseparable. She was attached to my hip and followed me where ever I went. She was my best friend and my savior during one of the darkest times in my life.  It didn't matter what I was dealing with or going through in my life, she was my true companion and always ready for our nightly walks. She taught me how to enjoy life again, how to love deeply and how to play. She made me smile every day, hogged the bed whenever she could and provided me with endless amounts of cuddles and lap naps. 

In September of 2009 she fell ill very quickly. Unable to stand to eat, drink or go outside, I took her to the vet. After some tests the vet told me over the phone that she had reason to believe that there was a large growth in Sumatra's belly that could be cancerous so I took her in for more tests. Those tests confirmed the vet's suspicions. She then talked to me about quality versus quantity. Sumatra was then 13 years old and nearing the end of a labs life span. I had to make the toughest decision I've ever made in my entire life. Something I would never wish on my worst enemy. 

I had to say goodbye to my best friend, my companion, my teacher, my dog. 

Almost 5 years later I still find myself shedding tears when I think about that day and how much I miss her. I am still so incredibly grateful to those who helped me through that tremendously difficult time. 
Sumatra's actual paw print tattooed on my left forearm.

Today as I was hugging, playing and walking with the dogs I get to work with now I thought about all of the lessons Sumatra taught me and how I'm learning them all over again with the dogs that surround me now. Dogs don't care about your finances or what you do for a living. They have no judgements around any of that. All they care about is whether or not you're a good person with a good heart and good intentions. To them life is all about love, happiness, physical and emotional connection, good food, lots of play time and naps. 

I've struggled financially in the past few months, I mean really struggled, but you know what? I wouldn't trade this life or this job for anything. I have never been happier with the work that I do. My nights are no longer filled with dreaded thoughts of work the next day. They're filled with happiness and excitement about work. I get to hang out with dogs! To me, that's the most wonderful, happy and exciting thought ever!

This feeling, this sense of pride and happiness in my work...this is what I've been searching for all this time. It wasn't ever in the daily grind of 9 to 5 nor was it on the road to a "sensible" job in the accounting field. It was here in the realm of an assemblage of part time gigs that have me working every day doing things that fill my soul; dogs, cameras, MacBooks and non-profits who are doing good in the world. To some, it may not look like much of a life but to me, it's the best life I've ever lived. 

My heart is filled with gratitude. 

Thank you Universe. Thank you for saying yes. 

Thank you, Sumatra. Thank you for saving my life many times over and teaching me what this life is really about. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Stepping out of my comfort zone at Burning Man 2012
I've been trying to write this blog post for days now. It seems that even writing about stepping out of my comfort zone is uncomfortable and challenging.

A night or so ago I sat on my makeshift bed of a futon cushion which sits on the floor of my studio apartment and read through old blog posts from this blog. Going all the way to the beginning of the blog when I wrote about leaving the accounting world and living a more authentic life, I discovered that I am, again, back in that same space where I was almost 4 years ago.  Learning to let go.

Four years ago I left the safety of a 9 to 5 accounting job and picked up my camera with the intention of living a life that was more authentic to my soul. No more 9 to 5 jobs. I wanted to find my work, my calling, my authentic self. There was a period of time where I had to talk myself through the panic but then I found myself moving back towards the "safety" of a 9 to 5 through temporary work.  Slowly over those 4 years that temporary work became a permanent position, outside of the world of accounting, yes, but still nothing that was fulfilling. I felt trapped once again.

(I use quotes around the word 'safe' and 'safety' because, in all honesty, who really is safe in their jobs these days? In a world where so many are still unemployed and starving for work, we are all replaceable.)

Here I am, again, back in that space where I know the 9 to 5 is not for me and I'm doing my best to piece together an income that will sustain and support me while I find that thing that not only feeds my soul but fills my bank account. This time I am constantly talking myself through the panic, almost moment by moment, and doing what I'm sure most around me are doing, wondering why I just don't go back to the 9 to 5 instead of stressing about whether or not I'm going to make rent next month.

As some would say, "She's an accountant. Why doesn't she just go and do that again? She'd make more money." Well, here's the thing about that: I've been out of the game for 4 years and when I left it, I let it all go. I honestly can't remember how to do it. I tried to take an online bookkeeping test and failed it miserably. Plus, I don't have any recent experience. So, let's put that thinking away now, shall we? Thanks.

What I'm doing differently this time is the thing that I have been struggling to get but am finally getting. Instead of focusing on and stressing over figuring out exactly what that work is (because it could be something no one knows about or has even thought of yet), I am focusing on how I want to feel while I do that work and how I want to feel about that work. I'm focusing on how I want my life to feel to me.

There's a video on the interwebs of a commencement speech that Jim Carrey gave last month. I had no idea that the man was so profound. For the last week I've been watching that speech before starting my day because there are so many things in it that speak to me right now while I sit in this space. Here is the full video:

When I listened to it the third day in a row, there was one thing stood out to me the most. So much so that I stopped the video and went back to it to hear it again so I could write it down. While I wrote it down, I could feel the tears starting to form. What I wrote down was this:

"My job is not to figure out how to make it happen, it's to open the door in my mind. When that door opens in my life, all I have to do is walk through it." 

In that moment, I realized that so much of my life has been spent trying to figure out how to make my life look and feel the way I want it to.  That's where my focus has been. I've dreamed of things that I've wanted in my life but my first thought has always been, "What do I have to do to get it?" I am a fixer. My mind goes directly to problem solving and fixing things, figuring out how to make it happen. It hasn't worked out so well for me so I am switching gears.

My task now is to focus on the "what" and let go of the "how". It's a bit of a challenge, to say the least. The day before yesterday on my way to my shift at the doggy daycare I started really thinking about what to ask the Universe for. How do I want my life to feel and look like? Even in coming up with those things I was very much aware of where my mind was going as I drove down the road. It was trying to see how it was I was going to get there. Where those thoughts were really going were dead ends. Every single one. I couldn't see how I was going to make my life look and feel the way I want it to. Finally I yelled out loud, "Let it go, Wen!"

It's not possible for me to think up all of the scenarios the Universe has to make my life the way I want it to be so I need to stop trying. That is an incredibly limited way of thinking and does nothing but hold me in this struggle. Asking for what I want and letting go of the how while I work towards a life I want to live, that's what I am doing this time around.

Before I wrap this post up I have to share another video with you. It's a long one but I highly suggest taking the time to watch it. It's an interview with Brene' Brown by one of the photographers I follow, Chase Jarvis. I can't even begin to recap all of the great stuff in this interview but the one thing that stood out for me is them talking about vulnerability and creativity. One of the quotes from it is, "There is no creativity without vulnerability." Brilliant. Another thing I wrote down while watching it is, "If it's uncomfortable, it's the right thing to do." Also, "It's not about winning or losing, it's about having the guts to show up and be seen without knowing the outcome." Seriously. So much good stuff.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fail Faster

I've been really struggling lately with figuring out what my work in this world is. Not my job but my work. They are two separate things. To me, my work is what makes my life meaningful and worthy of living. My work is what I will leave behind in this world when I move into the next plane of existence. 

I feel like I'm just on the cusp of really figuring out exactly what that work is. Right now I'm sitting through all of the unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings of letting go of what has always been the "norm" for me. The norm being the 9 to 5 job that brought in the steady paycheck, made me seem responsible and a part of society around me. But that's not at all what suits me. All this time it's been me, a square peg, cramming myself into a round hole and it just is not working. It's not who I am. 

As I've been sitting through all of this, I've been coming across posts and quotes on the internet that are constantly reminding me that I am ok just the way I am and that I don't have to be a part of the "normal" cog in societies work force. One of those posts was from my son. Below was his status update on his Facebook page yesterday. Not only am I so fucking proud of him, I am incredibly grateful for him. He is my mirror, my teacher and my inspiration. Here is what he said:

"It's late, I've had a wretched day, but a nice ending with my roommate and boyfriend (we watched This is the End, which is generally not my kind of movie, but it was still very fun to watch). Regardless, after a beer and a glass of fantastic plum wine I started thinking about life and the meaning of. I know everyone thinks about it as it's a popular topic, but I realized - at least for me - life is about experiencing. It's about learning new things, falling in love, and writing your own story. I know it's simple, but that's really answer enough.

Everyone makes mistakes, but the key is embracing those mistakes, learning from them, and aiming to be a better person tomorrow. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life and I've also failed to make mistakes in my life. I've even gone so far as to become afraid of making mistakes in life, afraid of being in that awkward position because I believed that in order to be a great guy I've got to not make any mistakes. It's why you don't see me animate so much, it's why I'll speak of grandiose ideas but take forever to begin development, and it's why I've been stuck in one place for so long. I am a perfectionist, but that perfectionism is what could ruin me if I don't learn to "fail faster."

I know how that sounds, "fail faster." When I first heard of the mantra "fail faster" I thought "but what about making the perfect game?" You can't just make the perfect game, I know that; it's obvious. But sometimes if you've got an I.P. rattling in your brain for a decade you begin to think of it highly. If I don't learn to fail faster - to make mistakes and learn from them - I'll just stay in one place. It's like life, basically. If you're too afraid to jump, then you'll just stick to the "day in and day out" mentality. You'll stick to your routine crap job for years. Today I learned that I don't want to stay in one place. I want to show everyone I can be awesome! But there was the problem: I want to prove to you guys that I can be great too. I've been basically chasing my dreams for the wrong reasons.

I love you guys. You guys are awesome, in my book. Most of the time I'm even jealous, but I really shouldn't be. Life is about experience and everyone lives their own experience in life. It's pointless to compare each other's lives and skills because we're all wired differently, experienced different things, and grew up differently. I know it's a quote from the invisible book of common sense, but we're all unique.

So, today I've changed. I'm not chasing my dreams because I want to be noticed, I'm chasing them because they're my dreams. It's my life and I've lived it to this point by comparing myself to others when I really needed to compare myself to the me from yesterday. So, today I've changed. I'm a better person than I was yesterday and a step closer to my dreams.

For me, this is huge. For you, I guess that really depends on who I am to you. Either way, I guess from now on the only person I'm really competing against is myself. If I'm the only guy I'm up against, then there is no direction but up because I know I can reach the stars.

I hope what I've learned today might help you in some way."

Yes. Yes. A million times yes. Thank you, son. 


Phenomenal Woman

A truly phenomenal woman moved on from this plane of existence today. I was awoken this morning by a text message from my dear sister telling me that Maya Angelou has passed. Renowned poet, author and educator. She touched the lives of so many with her presence and her words.

One of her quotes has been my mantra for the last couple of years.

"If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be."

The quote in the photograph is also one that has lead me through this life. People will always remember how you made them feel.

Thank you, beautiful soul, for sharing your words and yourself with this world. You will be missed. Rest in peace.

"Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable but it will satisfy your soul."