Saturday, October 11, 2014

They Were Right About Me

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” ~ Tao Te Ching

"I'm always makin' the same mistakes. All this takin' is hard to take. When I think about bygone days, I was doin' everybody wrong. I was takin' the long way, endin' up where I don't belong. Now I pray it's not too late to change the path I'm runnin' on."  -lyrics from "Snake Road" by Ron Sexsmith

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." The hard part about finally being honest with myself is owning up to my mistakes and painful patterns. The sentence in the quotes can be interpreted in a few different ways that I can think of. The "what I am" can be the ideas of who I am or supposed to be in my mind or it could literally be "what I am". That "what I am" being exactly the person someone once warned a woman I dated a few years back about me being. A person who is easily distracted as soon as things get hard and someone pays attention to her.

Just typing out those words made my stomach turn. This is me owning up to how much of an asshole I was. I wanted desperately to be loved and in my mind a relationship should be easy because that's how you know it's right. As soon as there was a hurdle to jump or a mountain to climb within that relationship I shut down and ran. And ran. And ran. And ran.

Until one day I finally owned up to my shit and was able to see all of the wrong I had done. I was able to see how selfish I was and how much I was Godzilla-ing my way through life. "I was taking the long way, endin' up where I don't belong. Now I pray it's not too late to change the path I'm runnin' on." This path I'm on is very different.

Relationships aren't supposed to be anything. They are supposed to be relationships. Sometimes hard and sometimes easy. It doesn't make one more right than the other. What matters is the love, connection, honesty, and communication between the people in the relationship and whether they're either heading down the same path or reaching for the same end result.

I think. Fuck. Maybe I don't have a clue. 

I know how I feel. It's taken me a really long time to finally know how I really feel, but I finally do and these days I feel humbled. Humbled by the events and my decisions and actions over the past few years. I know I don't want to be that asshole anymore. I know that today I am a better person than I was yesterday and that's a great accomplishment. I also know that tomorrow I will be a better person than I am today because I will keep on working on this open and honest communication with the people I am in relationship with now. My family and closest friends.

I also know that I am grateful for those who call me out on my shit, even if indirectly. I'm finally in a space where I don't automatically go into a self defense mode and can honestly sit with it, take it in and consider whether or not something should change in me.

If a relationship does ever happens for me again, I know it'll look different than the idea that I've carried around in my head all these years about love. You might say that it'll look much more practical and realistic. I don't feel the need, although the want will always be there, for the forever ever after. I'll want space and time for myself within the relationship and I'll most likely want to sleep separately, although not every night but often. When my tiny house comes to fruition, maybe even have our own tiny houses on the same property. I guess what I'm explaining is more of an intimate companionship.

Even if that doesn't happen, I will still have my family and close friends to make those connections and have that companionship. Plus, there are always dogs. Dogs are the best companions.

I've let go of my attachment to my need to be loved. I've kicked the asshole out of my head and every day I'm becoming that person who I always thought I was. Honest. Loving. Open. Trustworthy. Loyal. Compassionate. Considerate. Someone that truly knows the meaning of family and being a good friend.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hindsight and Major Life Changes

Hindsight. It's frustratingly clear sometimes. After spending this past year traveling through so many major life changes I've learned some huge lessons for which I am grateful.

One of those lessons being to stop moving so much and just be. Specially after a major life change like ending a relationship, starting another, ending a job, starting another and moving across the country.

I wish I would have given myself more time in Massachusetts with my ex-wife. I was in the midst of a lot of grief and internal struggle that clouded quite a bit for me. I can't help but wonder what might have been had I just sat through it while staying put.

But, wishing I would have done things differently doesn't change the past. All I can do is move forward and be ever so grateful that I still have a friendship with her, that she's still a part of my life. Our connection has always been so strong. Even in times of great distance physically and emotionally. If it really is true that we all have a "love of our life", that one person that you feel so deeply connected to on a soul to soul level, something that goes beyond words, she's that person for me. While the reality of things may be that we are never to be an "us" again, I am so grateful that she will always be my family and my closest friend.

I've learned so much over the past year. I look forward to being still, being quiet, being present and learning more this next year. Most importantly, staying honest and open with myself and those who are most important to me. My life has new priorities these days. Cultivating and nourishing the relationships of my close friends and family is top priority. Staying in a space of gratitude goes along with that.

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.