23 November 2014

too big for just one of us.

likely only 5-10% of the people reading this post will understand the details, 
will know these people, will have seen these faces. but i'm still putting this here,
 knowing that i'm not the only one. knowing that the reality of things sometimes 
is too big for just one of us....

i think that each person we meet in our lives has the potential to open up a world in us that we never knew was there, and it possibly doesn't exist until they're there to show us. i also think that each person has the potential for magic - but sometimes its hard to tell the magic from the illusion. 

a year and a half ago when i randomly met that cute, tall guy, i never expected to still be in touch after this long. i never expected to spend so many nights on the phone with that voice from 3000 miles away and feeling like i never had to say a word. even though i said thousands upon thousands. every time. i didn't expect to make a connection that became instantly important to me. 

when i came to LA last winter to visit, i had just started telling my family about my plans to move to AZ. spending time in or possibly moving to LA wasn't in the cards yet, but i still attributed everything to that one sunset we saw. those mountains. the hollywood sign. that hope that everyone who comes here carries with them. he continually told me to just do it. just jump.

sunset in Joshua Tree, Feb 2014.
he became one of the few catalysts for moving clear across the country and even when i sounded crazy he never stopped supporting me (he just told me i sounded crazy). most of my friends had no idea who he was and were confused at my bravery. there were so many things that i laid in bed at night and romanticized about - not just about that face and those arms, but moreso about taking that jump. i didn't sleep for weeks after my visit, and i didn't stop crying for weeks either. i didn't know why all of a sudden i felt like my life just couldn't move forward without this. i couldn't make sense of leaving everything i knew behind, and yet i couldn't make sense of staying.

(the first time i hiked a desert mountain in northern arizona almost two years ago, i was surprised at how far i could see even fairly close to the base. it was nothing like the dense forests of trees and roots and mud i'd hiked through in maine. i didn't have to get all the way up to the top to have a view, and that view certainly wasn't just the tops of more trees. i could see entire towns, cities, more mountains in the distance, long dusty roads, and sky forever.)

i can vividly remember the view from high atop that special spot in joshua tree/CA almost a year ago with a horizon that went on forever; and later sitting at a little diner for breakfast with desert mountains to the sides and ahead of us. i thought about how similar they looked to those i'd seen in arizona, and how at home i felt with the familiarity even in a new and strange place. i had said, "i can't wait to have a sight like that to look at every day." (i looked for that spot in j-tree last month when i was on my own without him, and couldn't find it.)

view from atop Joshua Tree, Feb 2014.
i find myself connecting with these mountains on some level that i've never experienced before. they became a constant reminder of what i hoped to accomplish and in some ways how i viewed myself just before moving. that need to face an obstacle head on, climb up and over it to come out with a different perspective on the other side, a rising and improvement in how i saw my life, some kind of strength and permanence based in myself regardless of where i was. 

and even still, that seclusion and isolation in those hard to reach places was what i think spoke to me the most. the silence at the bottom looking up, the silence at the top looking down. 

in driving from arizona to california this fall i experienced views of those mountains that will be in my head and in my heart for likely as long as i live. if i could have photographed every second, every frame, every inch of those 200-250 miles i would have - but it wouldn't have done any of it justice. the shapes and colors and growth and size. and the emptiness in between.

view from the Brewery Artist Lofts, Nov 2014.
so, here i am. having been in LA for almost a month, with another month to go. all of those things i romanticized about are at my fingertips. i took that jump. and yet, i'm nothing like i thought i would be. i'm awkward and loud at all the wrong times. i laugh too much and am quiet at the weirdest moments. half of me has no idea what i'm doing, and the other half is still so surprised to be here that it can barely move. my sewing machine has never gotten so much use and LUKE and i are pumping out so much good work as quickly as possible. i know that without him giving me a place to stay, none of this weirdness, awkwardness, love, or overwhelming emotion would have been physically manifested into these two quick months. 

i can see those same CA mountains from the roof of my building. i can see them when i'm driving on the crazy chaotic highway. and still, i know that i won't be staying here.

i am lucky that i can do work for LUKE from pretty much anywhere and that he's willing to enlist my help. i am lucky that i can do my own sewing work from anywhere that i can put my machine, even if its in a tiny corner of someone else's house for a while again. i am lucky that i have no limit to what i can create.

i am unlucky that again i will have to say goodbye in LA. if i had known then what i know now, the last time i said that goodbye, the struggle i felt on the way home would have been just a little bit easier. and still, i get teary eyed just thinking about it, because i know that the drive back to AZ from CA is one that i'm going to make reluctantly. did i do my best? did i try hard enough? did i focus on what was important? sometimes we do things we said we'd never do. for me, living in LA was something i said i'd never do - the appeal of it never fit into my life. i can see why people do love it here, from the outside. but its the inside that i can't get into, even with all the support in the world behind me. 

sunset on LA, Nov 2014.
so for the last month+, there's still plenty of time to make more personal memories. to do more work. to take more photos and collect more things. to keep finding that fine line between magic and illusion... i'm soaking in as many moments as i can and i'm secretly looking at those mountains every chance i get. that cute tall guy. the beautiful Cali soul sister of mine. this quilting crazyman. these are my people, and even though i'll have to say goodbye for a second time, i'll only be about 500 miles away instead of 3000. i suppose that has to count for something. i got pretty damn close. they all have little pieces of me, but AZ has the biggest piece of my heart. the whole point of moving was doing what would make me happiest. i have to do it for myself instead of letting anyone else do it for me.

17 November 2014

week two;

'The best way to find out if you can trust somebody 
is to trust them.' 

i am now two full weeks into my stay in LA. 

any and all kinds of personal centering i had when i was in AZ has left me and i still feel like i'm starting all over again, every day. i'm still getting lost any time i drive anywhere. i'm still not adventuring out on my own as i hoped i would be. my main focus has been on sitting at my sewing machine, with little breaks to walk around the neighborhood for sunshine, and pumping out enough work to cover my rent/stay here. i have spent a lot of time texting with friends, both here and back home (and everywhere in between). i have spent a lot of time thinking about what i want to do next, already. the only money i have spent here has almost all gone to food and groceries and i've yet to even have to fill up my gas tank. but, who comes to LA to stay inside? who bothers to come all this way only to miss the place they just left? i'm already longing for my AZ hikes. i'm already missing the way that i felt there: comfortable with myself.

LA has not been all difficult, though. there have been a handful of moments with friends that have carried me through each week so far. tea & brunches with my Cali soul sister, that kind of girlfriend time that you really just need every once in a while, so you can talk about clothes and hair and paramore, and relate over what its like to be stuck in a job that doesn't fit you on any emotional level. i have spent time with another familiar face in a much different capacity, but also quite the same in contentedness - waking up to a more intimate connection and domestic little tasks that reminded me what its like to live in an apartment with a quiet space to call your own. a balcony to watch the sunset, a bathtub, a comfortable bed for conversations and giggles face to face instead of through the phone. 

part of all this moving and interacting with new people (or just people you haven't seen in a really long time) means figuring things out, personally... i'm realizing i'm not always best at saying what i mean or saying what i should. i'm realizing i'm good at connecting with people and making some really great shared memories with them but i'm not always able to categorize them. i'm learning that sometimes stuff just can't be categorized. i'm learning that some things don't change whether you're 3,000 miles away or 3 miles away. i tend to get spooked by other people's advice and sometimes ignore my own gut and my own heart. i'm always so quick to assume something is a mistake.
i am still obsessed with seeing palm trees every day. i am loving the weather. 70's during the day is about 30+ degrees warmer than what it is back in maine these days, and even when it drops into the 60's on a chilly day i am still the first one out in short sleeves. i am appreciating any tiny little bit of sunshine, even if its a sliver from out behind clouds. when i wake every morning to snowy winter photos on my Instagram feed, i recognize how beautiful it looks but i am very much looking forward to not experiencing the freezing temperatures and depression that comes along with it for me every winter. 
i am enjoying making friends with my sewing machine again on a daily basis. yesterday i was able to sit down and work on a project for luke out of frustration and get a little bit of angst out - the only healthy way that i know how. because i work faster and longer and better when i'm trying to distract myself from the world around me (or sometimes just one thing in particular) - and it felt so good to reconnect with myself in that way. some people go for a run or go to a therapist, but i like to feel the fabric between my fingers and meet a deadline. sewing for someone else is an interesting experience, fairly void of any creative liberties, but it sure beats that awful 9-5 feeling where you're working all week just to get to the weekend. i've had very little concept of what day it is here. fridays are the same as mondays are the same as wednesdays. 
while i've been sewing for LUKE, i've been able to spend time thinking about where i want my own work to go moving forward. i started a new project last week which i can't share right away (incase it becomes a gift). i recognized as i started it - without sketching my usual drawing/chart first - that i had just jumped right in without giving it much thought. at first it came easily with fabric and color choice being really distinct and obvious. as i started to work on the blocks, i started to feel less psyched about it and wasn't really sure what i was doing. i took an evening to sit back and really think about what the project meant and what i wanted it to represent, added in a couple of brighter and more "interesting" fabrics, and i felt a lot better about where it was headed. 

attaching emotion and moments and meaning to my projects is something that has really become the most important part of quilt creating for me. i have fully stepped away from making things just because they are pretty (though there is nothing wrong with that!). i have immersed myself in creating out of a place inside of me that needs an outlet, that needs to push out something i've felt or seen - just in a different way than previously felt or seen. it feels a bit like storytelling, a way to write without words or needing to sit down with a pen or a computer. these projects have become my stories. little autobiographies for you to read and interpret as you will.

i still have a piece of me that so badly wants to incorporate this style of "emotional quilting" into expressive therapies. whether it be in hands on classes or simply through analytical blog posts. i think that a lot of quilty types could appreciate the need to express their happiness, sadness, struggles, triumphs, loves and hates through fabric and thread. through color and style and shape. sometimes its just difficult to make that leap from a feeling to a pile of fabrics.
as i start to pull together these ideas and thoughts from my traveling and all of these notes on what quilting means to me, i start to understand more and more that it is less about making products to sell or creating items for money - though i do love a commission project, because i think those can be really fun to make into something special for someone. i'm struggling with that desire to make unique and interesting DIFFERENT projects that keep people on their toes (and innovating and changing as i go along but keeping true to my "style"), while still remembering where my need to make comes from. 

so, heading into week three, i'm looking forward to: starting another project for Luke (project #5 in two months), Thanksgiving plans with a friend out here, the pile of new groceries i've got stacked up in the kitchen, and the view from the roof of our building (that i just discovered today - i can see downtown on one side, and the mountains on the other!!). i'm also looking forward to whatever little things happen in between. its the little things that are keeping me moving along. 
six more weeks in LA....

07 November 2014

cross country.

well, i've officially made it across the country. after almost ten months of planning to go to AZ and seven months of planning to go to LA - i've arrived in LA in one piece (with a few little pieces still staggering to catch up).

the drive from AZ to CA was full of everything from gorgeous & moody green mountains and winding highways all around, to endless desert and blaring sunshine between a set of brown mountains on either side of me. 

i stopped about five hours into the drive to stay overnight in joshua tree - somewhere i had visited on my last trip to LA in february. one last little bit of desert & quiet before i landed in the city... someplace kind of familiar before i threw myself into what i expected to be total chaos.

....but, lets back up a couple of days. 

my last couple of days in AZ were spent packing and gathering what i thought i'd need for (at least)  two months in LA - i had no idea really what i'd need, and ended up bringing about half of my stuff  (which i'm probably going to find is about twice as much stuff as i'll actually need). i've got enough clothes here with me for probably six months and at least two dozen hott dates. 

the day before i left i went on a hike.  a familiar hike that i enjoy, except i took the hard way up and the easy way down - the opposite of the way i had done it before. one last little challenge with one of my music mixes blasting into my ears, sunshine on my skin, and a good view to clear my head. i was a sore and sweaty mess by the end, but it felt like an appropriate way to send myself off. 

i was nervous to get to CA. i was nervous to get to another place and having to start all over AGAIN - finding my place, both physically and mentally. i was going from staying with my BFF who i've known for years to staying with someone i'd only met once and knew mostly through texts and emails and social media and other people (luckily), though there was no doubt in my mind that all would be okay.  i was nervous to see people i hadn't seen since my last trip here about nine months ago whom i'd been able to keep in touch with but sometimes that extreme distance just makes it so weird and hard. mostly i was nervous about getting to an overwhelming city that i had no experience in and not even knowing where to start.

the drive from joshua tree to LA was not nearly as difficult as i'd thought it would be, and luke's place was right off the exit so i had no trouble finding it. i was once again reminded that i am incredibly lucky and appreciative to have such gracious friends & people in my life, willing to open their homes and lives up to me. to help give me a space in which to learn and grow and do things.

so here i am 3,000 miles from my home state.

in AZ it was hard to find my place because i was staying with a family of six, and shared spaces - my sewing setup was in the (big) craft room, my sleeping space was in the (second) living room. i could come and go as i chose, but often times chose to stay home and hang out with my friends, since i hadn't seen them in a year. a lot of the activities i did outside of the house were done alone (hiking, traveling, touristing), so making new friends wasn't really high on my to-do list. i met a few people here and there - a nice couple while hiking stopped me to ask me about my sewing tattoo, a nice guy at the grocery shop was there twice when i was, and one nice young woman took pity on me at a halloween party and introduced herself (mostly because everyone else knew everyone else and i was a new face). but, being in AZ was more about solidifying my surroundings than finding people. i talked to a couple of nice employees at the quilt shops i visited - and even emailed one about the possibility of teaching there in the future, with no reply.

here in LA, i already have people i know but so far i've been too timid to go out and explore alone - the total opposite of my time in AZ. i'm a little disappointed the bravery i found in myself there seems to still be sleeping here in sunny california. the first day or two that i was here i was tired, unsure, unsettled, nervous and all of those usual things you feel upon getting to a new and unusual place. but i'm trying to remind myself to say YES and to not limit myself. its early still, and i know i have time. but i also know that the time is limited and i have things to do before i decide what comes next. before i make my big plan to stay here or go back to AZ.

the major reason for being here is to sew for LUKE. to help him with whatever he needs help with. to use some skills i already have, and learn some new ones. i've been tagging along with him while he does errands, eventually he will send me on my own. i have spent the past few days working on a project for him that was way outside of my comfort zone (i constructed two others for him while i was in AZ, but they were designs i was already familiar with). the learning curve was pretty big but it made more sense as i went along and by the end of it i was pretty proud of what i had made. realizing that even though the designs or techniques are not ones i would use in my own work, it is important to see how and why others create the way they do. take away little pieces and reasons and thoughts to think about later. it took me a few days to realize/remember that this is why i am here.

i won't be focusing on my own work likely for the duration of my stay here, but that doesn't mean that i haven't been quietly brainstorming little ideas for the future. AZ held a big bunch of inspiration for me with all of the places i went and things i experienced, so i know that eventually i'll get to put that out into the world via fabric. for now, my fabric time will be based on whatever luke needs me to do. and i'm okay with that. i'm trying to just stay open to the experience instead of figuring out what it means for me right now. it might not mean anything right now, it might not mean something until later. i don't know yet.

thats kind of how i'm trying to look at all of this whole moving thing - i don't really know yet what it means for me. but, i know that so far despite being nervous, i feel pretty good. 

i've seen a couple of familiar faces here in LA. people i hadn't seen since last winter. people who's voices i've heard and who's words i've read, but ohhh i had missed their faces and hugs so so so so so much. i'll get to see a couple of friends this weekend and i couldn't be happier about that. when i got home from LA after my last trip i had no idea when i'd see these people again. my heart has been waiting all this time to reconnect with them face to face. when i think about all of the conversations and tears and decisions that have happened since the last time we were in the same room, i'm overwhelmed with what it feels like to be away from people that are important to you.

i miss my friends back home who i have obviously not been able to talk to as often as we are used to, and i know that soon some of them will be the ones i will have not seen for a year. i'm trying to make an effort though to keep in touch with the people who i know are also good at it, and i've tried to call home to my parents when i can. honestly, though, i haven't been gone long enough to really miss home yet. i'm still too wrapped up in trying to find my way. it doesn't feel like i've been gone for six weeks, but its been six weeks. six weeks of nothing but changes in scenery.

i have acquired a love for desert mountain hiking. a love for going to bed before midnight. a love for a quiet friday night in while everyone else is out. a love for leaving the big camera at home and just snapping photos with my phone.

i have learned that when i'm nervous i don't feel much like eating. that going a month without drinking a beer isn't really that hard. that i totally talk outloud to myself (and everyone else) when i'm driving somewhere i've never been before.

i've also learned that tears come at weird times. like right now, while ending this blog post and chatting with a couple of friends via social media. i am lucky, and i know it. and even if i am not adjusting quite as i'd hoped here, yet, i know that i am lucky to be here. and i am lucky to have options.

19 October 2014

colors of a different kind.

a few friends of mine from maine have mentioned that i'm missing all of the foliage and classic fall colors. a west coast friend said something like, "its funny what becomes commonplace." its not that i don't appreciate the colors and scenery of the place that i grew up in (or that feeling when fall air comes in and everything gets chilly and you start to wear sweaters and scarves). but i grew up there and lived there for over thirty years. foliage and reds and yellows and cold are sights and feelings i am very familiar with. i can't tell you how many emotional memories i associate with the leaves changing color.

i've been spending the past few weeks appreciating colors and feelings and emotions of a different kind.


i have enjoyed the typical colors that a lot of people think of when you say "arizona" - the bright oranges of sedona and the bright blue of the sky. the green, browns, and sandy tans of the desert sand and cactus.

up here in prescott and the mountains, there are so many different landscapes just within miles of each other. all of those oranges and browns and tans, but also: dense forests of deep green and sunsets unlike any i've ever seen. one of the first nights that i was here, i stood in the backyard and looked up at the sky - there were stars so bright and so much closer to any that i'd ever seen in the little city i came from.

my heart belongs in the desert, and i've learned that on several occasions. i can't explain it to you because its something i've never been able to put into words. someday i really hope that i can, because its a really amazing feeling. i feel a calm on my desert hikes that i have never felt anywhere else, ever.

i'm finding that when you get to a new place, new things become important to you.

i'm finding that when you get to a new place, its important to say YES to things.


last week i started a little project for myself - a reminder of these new/YES things. i was inspired by a purple sunset, some art from a bar downtown, driving up and down the mountain everyday to get home, and the gorgeous combo of dusty desert sand and sparkling stars above.



so many times my art has been inspired by someone else, or feelings for someone else (good and bad). even if you can't directly see it in the project, its there - even if that just means that i was upset one weekend about something and decided to work nonstop on a project to distract my mind.this projet become really important to me really quickly, as i decided that i needed to make something for myself that was inspired by myself. by the things i have chosen to make important this past month, the first month away. 

i have felt twinges of guilt for not working. i feel like i should be doing more because everyone else i know is doing more. but i'm learning that the glorification of busy is overrated.

i'm finding that i miss the structure of getting up every morning with a routine. i feel like i should be doing something else, because thats what i've always been used to. but, i'm reminding myself that i knew ahead of time i'd be without work for at least the first couple of months while i'm moving around (i go off to LA/CA in just a couple weeks!). this month of adjustment and ease was planned this way.  i'm reminding myself that eventually i'll be back into the grind of a dayjob and wishing that i had a vacation. so, this first month is my vacation that i earned over the past year. i worked hard to save the funds for this. i worked hard to get here. i'm reminding myself of that.

hard work deserves positivity. it deserves beauty and flexibility. it deserves time off.

i've been balancing hiking and sight seeing and playing tourist with sewing for LUKE and sewing for myself. these are the things that have become important to me.

say YES to stepping outside of your routine.
say YES to being okay with change.
say YES to being okay with feeling uncomfortable and working through it to get to where you need to be.
say YES to staying in touch.
say YES to driving without your gps when you have a chance to go off the grid.
say YES to finding places that you'll need out of convenience.
say YES to finding places that you'll need just to get away.
say YES to being okay being alone.
say YES to being okay with getting help if you need it.
say YES to sewing for money.
say YES to sewing for fun.
say YES to letting people see you for how nerdy you are.
say YES to letting people see you without makeup.
say YES to starting over in a new place and doing all of the things you wished you'd been able to do before - even if its difficult.

these may seem like easy things to say YES to, but some days they're not. this isn't some magical journey where everything turns out incredible right off the bat. but, i didn't leave everything behind to not try. i didn't argue and cry or leave my apartment and my pets and my family and my friends and my job to just get here and do what i'm used to the way i'm used to it. and yes, some days i feel like i wake up with things to prove to people. but mostly i just want to prove it to myself.

i've never been a hiker - i hiked in maine a few times and found it difficult. lately i've been thinking that i just wasn't ready for it. hiking here has given me a freedom that i've very much needed. i've never really even been much of an outdoorsy person (except the beach!!!), but again i just don't think i was ready for it. i have space for it now. i have a reason for it. i saw little pings of it in my "previous life" when i realized how much i loved gardening and getting my hands in dirt. i do, infact, have a bit of a green thumb.

i emailed one of the local quilt shops last week about the possibility of teaching there in the future. introduced myself and my skills. i haven't received any word back, but i know that just making the first move is as important as the response. you can't move forward if you don't try. rejection is a normal part of life, and as a friend from home wrote in a little note to me, "its business and not personal 100% of the time."


i have a lot of very different things in common with my friends. some friends i love because we share a passion for music. some friends i love because we share a love for sewing and fabrics. some friends i love because we share that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling for the desert. some friends i love because we both enjoy photography. some friends i love because we simply met at the right place at the right time.

not everyone is going to care what you're doing or feel as awesome about what you're doing as you do.  the cool thing about people is that we all like different things, for different reasons, at different times. sometimes we connect and sometimes we don't. i'm learning that balance from afar. i've received a couple of notes in the mail, some photos sent by text message, and a phone call or two from home. but for the most part, voices from the east coast have been scarce. sometimes not everyone is going to care what you're doing - but if they do, sometimes they don't have the time to say so.

i'm learning that trying to stay in touch can be tough, but i've been trying to tell friends when something reminds me of them.

i'm also learning that i can live in the fall months without that usual fall feeling that i'm used to. i'm finding those familiar fall colors in different places now. i'm walking around with less of the emotional baggage that always came with the changing of the seasons heading into the winter months.

in a couple of weeks i'll be off to los angeles and i imagine i'll probably go through all of this yet again. getting used to another living situation, different people and their routines, finding my place to fit in. i don't know what the future holds for me there - whether i'll find a dayjob and stay, or if i'll just sew for LUKE for a couple of months and then head back here.

i'm loving the desert mountains for the quiet they allow me. LA will be a whole other thing (but remember: say YES). there will be a whole other set of colors to inspire me there.

...but i've got a couple more weeks of quiet and exploring to do first.

08 October 2014

on living with less.

its really interesting learning how many things i can really live without. even though my car was full to the brim upon moving, there are clothes that i couldn't bear to part with that have sat untouched and ignored. my makeup now fits into one zip bag, and my assorted shower "stuff" (including lotions and razors and you know, all that girl stuff) fits into one container. i'm wearing smaller clothes *ahem*shorts* and doing little laundry, even without wearing hospital-provided scrubs every day.

part of moving was to get a change of scenery, but really i'm enjoying learning how i can live with less. of course, a lot of things are provided to me while living with my dude-BFF - things like dishware and household items. things that i won't need to purchase or own for myself for quite a while it seems. things i've had previously in all of my own homes and no longer carry with me. 

even since i have been here i have paired down my items and stored away two bins of clothes, shoes, and things that i'm not going to be needing for the next few months (while i'm here and when i go to CA - but may need afterwards). i think that streamlining is a process and sometimes, especially when you're packing up to leave home, it can be hard to get rid of things. i have never been afraid to part with physical things, even the things with emotional attachments.

my clothes are still packed in my bins in the bathroom that i share with the oldest daughter, folded up into small piles and sorted by types. no closet, no bureau, but organized and tidy. i don't have my own room here in this house - with four kids and a craft room there is no "guest room". i do, however, have a fancy fold up bed that i'm using in the downstairs playroom. even with the kids sleeping downstairs, i have just enough privacy to get a good night's sleep. 

i've learned that i don't need a room with a door to make my own space. on this little bed i have two of my favorite quilts that i made this year to sleep underneath. i have a leopard print throw pillow that smells of lavender to rest my head on (along with my giant king size pillow.. sigh...). the kids don't bother me in the morning when they wake up long before i do, and there are two huge windows in that room with sunshine and birds chirping. i don't have a single belonging otherwise in that room and have found that for right now, temporarily, i don't need anything. also important to note: my awful insomnia that i battled for a couple of years while living in the tiny little apt is virtually gone without a trace - i have slept great the past week or so. fingers crossed that the quiet hillside lets me sleep well the rest of this month!

its no surprise that i'm adjusting okay to all of this, considering i just moved from a one room studio apartment and have been fascinated with the whole tiny house movement for years. i like the concept of only having what i need or what i like. when i head off on my california part of this journey next month (for two months, at least), i'll again be staying with friends. i'll have a sleeping loft and eventually/maybe my own sewing space - but yet again i'll be sharing rooms and things with two other people. the luxury of being surrounded with only my own belongings is not something i'll have again for a while - even my artwork and favorite little vintage pieces will stay packed away.

i have been sewing as much as i can, a little bit each day, working on projects for LUKE. even my own fabrics & designs have remained in my bin. all i've needed are the fabrics he sent me, my scissors & pins, and my sewing machine. i'm sharing a table with my bff's wife (who does scrapbooking/cards) in her amazing craft room. i'm used to working in small spaces and like to keep my area clean when i work - all of which makes it so much easier to adapt.

living with less has allowed me to focus a bit on other things, less distracting things. being outside, working on sewing, and spending time with my BFF. i've started reading two books. i've helped the family clean up the house. during a shopping trip yesterday, instead of buying decor items or things that take up space, i purchased a pretty new pair of underwear and a sweet smelling bar of soap - buying myself a little something nice that takes up little to no space feels just as special as something big and obvious.

i love FASHION & DECOR & DESIGN. but for now, those things only live on my pinterest boards.

there are things about home that i miss. my cats. my friends & family. my old routine. but i'm learning how to make a new routine. and this routine will change again when i go to california. ever changing and adapting, and so far so good. i'm looking forward to exploring more of the area this week and continuing to nurture my relationships. because right now, those things are important. all the other stuff can wait.

07 October 2014

early thoughts.

so many of the notes and cards i have received from friends/coworkers have said many similar and encouraging things. about how its important to stay positive, to enjoy each day, to be brave and take each step as it comes. these notes have been good reminders of what should remain important in such a big transition.

i'm over a week into this journey - a week and a half since i left home, a week since i arrived in arizona.

my dude-BFF asked me yesterday what my thoughts have been so far, since i've been here. strangely, for me, i answered that i really haven't had any yet. i've only gone out on my own a couple of times, instead choosing to spend more time with my friend and his family. 

things i have noticed but not necessarily given much thought:
prescott is a city i could live comfortably in (but obviously i already knew this or i wouldn't have moved here). it is a manageable size with stores & resources usable to me. it has incredible scenery closeby. it is in reasonable travel proximity to larger cities with airports and other friends of mine. it appears to be a place that i could feel comfortable for these basic reasons. 

keeping in mind: there are a couple of fabric shops in the surrounding towns. meeting people will be like meeting people in any other city. in order to find those who like what you like, you have to find what you like. i just spent 6-10 years making friends and curating relationships with people who were a) closeby, b) coworkers, c) of all ages - and very few liked what i like. its a weird balance between finding friends that you can share everyday things with, and finding friends that you can share important things with. 

having my dude-BFF here is important, and everyday. its still a little surreal, having spent most of our time 2,500 miles apart. right now he's sitting on one end of the couch eating cereal and i'm sitting on the other end writing this blog post. a few nights ago we stayed up late facebook-stalking people and last night we stayed up late watching Avengers (one of my faves). these are not things we have had the "luxury" of doing in person very often. i know that i can tell him anything. he wants to protect me. even with things that we don't agree on, we can agree to disagree. this is not the kind of friendship i expect to find everywhere. 

my crafty friends are in los angeles, and i have a month until i drive over there to hang out for a couple of months. to feel it out and see how it feels in comparison to prescott. my crafty friends are the ones who are interested in the thing that makes my heart beat - not just because they are crafty, but because they quilt. my other LA friends are important because they are into the other thing that makes my heart beat - music. quilting & music are things that a lot of people like. i recognize this. but this particular people are ones i have chosen to connect with on personal levels. i'm so excited to see them and hug them soon.

so, without thinking about it too much....

my first week away has been good. living in a house with a family of six is temporary and we're all doing our best to fit me in. the kids get up and run around earlier than i'm used to. i'm not used to a big house full of things for six people. i'm not used to dirty diapers and kids having emotional meltdowns (over everything). i'm not used to kids' movies, and homework and early bedtimes. but, i am thankful to have this place to stay where routine is so structured and six people are happy to see me every morning when i stumble upstairs with bedhead.
i've managed to sneak in some sewing time (which i hope to do today also). tomorrow i'm hoping to drive around and spend a little more time figuring out where essential shops are. later this week i'd like to do a little bit more outside stuff. 

i've woken up to sights and sounds i couldn't get in maine. i've seen sunsets nightly from up on a mountain top. so far that has been enough for me.

i'm used to doing things on my own, and often that is how i prefer to do things. i'm not worried so much about finding people to do things with, because i know that my built-in and instinctive personality traits are not going to change after 34 years of life. i'm content with myself, which is part of the reason i secretly knew that moving wouldn't be quite as hard as maybe i'd first imagined.

04 October 2014

the first few days.

normally i'd begin at the beginning. but, this whole thing started almost two years ago when i came to arizona for the first time. it continued when i came a second time, and then when i visited los angeles. it kept on through the past winter and spring and summer, when i decided to move. to say "lets begin at the beginning" really would mean lets go back three years, or five years, when i first realized i wasn't where i wanted to be. i could probably go back further. 

but lets instead start with last saturday when my brother and i crammed into my car and started our drive across the country... i quickly figured out that spending 12 hours a day (for four days) in the car would make me incredibly carsick (even thought i'm not one to get carsick usually!) - which in turn would make the long days really kind of miserable. it made stopping in whatever city we were in not as much fun, i didn't want to eat and really just wanted to sleep. i felt better when i was driving, so we swapped off every few hours and tried to make the best of it. i'm sure that some of my symptoms were also caused by the stress i was feeling about moving, also. that last minute stuff that crept up on me.

the scenery along the way was awesome - though, the low farmland and fields got a little bit boring with nothing else to see for hours on end. still, there were so many things i saw along the way that i wish i'd been able to stop and photograph. we were on such busy and fast highways, pulling over really wasn't much of an option in most places. we did stop at some scenic rest areas, and pretty much peed our way across the country listening to mix cds from my friends. i tried to mentally take note of things i'd seen (colors, spaces) to work into some quiltwork in the coming year. i tried to just sit back and enjoy the view and come to terms with not being able to document every little thing that my brain was taking in (knowing that later on i could document it all in different ways - either with writing or fabrics).

it was nice to spend that last little bit of time with my brother - we made a pretty good team. i was grateful to have a copilot and i know i couldn't have done it alone as easily (even though i originally thought i would). strangely, it made leaving home (and everyone in it) feel a little better.
but really, i haven't given myself time to process anything on the other side here, yet. my brother and i took a quick daytrip to sedona before he left - i'd been a few times before but that place just never gets old for me. there are so many little spots to check out. i knew he'd appreciate the views, and they did not disappoint. i'm excited to go back again on my own, as i've done previously; its only about an hour and a half from "home".

i'm staying with my dude-BFF and his family - his awesome wife & their four kids (ages 1 1/2 up to 9). their household is busy and chaotic and not at all what i'm used to.. luckily there's a fully stocked craft room and a gorgeous view off the back deck that really gives me a spot in this house. they're so gracious to let me stay with them for the month before i leave for los angeles, and i'm so thankful for a spot to sew and a place that i can call home while i don't have one of my own. i'm not sure when i'll have one of my own again, which is a concept that has hit me hard these past few days. but in the meantime, i'm going to help out where i can and do some hiking & sight seeing on my own to brush the dust off of my brain and my heart.

as soon as my brother and i got into arizona and could see the mountains surrounding the city of prescott, i think i said something like, "ohhhhh.... now i'm happy...". suddenly after all the months of endless preparation and worrying and trying to figure things out, it all made sense in a quick second. seeing the desert valley areas and even the shopping centers that i'd visited before - i was in familiar territory and felt so much more relaxed. these first few days have felt like i'm vacation, still. like perhaps next week i'll have to get up and go back home to my hospital job and my friends and family, though i know i won't. 

but so far, that feels okay.

yesterday morning i made myself get up (despite the time change still messing with me) and go on a little hike. i listened to some of my favorite songs and smeared myself in sunscreen and snapped a handful of photos. mostly i just sat up ontop of those rocks overlooking the (man made) lake and just sat in the warm sunshine. 

i'm just now starting to get to replying to all of the emails and texts i've received over the past week. i had a dream last night about some friends from home, mixed with some friends from the west coast. sometimes its strange to know that a lot of the people who are most important to me will never be in the same place and may never even meet. i'm the only common denominator. but, regardless of where they are located, its been great to hear from everyone along the way. i've been opening little notes from my old coworkers that they gave me on the last day i was there - one note a day from each of them, filled with encouraging notes. i've been doing this just before bed so that i have something positive to think about before going to sleep.

my goals from this weekend are to spend some time with my BFF, to work on some sewing for LUKE, and to enjoy some outside time. those are pretty much my goals for the entire month, now that i think about it. the rest i'll just take as it comes.

21 September 2014

on the other side - six days.

i keep feeling my wheels spinning on things that are pulling me down. on any guilt i have about leaving people behind. on that weird little broken-hearted spot i still carry around with me. on trying to keep a level head and not set my sights too high. on trying to be realistic. on never getting enough freaking sleep!

starting over always is a crazy combo of gratifying and freeing, and utterly terrifying. i'm not looking for some kind of total transformation, i'm just looking to be with my people. or, should i say, the rest of my people. because my friends & family back home are my people too.... i'm having a hard time explaining to friends at home why right now i'd rather be with my friends afar. it isn't about liking someone better or not being a good friend. it isn't about leaving people behind - how do i explain this?!

since january, when i secretly made the decision to move 2,500-3,000 miles away, i have found myself trying to be excited. my excitement has always felt bumped out of the way by something negative, which has made the whole experience less enjoyable than i'd hoped it would be. i think i had this lofty dream when i decided to move that i would be able to spend the next nine+ months planning and saving, without realizing just how much of a physical and emotional toll it would take on me.

the extra work i've done to make all of the money i've had to save. the decisions. the trying to answer the question, "why are you moving?" - over and over. you spend all of your time trying to get people to know you, to understand you - only to find out that the only one who knows & understands you is YOU. social media lets you spill every little ounce of yourself out into the world, and still people don't know you. some of your friends do, but even they can only dive in so deep. some of your friends are not really your friends at all.

people can say, "oh i'm so happy for you and your adventure". but i'm finding that words, while nice to hear at the time (i love the little pep talks!), are only comforting for so long. its the people who take the time to give support in other ways, who have helped me the most. who have given me a place to stay, who have planned get-togethers and who brought food to my going away party. who have given little tokens and candy and cards. who have taken the time to help me plan. who have been willing to put aside whatever else has been going on to put in the effort with me. it has not gone unappreciated.

i heard my dad tell my brother (in context of the two of us driving across the country), "you know none of this is about you." and he's right - its all about me. a selfish thing to do, to only talk about yourself for almost a whole year. but the entire time i've been talking about myself, all i could think about was how it would affect everyone around me. how it would change relationships and friendships and what people would think. all i could think about was who would be waiting on the other side, and who would care to see me go. 
"be willing to go alone sometimes. you don't need permission to grow.
not everyone who started with you will finish with you."
i've tried to stay present in my friends' lives, with all of their things going on - to be happy for them with good things and to help them sort through bad things. this has been a struggle for me, with so much of my own stuff on my mind. i've tried to help my family when needed - to listen to my mom when she has had a particularly bad day or week. even though i've been living back with my parents' for a month, i haven't been able to spend much time there. 

but, not once since i made the decision to move have i regretted it or felt like i was going to change my mind. not for a single second, even when the news was not well received. with six days until i pull out of the driveway and start on the drive, i still have not one little fleck of regret. you only get one life, and sometimes it takes a long time to figure out how to live it. 

i'm nervous about finding where to fit in. i'm nervous that my people won't really all be my people. i'm nervous that i'll hear "i told you so" before i'm ready, and i'm nervous that all of this time spent really getting to a solid and OKAY place with myself will have been in vain this time around. i'm worried that i'll make all of the same mistakes, just in a different location. (i picture it being a little bit like starting at a new school: people already have their close circles of friends, you're inevitably going to crush on the hott jerk/popular guy, and everyone is going to think your hair is weird.)

i have two more days at work. i'm going to miss my coworkers and friends - people i probably would never have come into contact with otherwise. i will not, however, miss my job. in the beginning it was easy to look past the type of work for the pay and benefits. towards the end it felt nearly impossible. moving forward, come job interview time, i need to remember that spending 40+ hours a week somewhere is a lot of hours. and even if the pay is pretty good, its not always worth it. this is not to say that i expect to land my dream job, i don't even know what that would be... but, make enough money to be comfortable if you can - and work somewhere you are comfortable, too. (never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.)

i'm looking forward to a winter where i can be outside and not be miserable. this is important to me. northern AZ will get a bit of snow, but it will melt quickly. we'll get chilly temps, but it will be nothing like maine. we will get seasons, but maybe not the four i'm used to. i'll miss the fall foliage and the fall farm fairs, but i'll get desert hiking and Sedona views. while i'm in CA, i'll get warmer temps and the beach if i want it! nightlife, if i want that too. 

i think both AZ and CA will pose totally different sets of obstacles for me. i'm not sure i'm ready for any of them. but, thats the whole point, right? i don't think (nor do i want) any of this will be empowering or life-affirming. i don't want to have to worry if i'm trying too hard or not trying hard enough. i have nobody to impress - my people like me just the way i am. if you don't like me the way i am, or maybe you don't have time to care about whats going on with me as i go through all of this, then i won't chase you. i don't have time for that. 

i'm lucky that 90% of the time, i can find comfort in the little things - my sewing machine, the photo of me with paramore, my camera, a good book or a new nailpolish. i can take these things with me anywhere. i can share them with anybody.

this week i have to: do laundry, finish up at work, return a couple things to the store, pick up travel supplies (h2o, snacks), clean out my car, get an oil change, finish up two sewing projects, finish PACKING!, go out to dinner with friends twice, apply for health insurance, figure out the glitch in my student loan forbearance, and say goodbye to everyone. six days til i leave for the other side. 

15 September 2014

a week & a half.

i've been feverishly making music mixes. last weekend i decorated & coordinated a wedding. this weekend i put on my own going away party. 

there has been very little rest, with dinners and get-togethers. there are seven days of work left and three more days of dogsitting. 

i'm tired.

but i'm letting myself finally start to feel excited instead of feeling stressed. the big tasks have passed, and now its just the little stuff to finish up.

i'm getting excited for: bright red hair dye, wide open desert spaces, far away friends being closer, simplicity of not having so much stuff (physically & metaphorically), portability, compactness, that feeling of making your own new space amidst everyone else's chaotic and routine lives, warmth and just a little bit of snow in the middle of winter. i'm getting excited for chilly desert nights and hiking in combat boots. i'm getting excited for a reason to use my real camera.

none of this is anything new, but instead of distant wishlists, this stuff is nearly 11 days away from me (plus four days of driving). 

two summers ago, there were jokes made about an overly filtered photo of a photo on instagram, and now people i never knew existed are about to help catch me as i jump. my best friend is about to be in the same house as me instead of two time zones and 2500 miles away.

my grandmother cried at my going away party, and so did one of my friends/coworkers. i teared up a little driving home from work tonight while listening to a mix cd made by a friend. but i'm not at the outwardly emotional part, yet. i don't know if/when i will be. i've struggled with so many inner emotions about all of this for nine months - in the time that most people make/have/grow babies, i have planned and plotted this move. this move is my baby - a new life. a new opportunity to do more. maybe for some people this sort of thing is easy. i would not say that for me it has been difficult, but it has involved difficult parts. there will be difficult parts to come. 

i'm excited to show my brother a couple of quick little bits of arizona once we get there. we'll only have a day before he has to turn around to fly home. but not without first visiting Watson Lake and Slide Rock. two of my favorite spots. 

my california friends have all been complaining of crazy heat over there, while its been in the 40s in the morning here in maine - and i've been wearing socks to bed at night. a little part of me is going to miss the whole fall thing - the foliage change, the chilly temps, cold hands. but i'll be gaining the sound of owls hooting at dusk in arizona, and friends i'm dying to hang out with in california. 

i haven't had much, or really any, time to sew this past month. i've spent more time cleaning out my car, vacuum sealing clothes, double checking cash funds, and scrambling to make plans. my sewing machine still isn't working great, but it will do for now. i'm in the middle of the slowest project at the worst time in the smallest space. but in a couple of weeks i can set up my machine in my best friend's house and finally get to the piles of fabric that luke sent me to work on for him. i'm excited for this. 

really, i'm just excited to see how all of it pans out. i'm excited to see if i can figure it all out. i'm excited to see what comes first, what comes next, what comes last. i'm excited to see who and how and when. i'm excited to give myself the chance that i've really been wanting. i'm excited to be on a mini vacation to start and then buckle down. i'm excited to see places i love and places i haven't seen yet. i'm excited to get going. 

to do before i go, this week:
target with JW
dinner with chris
lunch & shopping with loren

to do before i go, next week: 
lunch with meredith
my last day of work
oil change / tires
vacuum out my car
pack my stuff!
pack it all in the car!
get some sleep.

27 August 2014

30 / 19 ;

the number of days left in my hometown. with my family.

the number of workdays left at my job. with my friends.

these are the things on my mind lately:

it hit me today that, although i am not the only single person i know, i am one of VERY FEW single ladies in my circle of friends & acquaintances. i wondered why this all of a sudden seemed so important, while i was shampooing my hair and green dye was circling the drain at my feet. it honestly has not been something i've thought about in the past two years - that i don't gather up my single lady friends on the weekends and hit the town. i have not ever really been a group person anyway - i prefer my one on one time with my friends. i like the conversation better when four other people aren't trying to chime in over you.

getting ready to pick up and leave my friends doesn't seem nearly as surreal as i thought it would. of course, i still have a little time and that may change. but in the past six months i have felt a significant shift in my friendships - i think part of me kind of started to say goodbye to some degree quite a while ago. there are a small handful of people i am trying to spend time with while i can. they know who they are, and i have been trying to make a real special and serious effort to let them know what they mean to me and how they have impacted my life. 

a friend recently told me that after having not being able to spend time with me in a while, she noticed that i seem more sure of myself and maybe more grown up. i suppose in theory this is true. i haven't decided if this came as a result from my decision to move, or if my decision to move was because of this personal change - but either way, i'm trying. to make healthier decisions, but be more conscious of how people make me feel and how situations affect me, and to breathe a little more deeply. another friend has mentioned how much i've grown to be more confident, more self loving. the fact that i have friends who have noticed these things really makes me feel like all of this work has not been in vain - because even though i know it and feel it and thats what really is the most important, being validated out there in the world is essential to knowing you're on the right track.

so many people in my life are on much different paths than mine. they are married, have children, have careers. there have been many many times in my life that i have wanted these things for myself - and i continue to want them - but i have realized that none of those things can happen until i do what i'm preparing to do next month. it can be a little alienating to be one of few who hasn't set these life goals into motion. its no surprise to anyone, though, that i'm a little different. i've kind of always gone against the grain, for good & bad. where friends had succeeded, i have not - but i can do so many things that they can't. a bunch of people have told me that they're jealous of this big adventure i'm about to go on, and while yes indeed it is an adventure of all kinds, i'm trying to look at it as less of an adventure (which to me means frivolity and a little bit less structured than i like) and more as a necessity.

from the Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton

there have been times in my life when a handsome guy has liked me, and the first thought in my brain has been "why the heck would this guy choose me?!". and many times, this has been slightly out of self-loathing, out of self-doubt. possibly because often that guy who could have any girl they wanted chose me out of convenience. my opinions and my style and my self-expression and my personality  used to be weaker, quieter, more messy. it wasn't until earlier this year that one of those handsome guys expressed how he just wanted to shake me and make me realize how amazing i am - how everyone is always trying to show/tell me that i'm amazing - i am not sure i still even believed it then. 

but i do now.

and in finally "getting it", making this big decision to leave, setting aside all of those "normal" goals (heck, i don't even have a job lined up into the foreseeable future!), i'm finally taking control of a life that i let kind of slip away from me. seven+ years ago i got caught up in making the perfect home, the perfect garden, the perfect everything from the outside - i didn't nurture my relationship and i certainly didn't nurture myself. even after leaving that behind, i got caught up in the mundane everyday things - like going to work and trying to find a date - and in turn struggled with the things that really are important to me - like being creative. i go to work everyday to a job that doesn't allow me to really be who i am, and i'm reminded of a quote i saw on pinterest :

never get so busy making a living
that you forget to make a life.

i feel really blessed for whatever turn of events caused my creativity to take such a dramatic turn this year - whether it was being inspired by distance or music or strength or weakness or all of the above - i wake up every morning with ideas in my brain that i can't wait to see turn into something. eventually. and thats not to say that it all may turn again and end up something completely different by the end of the year, but right now i'm pleased with the inspiration to sewing ratio. this feels like the first time that i've really truly been able to show who i am in my work, or at least part of who i am. a work in progress.

i think anyone who has doubted me through this decision, or who has had ill opinion of what i've done and what i'm doing, has not truthfully and clearly sat down and looked at their own life with the kind of strength i have. i have said to myself and to everyone around me - I AM NOT HAPPY. I NEED _____ TO BE HAPPY. I REFUSE TO BE UNHAPPY ANYMORE. I AM MAKING A CHANGE. changes have consequences. changes hurt and are hard and affect people besides yourself. but being happy - to any degree, even if its just the tiniest bit - is what life should be about. so many people focus on being unhappy. on why and how. i have done this for years and years, choosing to give all of my energy trying to remedy broken things with even worse fixes just to hold myself over for a little while. but at 34 years old, i want out. i've hit the wall too many times.

this is my window of opportunity, and i am taking it while i can. i'm done with feeling bad for people, and i'm done worrying about what they think of me. your life is yours, and my life is mine.

i finally finished the patchwork for the top of the #beabadass quilt. my machine is still being fixed in the shop, but i borrowed a vintage oldie machine of my mom's to get it done last weekend. you might remember in the post i made about it last month, that it was definitely inspired by one of my favorite ladies and her confidence and boldness (and her hair colors ;)). but honestly, it was really kind of inspired by my own. be awkward and a little hard to figure out, if thats your way. be tough and strong and bold, if thats your way. be mismatched, aqua-haired, and a little punk if thats your way.

as i get ready for the next 30 days - full of busy days and nights, mostly geared towards other people and what i can do to help them out - i'm trying to just be my regular self. going through the motions until this part of my life wraps up and i move on to the next part (and better winter weather). i have been exhausted, haven't felt well, and have at least two moments per day where i freak out and say i'm just going to get in the car tomorrow, screw the next month! but i'm no stranger to frustration and i can barrel through this stuff. i've made it this far. 

and now, what i've really been thinking about:

how do the weekends go by so quickly but the weekdays drag on, always? the importance of reproductive health, and the side effects of taking care of business (ouch!). i would never be able to fit all of this crap into my car without those vacuum seal bags. when will i have enough clothes?! as much as i love photographing nature & wilderness & travel, i know i didn't do nearly enough of it in my own home state, which is gorgeous. patterns - give me as many patterns & prints as you can, just cram them in my face and let me roll around in them. what am i going to do with my hair color? will i ever be unattached to this stupid cell phone? the photo of paramore & i at the meet/greet is still f-ing amazing (i still look at it every day). living back at home with parents is strange and weird and do i have to ask to do things? planning your own going away party is also strange and weird.