11 October 2015

our perceptions.

i'm here in the middle of god's country watching storms roll in and out leaving behind gray skies and blue skies and middle of the night howls of the coyotes.

i am never proud when i have to take a day to regroup or recover or stay in bed or hide from the world - but i am proud of how i feel my way through things. i do not sit around and wait to be fixed. i don't walk around with the title of victim displayed like a badge.

but sometimes, i have to ask for help. one day last week when i. just. couldn't. do. it. i had to tell my boss and left work in a flurry of tears that i couldn't stop no matter how hard i tried. i went home and i ate a lot of food and i slept a lot of dreamless sleep, and the next day i tried again. better. 

my experiences have always been filtered through whatever situation or onlooker deemed as acceptable, i've done well to hold in my grief. to instead drive, as far as possible, with no destination in mind. just go. i have been small and emotional since birth, but i came out fighting against the grain (and really against medical miracles), and i continue to stand on my own.

i spend as much time on others as myself, not for them to make me happy, but to share in happiness. i am able to sit with myself. i have seen friends who do not love themselves and i know what that looks like - that is not my mirror. love is not a thing that i can keep on my own, tucked in a box, made a secret. that serves little use to me. someone told me this weekend, "i can hear so much love in your voice," and i replied, "do it with love or not at all." maybe its easier to be angry, or silent. maybe. but for me, most of the time, love is honesty. and i think with it comes all of those other things.

there have been a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of reminders of the way ____ used to talk to me. the way so-and-so is so pushy that i can't even bother. and the way he used to leave my sheets and me a mess, every time (well, when we bothered to even make it to the bed). the way i let every sound and every touch effect me.

what if you love someone who can't love you back? ...you accept it and you continue looking until you find someone who can. what if you want something as seemingly simple as dates that turn into a relationship because both people are willing to put in the effort and the open arms that it takes to reciprocate? ...you stop looking for love in hookups. what if you are not happy where you are? ...you move.

"easy" answers.

so many people often dislike people who are emotional. who stir up what things really feel like. who express things we can't, who are not afraid to. it forces listening, and it forces changes. emotions are not wrong, only when they're hidden and neglected. emotions are not too much, only when they stay in so long that they come spilling out in a sea of oversaturated apologies. i operate under the assumption that the only thing we can ever really all add up to is not what we did or how we did it, but how we felt. i feel sorry for those who are too scared of their own selves and their own hearts to tell me not to feel something; i don’t feel sorry for how much i feel.

anything i've ever felt has pushed me to do something that i've done and to end up somewhere i've been. 

i stood on the edge of the grand canyon yesterday, for the fourth time, and looked out into the abyss. its all so much bigger than you. than me. than us. than an us that never was, ten years ago, five years ago, two years ago, two months ago, yesterday. in less than two weeks when i'm in joshua tree, i'll feel the same way. for every hurt i allow in, i allow myself to be healed. for every day that i fail, i try harder later. for nights that include talking a friend down off a (metaphorical and sometimes real) ledge, when you're crying over your own problems, because sometimes its okay to take a back seat.

but sometimes its necessary to fill your own cup first.

a friend asked me yesterday what my goals are. "lets talk about brooke," she said. i still feel like i'm a blank slate. i don't see myself going back to school, at least not any time soon. i don't want to say that i'm happy to coast along, but instead i'm happy to find and wait for the right direction.

my main goal right now is to do things that are effortless. or at least, let them be effortless. i've grown up in a generation of struggles that have made so many of us believe that success only comes from the kind of hard work that is brutal and backbreaking, but i'm starting to understand that may be something that we impose on ourselves - who doesn't like to see progress? who doesn't like to feel like they have tackled and achieved something? but there is something to be said for letting ourselves achieve effortless things. effortless does not mean unmerited. i merely want to be more aware of not creating problems that aren't there.

effortlessness, simplicity. those things are sometimes difficult because it means we have to be more level headed. more clear minded. more focused on just breathing and less focused on everything else. but, we are nothing but our perceptions of ourselves, and our perceptions are only as meaningful as we make them. luckily, these things can change at any time. and luckily if you are honest and put out your own perception in the best way you know how, other people will see it too, if you let them.

if not, roots can be dug up and planted again.

04 October 2015

leaving / look ahead.

i have done a lot of leaving in the past few years. leaving relationships. leaving jobs. leaving home. leaving friends. leaving family. 

in all of the leaving i have done, i have left little pieces of myself behind.

i have had moments in the past few months when i've felt what its been like to be left behind. after all the leaving i've done, eventually it would catch up to me and i would be the one left. [and i don't mean like that time in joshua tree when a weekend full of arguments turned into a narcissistic goodbye that felt "good".]

i mean in the sense of a real goodbye. when you realize just how much you wanted someone to stay.

i am not good at these kinds of goodbyes.

(do it with love or not at all.)

for everything that i put out there into the world, loud-mouthed and happy to share experiences and photos and stories and everything in between, there are just as many things that i hide. most times in the right then and there moment, i don't have the words. the words come later, and often in long strings of texts dropped like little bombs from miles away. one of my flaws is that my honesty comes at all of the wrong times. 

not a lot of people / friends / family knew what i was doing five months ago, or with who. i shared little bits here and there and more with my closest friends, but most often i was so busy being present that i forgot to photograph it. i found myself jotting down notes and writing in my journal so that i wouldn't forget the things that seemed the most important. 

the way it felt to meet someone new in a new place where barely a soul knew you. the way it felt to take a risk and to open up. i think sometimes people are put smack dab in the middle of our path when they have something to show us. sometimes these people are not meant to stay.

i related to that wandering spirit that couldn't stay in one place. sometimes its just easier to run and start over somewhere else. sometimes its easier to not look back. sometimes it feels cleaner to not say too much. sometimes even when you know you're leaving something or someone behind, you go anyway. 

i have felt all of those things, now on both sides.

mine is a heart that never asks for much in return. it only asks for explanations after the fact. it carries a lot of burdens and over the years it has made a lot of excuses for a lot of things. it has spent a lot of time alone... but it needs people. 

just now its realizing it needs people. 

sometimes its just all a little bit much to go it alone. 

momentary copilots seem to be all that i have been given. 

i have been strong when i thought i couldn't be. i have been weak when i've wanted to be stronger. but more than anything i've wanted to be honest when nothing could come out - when i hear, "how are you?" and reply, "i'm good!" ...i AM good. i'm always good. even when i'm not. 

i have always opted to take on hurts - either mine or someone elses - often over the truth. especially if it means that the other person is happy. this is the life of an empath, and the role that even the strongest parts of me have assumed. i'm good at it, for better or for worse, and when i love i love hard. when i let go, i let go even harder.  

in traveling and living and adventuring alone, i have recognized who and what and why are important to me. i have held tight to a lot of things  - very authentic and vulnerable things - that have made my journey what it is. there is not a single piece that i regret, except for maybe not saying some words sooner. 

i think sometimes people are put smack dab in the middle of our path when they have something to show us. 

to show us how to move on. 
to show us how to look ahead.

sometimes these people are not meant to stay. 

and, it hurts to be left behind. but only when you let it.

27 September 2015

one year.

one year ago today, my younger brother and i got in the car that i had packed up the day before, and left Maine - headed for AZ.

i knew that i was making the right choice for myself, but i can remember so well the feeling of knowing how disappointed everyone was to see me go. i have never found it easy in life to put my own needs in front of everyone else's - which finally meant that yes, absolutely, i needed to do this. it was time.
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.  /// 21 Sept 2014
the pastel pixie hair that i had a couple of months prior had changed to red, and the red would fade to pink in the four days it took us to drive across the country. (you can read my last blog post written in full, before i left, HERE.)

photo by Jessica Weiser, 2014
photo by Jessica Weiser, 2014
i no longer own the WEIRDO shirt that we used for the photoshoot. a quirky little tee that made me giggle and feel more normal. but i think, somewhere along the way, somehow, i realized WEIRDO is not a word i relate to anymore. other words like "wanderer", "traveler", "empath"... those are words i would use to describe myself now, but not "weirdo". (my hair no longer looks weird. my tattoos do not make me feel weird. i explain the things i love to people with pride. i've learned how to own who i am, whatever that means.)

i spent a month in AZ once i got 2,500 miles away; traveling around to the fun little local hiking and scenic spots, spending time with Ian and his family, and preparing myself for the next few months ahead in Los Angeles. (you can read my first blog post from Arizona, HERE.)

i've written a lot here along the way about my time in LA. learning that it wasn't for me. understanding that people are sometimes not what they seem. recognizing that a hard decision would only be made more difficult by relying on people who were not good for me. ...a precious lesson that took longer than it should have, but i don't regret the first half of the september to september year. (you can read the last post from LA, HERE.) i had fallen in love with a lot of things, but those things were not for me. 

getting back to Arizona and finding a place to live, a job, settling in - that felt like the normal progression. i started meeting a couple of people. i found a routine. it took me a while to catch up with myself. i started selling my quilt work again. AZ made me feel a little more more like me. a lot of people look at my work and tell me its beautiful - i look at my work and see hours, days, years of love | heartache | time | travel | choices | movement. i like to keep it intimate. its about connection. 

from the outside, friends and family may have seen this entire year as me just trying to find myself, and maybe that has been true. on the inside, so much of what i was doing was about connecting with others, or so i thought. looking back over the past year i can see now that it was so much more about trying to connect with myself. 
in my backyard, first day of fall, 2015.
i have known and met people along the way this past year who have changed my path. soul sisters in LA who have the same tattoos as me and understand why i am who i am. muses in LA who never once had earned or deserved any inch of love that tried to give. quilter buddies who showed me new ways to do things. friends to have conversations with. friends to hike with. AZ friends who will put you up in their home even though they already have a family of six to take care of and who will pick you up at the bus station at the drop of a hat. i went on dates, adventures, camped overnight at the top of a desert hill. i was allowed to spend time with people who did not belong to me and were not meant to stay, and i have had to learn how to give them back. i met my sisterfriend, who i now consider my bestfriend, and spent time up in the woods and talk to every day. i wrangled my emotions in and was thankful for every experience i was given.

and for every experience i gave to myself. (HERE.)

Salome, AZ / september 2015.
the desert has become my home. it is where i have been able to travel alone and find quiet spaces. its where i've connected to the giant blue sky. its where anything that has gone wrong, has turned right again. (read more about that one desert drive, HERE.) 

i wrote about how the southwest has softened me, HERE. how its changed my perspective and opened my eyes to so many different things and different people and how i feel, for better or for worse. i've fallen in and out of love so many times this year with places and people, that some mornings its been hard to get out of bed - but it never once has felt in vain. when you're faced with both excruciatingly beautiful things side by side with heartache, the only possible choice is to brush the dust off and move forward.

i visited maine last week. i saw friends and family and the ocean and ate lobster. i slept in the guest room that i had stayed in the two months before i moved. i stayed up late talking to my parents and i hugged my brother. i revisited all of the guilt i had before i moved and although i loved seeing everyone so so much, i knew that maine didn't feel like home anymore. the faces did - and i love them all - but i felt relief when i stepped off the plane in phoenix (and not just because it took so long to get back). the ocean is beautiful, but the desert keeps me steady.

portland, ME / sept 2015
this has been a long and tough year. i have faced a lot of emotional challenges, money challenges, time challenges... i have had good days and bad days. i have seen an incredible amount of things and places and people. and every time i think i'm right on the verge of giving up, i keep going. today, on the one year anniversary of leaving, i have made the choice yet again to keep going. i have had a lot of help and a lot of support. but the not so instant fixes, the ones that don't include car problems, i have dealt with by myself. 

"every positive change in your life begins with a clear, 
unequivocal decision that you are going to either do 
something or stop doing something."

i have not second guessed myself one bit. i have made mistakes and i have made amazing decisions and i have allowed myself to open up to things i never would have done before. i have kept in touch with people, i have done the best i could from afar to help, and i have given myself space to do a lot of loving and let go of a lot of things. i have also given too much away, something i will never apologize for. 

people keep telling me to learn from experiences and do better next time, but i think what i've actually taken away from this year is that no matter what has changed around me and for how much i have changed, i am still me. i still love too hard, drive too fast, and freak out when my car breaks. 

so, self, happy anniversary. happy one year of doing what you needed to do despite what everyone else would have rathered. of loving and fighting and traveling and photographing and making. of letting your guard down. of letting people in. 

and of always looking ahead. 

you've still got a lot to look ahead to. and you deserve it. saddle up, lady.

12 September 2015

a tourist.

in five days i'll be back visiting in maine.

but before i do that, i had to take one last desert drive, out on my favorite highway, to my favorite spot. the day before, i'd had the biggest headache of my life and had crawled in bed for six hours to sleep it off. i only let those days last one day. and then its time to go.

this spot is one that i've passed many times on the drive to / from LA / joshua tree, and have driven the two hours randomly just to see on days when i needed that little extra reminder. the desert gets me. its alone and its empty but its sustainable and its thriving the only way it can. i don't know what this old abandoned building used to be - what it used to hold or what people spent their time in it or what kinds of memories it contained. today its full of graffiti and broken glass of every color, and yesterday on my visit it was nearly 100 degrees outside in that desert sun. 

next door and beyond is a cluster of what looks like abandoned motel shacks, all in a line, boarded up. behind it all, a couple of run down out buildings and a trailer full of stuff that seems to belong to no one. a busted toilet lying sideways on the ground. broken furniture, cactus, birds, lizards. 

out there, it seems as though the earth is simply accepting and taking in what the people have left behind (i know the feeling). slowly the wood is breaking down, the sand is getting in, and the sun has faded away any sign of color. but big strong tall and overwhelming mountains line both sides of this street, a sight that never gets old for me. the first time i made that drive from AZ to CA i was so excited i barely took in the landscape, i just drove until i got there. coming back was much the opposite. i was disappointed, scared, tired, and knew i then had such a task ahead of me - i had to take what i had just learned about people and life and make something for myself. i cried on that drive back through this desert stretch, but i've written about that before. the way the palm trees finally thin out until there is only one alone in the middle of twenty miles of nothing. 

i've had days since then, nine+ months later, that i still feel like that one lone palm tree. swaying in the wind. standing tall. 

change doesn't have to be this big overwhelming thing, but i suppose often it is. many of the changes i've made have been big relatively speaking. but in meeting people along the way i have come to realize that so many people have made similar changes in their own ways - choosing to pack up and move long distances, quitting jobs, learning what it means to be alone. i'm finding more and more its the smaller changes, the everyday little ones, that often go unnoticed. the way that some days you wake up feeling amazing and other days you can't get yourself out of bed. the way you learn to just do it anyway. the way one day you can't do a headstand and two months later you already feel stronger and better and have gotten so good at it. the way some nights are just made for texting every last ounce of crazy that you've got out onto your sisterfriend who really doesn't think you're all that crazy, you just can't help but think you are since thats how so many people have often made you feel. and because these days you take so many things in stride as just part of the deal that it takes a second to realize its not really crazy at all - simply ranting and rambling about things that actually mean something to you now. 

you've started to acquire things that mean something to you again.

that is not a small change. 

i thought about 9/11 and where i was. i thought about how lucky i am now to have a sisterfriend willing to share in my adventures and who is willing to let me into hers. i thought about how ____ never fought for me when he absolutely should have. and i thought about what it means to be authentic and intimate and how so many people have shaped me over the years and how i want to know that i've shaped someone in return and when i say i miss you what i really mean is ______.

five more days until i head back to maine on a quick trip that will practically take longer to make than it will to actually be there. and there are things, aside from seeing my family and friends, that i feel like i have to do. things that i cannot do here in landlocked, desert southwest. i want to see the atlantic ocean. i want to eat real lobster. i want to go to LL Bean. and if i can find a way to get downtown, i want to take my photo infront of the Portland Maine mural on the side of the Asylum club building. 

i'll be a tourist.

a tourist going back to the place i grew up.

my parents have started making plans, my brother is picking me up at the airport late at night on a work day, my grandmothers have started to forget who i am, and i will be a tourist. part of me is worried that in visiting i will feel like too many things have shifted. faces and places will be familiar, but i no longer live there. it will be two weeks shy of exactly one year since i left. ONE YEAR. i'm hoping it will feel like coming home, but what if it does not. i am not the same woman that left. in so many ways i am better... but i am not entirely sure i am ready to see just what i left behind. and i am not sure when i will have another chance to visit again. another year? two years? longer? 

much unlike when i left maine, there are many uncertainties i now have the answers to. but, in light of that, i've started to accumulate more. the initial getting out here and getting settled is now a memory. lots of roadtrips and sight seeing and hellos and goodbyes behind me. i've moved on to what comes next. is it possible i have even been here long enough to meet someone and already miss them? is it possible i have even been here long enough to consider another town, another move, another climate change, another big step for likely a year+ from now? ...is it possible that now that i've started seeing and moving and feeling and exploring, i may never want to stop... 

i've become that kind of person who drives three hours one way just to take ten photos on my phone and turn around to drive back home. i've become the kind of person who can't stay at home on weekends (even with a big pile of sewing i'd like to get done so i can put it in the shop!). i've become the kind of person willing to entertain the idea of meeting someone halfway, 1,000 miles from here. i've become the kind of person who can't go to bed without doing headstands, planks, and knee crunches (WHO AM I?!?!). 

and yes, i am looking forward to visiting maine. 

and yes, i am looking forward to coming back to AZ.

and yes, not all of my nights are good and there are still things i lack and there are still things i want and there are still things....

but i'm that palm tree.

31 August 2015


there's a funny thing that happens when you see a friend from back home for the first time in a year since you left: it feels like no time has passed at all, and yet you feel like a completely different person. 

somewhere in the middle of getting drunk by the pool in one hundred degree weather and a tattoo convention, i had the epiphany that i'm just not that angry anymore. (cue this little interlude by paramore.) i'm not sure when it happened, but if i had to guess it was sometime in between coming back from LA, galavanting off into the joshua tree wilderness, and having to fight for the right to just freaking be me again this spring. was it the day i stopped thinking about texting someone who didn't care one tiny ounce about me? was it the day i told all of my girlfriends i was sorry because they had all been so right for so long? was it the day i sat by a creek holding a PBR in freezing cold water staring at a beautiful man getting a sunburn? was it the day that i realized i could make it through this arizona summer without losing my mind completely? i have no idea. but here's the thing: it happened and i don't even think i had any idea at the time.

chris and i have been friends for somewhere around ten years, he was a huuuuge supporter of me getting out of town and figuring my life out in all of the awesome ways, and he has been around for more conversations about weird crap that felt like the world was ending when it definitely was not. (plus sometimes he tattoos me.) its no wonder we were able to pick up like a year had not passed. that kind of familiar face and comfort and general easiness had been slightly lost on me this year... and it was awesome to spend a weekend watching him paint in a convention center full of freaks all trying to out-freak each other. 

anna and i have been friends for less than two years, but when two maine girls end up in arizona within a year of each other, you kind of bond no matter what. she gets me. we get each other. we can talk about dudes, or we can talk about makeup, or we can talk about the harder parts of life like being away from home (since we have the same one). my girl friends here in AZ are each over an hour away from me, but sometimes its like a kick to the face when i'm reminded they're indeed here. spending the weekend with her was much needed and a good introduction to PHX, even though i didn't get a chance to see much of the city. she loaned me things like sunblock and didn't judge me when i admitted silly things that other people would scoff at. 

these are the kinds of friends i am becoming increasingly aware that i have and ever more grateful for. these and a few others in my life are reminders that the feeling of needing drama in my relationships in order to feel like something significant is happening are gone. it makes me feel old, but it also makes me feel wise(r). (i'm not ready to say that i make all the right choices and don't invite in any kind of weirdness or drama ever, because come on, we all do it. chris and i had a long talk one morning this past weekend about how everyone's lives are just f-ed up in some way, and if we would all just admit that and move on it wouldn't be so difficult.)

i met a few cool new people and wandered around the convention feeling incredibly under-tattooed to be in a crowd like that, which is usually kind of the opposite. in that crowd i stood out for looking pretty averagely normal. that was fun to experience again, its been a long time since pre-dyed hair and pre-tattoos. 

i think the thing about life these days for me that makes me want to feel better is that i'm learning how to accept that not everything is a damn competition. how we dress, how we work, how we love. i still look at other women or other blogs or other whatever and think about what my life is like in contrast to theirs, how theirs must be better or more interesting, but i think feeling less angry about everything and everyone and my interactions with or without them means i must be happier. i think its normal to want to peek in like a voyeur at what someone else is up to to see if you measure up. i'm still sometimes surprised when i realize i'm not really missing much out there, that i'm doing okay here and that some things just really aren't as amazing as i picture them to be in my head. real life, ya'll. we're just living it. ain't no thang. 

so here's the deal. i just saw friends that i hadn't seen in a year. in just a couple of weeks i'll be going back to maine for a long weekend to see the rest. how much different is that going to feel?! and what will it feel like coming back here to arizona knowing i won't see them again for likely even longer next time? and how okay am i looking ahead with my eye on the prize into the next year or two or five without any clue who will still be around or who will come/go... well, two months ago i never thought i'd be able to stand on my head. today i added in another move that makes it even more difficult, and even though i fell over twice before i got it right, i got it right. and the metaphors are everywhere lately. 

i can be as metaphoric or poetic or cliche as i want about things, but the bottom line is this: yes, i've changed a lot in the past year. yes, its taken some shit to get me this far. yes, i still wake up and want to change some things and honestly i will wait as long as i have to to see if they will change on their own first, but i've become much more proactive. i've become a lot more honest even though some things haunt me. and i've gotten a lot stronger. i'm really not that scared anymore. and i'm certainly not as angry. my body talks to me differently now, and i listen. i try to voice things i never would have voiced before. and sometimes, sometimes i have to stop myself from apologizing. 

so to my soul sister in LA that i haven't seen in what feels like ages, i miss you.
to my parents and brother and family and grandmothers and friends and old coworkers, i miss you.
to my sisterfriend that i haven't seen in just a couple of weeks, i miss you.
to the one traveling and somehow still magically saying a few things here and there, i miss you.

but i'm not sorry... and whether its been ten days or three months or a year, we'll see each other soon. i'm excited to see all of the ways you have changed, too.... and for all of the change, there are so many things i hope have stayed exactly the same. xo

23 August 2015

arizona summer.

for a while this spring, there were words that lingered in the air around me, and i believed them. i thought a lot about them, i thought about moments and traveling and things that had happened that would never happen again. once i was done thinking, i started questioning, and then the questioning turned to doubt and the realization that i'd known all along. but now i know that without those words and those moments and the doubt, i wouldn't see things quite the way i do now. i may have fully said goodbye to that chunk of time and those people and that vision of how i thought things would be, but i haven't lost the perspective. those words came from a place of disappointment, regret, and negativity - and they are not mine. 

since then, i have been somehow blessed with new people who have been able to nurture some good and different things in my life, in different ways. i've become a full believer in things happening for a reason. finally hitting that breaking point and letting the negativity in, processing it, and letting myself be vulnerable to new situations and ideas and feelings - even though sometimes i really didn't want to - has lead me here. its not that these people are any more special than friends & lovers than i've had in the past - oh, but they are. they really are. it doesn't mean i love anyone else any less, but its an epiphany i was ready for. the good friends i have carried in my life are now mostly far away from me. i need to let people in. i need to be willing to step outside and be open. and its okay to be a little scared about that. 

climbing is a big deal out here in the west. i mean, i suppose it was a big deal in the northeast too, but probably in a different way. i knew a couple of climbers in college. but for the past at least fifteen years, it wasn't something i heard about / cared about. my life has brought me three people recently (or at least more readily) who climb. two social media friends turned everyday real friends, and one friend|lover|friend|traveler. my time with these people, either in person or in conversation, has been fascinating. trying to understand their passion for something that to me, from the outside, seemed so impossible and strange and exciting and totally foreign. 

i've watched them climb. i've seen photos, i've sat and watched from ten feet away, i've listened to their stories. twice now i had tried to get psyched up to try it, even on a really itty bitty small scale - but backed out. rocks. heights. strength. these are not things that are in my repertoire. sewing, fabric, reading. hiking. sunsets. headstands. those are my jams.

but lately i've been getting stronger. headstands ain't no thang anymore. my core and arm muscles are thanking me for it. i can get up and get straight with practice and ease and focus and determination. so much of yoga is lost on me, but i've particularly bonded with this. and i like it because in that moment when i'm going from feet on the floor to feet straight up in the air, however long it takes, my mind is clear. the only thing i'm thinking about is getting up there and staying there for a while. the toned arms and abs are just a bonus. while doing headstands at home i usually still err on the side of caution and do them beside a wall just incase. this time, out in the meadow during the golden hour with that amazing sunlight and my friends watching, i recognized i need no wall at all anymore. 

believe you can do it. 
thats not so hard.

afterwards, with a tiny bit of liquid courage (who are we kidding? we had been drinking all day...), my sisterfriend to spot me, and two guys who have brought me into their family graciously - one taking photos, the other spotting/cheering me on - i scaled that rock wall. slowly. cautiously. thoughtfully. i got about halfway up and mistakenly looked down. heather said, "you're not that far off the ground," and i knew she was lying. 

trust yourself. 
new things aren't bad things.

i checked in with my hands/arms and feet/legs and tried to find strong spots, just as i do with my core when i'm doing headstands. its not so different, i thought. except i'm fifteen feet off the ground hanging from rocks with just a little pad and a couple of people to catch me if i fall.... about 3/4 of the way up, i wanted to give up. my hands weren't as strong as i wanted them to be and they were sweating. 

heather later told me i chose all the harder holds and more difficult routes up - which seemed completely metaphorical to my life in general, so appropriate. 

but i got to the top and up and over and met her on the other side. for someone who had been so terrified of even trying to scale a little boulder a few months ago, i was awfully proud of myself. and my friends were proud of/for me. 

this has been the summer for not second guessing myself. its been really difficult, but i'm getting significantly better at it. i also recognize that the more i trust myself, the less i question everyone else and their motives and places in my life.

i have had some really hard days. trying to understand whats happening and where i fit in and what life is trying to tell me. 

but i think i get it now.

i love flagstaff. i like it more than prescott, though i know prescott is where i need to be right now. its my home and its going to see me through the winter.  we've come almost totally full circle on the first year of being away from maine. today is august 23 (my mom's birthday - hi mom!), and i left on september 27. 

when i think about all of the places i have been, aside from driving completely across the country in four days: LA, joshua tree, malibu, prescott, flagstaff, tuscon, phoenix, bisbee, page/horseshoe bend, grand canyon, jerome, sedona... and every little town in between, i realize just how many miles (and metaphorical miles) i have traveled. 

today i got my first flat tire. there's a ding in my windshield. i busted my windshield wiper fluid reservoir. my poor car is taking a bit of a beating but she's still running like a dream. metaphors everywhere.

sometimes i realize that i'm really doing all of this kind of like a champ. 
i'm a badass. even when i cry for no good reason.

flagstaff has those cute little restaurants and street art and things that i need more of in my life, or at least i think i need. maybe i just like to visit them. but leaving this time to come back home after the weekend felt different. we explored more, i saw more, and that town felt more like home. it reminded me so much in so many ways of the city i grew up in - just smaller, and without the ocean.

...what i really need is my tiny little house. but until i get my own, watching heather and her family construct theirs is enough.  how did i manage to find such an amazing woman with so much behind her, and so much ahead of her, completely different than me but in so many ways so totally alike?

part of me panicked while watching a total stranger try to help change my flat tire today. mostly i was grateful, as i try to continually be to both strangers and friends and family and lovers alike for giving me perspective and help and love and patience. but yes. i panicked. how much would a new tire cost? how was i going to drive the 100 miles back home doing 50 in a 75 with hazards on and not lose my mind? (thanks to the nice cop who pulled me over out of total concern and was afraid maybe my car was on fire.) there are still so many things, like this, just casual kind of normal things, that i haven't experienced yet.

but i guess now i have.

22,000 miles and my first flat. not a bad run, i'd say.

above all else, i need these things. i need this patience and this panicking and this love and this strength and this time and this selfcare and this ability to be in gorgeous places a the drop of a hat. i woke up on a mat under my down blanket in a partially finished bare bones of a workshop building on heather's land this weekend, in 55degree mountain morning weather, with a cold nose - and i was happy to pee outside. who is this person?!, i thought. who is this person i've started to become?!

i am thankful for all of the things i've allowed myself to be given. whether its fancy dinners or mimosa brunches or hikes with amazing views or overnights outside or a dayjob that allows me time to do all of this stuff or quilts that keep getting made and sold or a comfortable bed to come home to or friends who text me back all hours of the day or even even even the things i don't quite understand yet but am holding on to with hope in my heart. i am thankful for being sensitive to everything around me, even when it hurts. because for all of the hardship and heartache and routine blahness i've immersed myself in over the years thinking that i could FIX IT ALL, i'm finally learning how to fix myself. 

be myself.

35 years into this thing called life and i feel like i'm maybe starting to get it right. and all because of an arizona summer.

17 August 2015

show up;

part of this move was to give myself space and grace to do things differently this time around. 

but this is what it has really been like. 
these are not the exciting daytrips or the weekends away, these are not the drives out into the desert, these are not the things that bring me comfort. 

i have done a lot of writing and blogging in the past eleven months. some things i've spoken of very specifically and some very vaguely - not everything i've experienced has ended up on this blog. 

i am incredibly grateful everyday for the friends i have been able to text with along the way. almost. every. single. day. we've hardly skipped a beat. (ang, kristin, craig, heather.) 

with this kind of "journey" (i'm getting a little tired of using that word), everyone has an opinion. and i do mean everyone. by and by, most people have been happy to see me doing well, have been supportive. some people have really not said much at all, which has both its ups and downs for me. and there have been the select few who have a more negative opinion. sometimes it can be hard to make your own choices with everyone's words looming overhead. sometimes it can be hard to live for yourself when you know everyone is watching.

i've chosen to use this blog and facebook and instagram as a way to share my experience, not only for myself and for those who are actually keeping tabs, but for those who have stumbled across my story and found either inspiration or similarity/comfort in what i've been doing. but as the year has progressed, i've found it hard to always keep it positive. i've struggled with sharing too much. i've had days where i honestly did not want to post anything to facebook because sometimes it just felt unnecessary. but i know that someday, looking back, i would regret not documenting with photos or words. i know that if i'd chosen to keep it all on paper pages in notebooks and journals, there would be a dozen by now. 

there is a part of me that wishes i had not shared any of this. then the opinions would be void. this "journey" hasn't been for anyone else, after all, its been for me.... but it just wouldn't have felt right to hide it all away.

but my number one thing has been that no matter whats happened - good and bad - i still have to get out of bed everyday. i've had a few weeks here and there where that has felt like the hardest thing in the world. there were weeks that i really didn't make it out of bed much. i wasn't present, i wasn't functional, and i wasn't proactive.

the hardest thing about being 2,500-3,000 miles away, is that i can't be (physically) there for people back in maine. family. friends. people who have gone through a hard time or an awful experience and i have only been able to be there for them via texts or phone calls when i've wanted so badly to be able to hug them in person. there is a weird guilt that i carry around with me for missing births, deaths, weddings, graduations, etc etc. milestones and life changing events that i really only see through social media. and i know that it is not easy for my family to not have me there. its both a horrible and wonderful feeling to know that my presence is missed, no matter how long i've been gone.

i've learned so much about myself. i've revisited old triggers and reminded myself what i need to be healthy and happy. i've misjudged partners and friends and had to recognize that not everyone is who i thought they were. i've understood what the core of me is asking for. i've had to step back while other people do their own thing and accept that not all things will include me, even when i want them to. i've accepted that there are some things that bring me great joy, and some things that can make me cry for days. i've started to learn how to work with and around these things.

when i can't be outside hiking or adventuring or photographing everything around me, i've gravitated to my studio. i feel so lucky that i was able to find a space that had enough room for me to do what i need to do. i know i can work in a smaller space, because i have many times, but i have room to spread out for now. i don't expect it to always be that way. i'm taking full advantage of being able to create in a larger spot with everything i need. i've been inspired both by wonderful experiences and by crappy ones, and i've been able to make over a dozen unique projects this year (not to mention all of the work i did for luke). right now i know i need my craft to help me sort through all of the changes i've been through. i need that one consistent thing. its the only constant.

there's been so much i haven't shared here. conversations that have left me broken down for days. how i've had some of the most fun sex of my life. how so many people have told me how proud they are of me and how brave i am (seriously, a couple of times a week), and i brush them off. how sometimes i feel so much pressure from some imaginary place to fill all the check boxes on my imaginary list: apartment (check), job (check), relationship (    ), tiny house (    ), family (    ), etc etc etc. this is all the same stuff i'd be looking to put in place no matter where i ended up. just because you pick up and move and try to tell yourself you're in no hurry, life still moves day by day and eventually its been a year and although you've done pretty well, you kind of wonder when the rest is coming. 

for as brave as everyone thinks i am, and for as brave as i sometimes feel, there are still things i can't conquer. there are personal fears, personal goals, personal challenges that i still feel like i'm banging my ahead against a wall over. its not the moving cross country thats the hard part. i have so many days when that feels secondary to trying to communicate, trying to love, trying to fit in, trying to find my place, trying to know when i've made a good choice vs a bad choice. theres a strong heart in here, but even the strongest hearts need a sign, a word, a giant flashing light to say RIGHT HERE! THIS IS GOOD! THIS IS SAFE!. 

this "journey" has shown me all of my vulnerabilities. its found me shameful and excited. its found me daring but not fearless.

i hiked down to a special secret water spot in sedona this past weekend that had been shown to me once before. i wasn't sure i knew exactly where it was, and when i got there i wasn't sure i was completely comfortable navigating the trail/hike down by myself. i wasn't sure that spending a few hours in the water on a really hot day was worth being there alone. but that part of me that is so continually pushing convinced me it would be fine. and it was. i just needed to not listen to the little voice in the back of my head that says you can't do this, you're just a tiny lady, being alone is too hard.

being alone is hard. 

but being alone has forced me into so many situations that i've gained positivity from. even the most negative moments have somehow somehow shown me some kind of light. sometimes its been a little delayed, and i suppose these days i'm waiting for another delayed light to shine my way.

i try to filter out the negativity from around me. i sometimes even end up bringing it upon myself late at night when i don't know what else to do. there is always a darkness that tries to creep in and force me to give up. there's always a voice telling me i'm not good enough or tough enough.

but i'm here, aren't i? i'm still doing this. even if its not perfect. even if i don't end up staying here. even if i go running up into the mountains and need a city with an actual bookstore. even if this tiny town only works well if you like churches or bars (i don't mind either of them, but they are not my preferred places for meeting people). i'm making it work. i'm missing people. i'm wishing for that familiar guy to still be in my bed. i'm loving the communication i'm given from friends. i'm getting sunburned and planning roadtrips. and i'm crying and trying and i'm watching the hummingbirds in the feeder outside of my studio window. and the days pass by pretty quickly most of the time. 

i'm following my heart, even when its broken. i'm patching it up and following it to the next stop. i'm apologizing when i feel like i need to, which is probably too often. i'm walking softly. and i'm barreling through. i'm trying to be true to myself.

Show up for the people you love.
Show up because life with a ghost or a memory or a halfway anything, is not much of a life at all. Let them know you’re there—even if only in the most broken and imperfectly human way possible.
Show up because love isn’t a state of being or a destination or a much longer journey through life. Show up because love is an action and it requires a steady force of energy to exist.
Show up because love isn’t stagnant—show up because neither are you.
Show up for the big stuff—celebrate and cry. Share in the experiences that will undoubtedly shape lives beyond your own.
Don’t go through the motions, or pretend to feel what they feel. Feel what you feel, but try not to feel it alone.
Show up for the small moments, the ones we’re conditioned to forget. The pajama filled nights, the long road trips home, the seconds and minutes and hours that have truly defined your love. Really, please promise to show up for those.
Show up for the “I’m sorry,” the one we often just decide to overlook.
Never underestimate the power of that apology. Even if it’s too short, or too late or unwanted and ill-received, show up for it anyway.
Show up for the hard conversations because life is built to be messy.
Be honest and brave.
Leave everything you feel on the table.
But if you can’t do that- if you’re not ready yet.
Well, then at least find a way to show up.
Show up to figure it out.
To learn and to lose.
To discover whatever the fuck your life is meant to be about.
Showing up isn’t for forcing a feeling or a relationship or a dream, and it’s not about clinging to what could or should be. It’s about ending the avoidance. It’s about accountability and being vulnerable. It’s for putting in enough work to know who and what is worth fighting for. And it’s for seeing with less hesitation- who and what is not.
Show up for yourself.
Give yourself a real shot, a true chance at whatever it is that your mind wanders toward right before you fall asleep.
Even when it feels hard and unnatural or incredibly frightening, show the fuck up- because it’s the only great choice that you have: to be the one to show up.

13 August 2015

on my own.

one year ago tonight was my last night in the tiny little apartment. i no longer owned most of my stuff other than what i was traveling with. i was counting down the days and had just a tiny bit over a month until it was time to go. i was heading to my parents' house to stay for the remainder of my time in maine to save a little bit of cash on rent and spend quality time with them before i left. one year. i'm starting to hit the milestones of the big moments that led up to leaving. i had a laundry list of things i was looking forward to: the scenic but hurried drive across the country with my brother, a month/vacation in AZ, and going to LA.

the things i had i didn't want. 

the things i wanted were ghosts that i tried to hold on to, just slipping through my fingers over and over again.

so many of the things that i thought would be consequential a year ago, simply ended up not to be. and almost a year later, i am finding that things are still shifting. the ghosts are gone, except for when little reminders pop up and rudely make themselves known all over again. LA is now a place that holds only a few small happy memories for me. arizona is home, but i think i've started to realize that home does not mean what i always thought it meant. my heart feels a little bit like a gypsy these days, home is where i hang my clothes in my closet and water my plants. home is where i go to work every day. but home has really become just a word to me. 

my gyspy heart wants to keep going. 

where it wants to end up, i have no clue. right now its tugging me in two totally opposite directions - west, and north. we'll see how i feel once fall and winter come around and i can actually get back into the joshua tree desert without melting. 
i am still determined to make enough quilts by the end of this year to put a dent in my debt. i'm off to a good start, having sold four already (but lets be honest, some of that money simply went to everyday living and not all to the bills - but now that the everyday living is covered for a little while, lets keep that momentum going). in having recently bought twenty sheets at goodwill to slice and dice into fabric for projects, i am able to keep my supply cost slightly lower than what it has been and hopefully gain a little bit more on the profit end. i did not ever think that i would be making quilts out of recycled and reused sheets (much like LUKE!) - infact i remember leaving his studio the first time we ever met thinking what a wacky concept that was - but it seems to fit with a lot of the changes i have had to make. lets give something unwanted and worn out a brand new life. lets carry less around. lets spend less, make more.
once winter comes and goes, once the amount of my debt starts to get smaller, once a full year (and then some) has shown its colors; maybe then i'll listen a little better to what comes next. 

but for now, one month until that year mark, i'm trying to go with the flow. 

sometimes the flow means that you meltdown with your girlfriends in a barrage of texts that make no sense until you read them over a few days later and suddenly figure out really why you were so upset. sometimes the flow means searching for a creek in 100 degree heat. sometimes the flow means saying you're okay even when you're not because honestly you know you will be and really you are but sometimes shit just seems hard. sometimes the flow means maybe you have to understand that people's lives are shaped differently than yours and THATS OKAY. sometimes the flow means you do headstands in your studio at night so that you can just focus on one thing at a time and breathe. 

i've been doing a lot of reading lately, probably more than i want to admit because i mostly only read at night and if i'm reading a lot that means i'm not really sleeping... but a lot of articles and essays on what it means to be an independent woman, men's perspectives, tiny houses/simplistic/minimalism living, travel + moving + maintaining + acceptance. in my adventures (which is what i like to call this whole thing), i have distanced myself from people, i have kept in touch with people in the only ways i know how, and i have let in new people (some slowly, and some like a freight train). every single personal exchange or lack of has been important to my experience. there have been some days that have been overwhelming, simply trying to be an adult about interactions. 

the hardest days have been the ones where i have to be the most honest with myself, forget everyone else. i bounce back and forth so easily between being badass and strong and independent and alone, to being a heap of emotions and unsure and lonely.

i think my heart wants to keep moving because it knows that no matter where i'm grounded, these kinds of things (challenges) will happen. i've accepted that i have not structured my life in a "normal" way, that feeling too much is not a bad thing, that i would be denying myself a very fundamental virtue if i didn't just live the way i want to and the way that works for me. i freak out mostly when i feel like i have to compromise too much, once that fine line is crossed. i have so many people who want to protect me and care about me and want to see me be happy, but sometimes you have to pass through and deal with the unhappy to get there. 

i'm not finding my soul mate in a muscley handsome romantic partner dude, i'm finding it in a brand new to me sister|woman|friend. i'm not finding my best friends in people i have known my whole life, i have found them in women one state over (a state i chose not to stay in). 

i'm not sure what i thought this would be like a year ago - if i thought i would have a bunch of new friends to be social with every day after work, or if i thought i would automatically be provided with friends of friends of friends who just had all the coolest stuff and awesome lives and tiny little spaces for me to fit into... i think, honestly, i thought i would still be alone by now. and i am, mostly. but i'm okay with that. i've made a conscious choice to be that way. from the outside maybe it looks like i should be trying harder, but from the inside i'm at a place where trying is not important to me. i bobble around at work all day with some great ladies, i live with a great housemate, i have no fewer than five friends from here there and everywhere texting me most days all day, and as soon as i step into my studio i feel full. 

close friends. those are the ones i want. they're the ones who know what i'm thinking before i even say it. they're the ones who tell me truthfully how it is. ...someone to go to target with? not necessary. someone to go hiking with? i'd rather hike with my headphones/music in. someone to go to the movies with? i've gone to the movies once in like two years. my close friends and i talk every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. how lucky am i???? they can go with me no matter where i go. and they're certainly all going with me tomorrow when i pack up my car and go for a drive in search of something awesome in the landscape. 

i think a huge part of this whole thing for me is that i'm okay on my own. 

i'm okay.

on my own.

to make my own choices. to make my own mistakes. to be loud or quiet or happy or sad. i don't feel like i ever really knew myself until this year. i don't think i ever gave myself a chance to until now. i have felt walls go up and come down, i've fought useless battles, i've been momentarily rewarded. i've seen through fantasies and looked into the eyes of real people. and through it all i have really let myself be known. i can't ask for more than that right now.