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.

08 August 2015

after a while.

once again i traveled north on thursday afternoon when i got out of work, something that has quickly become a late summer staple on the weekends. in just around an hour and a half, i can easily lose fifteen degrees outside while gaining 2,000 feet elevation.

this was the second weekend i had spent sleeping outside during an arizona monsoon storm (the first time was in a soggy slightly leaking tent, then in a bare bones skeleton of a wood shop), but there was just something about the way the thunder and the lightening answered each other so quickly and fiercely. both times i watched and listened in awe and slightly jealous.

i've been trying to convince myself that feeling too much is actually not a sign of weakness, but instead i should be so thankful i have anything to feel too much about. but on these days when i get overwhelmed by my own heart, my own need for answers, my own desire to drive further and faster, i feel anything but thankful. i find myself wondering what would actually make me happy, when i'll just ask the right questions, and when i'll let myself slow down and just stop moving. 

maybe i'm not supposed to stop right now. maybe i'm only supposed to see the difference between being alone and being lonely.

my sisterfriend and i hiked through (and got slightly lost in) a magical aspen forest, along a trail lined with five foot tall ferns and deer hiding around every corner. the sound of the wind was incredible. soft and then heavy and then soft again as it moved with us.

the weekend mountain camping trips and the long drives into the desert are just my way of escaping, and i'm at the point now where i admit it feels shameful but also incredible to just run. sometimes it feels like i'm running away from something or someone, sometimes it feels like i'm running towards something better. but i always have to come back. ...usually slightly recharged, but only momentarily. i'm making sure that moment is enough for now so that i have something to crave later. but i feel like i really don't need anything else to crave. the list is already long.

i realized recently that there were things a short time ago that i should have asked for. i know i'll have the chance again, either in similar context or further into the future in a completely different way; but one thing i have learned this year is that you will not know unless you ask, and you will not get it unless you ask for it. gently opening dialogue is hard. diving in guns blazing is hard. communication is hard. but it puts my heart at ease, whether its with my family, my friends, lovers, or myself. some of those are easier than others and some of them overlap.

After A While

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…
– V. Shoffstall

30 July 2015

what these colors feel like.

[indented paragraphs taken from Wikipedia]

colors have been overwhelming this week. yesterday everything was purple and yellow. today everything is a rusty/burnt orange. well, not everything. sometimes its gone in a second, sometimes its stays for a while. but its there. sometimes i get the feeling in my chest, sometimes its more like its just hanging out around me, sometimes its like a punch in the face.
Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia; from the Ancient Greek σύν syn, "together", and αἴσθησις aisthēsis, "sensation") is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.[1][2][3][4] People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

these days where I feel colors are not every day, sometimes there's a week in between, sometimes longer. sometimes, like this week, there are back to back days, and they're strong. I keep taking them as a sign that I'm feeling something, but sometimes I'm not sure what it is.

today I wasn't quite sure what kinds of things I was feeling, I went back and forth a lot, and mostly the day ended in a bubble bath, a bottle of wine, and newly chopped bangs. the orange that started my day is now gone, and I'm tired.

all I know is that these colors have been stronger than I've ever felt, since I've been out west - it was something I barely ever even mentioned or touched on or admitted or really paid attention to previously. some days it feels like an absolutely gorgeous momentary gift, and other days it feels totally crazy (like, what is wrong with my brain?!). 

previous experiences in which I felt these colors associated with some pretty overwhelming emotions/feelings were at concerts (paramore concerts for sure were often yellow and gold)... depression came along with a lot of brown.
There are two overall forms of synesthesia: projecting synesthesia and associative synesthesia. People who project will see actual colors, forms, or shapes when stimulated, as is commonly accepted as synesthesia; associators will feel a very strong and involuntary connection between the stimulus and the sense that it triggers. For example, in the common form chromesthesia (sound to color) a projector may hear a trumpet and see an orange triangle in space while an associator might hear a trumpet and think very strongly that it sounds "orange". 
Some synesthetes often report that they were unaware their experiences were unusual until they realized other people did not have them, while others report feeling as if they had been keeping a secret their entire lives.[11] The automatic and ineffable nature of a synesthetic experience means that the pairing may not seem out of the ordinary. This involuntary and consistent nature helps define synesthesia as a real experience. Most synesthetes report that their experiences are pleasant or neutral, although, in rare cases, synesthetes report that their experiences can lead to a degree of sensory overload.[14]

the days when these colors visit and change and help are more spiritual days - I feel them more when something is going on. I just can't always explain where they're coming from. I mean, I know what I'm experiencing, and what emotions the colors are connecting themselves to; but they're not consistent. they're not always there, which makes it confusing. I'm more of an all or nothing type woman. I work better in absolutes.

so imagine you're driving through the empty desert with nothing around you except sand and sky (which looks tan and blue, obviously)... a song comes on the ipod that reminds you of a moment - you get a text from someone you miss a whole hell of a lot - your heart skips a beat - and all of a sudden everything combined: sounds and emotions - everything feels purple. it doesn't necessarily look purple (occasionally it does but usually just around my periphary - very rarely do I see it all head-on). its almost impossible to explain to anyone else.

for example... when I met eric, things felt purple. I think I've figured out that purple is strength, comfort, and learning. I've encountered feelings of purple on a couple of my solo drives as well (as I mentioned above)... when I met heather, things felt yellow. these are by far the most common colors for me. when I'm in joshua tree, it feels yellow too. I think I've figured out yellow is easiness, courage, and love.

the orange today was new, I don't feel that one very often. I can't decide if the emotions its attaching to are caused by my reaction to someone else, or my reaction to myself. clarity hasn't been my strong suit recently. sometimes its kind of cloudy.

shame has felt an odd shade of muddy dusty blue.

anger, which you might  normally associate with the color red, often feels neon pink for me. but it depends on the situation - sometimes its white. sometimes its black. sometimes, like if I'm mad at something trivial, there's a total lack of color. a few months ago during a drunken argument, it was silver... so much silver I could almost taste metal.

I was reading a book on all of this recently (moreso on people who associate color with numbers/letters/words, not emotions), and years ago when it was first being understood, bands like Pink Floyd etc were doing light shows and whatnot to mimic what these synesthetic feelings might look like to the normal eye. people were taking drugs (like lsd) and having similar experiences.

my brain misfires (or something moves through me and drops it off), things cross, and I feel a color alongside of an emotion. there are no drugs. there isn't' a light show.

people sometimes ask me why I am drawn to fabric, textiles, design, colors, and quilting. this seems like the awfully long answer. most of my life its just been because my mom taught me how when I was younger and I just kept going with it.. lately its been because I can translate these feelings into tangible things. that's the thing about emotions and colors and things that you can't hold in your hands - they're not solid and they're not moveable or shapeable in a physical form. its not like clay that you can mold. there's no way to manipulate it - the feeling just comes, and then it goes.

I was explaining a project to eric in my studio one afternoon, a project designed around an experience/trip that I had taken. each part of the quilt represented a different portion of that trip. each part had its own color(s). he immediately picked out the red/pink center - a love/anger correlation. I think that was one of the first times anyone had noticed a particular color in a project of mine and asked about it. most of the time people just think its pretty, and most of the time I'm okay with that. sometimes I'm not even really sure how to relay these things in quilting, I just tuck it in where I can and don't always explain it.

I recently sold this quilt to a friend who said she was drawn to it and not sure why because brights are usually not her thing.. but I have the feeling that she was drawn to it more because of what was put into it. some projects just end up looking more honest than others.

a few projects have been based more on what things have looked like, instead of what they felt like. that's always so much easier.

26 July 2015

just keep making more.

three years ago today i moved out of the huge and beautiful apartment that i shared with my ex - staying in a tiny one room cabin on a friend's property for a few weeks until my new place was vacant. i had the two cats with me and almost all of my belongings were in a storage unit.

one year ago today i was less than a month from moving out of my tiny one room apartment and at the two month countdown to moving across the country - gearing up to dogsit/couchsurf/stay with my parents until the morning i drove off. 

there's less than 8 weeks until i go back to maine for a few days. 
it will have been a year.  
in visiting during september, i will have accepted another year ahead for myself without family & friends at the holidays. i will have accepted another year ahead for myself of trying to make ends meet and figure it out on my own. i know that by the time september hits, i'm going to be feeling really emotional about what the past year has really meant.


i had a pretty shitty day a couple of days ago. i reached out to any friend that i thought might listen, because all i wanted was comfort. i'd been sick for a few days already with a nasty head/chest cold, i hadn't left the house, i hadn't showered, and my brain/heart started to play all kinds of mean tricks on me. a moment of weakness in an otherwise strong existence sometimes feels like the world is caving in on you. my soul sister told me, "you ARE tough, but maybe you don't have to be tough ALL the time."

today i woke up with absolutely no voice. my housemate, who came back from her last trip of the summer yesterday, saw me this morning and said, "well, you look better." when i tried to tell her i'm still feeling crappy, nothing came out. no words, just a squeak. i put myself back to bed with a cup of tea and my laptop and am forcing myself to rest today. i'm bad at being lazy - even the past few days while i haven't felt well, i was sewing up a project. i don't like to admit defeat, clearly.


yesterday morning i couldn't stand it anymore, so i pulled myself out of bed greasy hair and all and drove myself twenty minutes up the hill to a lake. i sat there for a couple of hours in the early morning sunshine before the crowds showed up, listened to one of my favorite albums from almost ten years ago, and got some fresh air. it had been a few months since i'd visited that spot, but each time i go i'm always so pleasantly surprised by the thick woods and the view. it almost looks like new england. almost.

for a woman who is so deeply ingrained in and connected to the desert, recently i've been feeling a pull from the woods and mountains. i don't know if the initial newness and novelty of the desert is wearing off, and closing in on the one year mark my native landscape is trying to call me home... maybe its because the arizona desert isn't really the one i'm in love with, its the joshua tree desert - and nothing else compares. maybe i find peace in both of these landscapes, just at different times and for different reasons. maybe i just am not sure where i'm supposed to be. maybe i am starting to get weary of being alone, and a need for change/wanderlust is the only thing that curbs that feeling.


i got my etsy shop up and running again this weekend, which was something i could do from bed. there is nothing more scary and annoying than trying to price your work. especially within a platform where everyone else who is selling within your medium is totally underselling themselves. they're charging for a finished project what would barely cover my supplies. so, i tried to compromise and keep my prices reasonable while still placing value on them. at least as much as i could for now. when you're charging ite3 or 4 times more than everyone else, its a little bit nerve wracking. 

...even when you're confident your work is worth it. by the time i plan/design a unique project, choose/acquire fabrics, cut and sew up the fabrics, make the back, sandwich/baste it up, quilt it, bind it, photograph it, and write up a listing for it - that is a huge process that feels a little impossible to put a real price on.

it does feel good to get my items back out there on the market though, it had been about four years since i've sold that way - hard to believe anything i'd sold in the past four years was custom work only (except for that selling spree i went on just before i moved).

i am selling some quilts that have been around for a while. i've recognized that their emotional value to me has worn off, and right now they've just become things i carry around. the good thing about being a quilter is that i can ALWAYS replicate a project later on. as it goes right now, my need to sell and bring in income outweighs my need to hold on to these projects. in a way that bums me out, but in a way i know that its a) necessary, b) responsible, and c) no big deal. at the rate i'm going, i'm putting together a new project every couple of weeks, so i'm hoping to continue the forward momentum. if items start to sell, i'll be pleased. if they don't, i'll just keep making more. if nothing sells, i know what everyone is getting for christmas this year...

22 July 2015

little sparks;

there are a handful of songs lately that when they come on i practically crumble into a tiny heap on the floor. i thought i smelled a familiar smell yesterday when i was lying in bed, nearly delusional with fever and a headcold. i've spent a LOT of time in the past week talking and listening and connecting and loving and missing and its all a little exhausting but absolutely worth it. i have never been sadder, never been happier, never been more me. the photo above was taken last weekend in the woods after i'd been camping for three days with no makeup, no running water, and sleeping in a tent. it might seem completely cliche to say i was bare there - but i was bare there. and not just because of the lack of eyeliner. there's these little strings connecting some of us, no matter how far, and they've been tugging me everywhere. i've been feeling things hit me hard and big and in some of the best ways, like a punch in the face, like a whisper creeping up from behind you when you least expect it.

i know that you hate this place
not a trace of me would argue
honey, we should run away, oh someday

i spent three days with total strangers that felt like family. heather is homesteading up in flagstaff, a town that i'd always been drawn to for reasons i really didn't understand and had not yet had a chance to explore. they're building tiny houses, on their acres upon acres of land. i put up my tent, and she and i did not stop talking other than to sleep. this is the second time since being in arizona that i've felt a fit that i did not expect. a fit that felt effortless and seamless, in the way that they've maybe just always been there. 

i've never been fully sold on the concept of previous lives, but in the past year i've not only felt like at some point joshua tree was maybe where i used to be, but i've had experiences with people that have had me convinced that either time or space or some damn thing has seen us together before. maybe it sounds crazy, but those little sparks don't follow me around everywhere - and i'm not sure i'd ever felt them until i got way out here. maybe someone somewhere is trying to tell me something. maybe i've just opened myself up to letting things in.

i laid in my tent on the last night there while it poured buckets of rain down for something dumb like eight straight hours (even though i had the option of sleeping in the trailer with everyone else), and i thought about how previously in my life i'd never have even set foot in a soggy tent in the middle of nowhere in a place i'd never been with people i'd never met before. what in the world am i doing? what in the absolute hell... its just a little rain. we all start as strangers.

getting to watch heather & her family's plan of tiny houses get put into actual action with cement mixers and craziness, and talking about our mutual love of the entire concept and the why's, only solidified for me that i'm headed in that direction. someday. and to see what they're doing up there was mindblowing on the most basic level - they're doing that stuff that i sit and obsess over. they're doing that stuff that i really want to do. they're not going to be mobile the way i'd want to be if needed, but the basic concepts are there and jeeeeez i was in love. although i've realized now that with a solar panel i wouldn't have enough power to run my sewing machine, SO THAT'S A PROBLEM. 

heather and i talked about all things girl-talk related. things that the guys were like okay we'll leave you alone now... things you don't really talk about with someone you've just met like the day before. what its like to be the weirdo women who only want to wear eyeliner and Captain America t-shirts forever. what its like to have to be strong when all you feel is weak. what its like to need and want and give and be. who we are. who we want to be. how we get there.

i've realized recently that coming into this strong and trusting and self-aware woman in myself, i'm attracting others who are strong and trusting and self-aware. it takes a tough woman to be friends with a tough woman. it takes a secure man to be into a secure woman. these are personality traits that i would have found intimidating a few years ago, and right now they're the only things i'm identifying with. heather just picked up and moved from TX a few short months ago. the last two people i've connected with here have been geographical transplants, much like myself. this is probably not accidental. 

we hiked a mile down through a 700,000 year old lava river cave, in total darkness, so cold you could see your breath. we hiked into Priest's Draw and i watched them climb. i reveled in the amount of pine trees. i wondered what it had been about that city that had been so mysterious to me passing by previously, a weird sense of home that i didn't quite understand. and all of a sudden with these new people i understood. maybe i belong there, not now but maybe someday - or maybe its just that they belong there. i'm not ready to move again yet, but its an option that i'm leaving open for myself for six months or however long down the road. one of the things i'm missing here in my little town is a true girlfriend. a bestfriend. a sisterfriend. 

sometimes i feel like i'm still not in the right place, but i'm trying to remember that its all really fluid. things take time. its not all point A to point B and bingo you're there! i've changed so much and so many times in the short ten months from maine to los angeles to prescott, and tomorrow i'll wake up and change some more. sometimes i flip out over the silliest most ridiculous things and can't get a grip, but the hardest weirdest biggest things ain't no thang. like, what???? but mostly i'm powering through like a boss. (or only sharing my total downfalls with my closest friends - and my mom - so that everyone else thinks i'm a total champ.) but honestly, the truth is, i'm doing pretty damn good considering the obstacles. the biggest obstacle i think in this entire thing has not been money or self-preservation, its been patience.

what happened when i shed everything i thought i knew and i started over, what happened when i cast aside anything and everything that was unhealthy for me and opened new doors, what happened when i tried not to be so damn scared of failing - is that i'm here. right this second. with these people, these moments, these memories... and i'm looking ahead. to asking for what i want. to gaining perspective. to allowing myself happiness. to not holding myself back just because thats maybe what someone else would do. 

i'm a blank slate looking to set a whole new life's worth of goals for myself. my core values have changed. my priorities have shifted. i'm 35 with an entirely new outlook on where i want to be, and thats scary. its hard to put yourself out there into the world and say OKAY HERE I AM PLEASE TAKE ME FOR WHAT AND WHO I AM. its hard to ask for love. its hard to ask for commitment. its hard to be rejected. its hard to not know where you stand. its hard to hold on. and its hard to look back and not wonder if all that time was wasted.

but here's the thing. i'm slowly making progress. i'm rewarding myself for every effort made, whether or not it works in my favor. i'm being gifted these friends and lovers and collections of sparks. 

i miss J Tree. the highway on my usual route got demolished in a huge rainstorm and is closed, so next time i go mother nature is forcing me to step outside my comfort zone yet again. and i'm reminded that even the little bits of comfort i've managed to accumulate for myself, even just this year while being out on my own far far away from any twinkle of my life in maine, will be challenged sometimes. but J Tree will be waiting for me in the fall or winter when its time to go back. 

i'm strangely looking forward to a winter adventure either here or colorado or somewhere with a shitload of snow. a nostalgic trip. a hint of "hey, remember what this white fluffy stuff feels like when you're not totally not sick of it for five months out of the year?? -- its damn magical."

so tonight i can think of about a dozen things i'd rather be doing, but i'm writing and drinking a vodka tonic (or two or three) and trying to convince myself to leave the hair/bleach alone this weekend (even though i really want bright orange tips or something equally ridiculous). there are people i'd rather be with. there are conversations i'd rather be having. but tonight is for this, and for this i'm happy.