The year started with the loss of a great deal of my personal belongings, lost in the mail during the Colorado to Maryland move. Somewhere in the world are two boxes filled with all my jewelry, journals and mementos from the camino, a smattering of beloved coffee and kitchen equipment, and my favorite dress.
The reality of setting up another coffee shop here in Baltimore receded into the background as life filled with baby prep. I started to lose direction when it came to career goals, letting these details consume me.
And then, of course, I had that baby, and lost any semblance of life as I knew it. We gained a member of the family, joyfully and with open hearts, but I found that it stripped me of even more of myself than I thought possible. Suddenly I was giving more to another person than I was prepared for or, frankly, wanted to.
When the book was released, I lost the rest of my secrets. I also lost any doubt that I could write and publish a book. The loss of a wish, because you see, I had done it.
I lost my wonderful part-time job as an office manager for a naturopathic doctor because sending the babe to childcare just didn’t make sense to me on paper or in my heart. I have struggled, really struggled, with this decision mainly because I am terrified of what people will think about my status -gasp!- as a stay at home mom. When I tell people that my gig is writing, they ask, “but what do you do for work?” Despite the fact that we pay lots and lots of money for childcare, somehow caring for your own child is not considered work. And apparently unless you are JK Rowling, writing is also not considered work.
And the heaviest loss came when my partner was plucked up by the army and sent overseas. We are still reeling from that one. I’m not afraid to do it alone, I just don’t want to. I DON’T WANT TO. Ah, but that’s thing about challenges right? We rarely get to choose what they will be, we only get to choose how we will handle it. So that’s what I’ll do, handle it. Perhaps with a little zing and a lot of zest.
The close of this year has found me absolutely stripped of everything I once knew. While I embraced the journey that was starting a new life, I didn’t realize this meant shaking off the entirety of the old. Losing those journals made me appreciate the effort put into writing Follow That Arrow, which contains all the juicy bits between those pages anyway. Losing direction in career and creative life has opened doors to possibilities I never would have considered, including applying to get an MFA in writing. Losing myself into the abyss of motherhood has been the ultimate lesson in accepting the things I cannot change and submitting to life as it is versus fighting to bend life to my own will. Losing my identity in the midst of all of this has created an opportunity to start again. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what was needed. New perspectives, a fresh start, a splashy and badass challenge, are precisely the things that happen to bring out the best in me.
It is like standing in an empty room, walls whitewashed, maybe just some soft light coming in through the windows. On one side I can peer out at life as it was, memories and adventures and heartbreaks and journeys. On the other I can simply stare off into a blurry distance, into life as it will be.
Rather than broken and shaken, I feel pure, ready to start anew. The load of what to do and where to go has been lifted, my burdens lightened by the realization that I need only carry what serves me, nothing more. My life is as fresh as a dang spring morning.
In this stark room I have a box of paint and some brushes. I can unroll some rugs to sit on and pour a cup of tea. I’m ready to bring some color to this room, to begin again.