Sometimes I look back at my life and think where along the line did I hop on a train with a drunk conductor? I thought I had my story mostly figured out since I was a small child. I wanted to travel and I wanted to have a career. I did exactly that, traveled the world, joined the military, earned my Bachelors degree, and hustled my way into a truly incredible career. But there have been many chapters I did not anticipate being added. Chapters that have included divorce, addiction, abuse, and depression and a host of other things, not all bad. These chapters are not in a particular chronicle order. Some stories are older, when I was less experienced in this journey of life, and some that are more current. They are focused on stories and or lessons I’ve learned (and not the easy way). Welcome to my brain, a little dis-jointed, a little jaded, a lot funny and what I hope for most of all, wise.
Chapter 1: And Then I Broke up With my boyfriend, got a Kitten and Moved to Florida.
This chapter starts with me breaking up with my boyfriend, getting a kitten and moving to Florida. Yes, I have a penchant for the dramatic.
June 13, 2019 my journal entry stated “What is my mission statement? What values guide me?” and I listed: “Kindness, empathy, self-awareness and working hard to achieve my goals.” With the next line reading, “I can’t have these things and keep Jake.* Thus began an rollercoaster of a summer. I released Jake*, I let him go in light and love. I decided on that to choose integrity over comfort. Thanks Brene Brown, the implementation of your Call to Courage was just so much fun. More on Brene later, she’s been an absolute miracle worker for me. The experience was heart wrenching. Walking away from someone you love never feels like a good choice, even if it was the right choice.
When I really started to get clear on my values were, I decided that I would live courageously, Authentically! I would speak my truth goddamnit. In my confidence, I wrote out an “emotional hit list” of three people I had put off a “come to jesus” meeting with for years. I was paying a huge emotional toll by “keeping the peace” in these relationships. What a bullshit statement “keep the peace,” if you have to be unauthentic to “keep the peace” peace did not exist to begin with. Anyways, I put my therapy into warp speed, I felt like I was participaiting in the Iron Man of mental health. I began addressing major issues with the three most important people in my life, not to mention dealing with my issues head-on. Equipped with my self-help books, journal, therapist and meditation I plunged emotionally into this summer like hippo. Not graceful, and causing way more of a wake than I had intended.
It was hard. I am talking soul stretching, drop you to your knees hard. The conversations, the honesty, the reality of all it. Setting boundaries and being vulnerable is not easy shit. I knew it was going to be hard and that I would grow, but I think I underestimated how difficult truly letting go is. Letting go of expectations, of hopes and dreams and letting go of the guilt and shame I’ve carefully nurtured like a mushroom within my soul. Letting go didn’t happen for me all at once. It is still I have to be aware of. I wasn’t like Kate dropping Leo off the raft into the abyss with one tearful goodbye. It took tantrums, it took paralyzing fear and anxiety. The thing about dreams and expectations is that we cling to them as if they are the end all be all. They aren’t. By holding on with a death-grip to certain ideas and people, we actually hinder ourselves from what we really want. When I realized that I felt more clarity than I had in years.
Realization, after realization began to hit me, one of the most obvious, yet most unknown, was “what brings me joy?” That had been a surprisingly difficult question for me to answer. I decided I had to break these concepts down into tangible things and start with baby steps. Then it dawned me on, cats, cats give me joy. I am at that point in my life where I will freely admit that. I’ve been called worse than a “cat lady.” So Bebe came into my life. My Wildling from West Valley.
And boy did she bring me joy. She also brought me abscesses, ear mites, vet bills and scratches all over my body. You’d think I had gone toe-to-toe with a harpy. Anyway, nothing was going to get in the way of me finding my joy! Even if it was one deranged kitten at a time.
Three weeks after I surrendered Jake* to the universe, an opportunity came up for me to relocate to Tampa, Florida for work. Living by the beach has always been my dream. Did I have the guts to pack up again and move cross country for the fourth time? I began to become more excited about the idea. I thought about it all day, dreamt about it at night. It would be a radical change, moving across country where I didn’t know anyone. If I was making decisions that were best for me then, why not? The words “why not?” have gotten me into more situations in life that most..
July 8th, 2019 my journal entry reads “suddenly got so anxious. Fear and doubt creep in like smoke from a fire.” Now the “What Ifs’” started to kick in. Was I really capable of taking this promotion? Making this move?
Doubts, I see you hanging around
The prephials of my brain
An uninvited party guest
August 5th, 2019 “I feel courageous. I feel I am living authentically.” I know now adventure does not come without cost. I had just found a beautiful condo that is right on the water, and I was actually going to be living my dream. This change/job was going to have challenges, but I wanted to rise up to meet them. To stop living in my self-imposed limitations.
Instead of cowering within myself, I rose up to meet the universe. Was I still scared? Hell yes. Do you know how difficult it is to move/drive across country alone with two cats? I never anticipated that I’d be the 33 year old cat lady moving to Florida. Yet, that lady is more badass than I could have ever dreamed.
However, badssary is not the word that was on my mind when I finished loading my POD with all of my earthly possessions and saying good-bye to my friends, and to Jake. I wondered if I was making a huge mistake. I felt I was leaving a portion of my heart in Salt Lake City. I wondered if i was running away from my problems. I got into my packed car, prayed for safety (amidst the howls from my cats) and through my tears, I took off.
On 30 September, I began my 2500 mile drive, it was snowing in Park City and I thought I just had to keep driving towards the sun. No matter the tears, fears or worries in my heart I just had to get through it. It was a hard drive. Nebraska never seemed so large in my life. Mile by mile I felt my courage kicking in. I was driving, literally, the change I wanted in my life. I began to focus on what my place would look like when I got to Florida. I finally made it to the last day of driving, and it would be 17.5 hours of driving. By the grace of Lizzo and redbull I was going to make it.
I got to my new condo at 2:30am. It was ridiculously humid but I was home! I wandered onto my patio and saw the darkness reflected in the water, and the calmness of the breeze on my skin. I felt like I just arrived at a resort. Then I heard a big splash – I thought it was a gator and said hell to the naw and got my butt inside.
I didn’t have a bed, so I laid some blankets on the floor, my body shaking with exhaustion and kept saying “Thank you” over and over again as the adreline wore off. I was completely alone, sleeping on cold tile floor and yet my heart was overflowing with gratitude. That’s the funny thing about gratitude, when you let her flow over you it isn’t about the causation, it’s a feeling that takes on a life of its own.
I have now been here almost two months. I am constantly filled with wonder. Seeing dolphins in my backyard (it’s all salt water, so no gators here), going to the beach in the middle of winter. Being reminded of the kindness of strangers, forming new relationships within my office, and finding my purpose at work again. Most importantly, finding myself again, maybe not again, but maybe for the first time. I am finding that I am not this beyond- broken creature. I am master and commander of my destiny. I still have hard days, and if that happens, I go down and sit on the pier and lose myself in the water, the fishes, the birds. Water soothes me. Reminds me of the largeness of the universe and how small my problems are comparatively. Water changes color, many times a day, even in the same location. It reminds me I am allowed to be dynamic, I am allowed to change, to reflect and be reflected upon.
I do not fear being alone anymore. I am comfortable in my own skin. I do not feel guilt for doing or not doing something. I have fought so hard for peace, and I think I am finally feeling what it tastes like. It tastes like a big gulp of the freshest air you can imagine.
I am letting go, slowly, of “what should-bes” and adapting the mentality of “let’s see what happens.” I am finding that a lot easier way to be, then consumed with stress, shame and guilt when I miss a perceived mark.
Almost daily, I still have a hard time realizing this is the reality that the Universe has manifested for me. I am so glad I did not listen to my fear gremlins. The lesson I am learning is to trust my gut. Memories, expectations, guilt, shame, all cover my inner brilliance; and I am brilliant. I am loved and I am full of light that I can’t wait to brighten up the world just a little bit, to the best of my ability.
As for Bebe, she isn’t a kitten so much anymore and has more energy than any cat I’ve encountered, but she brings so much joy to my life with her antics. She’s batshit crazy, but hey, who isn’t?