The End and The Beginning
So here we are, on the last day of December, the last day of 2020. I promised myself when I started this blog this year that I would post once a month. And as long as I get this finished and out there before midnight we’re going to count that. I was originally thinking that I would post every week, but then I realized that was just setting myself up for failure. It’s been a struggle to sit down and get my thoughts out there - even though I feel like I write all the time. I make notes, I try to do morning pages, and some days I just leave my laptop open all day and type out thoughts as they occur to me. So my plan for this post was going to be a stereotypical “year in review” because this is somewhat new to me and I've been having trouble coming up with what I consider new and fresh ideas. But as I was listening to Everything is Figureoutable by the amazing Marie Forleo today a somewhat different idea occurred to me. I would rather think about the lessons I’ve learned this year, as opposed to just reviewing the events and my successes. Let's make this recap about growth and not about concrete achievements per sale.
The biggest lesson that I learned this year is that I can support myself financially. This might not seem like a big discovery for a woman who is 37 years old and has not (to date) been homeless or bankrupt in any sense. But it’s a big deal to me after the 10 years I spent in a two income household that was always living in scarcity or worried that bills wouldn’t get paid. I moved into the first house I’ve lived in as the sole money maker - a house that is also the largest and most expensive (save my apartment in NYC) place I’ve ever occupied. I lived alone for a short time at the end of college, but I didn’t have to pay my rent - my lovely supportive parents took care of that for me so I could concentrate on school. And every other place I’ve lived, I had roommates. Fast forward to this year - I’ve been a freelance seamstress for 6 years and never made more than $10k/year in all that time. Now I have two kids and all the responsibility. But through the trauma of a break up, finding a new place, moving three days before a tornado, going into quarantine 2 weeks later and having to balance virtual school, co-parenting and multiple clients...I still managed to pay my rent on time every month, keep all the lights on and feed everybody with very little assistance. It really goes to show that if you believe you can make something work, you will make it work. I’m living proof. It also shows that over the years I didn’t grow my business or out earn the other members of my household because I believed I couldn't, or that what I was doing didn’t have the potential earning power. I was living with many financial limiting beliefs. And I still am, but I'm becoming more aware of them everyday. I believed from a young age that I was bad at managing my money and that it was something inherent in me. But somehow through a global pandemic I have maintained a small savings account - something that was almost impossible for me to do when I was in a two income household that had a higher combined income. This ties in very nicely to the next thing I learned.
I learned this year that I don't need a husband or a partner to be happy. This seems like common sense to most of you I’m sure. And on the surface it seemed like something I understood. But dating through all of this 2020 nonsense really brought some issues to light. I was very uncomfortable being alone at the beginning of the year. My kids spend 2 nights each week with their dad, and on those nights I would invite friends over or make plans to be out of the house, or make dates...if plans fell through or no one was available I would get very sad and lonely and would just wallow in abandonment. I dove headfirst into all the dating apps and was constantly trying to force some sort of connection with ANYONE. My friend asked me why I needed to find someone so badly. And after a lot of writing and podcast therapy and some meditating I realized that I've always believed that I needed to be in a relationship to be happy. That somehow that support and love that I was seeking needs to come from an outside person. So many thoughts are attached to that notion.
“Well once I get married, then we can buy a house - for now i’ll live in this crappy rental”
“well when I find the right person, they will go to the gym with me and we can work out together - until then I’ll just eat this cookie and hate my body”
“I need to be in a two income household to afford to travel/take vacations because it’s not fun traveling alone and besides I can’t afford it on my work alone”
I can be happy alone. Some weeks I look forward to my alone nights and I plan all the things I've been putting off for those two days - cleaning is so much more satisfying when the kids don’t immediately mess it up. Showers are quiet and uninterrupted. I can cook things they might not like and eat all of it before they get home. And I can give myself the love and support that I crave from a romantic partner - who is better equipped to give me what I desire?! I don’t have to ask for it, or hope that they can read my mood and give me what I'm missing. I can just think about it and then do it. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but this is a vast improvement over last year.
I also learned that I am strong. Not just emotionally, we sort of learned that last year. But physically. Not a lot of you (all 7 of you) knew me in high school when I was part of a swing dancing club, when I played sports in elementary school, when I was in Adventure Bound or went camping with my family. I wasn’t known for being physical when I was younger, but I did a lot more back then than I have done in the past 15 years. I adopted a too-cool-for-exercise, too-emo-for-sunshine attitude when I was a teenager and just let the nocturnal life of a theatre major take over. One time when I was living in NYC I walked from my apartment at 153rd street to 27th street because I was emotional and just needed to get out of my apartment. But that one walk was the most exercise I probably got in the 2 years I lived there. This year I started saying yes to physical activities that take place outside. I went kayaking for the first time on Mother’s Day and it flipped the switch in me to make outside time a priority in my life. Because I felt SO STRONG afterwards. I’ve always thought about activities where I feel powerful. Dancing had that draw when I was younger. It’s still my preferred method of exercise - I will always pick dancing over running or going to a gym to use crazy equipment that just confuses me and makes me feel awkward. But now I can add kayaking and hiking to that list. My biggest physical accomplishment this year was my first overnight camp in almost 2 decades. My friend asked a bunch of us to go out for her birthday weekend and even though I was scared and nervous and almost didn’t go, I'm so happy we did. We hiked 6 miles into our campsite, 30 pound packs on our backs. Set up camp and spent the night in the rain. Packed up and hiked the 6 miles back out in the rain the next morning. I had no idea that my body could survive that - and survive with very little trouble and zero injury! Now I try to get outside and take a walk as often as I can. Even today, it was 40 degrees but I bundled up and went out in between scattered showers. Walked a couple of miles up a giant hill in my neighborhood and just felt how strong my legs are and how conditioned my lungs are getting. The last house I lived in was two stories and I FOR SURE would get winded going upstairs. Not anymore. Making outside a priority has inspired a new collection of artistic work and grounds me on days when things feel chaotic and impossible.
This year, and last year, also really showed me how lucky I am to have my friends and family. They are so supportive and loving and just more special than I can even put into words. As crazy as this sounds, last year was so much harder for me than 2020 was. I went through all the shit in 2019, and if it hadn’t been for my coven of girlfriends and my amazing parents, I wouldn’t have made it through 2020 at all. The foundation that we forged over the past couple of years helped me stand up straight in 2020 and get my life, not only together, but into the shape that is fueling my dreams. I feel so much more like my true self as I look back over this year. Learning to say no to things that don’t serve me, learning to say yes to things that scare me, and just being grateful for all the people around me is such a gift.
In the spirit of Year in Review here are a few more little highlights:
Duo show at Turnip Green Creative Reuse in April featuring some of my most personal and favorite work to date.
Becoming a member of the TGCR Gallery Committee
Being part of the 2020 Periscope Entrepreneurship Training cohort
Getting a raise at my job which I love love love
Taking on a couple of fun new clients
My first trip to Virginia to see family and meet my newest little cousin
Reuniting with my best friend from high school
Not getting Covid!
And now it’s New Year’s Eve - historically my least favorite holiday. Filled with expectations that never never get met, and result in disappointments that last all year. Seriously, I challenge anyone to find a New Year’s story worse than some of mine. One year I got the flu and couldn’t get out of bed. One year I was so excited that I got drunk at like 9 pm and rung in the new year from the floor of the bathroom. That’s two years of uncontrollable throwing up. Or the year i was 6 months pregnant and was home alone because I couldn't drink, I was always tired, and my boyfriend decided to have one last vacation with his friends in Florida “while he still could”. There’s more, but you get the idea. So it is my tradition to never make plans for New Years and if I end up somewhere and something fun happens, I’m grateful for the rest of the year. In college my dear friend told me she believed that how you spend New Year's Eve is a prediction for how your year will go. Had a fun night with friends? A fun year was ahead with that group of people. Spent the night with your head in the toilet after fighting with your partner? Hello breakup and a crappy year. So with that in mind, I’m spending New Year’s Eve 2020 alone in my adorable house, contentedly writing this blog post, and planning how much chocolate I'm going to eat in my bubble bath when I'm finished. Hopefully I will continue to approach 2021 content with myself and look forward with optimism.
Cheers to all of you, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
As always here is my December playlist, with absolutely no Christmas songs!
I’m listening to the audio book of Everything is Figureoutable. I also listened to Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
I took a little break from the podcasts this month, but I did catch a couple of episodes of The Kind of Love so go check those out.
I watched every episode of The Big Bang Theory, dove into the original Star Trek, caught up on The Mandolorian, and re-watched Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist in anticipation of season two!
I watched a few crappy Christmas movies, as is my December tradition, but I tried to balance out the romance with Lethal Weapon, Star Trek, and Constantine. I’m always down for an action movie.