0028. i am...

Sorry for the radio silence. It's been the best and worst of times. Snowy upstate days and we went back to nyc for a short trip.

It still surprises me that I have such strong emotions (love, awe, connection) with a place, my birth home, and at the same time I'm so happy I don't live there. We saw family, the sweetest baby, friends, dealt with bureaucracy, ate old favorites and walked miles. Now after some polar vortex days, we're back in Ecuador! Best of times.

Worst of times: on my way to my mom's someone stole my small suitcase while I slept on the train. My culled down, favorite clothes, my wedding attire and underwear gone. I honestly would have been fine if it was just my clothes. But, then I remembered that at the last minute I stuck a bundle of notebooks I wanted to read in there (a couple of old journals and my planner from last year), and oh my heart tore into a million little pieces. Clothes I can replace but my thoughts and memories from years ago - I can't eloquently say how heartbreaking this was. I was devastated, but mainly angry because it was entirely my fault.

Call me naive, but I never would have thought someone would steal my bag, so I put it under my seat. Well, it happened, I mourned, and through my tears felt silly because this is nothing. Still, it hurts. I'm sure someone saw my measly possessions and seeing nothing of value threw it away and that aches because a) how wasteful b) those were my favorite notes/ideas and c) I could have prevented it. I know my feelings were melodramatic, but my journals are my mental health. I write and in this non-weird, cathartic way talk to my inner self and find answers I don't even know I'm looking for. When I read them later I can see how I've grown or remember ideas/thoughts that I jot down precisely not to forget - gone in the shutter of my sleepy eyes. But, as AB sweetly reminds me, all those ideas, thoughts, words and memories we're mine to begin with and no one can take that away.

From an un-stolen notebook, an old list that made me smile:
+  woman
+  daughter
+  sister
+  friend
+  girlfriend
+  teacher/educator
+  photographer
+  creative
+  hiker

I'd drawn a circle with my initials and from it legs with my main identifications/roles. Why? Because I wanted to work on being the best version of myself in all aspects. I'm a strange one yes, but what you identify as shapes how you see yourself, how you put yourself out there and what you do every day.

A couple of months later when I saw it again I decided to make it aspirational, I wrote down roles I'd like to have. Some I've realized and recently, upon finding it again, I've added a slew.

I am a:
+  writer
+  maker
+  knitter
+  director
+  journalist
+  social justice activist
+  environmental activist
+  community organizer
+  small business owner
+  creative director

I know goals can get scary - these, up there, are some crazy aspirations! But just putting them to paper makes me think I can do them. And, what happens if I don't? Am I a failure? Nope, I'm a human being trying their very best. Because trying is always better than not trying.

'The secret of getting ahead is getting started.'* For me that first step is setting goals. Thinking of what I want to achieve and then making sense of that goal - the steps to get there and then just doing it, one small step at a time. Believing you can even when it gets hard.

When I was younger I had two strong fears - chupacabras and the dark. I lived in a city where it was never dark, where you see a few stars at most, total darkness is not a thing. It's funny to remember a trip to Long Island where I was afraid to go out in the yard on a warm summer evening - a scary dark expanse, who knew what was lurking out there.

As a grown lady, my fears are different and way more real. I'm afraid I'm a fraud. I'm afraid that even though I try my best, my efforts aren't helping those who need it the most. I'm afraid that my parents are aging and that health problems could appear at any moment.

But that comes with growing up and that's probably why it gets a bad rap. Even with these fears I'm happy to be here - growing up I've learned to be myself, to love me and my weird and crazy ways, to love darkness and embrace the unknown. To always work on being better than I was yesterday. To say no and not feel FOMO or pressured into doing something I really don't want to. I've learned what matters more than anything.

So, here's to always growing but never growing up because even though I've grown I'll never be above playing, being silly, big dreams, and small joys and wonders - life, stars, the moon. It's almost more amazing than when I was younger because despite all the pain and suffering in the world, the sun rises, babies are born, animals do cute things, the sun sets and we get a fresh start, a new day with endless possibilities to try harder and be better than you were yesterday - to put myself out there even when it's really scary.

I'd love to know - what are your scary aspirations?

*Quote by Mark Twain


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