I do not claim to be an expert on anything but my own story and even then, I am an unreliable narrator. I do not have a list of letters behind my name that will compel you to listen to a word I have to say. These are stories about my own observations and life. My greatest intention is to be as sincere, honest and insightful as I can. My deepest desire is that someone, somewhere finds what I have to say meaningful because I believe that when you are your authentic self, you give others the unspoken permission to be the same… and that is what the world needs most… authenticity. This is my attempt to use my life as a mirror to reflect light onto the world, because the world can also never have enough light.
Be forewarned, there will be copious, undignified amounts of self-deprecating humor. Stick around if you’re in to that sort of thing.
Now, I will tell you about the catalyst for starting this blog. It is the story of the year that changed my life and steered me down the path to who I was meant to become.
It was January, 2010 on a beach in the Caribbean when I spoke a dream into the Universe. My husband and I were on an all-expense paid vacation that I had won through work for being a top sales representative in the surgical device industry. It was the end of another day in paradise and we were walking hand in hand watching one of those saturating, amplified sunsets. It was a tranquil and rare moment in our busy lives; a moment when I let the responsibilities of the day-to-day fade into the background long enough to let something else rise to the surface and call my attention; what I call, the space between.
If walking on this idyllic beach in 2010 wasn’t enough of a blessing in itself, the years leading up to it were even more so. Quite frankly, I was living a charmed life and everything I touched exploded into more blessings. I did not take this lightly. I knew how much I had. I was so inexorable grateful for all that I’d been given that I didn’t dare (nor did I know) I was allowed to ask for more. And still, somewhere in the depths of my being I had this dream. It was buried so deep that even I was surprised when it crossed my lips. I didn’t know it at that moment, but the Universe was listening to me that day. The Universe spoke the language of my depths and in that same tongue it whispered back on the waves, “Okay then, okay,” and my life promptly began to implode.
My husband and I met in 2001 on a serendipitous phone call at work. One bleak, Midwestern, January day this guy calls my office with sunny Southern California in his voice. Somewhere between sarcastic jokes and asking me what I looked like, he said he wanted to buy online advertising space on a network of sites I was managing. So I sold it to him. The deal was a bust but the relationship that followed was not. Fast forward several months through copious amounts of flirtatious banter via email and IM followed by an exchange of really bad photographs (back when my fashion sense consisted of what was on the sale rack at the GAP) and you get to the part where he flies to Kansas City on a whim. To make a wonderful story short, we met, we moved, we married.
Our wedding took place in 2005 on a perfect summer day in Seattle on a dock overlooking the city skyline. Just as the ceremony was ending another one of those rich and amplifying sunsets provided a backdrop. It was everything good and honest that I dreamed my wedding to be and so much more. We honeymooned in Hawaii. In the years prior to and after our wedding, we traveled leisurely like only two young adults with means and without children can do. We road-tripped back and forth across the United States twice, we cruised through Mexico and Central America and we watched still more amazing sunsets from beaches in Eastern Caribbean to Southern Pacific. It was a dream come true. I felt like I was living a real-life Cinderella story (or at least a Nora Ephron film), the tagline of which would read, “Ordinary (perhaps even slightly disturbed) Young Woman Plucked from Obscurity in the Midwest by a Knight in Shining Armor with a Passport.”
Never once did I not know how lucky I was or did I take it for granted.
After getting married we decided to make Brian’s hometown of Seattle our permanent, marital home. As part of that decision we set out to buy a house. It was 2006 and the real estate market in the Puget Sound region had been skyrocketing for years. The home we found, and fell in love with, came with a hefty mortgage that was too high for us at the time but oh, it was in such a good neighborhood and had great schools… blah, blah, blah. We were certainly feeling the pressure to get in the real estate game or risk being left behind. That pressure was nothing compared to the greater pressure at hand which was the fact that we’d been living with Brian’s parents. I had already lost my mind once that year due to lack of employment, friends, non-rainy skies, what-have-you and Mental Breakdown Part Deux was on the horizon if we didn’t-get-the-hell-out-of this-house-right-this-very-f***ing-instant! (That might have been written somewhere on our loan application.) Besides! we qualified for an adjustable rate mortgage what could go wrong?
Just before signing the papers on our house-shaped albatross, I landed a great job with a promising paycheck and even more promising future. Brian was also steadily working his way up in the financial industry and so we reasoned that by the time we needed to refinance, our house would have appreciated and we’d be making more money so…
About five minutes after we signed our loan documents our albatross lost a third of its value where it remains to this day. Unable to refinance, our mortgage continues to steadily increases. Good times.
So the house didn’t work out like we’d planned, you live and you learn. On the positive side the “promising future” of my career was panning out as expected and in 2007 I got a “big-time” promotion that would more than cover our ass on the house. Hurray all is not lost! Shortly after, I found out that they stopped handing out “big-time” promotions that didn’t come with a side order of “big-time” stress and a heaping helping of “big-time” time commitments which oh-by-the-way includes significant amounts of time spent in post 9/11 airport security lines. More good times.
Okay so let’s recap… wonderful, handsome husband: check;
over priced nice home in great city: check; fun, lucrative job: check; leisurely travel twice a year: check and check. Let’s see, what could possibly be missing? I’m 29, he’s 30, we’ve got cats, oh wait… what’s that sound? Well could you please turn it up because I can’t hear over the deafening tick of my biological clock!?
I never doubted that I wanted to be a mother. For years I had very real dreams of a hazy, pig-tailed, brown-eyed girl running in a grassy yard. I knew she was my daughter by how much I loved her. Having children was to our marriage like sex and daily showering, a nonnegotiable. Right up there with ‘…and sickness and in health’ was ‘must procreate.’ So in 2009, we did. She was a real-life, brown-eyed dream come true named Brooke Elizabeth.
It was a dream I had underestimated in its size and weight. Being a mother was one thing; being a working mother was something else entirely. There was so much more to it than the pure love I’d felt in my hazy dreams of pig-tails and pink dresses. The stress was enough to send ripples of tension through all the relationships in my life and still, STILL I was the happiest I had ever been.
Since meeting Brian, and up until the moment we were walking hand in hand on that Carribbean beach in 2010, the road had (mostly) been paved with blessings. I don’t want to sound all too-good-to-be-real here because we had our fair share of garden variety marital issues, but at the end of the day, at the end of every day, I had a loving, supportive partner, a healthy baby girl, a good (albeit expensive) place to come home to and a job that I did not hate and made a shit-ton of money doing. There was so much to be grateful for and yet, as much as I tried to deny it, somewhere under the weight of all those blessings, was a wife, a mother, a woman, beginning to crack in small places.
I couldn’t do it all, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t be the mother I had always dreamed of being AND carry the weight of our huge mortgage AND be this dynamo sales star AND be a loving wife AND stay physically fit AND, AND, AND… snap, crackle… BUT! Before those cracks broke open completely, the Universe started to lift them from me one by one while I hung on like an alcoholic to the bottle.
When your life is about to drastically change for the worse there is often a warning shot. Unless you are lucky enough to be tuned into that space between, one rarely hears it and I certainly did not. The canary in my coal mine sang to me every night, all night. It was so loud that I stone-cold stopped sleeping. There are few things as unnerving as facing a full day’s work and the mothering responsibilities of an infant after you’ve spent eight or so hours watching the shadows creep across your bedroom walls. It was bad. In a rare act for me, I went to a specialist and promptly got prescribed a little orange bottle of heaven. I just popped one of those suckers every night and viola, problem solved. The shadows and songs disappeared, but it wasn’t because of the orange bottle of heaven or because the canary stopped whistling its tune. Oh no. It was because the clouds rolled in and A Flock of Seagulls was about to start singing their title track. There was a shit-storm was on the horizon.
At first, I thought the Universe had a bone to pick with me. I thought that maybe there had been a mistake at the karma bank and I was overdrawn on my fair share bliss. Yin was calling to harass yang like an angry creditor with a cell phone number. Now, I would like to describe myself as an optimist. I’d also like to describe myself as waif-like and gorgeous, but neither one of those things is true. My knee-jerk reaction is often, Why is this damn glass so f***ing half empty? Quck! I need some water! When things are going well you can catch me looking skyward for the proverbial falling shoe to knock me sideways. But the Universe didn’t have a bone to pick or a karmic balance to cash in. It was simply acting as Universes do, all platitudinal and perfect. I spoke my dream into the Universe and it listened, but I didn’t. It was time to get my full attention.
It was a helpless feeling watching my career and livelihood burst into flames before my very eyes. I blamed myself. I needed to know where I went wrong so that I could put on my control-freak hat and fix it PRONTO! But when I couldn’t find a single thing I’d done wrong (at least wrong enough to deserve what was happening) I didn’t know what else to do but get mad as hell and believe-you-me I do angry VERY well. Anger is my signature emotion. How DARE you take this from me?! After how hard I’ve worked and how much my family is DEPENDING ON ME! I screamed, I cried, I fought. I wasn’t going to let all of it be taken from me without a good HARD fight because damn it you have NO idea who you’re messing with AHH! CAPS LOCK ALL OVER YOUR ASS!
I didn’t know then what I know now and that is that there is no point in fighting what is. But like a stupid crazy person without a lick of sense I fought anyway. I went kicking and screaming all the way to an attorney’s office, to therapy, the hospital and damn near a court room. The harder I fought, the more my life became a mess. I will not go into the details of the actual ordeal because there are still tender parts of me that need a good callous before bringing them into the light of day so I’ll just say this; in less than a year from walking on that beach on that all-expense paid trip for being damn good at my job, my professional reputation was jeopardized and I was fired from that job. Someday I may tell all (or at least all that I’m legally capable of telling) but it’s a subject that requires, and deserves, a perspective only distance can bring and as I write this… it is still too soon.
Okay so now that’s over, what next? In a fit of desperation, in my need for meaning, I made a vision board for my life. I needed something, anything to give me hope. I obsessed for days over the details. The more I added images of what I wanted my life to look like, the more hopeful and happy I became. I didn’t hold back. I put big dreams, little dreams, dreams too huge to fit and some so small they were already accomplished. As it grew in size, I grew inside. I started to believe that anything and everything was not only possible, but would actually happen because I put it there on my wall for everyone, including the Universe to see. At its heart, in the very center of my wannabe-life via magazine clippings is a picture of a girl laying on her stomach scribbling words into a page. It is the representation of my dream to become a writer.
If you’ve made it through the last 2500 words and you stick around for the thousands more to come, well then, I will have made it, at the very least, that far. I have no doubt (okay, maybe a smidge of doubt on bad days, but mostly, no doubt) that this dream will become reality and it’s all because for a moment, on a beach in the Caribbean in 2010 I listened to a silent space between and told the Universe that I had a dream. And if I can hear over the screaming, giggling, cooing, belly-laughing children in my life, I will listen more… and live, really LIVE to write about it.