One year has passed since I took the biggest leap of faith in my life. I quit work and took an 11,000 mile car ride across the country to hug trees. It is hard to believe a full year has passed. As I drove away from my home last year, I had no idea what I would do or where I would move to after my return. Many surprising and wonderful realizations happened in the past 12 months. My life is a beautiful mess and I love myself more everyday along this journey of mine. Nothing happens as I planned, it comes out better than I could have imagined!
I learned while on the road how empowering it is to travel alone. You can’t hide from yourself, your thoughts, or your emotions. Tears overflowed as I moved through my loss of the life I thought I wanted. As the tears dried, I realized how hatefully I had treated myself. “How in the world will I find love in my heart if I refused to be kind to myself first?” That was my main question throughout the trip. Through my many solo hikes, conversations with God, and remembering the beauty in humanity, I remembered how to love myself fully. Finally! It is messy and I still have to stay dedicated to this, but it is beautiful too.
Upon my return, I understood that I wanted to experience life differently from this point forward in as many aspects as possible. My go big of go home mentality kicked into high gear, except this time is was with love and peace at its core. I no longer wanted to be a slave to responsibility gathering, money, or career status. I have always loved to write. I have done it my whole life. It brings my soul peace. Now I had a full story that needed to be told. There was something in me that said it is time to share and heal myself more fully, and provide a voice to others.
I knew that I wanted to write full time, work part time and live peacefully with less. That meant I put my joy of writing first, planned to work part time and keep life simple. Deciding to stay in Danville weighed heavy on my heart at first. This town is filled with a painful past and loss. With further surrendering to my mind and following the voice in my heart reminded me that a home is not about a physical place. Home is in your heart. I only need a few friends, a few places to eat, a yoga studio, and many trees to hug along trails. Danville provided all of those things, and I realized that I wanted to stay.
Next step was to find a part time job that supported my simplified life style. I certainly wanted to do work differently. I desired to spread cheer and joy to others and be paid for it in the line of Occupational Therapy. Found it! It is a wonderful job in a PACE program where I can focus on giving people what they need to thrive in their later years without stifling regulations. I have fun again at work and look forward to it. I manage no one and now have the opportunity to be the employee I always wanted. When I hear others complain about management I giggle to myself. I say thank you to my boss regularly. She knows I completely get what it is like to be in a management role. It took several months to feel okay that I was not expected to get emails or phone calls when I was not at work. It is freeing now to only work when I am in the building. Just last week my therapy to my lovely participants was dancing to their favorite songs. I forgot how wonderful work can be.
With my support system and job in place the writing simply flowed. I started out writing a simplified version of my life while skirting around the tough topics. With sharing the first rough draft with my daughter, she stopped me and said, “You have to tell the whole story. All of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Tell it all, and set your soul free.” I looked at her in disbelief and said, “The whole story? Are you sure? I will have to change everyone’s name.” She responds, “Yes! All of it. It is time.” I took that leap and wrote my entire story. It was incredibly painful, healing and loving all at the same time. That book is in the final stages of editing and we shall see what the next step is.
I found authentic love and heartbreak this year too. Just as I least expected it; I met and fell in love with the kindest man I have met. He showed me that there are wonderful men in this world who are compassionate, emotionally present, fiscally responsible and fun all at the same time. He showed me the power of honest communication even when it’s uncomfortable. I received help without punishment or extra work. I had a partner to enjoy the outdoors with. I found someone who held my hand in the grocery store and in yoga classes.
Unfortunately, there is a challenge with listening to the Buddha of my heart rather than the comfort of my mind. That is when I realized the highest good for all involved meant that I must step out of the way for him to find the life he desires that I can never give. Now that pretty much sucks. Love is selfless, but it does hurt sometimes when you are called to leave. He showed me what is possible in love and a companion. I realize that I like life with a partner. I did not believe I’d ever be worthy of love again before I left for my tree hugging trip. I know now that I am worthy of love, kindness, compassion, and honesty, just like everyone else.
This year concludes in a beautiful mess. I am so thankful for every tear and every laugh, for they all lead me to this magnificent place called the present!