Sink or Swim: The Triathlon of 2018
I have been writing year end blog posts for almost a decade of my life (shoutout to Blogspot for being the time capsule to my early twenties) and its become one of the only rituals that has stayed the same through countless seasons of change. I have always loved this time of reflection. Looking back and forward at the same time.
Earlier this morning, I read through the words of the person I used to be, the person I thought I was supposed to become, the person I was able to find when I drowned out the noise, and the person sitting here typing these words today.
It’s been a long and winding road to right here, right now… sitting with my fiercely loyal cat, in this little corner of my office, in a quiet corner of our lovely house, in a corner of the world I still can’t quite believe we’re living in. Some people might wish they could turn back their odometers and go a different, less tumultuous direction, but not me. I live for the road less traveled, even when it hurts.
And I won’t lie to you, it was pretty painful this year.
I wrote a love letter to California right before I left, and I now know those words will never lose their sting. I spent the first half of this year working harder than ever, savoring the ease of friendship and community, memorizing every tiny corner of a chapter of life I loved so deeply, and then leaving it six months earlier than expected (not that any later would have lessened the blow).
Still sifting through the post-transition pieces almost eight months later, I find myself feeling a little like I lived in a fairytale land for five years and that I’m just emerging back in to the real world. I suppose in a lot of ways, that’s true. It was the most magical place I’ve ever lived. My soul has never felt more instantly connected to a place than it has to the Pacific Ocean, and its grounding force became the sanctuary I’d been searching for endlessly. No place has ever felt more home to me, but love tipped the scales and called me away… and so I went, grateful to be in the kind of love worth running to.
Depending on what moment of what day you ask me, I’d tell you that 2018 felt like it was either ten seconds long, or an entire decade. Today it feels like a decade. I cannot believe the amount of life we shoved into the past three hundred and sixty-five days. But here we are: two cross-country moves and one tiny cat later.
Moving to Tennessee felt like participating in a triathlon we didn’t train for. For me, the running leg was keeping my business going. Constantly running around to find new locations, new clients, and a new creative community. The cycling leg was cross country travel to make it all work. A bit easier to maintain, but equally wearing on the journey. Swimming though, that was the hardest. For the better half of this year, it was less about getting somewhere, and almost always just about staying afloat.
It was a sink or swim kind of year - and so, we swam.
We swam like our lives depended on it.
And until this morning, I was too busy swimming to realize we’d made it.
If I’m being honest, I am utterly exhausted. And I think that’s because I have been in a race with myself for the last decade of my life. I’ve spent all of my adult years trying to figure out where I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to become.
And after all of that triathlon-ing, it was in the slowest moments of finishing Michelle Obama’s brilliant book, “Becoming”, that I found the words I all of a sudden feel like I’ve been looking for my whole life:
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as a forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” - Michelle Obama
In that closing statement I all of a sudden felt like I had permission to simply be a work in progress.
To swerve. Towards the bigger picture. In pursuit of my calling. In the name of love.
Maybe you need that same permission. And maybe, when you swerve, you’ll find comfort in some of these reminders I collected during the biggest swerve of my life:
Love is louder. Than self-doubt. Than hate. Than depression. Than the president. Thank god love is louder than our president.
Slowly but surely, community will emerge. Embrace it.
Opportunities will arise. Take them.
Some will take your breath away. Let them.
Time will fly in a way that’s hard to comprehend. Be present.
Making room for your own happiness is mandatory.
You might feel afraid for a while. That’s okay.
You might lose yourself for a little while. And that’s okay too.
You WILL feel like yourself again.
That last part will probably take more time than you want it to.
But your most grounding relationships will keep the light on for you until then.
Perspective is key.
Sometimes things will look worse than they actually are. Just breathe.
Break the rules.
Enjoy the journey.
Don’t turn back your odometer.
And always to hold on tightly to the reason you swerved in the first place.
Thank you to my life rafts, for always being on the horizon.
And to all of you out there who believe in me even when I’m having trouble believing in myself.
Here’s to helping each other stay afloat…
And to knowing what feels like an ocean is sometimes a swimming pool… and we’re all gonna be alright.
Happy 2019. I hope it is a year that becomes whatever you need it to be.