Friday, March 25, 2011

Joyful change, painful change

I slept in my very own bed last week, for the first time in 6 months. At my friend's house in Costa Mesa. After selling him my bed, giving away my tv, my bookshelves, my desk, and any superfluous tchotchkes cluttering up my closet (you're welcome, Good Will shoppers and proud new owners of my high school yearbooks) I was free to pack up and move to Kosovo. Free to experience the change and challenges that I needed in order to face some of my less-than-productive patterns. Free to realize I love to travel, but also love to live in L.A. in the community that has been years in the making. Free to move back to L.A. via a rain-soaked stint in Portland, OR.

The last 6 months have been filled with a lot of support and a heaping of honesty from close friends. Even though conversations were often filled with tears, I listened with an open heart as my best friends pointed out my faults. In love. I wonder how many people never go beyond surface relationships, never allow another to see your shadow side, never willing to speak the truth as you know it to each other. Despite how hard it can be to see yourself mirrored back to you as only a soul-friend or sister could do, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I balance it with a healthy understanding that only I can know my exact experience, but how good it is to know someone loves me so much they want to see my unhealthy patterns change.

And so I'm back. And as hard as it was to say goodbye to family again, especially my sister the life coach, her husband the chef and historian, and Vesta Rae, the wonder cat, it feels right. It's a good way to shed light on what I want to change, by taking time, difficult time, away, and then coming back to the familiar, back to a known place and community. It's shining a greater light on what Iwant to change, maybe more so than going to a different city would do. Changing how I spend my time and money, so that they're invested in what I really value, not frittered away. Making time for close friends, conversations over a bottle of wine and a simple meal of real foods found at a farmer's market. Taking classes to move forward in the writing career I want, learning the tricks of digital photography, though I'll always miss hovering over trays filled smelly chemical washes, watching a photo emerge, hanging it to drip-dry. Making time to read great writing. Making time to write.

The day I decided to come "home," I read this horoscope for Sags: The most important thing now is to consider what you want in the future, rather than seeking immediate gratification. Impulsive behavior might be thrilling in the moment, but it won't help you in the long run."

I think this means I have to say "no" more, to be clear with the universe about what I want to come into my daily life.

And that same week, a horoscope from DailyOm

Joyful Changes

Fickleness can permeate your thoughts and actions today, causing you to feel unsure or disjointed. You may change your opinions about your relationships and goals frequently as you go about your daily duties. If the uncertainty begins to distress you, take a moment to reflect upon the necessity of transformation in the growth process. You may be loath to leave your old life behind in order to embrace a new way of being. To calm your fears today, you will likely need to contemplate how altering your existence will impact your everyday life. Making the changes you are comfortable with in the present can further help you prepare for larger transformations that may take place in the future.

Silver Lake Hilltop, originally uploaded by hburrussiii.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Wisdom of Walker: Waiting

In her 1987 talk to Spelman College students entitled "Oppressed Hair Puts a Ceiling on the Brain," Alice Walker shed some light on the painful growth periods we experience.

With age and experience, you will be happy to know, growth becomes a conscious, recognized process. Still somewhat frightening, but at least understood for what it is. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of personality is about to be revealed.

And so I wait. It seems right that it's still wintry weather outside, but with the sun breaking through the cloud cover just before sunset, making the days seem inch by minute a little longer, that maybe my new life is waiting for Spring to let me know what I've been in waiting for. (I'm dying for warm, dry weather, to go to a garden / patio party.) I write letter after cover letter for jobs ranging from answering phones and setting wake-up calls at posh hotels to executive assisting at a conservancy society. I continue to let the latest experiences in Kosovo germinate and compost in my mind and soul before I process them in writing. To find, as Adam Hochschild wrote, "ways that the outer journey can mirror an inner journey. That is not only what good travel writing is about; it's what life is about."