Phoenix Rising

Harry: Your bird. There was nothing I could do. He just caught fire.
Dumbledore: Oh, and about time too. He’s been looking dreadful for days. Pity you had to see him on a burning day. Fawkes, is a phoenix Harry. They burst into flame when it is time for them to die, and they are, reborn, from the ashes.
                                                                     -Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

                Ah, the Phoenix. What a fascinating creature from ancient mythology. Though they are immortal, they live an essentially “normal” lifecycle of youth, adulthood, and old age before bursting into flames and being reborn anew from the ashes.

 

                I feel as though I can relate to the Phoenix in many ways right now. Lots of things are changing in my life, all of them good, and it seems as though I am leaving the old me behind and starting fresh. Almost as if I am experiencing a rebirth that has come through hardship and hard work. What seems most strange to me is that this is not the first time my life has been turned upside down. Three and a half years ago I was struggling mightily with a divorce, a move, losing a large number of friends and positive activities I once engaged in, health changes, and the stress of working a job that had long since lost its appeal.

 

                While these experiences were incredibly painful, they shaped me as a human being and led me down a different path than I was on previously. Today my life is a complete reverse from what it was back then (much to my relief!).  Now I am preparing to graduate from my Masters of Social Work program with honors, start a job in an area of social work that I actually want to be in, planning a wedding  to the kindest and most generous man I’ve ever met, and preparing to close on a new home for myself and my little family. If you had asked me in 2012 where I thought I would be in four years I could have never imagined any of this. I have been very blessed and it finally feels like things are starting to fall into place in my life. However…

 

                Me being me, there is almost a primal level of fear that begun to settle around my brain. You can thank my anxiety, who is always being able to come up with the worst case scenario in every situation, for that one. It’s almost like this feeling that some giant shoe is hovering overhead waiting to fall because right now is when I would least be expecting it. In the tarot, the Wheel of Fortune card symbolizes this feeling. Sometimes you are on the top of the wheel, and sometimes you are on the bottom. The only thing that is for certain is the wheel is constantly turning, therefore, whoever is down will come up and whoever is up will come down. Right now I am on top and I feel like I am leaning over the precipice fully expecting someone to sneak up from behind and shove me over.

 

                Honestly? What a shitty feeling!  I don’t want to walk around for the rest of my days worried about some imaginary misfortune that may or may not come to pass. What sort of life is that? I would much rather hold onto the feelings of abundance and learn ways to cultivate it while things are going well, in the hope that it might inoculate me to overwhelming negativity that can come with setbacks. Almost like an unhappiness vaccination. The more I have thought about it the more I realize that if I am to continue focusing on goodness in my life I need to resurrect an old idea from the flames as well.

 

                Back at the end of 2012, when everything felt like it was falling apart, I started a project, an adventure year of sorts. It started out as a way to occupy my time and, quite honestly, avoid thinking about the loneliness I felt from being alone for the first time in my life. However, it soon became a great source of fun, personal enlightenment, and joy in an otherwise dark time. Every month I would focus on a new virtue or personal attribute I wanted to cultivate, such as generosity or gratitude, and I would research it and base my monthly activities around that theme. This process went really well for the first third of the year when something *cough MICHAEL cough* came along and derailed the entire project.

 

                After getting swept up into a new relationship I never did go back and complete the year. I look back on those four months now and everything I accomplished in such a short time and regret that I didn’t finish it. So, inspired by the book “TheHappiness Project” which I have been reading lately, I have decided to plan and implement an Adventure Year Part II.

 

                The format will remain mostly the same as before. Each month will have a focus topic that I will examine and practice for that time period. However, in the spirit of “The Happiness Project” I have also decided to add a set of resolutions that I will keep track of for that month, and then for the remainder of the year. My hope is that when I am done I will have built a series of habits that will (hopefully) contribute to my ongoing sense of well-being.

 

                Or I might fail miserably to keep all of them and learn something from that too, who knows?

 

                What I do know is I am determined to stick it out the whole year this time and actually finish something that I start. Looking back over the last year and a half of grad school and all the work I did while working full time and having a family, I believe this project should not only be easier but definitely a lot more enjoyable too. Not to mention I have the support of Mike this time who will be cheering me on rather than distracting me from doing what I need to do.

 

                An extraordinary life can be built on the foundation of itty, bitty, extraordinary things we choose to do each day. I don’t want to look back on my life someday and regret all the things I didn’t do, or realize I missed out on simple moments that could have brought so much happiness. No my friends, I want to look back exhausted and satisfied that I had wrung out every last joy I could in life before my flame is extinguished from this world and I am reborn into whatever adventure lies next. That to me is the very definition of a good life.

 

                Stay tuned for next week when I officially start in May and if you are interested in following the project and want to receive new posts directly to your inbox by sure to subscribe before you go!
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Cheyenne, A History…

WARNING- This post is long and picture heavy… I learned a lot today and I don’t want to forget any of it!

So my mom and I played tourist yesterday and did the historic Cheyenne Trolley Tour through downtown Cheyenne. It was actually super interesting and I learned a lot of stuff. We got the plus tickets which allowed us admission into some of the various museum stops along the way. Here are some of the highlights and things we learned…

Picture of our trolley.

The first and last stop on the tour is the old Cheyenne Train Depot, this is where you buy your tickets. Mom and I were just in time for the next tour so we decided to wait and do the depot once we were done with everything else. However, outside the depot is where we found our first two “big boots“. According to my grandpa there are like 30 of these around the city and it’s sort of like a treasure hunt to find them all. Each one has a been painted in a theme by different local artists. Here are some of the ones we found along the way…

My favorite one is a little farther down from the depot along one of the main streets. Pictured on it is an antelope and a deer dressed in human clothes playing cards. The title of this particular boot is called “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play.” It made me smile 🙂

Teehee, the artist is punny 🙂

Along our trolley ride we learned some interesting tidbits about the city. For example, when Cheyenne was first founded it was a pretty rowdy place in the wild western frontier and earned itself the nickname “Hell on Wheels.” (The wheel part mostly due to the part the railroad played in its creation.)

Cheyenne was the first city in the nation to have electric street lamps. They were apparently hardwired to run on a generator that someone turned on at dusk and off and dawn.

It used to have heated underground tunnels that patrons could use to walk from building to building during inclement weather, most or all of them have since been closed off.

Cheyenne also has the largest outdoor rodeo arena in the nation which is able to seat up to 19,000 people and home to Cheyenne Frontier Days, nicknamed- “The Daddy of Them All.”

Next up was the Nelson Museum of the West. This particular museum had a TON of stuffed animals because apparently, one of the owners- Bob Nelson, was a big game hunter. (You will be happy to know none of the animals killed were endangered and were all killed with what they call “fair kill” methods, ie. just a man and his gun, no helicopters or other equipment. Apparently that’s a thing…)

Mountain Lion killed in Laramie county.
This moose was so big I could have used its antlers like a reclining chair!

Buffalos don’t have fingers, I was simply helping a brother out…
Not a guy I would want a bear hug from…

I forget who commissioned this saddle, but if I recall correctly the whole thing took several years and many thousands of dollars to complete because most of it is made out of silver. I feel bad for the horse who has to lug that and a person around on it’s back.

This sucker probably weighs 50 plus pounds…
Compare that to a typical Native American saddle… seems way less complicated.

They also had a ridiculously large collection of ornate spurs. Some of them looked super cool, but again I feel bad for the horse who had to endure them getting stuck in their rear ends…

Floor to ceiling spurs…
Up close photo of some of the more ornate spurs

No wild west museum would be complete without gambling memorabilia…

Old-timey poker chips.
Old timey roulette table…

And with gambling comes the outlaws and the officers of the law who keep them in line…

Oklahoma out-law posters.
Old fashioned sheriff badges.

After we got done at the museum we hopped back on the trolley and swung by the state building.

Several fun facts about the state building…

1) It’s a functional state building, meaning the governor has an office inside. If you see police cruisers parked outside on any given day it means he’s in his office. (He was there when we went past.)

2) The dome is made out of 24 karat gold and can be seen from any road leading into the city. The base alone is fifty feet in circumference.

Fancy shmancy…

3) You would think since it’s gold it would be expensive, but according to our tour guide it actually has less gold in it than a typical 24 karat wedding band. The reason being is it’s made out of gold leaf and is so thin it’s see through. The tour guide says when a panel gets damaged, say from hail, they pop out a panel, iron it flat and stick it back in.

4) Wyoming was the first state to pass a law to allow women the right to vote, due in no small part to this woman- Esther Hobart Morris, whose statue resides outside the capitol building. She later went on to become the first woman Justice of the Peace in the United States.

The esteemed Esther Morris.

5) Wyoming was also the first state to have a woman governor. Nellie Tayloe Ross was the wife of William Ross, a previous governor. When he died in office a month before the general election they nominated her to take his place on the ballot. She ended up winning and took office on January 5, 1925.

From the State House we moved onto the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Mom and I really had a lot of fun at this place. They are known for having one of the nation’s largest collections of horse drawn vehicles. Here are some of the highlights…

Horse drawn popcorn wagon, retired 1947.
An old sheep wagon, sort of the original “camper” for sheepherders moving their flocks to new pastures.

View inside.

Horse drawn ambulances were rare, but Cheyenne was recognized for its state of the art medical facilities in its day.
Milk Wagon

Fun story about this particular type of stagecoach… When gold was found in South Dakota, they developed a stagecoach line between Deadwood South Dakota and Cheyenne. Because Cheyenne was such a huge railroad town, shipping the gold there via stagecoach was the quickest way to get it east. As a result, many outlaws started holding up stage coaches for the gold they most likely carried. To remedy this they started putting an extra man next to the driver and gave him a shot gun so he could protect the coach while the driver drove. Hence the term “riding shotgun” was born 🙂

Mom in front of the stagecoach.
Horse drawn fire cart. The hose was folded this way to prevent mildew.

Side view.

I thought this particular coach was especially cool. Talk about your original book mobile! Apparently Cheyenne can boast another first- they had the first county library in the United States established in 1886.

The town furniture maker naturally got saddled with the job of undertaker and got to drive this lovely horse drawn hearse.

I also had waaaayyyy too much fun in the kids section…

I’m a good little frontier lady 🙂

Ride em cowgirl! I’m seriously surprised the little kid vest fit me…

Playing Native American princess with my “buffalo skin.” Seriously, how can they leave this stuff here and NOT expect me to play with it?

Also got to be a right proper Victorian lass.

In all my goofing around I even got mom in on the action ha ha…

Out for our daily ride about the park!

While we were waiting for the trolley to pick us up again I was able to snap some photos of some nearby statues. (There is a TON of art strewn about the city…)

This is one statue in honor of Lane Frost, a bull rider who was killed when he was gored by a bull he was trying to ride during the 1989 Frontier Days.

As I was shooting this photo a C-31 military transport plane flew overhead and was loud enough to set off some nearby car alarms.

Ironically, even though the FE Warren Air force base is located in Cheyenne, these planes actually come from the Wyoming Air National Guard. FE Warren is one of only two air force bases in the United States that do not have a working runway. Instead they deal with missiles. This didn’t surprise me after my conversation in the car with my grandpa on our trip to see the Oregon Trail ruts (see my post here…) My grandpa was a career military man in the air force and had been stationed at FE Warren for many years. When I asked him what he did there he told me that (later on in his career) he fed targeting coordinates into missiles. It took me a second to digest this and then realize he meant nuclear warheads. He said he was never high up enough to know what the targets were, just that he had to put the coordinates in when he was given orders. This was towards the tail end of the cold war so it’s possible they were Russian targets. How crazy is that?!

Our tour guide said if you would happen to see an airman working in a missile silo, NEVER approach them or even go near the fence… their orders are to “shoot first, ask questions later.” Kinda scary… though I don’t know who would be stupid enough to do that anyway.

Once we hopped back on the trolley we stopped in Holliday Park (named for the famous Doc Holliday, friend to Wyatt Earp) to see “Big Boy.” This sucker is the world’s largest steam engine and, according to our tour guide, could pull up to 105 full train cars in his day. It’s about as powerful as 5 of today’s diesel engines, but was retired due to the high cost of maintaining it.

He lives up to his name…

Finally we finished our tour back at the Cheyenne Depot Museum, which I found to be a bit of a disappointment. Most of the displays were a lot of pictures and a lot of reading. For someone who is really into trains, like my Uncle who is a retired Union Pacific train engineer, I am sure it would have been super cool. For me, not so much. What I did find interesting was, aside from slight changes to the entrance where you buy your tickets for the trolley, the depot hasn’t changed much since it was built in 1886 and has actually been declared a national landmark. Even the clock in the tower remains manual. Someone has to go up and wind it every single day to keep it running.

Train Depot
Clock tower.

The depot is right next to the main yard of the Union Pacific Railroad, and you can watch trains come through from a viewing area on the second floor. Apparently, Cheyenne remains a huge railway destination with 160+ trains coming through 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It doesn’t really surprise me because I am pretty sure I have seen WAY more trains than semi-trucks since we arrived almost a week ago.

Shot of the railyard.

So there you have it folks, there is my history lesson for the day. I hope you found my pictures and stories as interesting as I did. Who knew a state with so few people could have such an interesting history?

Sometime before we leave mom and I are going to hit up the State Museum and the Botanical Gardens so I am sure I will have more pictures to follow 🙂

Vacation And Learning To Forgive…

I am currently on day number four of my vacation out here in the beautiful prairie country of Wyoming. My mom and I flew out last Friday to visit my Grandparents in Cheyenne. This trip has been planned for well over ten months and was part of my original adventure year itinerary, for you see I didn’t come just to visit my family, I came to try and forgive them as well.

One thing you have to understand is my grandma and I have never really gotten along very well. She’s never been one of those people who is overly affectionate or good at showing how much she cares about people. Couple that with chronic pain, almost all of my memories growing up are of her being a sour, quick tempered, old woman who had nothing but scowls and harsh words for small children. I doubt it was really as bad as I remember it being but, unfortunately the bad memories outweighed the good ones. By the time I was a teenager and could comprehend the situation a little bit better, I was so wrapped up in myself that I didn’t even want to try and understand why she was behaving that way. I was angry at her for the “unjust” way she treated me all those years.

My Grandpa was the only silver lining to those month long visits growing up. His playfulness and jolly demeanor more than made up for Grandma’s surly one, and even though I knew it meant she would be coming too, I couldn’t wait for visits with him. At a very early age I learned you sometimes had to take the good with the bad.

But then when I was in college Grandma had a series of strokes that changed both of them drastically. Grandma had always had mobility challenges, but after she had her strokes she became completely bound to a wheelchair and lost a lot of her unusually sharp memory. Grandpa, who had long since lost his eyesight, no longer had someone to drive for him and he too became mostly homebound. Seeing my grandma in the state she was in was also very difficult for him and he became very depressed. He stopped whistling and joking around, and Grandma started asking about people who had been dead for more than 50 years. It was a very difficult time period for them.

I am very happy to report that today my Grandpa is doing much better and he’s singing and whistling again for the first time in many years. Grandma is still a little loopy and will say the most ridiculous things that stroke patients tend to say, but an unexpected side effect of the stroke is that it has really mellowed her out. She doesn’t complain as much as she used and is WAY more helpful. I spent almost twelve hours in a car with her yesterday, and for the first time in as long as I can remember I didn’t want to strangle her by the time it was over. That, my friends, is progress. I may not be able to have a conversation with her and tell her how her behavior made me feel growing up, but at least I can find it in MY heart to forgive her. There’s no point in being angry anymore. Anger is like a cup of poison you mix up for an enemy but end up drinking yourself, the only person it hurts is you.

While I was showering this morning, I realized that this trip isn’t just about letting go of all the resentment I have held towards my grandma, it’s about learning to forgive all of the dark places I have been harboring inside of me. It was exactly a year ago this weekend that I separated from my ex-husband and started (what seemed like) life all over again. Back then I didn’t know how on earth I was going to make it, but I did. I made it through to the other side with minimal bruises, and definitely a lot happier, and that’s something to be proud of. However, just because I have moved on in the physical world doesn’t mean I don’t have some emotional spring cleaning left to do still. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t angry sometimes about my marriage, not just angry at my ex-husband, but myself too. I need to let it go, I need to learn to forgive others and, more importantly, myself.

Yesterday, on our twelve hour day trip around the state, a couple of the places we visited were Chimney Rock and Register Cliff, both important markers along the Oregon Trail. In fact, we also stopped at another park not too far from Register Cliff where you can actually see ruts carved into the rock from the wheels of thousands of covered wagons that made the crossing. It was humbling to stand in the presence of such a historical place.

On the way home, I thought a lot about the settlers and everything they risked to see their dreams become reality. Many of them didn’t make it. For those of you who ever played the Oregon Trail computer game, I am sure you are familiar with many of the perils they faced on their journey such as dysentery, cholera and starvation. (Screw you bear for having five hundred pounds of meat when I can only carry fifty!)

Present day, people don’t face as many life threatening dangers (at least not in this country) but I firmly believe even harmful emotions can hold us back from our goals. Dwelling on the negative has a nasty way of keeping us stuck. I have too many crazy dreams I want to bring to fruition to let anger stop me from reaching them.

Forgiveness is a process, but all life is. The most important step is the first- recognizing you who and what you need to forgive and then start doing it. Let it go. You’d be surprised how freeing it is. Life’s too short to be angry so here’s to learning to forgive, one grandma at a time 🙂

Our first stop was Chimney Rock… apparently it used to be a lot taller.

They forgot to mention drowning when your wagon tipped over while fording the river :-/

After we went to Fort Laramie (not pictured) we stopped by the wagon ruts… they are crazy deep for being cut into rock!

Me standing in the ruts, and this isn’t even the deepest part!

Last stop Register Cliff where the settlers used to carve their names into the rock. Unfortunately the oldest part of the cliff was blocked off for repairs… sad face 😦
Was able to get some photos of a few old ones… This one is from 1854.

Another one from 1880, probably not from the Oregon Trail but possibly a solider or gold miner heading west.

This one might be completely fake not sure, because it claims he was an Oregon Trail “Wagon Master” but it’s dated 1889. The major part of the Oregon Trail settlers went through 60 years earlier in the 1830s, so who knows?

Slightly blurry view of the way home. It was starting to storm over the mountains, which, according to my uncle, are part of the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Opening Night and Emergency Vets

So the artist reception for the August Open show was last Saturday. As usual it was a lovely event with good food and free beer. (From the Elevator no less!) I felt very blessed that a group of my favorite people came to support me. Mike, Andrew, his father and a family friend all came with me, and my mom came down from Findlay to share the day with me.

This is the third time I have shown with this gallery, but it’s always exciting to see your work hanging on the wall. Open galleries are interesting animals too, because you never know what someone else is going to enter. This month’s show had some really cool stuff, and some really awful stuff. There were a lot of abstract paintings and minimalist stuff, which I really just don’t get. Just because you paint a couple of squiggles on a paper and charge $200 for it doesn’t mean it’s art!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the gallery…

 Here’s a close up of The Chariot hanging on the wall.

And here’s everything around it. The top pieces were portraits done in clay. I thought those were pretty awesome.

The Empress on the wall and everything around her. The piece right above her was some sort of solar print. It was super cool, I need to look into how you do that…

There’s The Sun. I love how happy the toddler in the photo looks.

And last but not least, Longing to Fly. I think this have to be my most favorite piece I have ever made.
  Me playing Vanna White. Unfortunately, this isn’t the most flattering picture ha ha.
Here I am talking to another artist. She painted the nude in the background. It was her first show so she was really excited 🙂
My mom and me. I am so glad she was able to make it to this show. She’s so skinny! She has lost so much weight in the last year and a half, I am so proud of her.
 

Can’t forget about the boy. I think he’s pretty cute, but then again I am partial 🙂

And then there was Doc, the resident gallery puppy. Oh my gosh he was so freaken cute. He belongs to the gallery owner. Apparently he is 3 parts German Shepard, 1 part wolf. How awesome is that?

Speaking of dogs, the gallery was only part of my weekend…

Sunday morning I got up really early to visit with my friend Stephanie who was in town from out of state. I let the dogs out, fed them, and they were hanging out on the screened in back porch when I left. When I returned a couple of hours later, Mike’s dad was in the driveway looking grim. When I got out of my car he told me we had a puppy that needed to go to the vet. Apparently they had been playing frisbee with Carwyn (which is pretty typical) and he started running funny until he was in a full on limp and wouldn’t bear weight on his right front paw.

Carwyn has a tendency to chew his toe nails and I thought maybe he had split one again. Sometimes when that happens I file it down and then he limps around for a couple of hours to a day until it stops being sore. I thought maybe that was what had happened, so I wasn’t super worried about it at first.

But then I was able to check him out and couldn’t find anything physically wrong with his leg. I could tell he desperately wanted to play, he kept bringing me every toy he has, but he refused to put weight on the his leg. After that I decided I’d better take him to the vet.

Let me just say, if you think a veterinary office wouldn’t be that busy on a Sunday afternoon, you should think again. We thought we would get in faster if we came as a walk in at 11 am, rather than take their next available appointment at 2… Yeeeahhh… we sat there for three hours before we finally were able to see the doctor. He checked Carwyn over good and couldn’t find anything wrong with his leg either, though he did tell us that apparently Carwyn has “floating patellas” which means his knee caps don’t always stay where they are supposed to. I guess this is common in smaller dogs. So the vet prescribed a week of rest and anti-inflammatory drugs to help with joint pain.

While we were there I decided to have him take a look at Carwyn’s molar too. It had cracked like a year ago, but our vet at the time said as long as he was eating and didn’t seem to be in pain they didn’t want to pull it. This vet was like “Holy mackerel! That needs to come out like right now or it could get infected!”

Great.

So they gave us an estimate on how much the whole procedure would cost. Now, I know how much it costs when I go to the dentist. Granted I understand I have health insurance that covers a good majority of it, but still. Wanna know how much this guy wanted to pull one canine tooth? SEVEN HUNDRED TO NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS! Are you kidding me? I don’t care if you are the freaking Leonard Da Vinci of doggie dentistry, there is no way in hell I can afford that much money to have one tooth pulled. I love my dog dearly and I don’t want him to get sick, but seriously?

So I don’t know what I am going to do. I have a couple of leads for places to try that might be able to do it cheaper. I need to get it done sooner rather than later, I am sure it’s probably uncomfortable for him.

Sad puppy is sad. All he wants to do is play 😦

Why can’t we play frisbee mommy?

While I am talking about him, I couldn’t resist but throw this in as a bonus. I found some of his baby pictures the other day. Hard to believe he’s four and a half already. Time flies…

Seriously… too freaken cute.

Baby Rabies

I seriously think being pregnant is a contagious disease because it seems like everyone is having babies right now! Half the women I work with at my office and in the schools are pregnant or have just had a baby, and a good majority of my friends and acquaintances seem to be pregnant too.

Last weekend I went to a baby shower for my lovely friend Maggie. She is having twins here in the next couple of months and they are really excited about it, so it was fun to be able to celebrate that with her and some of our mutual friends.

The beautiful Maggie with the cloth books my mom made for her 🙂

Normally I hate typical shower games, but I was pleasantly surprised with how fun the activities were that Maggie’s good friend Emmy came up with. Here’s a little of taste of what there was to do…

My favorite, hands down, was the decorate your own onesies. They had bought a bunch of plain white onesies and fabric markers so you could decorate them as you wished. I am a complete nerd so this is what I came up with (with a little inspiration from the internet…)

This was my first one for the little boy. Maggie is having one of each…

Along the same vein, I made this one for the little girl. You’d never guess I was a Star Wars fan would you? 😀
Here are all the completed onesies made by us all… I did the three on the far left…

They also had a “Wish Tree” which I thought was a super cool idea. Basically what you did was they had tags with string and a blue and pink pen that you could write “wishes” for each baby on and then hang on the tree. Maggie and her husband are then going to read all the wishes to the babies once they are born… sort of as a blessing. I thought that was such a cool idea 🙂

The Wish Tree

There was lots of food and lots of laughter. My favorite moment was when it was suggested they should name the boy “Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All” and then we decided that being the “Dark Lord of All” was too much pressure to put on a baby and maybe we should just start with “Dark Lord of Columbus.” Haha, good times.

After the party, I started to feel sort of emotionally funny even though I had had a lot of fun. I seem to be at this weird point in my life where my hormones are like “BABIES!!! GIVE ME ALL THE BABIES!!!” but my rational brain is like “Yeahhhh…. that’s not such a good idea.” I am not in a place emotionally or financially where I should even THINK about trying to get pregnant right now, but the more I thought about it the more upset I got. My major freak out moment was when I thought, “Wow, do I even want kids at all?” 
This was a big deal because I had never really questioned whether I wanted children or not before. I had always just assumed that someday I would have one or two. Now that I am going in different, new directions with my life I just don’t know anymore. If I can make art work as a full time job, I am going to be working WAY more than I am at my regular 9-5 job. I am not deluded into thinking that running your own artsy business means you have a lot of free time to just relax and take care of yourself let alone take care of small children. And with that thought came the- “Well what if I decide I want a baby in a few years and then CAN’T?!” (Infertility runs in my family…)

When I was younger my plan had always been to wait until I was 27 or 28 and then start trying. Well guess what? I’m well into 26 and I am in no way shape or form ready to have a baby in the next year or so. So now my fear is if I wait until I’m 30 or older and then decide to have children I won’t be able to conceive. 

Compound all these fears with the fact that I am terrified of being a bad parent and there you have my full blown freak out. (I am pretty sure there were tears involved.)
I know a lot of what I worry about is irrational. I have plenty of time to make a decision. And even if I do decided I am ready someday and struggle to get pregnant, there are lots of fertility options available or I could look at adopting. 
I try not to stress about it, goodness knows I have enough other stuff on my plate. But it just goes back to my whole quarter-life crisis thing, and how the life I am living isn’t even close to where I thought I would be at this age. 
Not bad necessarily, just different. Guess I just need to change my expectations then.
P.S. Since we are talking about babies, I have to share the sweetest picture of my passed out fur children. I just love their fuzzy little faces! 🙂
It’s been so cool out the last few days they are absolutely loving the screened in porch!

Several Bits Of Exciting News…

Got a couple pieces of exciting news to share 🙂

1) I submitted some more paintings to the gallery I like to show at and they were all accepted in the August open gallery!!!! Yay!!!! I am really excited, this will be my third show with this gallery. The artist reception is at CS Gallery- 66 Parsons Ave, Columbus OH 43125 on August 17th from 7-10 pm. I would love for everyone to come out and support me and such a wonderful gallery 🙂

Here’s a sneak peak of my entries…

This one is called “Longing to Fly”. I started this several days after I moved into my apartment and I consider it a self portrait even though it’s not an actual picture of me.

Side view of the “cage”…
Little feather I found glued to the bottom.
This is one in an ongoing series of Tarot Card paintings… this one is “The Chariot”
Close up of the leaves.

This one is, you guessed it- “The Sun.”

Side view so you can see the buttons…
I think this is my favorite out of the tarot paintings I entered, she is called “The Empress.”
Close up of the bottom.
Close up of the texture in the background.

Exciting news 2) I started my online mixed media class called “Soul Restoration” on Tuesday this week and I am super loving it so far. All of the women have been really friendly and encouraging and I love how I feel enveloped with love and lifted up every time I visit the chat room. The fact that it is online is so cool because there are literally women from all over the world to connect with in this class. I seriously think this is going to be an awesome eight week experience! I probably won’t share everything I am working on simply because the class in and of it’s nature is touching on some incredibly personal stuff, but I thought I would at least share the cover of my class art journal and my “soul house” pages…

My art journal cover.

My “Soul House.” If anyone is from the Findlay area, they might recognize it 😉

I will definitely keep you posted on the progress with the class and will hopefully remember to take some pictures to share of the gallery next weekend 🙂

Quarter Life Crisis

I have been rather emotional and had a general sense of restlessness lately, I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason why. What I do know is that a lot of areas in my life just feel disjointed and out of whack.

I have tossed this particular problem around a lot in my personal journals over the last several years, and have discussed it at length amongst friends. I have actually come to the conclusion that all of these mixed up jumbled emotions are merely symptoms of a quarter life crisis.

You might be asking yourself- “What! A quarter life crisis?!” Yeah I know it sounds ridiculous, but believe me it feels very real and I am not the only one who has stumbled down this path. There have even been youtube videos made about it, check it out this one below. (It’s actually quite funny and eerily accurate.)

I think a lot my tangled up feelings revolve around a sense of feeling out of step with the world. Why am I here? What exactly am I supposed to be contributing to the world? What makes me truly happy? I wish I had answers to these questions. If I did, I am pretty certain I could rid myself of all this existential angst I have been dragging around.

I’ve had this weird feeling of limbo the last couple of months and it makes me think back to a page out of a book I use for counseling sometimes- “The Blue Day Book for Kids.” There is a particular passage where the author asks “Do you ever feel too little to play with the big kids and too big to play with the little kids?” Yes! Yes that’s exactly how I feel sometimes! I feel like I am at this really weird in between stage in my life where I have had a regular 9-5 job for years, been married, have owned a house- essentially had a lot of responsibilities. But I still don’t have any kids, I’m single now, and while 26 is still very young, I feel like I have been too responsible for too long to just “party” all the time.

As a result it’s made it sort of weird to hang out with a lot of my friends. It’s like they fall into either/or categories… It seems like half my friends are free spirits who are still doing things young people do and are enjoying going out and having fun even on week nights (gasp what is THAT?) or they are married with children doing the awesome spouse/parenting thing. What sucks is I don’t really feel like I fall into either of these categories. Don’t get me wrong I love all my friends dearly, but sometimes I just don’t feel like I fit in anymore, too big to play with the little kids and too little to play with the big kids. Throw in on top of it the aforementioned fact that I don’t really feel like I fit in the world either, and you have the makings of some serious personal anxiety.

To be quite frank, life as a social worker sort of sucks. And by sorta, I mean seriously sucks sometimes. I would even go so far as to say I hate it with a passion on occasion. There are many days where I wake up resentful that I have to get out of bed and drag myself to do something I essentially despise.

This country needs access to counseling, it’s super important. Social workers are important, and I know without a doubt that the work I am doing is good. In fact, the other day out of curiosity I started a list of all the names of the kids I could remember that I have worked with over the last four years and I was able to come up with 110 names. And those are just the ones I could remember! I know I have made a difference in those children’s lives, and that is incredibly important too. However, I can’t help but feel that what is even more important is loving the work that you do… and  if I am being honest, I do not. At all. I can’t even tell you the number of times I have considered how much MORE of a difference I could make in the lives of all the people I touch, if I was really passionate about what I do. Often times it seems like I am merely going through the motions of counseling and I feel that is not only unfair to the kids, but to myself as well. It takes a seriously special person to do this work and if it weren’t for the kids I would have quit ages ago.

I desperately want to find my calling. I feel like it has to do with art somehow, but I am having trouble putting all the pieces together to see the big picture. I wish I had all the answers, but sadly I do not. I just have to keep putting my feet one step in front of the other trusting that, while I may not see my destination, I am heading in the right direction. The other night when I was feeling particularly down about all of this junk cluttering up my brain space, I received this inspirational email from one of my favorite websites- The Brave Girls Club. This is what it said…

 Life sometimes leaves us in limbo….without the answers we want, or without any answers. We suffer and suffer when we imagine the things that MIGHT happen to us……..PEACE WILL COME when we remember that WHATEVER HAPPENS…we will get through, we will be ok. BE OK WITH NOT KNOWING…knowing that YOU will always be ok….you made it through yesterday, you are making it through today…and you will surely make it through tomorrow….no matter what happens, you will make it through…..choose not to suffer with worry…….be ok with not knowing, and choose joy instead. 
Despite not having a clue where the journey is taking me, I love how the universe sends us little messages to let us know that we are still on track and our internal compass won’t fail us so long as we are brave enough to follow it…

What has your internal compass been telling you lately?