My first question is this: How the fuck is it May?
I think back to March, to #VOWseek, and I was so set on taking respite. I needed it. I basked in it. March was lovely.
Then April hit, #VOWcommit, and it was full speed ahead. I can’t say that I necessarily took on anything new in April, but I did get serious about a few things in my mind: working out, creating, my Tribe, and my person.
My goal is always to exercise more days in a month than I don’t. I normally make it, but last month it was a solid 18/30. I felt good about it. I still do. I can see the changes in my body.
I made all of the art. I created a visual resume. I got my website up. There are prints for sale. I took a couple of classes. An art dealer came to my apartment (i.e., my studio for a visit). She sparked something in me. I’m doing another 30-day creation challenge.
I showed up for my Tribe. They showed up for me. I don’t know that I was as present for Sister as I needed to be, but she was always on my heart. I was always celebrating her moments, and she had some big ones. I spent a lot of time at my church, a little bookstore with a lot of heart, where my Tribe was born.
I feel like my person and I made a transition. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I think we have settled in for a bit.
And all of these things have left me, over and over again, completely breathless with gratitude. I am so incredibly thankful for this life, because I know I have a lot—and I am fucking in love with it.
April was lovely.
But other things happened in April too, even though I don’t know exactly how.
The work-life balance that I have put so much effort into cultivating has turned into solid 10-hour days. I’m having trouble sleeping again. My mind is constantly on a low buzz, chewing on not-enoughs and should-ing all over itself; I spent hours between sleep and awake digesting. My body is in revolt. I watched two of my dearest friends’ hearts break and then shatter all over East DC. I began to let anxiety start to steal my joy, to follow those breathless moments of thankfulness with fear—what if it goes away?
And today, I woke up—after a beautiful weekend—groggy, wishing for more sleep, more weekend. And I cried. Because it was the only thing I could do in that moment. And then I went to work, and I emailed Sister and texted the Tribe with a sort of SOS. And they got me through the day.
And tonight, when I sat down to write this post, I remembered an April five years ago.
I had just come through a battle. With alcohol. With a love that I almost singlehandly destroyed (with a little help from Afghanistan—probably a war that was never meant for me but taught me a lot). With myself.
But I fought hard for my joy, and I remember waking up in Baltimore one morning, in my favorite apartment ever—Apartment 207 was formidable—and realizing that happiness is a choice.
There are moments when life in life when it is just easier. And maybe life itself isn’t easy, but there are times when joy and gratitude come more readily. When they are your default.
And then there are moments when it doesn’t. Even if you are doing all the right things, and everything seems exactly as it should be. In fact, you know in your bones, you are exactly where you should be.
I think that’s when the real battle begins.
You start to realize maybe there are things you could be doing more right. Thoughts you could let go more quickly. Anxiety you shouldn’t trust. More art. More writing. More reading. More yoga. More meditation. More.
And you find yourself fighting invisible enemies on more than one front, and they are sinking your battleships.
But happiness is a choice; joy is my default—it’s tattooed on my arm, my ever-present reminder, as a dear friend put it.
So, it’s May now, but I am committing to that declaration: happiness is a choice; joy is my default.
I have no idea what this month, #VOWcross, will bring, but I am ready.
To wake up tomorrow and remember that I’ve been here before: this wilderness, where, as Maya Angelou put it, “You are only free when you realize you belong place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
And you go to HRH Brené and find the words that speak to you:
Rarely do you have the gift of knowing you’re inside a moment that will be part of what defines you….What do you do when you’ve spent the majority of your life moving to try to fit in, and all of a sudden Maya Angelou is singing to you and telling you not to be moved? You learn how to plant your damn feet is what you do. You bend and stretch and grow, but you commit to not moving from you who are. Or at the very least, you start trying.
So tomorrow, I will wake up in my bed and spend a few minutes breathing, because meditation doesn’t have to be more than that. And I’ll start looking for a new yoga studio, where I can breathe just as freely.
I’ll remember that the wilderness is a place I have chosen, and I will choose happiness.
This month, we
Be sure to check out Lin’s #VOWseek and #VOWcross mashup post here.