Three Years: The Truth Will Set You Free

Three years ago today, I wrote my first post on Mindful in Style.

I had just moved to Boston and was interviewing for jobs.  Blindly moving to a city I barely knew, the guy I had met at a Mississippi treatment center picked me up from Logan Airport and helped me get settled into an Airbnb.  Three years ago today, I was afraid of telling the truth.

Interviewers would ask me why I moved.  “I like it here,” I would say.  “It’s slower paced than New York.”  My story of Boston being a “balance of Michigan and New York” only got me so far, so I would later tell them about the guy who I was “dating.”  People assumed it was a pretty serious relationship, but I smiled and shook it off as being an anchor for getting me to the city.  That was the truth.  I just left out the part about him being a heroin addict who lived with his parents.

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Now back in Michigan, I’m still asked why I moved.  “Why did you live in New York?  What brought you back to Michigan?  What were you doing in Boston?  How was San Francisco?”  It’s as if they have never met someone who wanted new experiences in their 20’s.

I wish I could answer, “I have suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life, accompanied by a drinking problem.  Moving gave me a sense of starting over.  I enjoyed hiding from others, but most of all, myself.”

No, you can’t say that.

I’m so sick of being PC to make other people feel comfortable.

Three years ago, despite writing about my life, telling the whole truth wasn’t an option.  I wanted to appear together and sensible.  I wanted to fit in with the business people of Downtown Boston; the people with their high rise parking spot, kids in private school, and house in the suburbs.  I didn’t want people to see my struggles or to question whether I was a viable candidate, friend, or roommate.

Three years ago, I was still afraid of being me.

My resume isn’t linear, and neither is my life.  I have never been the person who would stay in an unhappy relationship, job, or living situation; I have taken control of my decisions, whether they have been rational or not.  I have done the best I can while coping with old pain, trauma, and insecurity.

Three years ago, I was still willing to fit inside a box that wasn’t meant for me.  I sugarcoated my opinions and the person I was.  I tried to write to appease people, even if it wasn’t for myself.

People often look at me and say, “you couldn’t be an alcoholic.”  I just smile.  For as long as I can remember, I have been a book cover that is continually judged.  They see a smile and red lipstick and assume everything is polished and conventional.

Three years ago, I would have been mortified if a boss or acquaintance saw my blog.  Today, I hope these people do.  I hope they realize that life is much more complex than what you can see on the outside- and that within the book they’re judging is a person who has limitless potential in a world that lives within a tiny bookshelf.

This next year, the year of 2020, I have set an intention to continue to use my voice, live fearlessly, and learn to accept that any judgment is not about me- it’s about the little bookshelf that has yet to expand their horizons.

Being back in Michigan hasn’t necessarily been easy, but this time, I don’t need to change myself- I just need to lose my expectations of what the rest of the world may think.

Here’s to the next three years.

You Are Not Who You Once Were

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2020 is approaching and an entire decade is leaving us.  As we move into the next 10 years, it’s interesting to reflect on where we have been and where we want to go.

If my life were to be documented on a piece of paper, such as a resume, a lot of people would ask “what exactly do you do?  What do you want?”  The truth is, I can’t be defined by any of my past jobs or experiences- by trial and error, I have spent the past decade living in different cities, trying out different careers, and making a lot of mistakes along the way.  I have struggled with my anxiety, alcohol use, and my mental health- but those aren’t things you would put on a resume.

Yesterday I was asked in a meeting what I was doing in Boston, despite my resume stating I am a writer and marketing consultant.  I told him about some of the work I did, but I left out the part about moving to Boston after a 30 day trip to rehab.  I didn’t list my “get well jobs.”  I didn’t say Boston played an important role in my sobriety.

So, I continued to share my relevant experience with copywriting and boutique brands.

It’s a shame we can’t be transparent about who we are and what brought us to the point we’re at today.  Truth be told, a major reason for me moving home to Michigan was to lean into the person I truly am, not the person I thought I needed to be on the outside to get by.

Although I struggled with finding my place in the world for so long, today I am no longer that person.

I am a writer.  I am a survivor.  I am a spiritual being who believes wholeheartedly on living a life of passion and purpose.  I don’t define myself by what I have, or where I’ve been, but what I can contribute to the world.

As a creative, it’s often a challenge to live a conventional life.  I used to try- oh, believe me, I tried.  Repeatedly.  However, each and every time, I was called to do what was in my heart- to write, to inspire, and to help others.  Whether it’s in a big way or a small one, I know my struggles and my experiences can help other people.  I’m confident I have lived a non-linear path for a reason.

The person I was yesterday does not define the person I will be tomorrow- and that goes for you, too.

Keep on living what is in your heart- when you tap into your authentic nature, the path will be revealed.

Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me

I’ve been a cat lover for as long as I remember.

When I was a little girl I tried to interact with a family friend’s cat, who immediately ran away from me as I vied for her attention.  “Well, this isn’t fun,” my four year old self thought.

We finally got a cat of our own, Kattie, when I was seven years old.  My mom took care of all the “heavy lifting;” the bills, the doctor appointments, and of course, the litter box.  Kattie wasn’t as cuddly as I would have hoped, though- and it was probably because I wasn’t patient with her.

I’ve lived with a variety of cats over the years, from Kattie to Cali, and later in Boston when I helped care for Clarissa and Tuxedo.  Now, at 34 years old, I decided to adopt a cat of my very own- and I’m his sole caretaker and companion.

Ollie and I have only been each other’s partners for a few days now, but he’s teaching me important lessons all of the time.

Before meeting me, he came from a hoarding situation and lived at the humane society for seven long months.  It wasn’t his favorite place, and many people overlooked him because of his shy nature.  However, as soon as I met him, there was something special- and I was thrilled to be able to give him a forever home.

He may have cowered away from me at first, but I understood he was scared.  I didn’t know what happened to him in the past, and much like a person, he probably had every reason to shy away from unknown people.  Oh, Ollie- how I relate.

Even though I’d love him to want to hop on my bed and give me affection, I know it will take him time.  Thanks to Ollie, I’m learning to be even more gentle, patient, and responsible.

He’s made me think about caring for someone other than myself, and at times, care for myself even more.  I’m more conscious of my home, my finances, and spending enough time with him.

We all have pain in our past, whether it’s loss, trauma, addiction, or loneliness.  Cats are no different.  He may be irresistibly cute, but I need to remember to respect his space, just like I would want from a person.

We’ve enjoyed sitting still together, playing with his bird toy, and exploring my townhouse.  I’ve found him in unexpected places, and he’s never failed to make me laugh or smile.

Learning to care for love a little being has been one of my biggest joys, and he gives me something to look forward to every single day.  I may not have any interest in having a human child, but I’m absolutely content with my beautiful fur baby.