Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life in Transit

I will now attempt to write what should have been 1 million separate posts in one.  Wish me luck!

The past three months have proven a theory to me- you get what you give.  The hardest work reaps the greatest return.

The past three months proved to be some of the most challenging and equally rewarding, and I am full to the brim with happy, giddy excitement and a renewed faith in how wonderful this life is and how much there is left to be discovered and explored.

I am a travel-y person in so many senses of the word and the month of November proved to be the most travel-y of travel-y times in my life.  To live on a bus.  To find a sense of home and family in constant motion.  To wake up to a new environment and challenge each day, and yet still feel balanced and peaceful within the chaos... that was November for me.

I loved nearly every minute of being on tour.  I loved seeing new things and meeting new people every day.  I loved falling to sleep in my tiny little cubby, with 8 people within arms reach while the rumble of the bus driving through the night rocked us all into sedation.  I loved waking up and stumbling into sleepy-eyed friends while we waited on showers and fought for the last cup of coffee.  I loved feeling so close to so many people, while we were all so far from any form of home or familiarity.

Mostly, I loved surprising myself, and being surprised by the people that I thought I knew so well.  People change.  They grow.  How often do we actually allow it, though? I saw new strengths and weaknesses of myself on that trip, and saw my friends in new ways that made me smile and love the idea of change in a whole new way.

I was on a journey, and I loved being in transit.  I'm a person who has typically been impatient to get where I'm going; to arrive at the goal, accomplishment, destination with little tolerance for the time it takes to get there.  This time though, I came to love the adventure and the process.  I actually found peace in the process and acceptance of the fact that I had to adapt and learn daily, that I was not perfect, but the journey was teaching me to be better.

I learned that change is good.  It is one of the hardest things to go through, but it has the greatest pay off.

I learned that hard work is great, and the more you dig in the more you end up with in the end.

I don't think you could have told me even six months ago that in my lifetime I would direct and manage a national concert tour.  I don't think you could have told me that I would learn things like how to run a soundcheck, and how many mixes should be in the bands monitors, and how many monitors we need for that matter.  I don't think you could have told me that I'd be interacting with burly concert venue owners who wore gold chains and chain smoked and who came across intimidating and angry, but were actually usually very sweet and kind.  I certainly know I never expected to have found so much love from you, the readers, the fans.  A kind of support that is jaw-dropping and inspiring... and I thank you.

My New Year's Resolution this past year was to let life surprise me.  It certainly has.  I try to be a thankful person regularly, but I am abounding in gratitude for the wonderful adventure that I had this Fall, and the larger adventure that I am on each and every day.

The travels of finding a Home are really about finding yourself at home in your own skin.  From there, you are free to be anywhere.

The today-me is different and new from one year ago-me or 5 years ago-me, or even 3 months ago me.  I'm looking forward to meeting 1 year from now-me.  And I hope you all are looking forward to meeting future-you as well.

Change is good, friends.  Find peace within your life of transit.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Happy Post

Here's to a Happy Post.  A time when I can mark a year passing and honestly offer a whole-hearted 'thank you, more please' to the whole vastness of it all.

To a year that is not synced with any calender year other than my own understanding and milestones.  To a year where I've learned just as much, if not more, than the year before and grown stronger too.  It all shows up so much different than we expect.

A happy post dedicated to the vision being clarified... my purpose being made crystal clear.  A happy post to friends and laughter and so many memories that we tend to forget the minute they are over- hopefully we'll come to relish and appreciate them in due time.

To the happiness of this past summer; bike rides on the water and sunsets and gardens and cooking and warm sun and clean beaches and feet in the sand and peace.

To the happiness of crisp autumn air coming through the cracked windows in the morning, and leaves changing colors into a masterpiece and the brief scent of bonfires in the air.  To new, warm sweaters and scarves and bundling up and cuddles and coziness.

To the happiness of massive undertakings that scare the crap out of us, but we do them anyway.  To drive and passion and walking straight into big fat fears.  To the happiest hope that we will always keep surprising ourselves

To the happiness of a travely girl, as I am, who hopes to accomplish so much on those 5-hr bus rides, yet manages only to stare out the window and dream.  To the happiness of traveling quite a bit, in fact... just as you said you would but never believed you could.

To the happiness of the next few months; whatever it may bring.  To the happiness of being ridiculously blessed, infinitely surprised.  To moving and shaking as only you and yours can.  And to freedom.

To the happiness of a vision bigger than you or I can dream.  To the happiness of a Promise.

To the happiness.. because we all deserve it, right?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time is Never Wasted/ I Love You

First I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for all that have commented, emailed, messaged, tweeted, etc at me your praise and gratitude.  All my gratitude in return.  Though I can't always answer every word and message from you guys, you have no idea how your words of encouragement always seems to come exactly when I need them most!  Trust me, you all are and always will be a deeply important part of my life's journey... more than you probably know!

Time.  Time has been on my mind lately.  The passing of time.  The presence of time.  The anxiety over time slipping by.  Fear of waste.  Issues over timing.  Too much time.  To little time.  Time is on my mind.

I believe a Truth, though I may not know it as deeply as I could yet;  Time is never wasted.  Everything is redeemable, and its all intertwined and written by the same hand.

As free-spirited and zen as I proclaim myself to be, I had an agenda for my life, set into place years ago.  I might tell you that I live in the present, go with the flow, blah blah blah but the truth is I had and have an agenda that I have no right to have.  I decided that a life's worth was wrapped up in my ability to achieve certain things by certain dates with a certain success rate.  Never mind all of the incredible things that were happening in my life which I had never planned for.  Never mind the numerous blessings and surprises that trumped my 'agenda'.  I had made certain decisions about what my life should look like, and when it didn't look exactly like my humble little plans and dreams, I equated a certain degree of failure.

I also struggle with a 'now or never' sickeness: the belief that if I haven't gained financial security by now, its never going to happen.  Haven't found your perfect career fit yet?  All hope is lost.  Chose to wait on relationships/marriage/children?  Then your ship has sailed, those desires of your heart will never be fulfilled.

When I believe it, and when I don't, though- the same thing keeps coming to the surface:  Time is never wasted.

The only waste is in our worry... which is a substantial energy waste.  Your tomorrow will take care of itself, so why spend all of today's energy in worry for that?  Worry is not productive because it isn't planning.. it's simply speculation.  What if you spent that same energy caring for and considering others... anyone else who is even just a little worse off than you?  Or planning for your future, casting fears aside, rather than clouding your mind with fears and worries...?


The strange thing is;  when we stop considering ourselves, when we stop worrying about ourselves... amazingly we take care of and impact others, but also somehow our present issues and worries take care of themselves.  Two birds with one stone.  That's the Truth.

Has this 'blog' stayed even close to its theme?   Do you feel closer to Home?  Do I?  Yes and No.  I've learned much...yet have arrived nowhere.... How about you?

My most up-to-date philosophy is this:  Love. People.  Love them non-stop, no questions asked.  Love people, and fight for Gratitude and Forgiveness always.  The Truth is, sometimes you have to teach yourself to love and appreciate the greatest things in life... because you wont always catch it at first glance :)

Connected, and much Love to you all...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Daunting Blank Page

The first post after a long hiatus from posts is the worst.  Its been so long! You expect so much!  This text box is so big and white and empty!  And what do I possibly have to say to you?

Honesty has been my utmost policy in writing and blogging thus far.  It seems, in fact, that my curse as a writer is that I actually can't help myself writing from a place of total honesty.  I foresee much embarrassment in my future.

So in playing by the rules, my only choice is to tell you, today, this:  I do not have it all together.  I am not always completely happy.  And lately I feel sad and burdened.

Notes on my sadness:
I get sad in my nostalgia.  In seeing how quickly things fly by.  I get sad in realizing that times have passed where I was plagued with worry so much that I missed the beauty of the moment.  I find sadness in the understanding that nothing is forever, change is inevitable, and what I love now will someday be in my memories.  I find sadness in the loss of loved ones, and the realization that loss will become a more frequent occurrence from here on out.  It's all short and extremely fragile... that's what I'm coming to know.  And so I find sadness in the dogged motherly worry that I can't help but feel over the most mundane things... because I'm scared of losing any single one of the the people I love, and I can't help but wear the uncool mask of nag over everyone's well-being.  In exchange, though, I want to buy a Vespa and not wear a helmet and submit myself to all the dangerous acts that I would throw a fit over if anyone else participated in.  A trade of concern for those who bring me joy, in exchange for that which defies my logic but thrills me in it's threat.

I feel sad sometimes that I can't do more.  I feel sad that I don't do more, give more, participate more, love more, party more, achieve more, experience more, a series of mores... that seems to be my sadness.  And I realize that these mores will exist no matter what... they exist even when Im pulling 20 hour days.  There always seems to be 'more' that I could be doing... and that is comforting, but also makes me sad.

I feel nostalgia (a form of sadness) already thinking about how I might look back on the days I am living right now.  None of us recognize or appreciate it the way we could... and we won't know until it's too late.  And that is no one's fault, it is just what happens.  It's so unfair.  Nostalgia is one of the most unfair emotions I've ever encountered.  And nothing to be done about it.  Just to keep breathing and living and believing in better days.

Notes on Burdens:
Burdens are fake but we live under them anyway.  If you are smart and awaken and enlighten yourself even a little bit, you start to recognize the falsity of burdens... YET, we live under them and always will. I have a theory that as much as we complain about being 'burdened', it is actually the gravity we choose in order to keep us grounded.

I am burdened by the passing of time (see: Notes on Sadness).  I am burdened by all the things I am not achieving, all the things I didn't accomplish by age 24, in order that I could proclaim myself to be an above average success.  In high school, being above average is actually relatively easy-  I studied hard and got the grade.  Done.  How do you define above average now?  I don't own a house or condo like some cohorts,  I don't own much of anything, in fact.  I still shop at Forever 21, and sometimes I pay my bills a few days late... and  I don't know where I'll be 6 months from now;  so what grade do I get?   I consider my path to be above average, well above average in fact... and only getting better.  I'll admit, though, when I pause and submit to the awful task of comparing myself to other friends my age, both in my field and otherwise, I cant help but feel burdened and behind in the game.

But I choose.     

I chose it and I choose it.  This life is mine, for better or for worse, I choose it.

I also feel burdened by my blessings.  Contradictory? Yes.  But true.  I find the best people always.  And yet I can't keep up with all of them.  I am always missing someone.  I always feel like some relationship is being neglected.  And I feel like I'm always saying goodbye to someone as I float in and out of the crazy seasons of my life.  Yet, I'm a mess and can't keep a calender and can't even keep up with face-to-face converstations sometimes... let alone texts and tweets and emails and phone calls.  I'm not trying to make excuses, Im confessing.  I have a real problem with 21st century living at times... and I think I need to ask for a little grace :)

All to say... clearly I have struggles all my own, as portrayed here, and many more- trust me.

BUT: I choose each day.  That is my new motto. Choose each day.  Wake up, and no matter what your circumstances are, you have the choice.  My choice is this;  "I choose to believe that I am going to live an incredible life with an incredible outreach."  Six mornings out of Seven  I don't really believe it.  I choose it anyway.  Even when Im pissed, even when I'm lonely, even when I think the world is screwed and I am screwed and it's all bullshit... even then- I choose.  Because you don't necessarily have to believe it with all your heart and being at the moment... you just have to choose it.

So yes... those are my notes on what it really feels like to live this life.  I am confused and concerned at times, and I live all the emotions.  We weren't meant to be plastic Buddha statues with perfect smiles painted on.  We were given the human experience as a gift.... and our gift back is to live it.  All of it.  It's funny, and sad, and large, and small, and full, and lonely, and beautiful... and heavy.  To live fully is heavy- that is why so few do.

Go all the way... it's heavy, but worth it.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Someday Soon

I'll start with someone else's words... because usually others say it better than we can ;)

"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.  Do not now look for the answers.  They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them.  It is a question of experiencing everything.  At present you need to live the question.  Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day." - Rainer Maria Rilke

I am in a place of questions, having to be happy enough with just that one half of the equation.   Reading backward, this project has covered a number of musings:  purpose, place, family, self- all tied into the over-arching theme of 'Home'.    It is all questions, though.  Sure, answers have come here or there, but the questions are usually the living part.  I'm starting to realize we live in the questions.  The answers- they are less fulfilling than we imagine.

The questions are moving tides.  Questions require that we have a 'quest' at hand... a journey.  They are alive and breathing.  They sweat and hurt and sometimes laugh and always feel, and feel deeply.  The 'quest'... the questions... they are the good parts.  We were taught to look for the answers though- and to find them as quickly as possible.

I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't crave more 'answers' in my life.  I'd also be lying, though, to say that I haven't found a new understanding of Faith in the 'questions'.   To know that this journey is intentional, important, and that time is never wasted- it is a gift worth all the uncertainty.

So.  Someday Soon... what?  Someday Soon I will have new answers and new questions.  A year ago I would have told you that by X&X date I would have achieved certain goals and answers and dreams.  Now I know that's not my place to say, because I am not the author of time.  Someday Soon- what will I have in that ethereal 'Someday Soon'?

Someday Soon I will have seen myself through any and all of the present challenges... and I will see how much stronger I am than I would have imagined at this present moment.

Someday Soon I will relish in time with friends and family who I feared I might lose... and I will see how the important people in life will never actually leave you.

Someday Soon I will see dreams realized that I hoped in faith for... but secretly believed would never come to fruition.  And in those moments I will see a faithfulness beyond what I could ever muster.

Someday Soon... I will still be me.  Maybe a different me.  Maybe a bigger me.  But still me.

Someday Soon I will still be standing.  And that is enough for tonight's peaceful sleep :)

All my love and hope for all your dreams, and peaceful sleeps~

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Falling In Love with the Little Things Again

I've been gone for awhile.  I know, I know.  I could give you a million reasons and yet no reason at all... simply put- I've been present elsewhere.

I think there is this strange thing that happens continually through life, in seasons it comes, where we are called to face ourselves past, present and future.  Where we are asked to step in front of the mirror and given permission to say "wait a minute... that doesn't look like me at all!"

I've been in one of those seasons lately and it has been marvelous darlings; simply marvelous.

There are all these pieces of each of us that make us whole, make us unique.  We are all just mosaic hearts. Broken sea glass mixed with polished pebbles.  Perfect parts and fractured parts- some shiny, some rusted... some just in need of attention.  If we allow it, these parts fit together perfectly.  Most of the time, though, we ignore one thing or another, we beg for certain parts to be taken away, we hide in fear or shame.

So I looked in the mirror one day and realized I only recognized half of the face staring back at me.  I saw a writer and an actor and a director in desperation for a show.  I saw a 20-something with heavy goals and weighty ambitions, a small budget and a big vision.  I didn't, though, see a person.  A lovely and love-able gal.  A complex and interesting soul.  I didn't see any of the person I felt myself to be on the deepest level.  And I wanted to find her again.

So I've been falling in love with the little things.  Learning to be present in the small moments.  Finding joy in watering my little tomato plants in the morning, and cooking for friends in the evening.  Riding my bike to the farmer's markets in between.  Redecorating my space so that it actually looked like me (I've been living a lie with my bedroom decor over the past 8 months!).

I've remembered that I love to paint and do art projects with full permission to be bad, and full permission to hang them on my walls anyway.  I've remembered how much I love those farmer's markets and fresh, real foods.  My inner hippie crunchy goddess is loud and proud.  The head scarves are back as a staple of my wardrobe.  My dreams of the farm/cafe/bar/art center that I've talked about for years are back and forming new visions and shapes daily.

I'm assured now of my ultimate belief that people come first, and are the center of everything for me.  I smile in the morning as the sun streams in my bedroom window and I give a humble 'thank you' for all the incredible families of people I've been blessed with so far, and so many yet to come- briefly hinted to me in outlines and vaporizing images.  Promises; teaching me to be patient and dwell in as much peace as I can muster, because good things are always on the way.

So, fellow travelers and wanderers, that is where I stand on this journey I've found myself on.  I've discovered deeper meanings of family over the past few months, as we've seen.  I've delved into past memories.  I've felt my way through all the changing relationships around me until I found myself in the place I am in now, facing the most challenging relationship of them all; the one you have to figure out with yourself- past present and future reconciled to one another.

So far, this has been my favorite part of the trip :)

**Happy Lists from the Journey Thus Far**

-My garden
-Morning coffee & meditation/prayer
-Madeleine Peyroux
-Old '40s classics
-Norah Jones
-Riding the bike
-Farmers Markets
-Moroccan Lanterns
-Cooking for friends
-Family.  Immediate, extended, all of them
-Chopping herbs
-Holding babies that aren't mine
-Waking up early
-Breathing.  And feeling a peace that I don't know I've ever felt before.

That last line is so true.  I've been more peaceful over the past few weeks than I can ever remember being, and it makes no sense in certain circumstances.  But its real.  And feels so good.

Falling in love with the little things.  That is the chapter I am in on this little jaunt.  We'll see what comes next ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

21 Guns and One Step Closer

I attended the funeral of my Grandfather today.  Raymond V. Albain.  A carpenter, an artist really.  A WWII veteran, a man who liberated concentration camps and saw the horrible realities of war that no one talks about, that he wouldn't even talk about with us- his family.  Today though, I saw him for the first time as a man with a story, and not just a superficial family figure in my life.

I want to preface this post by saying this isn't a plea for sympathy.  Today wasn't a loss, rather, a gain.  I gained a whole new sense of perspective and love for my family.  I contemplated writing about this at all, because I didn't want it to turn into an emo/angsty post about death and life and sorrow, and I don't want to betray the privacy of my family.   I can't help myself from sharing today's journey, though,  because I realized so many things about the meaning of what we've come from, and the reality of the limited perspective that we are living our days through.

Driving from the airport to Monroe, MI was a montage of flashbacks.  I realized how strong my childhood memories were of visiting my grandparents.  I remembered the curves of the roads.  The huge bump over the train tracks that always gave me a thrill as a kid... a "rollercoaster", I used to say.  I remember how proud I used to be when we would turn onto Albain Road... because that was our road.  My family had a road named after them, and that had to mean something.

Arriving at my Grandparent's house I realized I hadn't been there in probably 2-3 years.  I couldn't help but feel some severe guilt over that.  Walking in, nothing had changed.  Photos covered the walls.  My parents wedding photo.  My aunts, cousins, my family... whom I realized today I take for granted, which needs to change.  My grandparents had always felt like somewhat distant figures in my life.  We saw them as frequently as we could, and we'd get a card or check on birthdays and holidays.  They weren't people who showered emotion and affection on us in the way that we so often translate love to be.  I became aware today how I received that to mean a lack of caring.  Yet, I was struck today with the photos that covered their house.  Those photos have always been there, and in the past I had taken them at face value.  That was their expression of love, though.  How clearly I came to see today that of course these people cared... they had covered their house in photos of the family they had made.  A testament of the life they had created.

My Grandfather had a detached garage and "shop" in their backyard.  When I was young I remember him spending most of his time out there; fiddling with wood, making little projects and creations.  He had become known for his artistry in woodworking.  I hadn't stepped foot into that garage in well over 10 years.  Walking in the first thing I saw was the small, blue tractor that my Grandfather used to let us ride around the yard.  My first taste of driving, something that I would come to love so much and it was present even in my youth.  I laughed recalling the day that he let me move from "turtle" speed to "rabbit" speed.  That difference of 2 MPH to 4MPH felt like such huge freedom and responsibility.

His "shop" was timeless... preserved exactly as it had been all the years that I remember him moving around in there.  He was funny, I realized.  He had little joke creations, funny signs, and even a pin-up calender.  In the midst of all the rick-rack remnants of his life and work was something I'd never seen.  On the wall, in plain view where he would have looked at it ever day, was a handwritten list of each of us and our birthdays.  There I was.  Julia- Dec 4th, 1986.  I had been something to him.  He had looked at my name every day, his Granddaughter.  I don't know if I can recall him ever saying "I Love You" to me, but all those unspoken words were redeemed in seeing my name on that list in his sacred space.

As the day and the ceremonies wore on, the pieces of his life and story came together clearer and clearer.    I saw pictures of his parents, my Great-Grandparents... and they were stunning.  My Great-Grandmother Sadie Bissonett was absolutely gorgeous.  Simply beautiful, truly.  I stared at this photo of a captivating and mysterious woman and couldn't believe that this woman was my family... I was a part of her.

I watched my Grandmother have a tender moment over her husband, saying her goodbyes.  Possibly the only tender moment I'd ever watched between them.  I realized that my understanding of love, and what people share, is limited and shallow.  I have no idea what these two people shared.  64 years of marriage is something miraculous, to say the least.  I may have never seen them kiss, but I have no idea what was truly moving between them.  My idea of love is limited and superficial.  My perspective of when and how much people care for me is limited to my selfish understanding of what I think I should be receiving.  I could have gained so much more joy from so many situations if I had been open to the idea that people love me, even when they don't express it in the ways I expect or understand.

In honor of my Grandfather's service in WWII there was a military greeting and presence at the graveyard.  I experienced a 21 Gun Salute and serenading Taps to send him off.  It gave me chills, to say the least.  This man had been a great man.  People around the town put their flags at half-mast for him.  Veterans showed up to honor him.  A flag was folded and empty casings gathered to be left with us, his family.  And in that, I saw how family... people... they are meant to be our top priority.

Just as quickly as I arrived, I had to leave again.  And I questioned the whole car ride back to the airport whether I was lining up my priorities right.  Why had I not been to see my grandparents for a couple years?  Why was my life situated in a way that forced me to rush out of funerals and fling quick goodbyes at the people who literally share my blood?

In the past few hours I've developed this obsession with the idea of tracing my family lineage, on both sides.  Of learning the stories of the people that are my flesh and blood.  I talk so often about moving forward, but perhaps part of that is digging into the past.  I crave forward motion and journeying and adventure... but it became more evident than ever today that the adventures and journeys will only mean something when they are entrenched in the people you love and who love you.   Family. Friends. People.  These should be the priorities.  More important than anything else.  Shape your life around that, rather than vice versa.  I almost didn't go to Michigan today.  I almost said that it was too stressful, I was too busy, the timing was just bad.  I would have missed some life-changing moments if I had not gone.

So yes, in this "journey" toward "home" I feel one giant leap closer today.  I was given a hint of how embedded I am in an intricate story of family lines, family love, and so many things that I have yet to know or understand.

It struck me on the plane ride back to Chicago that, in reference to my last post, perhaps I had been my Grandfather's dream.  While he faced darker things serving our country, perhaps he had dreamed of a home and children and, one day, grandchildren.  And I was one of them.  The family that gathered today was his dream.

I may have been one of his dreams.  And their are people yet to be born, and yet to be encountered that are my dreams.  And I feel so much closer to understanding what this sense of "home" might mean.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Were Someone's Dream

So I'm unabashedly inspired by the show "Parenthood".  It's a simple show.  There is some drama, and some mundanity.... but it's a show of a family, an extended and sometimes complicated family, making it work.

I watched an episode tonight where a Grandfather spoke candidly to his Grandaughter: "I dreamed of my grandchildren.  I dreamed of you.  You have no right to mess with my dreams."

He was speaking to her regarding her life choices, etc... but the moment hit me so directly.  We were and are someone's dream.  What if every person knew and believed that?

One of the most powerful things ever spoken to me came from my Father.  He once told me that my Mother was one of the happiest women in the world when she was pregnant.  I was her dream.  I grew up knowing and believing that, and I think it shaped me to be the person I am today.

I know that not everyone reading this will have the same sense of wanted-ness.  I am truly lucky.  But I can't stop myself from believing that each and every one of us is someone's dream.  We are intended for people, for influence.  Someone dreamed YOU into existence... how powerful is that?

A dear friend said to me today "Man, Julia... you'll never change.  You will always love everything X 100."  It's just true.  I can't hide from it.  I have tried at different times to be more sarcastic, more cynical, but why?  Why try to be anything that you are not?  I can't pretend that I don't get giddy over the amazing people and phenomenal experiences of my life.  My heart is my Rockstar.  My people love me for my heart, and I deserve that... and you do too.

I was and am someone's dream.  As are you.  If we all walked with that, with the idea that maybe someone somewhere had wished and prayed and dreamed us into existance; maybe we'd all be better off.

I love the changing of seasons.  I love people in general.  I love families of all kinds.  I love getting close to people, the comfort of knowing their little secrets... and them knowing mine.  I love laughter and dancing and music and the amazing feeling of creating something massive out of the efforts of many.  I love cheesy inspirational quotes, and I love making people feel better.  I love making people laugh when they are sad.  I love laughing in general.  I love being teased, because I think it means you truly love and respect me.  I love this life.  I love the surprises.  I love it all.

Home is where the heart is?  So find your heart and speak your truth.  I own the fact that this all sounds cheesy and cliche... but it feels true to me.  I can be sarcastic, I'll roll with just about anything.  I love you regardless of your style, because I assume you'll love me for mine.

So sincerely... can you believe that you were someone's dream?  Because I think we'd all be better off and better serving if we felt that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

If We Knew the End...

Something I've been thinking a lot about lately.  If we knew the places our life was going to take us, maybe we would calm the f*** down.  Seriously, are your shoulders at your ears right now? What the hell is worth that?! Honestly... what are you worried about?  What if we knew all the wonderful things that were headed to us... would we relax more?  If someone told you that you were promised greatness, success at the greatest level, infinite laughter and joy, and unconditional love... would you relax a little?

I spent a year in NYC where I was constantly worried about what I was doing with my life, what I was accomplishing.  If in the midst of that year, I had been told that within a considerably short amount of time I would be back on track and achieving things that rocked my world... would I have lived differently?  Hell yes.   If you had told me that my year in NYC would just be a stop-off, temporary resting place, a vacation... really-  I would have freaking Lived. It. Up.  And I did live it up, but I didn't even appreciate that.  If I'd known the ending, I would have enjoyed the ride more.

Lets throw it down:  I had a leaky ceiling, a mouse, an air mattress that deflated, a job I hated, and a loss of direction.  I laughed so much, though.  I learned to have the best sense of humor in the world.  You think those things didn't shock the hell out of me?  Those surprises were God's greatest jokes on me... and I had to laugh back.  IT'S NOT THAT SERIOUS, when it comes right down to it.  I'm fine, yes?  I survived?  Made good out of bad?  Had some amazing times, met great people, lived this amazing year in NYC where I was free as could be and did whatever I wanted to do.  I don't want to have the same struggles that I had in that year over an over again, but I really hope that wasn't the greatest adventure of my life... I've got way too much left in me.  I've lived a dozen mini adventures since then, even.  It's never ending.

Maybe being at "Home" is enjoying this cluster-mess of a ride.  Not knowing where I'm heading but knowing what, in essence, I want this life to be.  Living for the surprises.  Demanding the surprises, even.

God knows nothing in my life has been what I thought it would be.... but it's always been better.  Why I don't demand more of that, is still a mystery to me.  Why wouldn't I demand to be surprised, to have my expectations exceeded constantly?  Screw it, show me what ya' working with!  Blow me away.

Don't settle for the things you expect.  Expect the things that your soul wants to demand, but thinks are too impossible.  I want to live in the realm of the impossible.  You know what, I think coming Home is living in the realm of the impossible.

I have approx. 1 million adventures left in me.  I have the dream of a bar I want to open.  Kids I want to mentor.  Countries I want to visit.  There is an epic cross-country road trip brewing in my blood.  There are insane love stories yet to be lived, friends yet to be met, art yet to be made, and greater versions of myself yet to be met.  None of it is "probable" but it's all possible.

Leaving safe territory, leaving those "Homes" you've clung to are the best steps toward finding the truest home you'll ever find.  I say this all, by the way, from no place of actual knowing.  I'm not there yet, but damn I love this life.  I love discovering it, being surprised, being disappointed even... so that I know that there is something better for me.  Damn, I love this life.  I love this journey... it's way too much fun when you let it be what it's going to be.  When you let it surprise you.

As I've always said; laugh often, and at all things, and always at yourself.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It Was a 'You' Kind of Day

Those words were uttered to me across telephone lines today and they stopped me in my tracks (but then a lady bumped into me because it was a busy street so I had to keep moving.)  Regardless, there are certain people that can strike a chord in you no matter what.  The friends that hold the memories of the freshest, most original version of you.  Not the wisest, not necessarily the best version of you... but the version that was fresh and whole and untouched by life.  The version that didn't have to fight cynicism and fear, because everything was still so new and perfect.

"I just had to call you because it's a beautiful day and I went to the farmer's market, and now I'm sitting in my car eating fresh raspberries and driving through back roads to get lost... and it just felt like a 'you' kind of day.  This was the kind of day I would have spent with you."

Bam.  I was there.  Those later years of High School when my friends let me drag them to watch the sunrise at 5am because why not.  The ones who teased me, but secretly loved that I was fascinated by the stars and the moon, and captivated by the various faces and walks of life that we'd encounter at the farmer's market.

I have a memory of "Home" in that.  To have a reminder of that time in my life was a phenomenal and timely blessing... because it was a memory of a 'me' that was yet untouched.

The funny thing is, I have journeyed far from that time and place, and far from that girl.  Yet, now I see how I am journeying back.  I have tried cynicism.  I have tried playing the jaded card.  I have tried being undone by this world... and it simply doesn't feel right.

As Sarah Kay said in the video I included in my last post, life will hit you hard, wait for you to get back up, and hit you again.  And perhaps you will curl inward for awhile, begging for a moment of grace... begging for a breath to take.  What if we took that breath, and then flung our arms wide begging for more?  What if we chose to never forget how inspired and awestruck we were before the blows?  To carry that with us, no matter what rained down?

I don't know what the moment will be when I say "Aha! This is Home."  I don't know when the moment will be that this project suddenly becomes obsolete.  I do have a sense though, that it will have something to do with returning to the girl who was all-loving and all-trusting.  Who was unashamed to be inspired and inspiring.  Who forced people to watch the sunrise with her.  Who begged to lie under the stars on warm nights.  Who stole daffodils and danced in the streets and insisted that life was this incredible, beautiful gift that couldn't be wasted... not for a moment.

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.  I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  -Maya Angelou

Credit goes to the beautiful Ms Ashley for sharing this quote (and her journey) with me... and reminding me that we are all connected and influencing each other whether we know it or not.  We owe it to ourselves and others, then, to be the best version of ourselves we can be.

Subscribe to Ashley's wonderful blog @

Friday, April 1, 2011

Born to Run

Once again, I've been neglectful of this project... and I think it is not because I'm busy, or because I'm uninspired.  I think there is actually a little fear.

The thing about exploring the meaning of Home, about searching to find your own rootedness is that you will inevitably stir up some stuff that you've avoided or ignored altogether.  In reading all your contributions (and thank you!), I found myself remembering feelings and heartaches that I'd put to rest long ago.  Nothing extravagant or dramatic.  Simple heartaches.  We've all had them.  They are actually quite beautiful within the arc of a life, but not less difficult to deal with at times.

I've come to know this little part of myself that is contradictory to the rest of my nature, that is unexpected, and that cries out at very unexpected times:  there is a small but mighty part of me that has the instinct to run.  Flee.  Simply leave, before I can be the one left behind.

In shifting seasons of my life it rears up most powerful.  Times when I am transitioning into new understandings of myself, of the people around me, of the work I want to do- in these seasons I get an undeniable urge to run.  And it shocks me still, though I've experienced it many times (and acted on it a few).  As a person who craves people and families and communities... a person who craves Homes... I have this strange but powerful urge to escape from these things, just when the getting could be good.

I believe it is a self-preservation thing.  We start out life with our hands spread wide, and our eyes big toward the sky and the world before us.  Everything is amazing... nothing could be bad.  We fling our arms wide to catch all the treasures and moments and beauty that we expect will rain down on us, but we inevitably catch a little hurt and heartache along the way.  So over time we start to bring our arms in closer and closer until we create a shield in front of ourselves, protecting ourselves from the pains... but also blotting out the beauty.  The urge that rises up in me to flee is the same as pulling my arms abruptly in to shield myself from the prospective hurt.  I'll leave first, before I am left.  Before I am hurt.  Before things go bad.  Run now, while the memories are still good.

I don't want to be that person, though.  I want to be the girl who spends her entire life wide-eyed and wondering.  I want to walk through my days with my arms stretched out before me, palms up to the sky ready to catch whatever rains down.  I don't want to run every time something starts to get good, just because I'm afraid that they won't get better.  I want to be the person that expects that the good will get better.  That yes, the bad will come... but I can make it through.  That life could possibly be easier if I shielded myself... but how much would I miss?  If I only get to do this once, I want to do it right, and fully.

So in this journey Home, I suppose there is an element of being willing to commit to digging in.  Committing to building your Home.  Committing to root.

The grandest, most impressive and influencing trees do not spread wide because they revolt from the ground.  Rather, the deeper their roots, the farther their reach.

A video to sum up these thoughts:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If The Right One Came Along

I've been neglecting this lovely "home", and I'm oh so sorry.  Ya'll are beautiful and worth my time... I'll be better, I promise!

So many wonderful contributions are coming in, and I thank you! Im sorting through them now and can't wait to include some of them in this lovely project that you've all so graciously taken up.

So anyway:

This song has been playing on repeat for me today:

It inexplicably took me back to a home that I had forgotten.  When I was in High School, in my senior year, I used to cut class... a lot.  My best friend and I would sneak out and jump in to her runaway car.  We'd spend a bit of time perusing a book store for new poetry to inspire us, or new music to fuel our dreams.  Then we'd head to The Spot.   The Spot was magic.  Each time we tried to go there we got lost, as if it continually changed geography, protecting itself from being overexposed.    It was an alcove, vine-covered and romantic. Magical and inspiring in its simplicity.  We would go there to feel a sense of something greater... a sense that there was a world outside our knowledge and understanding.  A world that had once been inhabited by Davinci, Einstein, Van Gogh, Dylan, ... and Kerouac.    

It was nothing really.  A stony outlook entrenched in vines.  But it was ours.  When we were lucky, the daffodils would be blooming in the field nearby and then we were truly happy.

Something about this song reminded me of those times:  times when I would go to that stony outlook, skipping spanish class, because I felt that daydreaming about my future beloved was far more worth it.

I remember how tender my heart felt at that time.  Precious little secret that it was, so ready to be snatched up, yet patiently waiting in the twisting vines of that secret spot.

This song takes me back to that home:  a home that can never be the same, because me and my heart have changed.  It was a home at one time, though, and so it will forever be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“Happiness Does Not Come From Having Much, but From Being Attached to Little.”

We've been told Home is where the Heart is.  I believe your heart will be where you give of yourself.  

On that note, a beautiful contribution from reader Ashley Pacanowski:

As someone who has yet to fall in love, have children, and build my own family, very much of my sense of home has been shaped by my career. I spend more time in my classroom than my actual home. You would think that is a negative statement, but it's something I cherish. You see, my physical location has changed so quickly that my classroom has become my home. It's the one place I can unpack my most treasured thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. It's a world I can create on my own and the only limitation is my imagination. No matter where the economy and twists of fate take me, I can pull up in a new town and set up shop. I am connected to some of the most emotionally gripping moments I've ever experienced.
My classroom is more than a collection of supplies and mementos. Each piece reminds me of a moment where I was changed forever. The mailbox that sits on my desk reminds me of the first gift I ever received from a student. I opened the mailbox one day to find six pennies, an apple, and a note that simply said "I love you." It came from a student who was homeless at the time, and it was quite literally all she had to give. The trees and vines that decorate my room remind me of the time a student said that he felt like he was across the world. This was a young boy who had never seen the landmark river two miles from his home because he had never traveled past his block. Every time I hear the bell ring and a student scoots in late I think of the 7 year old student who woke up one day to an empty home. He wanted to go to school so badly he walked four city blocks, with no shoes, all by himself...just so he wouldn't have to miss school. And each time I give a hug I think of the student who was so emotionally damaged that he wouldn't allow anyone to touch him. The last day of school he looked up at me with tears in his eyes, threw his arms around me, and said "I'm really going to miss you."
My classroom is my home because it reminds me of the gifts I have been given that I take advantage of. My classroom is my home because it is a safe haven for students and teachers alike to sing, dance, joke, and play without fear of judgment. My classroom is my home because I know that every day I can impact the lives of so many children who may not feel safe in their own home.
When I think of the word home I think of  feeling secure, grounded, and happy. Home is being surrounded by loved ones and memories that shape who you are.
Though I may not find a town that is my home, I will always have a home. For as long as I am blessed to have a job in teaching, my heart has a place to call home.

"Let Everything Happen to You..."

"...Beauty and terror.  Just keep going.  Nothing is final." -Rainer Maria Rilke

Today I was walking around my neighborhood, the weather slightly warmer and giving a hope that Spring might be upon us.  A mist in the air, and I was immediately taken back to so many Spring seasons of the multitude of lives I feel I've lived.

I time-traveled back to a day about a year ago, walking through the park near my Brooklyn apartment, a slight drizzle in the air that I ignored because I needed to walk.  I was scared and confused and somewhat lonely at that time, but I can remember how walking through that park gave me a bit of peace, a little slice of hope.

Flashing back even farther I could see the scape of my college campus, as seen through the window of a coffee shop that gave me so much sanctuary over four years.  I saw every season of every year from the same seat in that humble coffee shop.  And I can remember one particular day where winter was beginning to turn to spring, and my time on the campus seemed to be hurtling toward a close faster than I cared to accept.

A few years before and I was in a car with my best friend in High School, driving through back roads and scouring for patches of newly blooming daffodils, our favorite flower to snatch and run with... petty thievery that brought us joy and comfort.  I was probably upset about a boy, and she as well.  We were scared of what was coming for us, what we were going to become... and most of all- would we stay friends as life moved us forward?

All of these moment wrapped up in the sense memory of a changing season and a hint of rain.  Hours later, as I sat on the kitchen floor of the house filled with my friends and partners in crime, laughing comfortably and without pretense, I realized that it all turns out ok.  Every memory is now a glowing piece of me, devoid of any worry because the things I worried about always turned out just fine.  A new sense of Home dropped into me... a greater sense of faith in life's unwavering intent to take you where you are meant to be, and bring you to the things you truly deserve.

To live within the entire timeline of your entire life... maybe that is the utmost of noble pursuits.  That within each moment I possess my present, my past, and my future too.  To be at home within the entire span of my life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Every Day is a Journey. And the Journey Itself is Home"

Truly interesting and inspiring contribution from a reader...

Tatiana, these are your words:

First of all, I need to say that I'm French and when I was learning English at school, they didn't really give us a translation for that word. I clearly remember tests where we had to choose between home and house, when to use one or the other. And, at the time, I didn't know the real definition of those words and their translation. I had a technique though, house was "the building" and home was more like "the family."

It did help a lot for the tests. Now, I know that there is sort of an equivalence in French, it's the word 'foyer'. In English, they translate it by 'focus', but in French it has a larger meaning. It means fireplace and family too, two words I think are important to associate with home.
I think everyone has their own definition of home, but for me, family and fireplace can define it pretty well. Family, in the large meaning of the word. Family as in the people who are important to you, not necessarily related. And fireplace because, well it's a centre. It's a source of warmth, of comfort. And being at home is that too, it's feeling good. It's feeling safe.

I don't know how much relevant this is, but there is another specific you need to know about myself, I'm a gypsy. Not the traveler type, but the French/Spanish type - the ones who 'created' flamenco. This makes me realize that you can't talk of what is home to you if you don't explain who you are or what defines you.  As a gypsy I've observed something, very few of my people own houses; they rent. I've discussed of that with my grandparents who told me that each family living in single houses was really new, until recently they lived all together. They had a "great house" where all could come to live when needed, when wanted. Now that I think about it, they probably would have used the word home if they had known an equivalent.

That "great house" was where grandparents, parents, children etc... lived most of the time. They sometimes left for work (or to create a new family) but they had this place that they all owned. It was somewhere to come back.

It was an attraction point. And maybe it's because of that that they never bought a house, they needn't attaches somewhere else. They had their family.

I realize that here I'm talking of a time that has now ended and of a very specific situation, but I think it can sum up what home can mean. It's a place you can come back, a place where you'll never be alone. A home is somehow reassuring. It's a circle you are a part of, it's a protection in a way. It's being part of something.

And I come back to say the same, it's feeling safe.

I particularly love this idea of a "Great House" a "point of attraction". As someone who clings deeply to homes and families whilst also desperately seeking adventure and exploration, it is a challenging concept to find balance in the two. For every person I welcome into my world, I risk that heartache of having to some day say goodbye. I like the idea that there is a place where no matter how far you travel, you can return to the gathering place, to the love that formed you. And perhaps this creates the safety that we speak of... the knowledge that there is always a place waiting for your return when you need it most.

You can travel far and freely when you know you have somewhere or someone that would welcome your return.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Like a Rolling Stone

This is where I was a year ago...


and this is where I am now.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

"Your House Shall Be Not an Anchor, But a Mast"

When I graduated from High School my father slipped me a thin, aged-looking book and said "read this... I think you'll like it".  Naturally and naively, I threw it in amongst the rest of my books and didn't look back or even pause to consider cracking it open.

Years later, in the midst of moving into my first college apartment, I found the book and began to read it- and I haven't parted with it since.

"The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran has become a little piece of my heart and soul.  Looking at it now it is ripped and torn from being tumbled around in too many oversized purses, and it's pages are dog-eared and coffee-stained-  my best friend for so many afternoons spent in coffee shops learning how to be alone without being lonely.

My favorite thing to do is to give a copy to the people in my life.  It's more than just a gesture of sharing something I love, it is also an invitation of sorts... a welcoming into a deeper part of knowing me and what sparks me at my core.

Looking at it now, I see how it holds a million lives in it's pages.  Memories of a summer evening in a lake house in Illinois, cuddled up in a bed with old friends and reading aloud the words that I loved so much.  Thinking of that night reminds me of the days spent leaping in and out of the lake, no makeup, sun-kissed and free.  Evenings spent around a fire with a little music and a lot of laughter.

I gave a copy once to a boy I liked and told him to put it away somewhere and forget about it... let himself find it by mistake one day far from then.  To let the serendipity of it fully breathe.

I've given copies to people who are still very much a part of my life, and to many who are very much gone from my life.  And I think there is something special in knowing that people and places that are no longer with me, are linked to me still.

Home is a human condition.  Its the vastness of your entire experience wrapped up in a sack, tied to a stick, thrown over your shoulder.  Lately my greatest sense of "home" has been the contrast of all the different places I've been and people I've known.  It's sitting at a table with a dozen of my closest friends, knowing that a mere year ago I was far from being as happy as I am now.  Its seeing that no matter how far- both physically and emotionally- I journey, somehow life always brings me back to where I am meant to be.

It makes me think a lot about roots, and planting, and what that truly means.  In New York, I couldn't even bring myself to replace my air mattress with a real bed... because somewhere inside myself I must have known that I wouldn't stay long.  But I planted there, in ways more profound than furniture.  I rooted to people, because the people were all I had.  And when the time came to leave I was sent away with all of the love and encouragement of those people, knowing that I would carry them with me forever... they were rooted deeply in me.

I wander from home to home, finding new forms of family wherever I go.  I wander not aimlessly, but with the challenge of staying free and yet committed.  Committed to the truth of what I've come from, and free to reach the fullness that is yet to be realized in my experience.

"How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold." = William Wordsworth

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Not All Who Wander Are Lost"

When I was 20 years old I walked into a tattoo parlor and had a north star branded onto my left wrist, on a whim.  I can now recall it as an act of rebellion, but also an act of searching.  I was searching for an identity to call my own, I was searching for a thrill, and I was searching for a feeling.

That little star has now become a manifesto of sorts, a question that has continually highlighted my life; where is home?

Over the years that question altered slightly- What is home?

Under the auspices of that question, I present to you "The Home Project".  A chronicle of my ongoing search for the deeper meanings of "home", and the journey I am taking to get there.

So tell me, what does 'home' mean for you?

"There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again"
-Margaret Elizabeth Sangster