travel

Artist’s Way, Week 8 -Recovering a sense of strength

This week was very interesting for me. I had my first missed day of morning pages since I went out on a weekend trip and forgot. I then did pretty much all the activities on my road trip on Friday. I didn’t feel rushed, but the process for this week didn’t feel as spread out or impactful for each day. It is very interesting to me that the book mentions finding my “true north,” when over and over again in my artist’s prayer and exercises, I kept saying I wanted to find my northern star. This week asks you to consider long term goals, and break them up into micro-steps you can change now. The thing is, I ended up missing the one day I was going to involve myself in a writer’s workshop, and I haven’t really  tried a concrete step first, other than involving myself in the Artist’s Way and signing up for a “Source Course” (basically exploring your relationship with God or a higher power, and how that connects to your prosperity/creativity/etc.) I was also still managing to make the phone call and the exercises–although now in week 9 I am seriously lagging.

My list of twenty things I like to do definitely changed. I remember my last list was fairly generic-knitting, cooking, drawing, playing guitar, etc. This time I put things more romance related and more specific to me/relevant to my current stage in life. My interests include:

  • Try on and coordinate cute outfits (a newfound positive body image contributed to this)
  • Pet doggies
  • Walk through nature
  • Eat delicious vegan food
  • Doing thrilling things like rollercoasters or snowboarding
  • Feel and look pretty, confident and assertive

My artist’s date last week was a bit of a double dip, seeing as I counted my first visit to the Buddhist temple as visiting a spiritual place, and then coming back as the artist’s date. I also had accidentally done a few of the exercises before I even realized it (like wearing a favorite outfit), lighting incense, adding my mantra to my Source Course altar. This week was special since I went on a spontaneous trip to Minneapolis. This past Saturday,  I had enough time to drink the city’s best chai latte with my good friend Cameron. He accompanied me for a little while at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (aka MIA), but the next two hours or so were completely on my own, in my favorite art museum in the US that I know of (I’ve only experienced this one, Chicago, Columbus and Denver, so there might be more). I love how on the third floor they had time period rooms that I you can actually step inside of and experience. They also switch up their exhibits regularly and have the perfect amount of items from different countries.

I will also say I am very impressed that two days into week 8, I already created the prosperity we were meant to foster during week 7 (although that week I did manifest a hundred dollars worth at least of free transporation and food), via my job. Here I was banging my head against a wall, trying to get back money that was unjustly taken from me. It was only after I let go of it that prosperity finally manifested from a completely unexpected avenue, 5 times greater than what I had lost. It is amazing what things can happen when you’re willing to let go of what it looks like!

Last day of Ohio & Lagunitas Mental Health Charity

April 20th was, ironically, the first day my dad ever rode a bike with me (I’m 25 to put that in perspective). As a kid he always said it was too dangerous, so it was really up to my mom to teach me. I had moments of fear and elation relative to bike riding because of that. But ever since I moved to Minnesota two and a half years ago (I’m in Chicago now), my parents have held on to my bike. I wanted to take advantage of that, but I didn’t know all the trails they were mentioning and didn’t want to get lost. Mom was the most proactive in getting me and Dad to go before it started to rain. It was so bizarre, that in that smallest moment, I felt like my inner child was finally getting something she wanted. It was moments like these I felt I could even see myself living in Ohio again, biking down the trails in the mornings.

From there it was a mother daughter day. We deep conditioned our hair together before beginning our shopping day. It was nice to experience the convenience of a car again, going to the mall, and experiencing life just as we always had when we lived together. The highlight was getting to meet an immensely energetic teddy bear puppy. Is it called cheating on your cat if you play with it? After a full day together I finally had the evening free to work on my story. I ended up pulling an all nighter because I really wanted to get the first draft done in time to send to my friends for review. Plus, no sleep til Brooklyn right? There was plenty of time to sleep on the bus the next day.

April 21st, the day before my mom’s birthday. I had originally planned to stay with her through the 22nd and leave on the 23rd, but I had so many events and plans for the next week and a half that I decided a three day weekend together was still a good present and coming together. Her mother’s heart is such that she went grocery shopping for me and got me produce, rice milk, strawberries, and snacks for the bus. I was going to miss being in that clean, simple environment where there was a space for me and my relaxation. But I also know I moved away for a reason, and that was to find a city and a life of my own.

I was proud of how productive my bus ride was. I took advantage of my resources at home and printed out a copy of my manuscript, went through the entire thing and highlighted all the parts where I thought it would be appropriate to insert an integral story device. I thought I had better insert it and flesh the story out before resolving and ending it. I ended up adding and fleshing out all the story device sections, expanding on descriptions where I saw fit, and finally ending the first draft of my story half an hour before the end of my ride! Of course I texted this milestone with my best friend who I was about to meet up with that night. Upon arrival, there was really no time to stop. I went straight home, dropped off my suitcase, then went straight back to Wicker Park to meet with Lindsay. Our mutual friend invited us to “Stories and Steins,” a mental health charity event at Lagunitas hosted by Heartland Health Outreach, so we decided to ride the bus together. Lindsay was working on the cover of our “Lightning and Dreams” zine and gave me a piece of paper so we could work on the zine together. I was impressed by her steady hand on public transportation, and amused by the jellyfish she put on the cover inspired by our conversations on my game “Selva del Mar” (WIP). This in turn inspired me to include a rough sketch of a romantic dream-like jellyfish scene for the zine.

Lindsay and I ended up walking through a quiet, if somewhat sketch neighborhood. At this point we were just glad to be together. I was not expecting to find an actual warehouse with a flashing sign that read “Lagunitas Brewery.” And we were definitely not expecting the surprise we found inside. Our first impression of the brewery was a trippy experience. It was a black light hall with moving lights and a disco ball, and the somewhat eerie but entrancing tune “World of Imagination” from Willy Wonka.

World of Imagination

World of Imagination

Photo found on the Stories & Steins Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/HeartlandHealthOutreach/photos/pcb.1569028223371908/349038015299162/?type=1&theater

Lindsay and I took photos in the wild fun house landscape before climbing the stairs to the actual event. Again, we were surprised by the change in scenery. The lounge was surprisingly classy and the bar ended up being a really good venue. We came in time to hear most of the speakers and play catch up during intermission. James Kowalsky, outreach worker and case manager at Heartland Health Outreach started us off with a comical comparison between sports craze and mental illness, and tied the two together in an interesting way — if we can understand all the crazy things sports fans do (climbing under fences to get into the game, screaming wildly and crying and catching a foul ball)– if we were understanding of that, then why did we not afford the same understanding to mental illness? There were others–a lady who grew up around a mentally ill grandma and considering that normal, that that was her normal. It was just the way she was and lived and expressed herself in her mind. Another girl, Bella I believe, said she lived for those snapshot moments where people had a moment of insight or strength in their lives. One of the final speeches brought some tears to my eyes because it was everything I ever wanted to have validated in my life. This man said he used to judge people with mental illness, consider them weak because they couldn’t cope with life without pills. But in meeting his wife, she taught him what real strength was–sitting through nights of anxiety, still working and taking care of the bills through the trauma and difficulties, staying strong and never giving up even when there was every reason to. And that he never wanted anyone to think he was “settling” for her or to judge her for her illness. There was something about that one person’s change of perspective, that release of judgment and stigma that really moved me and made me want to cry out in that validation everything that me and my family had ever gone through. And I never wanted to leave that kind of space to be honest. There is just something powerful about being in a room full of positive people who embrace those in need and truly understand how important not just physical, but mental and emotional health really are, and not to let the homeless slip through the cracks but get the care they truly deserve.

At the end Lindsay, Sam and I had an extended reunion at the Small Bar in Logan Square. Perhaps not surprisingly, Lindsay and I bantered about the difference between artists and artisans. She was upset Kanye could earn an honorary degree at SAIC simply by joking about it in a commencement speech and tweeting about it, instead of going through the four years like her friend. As usual I played the devil’s advocate and argued–who is it that makes Kanye “Kanye” and supports those actions? Obviously if he were a random civilian, he could not get an honorary degree simply by tweeting about it. He built himself up and we support him monetarily in his brand and his business, and there has to be some respect in that. Sam also recognized that it was all about marketing, as she came from that side of the business. I was mostly amused we could hold up an intellectual conversation–me with my shot of Jeremiah’s Sweet Lemonade vodka, Lindsay with her sliders Sam probably also several beers in. It was an amazing end to a jam-packed weekend, but not the end in a month’s worth of adventures to come.

Columbus Downtown!

April 20, 2014 – First full day in Ohio of the trip. I lost most of my Saturday traveling, so we decided to plan the next two days. Sunday was Columbus day; Monday would be shopping day with Mom.

And of course, what is a good trip without further complications? We thought this time I would finally get to see the Thurber House, and Dad confirmed online it was open. The view outside was promising; a misty day with flowers sprouting outside the quaint but lovely old style house that belonged to American author and humorist James Grover Thurber. The door was shut. We rang the bell, knocked, and even went around to the back door but all we were able to do in the end was to cut through the stone garden. Our only backup plan was the Rose Garden, on the opposite side of the city. But of course, no trip to Columbus is complete without going to the German village.

And any visit to the German Village is not complete without going to the Book Loft. Comprised of 32 different rooms and two floors, the bookstore has a bit of a magical exploratory feel to it, and even has maps posted throughout so you don’t get lost. Different music plays for different themes; for example nature music in the nature room. Although this time most of it was Celtic. We started in the same room, in the garden section–Mom likes flowers, I was researching purple flower types and symbolic meanings for my short story. As usual, we quickly split up–Mom stayed on the first floor and Dad and I went straight for the fiction section. I was looking for classics like the Iliad for research, which Dad said he had already. I ended up picking out a book on sale for 5 dollars called “Locos,” a meta-fictional novel where the characters take control of the story. It was one of the first of its kind, written in 1928. I recognized it from Dad’s library, but I wanted it for myself since I no longer live with my parents and can’t just borrow a book from his library. Mom found a seven dollar self-help book, and even Dad got a lead for a book that he decided to research online first. He is very selective with his fiction.

On the way out of the city, Dad spotted a Turkish shop.

“STOP THE CAR,” I shouted in my excitement.

“Now?” He asked.

“Yes now, when’s the next time I’m going to be in Columbus? Let’s go right now,” I said with conviction.

Enough conviction that he decided to go along with it on a rainy day, luckily. He went around in circles looking for a parking spot, enough so that we had to retrace our steps and walk several blocks in what we vaguely thought was the direction. Mom walked on the opposite side of the street. Dad and I found it right when we were about to give up, and called to Mom to join us. I was amazed. Who would have thought, a Turkish shop right in the middle of Columbus? I felt like I was in Spain again, looking at the evil eye trinkets and jewelry, the hand embroidered Turkish boots, bags, and even lamps. In the end I gravitated towards the sales section (go figure) and found handmade Turkish sneakers for 25 dollars! It was a bit of trial and error since normally I’m a size 38 or 39, and most of the shoes were either 37 or 40. I ended up finding a 37 that actually fit, with gold thread vines and red canaries. They were the most beautiful pair I had ever seen, comparable only to the Moroccan slippers I found in Granada, Spain.

turkishshoes

Reanimated by our discovery of the Turkish shop, we decided to venture out to the Rose Garden. Since it wasn’t rose season, Dad said he didn’t think we were going to see any roses. He was right. The library nearby was neat, as was the park, but there weren’t really any flowers. Dad circled around the park just to make sure, before driving through Short North on the way home. I was glad we still made something out of our day even though it wasn’t sunny any more, and smiled, beaming as I held my Turkish shoes. I didn’t even realize the red canaries on them until then, and even discovered golden peacocks on the side.

The night ended peacefully. Mom and I watched the end of the “Muppets go to Manhattan,” while Peluche watched over us. I had once threatened to adopt Kermit so I thought he was monitoring us, but he seemed pretty content so he might have just been watching along. Mom wanted to meditate together to an Indian chant cd she got at the library. Peluche ended up sitting between us sphinx style, closing his eyes and meditating right along with us. We were tired after along day. I felt sad that I already only had one day left in Ohio, but felt I made the right decision in coming there.

Ohio Revisited

If you read Updates, Life you’ll know I that the last time I stayed in Delaware, Ohio was during a difficult transition in my life. I went there to lean on my parents for emotional, health and financial support, and hoped to get a job there. Life does not always work out the way we plan it though, and can have other things in store for us. This was no exception.

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Updates, Life

From time to time, I like to look back on my life transitions. This last transition was particularly rough. I think when I moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota I was naive and starry-eyed, which made things easier. I seemed to think moving once a year, even across states, was feasible, as long as I was pursuing a vision. At 23 that vision entailed finding my own city, a new job, new friends, and leaving Chicago behind for good. A couple years of that, and off to Europe, was the game plan.

I always envy people who blog about living in a different country per year-Australia, Thailand, Japan, France. What kind of money do they have? Are they debt free? I think yes, I can do that. I can totally sell my car and do TEFL and uproot myself to another country. But somehow, I keep not feeling ready. I don’t think there ever is a point where you feel “ready,” but I know myself well enough to do know that if there is a leap to take, I will take it.

I take comfort in the talk I had with my spiritual guide Teal Swan at the Chicago workshop, in her reassuring me of the burning questions I had for her, and her telling me I don’t have to jump the Grand Canyon. What a relief it was to hear her say she wouldn’t ditch everything for an unpaid gig in Guatemala on a four month trial period either. I felt like I was betraying myself when the Tarot and the angel workshop seemed to be indicating that was my chance, and I had blown it. Anything that stresses me out so bad my head hurts can’t be good.

So, far from achieving my game plan, I went to Ohio to live with my parents for a couple months until I could find a job. I was hoping to leave the bulk of my things with them and save enough money to go abroad. As nice as it sounded on paper, it did not last long. There was no job, interviewing and hiring was slow, the house was cold, and I felt lost in the middle of nowhere with no social life. I was glad to have my parents, my cat, and my writing, but I felt even more displaced than when I lived in the suburbs of Chicago. I ended up using the same  strategy that landed me in Minnesota–applying nationwide. Luckily this time I had 2 years experience of a full time job under my belt, and garnered a lot more interest. While earning my TEFL (my backup plan) and finishing Nanowrimo (50k words in a month challenge), I found myself drawn back to Chicago. Initially I was dismayed at failing “the plan.” That’s not to say I’ve given up entirely on going abroad again at some point, but I think sometimes I have to just forgive where I am in my life and make the best out of the journey. As it turns out, people were not just telling me it’s cooler to live in the city than the suburbs to make me feel better. It truly is an event-packed city with lots going on and lots of cool people to network with. I pulled a classic me by telling my new company I could move within a week, and ended up being “homeless” for nine days; ie couch-surfing while I apartment hunted. With little more than a recommendation on the neighborhood and a newspaper listing as one of the best neighborhoods, I ended up moving to Logan Square in December 2014 and even accidentally moved 5 minutes walking distance from a high school friend!