Last summer, in a swimming pool on a rooftop in Istanbul, I met an older American gentleman who was loaded with interesting tidbits of information about life, love, and the female/male dynamic. The conversation flowed naturally, so though I had no interest in him, and he was technically a complete stranger in a foreign country thousands of miles away from home, when he offered to be my tour guide for the rest of my Turkey trip, I gladly accepted. The next day, he swooped me up from my hotel on his Vespa and so the adventure began.
In another life, I would have coldly engaged in conversation for a few minutes, and then excused myself to play around on my phone. In this new life, I allowed myself the privilege – yes, privilege – of openness, and as a result, a friendship naturally ensued. I said yes to him. Because it seemed more exciting than saying no. Turned out, it was. Turns out, it almost always is.
In the past year, the best moments of my life were had on the whim of a yes. To call it accidental would be unfair – saying yes to anything and everything was a resolution I made for 2015 (see here). I ate snails in Paris at the urging of the most handsome Australian who I’d met only hours before. I traveled to Northern Africa alone, after much debate about the safety implications of doing so, and discovered a magical little gypsy world I would have never known existed if I gave way to fear. I escaped to Rome for a quick 24 hours to meet a former lover who would break my heart one last time. I flew to Mexico with a group of Aussies I barely knew to snorkel in a cave full of bats – and I’m terrified of bats! I jumped into a shark cage in Cape Town. And then gladly grabbed the reins of a parachute after launching off of Lions Head. I fell in love. Then I fell in love again. I made dozens of new friends in the most unlikely of places. And by years end, when I was deciding what my resolution would be for this year – I made a resolution for life instead. Because yes turned out better than I could have ever expected. Even when my limbs were flailing outside the shark cage while pushing myself up to the surface, it never once crossed my mind that it was a bad idea. Even after the night I didn’t get a wink of sleep because the yes that led to falling in love led to what felt like the last heartbreak this many times broken little muscle in my chest could endure. Even though that slimy French snail wasn’t a smooth swallow.
This first month of 2016 has not been easy. Most days, an anxiety attack seems a foregone conclusion. I’ve learned it takes a lot of damn courage to get out of bed every day when you’re living life on the fringes of the absolute unknown. You take for granted certainty, until it’s a thing of the past. But with certainty comes safety comes comfort (something like the road well-traveled) – a mediocrity that swallows up tomorrow before today is even done. And that other thing, uncertainty? I can tell you this much. There is a huge world of adventure hanging about immediately adjacent to that little ‘s’ in yes. And that is an uncertainty I’m happy to welcome, even if it means almost daily anxiety attacks about the rest. The takeaway is quite simple, my loves. Just say yes.
New Year’s Eve was a tough one for me this year. Last year, I rang in the New Year knowing full well that I was leaving my job in a few months and moving to Paris, a plan which I executed brilliantly. Let’s be honest – when Paris is in your immediate future, there’s no way you can be glum. This year, however, I felt melancholic all day. Mostly because I don’t have a plan, but I know it’s time to stop running away from life. The time has come for me to settle down and stand still for a minute and stop talking about figuring things out and start doing it. Right now, life feels like a puzzle. The universe has given me all the pieces and I’m sitting, staring at them dumbfoundedly, trying to figure out where to start. I’ve been here before and I know the first step is the hardest and once you start moving, you’re on your way. And I even know exactly where I need to start – which piece comes first (the corner of course). But still! You can’t help the fright, anxiety, frozenness that comes over you when you’re embarking on something new and different. You just kind of have to close your eyes and dive in deep, comforted by the knowledge that you know how to swim, and that’s something you can’t lose, ever. It’s like breathing, living. So no more putting it off until tomorrow. Today is day 1. Happy swimming. Oh, and Happy New Year too my loves!
This is a story of the universe, made of several moving parts.
Part 1: Two weeks ago, in a guesthouse just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, I was messaging with a man whom I “dated” last year. We had very little in common except our love of travel, which essentially consumed every conversation we had over the course of our long-distance non-relationship of sorts. During our conversation, he asked me what normal life would consist of when I got back to LA, to which I responded, “Good question.” He told me he was trying to figure out how he could travel the world for a year – his dream. I responded in my very hippie-dippie attitude of late, “I think you just do it and trust that the universe has a plan for you and you’ll figure out the rest along the way…”
Part 2: (Same day) The answer to his good question has been on my mind a lot over the course of the last few weeks. For reasons I can’t entirely explain, but potentially because on the day of our conversation we are on the brink of a new moon, without even his prompting, its been on my mind all day. I know I need the semblance of a plan and I come up with this: When I get back to the States, I need to set some time aside to do some soul-searching, read a few inspirational books (Cheryl Strayed first and foremost) and then go somewhere peaceful, alone, where I can be inside my head and really figure it all out. The short-term plan. As for the long-term one – I’ve got an inkling. Mainly, I keep coming back to two things, or rather, people: Carrie Bradshaw and Cheryl Strayed, the latter being the motivation behind the book I know I need to read. It has something to do with the evolution of this blog, specifically the response I’ve received from readers to this From the Heart series.
Part 3: (Later that night) I’m thumbing through my Facebook feed and come across a post by Cheryl Strayed where she writes, “Woke up thinking about how we make changes in our lives on the deepest, most personal level. I’ve been trying to make a few of those changes in my own life over these past several months and I’m humbled by how gigantic it is to do the smallest things differently. . .I’m also encouraged by how good it feels to DO that tiny gigantic thing. To follow through on what you know you must do in order to be happier in your life. It’s a journey not a one-time event, that’s for certain.” I screen shot her post and send it to my sister in Washington DC, with the text, “Love her, want to be her.” The text is consistent with my thoughts of the day. As for her post – thats the universe at play, working its magic.
Part 4: (Sometime in the wee hours we can safely call early morning – insomnia is a thing in my life.) I decide to check my blog email, which I rarely ever check. But since the universe has been busy, its entirely fitting that when I do check it, I’ve received two of the most beautiful messages from readers entirely in line with what has been ruminating in my mind all day. And I cried. I cried because it brings me a happiness I never quite anticipated that I can share my life in writing with others. I cried because in their messages was the realization that there are so many women going through the exact thing I’m going through, having the same experiences, heartbreaks, revelations, growth. But mostly I cried because if there was even a sprinkle of doubt in the advice I gave earlier in the day (the part about trusting that the universe has a plan for me), the events of later washed it away like a monsoon. And just like that, the universe bestowed upon me, not the answer, but better: a nudge in the direction of my future.
What will normal life consist of now that I’m back in LA? The life part is a mystery I’m content not knowing the answer to. The honest part is that I’ve got no answers to all of the difficult questions in my own life – I don’t know when my next paycheck is coming; I don’t know where I’ll be calling home in 6 months; I don’t know if my heart is going to feel as damn broken as it has felt in the last five years. The beautiful part is this: I’m here now – on the threshold of a constantly evolving life, a constantly evolving me – and its frightening and its exciting and its exactly where I am meant to be. The universe has a plan for me and its unfolding quite magnificently every single day. This last year has not been perfect. But by god, it has been the best year of my entire life! And all because I let go, stopped trying to control everything, and put a little faith in the universe. So it seems the best I can do for myself every day is be grateful for this blessed life that I can call my own, whilst keeping my eyes peeled for the signs that are pointing me in the direction of an always better tomorrow.
A little over a week ago, I bought a last minute ticket to London. It wasn’t in the cards for me this year. I am booked up through 2016. I did it anyway. If I’m honest, it was mostly because I was sad about a boy. But also, though it seemed frivolous and haphazard, I knew I could. And then, last Thursday, after 9.5 hours in air, I found myself in London, wandering the streets alone, as I had done for three months in Paris – and the freedom, adventure of it all – felt like I was home again. On Friday around 4:00 a.m., I was in a black cab on the way back to my hotel in Kensington, bumping Fetty on my iPhone whilst speculating how he lost his eye with a dear friend. Somewhere in the night, I was at a table in a club in Soho with a gentleman I had met just five days before at a restaurant in LA. The following evening, I was sitting on a ledge shivering in the cold on the rooftop of Shoreditch House while flirting with a dashing young Brit. If even a year ago, someone would have told me that this would be my life, I would have laughed. If even a year ago, someone would have told me that this would be me, I would have disagreed vehemently. Surely it wasn’t, until one day it was. The boy I was sad about – I still am. In him, I had hope for something more than what became. But I had a boyfriend for eight years of my 20’s. I lived that life and it was grand. This one though!! So instead of fretting over what I don’t have, what I wanted but didn’t get (again), I’m celebrating what I do have. Which is a penchant for mischief, a clever ability to flirt, an insatiable desire for male attention, and a new sense of adventure that snuck up on me like a good dream. There were many moments that led to the making of this new human, most of them sad. But here I am now, happier than ever, more myself than ever, and sincerely excited for whats to come next.Read More
Rag & Bone jeans, IRO tank, Zara vest, Chloe bagRead More