When it rains it pours...

Gorgeous Oregon Sunset, November 2017

Gorgeous Oregon Sunset, November 2017

Someone said this to me recently as I was recounting the sudden, unexpected late and breaking plot twists that are showing up here at the end of 2017 for me. It’s a common phrase. But it got me thinking about the trajectory of events in my life over the last few months/years. I’ve wanted to write an update post since my August lay-off, and so here it is.

The thing about this phrase, “when it rains it pours,” is that, in Portland, where I’ve lived for 17 years, it kinda just drizzles. Or it mists. Or some days it just seems like there’s water coming from every direction. Here, when it rains, it rains. For months and months, it rains. This is a pretty good analogy when it comes to reflecting on what the last few years of my life have been like. A slow, grey, hazy seemingly unending drizzle of feeling stuck, pretty lost; OH OH there’s a ray of sunshine and blue sky, oh wait it’s gone, and it’s still raining. Damn. Sound like a drag? Yeah, it’s been a drag. It hasn’t all been bad, but it’s been a challenge. (Quick recap via Jess-mathematics: selling stuff + quitting job + travel + divorce + leaving a difficult work environment + 2 years of un- and underemployment + falling in love + getting laid off + end of love/relationship = a doozy of a ‘season’ – it felt like my Saturn just never returned, it was spinning somewhere out in space…)

In August, when I got laid off, I wrote that I was grateful and felt powerful. All that was true. I didn’t want to be part of something that didn’t want me, and my short time at that job reminded me that I was skilled. It reminded me, as I heard someone else say recently, that I was, “creative, resourceful and whole.” Sometimes when things have been hard for a long time, you forget that. You forget that you are one of those people who are creative, resourceful and whole. That felt good and I was ready to take that reclaimed energy and apply it.

The problem was that I still didn’t have any clue as to what I wanted. The biggest gift I received of the last 2-4 years is that in the last 3 months I think I’ve finally come to terms with a central part of myself that I was denying and trying to eschew: I don’t think I want what I’ve been desperately seeking this whole time. And if that's true, then no wonder nothing's really worked out.

This whole time I’ve been trying to find a ‘career-track’ job because that’s the path I was told I needed to take. From a young age, I was encouraged that my life would look one way, while simultaneously being told I could be anything I wanted, but I should also go to college, get a job, get married, have kids and work for the rest of my life with hopefully some time at the end of finally enjoy said life.  Confession: I'm pretty sure that’s not the life path I want, nor do I think I’m meant to take. There are definitely things in there that I want, but I want them to materialize in the way that is true for me. Yes, I want meaningful work. I want to be debt free. I would love to have a family. But I don’t necessarily want those things to come by the one path described above. I’d like to think about my life a little more creatively, and live that way as well. Creatively, resourcefully and whole.

So in October I let go of the relationship I’d been in for 2.5 years. That was hard. I grieved – a lot. But I was stuck and began to understand that I was holding onto the idea and the potential for that path to unfold rather than what was actually in front of me. With a heart still full of love, walking away was painful, and a loss.

However, since then, things have shifted. When I said out loud to those close to me and to the universe what I wanted: “people, places and situations that are loving, safe, supportive, kind and available,” I got those things. When I swallowed my pride and asked for help when I desperately needed it, I was met with a chorus of yes. That felt amazing after a very long time of no, not right now, I can’t, I won’t, not the right fit or whatever – across a whole host of areas of my life. No where in that hard time, and time of need did I ever feel alone. What a blessing.

It wasn’t like those safe, loving, supportive and kind people and spaces weren’t there the whole time, it’s just that often we make choices, sometimes unconsciously, to not move toward them. I have done the work over the last few years to surround myself with them and so when I needed them they were right there. All I had to do was be vulnerable, have an open heart and receive. Amazing!

In these last couple of months I also decided to stop denying myself the other things I wanted in the way I wanted them: opportunity, creativity, mobility, and adventure. I remembered that I have a little dreamer girl inside me and she’s been told to be quiet for a long time for the sake of ‘being responsible;’ as if being responsible and living the things I wanted were mutually exclusive. It’s taking me some courage and time to piece these things together, but I’m well on the path.

God light shining in the Gorge

So sure, what’s happened as a result could feel like a downpour, but actually I’d like to think of it as those long dreary grey rainclouds parting with a bright ray of god-light shining down. The unbelievable sunset I got to witness 2 weeks ago alongside some of my favorite women was a testament to that.

And now for my late and breaking plot twist that I know you’ve been so patiently reading through all this to find out about: I’m going to Morocco on Sunday for a week! Long story for another time, but I made a friend when I was traveling in there in 2013, and traded some room nights at his hotel in exchange for some website work. We’ve stayed in touch and through a turn of events and reconnecting, I’m off to go visit and do some more work. What’s also meaningful about this is that I get to go back to a place and moment in my life that I didn’t want to leave to begin with, and check out what that other path might have looked like.

Going back to the stunning Dades Gorge, Morocco.

Have you ever reflected back on certain times in your life, when you had a realization, but didn’t know what to do with it, and stayed on the path you were on, but always wondered how it might have been different? How often do we get to check out that other path, even if just to find out how much of it was in your head, or how much of what you thought it would be could be real? That’s the journey I’m embarking on. It feels exciting, vulnerable, adventurous, and completely in line with how I want my life to be. I have no idea how the week will go, and that’s ok. Any experiences are answers whether they are good or not so good. It’s my work to receive them and then choose what to do with them. They’ll be what they’ll be. I now feel prepared and equipped to handle what comes my way.

The second part of my plot twist is that not 30 hours after I return, I’m jetting off to NYC for a quick trip, which I can’t really discuss now, but just know that it’s potentially exciting. More on that later.

So I’ll end this with a note about gratitude. As I wait at the precipice of these experiences, I’m grateful for everything that’s come before. Let's be honest, it largely sucked (good times notwithstanding of course!), but I’m a better person with more clarity about myself because of it. I can’t be upset about that. I’m ready for the next chapter, waiting with anticipation, and stealing away the courage and willingness to face whatever comes. I leave you with a few song lyrics that have spoken to me recently. <3

I wanna run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside.
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name.

I wanna feel sunlight on my face.
I see the dust-cloud
Disappear without a trace.
I wanna take shelter
From the poison rain
Where the streets have no name
— U2
They told you life is hard
It’s misery from the start
It’s dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more
Be grateful

Who do you believe?
Who will you listen to
Who will it be?

It’s high time you decide
It’s time you make up your own sweet little mind
— Natalie Merchant
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
— Fleetwood Mac