My journey to a dog walk

I woke up this morning to fog and drizzle. I always write my blog on my balcony and I debated about staying inside when I saw the fog. But I put a blanket in my Adirondack chair, made some hot coffee, put a sweatshirt on and here I am writing my blog. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful. A perfect 75 degrees, clear blue skies, and a warmth from the sun that warmed my soul. There is nothing like the California sun. I feel like it kisses my skin and envelopes me in warmth and security.

I took my little French Bulldog, Franki, for a walk in Manhattan Beach on a path adjacent to the sand where people walk their dogs. Even with masks on, people were friendly and talkative as Franki tried to take in all the new sights and sounds. He just finished his shots so he is able to interact with other dogs now.

Taking this walk yesterday, I felt so ‘me’. My dream was to live at the beach and get a French Bulldog and as I walked I almost wondered if I was still dreaming. I felt like people were nodding to me with a ‘welcome to the dream’ knowingness. I felt filled with satisfaction to be able to enjoy the morning, go at my pace and interaction with kind people.

Maybe my simple walk doesn’t seem that amazing from the outside, but for me it was years in the making. A slow unwinding of my childhood trauma that led to a marriage filled with toxic behavior. I didn’t know any different. I was born into a family that gave me the message that life was hard, and that I had to prove myself in order to be loved. I rejected that message mentally, but emotionally I still fight it to this day. It is hardwired in me that life is painful, with small moments of relief.

So, when my marriage wasn’t fulfilling I just chalked it up to life being hard. I didn’t know that it could be different. When my relationships with friends and family were exhausting and gave me little in return, I didn’t think it was possible to find people that would actually give me energy, and build me up rather than bring me down. I didn’t know any different. So I stayed in situations that eventually led me to a breakdown.

In desperation, I started searching for light and kindness. It was either that, or let myself fall into a unrecoverable depression. I signed up for MeetUps, went to book readings, listened to Podcasts, got massages, facials and started getting foot reflexology. I tried anything to try and bring a spark back to my life. I put myself out there without even knowing what I was looking for.

I felt silly and a little frantic blindly searching and running around town. But it all changed when I went to a MeetUp and I was talking to a kind woman and I decided to be honest with her. I told her, ‘I have no idea what I am looking for, but I want a different life.’ I thought she was going to think I was losing it, and politely walk away from me. But instead, her brown eyes soften, she touched my arm, and she said to me, ‘I know exactly how you feel.’

Connection! I found it. This small piece of evidence that there were people that would understand me, gave me hope. It encouraged me to keep going, to keep exploring. And in meeting new people and exposing myself to new situations I slowly started to feel the difference in my body when I was around people that lifted me up and connected with me, and when I was around people that confused and exhausted me. Because of this, the next steps in my journey started to become apparent. I knew that I had to move away from toxic situations and people that kept me in self destructive patterns. It wasn’t a straight line, it was an up and down journey of 2 steps forward and 1 step back. The hard thing was that I had no goal in mind. I was just trying things until I found connection.

I have written in a journal my whole life. Writing has always been my best friend. When I was confused as a teenager, as a single woman on my own, and throughout my marriage, I would write and my truth would fill the page. I could be honest and vulnerable in my journal without fear of being hurt. My writing is really who I was, and who I am. So, I decided that writing was the answer to help me find my way to a better life!

So,I started this blog in January 2018, with no idea of what I was going to write about. I made rules for myself though. I had to write every weekend ‘no matter what!’, I had to write at least 1000 words on each blog post, and once I published it I couldn’t change it, no matter how badly I cringed when reading it back. Those were the rules, and content was secondary. In March 2018, I was looking for something to write about, and decided that I could write about the process of rediscovering my creativity. So my drawing and painting came about because I needed content for my blog.

I drew a simple inked woman and posted her to Instagram. My friends loved it. Really? So, I was encouraged to draw more. Through this, I got my creative bug back and started to spend my spare time drawing instead of giving my energy away to people that didn’t appreciate it and gave me little in return. This turned into me having art shows, selling my original art, and being commissioned to create art for others.

I didn’t sit down one day and say to myself, I am not happy I am going to write and draw, and that will make me happy. The truth is I blindly started searching for answers, and I opened myself up to whatever came my way. It was and still is a journey filled with uncertainty and fear. But yesterday when I was on a simple dog walk, in the sun by the ocean, a part of me believed that life isn’t hard. The message that I received over and over again is starting to fade. Life can be beautiful and fulfilling, it doesn’t have to be exhausting and hard. And the biggest thing I have learned is that I have the power to either make it hard, or make it amazing. I do this by the choices I make, and the people that I allow to be close to me.

I am still learning. But what I know for certain now is that I am allowed to be happy, I am allowed to say NO, and I am allowed to live a life that speaks to me and brings me joy without asking permission from anybody but me.