As of two days ago, August 5, its exactly one year to the day of my having moved back home to New England after four years of living overseas in Europe (a brief sojourn in Prague, following by the majority of my time whilst there spent in Germany).
As always seems to be the case with life (one of my best friends and I were just discussing this phenomenon on the phone on Sunday, August 5 in fact), life seems to end up unfolding in, more often than not, the most opposite, surprising, and unexpected ways from how we expect, plan, and assume it will go.
That has absolutely been the case in terms of the past year.
Since my return from living abroad, so many things have happened to me, experiences had, people met, relationships evolved, which I never would have predicted, nor expected. In fact, many of the things I assumed likely to happen or play out a certain way just so, ended up actualizing in completely opposite, totally different ones.
So. My plan/assumption on how events would unfold on returning to the US: get a job in Boston (which I assumed would be obtained a month, maybe two tops, following my arriving back). Move to Boston shortly thereafter (so, unquestionably within 2-3 months of my getting back stateside). Possibly start dating some 6-8 months after getting back and established with job and solo apartment in Boston, feeling it was unlikely of my meeting anyone who compelled me or was a resonating click until several months after that. (Totally ok with me, as I am both equally joyful and fulfilled either when in a relationship, as well as when not in one. I love both in different ways and am just as content with each).
That was generally the skeleton of my plan, what I assumed would occur and how things would play out on my returning back to the New Hampshire/Boston area.
However. Things could not have played out further from that. Instead, they actualized in ways that were almost completely the opposite. Instead of following the linear, straight, arguable potentially dull line of events I had planned and predicted for myself, what actually happened was more like squiggles and swirls, many sky high "ups," with a few dips and downs. And to my shock, this ended up being the most awesome possible way that this last year of my life could have played out.
To name several of the surprising, compelling, emotionally moving experiences as well as major lessons I both confronted, navigated, and learned from within the last year:
--The work I did for Marsys Law in New Hampshire, on the campaign that was fighting to change the NH state constitution in order to write in rights and protections afforded to all victims of crime (which shockingly, they do not currently have in NH. At the moment, anyone accused of a crime has a boatload of rights. The victims though, have none. We at Marsys Law were not looking to compromise, nor take away any of the rights that people accused of crimes have. They deserve those rights. We only want to level the playing field. The victims of crimes most certainly deserve the same rights that the perpetrators have. This is what we were fighting for. To equalize this standing for both parties).
This was, hands down, the most awesome, engaging, meaningful, challenging, affirming, emotionally moving, stressful, powerful (feeling) job I have ever had. The emotions and experiences I had during the short 7 or so weeks I worked this role, leaving a deep mark on me, in all absolutely phenomenal ways. I loved this experience. Even that is an understatement.
The survivors of violent crimes whom I was able to meet, spend time with, hear their stories, this was so moving and motivating in terms of working the campaign. The fabulous, inspiring, bad ass women (and men!) with whom I had the chance to work, this was an absolute blast to say the least. The work itself, while some of the time immensely stressful and overstimulating (for someone who is quite introverted, this was challenging at times), was also engaging, exciting, interesting, and just fantastic.
The connection this role offered me, which most certainly was the key I needed towards snagging the job I have now at Bridge over Troubled Waters in Boston. The hearings I attended in the Concord State House for Marsys Law, watching with bated breath both the Senate, and then the House of Representatives discuss, debate over, and then vote on this potential amendment, were emotioinally charged, immensely climactic, suspense laden experiences for me, to describe them at a minimum.
This work was, hands down (at least to date) the most fulfilling and thrilling I have ever done.
The photos just below, showcasing THE most emotional, intense, awe inspiring day of my being on Marsys Law. The day of the vote, the day that would determine whether Marsys Law made it onto the ballot for greater NH or not. Myself, our boss, Sara, and my two colleagues, Marina and Taylor, walked over to the State House at dawn. The city streets still deserted. And we placed 2,637 purple flags on the lawn of the State House, to signify all the victims of violent crime over the last year.
This moment, I still get chills thinking about it. Glancing up from the spot where I was crouched on the lawn to see the ground growing covered in a sea of purple, like wildflowers blooming in the breeze, suddenly sprung up out of nowhere. This. Was. Awesome. It packed such an emotional wallop for me.
--The reconnections I rediscovered in a handful of friends with whom I remained close while living overseas. Seeing them again, and picking up where we left off was both affirming, exciting, and comforting. Especially with regards to two friends in particular, Derek and Sarah. These two, we picked up right away and it was as though I had never left. Jumping right back into my connections with, and even deepening both of these relationships.
Two other women in my life, with whom I have always been connected to some degree, I was surprised to find my connections with them deepening in my seeking more time spent with them, Gayle and Susan. Meeting with each of them several times for tea and/or brunch/lunch over the 9 or so months I was living in NH with my mom. This was also a wonderful, incredibly sweet surprise.
And one more big one, in terms of surprising, heart rending re-connections. Meeting with my past counselor, Ken. The man who treated me from about the age of ten through to my late teens. One of the small handful of people in my life who has left a majorly earthmoving mark on me. His invitation (about one year ago, in autumn of 2017) to partake in a recorded interview for students of his, with regards to the work he and I had done together-how it had affected or helped me, as well as where I was now (to whom I had grown into, and where I had been since his and my working together), wow. This was an incredible experience, to say the least. Very emotionally moving, affirming, just really neat.
|With Sarah (though this photo was taken when we were maybe 23 years old? About a decade ago!!!)|
--Living with my mom. I was both excited for this, happily anticipating being "home," so to speak, as well as excitedly anticipating this with my mom living in the dream locale of right alongside a charming, quiet little lake. I was also hesitant, as we have a rocky, emotion laden history between us.
However, living with her during this time was, hands down, the best phase I have ever experienced (at least until now) of mine and my mothers relationship, thus far in my life. We shared so many fun, cozy, laughter filled, joyous, and emotionally connected moments with each other during the almost year (about 10 months) that I lived here with her.
Going out dancing, lounging on the dock, taking a few walks around the lake, playing croquet in the yard, hosting parties at the house, watching Stephen Cobert on weeknights, driving into Concord together most weekday mornings, going to the gym many evenings together, myself cooking and baking loads of things for her. We had a blast.
This was the most powerful and positive period of growth I have ever felt in our relationship until now. Sure, we had several tough moments and some fights sprinkled in there too. To me though, that's fairly normal- at least in families that are candid with one another. There will be clashes, anger, disagreements. As well as, coupled with some of our past challenges, flare ups more certain to arise.
As a whole though, this was a life and relationship changing experience, a profound, joyous, and awesome one.
--The challenge and shockingly long road of job searching. This was for sure, the most negative surprise along the way. Though I will preface that with saying that while it seemed negative while I was experiencing it, looking back, it actually had a lot about it that was pretty fantastic too.
Never in my life have I put such heart, effort, and sweat into finding a job. Also, never in my life had I had such difficulty in getting a job. During the 9 months following my return home, I applied to, no exaggeration, 160-170 jobs. Truly. I have all the cover letters to prove it. Speaking of which, spending at a minimum, 45 minutes or so per cover letter. More on some, for the jobs I especially desperately desired. So these job applications were not dashed off willy nilly. On the contrary, I sunk my whole heart and efforts into each one.
I was invited for a handful of interviews, all for jobs that excited me. And received a few offers, none of which paid enough for me to live on sadly. This was disheartening, exhausting, and dejecting. It got to the point more than once where I nearly threw up my hands and said, forget it. My mom looked over my cover letters and resume, for errors and things that might be working against me. She too was aghast. Remarking that both the cover letters and resumes were great.
Finally though, finally, I was offered the job with Marsys Law for New Hampshire (after 8 months of relentless job searching!!!) and, on the campaign concluding, landed a job roughly 2 months later with Bridge over Troubled Waters in downtown Boston. This is where I am working now, and am loving it. Generally speaking though, it took me roughly one year to find a job.
Looking back though, the silver lining of this period: while emotionally, it was anxiety provoking and disheartened, I made MAJOR strides in my writing during this time. Huge ones. There were several other silver linings, and even joy of this time, however this was one of the most compelling.
--Meeting the man I have grown in love with, Maxx. I met this very man exactly one month later, to the day, following my return from Germany to the US. Ironic as I assumed I wouldn't meet anyone who even remotely captured my interest until months and months down the road, nor did I have much priority or urgency towards dating. However, don't they tend to say that what we least expect or just when we aren't looking for something is exactly when/what ends up happening?
Maxx is someone who has captured my heart. Where initially, I was sure that because our temperaments are different, this could not possibly be a thing, I am so incredibly glad at how wrong I was. This, teaching me the pivotal lesson that much of the time, when we make snap judgements, we are wrong. How much I would have missed out on, had I followed that initial judgement and assumption.
Maxx, in his introverted, thoughtful, introspective manner, grounds me. Bringing forth a sense of calm in me. I both believe (and hope) that within him, I ignite a sense of whimsy, adventure, possibility, and of purposefully seeking the pushing of ones comfort zone. I have witnessed both of us challenging each other in relevant and important ways. Eliciting invitations for growth and personal insight where each of us could use it. I have experienced much romance, tenderness, and joy in the connection between us, and time spent together as a couple. Being with Maxx has made a profound impact on my life.
What a resounding gift, incitement of personal growth, and light this man has added with his entrance into my life and the love he has offered and given me.
|The flowers that were waiting on my doorstep the morning after our third date <3|
--The small but semi noteworthy growth of Sweet. Raw. Free. (All the recipes falling into at least one, if not more, of the following categories: gluten/grain free, dairy free, sugar free, or raw). In my returning from Europe, both in upping the ante with regards to the social media spreading of my food blog, as well as widening the net on my topics to include health in general along with recipes, I have seen a slow but notable increase in terms of views, followings, shares and likes. How cool and thrilling this has been, both because food (eating it, baking/cooking it, photographing and writing about it) is a passion of mine, as well as because I am hoping to eventually self publish a cookbook!!
--The completion of my first book. And where it stands now, whenever I reflect on it, leaving me awed, breathless, a bit scared, and in disbelief. Also, coming up on the cusp of completion of my second book too!! That first book (non fiction, memoir) in the works being edited. This second book (fictional, love story with, at least what I hope to be a unique theme that I haven't come across in many other books about romantic relationships), nearly done in terms of first draft, upon which I will invite in a couple of beta readers, then comb over it once more on my own, and then likely look into professional editing with that one.
All of this is WAY thrilling :-D as being a published author is my absolute, ultimate dream. To make enough money off it, not a lot, just enough, so that I can live off this and writing books can be my job.
The writing of books, in my opinion, is such an important, worthwhile gig in terms of human life. Books have the power to change us. Books can heal us. They can offer a sense of, oh wow, so someone else experienced this too. I am not alone. Books connect people. They can also inspire and move us to immense proportions. In reading the stories of others, we learn ourselves how to navigate our own relationships, how to live, how to address and handle the dilemmas of our own lives. We learn how to be human.
Books also offer affordable (sometimes even free, as with libraries) yet growth inducing entertainment. They offer further education, learning, the opening of ones mind and heart. Books make you a better person. They add layers to the self that you already are. Books offer the chance to experience other cultures, worlds, emotions and lives, which otherwise you may not have had a glimpse into. Books add richness and wonder to life. They can shift our views of the world as we know it. Offer us different ideas for how to think, be, live.
I want to be one of these people, offering these riches to my fellow humans, like all the other authors out there do. To me, this is a career of making magic. With the potential to change lives, as well as create whole other worlds that spellbind, interest, teach the reader lessons, and induce awe with our words. Awesome. I cannot think of better, more thrilling or more fulfilling work than this- at least for me.