The Unexpected Thing That Happened

When I was traveling the US what now feels like a million years ago, I attended Alt Summit in Palm Springs, CA. While there, making new friends and having my mind blown by the likes of Ellen Bennett and Jihan Zencirli, I met and spoke to a few sponsors, including Flow Magazine. Imagine my surprise when nearly two years later, Flow reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in talking about my travels and my life now.

Well, yes. Yes I would be interested, of course, and also . . . why me? I regularly lose sight of the fact that what I did is inspiring to other people. To me it just feels like a big trip I took that’s now part of the story of my life. I tend to forget how impossibly difficult it was at times, how scared I was, and how I lived outside of my comfort zone almost constantly. I remember seeing the Southwest for the first time, accidentally hiking to some of the most incredible vistas I’ve ever experienced in my life, rolling along the Oregon coast in pea soup fog, reconnecting with people I love all over the country, and eating so many different and delicious things I’d never tried before. If someone else did that, I’d be inspired, for sure.

Flow is an amazing magazine focused on slowing down, taking the time to let your creativity shine, allowing imperfection, and finding beauty and pleasure in the everyday. These are the kind of magazines that you keep and return to over and over again. They’re not cheap - more the price of a book than a magazine - but they offer beautiful content, activities that take you away from screens, and inspiring articles about people doing interesting and inventive things.

I spent 30 minutes on a Skype call with an editor in The Netherlands, and then started a whirlwind photo session with my good friend and mentor, Nanette. I have relatively few photos of myself or my life that are taken with anything other than my phone, so over the course of 4 weeks or so we took photos in a few locations, trying to get me, my new life, Claire’s Car, and my dogs all captured. Of course, I was working like crazy, and Nanette’s partner fell gravely ill, and the weather was totally uncooperative, but we managed it by the seat of our pants.

I sent in a bunch of photos at the last minute, helped to edit some of the text for clarity, and then it was all just sort of over and the waiting began. I had no real idea about when the issue would come out and I didn’t like to think about it. Nanette reminds me frequently that I seem to have no issue putting myself out in the world and being vulnerable, but that I then don’t really want to talk about it after that. True story, my friend! That’s why I’m always only writing to the 3 people who read this blog. If it were more, there’s no way I could do it. Ha!

The issue finally came out in October and I had a little bit of a meltdown about feeling exposed and all that nonsense you feel when you’ve done something new and weird and scary. With time and space I’ve come to love it and see it as a fun thing that I got to experience along the way in this crazy life of mine. It marks a point in time, at the intersection of some big changes for the better. I see the exhaustion and extra pounds in the photos, but I’m also happy to have the reference and to know that I’ve been working hard to make some positive changes and better choices for my overall health and happiness.

The best part of this project was the excitement of those around me. It’s easy to take for granted how much support and love is right at my fingertips; this process reminded me over and over. My friend Julie came out on a dog walk with me to my favorite spot, all while being circled by Nanette and her camera. My coworkers at the bakery endured an hour of no lights on a busy Saturday morning so that the lighting was better for yet more photos. Nanette was an absolute trouper through the whole thing. I’m not sure anyone cheers for me more than she does. Everyone should be lucky enough to have someone in their life just like her.

These days I’m working 10s in the bakery, getting back to walking my dogs regularly now that the Thanksgiving craziness is over, reading a lot, cooking good food, and spending time with friends. It’s a pretty happy life, all around.