I’ve had a twisted relationship with the word faith for a long time.
When I was kid, I started going to a Baptist church of my own volition. My friends all went there, but I truly loved it. It was a place where I found a lot of comfort at a time when life wasn’t terribly comforting.
Hired to assist with church cleaning, I’d sing in the sanctuary while I vacuumed. On particularly hard days, I’d lie on the red carpeted front steps of the stage by the podium and weep, taking solace in something that at the time felt like it might have been there, a feeling like I was being truly held for a moment letting myself be fully present to experience the full weight of my feelings.
I grew older and began to think for myself. I left the church after a Methodist pastor preached fire and brimstone on the gays the morning after my best friend had come out to me on a long walk home after we’d had to kiss onstage for a theatre rehearsal. My belief was shaken after that. If this thing that was supposed to be some great source of goodness had faltered, had failed me, what could possibly be true?
But despite the mixed bag that was my experience with the church, I think it did teach me how to tap into something important – a fundamental belief in myself. Regardless of whatever else I may have imagined myself connecting with, I certainly connected deeply to my ability to get through things that were challenging. It was a discovery zone for resilience.
I lost some of that when I left the church. I faltered, unsure of my next steps. Who was I outside of this collective identity? This belief? And how I could I believe in myself if I didn’t even know what I believed? Christian logical fallacies littered the way as I attempted to find a path forward.
These days, I feel like I’ve found a path. And the next chapter of this path involves living in my best friend’s bus.
I know for the average person nothing in that last statement makes sense. Brief context: my best friend, Nina, converted a bus into a beautiful home a few years ago. Her family is in the market for a home right now (just made an offer!), and I’ve been trying to figure out where I’m going to land next.
And for the moment, I have no home of my own.
How did I end up in this strange state of transition on a path where I allegedly have an idea of where I’m heading?
It wasn’t part of the plan, but hey, what else is new? The end of my lease on the delightful apartment I’ve been living in was coming up, and Portland’s rental rates jumped 15%. The amount I’d be paying for a one bedroom would just be too much for me to justify – it’s less the cost than it is the resentment I’d feel paying for what I was getting – especially considering where my mind has been lately.
I’ve been dreaming of planting gardens and building tiny houses. Of building community. Of getting onstage more. Of writing books. Of continuing to a create a life I adore, filled with daily romance.
Don’t get me wrong. I have loved living here in Portland. It’s been a ridiculously romcom way to enter another phase of life. You know, girl leaves awful relationship, girl moves to the city, girl thinks she’s going to screw around, and then girl falls madly in love with boy who rocks her world and treats her like a princess.
Now girl wants to go live in the country, enjoy her awesome kids, an incredibly fulfilling relationship, and her writing.
Getting to experience life in a city I love in an area I loved in the exact building I’d always wanted to live in and never thought I could has been a dream come true in so many more ways than I could have imagined. I think for where I was six months ago, this place was perfect. It was the exact right jumping point for me. And now I’m ready for what is coming next.
Over the past month, I’ve wondered about where I would end up. I’d looked at a few places, but nothing felt right. There were some great places with yards and enough space for the right price. I just couldn’t get myself to commit to anything. It’s like there was this block that kept coming up. So I let it be, expecting something would happen at the right time.
And then my grandma was trying to figure out where to move next, and after some brainstorming, dreaming, and scheming, she said I could build her a tiny house. Suddenly, there was a dream ready to be realized sitting on my doorstep.
And then I had an evening more shocking realization. I could build my own tiny house, too. It’s one of those dreams that always felt so inaccessible, so far away, until there it was looking straight at me, just waiting for me to bring it down out of the clouds and turn into reality board by board, nail by nail, sweet dream by sweet dream.
What a thing to finally understand that the only thing that had been holding me back was me. But it’s true. I can have this dream and make it mine. I don’t have to ask for permission. I don’t have to wait for the perfect moment. Because the most perfect moment to try something, to achieve something you’ve always wanted, is right now.
Who can say whether or not I will be here in another year? I certainly can’t. I am sick of waiting for what’s most important. Oh, once I have this taken care of, then I’ll have more time for my kids. No. NO. Enough.
No, really. Seriously, fuck that. My kids will only be kids once, and they deserve to have me at my best now. And I think I have the opportunity to give them that in a way I’ve never been able to before.
Just this month, I’ve…
- taken my family out to dinner to a lovely meal.
- started attending a domestic violence support group.
- begun to learn graphic design.
- been offered an obscene amount of money on Craigslist to be their “princesscort.”
- been asked to audition for a Blondie cover band after singing at karaoke one night.
- trended on Reddit for having a ridiculous name.
- won a ticket to a conference in San Francisco, then opted not to go in favor of a journey to somewhere new.
- started reading Big Magic and delighting in the joys of being a creative human.
- been learning how to navigate the clusterfuck that is the public school system.
- celebrated my most successful month in business to date.
- cried a lot, grieving over things that have happened that I could and couldn’t control over the years.
- discovered I have faith in my ability to make it through.
Because even with the occasional low point, I am doing it. Even through the dry spells, the uncertainty, the unknowns, the possibility for things to change, I am doing it. I’m making progress. I’m learning how to ask for help. I’m chasing down what I want and realizing just how close I actually am to those things. If I can find the time to do that, I can find the fucking time to show up as the best parent I can.
And the thing is, I truly believe I can. I can have all that. That is what I want, and I will find a way to get it because figuring out how to make things work is what I do. I may not believe in any omnipotent source of whatever, but I do believe I am capable of accomplishing anything I dare to let myself want.
And the faith I have in things just working themselves out? Well, it came full circle today in the most marvelous way.
This morning, I went to the bakery down the street from my apartment for the last time for a while to enjoy one final raspberry rose croissant alongside my usual americano – I know, how spoiled am I? – and to journal away my monkey brain, like I do most mornings.
Finally over worrying about where I’d end up next, I simply let it go. It wasn’t like I was actually going to be homeless. I’m lucky enough to have family nearby, and I’d eventually find a spot that felt right. That’s just how these things work themselves out. When I feel anxious, I let it go on paper. So I did. I don’t share many journal entries here without some serious editing, but here is exactly what I wrote.
“Be open to Big Magic. There is a beautiful, creative solution you haven’t discovered yet.”
I walked home in light rain, and began working on the last of the packing and cleaning in my apartment. Taking a break for more coffee and to recharge a little, I checked my email.
Inside was a perfect gem of a note from someone who had the perfect spot for me to park the bus for the next few months for an incredible price in a community I’ve loved for years. Of course, it would happen this way. That’s what Big Magic is.
It’s inspired. It’s always a surprise. And most of all, it’s what you need most when you least expect it.
Here’s to the next chapter of the journey.
I wrote a new book with Nina. If you want to have people over, but it stresses you out, you’ll love it. It’s a perfect way to prep for the hoildays in a simple, ease-filled way. (Plus, more tiny challenges!)
I’m booked up through the end of the year. I’m currently putting people on the waitlist for January.
We’re under construction over here! Don’t mind the dust. My site will be getting a whole new look to reflect where I’m at and where I’m heading. Expect more bright, bold, and badass.