Bliss


There is something I have been searching for these last few years. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on...a mixture of happiness, contentment, a sense of belonging, elation, peace and hope.

I think I found it.

Bliss.

I haven't felt this way in months, if not years. Perhaps it is the newness of everything, but I think it is more than that. This house is truly our home. We have both achieved a dream that neither of us really saw as a possibility any time soon. I don't know what it was about the old apartment--it was very cute, and close to a really fun neighborhood, but we were both held down by it. We were depressed by it. Perhaps it was less the apartment itself and more that we had been renting for over a decade. I know not everyone is like this, but I am the type of person that is very reluctant to spend my money improving someone else's property (and rental apartments built in the 1950's need a lot of improvement). Not to mention the feeling that it's simply not really yours.

We loved our neighbors (I went to school with most of them), and our neighborhood where we could walk to get brunch, pet supplies, clothes, groceries, etc. On the flip side, there were 3 shootings within a few blocks (two within one block) of our apartment. The apartment was on two busy streets, surrounded by sounds of buses, emergency vehicles, trucks, traffic, and people right outside our windows.

Now, we live in a neighborhood where we hear birds in the daytime and frogs at night. We can walk around and feel relatively safe. We have a lot of space. The air is fresher. The sky is clearer. We are blocks away from a beautiful hiking area. I will take hiking over access to restaurants and stores any day.

On top of hiking and walking and working out, I have been meditating each day. The kitties curl up next to me on the bed and purr while I listen to guided meditations. The home buying process and moving process pushed my anxiety levels so high--to levels I have only felt when a loved one passed away. Once we got moved, I knew that I needed to quickly fix that, and have done so naturally. I have cut out my allergens (including coffee) and increased my intake of vitamins and 'superfoods.' The change is incredible.

As spring takes hold, we get to witness the growth of various plants in our new yard. We have hung a bird feeder and are hoping to attract some new friends. It is a season of renewal and hope, and boy am I feeling it.


I know that happiness comes in different forms for different people--whether you are a world traveler or a homebody, happiness is personal. It is never one-size-fits-all. I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you are finding happiness and bliss.

Love and Light.

So, We Bought A House....


If you had told me a year ago that I would own a house now, I would have laughed at you. A year ago, I was working something like 6-7 part-time jobs just to make ends meet. But, I was at the end of my rope. Mentally and emotionally, I was frayed and fractured and I needed a change. Two things happened: I took a real assessment of what my future looked like and decided, 1. I was not going to pursue a Master's degree, and 2. It was time to get a full-time job.

My best friend had been working at a local jewelry store for some time and mentioned that they had let someone go and she had been promoted to manager. I coyly asked her, "so....does that mean you're hiring someone to fill your position?" She quickly responded, jokingly asking if I was interested. When I said yes, she told me I'd better not be jerking her chain. By the end of April, I had a new job. I thought it would be part time, but they quickly increased my hours to full-time. I let my other jobs go--some quickly, some over the span of a month. By June, I was home free with one full-time job. As an artist, in Portland, that can often seem like some sort of miracle (obviously, I have had to sacrifice my time in the studio a bit, but more on that later).

Fast forward to August when a friend posted a house for sale on facebook. It was a 1 bedroom, 1 bath house in North Portland for $189K. I instantly thought, "What! There's still houses for that little?!" It sparked interested, and David and I started looking at our options--was it even possible for us? Turns out we had some work to do, paying down debt and getting affairs in order. (I'm aware this is an over-simplification of the facts, but you can always ask me details later.)

Now, I'm not going to tell you that the home-buying experience in Portland (especially for first time buyers) is all unicorns and rainbows. I feel like we barely got through it with our skin still intact (and I am still, weeks after closing, dreaming of a weekend I can spend lounging in hot springs). I'm just going to push through all the drama and heartache and craziness and yell....WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!

A home of our very own!

We are so excited. Sunday is moving day. We have spent the past couple weeks painting and packing and moving some stuff over (I can't wait to show off the transformation). The other day, I had multiple 'hot dates' with the electrician (to wire the garage so we can finish it to be my studio!), the pest control guy, the insurance inspector, and a rep from ADT. I cannot even tell you how good it feels to have a place of our very own, after 10 years of being together, where we get to really build our future.


As we leave our apartment this weekend, amidst all the joy, I admit to feeling some sadness. We've only been here for 3 years, but those three years were chock full of life changing experiences. When we moved in, this apartment was a desperately needed change after some difficult family trauma. It was a place to heal. It has allowed me to pursue my dream of finishing my degree, and Dave was able to pursue his interests in nutrition and weight-lifting. This apartment saw me through my thesis, sitting at this same table, looking out these same windows. When Sonya died, I stayed in bed for days. This apartment saw me through that grief, and the healing of building the exhibition pieces we had started together.

But slowly, the environment around us has started to erode my creativity and feeling of safety. About a year ago, I was sitting at my desk in the front room when there was a shooting right across the street. I have never hit the floor so fast in my life. I also don't think I have sat at that desk since. There have been multiple shootings in the neighborhood since, and I stopped going outside at night unless I really truly had to. That means no trips to the studio after dark, and rarely would I even feel comfortable walking around the neighborhood in the daytime. That may sound like some paranoia, but when shootings happen in mid-day, you take notice.

I am ready for our own space. I am ready to move forward into this new adventure of our lives. Keep your eyes peeled for before-and-after pictures, as well as studio renovation updates!

Growth


Growth is a strange thing. Half the time I still feel so young, and at the same time, I am wise beyond my years. But, I am human. I grew up in households chock full of conflict, and found myself the peacekeeper much of the time. As an adult, it has taken me years to shake away the effects of that upbringing and to re-learn what it means to be in a healthy relationship, what healthy friendships look like, and how to stand up for and take care of myself. Even at 33 this is a challenge.

I am not one for New Year's resolutions, but this time of year does bring about a lot of reflection. I have been thinking about myself, and my actions and behaviors, and what I want to change. Last year, I followed a prompt from my dear friend Jillian and downloaded this workbook by Susanna Conway, and filled (most of) it out. It helped reflect on the past year and focus on goals for the year ahead.

Well, in thinking ahead, I have figured out that two things I want to work on are self-discipline and honesty.

With self-discipline, I'm talking about making plans to go to the gym and following through; not eating the entire box of chocolate; resisting things I know to be bad for me (aka gluten, etc.). And building routines again. For some reason, I have become terrible at routines. Morning, evening, etc.

With honesty, I'm talking less about 'not lying' and more about being honest with myself about how I feel and what I'm thinking. I mentioned being a peace keeper and find that even when I am upset with someone, I tend to talk myself out of confronting them and end up sweeping my feelings under the rug for fear of upsetting others. That fear is deeply rooted, but I am slowly learning that I can speak the truth and while it may upset some, it is not the end of the world. It is a slow process, but I can feel the benefits already.

How are you growing this year? Do you set goals for the new year?