March 10, 2006 – 4:00 am
I left early in the morning from St. Charles, Il. I was headed back home to the Tri-Cities. I packed as much as my car would hold, leaving behind a mattress set and small furnishings in my apartment. I had only been there since December. Not long, but enough time to learn some big lessons.
I left having failed. I was devastated. I didn’t know what I was going back to. I could not see a future. I cried many times during that two-day drive.
I was too close to it – I didn’t know it at the time, but you can fail epically and survive. You can do even more than that. You can go on to succeed.
March 11, 2006 – 4:00 am
I woke early the next day and set off on the second leg of my journey. More tears, more fear, more searching.
I was 29 and had already lived too many of the wrong lives. Retail manager, corrections officer, stay-at-home mom, dental hygiene student, warehouse worker. Nothing ever fit. There were a few times I had enjoyed my work, my coworkers and what we had done. But it was only in the arts that I ever felt like I was at home. I just understood it.
I had never considered myself an artist. That was my mother or my brother or aunt or best friend. Anyone but me. I was too practical. However, on this drive, I only had myself to face. I had time while listening to the wheels rolling over the road; time to think, and search and realize – I am an artist.
I had this realization somewhere between the Idaho/Oregon border. I made the decision that I was going to stop pursuing “real” jobs and start pursuing something I loved, something I really wanted to do..being an artist? I didn’t know exactly what or how, but I made a promise to myself. You won’t believe it because it sounds made up even to me, but just then, that very moment that I made that decision, I passed a sign that read “you are at the 44th parallel.” That became my touchstone, my strength, my courage. I pinned everything to that for years.
Ten years later – life can still get rough. Not every month is easy. I have cats that shred my furniture and pee where they shouldn’t. I don’t get to see my kids as often as I want. My husband and I are still getting to know new sides of each other. I struggle to make time for family and friends. I still need to learn to delegate! I am still learning. I am still growing. I still make mistakes. But, I am quicker to recover, I am faster at making decisions, I have fewer regrets, I refuse to accept failure and I continue to strive. I am continually becoming.
March 11, 2016 – 4:00 am
I make this journey today, back to the 44th parallel, to commemorate, remember and pay honor to my decision to live a life with intent. I look back at the last ten years; all the heartache, triumphs, failures, friendships and growth. I see that my path has never been straight. I see that it never will be. I will continue to take on projects that are bigger than me, that terrify me, that force me to be uncomfortable and make me grow. There is nothing I cannot survive. Thank you to everyone who has been there and helped me along the way – you all are my family. I hope only to meet more friends to take along with me over the next 10 years.