I often joke, that I retired from winter, when I moved to California at the age of 28. In reflection, this brings me to Socrates and how he famously stated that an “unexamined life is not worth living.” While this seems a little harsh, I have found great value in the premise.
Socrates’ quote has resonated with me deeply, because I have been in the throws of my own examination. My 2018 has been riddled with loss, heartbreak and fear, but upon examination, I have also found a balance of joy, creativity and growth.
At the end of last year, my maternal great-aunt Minnie, 97 years young (of whom I credit my writing and love of history, via my mom) passed away, closely following by the passing of my paternal Canadian Grandma Juel, in February.
And then, a piece of my heart broke forever, with the passing of my Mum, this summer.
While facing death is trans-formative in itself, I personally have been going through growing pains, in tandem. This past year, I have been finishing up my undergrad at Antioch University, still getting used to the pace of Orange County, after moving in my love, Darren and leaving LA after about 9 years.
Sometime in March, I had enough of the project created to have a clear and inspiring conversation with my Mum; one of our last. This conversation took place before her very downplayed, but ultimately fatal surgery, to fight off breast cancer.
#LL21c is my calling and, it has helped me retire from the little vices that I allowed myself, to hold me back.
A few days before my mum’s 66th birthday – which was 4/20 (and her name was Mary Jane! Lol <3) – I walked out of a gas station, forgetting to buy a pack of cigarettes.
Now, if you’ve ever been a smoker, you’ll understand that this was a huge victory and a realization that I had retired from smoking, finally and – forever!
The day after my Mom’s birthday, I had my last beer, because during the week prior, while I was reflecting on my relationship with smoking, I realized I spoke about alcohol, in the same self defeating fashion I had been about smoking.
A month later, in May, through additional examinations, and after 20 years in the corporate world; I retired from that as well.
In June, on my 60th day of sobriety and days after returning to California from my 20 year HS reunion in Vermont – I received the phone call, we never want to receive. My mother had passed just hours prior. She was visiting her condo in Florida and peacefully slipped away, while watching TV in her chair.
30 days later, in July; after the service and me writing her obituary – on my 90th day of “retirement” – I created the 90 day level up challenge. I needed an outlet for my emotions, which seemed so irrational at times and a way to keep from falling into a dark abyss.
Because as I was grieving emotionally, and physically – I was and still am – in transformation.
My Level Up challenge was simple, create something new, everyday, for 90 days – it could be a recipe, a drawing, an outfit, a shared memory, a photo, a poem, a video – And I allowed myself to display this transformation in a safe place – otherwise known as Instagram.
The months between July and October, were calm, and even joyous. During those months, #LL21c was featured by VoyageLA, I was a guest on Tell Me Everything podcast, with Janelle Brown, I finished my bachelors degree, celebrated 6 months of “retirement,” joined Toastmasters of Laguna Beach and my 38th birthday.
With the help of family, friends, the creative challenge and an addiction to examination, I have learned about myself, my amazing family and especially my Mum. Making friends with those she left behind and leaving us with the invaluable gift of rich memories and the creative spirit.
Back to Socrates, while the unexamined life, I think is still worth living – utilizing examination as a tool can have very powerful and healing outcome.
As for the months ahead, the human condition is wired to love and through creativity, I am optimistic that we can and will, create a peaceful future for all.
#airhugs for now,