Welcome to my blog! I'm not sure what this will be. To be honest, I have no idea which direction to go in, and no immediate desire to even establish any sort of direction at all, so I'm just going to inhabit this space and see where it leads me. I'm going to try to write mostly for me, because I'm slowly starting to realize that writing helps me process things. I'm
probably definitely going to use profanity, because, well, I love a well-placed expletive. I'm choosing to hit 'publish' because even though a huge part of me is terrified to put myself out there, I also know that part of the really, really big lesson I'm in the middle of learning is that, for me, vulnerability breeds connection. I say a lot of woo-woo things like this now -- I will probably be writing a lot about that. You can roll your eyes at some of them; rest assured that I may be (or would have been a few months ago) as well. Dismantling my ingrained skepticism is an ongoing process for me, and particularly difficult because I have a pretty strongly internalized bullshit detector. I'm slowly emerging from a few months of significant personal change, and mostly just want a place of my own to explore who I'm starting to become on the other side of it.
I have so many ideas for I want to write about. I want to write about what it's like to be 33 and just figuring out who the fuck I even am. I want to write about raising a daughter and how the two of us struggle and succeed in daily life. I want to write about women I know in real life -- interview them or profile them somehow -- and how real actual magic happens when women congregate. I want to write about stumbling through the process of starting my own business, and how it's the biggest, scariest leap I can imagine but I'm doing it anyway. I want to write about how much I love the shit out of Broad City and maybe do some recaps. I want to write about what's nourishing me -- books, shows, music, food, creativity, adventures. I want to write about identity and how it's related to race, gender, family and location. I want to write about really small, silly stuff that makes me laugh, and share it for no other reason than because I need more silly in my life. I have no idea what this space will be for me, and my only goal with it is to let intentional sincerity be my guide. I'm probably going to say a lot of things like "intentional sincerity" so I don't blame you if you point your browser elsewhere.
Like anyone starting a new venture, I'm terrified of failing. This fear of failure has, in the past, kept me from trying SO MANY THINGS that I've wanted to do, and I have a lot of shame and regret around that. This isn't to say that I haven't attempted scary things before -- I had an Etsy store for a while, and blogged for several years -- but even as I was doing those things, I knew I wasn't doing them wholeheartedly. I wasn't really trying, because by not really trying, I told myself I couldn't really fail, because, whatever! It was just for fun and no one even needed to know about it! I didn't want to be narcissistic or have anyone think that I believed I was special or not completely self-aware. Ew!
So what's different this time?
I read (and then immediately re-read) Big Magic this summer. I'm sure there are a lot of widely published opinions on Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat Pray Love and Julia Roberts and pasta and spiritual tourism, etc., but I don't really care about any of that right now. Except for pasta, which I always care about and if you care about it too, please make this lasagna posthaste, you're welcome, you're welcome. Er, where was I? Big Magic. The whole book is about what she calls "creative living":
"Look, I don't know what's hidden within you. I have no way of knowing such a thing. You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you've caught glimpses. I don't know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
The hunt to cover those jewels -- that's creative living....
....The often surprising results of that hunt -- that's what I call Big Magic."
(Does anyone know if I'm allowed to quote something that long? If not, hello Liz Gilbert's legal team! Javier Bardem is very attractive!)
I can tell you with 100% certainty that a year ago, my eyes would have skimmed past those words. I might have picked up the book and read them, but my inner disdain and overwhelming fear of failure would have meant that I skimmed them, shrugged and put the book down. I wasn't ready. Now, I'm ready.
Big Magic is divided six parts, and the first section is called "Courage". One of the very first things she writes about in the book is a man named Jack Gilbert, a poet and writer born in the 1920s whose office Elizabeth Gilbert (no relation between them!) inherited when she ended up teaching at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She writes a bit about his life and how he meandered around the world, working when he needed to, actively choosing to withdraw from the literary world (he was nominated for a Pulitzer early on in his career) and instead just live his life. She includes this quote from one of his poems:
"We must risk delight. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world."
Maybe you're reading this and thinking, "Okay, yes, stubborn gladness, that sounds great and like some words strung together but doesn't really mean anything to me." The thing is, I completely get that. Again, that would have been me just a few months ago. But for some mysterious reasons -- and I'm only just beginning to process and examine what those reasons are -- something in me shifted, and when I read that quote in the summer, some small piece of understanding clicked into place for me.
I spent most of the summer doing a metric shit-ton of emotional work. I read self-help books, I did online courses, I journalled enough to keep Moleskine in business, I went for biweekly counselling. I just had this instinctive feeling that I needed to start to uncover some of the thoughts and beliefs I held about myself/others/relationships, and I also realized that whatever I'd been doing for 33 years wasn't exactly working for me. I'm still very much in the process of it, and I'm starting to realize that, contrary to what would be nice and convenient, it will be ongoing forever. Forever. That can be exhausting to think about! The alternative, though -- to live in a fog, to battle constant fear and anxiety but never try to move forward through it, to feel completely disconnected from my body, to constantly wonder at/suspect other people's motivations, to (often subconsciously) view other women as competition because that's what we're conditioned to do, to feel like I was separate from other people and that I didn't experience basic human emotions in the same way (turns out this was because I was repressing a LOOOOOOT of uncomfortable emotions -- I will be writing much more about this, but sneak peek: ANGER!) -- that alternative is now immeasurably scarier than just doing the fucking work. And so much more exhausting on a day-to-day basis. And so much less fulfilling in every single way.
When I read that quote about stubborn gladness, I was already in the middle of starting this process of doing the hard work, and what terrified me (and still does, though I'm starting to develop the tools to override that fear) was that I would somehow slip backward, that I would lose all the progress I made and wake up one morning the same underwater Pia I was back in January. It all felt so slippery. Something about those words made me sit up and take notice. I'm still living in a constant state of dumb, blinding gratitude that I woke up from how I felt, and those two words put together became a kind of mantra for me that expressed both how I feel about that gratitude, and how I want to proceed going forward. I want to live my life with an open heart (last year me is rolling her eyes here), with authenticity and vulnerability, even though that means that sometimes I'll fuck up and get steamrolled and make odd, shame-based decisions. I don't want to waste my time with surface shit anymore -- but I also want more silliness and play. I want what's real, even though I know that often what's real actually won't be the outcome I may have desired. I want to learn to be able to sit with discomfort in those situations. Also, I still want to say "fuck" a lot. I'm very wise now, you guys.
One of the things I'll be offering in my shop is what I'm calling Loose Leaf Notes (unless anyone has a better suggestion! I feel like that's not quite the right name for them). I had the idea in August when I was doing feverish, constant journalling. I found it really helped me to just write down little things that were true for me/inspired me/I needed to be reminded of, and then I realized I could stitch them and have a permanent record for me to look at in my day-to-day life. There's also something about seeing things in my own writing that is, for me, particularly resonant, and one of the things I'm so excited about is being able to embroider pieces featuring words/phrases that are meaningful to customers in their own handwriting. Last week I stitched up "stubborn gladness", put it next to a double frame containing a picture of me at 7 and my daughter at 3, and placed it next to my bed. I'm not fully ready -- I may never be fully ready -- but I'm leaping anyway.