Tuesday, August 16, 2016
I feel like writing from a place of pure, messy honesty. I worry about it because my cultural training is not to air any dirty laundry, but to me, laundry more often feels sweaty than clean and I believe it's important to acknowledge times that feel tough. Because they're human. The practice is not just for times of pretty, shiny stability. It's for all the times.
Research grants and savings serve me and there is no moment when I have taken it for granted. But in the next month or so, I'm down to the end of my financial sack. Somehow (how?? Ha, I love that it's unclear and yet) this last year, I have managed to pay my Brooklyn studio rent, eat, and even travel on my earnings and previous savings from work in ed reform the previous five years and until I write it, I forget to be proud of that. If you ask me how I made it work, I'm not sure I'd have an answer that would satisfy. I honestly don't know. With a lot of ups and downs on the emote-o-meter? With friends and family who have stood by me (thank you). With yoga.
For the first time in life, I have not been on a moving track. The momentum has not come with an "on" button and rubbery treadmill moving my feet. But I wanted to know what it's like. To be my own Boss. Do I have enough capacity to take on a 9th project? Check with the Boss. Want time off? I ask the Boss. HR problem? Talk to the Boss. Shit that's me.
Sometimes, my pay takes weeks or months to arrive, and when it does, it can be for $20 (thank God yoga teaching fills my spiritual well). Other times, it's for a few hundred. I dance a jig for both. I joke that I am my own personal assistant, and let me confirm on behalf of all of you who think you're crazy for suddenly looking up from your desk and realizing it's 2:00 and you haven't even begun to work on your important deadlined task but you really really swear you've been working, we greatly underestimate the amount of time it takes to email, plan, and confirm before the content creation even begins. This is not side stuff. This is entree stuff. Often, I have to follow up multiple times to see income not because of any ill will, but because I am a work visitor and the routine of pay never gelled. Travel comes from creative options- using airline miles and renting out your living space. The times when pay comes easy, well you can imagine how it feels like ice cold pink lemonade seaside on a summer day. An obnoxious, flowery description, but seriously. It feels that good. Perfectly cubed ice clinking like chimes on the side of the glass. Crisp, chilly lemony liquid sweetness. You get it.
Interestingly, though, the sensation of sharing something I so firmly believe in is what carries me. I have made the active choice to live away this year from really intensive, full-time employment that I had for a long time because I wanted to remember what it was like to sleep and eat foods that nourish me...and create. My mantra for a long time was "Nourish others, give to others," and it has slowly transformed to "Nourish self to give to others." And for the most part this year, I have really begun to understand what the airline stewardess with fake nails means when she models the oxygen mask. I wake up and eat first. Who knew? I hit the coffee shop and write. And read. And write some more. And draw. I teach. And have energy to date for fun. I practice yoga, meditation. And I jump on the train to Boston and crash on couches overnight with generous people I love. I see family. I teach some more.
Do I regret taking risks? Not even for a blink. To have the freedom to do so, well that in and of itself is a gift. And to be granted money to research and be a writer in NYC? It's been what I've dreamed of before I could dream. I have gotten to meet so many, teach from a place of relaxation, write curriculum, share myself through articles, and most importantly, practice the practice that I so often preached from a stabler, younger place and learn that it still always holds me up.
Why I write this is to acknowledge that in and throughout all of this goodness, I am also often afraid. And that is ok. Facebook, pretty shiny Facebook, how I truly do love you and also want to throw away any unintended mask or blip-free graph and just share with you. That wherever you are, I understand. And wherever I am, I know you understand, too.