image courtesy of shadetreephotography

It’s been a hell of a year so far.

Lots of… well, heartbreak. I can’t find a better word to describe it. So many people I know and love have been dealing with heartbreak of some kind. Dealing with the end of plans, of ideas, of relationships, of jobs and of career paths. For a year that on January 1st held so many adventures and so much promise, all I can say is that 2015 is really throwing us for a curveball. I know we are all going to make it out alive – and it’s even looking like pretty much everyone will be on more solid ground than they ever were before – but DAMN.

That’s all. Just damn.

As I’m trying to be a great cheerleader and motivator for the people I love who are hurting, I try to absorb a little bit of that spirit for myself. And here, in the 9th month of all this insanity, I think I’ve found a space to just laugh. Just breathe. Just calmly admit that hey – we are stuck with this reality, and then simply take the next step forward to see where it’s going to lead.

Because, really. What else are you going to do?

I spent a few early months of 2015 having crippling panic attacks. You may have been able to guess that from my previous post and how I kind of dropped off the blogosphere. The attacks were brought on for a really stupid reason, but I’m pretty sure they would have found me either way.

During one of these attacks, I sat in a Target parking lot for over an hour until I felt like I could breathe and concentrate enough to get myself home. Another time, I found an old paper bag from a coffee shop with pastry crumbs still in it under my seat. I tossed the crumbs out the window and breathed into the dirty bag until I calmed myself the hell down. I just remember that the bag still smelled like butter and sugar as I was taking in deep breath after deep breath.

I thought I was completely mental. I thought that no normal person had panic attacks. I thought that all these people who I respect and who inspire me? They can control their stress better than this. I thought, I am not good enough. I am not strong enough. I need to be better than this.

And then I learned that, no. I was absolutely wrong.

Family. Friends. Friends of friends. Entrepreneurs. People I had known for years and years. People I just happened to meet at a coffee shop.

Facebook friends were posting about it. Instagrammers were posting about it. It was like a spotlight had been turned on to this thing that I’d never seen before. That I never even knew existed.

Everyone was already talking about it.

And people were talking about it like I had mentioned just hitting my funny bone. My favorite bloggers were writing about their attacks, their doubts, their anxiety. They were telling me that yea, it is fucking hard to set out on your own path and figure things out as you go. Yea, sometimes it feels like you just took this giant leap off of a cliff and all of a sudden you realized “oh shit, I’m heading toward the ground – FAST.”

Sometimes you feel like you have a million things to do. A million people to please. A million bills to pay. You look at your bank account (god help you) and you feel like you are a million dollars short.

But the thing I keep telling myself – the thing that keeps me going – is that I am living this awesome, crazy life. I am figuring it out, day by day. I am going on adventures. I used to say this as a joke, but no, they are bonafide adventures. And I am living in one of the greatest cities in the world. I am working every day to make my life more fufilled, more interesting, more creative, more welcoming, and more kind. I never once wanted that easier path. I knew from day one I would be bored senseless by that. I would never forgive myself if I didn’t wander.

I am lucky that I have found a partner who loves me and wants to wander and learn with me. I am lucky that I have friends who answer the phone when I feel like I cannot breathe. I am lucky that I have a family who steadies me and loves me. I am lucky that I have been given the chance to start over again on a great passion of mine, and help others become successful at it.

2015 may not have turned out to be at all the year I expected it to be. I may not be as succesful as I hoped I would be right now. I may have talents that I haven’t used in months. I may not have the savings account that I wish I did. But I am still standing. I am still smiling. I am still talented and I am still strong. None of that is lost.

Not all those who wander are lost.