I used to blog. I blogged back in the day when I was newly divorced and super poor. I was a free lance graphic designer and painting pet portraits at nights and weekends - I tell people it was for the fun, the joy of painting, but truly? It was for the extra money.
I can remember wondering how on earth I was going to pay my rent and feed my kids every month. I remember going to the grocery store and adding up every single purchase as I went, terrified I'd get to the check out and not have enough money. I remember shopping when the kids were at school because if they came with me, they might want a treat and if I gave in, which I always would, I had to put back something we really needed.
I remember writing about the ugliness of the divorce I was going through. God, it was horrible. I wrote about how I knew it was the right thing, but oh how I worried about how it would affect my children who were about 6 and 8 at the time. I worried so, so much.
I wondered how I would ever survive any of it, all of it.
I did survive it. That was 18 years ago.
And here I am.
I'm sitting in the backyard of my house that sits on 5 acres writing this.
I'm building a studio in the backyard. I just went to Lowes for some mulch and on a whim added in $100 worth of flowers for me and some for a surprise to my mother.
I didn't check any account balances. I didn't worry if I would have enough. I didn't even have the right debit card, so I just used another I knew had some money on it.
I got home and added the mulch, moved all my potted flowers to the area and made a flower garden. Then I sat outside with my mom and talked. My dad came home and we all just sat around while I put together a second outdoor dog bed for the dogs. My parents live in the part of the house that we had converted into an in-law suite for them.
When I was a kid I used to tell my parents I'd live in a mansion one day and they could live in my west wing and I'd always take care of them. We don't live in a mansion, but it's pretty nice. I wonder if they remember me saying that.
We talked about how the studio I'm having built is coming along. It's going to be attached to the back of the barn that was converted into a studio apartment for my brother-in-law. He is 70 and has Parkinson's.
I promised him years ago I would take care of him, that he would have a place to live. Soon I will go to work everyday right next to him. I'll stop in and have a cup of coffee, then go out his back door to work.
I took pictures of the flowers I bought and sent them to my kids and my ex husband. We have a group chat where we talk to each other and send photos every day. We cheer each other on and wish each other well. The four of us are very close now. I'm so grateful for that.
So much has changed.
I have a successful career now. I would say it has surpassed my wildest dreams, but I'm not done yet. I've dreamed even more for myself - so much more. Most of it involves making more money so that I can help more people.
I'm trying so hard to be present though. To not be looking ahead - and missing out on all of this. To notice how far I've come. I've worked so hard for all of this. I stayed up late or didn't sleep at all so many times to create the body of work that helps me afford so much of this.
I feel guilty sometimes over my success. I worked so hard, but some of it was luck, right? Do I deserve all of this? "Why me?" I sometimes ask.
But then I think back to the years and years and years I had next to nothing and looked at other successful artists and thought, "Why not me? When is it my turn?"
Then, without realizing it, it was my turn.
But I suppose it had always been my turn. This life is my turn. Every decision I made was my turn. Every time I decided to pick myself up after a perceived failure, disappointment, or mistake was my turn. Every time I gave myself a pep talk, asked for help, tried again - it was all my turn.
I'm definitely rambling now.
I worry a little bit about losing all of this if I am honest. I mean, who wouldn't? My income is based on people continuing to buy my books. They could stop buying them. My publisher could stop printing them. Then what?
Then I'd print them myself. I know I would. I'll make more books. I can't not make books for children. It's what I do. So I guess as long as I keep breathing, I'll be okay.
I love living here more than I've ever loved living anywhere. Here feels more 'home' to me than anywhere I've every lived. Maybe it's because so many of my people live here with me.
But I think it's also the land. And the trees. And the pond. And the fish. And the butterflies. And the birds. I feel like they welcomed me here.
I promised them I would take care of all of them too. I keep my promises. I think they can tell. They help me stay present.
I'm seriously rambling now. But that's okay. I'm writing this for me. Because I miss working out what's in my head by writing like this. And not worrying if it's going to work with the algorithms set up by Facebook or Instagram. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I guess all of us do.
We love the connection, we hate the time it takes from us being present. I think this blog is going to help with that. Look how long I've sat here writing and not scrolling FB!
Guess what? I'm not even going to tag any words or worry about metadata! I don't even care if anyone reads this! That feel so good to think about. It feels so good to just write to write. Not worrying if I can somehow turn my words or pictures into money. Man that feels so, so good.
I can't wait for my studio to be done.
I'm going to start painting again. Not for money. For joy.