Soul Cartography

Hello from Telluride, Colorado — possibly one of the most beautiful places on Earth. August is my favorite month! I’m here with my cofounder Jonathan to celebrate 2 years of our startup (8/18) and my husband Kevin to celebrate 16 years of marriage (8/25). They’re off driving the Lamborghini on the Million Dollar Highway this morning as I write this.

It’s been an exciting, tumultuous, fascinating almost-year since my last post. I’ve managed to lose 50 pounds through intermittent fasting (30 since my last post!), pivot our startup and launch something new, make a major iteration on my urban garden, embark on meaningful new personal relationships, and take several awesome trips.

Sitting here on a quiet mountain morning watching hummingbirds feed as the mist clears, I find myself caught between gratitude and heartache. I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come and how much better I know myself and what I want, while also grieving unfulfilled hopes and needs and wants. Welcome to the human race.

Beyond the highlight reel, I’m sitting with heavier emotions that seem incongruous with the sunny days that mark the best time of year to live in the Mountain West. These days I exist in a state of defrag at the intersection of creative breakthroughs, ineffable truths, hard decisions, and tragic losses. 

A Hard Decision

My cofounder and I took a long walk yesterday, discussing the need for storylines to give comfort and meaning and coherence to our lives, versus his more moment-to-moment way of being. Even though I know its not how life works, I still find myself fantasizing about some point where there is a sparkling coherent arc to the story of my unfolding. In a way, its a death fantasy when you consider that we really won’t know how the story turns out until it’s all over. Meanwhile, my soul is continuously shaped by everything I experience, create, find, and lose. 

Kevin and I made the hard decision not to continue the process of having kids. As I work through adjusting to this decision, the task ahead of me includes a re-writing of stories I have creating around “my Family” and “my Place”. This journey is highlighting the inner tension I have felt my whole life between security and adventure, stability and progress, tradition and creativity.

When I zoom out, I’m relieved to find that I still feel deeply connected to humanity, reassured in knowing each of us is navigating the unique constellations of our inner lives. As I retire the well-worn image of a version of future me I’d become attached to, I wonder: How many times do I have to forget and remember that I don’t have to stick to any scripts, including the ones I wrote for myself?

A Tragic Loss

While I face my mortality through the lens of legacy and procreation, I’m also grieving the loss of my sister-in-law Angela, who passed away at age 50. 

Angela’s death comes just ~2.5 years after the loss of my sister-in-law Jill, age 49. Both deaths were sudden, unexpected, and came far too soon. My sister Meg also suffered a scary near-death experience in a fluke accident earlier this summer, so I’m feeling the sense of fragility and mortality of relationships with my loved ones more than ever.

There are were so many wonderful things about Angela, so I’ll share just one from her obituary that made me laugh:

“When Angela was 12 she decided she wanted to meet George Lucas, the director and producer of Star Wars. Without the help of a computer or the internet, Angela was able to track down the phone number of his personal secretary and convince her to give her the address of his office. She would later find out the secretary had no idea she was 12 when they spoke, believing Angela to be an adult. After writing him a letter and making a cassette tape with a reimagined audio version of Star Wars, performed by herself and her younger siblings and with her mother providing piano accompaniment, she sent them off with high hopes. She was disappointed when all she got for her trouble was a free membership to the George Lucas fan club and an autographed picture of him with the Star Wars cast. Despite her disappointment and slight disgust with not getting to meet him, Angela kept the picture on her dresser until she moved away from home.” 

I woke up in Tuesday with real tears finally, the first big cry even though the funeral was weeks ago. I cried in bed, in the shower, on the bathroom floor, while hugging a dog, and at random moments of beauty on the drive to Telluride. I’m not new to grief, but it doesn’t seem to be something that hurts less just because I’ve done it again and again. I don’t want to be numb, and I don’t know what it would mean to be “good at it” but I don’t care. So instead I just feel everything.

For me, this means staying present in my body and riding the waves of big emotions as I honor not only this loss but all the other losses that ask to be re-processed. Memories that come back so vividly, intrusively, and refuse to let me just go on with my day until they’ve been acknowledged. Pangs of future loss I experience like a memory each time I interact with a loved one. A cruel avenoir.

My heart aches most for those who are left behind as they struggle to make meaning from this tragedy and continue living. Angela is survived by 3 kids and her husband, her Mom, and her close-knit community in a town of less than 500.

Living and loving is such a risk. The temptation to close my heart and keep myself small and safe is there, and I find myself in my darkest moments repeating “stay open, stay open” like a mantra. 

The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

Mary Oliver “Lead”

Living My Ineffable Truth

There are many important parts of my life that I don’t write about online, even when I want to shout “this is so great omg!” or “holy shit that hurt!” from the mountaintop. I have a private daily hand written journal practice for that.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to see how my blog and social media accounts have fostered  parasocial interactions and memetic desire.

To foster greater creativity and do less harm, I’ve stopped using Facebook and most other social media, taken my Instagram private, and deleted all my old posts on Twitter. As I get more of my needs for attention, validation, and connection met by my close relationships in the offline world I find the privacy and peace refreshing.

P.S. They say death makes us want to have more sex, food, and all that. Maybe that explains why I had so much fun at Brown Dog Pizza!

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