I lived out a backpack for so long, I couldn't imagine what was stored in the boxes stacked at my dad's warehouse.
I always wonder that when I come home from a trip. Why do I need to so much crap? I think one of many reasons I love to travel is that I'm not overwhelmed with so much "stuff" and decisions on what to wear.
Is there data on whether having too much crap is linked to *some* of the anxiety in this country? I swear it's part of it.
One of the best things about being home was, of course, seeing my loved ones again. This photo is with my best friend, Megan. I think we are celebrating one of our birthdays here. We are exactly one month apart and have been friends since the second grade. We've seen each other through a lot of shit. We talk all the time but never run out of things to talk about. She puts up with my rants about the injustices in the world, always giving me safe harbor from whatever endeavor I've gotten myself into - again. And I get to listen to her parenting stories.
Our lives could not be more opposite. But it works.
I remember being nervous about coming back to Seattle and re-entering my old world after being abroad. But there was a lightness in me that I hadn't felt for a long time. For me, traveling was a powerful palate "life" cleanser between intense experiences - and I finally felt ready for graduate school.
I started my degree in master's in nutrition at Bastyr University, a naturopathic university that had recently moved from Seattle to a gorgeous state park in Bothell, a more suburban neighborhood outside of the city.
All we did was study! We took very heavy course loads - five to six super intense courses like microbiology, biochemistry, food science, and my favorite cooking. It was challenging but I LOVED IT.
We sat in the cafeteria discussing our food system which was considered a pretty fringe movement at the time. A lot of people thought we were weird. Things were brewing with Monsanto around that time. I remember filling envelopes to lobby for GMO labeling. (TWENTY YEARS LATER STILL HASN'T HAPPENED.)
It was fucking awesome. My classmates and professors were interesting and inspiring. I could have taken Traditional Chinese Medicine, or an Herbal Medicine lab if I wasn't so exhausted by my schedule. Which was a light load compared to the naturopathic students who took up to 8-9 classes per a 10 week quarter. I was also learning how to heal my digestive system since I was STILL dealing with Ulcerative Colitis. I was attending Bastyr University when I had my last flare-up.
I decided to move to the city. Me and the city, my longest relationship for sure.
I decided it was finally time to live in an apartment by myself. I'd been dreaming of living in my own apartment since I watched the Mary Tyler Moore Show as a kid. I helped out with a LOT of babies starting in kindergarten so the idea of living in my own apartment in the city without worrying about anyone or anything but work sounded AWESOME.
It took me awhile to get there there! I was so excited about it that I took these dorky photos - they are so hysterical. I wish I'd taken photos like this from all my apartments now. They are such perfect glimpse into whatever was happening in my life at that time.
Now I wonder if I'll ever get to be that woman in a cool apartment again... Will I always be dependent on others?
This terrifies me. It's the one thing that I worked so hard to achieve: my independence. It wasn't always easy - which can be also said for marriage. But when I was healthy and had money, it was awesome. I loved that lifestyle for a really long time.
It definitely suited me in my late twenties. I was in a relationship around this time but had my own place. My own life. My own projects. My own friends.
Life on my terms.
Writing this reminds me how much I loved being a student. I've spent so much of the past twenty years as an instructor that I felt I didn't have time to be a student.
It's also reminding me that I have to take responsibility for how I spend my time. I can't take on too many things.
I just want to do so many things in this life! So much to see! So much to learn! So much to experience!
It's such a loss for me that I have to be so careful about how much I do. Even now, I'm so tired and I haven't even done my walk and stretches yet.
Ultimately, I think signing up for a class would be good for my mental health. And it's no sweat if I miss class if I'm not feeling well.
Maybe I can get back to a better place in my head after all. I was doubting it for awhile.
This writing exercise was a good idea after all.
Growth and progress are funny like that. It's when you think life can't go on, that we finally see the cracks that need attention.
And to find the reminders of who we once were.
Perhaps it's time to be the student again, instead of the know-it-all teacher.
No matter how disabled I am, I can always take a class. And that is a gift.
PHOTO #10. This post is part of a series celebrating my life before I lost four organs to three cancers in 2014. It is an “online memorial” honoring the person I was, in the hopes that I can make peace with the disabled person I’ve become. Every day for 30 days until my birthday, I will challenge myself to write a post inspired by the photo I’m sharing. I will not plan the topic or write ahead of time. I will merely look at the photo and write whatever it inspires. Thanks for reading! #julesfor30 #happyrebirth