Foster Roadmap

I’ve been mentoring foster kids for about 5 years. I’m no stranger to the system. However, I’m also far from an expert.

Since I felt the call to pivot and focus on this new Adventure of fostering I’ve been looking to reacquaint myself with the system and begin to understand what the roadmap looks like. How are we going to go from life partners who travel constantly to parents?

Kirk and I have been navigating the relationship side of this and have a solid plan. We’re saving for a house and planning to move in together this summer.

What hasn’t been clear is what exactly the government is going to look for as evidence of our stability to qualify.

That was cleared up this weekend! My church happened to host a foster info session and there were experts there that answered most of my questions. I discovered that much of what I thought I knew is outdated and/or rumors. So it was great to get solid info.

Turns out we’re on the right track in most areas.

They look for stability in our relationship as a couple, stable income sufficient to support a kid (the government offers some financial support but it’s given after the fact as a reimbursement), legal history, emotional stability and a stable support system.

Co-habitating will show the stability of our relationship and some time in one city (vs nomading) will help too. We both have clean records and have done a lot of self-development work on our emotional stability. My family is a killer support system and we have tons of friends in Orlando which is why we’re here. Mostly in good shape!

However.

I need to get some steady, reliable income.

Self-employment is okay in theory, but they’d be looking for stable income over time which I haven’t had, especially since I’ve played so heavily with bartering. I suspected this may be the case so I’ve been searching for a remote part-time job for a while. Like a year. Now that I have confirmation that the job could make the difference in my ability to foster has lit a fire – I’m off to research and find the perfect job that I know is just waiting for me. Wish me luck!

re-Viewing my Childhood

As I slowly pivot into this new Adventure of foster parenting I’m astounded by the little ways the Universe is supporting me.

By definition, as a nomad, I don’t have a home of my own to return to so my parents offered for me to stay with them until I figure it all out.

I am beyond grateful for my parents*. One of the things I’m really proud of is how we have managed to navigate the tricky terrain of shifting out of the parent/child dynamic into acknowledging each other as adults. They’re still my parents, I respect and honor them. And they relate to me both as their baby and an adult who’s choices they respect and support. We enjoy each other, we are friends.

While I’ve had extended visits in my parents home, this is the first time since I was a teenager that I have moved back in with my parents, full time, longterm. I’ll be here for at least 3 months.

A lot has changed in 20 years.

I no longer have a bedtime, get yelled at for not cleaning my room, I don’t have chores or a curfew. 🙂 I’ve treated the arrangement the same as I have all of my barter for lodging arrangements over the past few years. We agreed on how I’d pull my own weight, boundaries, communication. So far it’s all been great and logistically, all is well.

But it’s still weird.

There are remnants of my childhood everywhere.

Like the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning :

This box contains cabbage patch dolls and the diaper bag

Or this spot on the wall of the guest room I’m sleeping in which was once the room my brother and I shared as toddlers.

The growth chart – marks of our height over the years.

My high school senior photo is on the living room wall.

A 16 year old me.

The house has been remodeled, but there are still remnants of the house I grew up in.

Notice the total retro flashback, wallpaper included.
That wood panelling used to be on all the walls.

My old bedroom is now Mom’s office, when I go into the closet for office supplies I see boxes of my childhood toys, the Survival Skills for Kids books I read and claimed qualified me to babysit at age 11 (it worked too!).

The organized memories

Given that I am pivoting my life and preparing for this new Adventure of foster parenting, it feels appropriate to return to my roots, to be surrounded by vestiges of my own childhood. What’s interesting is what has come up emotionally.

I expected to have some feelings about the physical surroundings and throwbacks.

What I didn’t expect was the impact of living under my parent’s roof when they are different people than they were when I was a kid.

Now, I’ve already said, we’ve grown, we’ve shifted, I’m well aware of all of this, proud of it even. And yet, some part of me, my inner child, was somehow expecting the mood and vibe to be similar to when I was a kid. And it’s not. And that’s weird and awesome.

Let me explain.

I inherited my own Bipolar Disorder from Dad’s side of the family. When I was a kid they hadn’t found the right medication balance for him so we had to tiptoe a bit because he had two modes, content or rage. Because of this, some part of me expected to still be tiptoeing around Dad’s mood swings, for Mom to accommodate Dad out of a desire to keep the peace.

However, much has changed.

In the first couple weeks of living with them, my Mom became annoyed at something my Dad did. And she told him about it, bluntly. I physically flinched and mentally judged her for poking the bear. I gathered my computer and retreated to my room in anticipation of Dad’s explosive temper.

Now. I have years of evidence that this is no longer how he operates. Dad has evolved and there are better medications and he’s much, much more balanced. Mom has evolved too and no longer accommodates him when he does swing. I know this.

But being back in their home, surrounded by physical reminders of times past, I somehow reverted to old habits and reactions. I didn’t even realize I did this until later.

This reaction in and of itself was fascinating to notice. To realize that some part of me is still dealing with some childhood traumas.

But wait, there’s more.

After I retreated to my room, what followed was something small and yet transformational for my inner child. I could overhear my parents bicker, work through it, find a solution and move on. No explosions, no tension in the house. Just healthy, adult conversation.

This experience was incredibly moving for me. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m tearing up again as I write this and I’ve been searching, seeking to describe the emotions that inspired my tears.

What I’ve come to realize is that even though I’ve developed a healthy friendship with my parents, part of me still worried about them and the way I handle conflict as an adult is heavily influenced by the patterns of conflict in my parent’s house when I was a child.  There was something incredibly healing about being given that private window into their growth and evolution that somehow freed me up. It inspired me.

My Parents in the 70’s

My parents have been married for 45 years. They were married for nearly a decade before I was born, prior to me they fostered boys. The parents those boys experienced were different from the parents I experienced because my parents were different people. My Platonic Wife has siblings 20 years younger than her, her baby sister is being raised by a different set of parents than she was because her parents have changed and evolved as people which impacts how they parent.

Living with my parents again, even with our healthy adult oriented relationship, has given me the experience of being parented by a whole new set of parents. Twenty years, empty nest, new medications, retirement – so many factors have changed.

My parents present day

As a child, my mom was around. All. The. Time. She homeschooled us and we spent a ton of time with her. Dad worked long hours to support the family so Mom could stay home which left Mom without much of a life outside of the family. Now, twenty years later, she has a very full life – she’s gone most of the time. Dad is retired and while he volunteers a lot, he’s home most of the time. This is a complete 180 from my childhood. I have spent more time alone with my dad in the past 6 weeks than in my entire life previous. No exaggeration.

As a kid, I used to wish that Dad would come home and play with us, ask us about school, be involved. But he was exhausted and only had the energy to eat and go to sleep. My adult self completely understands this, but my kid self, she felt a huge missing from my Dad. Now, every day, Dad asks me what I’m up to, tells me about his day, reminds me to take an umbrella or avoid rush hour. It’s such a 180 that, on the occasions when he interrupts a client call or my train of though, I have to remind myself not to be annoyed by how involved he wants to be, it’s literally all I wanted as a kid and here I am, receiving it as an adult.

Me with my Parents in Denver in 2017.

I’ve gotten to see them through a different lens, to be reminded of how much they’ve grown. As humans, as parents, as partners who have been married and done life together for 45 years of ups and downs. It’s been healing for me to revisit some of my childhood ghosts and re-view them through adult my adult perspective. I’ve found that even though I’m adult, I’m still their child and experiencing the parents they are today was exactly what I needed.

Like I said, the Universe has my back and conspires to put me where I need to be. I’ve found another layer of healing from my childhood traumas, an inspiration of how I want to parent and a renewed closeness to my parents as my Parents.

*I feel it important to say here, the trauma that was triggered from my childhood – it’s nothing special or unique and no reflection on my parents. Every child has experienced something that registered as traumatic to them. No parent can prevent this. Its part of childhood, its part of the human experience. In no way do I mean to imply that my parents weren’t good parents, I am so glad I chose them and would do it again.

FAQ with Sunni

For my birthday in July I asked my tag-along adventurers, friends, and connections on social media to complete an online survey for me. (Thanks to everyone who participated!) My goal was to understand the impact this blog, my email updates etc were having.

There were 3 questions asked many times. So, here you go, answers!

Common Question #1: How do you afford your life?

Answer: Video response!

Common Question #2: What can I do to help you? (or) What support do you need?

Answer: Connection and connections.

Connection

I know it seems like I’m always busy, but I’m really not. I keep busy with work and clients, but because I’m on the move so much it can get pretty lonely. Getting feedback from people on how/if my sharing impacts you, having friends reach out to stay in touch and send virtual hugs – these things are super valued by me.

Connections

I choose to be nomadic because it allows me to meet so many new people and experience so many new cultures. To fully immerse myself, and keep my life affordable, I barter for lodging wherever possible. I trade my strategic services for lodging which allows me to serve people who may not otherwise be able to afford my services. I’d love to trade with someone in Arizona, New Mexico or California for the Jan/Feb/March time frame. If you’re interested in bartering with me, or know someone who might be, you can click here to learn more. I’ve done this many times, so I’ll guide you through the process, ensure we have clear boundaries and agreements in place, here is what some of my past barter clients have to say about the experience.

Common Question #3:  What exactly do you do for money?

Answer: I work. Duh. 😜

Okay, for reals, I do several things.

I freelance as a Project Manager and Operations Manager for larger companies.

I apply these same skills when working with Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners to define a growth strategy, gain more clients and run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

As an Intuitive Strategist, I mentor people on a journey for self-discovery. So many people operate in survival mode, reacting to the things around them, acting out of obligation. I support people in intentionally and proactively designing a world that they love. One of my clients recently told me that I’d helped her to meet her true self for the first time. (#squee!)

Meltdown (or I miss my Mom)

Earlier this week I had a meltdown.

It’s been about 6 weeks since I left Orlando. Last year when I flew everywhere I didn’t go for more than about 6 weeks without a pit stop in Orlando to swap clothes and get cuddles. So it kinda makes sense that it’s at this point that I start to really miss things.

I really missed my family. Which makes sense and I can wrap my head around that because they’re real, I can touch them, they exist.

I also had a fiercely miss my home. This one is more confusing to process because that doesn’t exist, I don’t have my own space in the traditional sense. I haven’t for over a year. I am missing a place that does not exist. As I sit with this it starts to become clear that I miss an idea, rather than a place.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had these urges.

There have been several occasions where I considered a return to ‘normalcy’ a return to a standard stable lifestyle. Shoot, I sort of had that the first half of the year when I stuck around Orlando to support family.

Here’s the thing, I know that if I were to honor these feelings, hop in the car and drive back to Orlando to settle into a ‘normal’ life…it wouldn’t take but a couple of months before I was antsy, craving the travel life again.

These thoughts, these feelings- they are just that. They are coming from my Monkey Mind, from fear and as a result of living in and being with the very edge of my comfort zone. They were created by my Mind.

I don’t allow my Mind alone to dictate how I live my life. Nope. My Soul is driving that bus.

This is just one more scary moment to get through.

And it’s okay for me to be in the moment, to be scared, to miss my Mom, my Girl, my Guy, my brother, my bed (which is on end in a storage unit) and my coffee table (which is amazing). It’s even okay for me to decide to turn around and drive back to all of those things. If that is what my Soul truly wants.

As I spent the day in my meltdown and eventually processed what was happening and moved through it, I realized that I haven’t been sticking to all of my daily rituals. In the last 3 weeks I slept in 5 different beds and I didn’t sage or ground in any of them. I also haven’t been honoring my commitment to exercise daily and, if I’m honest, I have been resisting the level of meditation my Soul is calling me to. These are all rituals and commitments I’ve put in place because they support me in declaring each new place as my home, in that moment.

No wonder I haven’t felt at home! No wonder I’m feeling home sick for the idea of home, I haven’t been creating it!

Before writing this I spent some time saging the home I’m staying in. I spent time with my grounding point. I invested the afternoon in a long stretch, a good work out and a long bath meditation. I do feel better, more grounded. But I’m still uneasy, there’s still a huge part of my Mind (and Ego?) that are annoyed about how things have been going. I still miss my Mom. And that’s okay.

My Body is much more content now that I gave it some attention.

My Soul is happy, aligned and in the middle of massive expansion.

My Mind is very, very happy My Guy will be here soon for a visit and that I’ll be flying home to the VonMutii in about two weeks.

All is well in Sunni’s World.

I think my White Privilege is showing

For the past few weeks I’ve stayed with dear friends who I trust implicitly. I’d go just about anywhere to spend time with them and their crew. Their home is lovely, cozy and filled with things I would fill my own home with.

They currently live in Philly. Downtown Philly. The gritty part.

When they first moved here from Boston, and NYC before that, they told me that they chose Philly because of the grit. They love that it hasn’t been totally gentrified. They told me that they often feel like NYC and Boston are just doing a good job of hiding their dirty laundry, relegating it to the dark corners of the city and they wanted to live somewhere that went beyond not hiding the dirty laundry but didn’t even relate to it as dirty. Where the grit and the glory/trendy etc were all intermingled evenly throughout the city.

Now.

I like to think of myself as very open minded, non-judgemental and what not. I’ve lived through some crazy stuff, spent time in not so nice sides of town, participating in questionable and not-so-legal activities. But always in generally safe cities.  I’m disappointed to discover that the grit of Philly is making me really uncomfortable.

First, allow me to define gritty. There is, from time to time, a grocery cart full of a homeless person’s belongings parked next to my car in the morning. The local street I’m parking on is considered safe because the neighborhood drug dealer spends his days on the corner two blocks down and ensures his home turf stays safe. There’s a cop two doors down. The local businesses all have razor wire protecting their property. People walk fast, eyes forward, on a mission. OR. People meander, eyes scouring for trouble or what they should be defending themselves from.

There is trash everywhere. Broken glass everywhere. It’s common to see a syringe, used condom or hair extension on the sidewalk. There’s a scrap yard a few blocks away and the several times I’ve walked by during the day there have been people lined up here, stripping cars and breaking things down. Once a guy addressed me as I passed by as he was pulling a piece off a minivan and proclaimed ‘it’s mine, I bought this‘ in my direction. Until he spoke up it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t his.

The grocery store only blocks away from me, is the only store within a several mile radius that has a full produce selection. Most people go in and shop for the month. When I went in today I was behind a woman buying three carts worth of food, one cart was full of chef boyardee, koolaid and those sugar water drinks you twist the plastic top off of.

This is what I mean by gritty.

Living amidst this grit has put me on edge. While I’ve never felt unsafe, never felt I was at risk, I’ve been perpetually uncomfortable walking around.

I’m uncomfortable with the source of my discomfort.

My discomfort surprises me because I have a habit of not noticing when I’m in what My Guy calls a “windows up neighborhood”. I typically seem unaware as to when I’m in an area where my guard should be up. I have stories of being in areas of Chicago and Harlem, places I shouldn’t have been alone, and a kind stranger took it upon themself to inform, protect and lead me out of their neighborhood. I was that oblivious.

In theory, I am totally onboard with my host’s perspective. In theory, I don’t agree with gentrification. I don’t think it’s right for rich (white) people to move into a neighborhood and impose their views and preferences on the whole neighborhood. For that matter, I don’t think it’s right for the US to move into a third world country and impose their ideals on the locals either, but that’s another subject entirely.

I’m reminded of the TV show Shameless (great show, but very crass) in which ‘the gays’ moved into their rugged Chicago neighborhood and suddenly tried forcing people to clean up their yards, plan community gardens and park their cars differently. When watching the show I identified with the locals and was ashamed by the actions of my (theoretically fellow) white, gay (albeit fictional) comrades.

Yet.

Spending a few weeks in the midst of grit, well, I’m just not loving it. Part of me wishes I fit better into this world, so I could blend and be confident. I’d like to be that badass chica who’s confident walking by the local drug dealer, people stripping abandoned cars for scrap metal, to be un-phased when there’s a gun shot in the distance.

Perhaps I need to conquer the grit of Philly like I conquered the pace of NYC.

But it’s all so dirty. Everyone always seems to be on edge. Out to defend themselves, even if it means hurting me. Does it take that much more energy to be nice instead of rude? To place your trash and waste in an appropriate receptacle? To find a bathroom to do your business in? It’s like everyone’s Give-A-Fuck broke.

But then, I also get that many people (not all) who live in this neighborhood are so squarely in survival mode that they can’t even imagine a life beyond putting food on the table. That being nice could make them vulnerable, that giving a fuck would mean they could be disappointed, rejected, hurt. And who am I to say that my way of looking at life, that anitSurvival mode is any better than how they live?

Maybe?

I think this is the first self-identified example I’ve found of my white privilege showing.

I guess it seems like it all comes down to priorities. The folks who make these neighborhoods gritty, they prioritize something else (not sure what) over things like clean streets, safe neighborhoods, respectful relationships. Do they have a choice though? Can one choose when faced with homelessness, life or death situations and no awareness of a way out?

Who am I to judge people for living this way. Yet, I do.

Gah!

At the end of the day, the people who live here are just that. People. And I wish I had more access to connecting with them. Because I love connecting with humans.

I definitely think everyone should spend time in the ‘gritty’ parts of their town. Be aware of how all of the humans in your home town live, what options they have, what their daily stressors are and most importantly who lives there. Humans. Just like you. Broaden your awareness of your community. I know I’ve not done much of this in my hometown.

PS. It feels vulnerable to share this publically in the age of social media. My heart is pure. I love humans. I want to see all humans be as happy as possible, whatever that looks like for them. I don’t mean to be judgey, ignorant or part of the problem. My hope is that by sharing I’ll get others thinking and maybe even shift some perspectives and open some new dialogs….

How bad do you want it?

I spent the past week planning and prepping to shift my life to road-tripping mode. In the midst of my planning the Universe decided to ask me:

just how bad do you want this?

Since I spent the past several months hanging at my Partner’s place I’d accumulated a decent amount of belongings out of my storage unit. Also, last year I lived out of my Condo (aka suitcase) and revisited my Storage unit every 4-6 weeks.

With the endless roadtrip I’ll have lots of extra space (I mean, a whole car!), but I won’t be able to get to my Storage Unit regularly.

It took me about 20 hours to go through everything, put things away in Storage, choose what to go into the Condo and what to go into my car. I bought several tools to help me stay organized but ultimately didn’t need most of them. I was worried my trunk was going to be jam packed – it’s not.

Basically what I added to the car was:

– 1 bin of winter clothes
– 1 bin of occasional clothes (dressy, professional, beachwear)
– 1 small bin of craft and biz supplies
– 2 tiny bins of workshops in a box (1 woo woo and 1 biz)
– 1 carry on sized suitcase of linens
– 1 pillow
– 1 suitcase stand

I also put a decent soft cooler and a bag of kitchen supplies into my car. It really wasn’t that much. I’m pretty impressed with my minimalism. Honestly, if you knew me 10 years ago you’d be seriously impressed.

SO

I got everything packed up Saturday night. Sunday morning the plan was to go to church and then go to my parents for the night and then off to Jacksonville Monday morning.

Sunday morning I went bopping out to my car, and well, here’s what happened next:

What I ultimately discovered was, the mechanical issues weren’t a ‘sign’ that I shouldn’t go. Rather, they were an opportunity for me to show God/Universe/Spirit/Divine just how committed I am to taking the actions that align me to my purpose. So I pushed through, found a solution and I’m on my way!

Freedom from Obligation

A theme that’s been emerging in my world is the difference between Obligation and Commitment. For some people, they may be synonyms, but to me, they definitely are not. I’ve been doing one of my word studies to dig in and get them clear for myself.

com·mit·ment noun
the state or a quality of choosing to be dedicated to a cause

ob·li·ga·tion noun a course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound

 There’s one keyword that delineates them, to me.

Choice.

The more I dig into the etymology, history and meanings of the words, to me, commitment is choosing to bind yourself to something/someone and obligation is a thrust upon you and often feels like a burden.

This is important because I look at my life through the lens of choices.

Whenever I begin to feel obligated to something I pause to check in to see, is there anything about this ‘thing’ that I’m actually committed to? Can I connect to that commitment strongly enough that the feeling of burden lifts?

I find when I’m doing something out of obligation my heart isn’t in it, whereas if I can do it out of a commitment, it’s all heart.

One example is that I often skip buying presents for my friends on their birthday. But I’m known to randomly send gifts, cards etc when I feel inspired. I’m committed that they feel loved, but not obligated to do it in any particular way or on any specific timeline.

A small shift perspective can have a huge impact.

Another example. In March 2017 I’d been living a nomadic life for a couple of years and was starting to feel a bit like a fraud because I’d been in one place, my hometown no less, for several months. I was feeling obligated as a nomad to get back on the road and really pushing myself to make this happen. Funny thing is, when I related to it that way, as an obligation, I wasn’t able to get any traction. Everything I had planned didn’t come to fruition. This all became super clear when, three days before I was scheduled to finally leave town and go to Europe, My Guy experienced a major tragedy in his family. He said to me ‘don’t feel obligated to stay behind, you can go Europe‘ and my first thought was ‘hell no! I’m committed to you, I’m staying!‘.

That same conversation taught me another lesson, about my commitment to myself. Traveling and nomading is not an obligation – I chose this life and if it stops feeling juicy and awesome, if it starts feeling like a burden, then I will choose a different life. Once I again started relating to my lifestyle as a choice and commitment rather than a burden and obligation things started magically falling into place. By June 2017 I was back to traveling in a new and exciting way.

I wrote about Priorities and it’s still totally true. I continue to evolve and this conversation of Obligation and Commitment is just another layer to the onion of this round of evolution. My hope is that by sharing it with you, seeing my journey, will allow you to more deeply connect with your own.

Does this relationship between Obligation and Commitment ring true for you?

Are there things you’re doing out of Obligation that you can look for what you’re Committed to as a way to shift your relationship?

 

One scary moment

I was at a networking event in Sarasota last week, sharing with someone about my nomadic lifestyle, and their response was ‘that is really courageous‘. I said ‘thanks‘, because I wasn’t sure what else to say. My life doesn’t usually occur as ‘courageous’ to me so my first inclination is to blow off this sort of comment. But when someone points it out, especially a stranger, I’m reminded that it really is, courageous.

I love my life. I very intentionally created it to be what it is. And, the way I live is very far outside of the social norms and many people don’t understand it and it often makes people uncomfortable. There are plenty of times where it would be far easier to live a more ‘normal’ life. In fact, every time I choose to go deeper into this nomadic life, I become masterful at psyching myself out, obsessing and worrying about it in advance, but then, once it’s actually happening I’m totally chill.

I was reminded of reminded of this video of Will Smith speaking to a group of students, he says “The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear”. This is so true! The time I’m obsessively worrying and stressing, nothing is actually happening that puts me in any danger or risk, I’m just planning, thinking about something (usually a trip or lifestyle change). Then, when the thing is actually happening, when there is some potential risk of all those things I was worrying about coming true, in the moment I’m not worried or stressed anymore.

How awesome would it be if I could discover the secret to skipping the step where I experience worry and fear?

In the movie The Bridge of Spies (great movie by the way) Tom Hanks plays a lawyer representing an accused spy, throughout the movie the lawyer is continually asking the spy if he’s worried and every time the spy responds with ‘would it help?‘. To which the lawyer always ponders and responds ‘no, I suppose it wouldn’t‘.

While I haven’t reached the point of enlightenment where I can just not worry, I can adopt the lesson from this book I recently listened to (amusing read by the way):

“I was a shy little girl and an only child, so on vacations, I was usually playing alone, too afraid to go up to the happy groups of kids and introduce myself. Finally, on one vacation, my mom asked me which I’d rather have: a vacation with no friends, or one scary moment. So I gathered up all of my courage, and swam over to the kids, and there was one scary moment . . . and then I had friends for the first time on vacation. After that, one scary moment became something I was always willing to have in exchange for the possible payoff. I became a girl who knew how to take a deep breath, suck it up, and walk into any room by herself.”

So, I guess I do live a pretty courageous life. I take the actions in the face of that fear, worry, anxiety etc. because I know that most people regret the things the didn’t do, but rarely the things they did do.

I use the hashtag #adventuresofSunni to remind myself, daily, that my life is one big adventure and there’s nowhere to ‘get’ only the adventure happening right now.

You have your own adventure. The thing you secretly dream about, worry about and perhaps haven’t yet taken action to make come true. It could be creating a digital nomad lifestyle, applying for a promotion, buying a farm, putting your jewelry hobby on Etsy. Whatever the thing is. I encourage you to focus on the adventure that is yours, dance with life, play with the universe.

Ask yourself  ‘would it help?’ and remind yourself that it’s just ‘one scary moment’, and then….jump!

Rite of Passage with a Razor

Today, as I showered I had a vivid memory of the first time I shaved my legs. In my house, it was almost a rite of passage. For most, it seems that a girl’s first cycle is the rite of passage. Not me. For me it was shaving.

With most things related to physically maturing, I just did it myself, for example, I stole feminine supplies from my mom for a year before she realized. I fudged my age and got piercings without permission. But for some reason, I honored my parents and waited on the shaving bit. It may have had something to do with me being blonde and it not being super impactful but I don’t really know.

It finally happened going into the summer I would turn 14. When I showed Mom my new swimsuit, well, it was obviously time if you get the drift. I remember sitting in our bathroom with the horribly ugly green marble tile Mom by my side. She had her leg up and demonstrated a stroke and then I would mimic on my own leg. She gave me tips on how to handle the danger zones, ankles, knees etc. and how I could save time by stopping at my shorts line if I wouldn’t be swimming anytime soon. She allowed me to get a variety of razors and creams, even expensive ones, so I could determine which I liked best.

Not sure why I remembered this experience in the shower today, it could be related to all the loss I’ve experienced lately. Going to funerals where moments are rehashed and cherished and wondering if the deceased realized how valued they were.

No matter. Thanks Mom, for taking the time to give me the experience of a rite of passage. To this day, I rarely cut myself while shaving and still use the same razors I decided on back then. You done good.

I find it interesting how I don’t remember being eager to join the shaving women of America. I know I sat there with my fuzzy legs while friends talked about waxing, shaving, nair, but I don’t remember feeling left out, or grateful or reluctant either. Just indifferent. Which is odd given how opinionated I am. I also find it interesting that I never questioned that I should shave, it never occurred to me to go natural. It certainly occurs to me now. I daydream about a society where smooth doesn’t equal sexy and in winter months I get quite soft and furry…but now we’re getting into a whole other topic.

This memory has left me curious about a few things.

Can you remember your first time shaving?

Have you experienced a rite of passage, what was it?

Priorities trump plans

I planned to be based out of Orlando through the holidays, mid-November until the end of the year, that was the plan. My Platonic Wife, Sarah, has a spare room and loves having me stay so being in town for 6-8 weeks, not a problem. I did manage to get away for a week in Vegas with My Guy, Kirk, in December, and the plan became to go back on the road mid-January.

Best people watching spot in Vegas

Then, something happened. Kirk’s mom went to the hospital complaining of chest pain. The drugs they had her on left her groggy which meant she couldn’t be trusted to communicate/process information from the hospital staff so a family member needed to be there most of the time. I put myself in the rotation and did my daily shift, picked up food, reminded people to sleep, shower…you know the routine. Twenty-four days and 1 open heart surgery later she was discharged. Kirk went back to work, I checked in on the Mom-in-Love regularly and began to plan to get back on the road.

Mom-in-love on way home from hospital

Then, something happened. I went to the specialist about Ms. Gallbladder and was informed she needed to be retired. At first the surgeon said it wasn’t urgent, when I described my lifestyle and that I didn’t plan to be back in town until November he said, Never mind, in your case, it’s urgent. So, I got on the schedule to have laparoscopic surgery in late March, thinking I’d be good as new by early April.

Drugged and ready for surgery

As I recovered I began to get excited about the upcoming European trip with Sarah & Kirk, we were all set to leave in late April. I was hoping all of the soul evolution I’d experienced over the past months would gel as I adventured (as tends to happen with me) such that by the time we returned I’d have clarity and be ready to get back on the road.

Then (are you noticing a pattern here?), something happened. Kirk’s sister had surgery a week before we were scheduled to leave for Europe. While the surgery initially seemed to be successful, a couple of days later there were complications and his sister passed on. We sent Sarah off to Europe (more on that later) and I stayed behind to support him through some very difficult weeks filled with funeral arrangements, family drama and the like.

Dude, with all of these plans down the drain, I’m not going to lie, there were some moments of real frustration. I’m a traveler! I belong on the road! Yet. I’m clear on my priorities:

  1. Me
  2. Family
  3. Joy/Freedom (aka Travel)
  4. Business/Money

Supporting my family and taking care of my own health comes first. Period.

It’s funny, last year this time I was faced with a situation where having clear priorities helped. Last year I was considering a return to corporate to support the house I owned, but when I looked at my priorities it made more sense to sell it. I’m so glad I did.

Similarly, this year I’m so glad I stayed in town. Being there allowed some amazing growth and evolution in my relationship with My Guy. Being there for those emotionally charged times in his family also allowed me to see some new things about myself.

Family Bonding Time

The original plan for Europe was to travel as a Triad. I planned everything, I had worked out all of the transportation, most things were in my name, I’d been practicing the languages. I was going to be their guide. Sarah had never traveled alone or been overseas before. I’m so proud of her for having the courage to go solo, so stinking proud. And she had some amazing experiences she wouldn’t have gotten if we’d been with her. (side note, we got a lot of money back given the circumstances of our cancellation, and she used the things that were nonrefundable, so it wasn’t a huge financial hit)

Sarah in Morrocco

The time in Orlando also allowed me to complete all three levels of Reiki training which has opened up a whole new path in my Spiritual evolution. I’ve given dozens of distance healings and realized it’s something I really enjoy and has added another layer to the services I offer in my barters. I also had time to establish some healthy habits with a personal trainer, and deepen some friendships.

Plans are great. I spend a lot of time helping others define a strategy and plans to fulfill that strategy. It’s just as important to have clarity on your priorities so you know when to ignore the plans and go with the flow.

Like I said, I spent time being frustrated by this, and, I quickly came to see the value in the shift in plans to align to my priorities. I think it happened more quickly this year than last and that’s all I can really hope for, to learn and grow along the way.