1. GROWING UP
I grew up in Miami, FL. I played lots of tennis. Everyday. I was very athletic and was always outside playing. Although being outside wasn't always safe for me. These were traumatic years. Years that I let define me for way too long. I am 54 now and I am trying to define myself. My saving grace during these years was camp. I went to camp in the Poconos - and Camp Akiba will forever be one of my most sacred and cherished places. I love the people, the culture, the environment. Camp Akiba helped me survive. I taught me to trust, to be a kid, to laugh. Becasue went I went home to Florida, there was no laughing, trusting, being a kid. I just had to survive,
4. CRAZY DAYS IN RUSSIA
The crazy years. I moved to Moscow, Russia for work when I was 29. I was on the cusp of growing up and being the person I would become. I loved Russia. It was exciting, adventurous and I fell in love. I met Jen and life changed. I had never been with a woman, but she captivated me. We talked openly like I had never talked before. I struggled with being gay, I never saw myself as gay, but I couldn't deny the love and passion I felt. We traveled. We dreamt of a future. I found who I thought my soulmate was. I also worked my ass off. Working in Russia was like nothing I had ever experienced. I learned the meaning of possibilities and creativity and courage. Russia began to let me see what I could be.
7. TREADING WATER
I learned to be a entrepreneur. I became a media consultant to put my expertise to work for myself and for my clients. I began to learn the value of me (from a work POV). I grew my business fast. But I was not happy. My personal life was falling apart as I had to learn to live life as a divorced, single mom. I hated not being part of a pair. In partnership so much expression and growth can happen - for me - being alone meant I stopped exploring, and learning and growing. I became very depressed. I stopped getting out of bed. I stopped being I mom. I turned inward and felt a vast emptiness. I did not want to live.
10. Rebuilding my life
In July of 2022, after many months, I found a job that I accepted and jumped in with both feet. This job takes me a bit out of my comfort zone because I have to learn about ad technology I was never hands-on with in previous roles. But the heart of my role is marketing - and I can do that. The people are great and I am learning to live a new life. So I know better days are ahead.
2. COLLEGE YEARS
I went to college in Northfield, MN - Carleton College - the town of colleges, cows and contentment. While I am sure I was in the very bottom of smarts in my class there - I learned to talk, debate, have a point of view, build real friendships. I learned that the pleasure of working hard was in the journey - not necessarily in the destination. I learned that sitting up all night talking about life was as educational as sitting in class taking about Chaucer. And I learned to love winter. I began to talk about my past - a little. I began to learn to trust. But it was also filled with some heart break - from boys and from my family. It was a beginning.
5. BECOMING AN ADULT
During the next 20 years I grew my family and my career. Oh yes, that means I got married - that was a journey that you can read about in my poetry. The one thing in life I wanted so much was to have a family, be a mom. I didn't realize how important it was to me to actually give birth. I tried 13 times with medical assistance. 8 IUIs and 5 IVFs. I actually got pregnant twice with IVF, but the pregnancies ultimately ended in failure. I considered that, for a long time, my failure. My wife tried 2 IVFs, no luck. So we adopted our first child. We got Eli and everything seemed perfect. Two years later we were ready to expand our family - so my wife tried again with IUI - no drugs - just a turkey baster - and poof - it worked and we got Owen. We were the prefect family - two moms and two sons.
During these years I was also committed to my job and worked really hard to move up the ranks. I led big clients, created new practices and became a President at my company. At the time I thought I was managing both work and family life well. As I look back, I see how I too often failed my wife and my sons during this time, by putting work first. If I have one regret in life - that is it. I so wish I could redo that time and not get on flights on a Sunday night, not disappear for a week for a client, not stay at work until everyone was asleep. I showed up for the important moments - but I now realize the important moments are the little moments sitting at home - just being with each other. I should have not agreed to take that phone call while I was on vacation; or on a Sunday. I messed up. And for that I will always be regretful.
8. GETTING HELP
2020 was a journey. I began the year by spending 8 weeks in a residential in-patient treatment program for depression. While there I learned to breath for the first time. How to take deep breaths and not suffocate on my own fear. Once I left I joined a program (on Zoom of course because of COVID) where people on the road to recovery from depression met everyday to talk. To learn how to build authentic connections. To put interpersonal relationship building tools and self healing tools to use. All the while I continued to work - but the work seemed empty. I began painting and writing poetry. This became my outlet to express what I was feeling. This project is a reflection of that journey.
3. EARLY DAYS IN NYC
My 20s as a single woman in NYC. I worked hard and partied hard. I had a few meaningless relationships. Mostly I spent time with my friends and I had the best friends ever. We had fun at work, at the bars, at the beach. I was not ready to grow up. I didn't have to. But I also faced some decision that would stay with me, and haunt me for a very long time.
6. THE YEAR THAT BROKE ME: 2016
The year that broke me. My partner asked for a divorce after 20 years of being together. My job that I had been at for 26 years let me go. Everything I new that kept me grounded was gone. That was all in March. In July I was turning 50. So to try and find hope and rediscover who I could be, I went on a 6 week road trip driving across the country. It was me, my jeep, the wind, the open road and music. It was life affirming. And it held me together for a time. But I learned I needed more support than solitude on an open road can provide.
9. 2021: THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
The adventures start anew. I am trying to find the right balance between work and life. I want to find love again - but that scares me to death. I do not know if I will ever be ready for that - but I hope I will be. I am a mom. My sons are 11 and 13 and they need me. They need to know that we can be a family - just a new kind of family. I am determined to provide them with a safe, healthy, home that respects who they are. That gives them room to explore and be supported. I am not living the life I dreamt about as a young girl when everything turned out perfect. I am living a real life. One that is hard, takes practice and patience. A life that is complicated and filled with unknowns. I cannot support myself and my family yet - thankfully my parents and brother are generous and have given me the time, space and funding to get back on my feet. And I will. Because I want to. Because I want my kids to know you can fall down and get up. Because I want to know love again. Because I want to prove the bullies of my childhood wrong. I am worthy. I am special. I am loveable. I am working on all of that - and it is hard. But I will succeed - because I believe failure is not an option