Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

April 8, 2013

On Being Lost & Found

I was struck by something last week as I was standing near my sewing machine, smiling to myself as I “cooked” some embossing ink with my heat gun.

Actually it’s been a theme for me since getting divorced last year: reclaiming/reconnecting with the “fun” me.

In conversations with friends recently I say things like, “I used to be fun.”

To some of them I say, “Do you remember when I was fun?” and to others I say, “You haven’t even known me when I was fun.

To some I’ve said, “I feel like I’m coming home to myself. To that place where the old me and the me of today are meeting up and finally getting on the same page.”

I laugh more. I feel lighter (physically and emotionally). I’m working on not taking things so darn seriously all the time (this is an ongoing battle). I smile easier. I’m much quicker to say yes to impromptu adventures.

I want to be living the length and the width.

This also translates to my creative life. I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve felt the actual heart-pounding delight – almost like a high – that comes from creative play. From making messes and experimenting and what if this goes with this instead of this. I felt that way today while I was working on Project Life. It was a letting go of perfection, of holding on too tight. I was also simply taking the time to allow for fun within the realm of the creative things I do already.

I think it’s also a reason I haven’t scrapbooked as much or shared as much of my story in this space. I’m finding my voice again bit by bit (Who was I before? Who am I now?). And I think reclaiming the “fun” me is definitely a part of it.

I still feel lost at times. Scared. Unsure. Sad. Just this past week I had “one of those days” that essentially boiled down to me needing to be reminded that I need to find happiness within myself first and foremost. That I have to own, all the way through my bones, that I really am enough.

Music has been a great catalyst of fun for me. I have a physical reaction to music. We play it loud in the office. I play it loud in the car. I’ve been attending and making plans to see live music. I’ve been making time for old and new friends and we laugh and drink and eat and make merry and listen to music and I remember the lighter parts of myself that existed before the layers of years and responsibility and stress and loss and experience - that whole crazy combination life that includes all the awesome stuff as well as the things that are really hard.

I’ve learned that I have to allow and create opportunities for myself to have fun, personally as well as on my scrapbook pages.

And I have to let go.

And I have to be open.

So here I go, trying to fearlessly live the length and the width, inviting in the fun.

Comments

  • 101.
    Marianne said…

    Wandered over here from Brene’s FB post…so sad to hear you are having a bad time. I’ve enjoyed your work and your guidance for years. As Pink would say…”gotta get up and Try Try Try”…hoping things get easier munch sooner than late.

  • 102.
    Erika said…

    powerful. meaningful. real. thank you!

  • 103.
    Nevaeh Costa said…

    I saw your post from Brene Brown, who re-posted this. To sum up how this blog made me feel is this…connected. Thank you for your bravery and putting into words the feelings that many of us women who have been through the ruins of “losing ourselves” from toxic relationships/relationships that are no longer serving an addition to our happiness. I started to write finally, again, and I know what you feel. Completely.
    It’s amazing to know that we are not alone, that there is always someone else who can say, “I know EXACTLY what you mean, and here’s how I’m choosing to go against the stream.”

    :)

  • 104.
    Barb said…

    Wow! These are my thoughts, put into your words. I caught myself having a fun time laughing with other parents at a softball game while the ex was sitting in the stands. I thought”What am I doing?”, at first then remembered that is what I used to be like before he pulled me down. It’s all coming back, and I will ACCEPT, not just hope. And I will wait and welcome her back, little by little, until I am whole again.
    Thanks for sharing your process so I know I am not the only one feeling lost
    Barb

  • 105.
    Sharona Zee said…

    Beautifully and bravely shared. I have said (post marriage) “who did I used to be?”, and a friend corrected me, “no it’s who are you gonna’ be?”.
    Yesterday I had coffee with a friend from before I was married, and she told me forgotten stories about myself. I was delighted to remember a little about her, that pre-wife, pre-mother self!
    Wishing you Grace for your journey!

  • 106.
    Peppermint said…

    Very inspiring. That lost place, for me, can feel both overwhelming and oddly comfortable all at the same time. Knowing that you have to choose happiness is the easy part – summoning it from an elusive “somewhere” can be a real process. I think what I have struggled with, and continue to struggle with, is the time when he’s with his dad and it’s just me . I had a lot of years of never really having to be alone with myself and despite all of the years that have passed I still find myself feeling extremely unsettled some days, like I lose my grip on things in the back and forth of it all. Less and less days as time goes on, perhaps, but sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever reach a point where I’ll realize that I haven’t felt that way in a long time. ANYWAY … I will raise a glass to you tonight and your dedication to living the length and the width!

  • 107.
    Fanny said…

    Thank you for sharing your reflections and learning process and also for your authenticity! I loved this post!

  • 108.

    Love you Ali. It is so hard to go through change and know who you are again. I think we all struggle with that when you go through life, I know I do. I loved running into you recently and you seemed so light and less weighed down. Keep up the good work and the happy mistakes. We would especially love to see those. :) HUGS!!!! Yes, music is the key to ones soul!

  • 109.
    Honoree Corder said…

    Brave and beautiful post. The best is yet to come.

  • 110.
    Lynne T. said…

    Dear Ali- this passage you write makes me feel that I am in the same place in my life where after being focused completely on my 13 year old son who was diagnosed with Cancer July,2010 and he has been through 2 different protocols which included chemo and Proton Radiation. I have lost touch with my fun side as well as what others are doing out and about in fun situations. My scrapping,sewing and family have had nothing but making it through one day at a time and no fun. This 13 year old boy and mom have some fun coming their way come this Wednesday as he finishes the ending of a second round of proton radiation. That means something new is heading our way and we will have to go slowly into real life again minus all the doc’s and protocol’s. You are a very wise person. I feel it when I read you I know that you and your children will grow together as well as my son and myself. I think that we will mourn the years, months, and days that we have not had that fun but will move on and grow and laugh and smile and have great fun as we move further.

  • 111.
    Casey said…

    Ali, I have admired your honesty, strength and the class with which you have shared as you have found your way through this journey. Your post today really resonated with me as I have been on my own journey to rediscover myself and celebrate the fun and happiness in my life that I seemed to have lost somewhere along the way. Some days feel more carefree than others but scheduling and creating fun moments seem to help carry me through times when I forget to let go an enjoy. Thank you for all the times that you have shared your journey with us.

  • 112.

    I could have written these very words myself. I lost my husband after a very short battle with cancer a few months ago. I don’t know who I am anymore but all the while I want to enjoy life. My whole life I’ve been what everyone needs me to be. I had what I thought were plans for my future, a vision of what it was going to look like and now it doesn’t, all the more reason to grab hold and go for a great ride! I pray you continue to find your way.

  • 113.
    Nina said…

    Struck such a chord with me, I’m going to follow your lead! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and hopeful…and honest story.

  • 114.
    Tae said…

    Boy can I ever empathize with this! It’s a constant struggle to stay present with yourself and not get bogged down in the crazy of this or that.

    I wish you all the best in your journey to rediscover the things that make you the best version of yourself.

  • 115.
    Pamela said…

    ali,
    while i haven’t been through the same situation, i’ve been through my fair share of struggles. i think that each of us can relate regardless the past/story we share. thank you for sharing your raw feelings. its encouraging and empowering. can’t wait to see each page turn…

    music is my voice when i feel i’ve lost the words to say… its a great outlet of emotions when you want to say something but haven’t a clue how to actually say it, yah, that’s music for me…

    thanks for sharing ali…
    ~pamela

  • 116.
    Mauri CITA said…

    So brave Ali… letting go, enjoying life, creating and sharing – Thanks for sharing ;-)

  • 117.
    leslierahye said…

    Thank you for sharing this today Ali and reminding us that we are enough and that we should live the length and the width! I needed this today!

  • 118.
    Justin said…

    Ali- situations and people will affect you, but you can’t let
    Them define you!! I lost my mom to brain cancer three months ago,
    Reading this opened my heart so thank you!! Live for the moment!!

  • 119.
    Ann English said…

    Ah, sweet girl…my world has split wide open multiple times…I’m a lot older than you, but on one of those occasions you were there ( fall 2005, Colorful Creations, Hyannis, MA) you listened and cared and were kind…
    Profoundly disabled child, divorce, loss of father, son (2005), mother, children struggling mightly…it all takes time. The gift of healing and joy rediscovered in a creative place. You are enough and MORE than enough! Know that you are an inspiration to so many!

  • 120.
    Janet White said…

    It seems so easy to lose parts of ourselves. I swear at times our souls let out a wild howl to sail on the winds and call our lost parts back.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Good stuff. Hard, but still good.

  • 121.
    Sharon said…

    YES YES YES! AMEN…Brava sister, brava!

  • 122.
    Rachel R said…

    thank you for sharing Ali. the older I get the more I think that our holes are places where the light can come in. praying that for you and your little family.

  • 123.
    Tonia Sherrill said…

    Thank you for being honest. For sharing your thoughts. Lost my husband in an accident one year ago. Feel as thought the “fun” me died along with him. You are a blessing and a great inspiration.

  • 124.
    Leanne in CA said…

    Love this! Thanks for sharing, and your pages are fabulous!!

  • 125.
    Suzi Banks Baum said…

    Ali, I just stumbled on to your site and I am so glad I did. Congratulations on exercising your fun muscles. Your face is so happy you’ve discovered your joy again. I’d love to hear the podcast about creativity with Brene. I write about motherhood and creativity and would enjoy your conversation. Will you post about it here? xo Suzi

  • 126.
    cheryl powers said…

    Thank you for sharing your feelings so eloquently. Everyone handles grief and divorce differently (and divorce is a grieving process to me), and I can surely understand how it has affected you. The entire process causes you to ask yourself a lot of questions and search desperately to find all the answers; for me I wanted to learn what I did to contribute to the end of my marriage, even though I wanted to end it. Then comes the soul searching. Myself married very young, divorced with one child then, and then remarried for last 20 with a 2nd boy 12 years apart, I can say that I don’t embrace my womanhood easily. The chores, stress, responsibilities, and demands are overwhelming, and I wonder how to do it all, and sometimes it’s ugly. It is easy to lose yourself, because as women, we are everything to everybody first, especially to our children. no matter how much we love our family or job, you find yourself feeling defined by somebody’s wife, somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter. So many years pass and you think, “where did the spontaneous, laugh out loud, dancing barefoot person go? I’m boring or I’m uninteresting, or even I’m not happy with who I’ve evolved into and I’m tired.” If music brings you joy, then you need to surround yourself in it, and all things, however small, that bring you joy. Beach or water is peaceful and it helps me, along with a good book and an ipod. I hope you document your journey and enjoy the process of redefining yourself. hugs.

  • 127.
    Anne-Marie said…

    I am just speechless after reading each of your posts. I too can relate to much of what many of you have said. I remember being fun. Heck, I was a maniac in high school and college. Now, too often, I let the responsibilities and worries consume me. Sometimes, I’m too tired to be fun or feel like I have too much to do. Do I even remember how to relax? Knowing that I am not the only one out there who struggles with this, motivates me to make time for it. Does anyone else find it just a bit weird to be connecting with people they have never met in person? For what it is worth, Ali, I thank you, I think we all do, for being such a “real” inspiration to so many every day. You make a difference and dang it, you are fun!

  • 128.
    kerry halasz said…

    Ali, you are wonderful and brave! So happy to hear that you are gabbing life again!

  • 129.
    Debbie said…

    Ali, Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been searching for. I, too, used to be fun. Due to a lot of responsibility and devastating losses, I have lost the ability to have fun. I am on the same journey as you to have the me of today come together with the old me. I will get there, but i do need to have some fun along the way. Again I thank you and pray that God will bless you along this journey that you are on.

  • 130.
    Jennifer Weisinger said…

    So so happy for you.

  • 131.
    J3SS1C4 said…

    Such an amazing post, Ali! I can relate to how your feeling… I went through a bad breakup about 4 years ago… Me and my ex were together from when I was 16 up until 22, so I didn’t know anything different. While it was scary being single again, it was also exciting as I was able to discover who I was, and I realised how being in that relationship, I had become a shadow of my former self. I enjoyed the process of adjusting though… The independence, the new experiences, the travel, the time to relearn the things I love (reading, crafting, socialising, etc) was amazing. I’m sure you’re still a fun person, but inviting more fun into your life is always a good thing :-) I’m sure things will work out better than expected!

  • 132.
    Karen S. said…

    You are “The” Ali Edwards …and yet you share the journaling so many of us do not include in our books, never mind in a blog. In sharing your loss you validate the feelings of so many who are struggling. In sharing your ‘fun,’ you bring hope. Ali Edwards, You Are a Bucket Filler!

  • 133.
    melissa jones said…

    Ali
    I thank you for sharing yourself, when i was going thru my divorce (and working in the scrapbooking world) I felt like the ONLY person who wasn’t married, I couldn’t even scrapbook for over a year… (except when required by work)… the tears eventually dried, the joy came back, the me whom I had lost resurfaced and yes, i learned to dance and sing and smile again. I honor so much that you are willing to share that light inside you :) and give hope to those who have perhaps lost theirs momentarily… keep being your awesome authentic self!!

  • 134.
    Jennifer said…

    So glad you are finding your fun, Ali (although you always have seemed fun to me) but I get what you are saying. I understand when you talked about letting go of the perfection. Hugs to you…I hope this only continues to get better for you! :) You are awesome!!

  • 135.
    Malika said…

    So true, Ali. You make me smile.

  • 136.
    Erin W said…

    Oh Ali thank you for sharing this. I finished reading and realized that in 5 of the 6 past years i have been missing out on the “fun, lighter” me. Too much of my life involves stress, with stress the sad, uptight mean-mom comes out. I do not want to be that person anymore.
    Good luck on your journey :)

  • 137.
    Crystal Fritts said…

    Ali – you ROCK!!

  • 138.
    Cristancha said…

    Dear Ali my respects to you for having the talent to design and use a sewing machine as your work instrument.
    I feel such a high and hype when I see women in this 2013-do-it-all-super-mamacitas-América having FUN or simple reswitching the ON button of that part of thy self. I am convinced ( I humbly quote the master Yoda of V-S Brene) that in the same way we are wired for story-telling, we are wired for celebration/creativity/leisure too. I applaud you amiga for your embarking in this odissey.. it inspires me a bit in my own journey to sanity in America…I confess In the past I used to admire all my American-born friends and think they all had this special Irish or European genetic make up or learned cultural strenght to give up (more or less) their fun selves to be this hyper ethic efficient workers/mamas/partners machines!!!!
    At times I secretly resent (still!)how much we all do and think: Darwin honey there is no way we cant be designed to be these cortisol/adrenaline-driven bores kokotues over our children, bosses or spouses shoulders!!! . Then i feel grateful to have a lovable job, a hub and the incomplete life i have!! When I came to Boston from Latin America to grad school, I got so physically ill as in hospital sick.. Inmune crapola sick… I am positive that most of the transtion and immigration stress was related with the shock of feeling leisurely challenged!!!!! I couldnt believe how people were soooo responsible (ok a little stuck up too), so anal with time, soooo structure with recreational activities and last thinking that getting drunk in a pub was the definition of FUN. Surprise this lead to disconnection and too make this long story not as long..No wonder I got sick, we all do in our own ways!!.I stopped smiling even to myself for fear to be perceived as inappropiate. I stop dressing up ( tastefuly) or using the red paprika lipstick, or dancing …. Not good ….until after I got sick and started reaching out, trying looking back to where i got lost the best part of self (like you are now is I may dare to comment )seeking for inspiration in the “old moi” OPENLY DARING TO TRY NEW OR OLD THINGS!! Painstakenly I found updated culturally friendly ways to HAVE FUN more (in the once time-concious spiffy Boston that now I learned to tame and love).. Thats when I discovered you tube had videos of my favorite music of the 80′s wonderful to combat the drudgery of clinical paperwork. I also came to love SPANX, Saturday Night live, Zumba, wearing colorful earrings, and it came back to me I started smiling to myself and others. It was right there in the the parking lot when picking up the kids or in the classroom. Its funny then they started to tell me about the beauty of my accent, (what?), they introduced to my great husband, invite me to their homes and to enjoy monthly pot lucks breakfast with the mamas…and the FUN keeps coming !!

    P s When I smell we are getting on a spontaneity fun rut I dare by all means and as much as possible to move from that space of shoulds and could… It helps a bit to dust off that thing and avoid loosing it totally!!!
    . !

  • 139.
    elise said…

    I am doing the same thing. it is hard work. it can be scary. I need to dig down deep to find that cheerleader in me that believes in me and who will never give up on me. I wish you all the best in you work. thank you for sharing.

  • 140.
    Barbara Konopa said…

    Ali,
    I love your blog and your Project Life layouts. I aam. 66 years old and I often think that Ali is not “living” her life but is just a bystander recording it.
    I think you are finally coming to that realization. I have four sons in their 40′s and they rarely if ever look at old photo albumns or their baby books. They are living in their “today”.

  • 141.
    Gretchen G. said…

    What an awesome post. :) You. Are. Awesome. Never forget that. :) You have inspired us (the masses) in so many ways over the years. Your ability to keep things so real is the reason why I fell in love with this hobby. You are on a new path – a new journey. It’s still you – just rediscovering old treasure that you buried along the way. You rock – never stop.

  • 142.
    Aino said…

    Beautifully written Ali. Bless your heart.

  • 143.
    Suzy Ordahl said…

    Ali,welcome back!

  • 144.
    Kathy said…

    So glad I found your blog. I separated from my husband last year and am in such a similar place. I love this and thanks for a dose of inspiration when I needed it. I definitely am feeling the light again and am feeling ready to dig in.

  • 145.
    Michelle Saunders said…

    I had no idea….I am guilty of not reading in a long while! I have jumped over to see pics of whatever you are doing. It goes to show, you don’t always know what is going on with someone else. I am happy you are rediscovering you, the fun you. It inspires me to work on that as well. Thanks for sharing you with all of us.

  • 146.
    Mary said…

    You have managed to put into words just how I have been feeling…thank you for that!!

  • 147.

    Congratulations on finding your way home. Just remember, you must be lost before you can be found. It’s all part of the process…for all of us.

  • 148.
    Marianna said…

    Thank you so much for sharing! Dealing with finding the fun part of me as well. Although it seems that I am finding her more and more, it never seems to be quite enough. And just a suggestion – if you like fun and music, you may want to try biodanza, if they have it in your area. It’s done wonders for reconnecting me with my fun part :-)

  • 149.
    Melissa Shim said…

    Touching entry Ali.

    I went through the same thing after one of my best friends passed away when we were 17 from drinking and driving. I till struggle with days that my friends ask me to go for drinks and I don’t want to. I get uptight and worry when other people drink around me – and to be honest get a little grouchy and nervous bringing back the past.

    My boss, and friend (I’m a nanny like Katie) is in he process of getting divorced and regaining her “old self” as well. balencing her health problems, her sons with autism Ain’t easy!

    Anyways, thanks for sharing! It gave me a little cheer and wish you the best!

  • 150.
    Sarah said…

    Beautiful words, Ali. Heartfelt. Remember that who you are now is a combination of your “old fun self” and all that “stuff” you’ve faced. It’s the “new you”. I think it’s a reality of living that you gain wisdom, experience, and it’s a little hard to live with wild abandon knowing you are responsible for and in stewardship of precious children. Sometimes I pine for the past “fun me” but then when I really think back I realize that all that AND all the crappy stuff in life is what makes it so rich, full, deep, wide…Just as you teach us – it’s Your Story. Your authenticity is refreshing.

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