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.

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220 thoughts

  1. Desiree Scheel says…
    04/08/2013

    Your message is open, honest and very moving. I've felt that way before and totally relate to loss in a marriage, loss in a job and loss in family deaths. You will bounce back...it just takes time and reflection.

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  2. Dianne Jordan says…
    04/08/2013

    Simply beautiful, Ali.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. alexandra says…
    04/08/2013

    That last part (the paragraph starting with "music") got me... sitting here with my kleenex now. I can't even begin to tell you how much I relate to this... and how confusing it is for me to feel so sad and so empowered at the same time... an interesting combination of emotions. Thanks, Ali... you are truly inspiring to me.
    xo

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  4. Jill says…
    04/08/2013

    I think you are awesome! You are truly an inspiration to me.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Jennifer M says…
    04/08/2013

    I needed to read this so much today.

    Change, of any kind, is so hard. Right now my only child is preparing to apply to colleges and leave our home. I know this is what she should do, go out, discover herself and find her place in this world, but it is so hard to let her go. I constantly have to remind myself that this is a good change, for both of us, but it's so hard in the meantime.

    Thank you for your words.

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  6. rhonda says…
    04/08/2013

    I so know how you feel. after i went through my divorce i had to find myself again in so many ways. i was in a verbally abusive marriage. i let what he said go deep in my mind and mold me as i grew older each year. we were married 16 years before i had finally had it. i let the panic attacks i had keep me in a marriage of unhappiness, fear, loneliness..... it was so bad at one point that i even thought of ending it, my life that is.

    then i met this incredible guy. this guy whom i had known for 13 years but met him in a way i never had before. he had faith in me. he let me grow. he let me get up each day and fight past the pain while holding me and telling me how beautiful i was. a year later we had a son. my life is complete. i still fight a lot of the fears inside of me. 16 years of letting of deep emotions is no easy.

    i had learned in all of this that we have to follow our hearts no matter what. we have to listen to ourselves no matter who we might think we will upset. life goes by too fast to let others tell us who and what we should be. i feel confident that i will teach my son all i have learned so he will have a balanced, fun loved life.

    thank you for inspiring us all in many ways. i don't know why i felt like writing this but i feel someone needs to hear it.

    much love to you!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Paula says…
      04/08/2013

      Beautiful and inspiring, wishing you and your family a wonderful life!

  7. Giorgi says…
    04/08/2013

    I've always admired you because you are so real. Having gone through a lot of your experiences I felt I was reading nodding my head after every sentence.

    I can so relate to everything you say, when People told me I was strong, I felt like I was a mess in a heap, obviously I wasn't because here I am today, I had a 2 year old and a newborn when I divorced, and the real me seemed to have disappeared.

    I remember a particular post of yours when you had been playing with melting wax on Hambly Screen Print Paper and I particularly love, posts where you include your little projects, like your red felt mini book one valentines day and numerous travel journals, looking forward to seeing more of the real you Ali. Thanks for sharing makes me not so alone in this world. x

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  8. Elena VanDover says…
    04/08/2013

    You really described the process I went through. I feel like I got a second chance at life. The first life was good too... but the second life is more "me." :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Kathy says…
    04/08/2013

    beautifully put.
    your message resonates to the core of many of us.

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  10. Jocelyn says…
    04/08/2013

    Ali,
    Thank you so much for sharing. ...for sharing so much of your life with us. I have been through (for me) a devastating divorce. It has now been 4 years since the divorce (5 and a half since he actually left) and I am still trying to find my voice and myself. Some days it is there loud and clear and other days it is so quiet and meek. I couldn't scrapbook or 'create' anything for several years. I sort of shut down at first. I have been so inspired by your strength and your ability to still create and tell your story so very tactfully. It truly is refreshing to me. I can still remember when I realized you were going through a divorce and I was struck hard. I didn't like my own divorce and I don't like other people to have to go through it either. I have prayed for you and I continue to pray for you and your children. You are fun! You are worth it! There is life after divorce! Hang in there girl!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Julie C says…
    04/08/2013

    well said and sits so true with me as well. I've been struggling with the life on the shoulders responsibilities, not adding to them, and trying to find the person who lived before them in me as well. I want my kids to know the fun mom as well as the strict mom and that there is a balance.....somewhere....so I keep looking as well.

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  12. Jo-Ann says…
    04/08/2013

    Ali: I first met you at the Airport in new York for our adventure to Italy and I must say for everything you were going through you held yourself well. It wasn't till I got back that I understood more and I was so impressed with how brave you were, how though I am sure your heart was not smiling you yourself were. Sometimes we loose ourselves in our partners, in our children in our lives. It just happens and the path you are travelling now is the one you should be on. I don't believe in mistakes just learning opportunities. You have taught me with your one little word that instead of fighting the things you can't control to embrace it. You helped me embrace the death of my father I truly believe I would have lost my way and instead find myself at peace with it all.I can't wait to see you in November be prepared for such a wonderful hug, I am so proud of you.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Debbi Smith says…
      04/23/2013

      Wonderful words Jo-Ann! She really is an inspiration. I will never forget how Miss Ali touched my heart, as well, in Italy...hugs!

  13. Dolly says…
    04/08/2013

    Words of wisdom Ali...you are embracing Brenes teachings and applying them in such a good way. Thank you again for introducing her, she has made a huge difference in my life too!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Jessica Woodford says…
    04/08/2013

    Beautiful words and a great reminder to remember to be fun and to live life fully everyday no matter where you are at in life.....just enjoy every little slice there is!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Becca says…
    04/08/2013

    I face this every single day.
    I feel like, in my former non-mama life, I was happy & spontaneous & FUN--and I hate that my kids probably aren't seeing that. I'm so exhausted most of the time and when I'm tired, I'm not my best self. I beat myself up daily, wondering if they'll remember their childhood as a happy one or if they'll recall their mama being a crabby person all the time. :-(

    I too recognize that my lack of creative life in the past almost three years has played a huge part in all of this. I need to make time to craft, to scrapbook, to sew--for my own sanity & to be a better, happier, more FUN mama to my most precious people. I love how you said "I want to live the length and the width!" What a great way to think about life! I believe I'll adopt that same concept--I just know I'm sick of being lost too. :-(

    Sending huge hugs, dear friend.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. JosieK says…
    04/08/2013

    Thank you for sharing this with us today Ali! As women and especially Mothers, so much is expected of us..we quickly lose our sense of adventure and "fun." We have to hold everyone together..whether they want us to or not..we do it..
    But it's not so quick to reclaim our "fun"...it takes time..and the sheer fact that you're aware of where your heart is and where it wants to go is only positive and progressive for your soul. We women are always trying to progress even if we don't know it..it's getting silent in mind and heart so we can hear the directions. You're one cool chick!! xo

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  17. Karen says…
    04/08/2013

    beautiful post, Ali. This is why I find you to be such an inspiration.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. celia smith says…
    04/08/2013

    How do you always have the perfect words of wisdom and inspiration that I need to hear in my life. Sorry to know you have suffered. I hope you know you are a beautiful and fun person. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Jasmine Ford says…
    04/08/2013

    Wow...of all your posts lately, this is the one I can relate to the most. I'm in the middle of the "lost" part. I feel like most of the time I'm living some other life, one that I didn't expect to, caught up in stress every day life with 2 little kids and an unemployed husband. They cause sleepless nights and anxiety attacks. There's no fun in my life right now. I used to be fun, I say that to my husband all the time. I'm hoping that I can come around soon, so I can have moments like what you're talking about, so that my kids can see that I am a fun person, that I'm not serious and sad all the time. Thanks for the insight Ali, it's nice to know we're not all alone in this world like we think we are when we're at our worst....living the length and the width...I like that.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Lisa W. says…
    04/08/2013

    Well...I think I am gonna have to print this one...I am afraid I am going to be at the beginning stages of this journey you have been on. I can "see" this is NOT going to be easy. But having this post will help get me through! Thanks Ali for sharing your inner thoughts and all! I really do pray I can be as strong as you have been!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Peggy says…
    04/08/2013

    Envision me raising a glass...to you, to open, to creative highs and fun Ali! Cheers!

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  22. nancy says…
    04/08/2013

    Been divorced 2 years after a 13 year relationship. I loved reading this and I went through this as well. I loved the process of remembering who I was before I was married. For me, the first year was pretty sad and scary and then the second year was like, "Oh, this is who I was before! I remember now!" Merging the two people- the 22 year old me and the 38 year old me has been a great experience and I can honestly say I feel better than ever.

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  23. Deirdre says…
    04/08/2013

    Your words so resonated with me. My husband and I seemed to have hung up our "fun" and spontaneous hats when we had kids---we still have fun but fun geared at what the kids will enjoy, what their passions are. And that is a good thing, to an extent. But not to the extent that we forget our own passions.

    A couple years ago I wrote a bucket list, but not the traditional "places I want to visit" list. I had a lot of adventures before I had kids, and would like to have more, but I know those aren't what define my life. I was influenced by Anne Dillard's line: "how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives" and this great post by (the now departed) Leroy Siever's:http://www.npr.org/blogs/mycancer/2007/06/everyone_has_their_own_list.html

    My comment has turned into a blog post of its own! Sorry. All I really wanted to say is that writing that bucket list of what I want my days to look like included LIVE MUSIC, something I completely let go of after becoming a mom.

    I still miss Oregon's Britt Festival, but last year two of my oldest friends met me to see Ingrid Michaelson & Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks in Colorado, and this year my boys and I are going to see Michael Franti there. It's the kind of thing I normally would have said "someday, when we can afford it" but I'm making it a priority now, because I want, need, live music in my life.

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  24. Stephanie Herbert says…
    04/08/2013

    Thank you Ali! You are amazing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. orange gearle says…
    04/08/2013

    Ali -- I am so glad that you are using music! Music therapy exists for a reason! In 2004, a relationship in my life ended. I ended it, but it was still quite difficult to say goodbye to a wonderful man that I love, AND we are just not right for each other! I started DOING again. Part of the doing for me was music. I've always been a musician, and I found that part of me again. I grew into my grown up self and began to enjoy life. Then I found my soul mate. And I am lucky to share a child with this wonderful man that I was meant to be with. And the older child that I share with a different, wonderful man, is better for it because she watched me grow into myself and learn how to love me for me...I love your post. Your children will love seeing you learn about yourself in this way. You are teaching them a valuable lesson, while at the same time bettering yourself. What a beautiful thing to share with us, and more importantly, with your children.

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