With every setback, regardless of how minuscule or insignificant it truly was, I was reminded of all the stifling comments I endured as a child who was often told that I would never realize any of my dreams. Encouragement from sages became the catalyst that gave me the strength that I needed to eventually defeat the monstrous self-doubt that was created; the monster was the maker of the war inside my head.

My eyes still see colors, I still feel the wind and the rain, and still believe in things unseen. I still see and appreciate the art of everyday life. Yet faced with my seemingly overwhelming success, I was not looking for fame and fortune, nor adorers to show up in hoards; my dream was simply for someone to listen to the stories I tell. Now that I have come to the realization that I belong, I now feel an overwhelming need to belong somewhere I feel free.

Despite my education and subsequent life experience, I still lack the confidence necessary to truly accept that I am ready. I’m reminded that it has been far too long since I’ve seen the ocean, and writing near moving ocean water has always been a major source of inspiration for me. Perhaps it is the gentle waves, the smell of salt in the air, or opening up my big eyes to take in the morning sunrise on the horizon. The forest also summons me from another dimension, encouraging me to move on from past failed relationships, to heal my emotional wounds, and to move to a forever place to truly call my home.

Home has remained a fleeting series of glimpses of specific finite periods of time in my life. When I was born, my home was in New York City. When I was a young child, home became the house in Upstate New York, where I lived for many years. When I was an older kid, home was divided between the house where my parents lived, boarding school, and summer camp. As an adult, home became the first house I ever purchased. Now at age 41, my forever home is in a different state; I am single, grounded, and ready for a fresh start.

I still visit my childhood home in New York City, a home I now own. I find it impossible to let go of the memories of childhood, and when I am standing in my old bedroom alone, I still feel my father’s presence; hearing his voice whispering words of promises for how my life would be. Sadly, my father passed away long before he was able to see his son grow up, have a successful career, and most importantly, finally feel happy.

The culmination of daily fears and postponed dreams gave me no other option than to vanish to save my own sanity. Whatever path one chooses to walk in life, there are times in life when one must walk alone. I spent a lifetime thinking about others, putting my own needs and resources aside so that others would have their needs fulfilled. Times have changed and so have I; for once in my life, I am going to start putting myself first, and in doing so adequately satisfy my own needs before helping others.

I’ve been going through changes. I’m out of my relationship, leaving the place I called home for well over a decade and starting fresh in a place where nobody knows me, and I’m scared of what might end up being the best thing I have ever done for myself. When I think about canceling my plans for a fresh start, I need to remind myself that one must never destroy something that carries with it the potential to thrive, for everything comes around in its time, and my fears are irrational at best as I have nothing to be afraid of.

It was 5 AM on this Sunday morning that I awoke from a deep sleep, rolled over, and decided that I wanted to sleep for a couple of minutes more. In my dreams, I am always the one who takes the fall, and in the daytime hours, I always tread with care so as not to upset the balance of my thoughts and emotions, forever questioning and over-analyzing every single thing in my life as I try to find the answers to hypothetical questions I always ask myself, subconsciously, questions that I know I will never find the answers to. These questions often explode like bombshells of daily fears, letting go of the hurt comes only through acceptance that I cannot change the past.

The waiting has always been the most difficult part of life. Perhaps I need to stop being so impatient as I wait for my plans to come to be. Recently, out of nowhere, and by pure coincidence, I found what I feel will be my forever home. A place where I can write, photograph, dream, explore, and finally experience pure bliss and freedom, but most importantly, it is a place where no one knows me, and I can finally breathe.

The header image is called Surf and was taken in Port Aransas, Texas, in December 2019. The other images used in this article, in order of their appearance, are called I Can’t Explain, You Would Not Understand, Southern Girl, and It Will Be A Different Kind. I had an epiphany when I wrote Belong; whenever I think of an idea that big, it is nearly impossible to think about anything else at all, and ignoring the idea only proves to be futile as I cannot seem to escape its irresistible grasp. Writing Belong and then A Little Ghost For The Offering was truly a turning point in my life, on every possible level. It was the culmination of decades of worth of work, struggles, and feeling as if I would never realize my ultimate goal of being an established and respected writer. Now it is time for me to move onto the next chapter of my life.

Belong | A Little Ghost For The Offering | The Changes That I Need | The Fear I Cannot Hide | Always A Reason | Discouragement | Maybe Someday I Will Understand Why | Thomas Slatin Quote | Lessons I’ve Learned Over The Last Decade

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