"Humans need love in their hearts like cars need gas in their tanks." – Me, at some point on Facebook, trying to be clever with simile  

It popped up on one of those memory feeds on Facebook.  Snarky me assumed I was high on yoga to come up with that, but then the part of me where the feelings rent space remembered that I wasn't always so callous regarding love. 

The last LTR gutted me.  

I said it.  As hard as I may try to be hard, at some point, it was just easier to acknowledge it:  I loved him.  I used to spend a lot of time contemplating whether or not I was "in" love, frankly, because I didn’t know if I was capable of that whole all-in, in love idea that swam laps in my brain space. 

There was a time when I would have walked through fire for him, which sadly, he ever knew.  Us finding each other was sort of like finding Bigfoot because there aren't many never married, childless, attractive people in the Midwest.  I thought I hit some type of lotto, but it was the Titanic from the start.  Not in some, "Jack, draw me" type of way, but because of that f#cking iceberg.  Our iceberg was a mass of junk--addiction, fear, mental health issues, insecurities, anger, abandonment--you name it and one of us probably carried the baggage of decades of it.  He was transparent with me from the start, though, so it wasn't like I didn't know what I was getting into, but I continued to play that drama game, if for no other reason, to avoid boredom. 

“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” – George Carlin

Finding the balance between guarding my heart and allowing myself to trust and connect with people again after the end of that relationship was a long, difficult process.

But knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change any of it.   

You might think of an idealist as a dreamer or a wishful thinker, but we’re also visionaries and so long as vision is paired with action and a healthy bit of pragmatism, we can make the life we want.      

Ask anyone what makes me happy and your top answers would be the Bitches and running.  My adoration for Alli and Joey is complete to the point of obsession and something I share with anyone willing to listen.  While both dogs and humans are incredibly social creatures, our ability to tap into our connections with other people is critical to our happiness.  As much as I might like to spend my days hanging with the Bitches, dazzling them with my wit and iPod karaoke skills, I need more human connection to really feel like I'm part of this thing called Life. 

It's easy for me to think, "Sure, I'm connected," and go through the list of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, blogs, and on and on.  Having lived such an isolating life of shame and fear when I was sick certainly impacted me profoundly--just because I wasn’t constantly wasted didn't mean I trusted people or felt I was worthy of positive attention. 

Healthy routine was good, especially in respect to race training or eating habits.  Sticking with the plan there was critical, but those are things in which I felt good about total control.  Connecting with the other humans was gonna require getting uncomfortable.

How did I stretch my wings?  I did something really terrifying.  Repeatedly. 

I kept putting my paintings out there. 

“What I lack in skill, I make up for in honesty," was the mantra for my creative process.  I was surprised how deep my emotional response was during the process.  With the support of my dear friend, Joan, I even had work in a few shows back in Sioux Falls.  My work is still very primal, but it does feel like I’m getting to a space that is more visually appealing.  But I still get scared when I put something out there. 

We forget that fear and excitement are cousins. 

Balance gets tossed around a lot, but all of the platitudes are born of a nugget of truth.  I realized during the last few paintings that a little restraint can go a long way.  I could be emotionally completely in the process, but physically know when to walk away because the piece was finished. 

That smashed me across the head like a sack of turds, or rucksack of poo, for my British friends. 

This idea of restraint was bouncing around my brain for quite some time, but having always been a person who lived in extremes, I was having an excruciating time trying to articulate it. 

Knowing how to trust the process. 

Knowing when to let something be finished. 

Knowing when to walk away without regret. 

Knowing yourself well enough to trust your judgement.