Excavation and Embodiment

Wow. I haven't written in this space since the end of 2014. I intended to write this particular post in January, but I kept putting it off while I focused on new projects and settling into the new year. Every time the thought to come back, write out the words and sit with them here nudged me, I acted like I didn't feel it. I kept saying aloud: "Tomorrow...this weekend...next week...next month...I'll do it then." But that next day, that weekend, the following week, and the next month would come and go like a revolving door. So today, I'm forcing myself to sit here at the keyboard and embrace what comes when there isn't anything left to type. This space started as a place for me to brain dump my thoughts. I desperately needed, wanted, to hold on to my writer's voice, which I had sorely neglected as I worked to re-establish my life outside of the military and became a mother of two. I look back at my earliest posts and cringe at how stunted and disjointed my voice and words were because I hadn't used either in an art journal or any other medium in years. My only creative outlets before I began writing in this space were drama and interpretive or praise dance, which I poured myself wholly into as I served and lead in my church. Putting what had been stockpiling in my head-unfiltered-onto paper and screen was...awkward. What I had been able to do at 13, 18, 22, I was nearly unable to at 26. Any identity I'd started to develop as a woman, a writer, and a creative in general, had slipped into obscurity when survival mode took over once I left the military at 23; pregnant and on my own.  3 years later I was having my second child, not on my own, but still struggling to stabilize my life and regain a sense of self. All of that to say when I started writing here I was lost, attempting to confront the ugliness in my life both past and present, and hoping to find myself in the process.

That's exactly what I did here. I made it a safe haven for my words as I tried to figure out who the hell I was and what the hell was going on with my life. I was transparent. I brain dumped. I purged, parceled out, and processed. Both here and in therapy I confronted the ugly and watched it become beauty as I stripped it of its power over my mind and life. I learned to speak through written word again. I learned from others I read in other parts of the Internet and their writing, their voices emboldened and challenged mine. I unearthed and excavated interests and passions I forgot were mine. I spoke up and started speaking out and as I did, I found my true voice. Giving it the space to develop through written word and paint became both liberating and terrifying.

As I sat yesterday and read through every post I've published here and through the pieces that remain in my draft folder, I ugly cried because I can see all of that growth in my words. I think back to who I was then sitting at the keyboard and who I am sitting at it now and marvel at how I've evolved both in this space and privately. Where I felt lost those first couple of years, I simply now feel embodied. While it's all-consuming not without a grind, my life as a mother of now three children has stabilized, and I've found my footing in motherhood. My writing isn't amazing, but it's honest, it's mine, and while there is more developing to do, it's no longer stunted. I've fully embraced calling myself a visual artist, finding that what I can't find the words to say about something personal or a social issue, I can express on a canvas.  Finding my voice led me back to a passion I've always had: activism. I don't do as much as I'd like to because, hello three kids and no help, but I do my best to find ways to support social justice campaigns and organizations doing that kind of work. I've become a mental health advocate, working for and support nonprofits and mental health platforms dedicated to serving women & children. I've started speaking at conferences and have pitched my own ideas to places and publications. I've met phenomenal women, some of which have become friends, and all of which I learn from.

I'm healthy, rooted, and embodied as a woman, mother, wife, writer, artist, activist...So where do I go from here? The more embodied I've become over the last year, the more I've known that this space has needed to shift to reflect that-to reflect who I am now that all the dust has settled and I have a firm grip on the identity I was lacking at 26. I also needed something that integrated everything-words, art, speaking, etc into one, fluid, place. I tried for the last 2 years to find a way to integrate all of that here, but the truth is that I just can't. I need something more expansive and wanted something fresh. So in January, I created a new website with a blog attached to it. It has been both liberating and terrifying to have it and share my words and art there...and to be undergoing so many changes as I start and develop new projects. I've shut down my Etsy shop and will be selling my art-originals and prints-directly from the new site. Back in January, I compiled a book of essays and art that will be published at the end of this month. I'm currently writing my second. I'm on an incredible team of women who are building a new mental health platform that we're hoping will also be a nonprofit, and I'm looking forward to hopefully being able to work with more organizations committed to social justice.

There is, and has been a lot of change. I'm still getting used to it all, but I'm enjoying the process that comes with transitioning. I don't know yet if I'm going to transfer all the content here to the new site and archive it or just delete it, keeping the posts instead in a folder on my computer. I might share the links to my top posts at the bottom of this page to make them easier to find. Whatever the case I want to say thank you for reading my words here as I've excavated my identity and found my voice. I hope you'll continue to read them at addyeb.com-I'd love to know what you think. :)

Take care, friends.