My Neck of the Woods

Finding Your True North
Seeing the forest for the trees.

For the longest time I thought of myself as a details kind of person. I come from a long line of perfectionist women, which means the need to have everything “just so” runs deep in me. It’s practically part of my DNA.

I am very adept at making things look absolutely fantastic. It’s a skill I learned by example, growing up in a household of anywhere between 5 – 10 kids (depending on which of my older siblings had moved out or moved back in at any given time) – a household where my mother made sure everyone’s bedsheets were freshly washed and ironed (yes, ironed) where there was never a pile of unfinished laundry lying around anywhere on the floor, where nary a dirty dish was ever left in the kitchen sink, where the lawn was always pristinely manicured, the mirrors were spot-free, the furniture – dustless. Growing up that way, you tend to develop a knack for taking care of things – for doing the work that’s required, for tenacity and grit – and also, for creating appearances.

I created appearances for most of my adult life. I stopped doing that, sort of gradually over a period of about eight years, and the end result was a seventeen year marriage on the rocks, a financial disaster, a rather grim looking professional future and a shellshocked 10-year old daughter.

Not fun.

It’s been four years since my marriage disintegrated, and I can tell you at this point, I get why people stay. Why women stay, in particular. Leaving a marriage, especially one that lasted a long time and looked beautiful from the outside but was never grounded in anything real, is like trudging across a football field of wet clay in a 100-lb suit. Trying to make it work is often the easier thing to do.

I tried to make my marriage work. That was my strength and my downfall. I made it work for almost 20 years, until I knew for sure that the only way to continue making it work was to keep towing the line – keep creating appearances – to decide once and for all to take my life in a direction I never wanted or agreed for it to go.

True North is about having the courage to follow your own internal compass. It’s about listening to yourself, trusting yourself, and being brave enough to do what you know is good and right for you, even when it goes against everything you’ve been told or taught to believe is good and right. It’s about finding the strength to let go of what doesn’t serve or support you, and having faith that somewhere down the line, in doing so, you’ll create a life that serves and supports you tenfold. It’s about finding community when the number of people you thought you could trust and count on is dropping like flies. It’s about seeing the forest for the trees. It’s about big picture thinking as opposed to detail oriented tasks. It’s about navigating life in a way that’s real. Not easy, but real. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to life, I’ll take real over easy every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Stick with me and you’re going to hear (read) some pretty crazy stuff – things that even I don’t quite believe happened. But I want to share my story, and I’m prepared to be both accepted and/or judged for it. I’ve been accepted and judged multiple times already. What I’ve come to know is that being judged is as useful in the process of growth as being accepted is.

True North is my life’s roadmap. I welcome you on the journey.