From Naked to Self-Employed: 10 Things That Changed My Life


1. I ran naked through the center of town

When I was seventeen, I stripped off all my clothes during a thunderstorm and ran naked through the center of the small town where I went to a Mennonite boarding school. The rule breaking was exhilarating, and I felt a real courage blossom in my chest that I had only tasted the edges of before. It was brilliant.

2. I gave up searching for a theism I could embrace.

I punished myself for almost two decades for not being able to believe in the God I was raised to believe in, and it was a deep and transformative liberation to allow myself to walk away from it.

3. I decided to keep my hair short and stop shaving (for the most part).

Cutting off all my hair and letting my body hair grow where it will — excluding my chin whiskers, because those mothers just have to go — truly helped me give up the lie that my female body is a disgusting beast that needs to be tamed to be palatable. I have been hirsute for over 20 years, for the most part, and I plan on being hirsute for at least 40 more. Also, I'll let you in on a secret: it never stopped me from getting laid.

4. I married the Palinode.

It is this man's love and acceptance that has underscored every good thing I've done for over 12 years. He deserves medals and probably a good therapist.

5. I became a blogger in 2003.

Telling my own story and letting my mind practice its creativity changed me irrevocably. Blogging was the outlet that allowed me admit what I truly desired, which lead to my nervous breakdown when I confronted the unhappy state of my life, which lead to my having to make some important life changes, which lead to the much happier and sober state of my life right now.

6. I had cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer struck me with mortal fear, but it also made me take a closer look at my sense of gender and the physical betrayal I have felt since early childhood. As much as I hate the cultural narrative that romanticizes cancer, cervical cancer did force me to make a certain peace with who I am in the body I inhabit.

7. I had a problematic hysterectomy that forced me to slow down.

I took a long time to heal after my hysterectomy, and I was too tired to stay awake for more than three hours at a time for the next six months. That time spent having to literally move more slowly allowed me the space to figure out what I might need and how to move towards that. At the time, I felt like my body was a prison, but it made me stop and pay attention when I needed to.

8. I had a nervous breakdown.

I fell apart so hard after an abusive job situation collided with the stress of cancer that it became a do or die scenario, and doing meant that I had to actively overhaul my life. I quit the abusive job, focused my energy on growing my creative skills, and learned how to better deal with my physical anxiety. I credit that breakdown for my present career and my continued strength to stay alive by whatever means necessary.

9. I quit drinking.

After 21 years of abusive drinking, I quit in 2010. It has been both terrible and miraculous, and my life would not have continued without that brilliant stroke of bravery and fortitude.

10. I chose to craft my own employment.

With no real reason to believe that I could successfully leave my job as an administrative executive to freelance full time, I decided to use what I had learned after years of blog and design side projects to do just that. I had already mastered failure, so what was the worst that could happen? I have since learned that it is actually possible to find and craft work you love and that the work you love might sometimes turn out to involve things you never expected, like public speaking. Who knew?

I am taking part in NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, which has me posting a blog entry every day throughout the month of November.