Tag Archives: memoir project

Grief Has No Time Table: Patterns of Remembering & Awakening

When I wrote this post in 2016 I hadn’t yet recognized that the patterns in my dreams were giving me a ‘heads up!’  letting me know that my surrogate son would be calling in the new year!

Resource: Uma Girish interviewed me recently as part of her ‘Grammar of Grief’ series. I invite you to listen to our interview.

June 24, 2016 Dream:

GUIDELINES TO HELP ME PASS THROUGH A DOOR TO MY MEMORY

I’m in an Alzheimer’s facility. My sister, Patty, is standing beside me. She is a tall, big woman (my sister in waking life looks very different from this dream figure representing my sister, shadow). I’m wondering when Michael is going to come visit me at the Alzheimer’s facility. A female staff member is ready to go home. It is just about 6pm. As she prepares to leave she grabs her black purse and slings it over her left shoulder. I talk with her briefly about whether I can walk outside. I don’t know the rules or guidelines yet.

The words that call me are:

  • separated from Michael
  • what are the guidelines
  • passing through the door to the outside
  • standing beside me
  • ready to go home
Credit- Gary Hamburgh
Elwah

Credit- Gary Hamburgh

I received my dream after asking for dream guidance. My dream stays with me and is helping me to re-member the importance of what is just outside my door, through the portal:

IMG_2981
Hurricane Ridge Road

July 3, 2016 Dream

RETURNING TO GET WHAT I NEED 

I’m walking down a paved urban sidewalk. I see three yellow school buses coming my way up the hill. Looks like I will miss the bus because everything I need is at home. I jay walk across the busy street (while being careful not to be hit) and make my way back to the right side. Looks like I will have to drive to school after I retrieve what I need at home. 

Memoir & Ambiguous Loss 

I won’t see him again or I may

Pauline Boss is an expert in ambiguous loss. She works with people following events like 911, Japan’s Tsunami, and other life changing losses like divorce and adoption,  In her On Being interview with Krista Tippett, The Myth of Closure, Pauline says:

  • there is no such thing as closure
  • the media does great harm to people when they write or talk about closure
  • grief has no timetable

Pauline also talks about how people cope when there is no funeral to go to or a place to visit after the death of a loved one. [someone is missing but may be found, a child is adopted and the birthmother may see him again].

It helps to be able to say:

I won’t see him again or I may

Everyone of us has experienced losses that are a part of the fiber of our being.

Carl Jung wrote about the tension of the opposites

When you can say, “I won’t see him (her) again but I may”, and hold that tension you can unite the two in a creative, transformative way.

Inconsolable Grief

When I started writing this post in 2016 I hadn’t yet seen the patterns in my dreams calling me home.

Patterns that I recognize about how I am developing. Who I am Becoming.

Home is where I write and re-member my own inconsolable grief. My own sense of loss following the adoption of my surrogate son.

Home is the Olympic Peninsula. The place where I want my ashes scattered. Where I want my children and grandchildren to remember their Mom and Nana.

Home is where my dreams reside and I re-member what I am called to BECOME.


Thank you for showing up and being here. I’d love to hear from you. I never know where my writing will take me when I begin any one post. The big ‘C’ words, closure and completion, have been replaced with focus and freedom.

Some questions to consider. I’ll be standing right beside you as we consider these questions together…

  • Are their patterns that you have found through your journaling, understanding of your movement styles, dreams, or through your relationship with nature that you recognize as helpful guides in your development?
  • Is closure possible after the loss of a loved one who you will not see again? or after the loss of a marriage or adoption of a child?
  • Does our ability to bring closure affect our ability to play and create?
  • What happens when something loss is found? How does that change who you are becoming?

Want to learn more or work with me as a mentor and creative coach? I’d love to talk with you!

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Please leave a comment following this post/podcast or post a comment on the Play=Peace Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Hold Back, Write About What You Feel

Each moment brings an opportunity for play so why not playfully write in those moments that string into minutes.. and then hours…I had a journal with a key to lock my journal as a girl and I loved putting pen to paper and writing even then. As a child, I got the message that my brothers and sister were not suppose to make a sound at home so as not to disturb my dad. As a result I didn’t feel heard and listened to…writing gives me the opportunity to express myself. One of many art-forms I use to play and create with..

Louise DeSalvo’s quote, Repressing our Stories Can Harm Us, sent me to Google to look up repression, to revisit the word and attitude,

Google says, repression is ‘the action of subduing someone or something by force’. Re-visiting assumptions is valuable…I’m taken by the word ‘force’ in this definition of repression.

  • Am I using force to hold back my stories?
  • Do I forcefully stop myself and others from sharing theirs?

Do you believe in writing as a way of healing?  I sure do..

Writing has been instrumental in helping me to integrate my dreams and experiences in a way that transformed my life. In my 30s and during the time that I offered to be a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist I often said, ‘oh, whatever you want‘ when asked what I preferred in any given situation. I most often placated the other person to avoid conflict or criticism.

I had very little sense of boundaries and attracted people into my life who were more than willing to take advantage of my leanings. (my psychotherapist being one of the willing takers).

The woman I was at the time of my surrogate pregnancy and that same woman today in my 60s are very different.

When I write and speak about learning ‘the art of playing in the everyday’ its more about the approach and practice than it is about the form play takes. When I or anyone else brings a child’s wonder and curiosity to any experience play happens. Writing about my dreams and experience has brought a life filled with playfulness and creativity. Laughter and joy.

After writing in my journals and continuously focusing on the art of writing for many years,  I have found that I am beginning to write and not hold back.

As Betsy Wetzig, my friend and collaborator, wrote me after witnessing one of my memoir project performances and reading my writing over a period of time:

I now have a deeper understanding of how playfulness can be a medium of understanding…. for one thing it can help us deal with the “scaries” as it lets us interact with ourselves.

There is value in writing about our personal experiences and what we feel. what is real.

  • Don’t hold back.
  • Be open.
  • Be courageous.

 

 

 

What You Choose to Write + Create + Share Reveals So Much

My choices have led me to the development of my life’s view. I believe that play can be instilled in every moment of our lives and is the portal to creativity.

When I chose to be a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist and her husband I had no idea that what I experienced during the conception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum would be so life altering.

Postpartum, Act 4

The story I have been writing in a variety of forms, for well over 10 years, continues well beyond the birth and relinquishment of my surrogate son. My story is really our story, a story that offers in its postpartum, a life filled with play and creativity.

Now that my son and I have made contact by phone and I have shared my version of our story with my son, I believe more than ever, that our story continues to develop in ways that are meaningful and filled with purpose.

My core story starts with a woman who gives her Self, her Soul away. Her initial intention is to Help an Other. She doesn’t consider what life will be like after her agreement has come to its natural conclusion. She is a woman of integrity who never gives a thought to not fulfilling her end of the bargain.

It is not until just after the Birth of her Child that She Recognizes what her Contract is really about. Creating * a Newborn * and a New Life for Herself and Others, a Life of Giving and Receiving the Gifts of Play and Creativity.

The day I returned home from the hospital after giving birth to my surrogate son, I recognized I was being called to Become…

I felt stirred to action. To help my Self and Others:

  • To Play
  • To Create
  • To Laugh
  • To Wholeness
  • To Individuate

I continue to feel the pull to act, to become, to perform my life, to practice the art of playing in the everyday so that I can create a life that comes from the heart and help others on their journeys toward individuation.

What is the personal experience you are choosing to write about?

What are you creating in our life?

How do you feel about sharing your story, your creations, and who you are becoming…?

 

I WRITE (CREATE) WHEN I AM BUSY, TEARY-EYED, JOYFUL, OR OTHERWISE ENGAGED

I am finding that I can write just about anywhere and under any circumstance when I embrace imperfection.

There are times in my life when I haven’t written in my journal.

One of the longest periods of time of not writing was during my surrogate pregnancy.

Two years after the giving birth and relinquishing my newborn to his adoptive mom and dad, I began to record my dreams, I also started to write daily in my journal. I’ve been writing ever since and have stacks of journals in my play studio that I go back to again and again for reflection and inspiration.

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are and why we’re here. ~Sue Monk Kidd

I spoke to my surrogate son, Bobby, just a few weeks ago. He told me during our two-hour call that at an early age he realized that he looked very different than his parents. He asked about his beginnings. He told me, they just kept putting me off.

As our phone call was coming to a close, Bobby said, now that I know my story I have something I can tell people about who I am.

I asked Bobby if he ever writes in a journal. He said he hadn’t written since graduating from university with a degree in journalism. I suggested that he consider writing again saying, now that you know more about your beginnings you have a story to remember and to share with others.

It took a great deal of courage for Bobby to call me. All his adoptive mom and dad had told him up til the time of our call was, her name is Mary.

Bobby’s courage en-courages me to write imperfectly. To write about who I am becoming and the life experiences I am called to share.

 

That Day Has Come: Play It Forward + Create With All Your Heart

Has that day come for you?

Are you ready to give birth to the stories inside you?

I wrote in September 2016  ‘Writers on Writing’,

I can feel the electricity sparking off in my body. Tears come easily. I feel the need to walk and use this energy to act. I wonder what my a scan of my brain would show in the moment of writing — likely such a scan would look very different when I’m writing memoir versus not writing.

When I lowered myself to the floor while stretching I went into the fetal position breathing as deeply as I have ever breathed before. I’m anxious. I’ll keep breathing knowing that I can keep writing and be with my anxious self no matter what comes up. What’s the worse thing that could happen? I won’t die if I keep writing. Actually the opposite — I’ll live life to the fullest, I am a writer.

As with all things in my life I playfully write. I bring the same playful attitude to writing that I instill in washing the dishes, riding a carousel, or jumping in mud puddles with my grandchildren.

When I write I play full out. I dig a hole to china and then dig some more…

I write in the company of all the writers who have come before me. I write with all my heart and share with openness and as much generosity as I can muster.

As Isabel Allende says, Write about what should not be forgotten.

Write about what you would rather not know. Write about your fears. Write about what you love. Write about what fills you. Write about betrayal and regret. Write about your shadow. Write about what you don’t want others to know. Yes, write especially about your shadow–what you cannot see and must see to become, to perform your life, to write and share your life stories with heart.

Some journaling prompts to help you play it forward:

I wonder what I would feel like if I wrote about…

Something I have never considered writing about is…

If others knew about ______________ they would not want to…

Writing for me is…

When I create something new I want it to be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make It An Adventure: Let Your Soul Lie Down in the Grass THE WORLD IS TOO FULL TO TALK ABOUT

When our family is going through difficult times or when we feel challenged we say, “wonderful, another grand adventure!

I like to think of my life as one big, playful adventure. Play, for me, includes everything that life presents moment-to-moment. Today I’m inspired by Rumi’s wisdom:

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. When I listen and attend to what I really love I am in flow. I ‘forget’ and ‘remember’ what I am called to become, to perform–nurturer, dreamer, playful spirit, writer, storyteller, warrior, magician, creator, dancer, physical body, intellectual body, steward of nature, humane educator, and so much more…
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. I have just begun to write a series about my recurrent dream. In these dreams I am often wounded by a member of my tribe. I have been recording and listening to the guidance of my dreams for many years. At the start my recurrent dream was only filled with criticism, betrayal, and woundedness. As I continued to dream the dream on, playing with the dreams characters and dialoging with them through active imagination and dreaming, I found that I started to receive nurturance, acceptance, and applause for my efforts from the same characters who berated me earlier. Light enters in when I meet my Shadow with open arms.
 
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. Some time ago I wrote about the ‘Myth of Closure‘.  Prior to listening to Pauline Boss’s ‘On Being’ interview, I had named the myth, inconsolable grief. When I relinquished my surrogate son to his adoptive mom and father I didn’t realize the impact of this void. Yes, there is a softening over time but as Pauline talks about in her ‘On Being’ interview when there is a loss and there is a not-knowing that perpetuates and cannot be resolved there is no closure. What remains is inconsolable grief. Anything you lose comes around in another form–My story of relinquishing a newborn to a couple as a surrogate has now been rewritten. I have received a call from my son and he now knows much more about where he came from. The threads of our connection take on another form and promise. There are many news reports of parents who have lost their children through traumas of various kinds, spouses/partners who lose their lovers through drunk driving accidents or disease–many of these parents and spouses/partners courageously go on to create charities in their child or spouses/partners name. Many people, myself included, dream of those who have passed before us. Anything you lose comes around in another form.
 
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. When I meet my Shadow, the parts of me that I cannot see or acknowledge consciously, I seek to find all the barriers within that protect me from the very thing I seek–LOVE. As I write and attend to the work I am called to offer others I am aware that the most effective way to becoming who I am meant to be is Shadow-Play. 
Woundedness, Dreaming, Grieving, Writing, Shadow-Play… are all part of my life’s adventures.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. * The wound is the place where the Light enters you. * Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. * Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. * Let the beauty we love be what we do. * Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.  * Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. * When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. * Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? * If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished? ~Rumi
Some writing/creative prompts for your writing and visual journaling: 
  •  What I really love is…
  • My wounds tell me that…
  • My grief surrounds me like a ….
  • I create barriers for myself and they…

WANT A WAY TO ADD 21-DAY ‘START WRITING YOUR MEMOIR’  IMAGES AND PROMPTS TO YOUR JOURNAL WITH EASE?
   $12  Buy Now

I also offer one-on-one mentoring & creative coaching:

WORK/WITH MELEARN ‘the ART OF PLAYING IN THE EVERYDAY’

Find out about our MEMOIR PROJECT

 

 

 

Be There: Love It Enough

 

Focus on the ‘out breath’ while pushing gently and birthing your in-born gifts. ~ inspired by Karen McMillan’s Stillness Meditation

Beginnings happen again and again. We see beginnings in nature. In our waking lives. In our night dreams. In our experiences and the stories that we share.

I gave birth to my surrogate son, Bobby, 30 years ago in March. I haven’t heard a word from his adoptive mom or dad in those 30 years. Until now. This year, his birth year, he’s gently pushing me toward a re-union with him and with my Self.

He called me about a week ago and we talked for a couple of hours on the phone. After our conversation I realize there are so many opportunities for new beginnings. So many opportunities for healing and writing new stories.

  • I am at the start of….
  • I am writing a new story and…
  • I see so many opportunities to create and…
  • I notice that….

Breathe in and breathe out gently. Its snowing here and I’m reminded that,

Snow is a blank slate.

Stillness is not only a stopping or slowing down. Stillness happens as we move through our day if we are open to its quality and beauty.

As you play and create, as you write, and as you move ahead through your day and into evening remain open to love and new beginnings.

When she was there, she did not love it enough. ~inspired by Monday morning story


WANT A WAY TO ADD 21-DAY ‘START WRITING YOUR MEMOIR’  IMAGES AND PROMPTS TO YOUR JOURNAL WITH EASE?

PURCHASE A COPY OF THE ‘START YOUR MEMOIR E-BOOK’   $12  Buy Now

WORK/WITH MELEARN ‘the ART OF PLAYING IN THE EVERYDAY’

FAQ: 21-Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Challenge

Thank you for participating in the 21 Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Challenge.

PLEASE NOTE**You will receive 2 separate emails each day of the 21-day Challenge– (Prompts & Blog Posts)

Not a participant? Wanna play? You can join here. (It’s free.)

The following info will help you get the most out of the experience, and hopefully answer your questions.

If you still have questions about the challenge, please ask in the comments below.

I suspect you may be here because you are missing some of the writing prompts sent by email. *JUST BREATHE*

Missing Emails

It’s a frustrating fact that email can go randomly missing, or not be delivered.

Here are some things you can do improve email deliverability:

Add my email address to your address book:

maryalice@playequalspeace.com

this will train your email to go into your inbox, instead of spam or elsewhere.

Not sure how to do this? No worries. It only takes a minute, and this online guide (with pictures for your email provider!) shows you how.

Gmail users: Check your promotions tab or spam folder. If my email landed there, drag the email into your inbox.

  1. If you don’t see your daily prompt email:
    Please check your spam folder, or the promotions tab if you use gmail. 99% of the time it’s hiding in there. 
    If you don’t find confirmation after checking junk and promotions, it’s possible the email address was typed in wrong. That happens a lot, especially when typing on your phone, etc. So try signing up again, and triple-checking your email address. If the the sign up button on your device of choice isn’t working–Try signing up from a different device.
  2. Make sure my email address is in your address book, instructions are above.
  3. Join the 21-Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Facebook Group – there are lots of other group members who will be happy to help out and share missing prompts. Just ask!
  4. Visit the Play=Peace Facebook page, where I share the blog posts with journal prompts. You don’t need to be a Facebook user to see my page.To make sure you can see all of my Facebook posts, Click the LIKE button, and when you hover over the FOLLOWING button on the top menu, make sure SEE FIRST is checked.
  5. Pop over to my ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ blog, where you’ll find each day’s blog post & journal prompts.

Important: Treat the course emails like a gift card. If you lose them, they won’t be replaced.

It is recommended you save these emails, print them out if you want to make sure you have access to all 21 images & prompts or purchase:

Start Writing Your Memoir’ e-Book
Buy Now

*Thank you* for understanding that I am sharing this challenge with lots of other people and am a mentor, creative coach, writer, and artist without a staff — so I won’t respond to requests to replace missing 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge emails.

I want you to get each and every prompt, but sometimes email just isn’t delivered.

That’s why I’ve got you covered by posting on my blog, in the 21-day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Facebook Group and on the Play=Peace Facebook Page

Fair enough? 

We limit screen time in my family which leaves us more time to play and create in a variety of ways!!

Supplies:
All you need to begin is a notebook and something to write with.

Of course, you can embellish with crayons, paint, drawings, photographs. Some great resources can be found on Pinterest ‘Visual Journaling’ Boards.

The ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ Blog:

There’s a blog post to accompany each of the images and prompts. You will receive each day’s blog post in a separate email. Print, add to your Pinterest boards, or Share as you desire.

Get all the images and prompts: Start Writing Your Memoir e-Book  was designed to make your writing even easier. Buy Now

Download, printout, and use like a playbook or cut out and add to any notebook.

Here’s what you can expect from joining the 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge:

Registering for this project automagically gets you on my ‘Play Notes’ list.

I send out play-based, depth-oriented ‘play notes’, blog posts, and resources by email.

As a subscriber you will receive information on working-with-me as a mentor and creative coach, workshops and events, and Play=Peace Shop products that are being offered. ‘Play Notes’ subscribers are the first to hear about early bird discounts.

Sharing & Connection

You are invited to share your experience in the ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge in the comments on the ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ Blog.

Use the hashtag #StartYourMemoir in your blog and social media posts so we can find each other and build our creative community.

Join our closed FB Group for our Challenge here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/startyourmemoir/

Questions? Comments? I hope so!

If you want to share about your experience or ask questions, please comment on the ‘Create a Life that Comes from the Heart’ blog or go to the Facebook group to post.

If you have unanswered questions – add them in the comments on this page.

I’m open to questions as you participate in this project. Due to number of participants, I kindly ask for two considerations:

1. Please ask your questions in the comments area of the blog posts (this will avoid questions getting lost in email)

2. I won’t answer each question personally, but instead will answer questions in our 21-Day ‘Start Your Memoir’ Challenge Facebook group.

Scrolled Down Without Reading? 

Important: Treat the daily challenge emails like a gift card. If you lose it, it won’t be replaced.

As I won’t be able to answer requests to replace missing emails, so please check out the above options for getting prompts you may be missing.

*Thank you* for understanding that I am sharing this challenge with a large group and am a playful mentor, creative coach, writer, and artist without a staff. 

Yes, I totally repeated some stuff in here, because. You know.

Thank you again for being here.

The 21-Day ‘Start Writing Your Memoir’ Challenge is my playful passion, and I’m so thrilled to be sharing it with you!

Memoir Project: Dusting Myself Off, Putting my High Boots on & Going Back In!

After a lot of procrastination I have published three excerpts from my memoir in revision. I’ve also shared several writer’s notes over the last few days. You can find Memoir Project entries HERE and a couple Writer’s Notes HERE

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I had full intentions this morning to continue to write and revise my memoir’s manuscript this morning but I was stopped in my tracks by an event yesterday that kept me awake last night. It all started with:

You Should Have…

After tossing and turning in bed and making every effort to disavow what is roaming around inside of me I decided to put my high boots on and step back Into the arena. The arena where I bring my vulnerability and courage.

Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage. ~Brene Brown

I realized this morning as I sipped my coffee that I have been in that same arena immeasurable times in my life and that over the last few days I have been standing naked and left my armor behind. 

I’m showing up in a big way.

and so are all of my anxieties and concern about being killed on the field as I share my story and who I am. The real deal with no armor to shield me.

Yesterday I stepped out and was hit by the the same criticisms and shame that have kept me from writing and sharing what I am creating over the course of my lifetime. I asked myself this morning,

How is this critic similar to other critics that have voiced their disapproval of how I look, act, what I do, who I am??

I came across a photo of Mary Alice (circa 1954). I am just over a year old, standing with my Easter bonnet, dress, and coat. Looking ahead in a focused way. Even then I had a sense of who I am suppose to be and started to give away the parts of myself that didn’t fit that ideal.

image

Today I’m breathing deeply in a fetal position on the floor, dusting myself off, and continuing to create and share. On this Autumnal Equinox I feel like I am falling, breaking down. As I continue to play and create my life and life’s work I give myself permission to stay home for stretches of time and also to explore outside the edges of my experience.

I will continue to create and share here, on the Play=Peace blog, and on Medium knowing that as, Brene Brown, says,

if you step into the arena, you’re going to get your ass kicked

Every one of you has a Critic’s seat reserved in that same arena. See you there. Will you be fully armored or nakedly sharing your vulnerability and gifts with us all?

Memoir Project: The Next Chapter

Summer has brought with it attention to healing and recovery. What supports me is injured. I’m keeping what benefits me and letting go of what no longer serves. I’ve been artificially holding up my upper torso. Dropping into my natural stance and walk makes me feel much more at ease.

IMG_9079

I’ve been holding on for almost 30 years. Three decades reminding me of the mantra of the rosary–a prayer.

I’m praying, my prayer is one of release.

I am writing in two columns as I journal. The second queue includes feelings and body intelligence that I note as I write freely.

Blow out as you push, don’t hold your breath

Holding myself up

Can you imagine holding something up for almost 30 years? Well, I did just that. That kind of holding can eventually show up as pain in the hips and legs. What supports me started to break down.

IMG_9077

Dropping Down & Pushing

Walking nearby our campsite my hips dropped and I felt a release. An awareness washed over me of just how long I have been moving ahead in a way that injures

Since the moment when I passed my newborn son from my arms into the arms of his adoptive mother I have been…

  • holding myself up
  • holding myself back
  • unable to settle into a position that allows for ease of birthing.

I was not going to relax and move into a position where I was likely to give away so much of myself again.

Giving Birth

I am in another 7 year cycle. Exploring patterns:

1-7: childhood, play!

7-14: adolescence, play!

14-21: marriage, birth of my daughter

21-28: birth of my son and daughter, back to school

28-35: surrogate pregnancy, masters program

35-42: birth of my surrogate son, doctoral program, new relationship, kids leave home, move, play!

42-49: play! move, breast cancer, Mom’s breast cancer, re-marriage

49-56: play! move, Michael’s cancer returns, surgery and treatment; Mom’s death

56-63: play! Dad’s death, gave away my son at his wedding

63-70: play! new chapter!

My ability to hold on is amazing. Will I be able to release what has been holding me back? It’s exciting to think about a new chapter in my life.

What’s next?

for me? for you?