It’s been 75 days since I last wrote here and a lot has happened. Shortly after my 37th birthday in March, I had a devastating breakup that truly took me by surprise and shook me to my core, something I wasn’t expecting nor did I feel prepared to cope with. I’ve had a lot of different kinds of breakups over the years but none quite like this. Without getting into too much detail, it was heartbreaking mostly because the relationship seemed to have so much potential and therefore seemed so unfair to be ending, something neither one of us really wanted but nonetheless, something that was necessary. I spent every day for the next three weeks on the verge of what felt like a breakdown, yet somehow I managed to also carry out all of my responsibilities, and then some. Perhaps it was all just a way to distract myself from the pain I was experiencing or a way to cope with it all. Part of me just figured if I kept moving forward, everything would be ok, so long as I didn’t stop the forward momentum.
|Yaquina Head Lighthouse|
I nervously did my first public presentation of 20 of my images at Newspace Center for Photography’s Slideshow Night just three days after the breakup. I was uncertain whether I would have the ability to get up in front of a room full of strangers and talk candidly about something so emotional to me. Luckily, I got through it unscathed and even had a good response from several attendees who came up to me after the presentation to tell me how much they enjoyed my images and my story. The day after the presentation I drove to the coast to meet with a friend for a belated birthday lunch in Newport and then went to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse for the first time ever. The next day, I showed up for my five hour volunteer shift at Blue Sky Gallery and created materials to publish a call for participants for a photo project I’m working on exploring the concept of legacy in childless women over the age of 65.
The next week, I attended my first Blue Sky Gallery exhibition committee meeting after work on a Tuesday night. Then my old friend insomnia showed up again, I pushed on nonetheless. I decided to throw an impromptu birthday party for a friend at my apartment on a Friday night. I had a new audio system installed in my car the next day to make those long road trips Cole and I like to take just a little bit better. I tested it out the next day as I took a Sunday drive out through the Gorge to Rowena Crest, stopping at various spots along the way.
|Near Rowena Crest|
The following week I helped with my first installation of a new exhibit at Blue Sky Gallery. I went to the opening of Kinesis, a show in the newly designated CoSPACE Gallery at Newspace Center for Photography, in which I had one print included. Afterward I drove to Astoria for an overnight trip to see the opening of the PDX30 exhibition at Lightbox Gallery in which my first juried photograph was selected for inclusion. On the way home to Portland, I stopped at Fort Stevens State Park to take some photos and let Cole run around on the beach. When I got home, I called up a friend to join me for karaoke at the Alibi. Meanwhile, my insomnia persisted.
|Streetcar in Astoria|
Cole’s ears began to bother him and after a trip to the vet, I discovered he had an abundance of yeast which would require ear drops twice a day for two weeks. Still, I attended another exhibition committee meeting at Blue Sky Gallery. I participated in a Portland Photographers Forum board meeting call. My cousin then came for a visit, the first since I moved to Oregon almost three years ago. With very little sleep, over 2 1/2 days, I took her through the Gorge stopping at Chanticleer Point and Multnomah Falls, then up to Timberline Lodge where I used my snow chains for the first time before getting them stuck and then unstuck from my tires before heading back to Portland for some nightlife activities with friends. The next day we drove to the Coast and I showed her a bunch of my favorite spots from Ecola State Park south to Cape Kiwanda before heading back to Portland for some more nightlife activities with friends. The next day we went to the Saturday Market and then had a Dim Sum brunch before it was time to say farewell and drop her at the airport. I went home to rest for about an hour or so and then headed out for a first post-breakup date at the Chinese Garden, a huge step for me.
|Sunset driving back from Eugene|
The next day I went to a Portland Photographers Forum monthly member meeting but I could tell something was awry. The next morning I woke up sick. I went to work for one day but then slept for the next three days before I could go back to work. When I was feeling better, I had a second date: a quick stroll through the Beaverton Farmers Market, lunch at a delicious Korean restaurant, followed by coffee nearby. Afterward, Cole and I drove to Eugene to drop off two framed photos I donated to the ShelterCare art benefit and to meet with a couple of friends for dinner. The next day I hosted a photography Meetup at Blue Sky Gallery and then did my five hour Gallery sitting volunteer shift. My insomnia continued.
I had a third date the next week over a homemade Thai dinner at my place. The next day I met with my photo critique group for several hours to decide on a name for our group and zine (1/2 Stop, if you’re interested). That weekend I traveled to West Linn to do event photography for the Honor the Journey gala, a fundraiser for the Pacific Northwest Hospice Foundation. The next day, I had a fourth date which started with hiking on the Washington side of the Gorge at Catherine Creek followed by a quick drive past the animals at Schreiner Farms. We stopped at Horsethief Lake to see petroglyphs, then made a quick stop at Sorosis Park to take in the view of the Dalles from up above. We then stopped for dinner and at Rowena Crest before heading home.
|Going to see the petroglyphs|
That next week I dropped off three of my framed prints for the Oregon Society of Artists/Portland Photographers Forum joint show. I saw Patton Oswalt perform at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I hosted a Cinco de Mayo Party at my apartment complete with margaritas and homemade guacamole. I organized and hosted another photography Meetup at Blue Sky Gallery. I attended the opening reception of the Oregon Society of Artists/Portland Photographers Forum joint show followed by a fifth date to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and then dinner and drinks at the Backstage Bar.
That next week at work, on top of my normally hectic schedule, our phone system conversion went live two days early causing a small panic and complete redirection of energy to that project. That same week, I realized the deadline for a friend’s kid’s school project that I agreed to help with was a few days away so I had to scramble to get that taken care which had me photoshopping images, picking up travel brochures, and overnighting materials back to Wisconsin. On the upside, three of my photographs I agreed to hang at work arrived from the printer: a stretched canvas, a glass print, and a metal print. Then, out of the blue, my doctor informed me that she thought I had adrenal fatigue, not entirely surprising considering how my life has been the last oh, ten years or so. I wasn’t really sure though what adrenal fatigue was or how it could impact your life. I figured it would still be “life as usual” going forward so the next day, I had a sixth date: attending the Beast Talks at Beast Studio followed by dinner.
Then I got sick, again. I mean really, really sick. After learning more about adrenal fatigue and the long term effects if left untreated, I realized that I needed to make a huge change in my life. In order to reduce stress and focus solely on my health, I made the difficult decision to resign from all of my photography endeavors and various volunteer commitments. After sending out my resignation emails and tying up some loose ends, I pushed through one day of work being sick and then took three days off (again) to rest and focus on recovering from my cold. I eventually got better but this time it took two weeks to get “back to normal”. It was becoming clearer and clearer that I couldn’t keep going like I was.
Since then, I’ve been taking things really easy. I’m reluctant to make any plans. On the rare occasion when I do schedule something, I make sure it is something that I can easily cancel without feeling bad. I’ve been spending a lot more time at home which has given me time to catch up on my favorite Netflix shows with Cole. I did get out of the house though for Memorial Day and spent the weekend in Bandon enjoying the beach and eating delicious food with Cole and Matt. This past weekend we took Cole to the Pug Meetup where he got to reconnect with Emma and we got to enjoy the fresh air. I look forward to continuing to photograph the Pacific Northwest but there will no longer be the same pressure as before on what to do, if anything, with the images I take.
I’m slowing learning to listen more to what my body is trying to tell me. It’s an interesting process. I met with some folks at work today to begin adjusting my schedule and reducing the level of stress that is experienced with my job. I feel good about the first steps we’re taking toward that, I am so thankful that the management team is so supportive. I’m continuing to work with my doctor on methods for adrenal fatigue recovery including increasing how much I sleep, adding in some more vitamins and supplements to my diet. There will need to be more changes in the future but they need to be done slowly. There’s no quick fix for this but in time, I should be healthier and happier. What more could I ask for?