When I run into people I knew in high school and college, they ask, “How is your photography and singing going?” People I’ve met in the last twenty years ask, “How is your writing and speaking going?” In eighth grade, I took a careers aptitude test and scored so highly on everything that the counselor said, “You can do anything you want…except factory work, because your eye-hand coordination isn’t the best.” Inside my 12 year-old perfectionist’s soul, I thought, “I bet I could if I tried!”
The counselor’s enthusiasm was lovely, but it didn’t help me choose. For decades, I flailed: almost majored in physics but didn’t, tried to find a way to travel, knew I should be a missionary, got married and had three (wonderful) children, wrote children’s books, sold shoes, edited others’ books, sold advertising…I kept trying to find a way to make a living with my skills. But I didn’t know how to hone in on what I really wanted. I was trained to do what was perfect, that mistakes were usually sin, to act only when God spoke, and that my own desires came from an eternally flawed nature. How could I possibly choose?
I was certain that I was broken, unfixable, and had to prove my worth and make the best of my flaws by making something, anything, pay. I floundered so much in and after college that by my 30th birthday—right after becoming a mom—I distinctly remember thinking, “I can’t wait to be 50. I’ll be so much better by then. Neater. More confident. No panic or depression. Super-fit. Successful. I’ll surely have fixed myself by then.
Guess how old I am now?
You guessed it…FIFTY-ONE. And have I become any of those ideals? I did write a book, persevering over ten years. But it’s no best seller, and you (and I) might wonder why I haven’t had breakout success in more of that “anything you want.” Why am I not makin’ the big bucks with all that potential?
The guilt and shame of not living up to expectations has hounded me until only recently. As my children grew to needing me less, my pressure to perform, to produce, to make all that potential be worth it only intensified. I tried all I could think of: left religion, focused only on my family, did wild forbidden things and wrote a memoir about it, ended my marriage, focused on money, tried innumerable methods to handle depression and panic. Nothing worked, and though I kept trying, hope faded. When my mom died in 2012, I sank.
From the outside, you would’ve thought I recovered and maybe even succeeded, finally finishing the memoir and publishing it in 2016, optimistic about prospects, always cheerful. But inside and underneath, I was sinking to darker depths. When finishing the book didn’t magically erase the panic and depression, I could muster little hope.
Finally, my doctor noticed and sent me to a therapist. For the past four years, I’ve been processing my trauma and healing my soul. Rewriting neural pathways and clearing chemically-embedded wounds is hard work, often as exhausting as it is freeing. But I can say with zero reservations that it’s “worked,” as now, I feel like my real self for the first time since early childhood.
Time is weird, though. I simultaneously feel exactly the same as back then and like a whole new person. Everything in this sacred space of the Church of Wild revolves around that mystery. The journey to finally becoming myself. The self that was and remains; the self that’s been excavated from under the weight of religion, the self that’s been healed from trauma, detoxing from the virus of self-judgment and guilt.
Remember that eighth grade careers test? You might think that NOW I can choose, right? Welp, I ain’t gonna. Hope has been restored and made it clear that I want to follow my heart, ambitions, and dreams. All of them.
I want to create and build, to try and fail, to learn and grow…to manifest.
And I want to share it with you in the hopes that you, too, will love yourself, take risks, notice Now, find Flow, learn and grow. You are not a problem to be fixed but a mystery to be explored. So let’s go!
The Church of Wild blog is where I do my best to embody the fundamental, foundational worth of living in essays, short Aha! moments, cool people, wacky ideas, art, videos, cultural observations, zany attempts, anger, fun, crying, joy, hope….the gamut of emotion and vulnerability, excising and exorcising self judgment and guilt through simply being and sharing. I hope that by coming along with me here, you’ll find more freedom and grace to do the same in your life, to BE, to embody life.
The store, Church of Wild Collections, is an endeavor I’ve planned for years, a way to share what I see through my camera in a practical, everyday way…clothing and housewares! I’m launching our first line via IndieGogo here: feminine-celebrating, outrageously fun YoniFlower Leggings, embody cheekiness, snark, beauty, and confidence. I hope you love wearing and gifting them!
This place is and will become a hub for almost everything I plan on doing creatively and as an entrepreneur: speaking, travel retreats, workshops and courses, photography and art, books of nonfiction and fiction…even singing. The umbrella of the Church of Wild shelters it all, in meaning, metaphor, manifestation, and mystery. I’m so ready! So excited! And I am so very glad you’re here.
p.s. Read the book that started it all, from which the Church of Wild sprang, a memoir about coming of age late by sowing my wild oats at 37, amidst motherhood and fear: The Oat Project: How I Faced my Fear and Came of Age In One Wild Summer.