Monday, June 21, 2010

One Year Later. My Final Blog Post.

A year ago I pulled out of Atlanta on Father’s Day to start a new life for myself. I was excited, nervous, focused, and prepared. Or, so I thought. What I didn’t expect was that I would immediately get lost. It took me an hour and a half to find my way out of a city that I had lived in for more than 14 years. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to make of all this but as I said recently, I believe in signs, symbols, and milestones.  

Eventually, I got on the right road and my journey began. That evening I wrote my first blog post and I made a commitment to blog for one full year. I had no idea what I was getting into but it forced me to discover Portland, as well as myself, so I always had something to write about each week. 

In the course of one year I have experienced more of life than I ever imagined. I have hiked trails from Aspen and Crested Butte to the Columbia River Gorge. I’ve run a half marathon and I’ve mountain biked on muddy single tracks. I’ve gone to farms to pick blueberries and peaches. And, I’ve learned how to knit. I’ve produced for ABC, CBS, and wrote for a startup called MDiTV. I’ve volunteered to walk dogs and I’ve hosted a couch-surfer. In the last year, I have dated more guys in Portland than I did the last four years in Atlanta. And everyday I wake up grateful to live in a nice home and in a great neighborhood smack in between beautiful Mt. Tabor and the hip and happening Hawthorne district.  

In so many ways, my life is vastly different from what it was a year ago. By blogging about it to an audience of friends, family, and strangers, I have shared more of myself than I thought possible. And, in the process, I made myself vulnerable. The result is a stronger, better, wiser Lila.  

This past year my writing improved and my voice grew stronger. I attribute this to two extraordinary friends who are amazing writers. My friends Helyn and Stacy took turns copy editing my blog. They did this on their own time. They were my guides, my gurus, and in many cases, my last minute fairy god-mothers. I’m writing this last blog post on my own, so all the dots and dashes you see is Lila, un-edited.  

Perhaps the biggest change these last twelve months has been internal and how I interact with others. Before, when someone hurt or disappointed me in a big way, I would cut and run. Now, I’m learning to breathe through the pain and to accept things and people as they are. This alone has shown me my own strength and has allowed me to move forward courageously, knowing whatever issues I face I can get through it with integrity and confidence.    

Throughout this year people have asked what inspired me, at age 42, to sell my house, leave my job, and move to a city where I only knew two people. I usually say I was just ready for change.  

The real answer, though, is my father. He was my inspiration.  

My Dad passed away in August 2007. I was able to spend some time with him his last few days where he was confined to bed. It was obvious his time was short. At one point, it was just the two of us in the room. As I held his hand, I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me … anything he felt I needed to know. Though he was very weak he managed to raise his hand, touch my face and whisper: “Just be happy.” He died a few days later. 

My dad’s words have always stuck with me. So many people live life searching for happiness but never really find it because they’re so busy looking ahead and forgetting to stay in the moment. To me, the key to happiness is staying in the moment, even when the moment isn’t going so well. As soon as I left Atlanta I got lost. But I stayed in the moment. Eventually I got on the right road and the road I’ve been on ever since has been filled with adventure, laughter, tears, and lots of love. I’m living in the moment and living true to my father’s words. 

I find it fitting that I started and ended my blog on Father’s Day. I will always hold my father’s words close to my heart. Just be happy. Dad, I truly am. 

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Mile Markers and Chapters Ending...

I’m a sucker for milestones. I search for irony in life, and I believe in signs. So when I got a call this week from Good Morning America to field produce the story of a missing 7-year-old from Northwest Portland, I thought it symbolic that it fell on the same week that I left CNN last year.  

Since moving to Portland in July 2009 work has played a minimal role in my life. I figured by this point my business would have a healthy pulse and my focus in life would be on my revamped career, but that just hasn’t happened.  

Instead, here’s what I’ve come to realize: this year was never meant to be about work. It was meant to be about me, on a personal level; how I interact with people, groups, and on my own.  

This year of transition hasn’t been easy: I’ve hit the highest highs and lowest lows, I’ve laughed hard and cried harder, and to say I was lonely would be an understatement.  

While I’ve drawn many positive people my way, I’ve also drawn plenty of toxic people too, especially the second half of the year. I’ve witnessed lies uncovered, posers revealed, and lost souls wandering aimlessly. It occurs to me that I’ve been in this place before and I realize I never fully closed that toxic friend chapter which began years ago. Having the opportunity to spend time on my own has prepared me to face loneliness and disappointment and to make room for a new and better beginning for myself. 

This past weekend I went sailing on a friend’s boat. Drifting in the water I thought of a sign posted outside a church at the end of my block. It reads: In compassion be like the Sun. In tolerance be like the Sea. 

I’m not sure if there’s a specific meaning behind this saying but it reminds me of gentleness and forgiveness and how I can sometimes forget to be gentle and forgiving with myself, and others. Something I’ve tried to work on this year.

I think to truly be who we are takes work, time, and a lot of self-love. One year after leaving CNN I’m stronger, wiser, and smarter. But, I’m a work in progress. Perhaps one year from now I can look back with an unbiased eye and see how far I’ve come.  

To be continued… 

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Stilettos & Fishnets

There was once a time in my life where clothes shopping rated up there with spa vacations. I was working overnights at CNN International and had three full days off a week and plenty of time to get to know the mannequins at Lenox Square Mall Macy’s. Oftentimes, I’d meet up with friends and we’d spend a couple of hours checking out the latest fashion trends, finding the best bargains, and leaving with at least one or two new items to add to our closets. It was like happy hour meets Project Runway but without the cocktails or the models.

Turns out, this was just a phase. I was single and living in Atlanta, a booming city where fashion designers are born, hip-hop artist  record, and Elton John resides. It’s the kind of city where a single girl dresses to the nines when she goes out with her friends.

Fast forward many years later. I’m still happily single and now living in Portland, a city where fashion is whatever you make it. Nowadays, I shop for the latest trends about as often as I shop for a new gynecologist.

My focus in life has morphed from looking my best to feeling my best. These days, I’m more likely to be on a hike wearing my Nike running shorts and Merrell trail shoes rather than a color coordinated Karen Kane or I-N-C ensemble. 

My priorities have shifted. Good thing I was in Portland when this happened.

This city’s fashion scene is a little schizophrenic. In one street block I’ll pass a Goth girl with chains dripping from her spike-covered belt, and next I’ll walk past a 60-something man sporting a ponytail, decked out in tie dye and tattered Birkenstocks. Here, mismatched knee socks, ill-fitting “Peace” t-shirts, and short skirts with torn tights and rubber rain boots are the norm.

Initially, I was jolted by Portland’s unhinged style and wondered how my fashion sensibilities would fit. While in Atlanta, I might’ve dreamed of wearing fishnets and stilettos out on the town. Now – a new resident of a city grounded in weird – I’m liberated enough to pull out the sensual hosiery and give it a walk down my street.

But instead of stilettos, I’ll pair my new favorite leggy accessory with my lace-up brown, suede Frye boots. And with that getup, I’ll fit right in with Portland’s funky fashion scene.

((please hit play button to watch video))

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