#makedesmoines

This week I was honored to be a part of a neat photo series called Make Des Moines by the talented Justin Meyer. I met Justin about a year ago, and he's one of those local folks that everybody seems to know. He is clearly dedicated to both his family and his photography, and just an all-around nice, genuine guy. Justin said he started #makedesmoines to not only improve his own photography skills, but showcase the people who make Des Moines a vibrant, creative community. He particularly wanted to focus on individuals on the fringes -- the people who are perhaps a little more obscure, yet still doing their part to help Des Moines thrive while exploring their own passions and hobbies.

10589689_981215808831_1059195984_n

The funny thing is, I wouldn't have considered myself someone who "makes" Des Moines. It actually took me a solid year and a half to like living here! I had moved in 2012 for a relationship and a job -- and both are fine reasons to relocate -- but I didn't realize how long it would take to make new friends and find my personal footing on a lot of levels. It eventually happened, but it took a while.

That's why I so enjoyed being a part of #makedesmoines. Over the past year, I dug much deeper roots here. The things I had slowly chosen to be a part of started to come full circle, started to flower, and it made me appreciate this community more than ever. That's how life works sometimes, right? You take one step down one path and it leads you to places you never imagined or intended. And usually, that's right where you need to be.

10658378_981216282881_793520173_o

I started this blog, and made writing much more of a priority. I joined the Art Noir board, and now I'm a co-chair for an awesome event fundraiser next year called Big Hair Ball. I discovered Power Life Yoga, and decided to embark upon the teacher training journey, and now teaching alongside practicing is a fundamental part of my life, of my happiness, of my sense of service. I threw my hat in the ring to teach composition at DMACC, and realized how much I enjoy helping other people learn how to put their viewpoints on paper. A meeting from my first month in Des Moines turned into an opportunity to freelance for Silicon Prairie News, where I get to share the stories of all sorts of people doing cool, important things in their own communities.

10639036_981274336541_832031866_o

But all of those things -- those relationships, connections, goals, opportunities -- took a lot of time to develop. There were many moments when I felt unsure about being on the right path, or I wanted to give up. So the biggest lesson I've learned in Des Moines thus far involves patience. The value of showing up, despite failure or unmet expectations, and dedicating yourself to the process. Trusting that the work matters whether the effects or outcomes are immediately visible or not.

During the shoot, Justin and I talked about how we witness so many people doing cool things in this city, and the striking thing is that nobody seems afraid to fail. People start a new project simply to see how it plays out, with the goal of bettering this community somehow or just because they're excited about it, and more often than not, it works or succeeds. And if not, on to the next thing. All the people I've met here are insanely committed to their creative endeavors, and they carve out time for those efforts, which is incredibly inspiring.

10418158_981281996191_4947937871057049056_n

That's why I value yoga and writing so much. I am certainly not the only yogi in this town, and there are many, many others with more experience and skill than myself. Likewise, there are plenty of writers producing quality work. But all these people inspire me to show up to the page or to my mat every single day, and do the work to discover the joy involved, and hopefully make a small difference in the lives of others. For that, I'm grateful.

See Justin's full post and check out the rest of the series here.

Deciding to Blog

I started reading blogs in 2006, a little before they became as mainstream as they are today. I stumbled upon Eat, Live, Run and Healthy Tipping Point one slow day during my law firm internship, and was immediately hooked. Reading blogs became one of my favorite things to do. I loved the wide variety of topics and general sense of community. And I constantly thought, I could start a blog. Then the reasons came:

No, other people would think that is weird.

What would I write about? I'm not an expert on anything.

I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said before.

I'm not a writer yet.

Blogs are a fad.

The Internet is forever.

What if I post something people don't like? People can be so mean online.

I'm too much of a private person to share things on a blog.

And so on.

Yet, I did work up the nerve to start a blog while in graduate school. I don't even remember the name of it, but I do remember throwing something together on WordPress, writing a post about how much I loved the fall, and then showing it to my then-boyfriend proudly. I'll never forget his reaction: "It's too long. You write too much. People won't read it." I crumbled with embarrassment, feeling rejected like a little kid, and never wrote another post.

Fast forward three years. I still read blogs. I even attended the Healthy Living Summit in Chicago. I still thought about starting a blog. My current, wonderful boyfriend, my sister, my mom and my friends all said, "I'd read your blog!" But I still procrastinated because I was afraid.

It will take up too much time.

People are seriously mean on the Internet sometimes. Also, privacy!

I'm not a writer yet.

You can see where I'm going with this. All those thoughts? Excuses, big-time. I could feel myself trying to convince myself that this wasn't a good idea. Because one person three years ago shut me down when I tried. Because I was still afraid. Because my perfectionist tendencies try to avoid all possibilities of not being "good" or messing up somehow. But finally (thankfully), I got over myself.

I was over my own excuses because I simply wanted to write. Despite the critic in my head, I knew I am and always will be a writer. As Glennon Melton puts it, "Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale." Of course it would take up time, but I certainly find time to do all sorts of things I love, like yoga and cooking and reading and happy hour. I knew I wouldn't post anything I wouldn't share with family and friends, and I know my limits in terms of privacy. Yes, people on the Internet can be cruel. So can people in real life. I wasn't interested in letting other people stop me from doing something I wanted to do anymore. And what I wanted, and needed, was some sort of creative space in order to write and share and grow, and truly, a blog is an excellent opportunity and tool to do so. I was the only person holding myself back.

I'm sure there will still be days ahead when I think I shouldn't blog, and on those days, I'm going to return to this post as a reminder of why I should.