This week, I went to the art museum by myself. This was a really big deal, or at least, I am deciding it is. Since moving to Ohio, I’ve been reluctant to get out on my own. I have only a handful of places I can even drive to without having to use a map to get me there. The shopping center by the house, the post office, the fancy grocery store 10 minutes north, and the shopping center 20 minutes south where I worked for a few months. That’s really it. It’s endlessly frustrating.
Instead of being more proactive about finding my way around a new city, I’ll admit I’ve avoided it. I have felt too vulnerable adjusting to a new place and lifestyle. I have felt a need to protect myself and not venture out. And that’s natural, I suppose.
As of this past week though, I officially added several new places to that list. I’ve taken Shelby to school enough times now that I finally didn’t use my phone to get me there this week. I’ve gone up to Mike’s work to take him lunch twice now, and drove the second time home without a map. After driving to my art class on Thursday nights for 4 weeks in a row, I made it there this past week on my own. And on Thursday afternoon, I went to the art museum for the first time, and thus downtown for the first time, and I drove the way back without a map.
It seems like such a small victory… but it’s definitely not. It means I’m starting to feel confident enough again to venture out. It means I’m beginning to adjust to this new life halfway across the country from where I grew up.
I cannot help but remember how everything felt like a giant victory the year after Drew died. I remember the first time I went into the grocery store and actually came out with everything on my list was a huge day… so much so that I wrote on Facebook to tell everyone about it. It was huge because for at least 6 months after his crash and death, I could not even do a simple task like buy groceries. I would end up wandering aimlessly through the aisles, forgetting half of what was on my list, or forgetting I’d even made a list in the first place. Or worst yet, I’d accidentally end up in the dreaded GREETING CARD AISLE - which resulted in an immediate exodus from the store in tears. (Now, I can not only go down that aisle, but I can spend an hour just looking at silly cards and picking them out for people I love once again.)
This week I am reminded, there are no small victories in life. That it’s far better to be proud of yourself for every little positive, every little step forward, and every ounce of courage you’ve got. It’s also better to be kind to yourself. It gets you a lot farther. I think over time, as I have healed, I’ve forgotten how important those good habits are. I have been forgetting to celebrate the tiny victories, and instead returning to old habits of being too hard on myself.
This class has been challenging me to notice the positive more daily. We are required to journal each morning, and to take ourselves on an “artist date” once a week… taking yourself somewhere that inspires or fills you up creatively. This week, it was the art museum for me. Not only was it fulfilling because the art I saw was inspiring and fun and beautiful, but because I went somewhere new in a place I still barely know, all on my own. Each week, I try to make my artist date something like this… taking myself somewhere new alone. It’s doing more for my confidence and comfort than I ever realized it could.