For as long as I remember, I've had a journal -  a place I could go to write out my observations of the world and what I was thinking and feeling in any given moment.  Reflecting on my life in this way - the act of writing it out and especially, reading it back at a later date - has been the one thing that has helped me understand myself most.  What I have also realized is that I often grabbed my journal when I felt super lost or confused about something, but not so much when I felt like life was going great.  And that bothered me.  Why was I forgetting to write about all those great moments?  Maybe if I did reflect on the positive things more, it would impact my perspective and help me, before I get to those super lost and confused moments.

Though I wasn't exactly sure what the focus would be, I first had the idea to create a personal blog of some sort back in 2010.  I had taken a trip from NYC, where I lived, to Barcelona.  This trip stemmed from me wanting to make a move to Spain (aka trying to find myself in the most dramatic way possible).   I was walking down a cobble-stoned street one morning, and I noticed a sign above one of the closed stores to my right.  It read, "Aqui estoy yo."  My brain started translating this into my native language, English, as it does when you haven't quite reached the level of fluency to actually think in another language.  But I kept going back and forth questioning what the translation would be - is it "Here I am" or "I am here?"  Does it even matter?  Why do I think this matters? 

At the time, walking down that Barcelona street, I had been contemplating if where you physically are really matters.  If I wasn't "happy" in NYC, would moving to Spain really make me "happy?"  What was I really searching for?  Whether intentional or not, I answered this question not with words but by a series of seemingly random choices like enrolling in a pastry program at the NYC culinary school that I had been working at for a few years as a career advisor.  This led me to gaining curiosity and confidence in baking, writing for the school's blog, and meeting a boy.  I didn't move to Spain.  I don't even know if I realized that I made the decision not to go as I was busy doing other things like learning how to make bread from scratch, developing an understanding for how editors critique writing, and allowing myself to fall in love.  I did end up leaving NYC - first for a summer in Maine and then two years ago to move to Portland, Oregon.  Somewhere in between, I also started a dog treat business.  To date, I have never regretted not making that move to Spain.  But that sign and that moment of questioning I had that one morning in Barcelona was still something that came up, through the years.

The truth is, at 36.5 years old, I am still searching for who I am, what makes me happy, and what I want to contribute to the world.  I also realized that I am not going to be able to make any decisions about things like whether I should grow my dog treat business or open a human/dog bakery food cart or move forward with my decade-long dream of opening a dog park cafe/winebar until I get to the core of myself again, my personal mission statement.

Sitting here today in my Portland studio apartment, six years after passing that sign above a storefront in Barcelona, Here I am and I am here mean something a little different for me.  Today, Here I Am is me, being open, willing, and committed to stand in my truth - all my fears, all of my doubts, all of my dreams, and everything in between.  And I am here is me, starting from exactly where I am - right now, in this very moment - not worrying about what I may have done wrong in the past or getting caught up in thinking I am somehow "behind" in this thing we call life.  And I know I want - rather, I need - to write about this, my personal journey.

In committing to working on this journal, I made three rules for myself:

  1. Write every day.  No matter what.
  2. Be completely honest even - no wait, especially - if it makes you uncomfortable.
  3. Do not apologize.  Even if you think it will make someone else uncomfortable.

Note: if you decide to follow in my journey, I give you full permission to call me out if I break any of these rules.