Cape Cod + Dr. Maya

I spent much of my summer, as I have for the last 3 summers, frolicking in my hometown of Mashpee, Massachusetts; a quiet, mostly unknown little town on Cape Cod, nestled between the bigger presences of Falmouth and Hyannis. A place unique for its rich and wonderful Native American culture with the Wampanaog tribe calling its marsh-lined shores home, for the wood shingled houses, many of which, unlike the rest of the Cape are occupied by year round residents, rather than “summer people”. It’s anchored by a village-like shopping center, The Mashpee Commons, that is a collective of boutiques, with a couple more widely known “chains”, a movie theater, an organic grocery store, the library my Grandmother helped commission to be built, sidewalk cafes and New England-y pubs.

For the couple of months a year we leave behind bustling Nashville to go to Cape Cod, we try to pretend we’re like the locals- especially me, attempting to knit myself back into the town that made me, often awkwardly and unsuccessfully- lowering our heads slightly in embarrassment when it’s revealed that we, ourselves, might indeed now qualify as “summer people”- the loathed city folk who occupy the otherwise quiet two lane roads, demand faster service, better product, or something else that feels finicky and snobbish to the locals for the 2 months a year they descend on our Northeastern peninsula. This year, we made every effort to live like we might if we were there full time. Shaun joined a gym he fell in love with more than any other gym either of us have ever belonged to. We hired an excellent babysitter and worked diligently on our business remotely, every single weekday. We visited new local restaurants, reconnected with old friends, spent as much time as humanly possible on or by the ocean. We forwent almost every “tourist” activity, and instead devoted our days to testing the limits of our sunscreens, and the evenings laughing over family dinners with my mom and dad, aunts, uncles and cousins, old friends and family friends.

It felt good. Really good.

Things slowed down. Even our business, which typically feels frantic and 100 miles per hour, was managed seamlessly by our team in Nashville, with us serving as escalation points when necessary. It felt like we were breathing for the first time in months. Maybe years. Even in the rumble of juggling 2 kids, revolving childcare providers, a remote business, and (surprise!) a new pregnancy, there was some kind of peace we found in my hometown by the sea.

New Englanders have an undeniable edge to them- a brininess that feels like the ocean; beautiful, incomprehensible, the result of seeing many storms, and standing strong in all of them. They are kind, but not formally polite. They are genuine. Deep. Unapologetic. Rooted. Nashville, conversely, is like living in an Instagram story. Most people feel a little too beautiful to be real, a little too nice to be kind. I have some extraordinary friends in Nashville, so don’t misunderstand how deeply I’ve come to love this place and its people. I love the shininess of this city. The hustle of it. The seeming reality that absolutely anything is possible, and anyone can start or do anything that could be successful, if not impactful. The women I watch walk through The Gulch (the neighborhood I’ve half-affectionally dubbed as “Little LA”) are more stunning than I could ever hope to be. They all look like “influencers” (many of them are) and they seem to ooze some kind of glossy finish I wouldn’t have the first clue how to even seek, let alone achieve (and trust me, I’ve tried).

And this all makes me wonder who, and what, and where I am and meant to be.

Because, I feel a bit like an imposter in both worlds- the one I came from and the one I came to.

I’ve been listening to 3 Brené Brown books simultaneously, so I’m not sure which one this came from, but in it, she references a Maya Angelou interview in which the exchange went:

MAYA ANGELOU: You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…
BILL MOYERS: Do you belong anywhere?
MAYA ANGELOU: I haven’t yet.
BILL MOYERS: Do you belong to anyone?
MAYA ANGELOU: More and more… I belong to myself. I’m very proud of that. I am very concerned about how I look at Maya. I like Maya very much.


I don’t know that I’m as enlightened as Dr. Maya Angelou, nor do I imagine I ever will be. But I think this may be a good thing to try to work towards.

The truth is, I am a daughter of the ocean and the culture from the shores around it. I believe in honesty- many times in lieu of tact, although the Southern world I live in has polished my rougher edges to some degree. I believe in realness and depth. I loved lying on the beaches of Massachusetts and seeing freckled, curvy, wrinkled, worn, used, loved, cared for, neglected, beautiful, real bodies skipping through the surf and dancing through the dunes. They are me. It felt I finally saw myself reflected, which I don’t very often in Nashville. I am Cape Cod, with the influence of Nashville, rather than Nashville with the roots of Cape Cod, if there’s a difference, and I think there is.

I’m happier than I’ve ever been in and with my life. Mostly, because I am loved so well and have such a powerful support system surrounding me always. My forever heartache may live in the reality that I might never fit in in any one place ever again. But, maybe none of us do. And maybe none of us ever did.

Maybe “home” is the place we decide most represents who we are in the moment we’re in. I’m not sure where that is for me right now. And I’m ok with living in the “in between”. The “not yet”.

As I sit this morning in a buzzing coffee shop in a part of Nashville that 3 years ago I wouldn’t have even considered driving through, let alone sitting in, I find myself smiling at the polite 20-somethings who are effortlessly and exponentially cooler than I ever have been or ever will be, wondering if (and knowing that) they almost definitely are, or will, feel the same way I do. After all, have you ever met anyone that feels like everything is 100% as they want it to be or as they planned?

Some of us wear prettier disguises than others. Some of us are more polite, more polished. Some of us are better at hiding, and maybe (although I doubt it), some of us are more like Dr. Maya and just come to accept complex conclusions earlier and more easily than others.

Today, my heart is open. I miss “home”- wherever that is. I ache for the sea, and the shelter of my extended family, and loathe the traffic I sat in this morning and the heat that will wash over me when I leave this air conditioned building. I wish I was more, and less all at once, but I’m grateful for where I am in this moment. I’m grateful for a life where my identity and my hometown can be fluid, even when I resent that it is. And I hope, in time, I realize that I, too, belong to myself. And maybe that’s enough.

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Only What's Right Ahead

Hello!

WOW. I’m really excited to be back to blogging. If you’ve been a friend (virtual or real) over the past 10 years, you know, more than any singular thing, this multi-tasking, always-on-a-new-adventure, mama/wife/entrepreneur/WOMAN is, more than anything, a story teller. And, until this past year or so, where life got so crazy and full (in good ways) that I had to step out from behind the screen for a while to maintain my sanity, one of my favorite means to communicate and tell those stories is through this little online diary.

I’ve started fresh.

If this is your first time back at my website in a while (because, who doesn’t only instagram these days?!) you’ll notice that I’ve pared back a lot of unnecessary content. If you want pictures of me, my life and my fam, you’ll find them on instagram. This page is now only about what I think is most indicative of the person I am, in this moment, and the things I most love about life and this journey, and hope to share with you.

I’ve been trying on some new “me” lately. While my life has consistently grown over the past several years, I find myself (a Gemini, for those of you who won’t be able to tell from this next statement) exhausted by the lack of change. I know, I know. Trust me, I hear it regularly from my husband:

“LACK OF CHANGE?! What are you talking about?!”

It’s true, that in the past 3 years, I’ve gotten married to the love of my life and best friend, bought a dream vacation house on Cape Cod, more than doubled the business my company does, had a baby, parented 2 kids, made new friends, pursued new entrepreneurial ventures, wrote countless songs, restructured our family in new ways, and, oh- adopted a puppy. Things haven’t been…quiet.

But they haven’t been that different, either.

They’ve been really really good. And…this is going to feel selfish to say… they’ve been dream-come-true-ish, but they haven’t yet scratched the itchiness at the bottom of my soul that says….

MAYBE THERE’S MORE.

For a while, this thought of “more”, as undefined to me as it probably appears to you on this screen, has been, frankly: paralyzing. Even my therapist once told me that I need less “more” and more “less”- I need time, to be alone with my thoughts and iron out what’s actually going on inside of me. But, as my therapist has continued our 5 year journey with me, she’s since redacted that advice; realizing that maybe there are some people (read: me) who aren’t built for less. Who came to this world to experience it, and cannot rest while they feel there’s more to conquer.

Now, before I totally freak everyone out: everything is excellent. My marriage is near-perfect. No marriage is perfect, but goddam, how I feel about Shaun, and how he feels about me is, I think, about as close as one can get. He makes me laugh more than when we were dating, and lately, we find ourselves entwined in one another overnight, whispering through our sleepiness: “I just love you so much”, and we mean it. Our kids are challenging- obviously- and so is motherhood, but it’s nothing I didn’t anticipate and wouldn’t sign up for a trillion times over (the puppy decision depends on the day, if I’m being honest). My business is fulfilling, exciting and rewarding, and still growing organically and in a way where I feel like I can sleep at night because of the good I believe it does in the lives of others. I’m writing music that feels more like myself than any other music I’ve written before.

But I feel like, I’m on the precipice of some wild metamorphosis. I feel like, there’s something, and I have some inklings of ideas, but haven’t seen how they all might fit together into something that makes sense, yet.

In very “Isabeau Fashion”, I’ve sat, and meditated, and prayed to the Universe, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and ate, and talked about what these different pieces might fall into and create in my life. I postponed all action until I found the missing piece answer I was sure would pop up and hit me, rolling in like a train- a one-way ticket to every question I had about who and what I should be or do. And…I bet you already know: That answer never came.

It still hasn’t.

But there have been signs. When I stop thinking, and meditating, and praying, and talking and eating, and talking and avoiding myself, and everything else around me, and I simply- and I mean this literally- step back and open my eyes, I see these little yellow bricks in my road. I see them, I swear. They sparkle like gold nuggets and they’re never vague, which I always expect signs to be. No; These are not that. They’re not the “coincidence” you can justify as a sign. These are, honest-to-goodness, you-asked-for-it, here-it-is, clear-as-day signs.

The problem? There’s one sign…and then…radio silence. Until the next time I stop thinking, meditating, praying, yada yada. And, for impatient, can’t-leave-well-enough-alone girls like me….that’s tough.

Earlier this week, I shared with someone I love one “maybe dream” I’m thinking about peeking around the corner to find.

“Well, how is that even going to work? How will you figure ‘x’ out, how will you manage ‘y’?” they went on.

I deflated, instantly. Shaun was sitting across the room, listening to the conversation I had on speaker phone, and I may as well have been a robot, because I swear, he heard me power down, and all the electricity bleed out of me and drain down some pipe I didn’t even know I had, as I flatly responded in monotone words that I don’t remember.

I got off the phone and Shaun looked at me, and because he’s him, and I’m me, and we’re us, I didn’t have to say anything, even though I did (a lot of somethings) and Shaun listened so I could find my own voice again, and refill whatever electricity had so readily bled from having the energy of a wish brought back to reality without my consent.

And with finding my electricity again, which I did, I also found a realization:

Maybe we don’t have to know everything. Maybe we don’t have to have every yellow brick mortared to the other to be a pathway. Maybe, in fact, that’s the test of life: Whether you will keep going, knowing that progress is almost always incremental, and almost never a straight line.

Maybe only what’s right ahead is enough for right now.

I had the great privilege to attend the Women of Broadway event at the Saint James Theater in New York City a couple weeks back. I had gone to their inaugural kick off last year, which was star-studded with names anyone would know- Whoopi Goldberg, Gayle King, to name a couple. This year, at first glance, was less ostentatious and filled with women who were primarily, of the theatre world, and all of whom, ended up blowing me away with their insight, their inspiration and their power. One woman told a story that was told to her by her mother, when summarizing progress:

Paraphrasing: “If you watched a video of a woman running on the beach with a dog, and you watched the dog- running back and forth- you’d wonder if she was even getting anywhere. But, if you kept watching the woman, you would see, despite the two steps forward and (seemingly) one step back of the whole picture, she is indeed, moving forward.”

I don’t know where I hope to go next, and who I hope to become. It’s maybe the first time in my life that’s the case. I love who I am (also maybe the first time in my life that’s the case), but I feel like I have so many stories inside of me, that could be told in a million different ways, through a million different mediums or outlets, and…I’m ready for that.

I’m ready to call my pattern of meditation and praying and talking and eating and talking what it is:

avoidance

It’s not some kind of clarity I’m looking for, by partaking in old habits. No. Rather, it’s procrastination. And, it’s a fear that maybe the last yellow brick I found will be the last…that maybe my road has ended, and I’ve reached my destination, and I should be grateful for where I’ve ended up….

But I can’t believe I would feel like I have so much more to offer, still, and just be “done”. Nor, can I believe that I’ve “ended up” or will at any point “end up” anywhere. Because…what about life is stagnant?

Not me. Not ever. Really, when you step back and look at it: Nothing is stagnant. Nothing is still or predictable or what you expect it to be. I can be grateful for where I am and hopeful for where I’m going, and those two things can have nothing to do with each other, and that can still be ok. Wanting to evolve doesn’t make me “impractical” or “unrealistic” any more than choosing to stay the same makes me “safe” or “comfortable”.

So, today, for now: I am where I am. I’m balanced on the last little yellow brick that I found on my path, but, rather than waiting for the next one, I’m trekking through the ever-loving mud. I’m working on things that feel pointless- like no one might ever care, or see this work, or give any thought as to how much was sacrificed for it- but I’m doing it anyway, in hopes that maybe opportunity will knock, and rather than having to pass it up because I wasn’t prepared, I’ll be prepared. I’d rather have the work done, and never get the opportunity, than get the opportunity and not have done the work. That, I could never forgive myself for. And, even if an opportunity arises, and I take it, and I hate it, I know this Isabeau. She’s super cool and a badass and if she’s my “Plan B”, my “backup plan”, I’m ok with that. But, no offense to her, I don’t think I’m going to need her.

The mud is uncomfortable. It’s unforgiving. It’s often boring. It’s tedious, and mucky and dirty and not Isabeau-like at all. But I think of the person I hope to be, and what she would do. And, I know, that Isabeau would be in the trenches, working her butt off, and proving that she is worth taking a risk on, and that she can do anything with hard work, kindness and resilience.

I think we’re all built to evolve, and we all forget that at different points, and that’s the moment at which we become who we think we’re supposed to be, and start dying. Because if we’re not moving forward, if we’re not pushing ahead, and peeking around the corner, and building some new dream, what are we even doing?

Logic is beautiful, and, often times, necessary. But dreams…I think those are the things that the world is built of. I, for one, will keep ushering them in, building them up and exploring them, even when they make no sense, even when they’ll change everything (or nothing), and even when those dreams look a lot like traipsing through the mud, because you have a resolute, unwavering belief that there is no flippin’ doubt your next yellow brick is just a few steps away.

A little space

Welcome, all, to my new and much streamlined web presence. I’m getting my feet back under me as I summon the bravery to start sharing more. You see, I (like pretty much every mother of young children I know) have let life get in the way for quite some time: In the way of creating. In the way of exposing my soul. In the way of being who I am. I’m excited to venture back into what now feels like barely-charted territory, and remember the delicious satisfaction I’ve always found in peeling back my layers through these diaries, and sinking more into who I authentically am.

I look forward to writing whatever this next chapter is meant to look like.

Love + Light to you, wherever and whoever you are.

Isabeau