On April 19, 2021 I was still utterly heartbroken from a man I loved with everything I had and even what I didn’t have. It was crazy and intense and I’m not sure what exactly went down even now as he never allowed the parsing of the relationship, the closure one so desires when that kind of thing happens.
On April 19, 2021 I had planned my 50-day summer road trip, had my campsites booked and was getting my gear together. I had just moved to a four-story 100-year-old house with my gay bestie and adult son. I was barely holding things together. Packing kept me busy but I was still aching from that breakup and some heartbreak in teaching.
On April 19, 2021 I was on the dating apps, trying to move on. A few weeks prior I had just matched with a giant of a man from Seattle. I didn't know how giant yet. His messages were, and are, the most authentic, heartwarming messages I've ever gotten from a man.
Two years before on April 19, 2019 I had become truly single for the first time in my adult life. It became my very own New Year’s Day, a new way of living life. I decided to give each year a theme. The first year was about dating, the second was about discovering who I was in relationships. The third year which ends today was “The Year of the Wild Woman,” not wild as in partying but in getting back to my wildish self as detailed in Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a book which has changed and keeps changing my life.
Here are a few things that came up in The Year of the Wild Woman - April 19, 2021 to April 19, 2022:
One of the things that I learned from that giant of a man was about the enneagram. I took the quiz and it said I was a two. I didn't want to be a two. I have taken it about a dozen times this last year. 11 of those times it said I was a damn two. I so didn't want to be that. Two is the Host, a people-pleaser who's biggest fear is that they are unlovable. Ugh. Yuck. But yes, me (and also him). I've learned so much about it the last year and see how it affects me daily. Seeing the lense you view life through is invaluable to learning about yourself and what makes you tick, what makes you respond to people in a certain way. It's worth the $12 to take the official assessment on the Enneagram Institute website. It has been truly life-changing.
I had solo traveled before last year to San Fran, Philly, Washington, Austin, and Italy. I love going solo. Last year though I spent ten days alone camping along Highway 101 in the midst of a road trip from Kansas City to Seattle and back. This was next level alone. I was scared, so scared before I left but was supported by fellow adventurers who knew I could do it. I adored it. The freedom to decide how and when sleep and food and adventure will happen is exhilarating. A bit lonely but also so fulfilling.
Wild Women are in touch with nature. I knew it was important to me, but not how important. I didn't know that I'd be so full of joy to camp, to drive the coast and the forests, to walk the beach with the Pacific Ocean rolling over my toes. I didn't know that laying in the tent and watching the stars, listening to the night sounds, would feed my soul. I didn't know I could do it all by myself. I didn't know that Cali and Oregon would be such soul places, especially California.
I came home from that 50-day trip and tried to recreate the feeling, here in Missouri. I cried at how ugly that first campsite was, then I went kayaking at sunset and it was good. The second Missouri trip I got spooked by a couple of men which never happened in the PNW. But I went and I'm proud of that. Have I kept my nature ties this winter? Nope. I've hibernated. Not proud of that but I'm not gonna shame myself which brings me to my next growth.
This is from so many things but it started with Brene' Brown, learning how much I shamed myself. In the last year I've finally allowed myself to let go of some thoughts, or at least I put them away when they come up whereas I used to let them beat me up.
"Look at that belly. You are disgusting." I'm not. Yes, I have a belly. It's bigger than I've ever been, minus pregnancy. I buy bigger jeans and go on. I even wear things where you can see it. I used to always hide it. I allow myself to feel beautiful. I am going to start running again because I want to be able to bend over and tie my shoes without breathing so damn hard.
"You didn't work out this week." Nope I didn't. I need to for health, but I didn't. Maybe next week.
"You didn't work on your book or your workshops." Nope, I took a nap and watched Tiktoks. It's what I needed that day. The world didn't fall apart.
I am human. I get tired. It’s okay to rest and not work so hard.
I've started saying no and have barely begun to learn what it looks like to set a boundary. This morning I actually thought upon reflecting on something that didn’t work for me that a friend keeps doing, "Oh! That would be a boundary I could set!"
I've begun ordering water if I want it and not drinking socially if I don't want to. I've left nights out early because I felt like it, not being goaded into staying because I "should be social," listening to what I need rather than what I think I “should” do. The surprising thing is once you start doing these things people begin to expect that you will do what you want, there’s less pressure to do what they want, and you begin listening to what you need. Now the young people I hang out with often expect me to dip out early or to not even come because I need to be alone but they are ecstatic if I do stay. I always used to say to people, "I'm intense." What I meant by that was I strove every second to be pursuing my “best life.” Come to find out the best life allows relaxation and down time.
I've learned it's actually okay to be sad or angry. It's okay to allow yourself to feel. It's not dramatic or showing off. It's how I fucking feel. Before if I was sad, I shamed myself for it. It is still my first reaction. Why should I be sad? I have shelter, food, and friends. The important levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy were filled, get over yourself. Now I realize my best self also allows sadness and anger, even some wallowing sometimes. There's nothing wrong with me for having these feelings.
I've learned to say, "This is how I feel," rather than "You did this..."
I've learned not everyone sees the world the same way, in fact really not at all.
I've learned that most of the time when people don't respond or don't seem pleased it isn't because I did something wrong or I'm gross or weird or annoying (back to that intensity and Enneagram Two stuff).
La que sabe
Perhaps the most important thing I learned in the last year is the whole reason I chose the theme of my year to be "Wild Woman." A woman who is wild listens to her gut, our wild feminine according to Estes, "By naming her we create for her a territory of thought and feeling within us. Then she will come, and if valued, she will stay." 365 days ago I set an intention and named it "The Year of the Wild Woman." A month ago I inked "la que sabe," which translates to "She Who Knows," permanently on my right forearm to honor the journey of this last year. Surrounding "la que sabe" are mountains and pine trees, the Pacific Ocean waves, and a sea turtle all in honor of my summer adventure. The turtle also represents that giant of a friend. The tattoo is for me and no one else, what I wanted.
Estes writes that Wild Woman is a "knowing of the soul. Without her, women are without ears to hear her soultalk or to register the chiming of their own inner rhythms. Without her, women's inner eyes are closed by some shadowy hand, and large parts of their days are spent in a semi-paralyzing ennui or else wishful thinking. Without her, women lose the sureness of their soulfooting. Without her they forget why they're here, they hold on when they would best hold out. Without her they take too much or too little or nothing at all. Without her they are silent when they are in fact on fire."
I have lived all of that. I have closed my ears, ignored my own wisdom, forgotten who I am, taken nothing and given everything, and burned in silence so many times. I still find myself losing my footing easily when I forget my true self, a woman who is wild and wise. The tattoo is not only to memorialize my past year but to show me the way forward which astonishingly means reverting to my true girlhood essence.
The woman sitting here today one year later is the same, yet very different. I have grown, and I needed to, and still do. It is a shedding off of expectations of society, family, and religion. That girl who always felt at home in her skin, who took time to watch the leaves move in the breeze for hours, who ran for joy rather than calorie deficit, who unapologetically read for hours, who happily wrote her thoughts in a crappy notebook. The new year begins tomorrow, another year of power and of leveling back to that wild feminine.
Author Kim Blevins
Writing has been important to me since I started listing how to spend the $5 I made picking blackberries as a child. At the top of that list was a large fuzzy foot rug I never got. In high school I wrote of the boys I loved, the important decisions I had to make, the homework I dreaded, and which family member had annoyed me the most that day. I lost writing for a few years, then got paid to write, lost it again for many years then being a part of the National Writing Project took my hand and led me to it again. I turned my back on it one more time chasing a love that didn't work out to then find this fierce obsessive love that will always be a part of my life, the love of words, of stories, of musings and mullings. Thanks for reading.