kenn-a turns 1

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” 
― Roald Dahl

 

I didn't know if I could do this. Having to show up for something, week in and week out, without someone telling me what to do- I just wasn't sure I had it in me. As a person who used to claim quitting as one of her favorite activities, getting to this place seems like a big feat. Not to mention that I went through a giant spell of depression and anxiety, barely leaving my house, and somehow managed to continue writing from bed. This past year worked me like no other and forced me to change deeply rooted behaviors. For the first time in my 20s, I said no to traveling. I stopped getting high off of new cities and started laying down serious roots. I began telling the truth in a big way, sharing the intimate details of my challenged brain and how that has effected my life on the world wide web. Having 'Lexapro: A Love Story' published was REALLY frightening, but it also made me feel like I had nothing left to hide. I told you all about my "darkness" and from there, it was up to you to do whatever you wanted  with that information. 

When I headed back to New York for my grandmother's funeral, someone came up to me at the wake to say thank you for the essay. 

"I loved what you wrote. After reading it, I finally decided to put my son on medication." 

Oh no, was all I could think. 

I didn't write that in hopes that it would be a pro med piece. If you have read it,  you know that even as a eight year old little girl, I would empty out the capsules of Prozac at night, so that I would then be taking nothing. When the doctor decided to up my dose by half, it required my mom to split the powder. Upon discovering the empty pills, she quickly found a new hiding spot for my meds. I never wanted to be on medication. I grew up with a holistic influence, as I had tons of food and environmental allergies that forced me to live in a particular way. There were a few little hippie shops and practitioners out in the Hamptons, where I lived until I was eight, and my mother took me to all of them. I was basically a bubble girl (not really, but almost). That is until my depression became so intense that my mother turned to the top child psychiatrist in NYC. He was definitely not my cup of tea. 

Anyway, I wrote that essay as a way to promote acceptance. To say this is my story, which contains the reasons why I have felt wrong and bad and weird and yet, somehow, I am working through it. This is also part of the purpose behind my blog. As I have come up on this one year anniversary, I found that things are moving in a storytelling direction. While people can overwhelm me, I also love them. I am awed by all of our intricities and traumas and triumphs and movements and art making and sadness and stories. 

And, and, and...

I really could go on forever. 

Today, I find myself writing from Venice, which is funny because for the past week, it feels like I have been handed this mental review of my 20s. Memories of both the good and bad have been arising, as I watch them play out like movies in my mind. I am helping someone housesit and the place is a block away from my old apartment. It was street cleaning this afternoon and everyone knows that Venice parking by Abbot Kinney can be a nightmare. The only spot available was on my old street. A neighbor helped me fit in the tight spot. As I passed my building, I stopped a couple guys who were leaving and asked which apartment they lived in. 

"We are just AirBnBing the place on the top left," they told me. 

"Oh. An older man with tons of snakes and lizards used to stay there. Have you seen a guy with a big husky?" I ask. 

"Nope. We haven't really seen much of anyone." 

I was inquiring about a neighbor that I had a giant crush on. He was a handsome writer from Vermont, who occasionally painted and liked red wine. He had a big chilled out husky named Jerry, inspired by Seinfeld. When I looked at his apartment windows, the curtains were drawn and not the same ones he used to have. I got the feeling that he is gone, just like all of my other neighbors. It was a rent controlled place, two blocks from the beach, and the owners wanted us out. I wonder where he is and if he is still writing screen plays. I was always too shy to really talk to him in a way that I would today. Thank god for aging. 

There is something else I have to admit- I really dislike using a paragraph of hashtags. I do it and feel dumb every single time. If you like them, no judgement. This is just my personal feeling and yet, I continue to work with them because you know, shameless self promotion. I just had to get that off my chest.

I will wrap this up by saying that all really is possible. I was so scared to start filming my interview series and while I am still facing resistance around it, it is almost ready to be released. I want it to be perfect and it almost certainly won't be, which will drive me crazy, until I am forced to let go, which I will. I also never thought I would take my own photos and be happy with the outcome, but because of my deep love for visuals, I pushed on. I hated having my own photo taken and now I do it regularly. It isn't always easy because you know, vanity and self imposed pressure, but I get through it. I am not an Instagram model with a perfect body and I have to be ok with that. 

Upon waiting to get photos back from Lani, I was nervous to see the results. I was at a heavier weight than usual when we shot them. Lexapro and most SSRIs do a number on your metabolism, hormones and thyroid, but when I saw the photos, I felt a calm sense of acceptance. Yes, I was bigger than I wanted to be, but I still found beauty in the images. I paid attention to my smile, my highlighted cheekbones glistening in the sun, the ones I got my Native American ancestors. I remembered the day I had with Ms. Trock, how we walked barefoot through the gardens and the hiking trail, as she told me about each plant. I remember how comfortable I felt taking off my clothes for her, listening as she told the story of why she started taking nude self portraits. I can hear the compliments she paid me, after I spoke about wanting a boob job for a long time. She also added that she usually refrains from making any comments on a woman's body, but felt called to speak. I left that day feeling the weighted power and potency of the female gaze.

My wish for everyone reading this is that you know your worth. That you, too, can step out into the world and feel what is possible. That you have the space to dream and conjure up the most magical visions in your mind, before figuring out to translate them into reality. I hope that by sharing my darkness, that you are more accepting of your own. There is great beauty and power to be found in our shaded parts. Just think about art and music and photography and writing- darkness and shadows are essential.

My wish for myself is that I can keep turning inwards. That when my numbers on social media or my site analytics drop that I can learn to chill out. Unfortunately, the girl who used to obsess about scale and clothing numbers is still with me, only now she shows up through Instagram. While I find this to be an embarrassing quality, I am working on it. If Kenn-a wasn't an attempt at a thriving business, maybe it would be different or maybe not. What I do know is that I will always try to tell the truth, so that we can all feel less alone, less weird and more connected. 

Changing who you are is really hard work. Becoming who you want to be is, too. Undoing all of the ways in which you have strayed from your true nature is what we are here to do.

So here is to year two and getting over numbers! I never liked them, anyway. 

Thank you for being here with me. I am excited to see what we can all create as we step out into the world with new stories leading the way. 

 

Photo by Lani Trock

HealKenna Conway