• Jacqui Chiari

Self-Indulgent Over Sharing

These pieces never start the moment I sit down at my computer to write them. No, they start to take shape long before that point. I'm sure this is no surprise to much more experienced and talented writers than me. Or anyone, possibly. I've realized that I allow these ideas for blog posts to simmer, probably for too long, until they come to a full boil and there's nothing for me to do but get it all out on paper...screen? Keyboard? Whatever.

Well, it's been about two and a half months since my last blog post, and because the dumpster fire that is 2020 rages on with no end in sight, this will be a long one. So buckle in. Or don't - close this one of many tabs open in your browser and spare yourself my self-indulgent over sharing. Either way, I appreciate you. Here we go.

My last post was published on May 23, two days before George Floyd was murdered. I think it's safe to assume that for a lot of people, their lives have now gone "back to normal". Mine has, to an extent. I can't deny that. What I can do, what I strive to do, is move forward with a deeper commitment (and the action that follows) to do everything I can, in life and in business, to dismantle the system that allowed for the murder of George Floyd. Of Breonna Taylor. Of Ahmaud Arbery. And countless other Black folks. The system that allowed for my life, and the lives of lots of other people, to go back to relative normalcy after the surge of this most recent wave of Black Lives Matter subsided. The system of white supremacy.

I am ashamed that this is what it took for anti-racism to become a consistent part of my life. But my shame, no one’s shame, will do anyone any good. And my actions moving forward do not come from a place of shame, guilt, or seeking atonement for my own past mistakes. Maybe it did at one point in my life. But I know now that this is not about me and my feelings. It is about being an accomplice in creating a world in which truly, finally, Black Lives Matter.

From the end of May to about mid-June, all my business-related activities were essentially put on hold in order to focus on educating myself and others about Black Lives Matter. During that time, albeit with less fanfare (which is completely fine, I don't want anyone to think I'm complaining that I didn't get to virtually pop bottles over things going on in my life and business - Black people continue to be murdered, marginalized, and oppressed for simply existing - my waitlist opening up is the least of my fucking concerns), my waitlist did open and I attended the KonMari Consultant Certification Seminar virtually.

That was an incredible experience. There were over 100 attendees from every continent except Antarctica (that I know of). I connected with so many of them and learned so much. I felt confident and accomplished - so many attendees hadn't actually started their businesses yet and they looked to me constantly over the 3-day seminar for advice. It was a great feeling. One of the instructors also messaged me privately towards the end of the last day, telling me how great I was and appreciating everything I shared throughout the seminar. I proceeded to be a puddle for about the next five minutes.

Attending, and completing, the seminar was unexpectedly bittersweet. Sweet for all the obvious reasons. Bitter because it came and went in what felt like the blink of an eye. I decided pretty early in 2019 that I wanted to become a Certified KonMari Consultant. In November, I set the intention for 2020 that if I did nothing else this year, I would attend a seminar. Boy, if only I knew in November how much I would do in 2020. How much 2020 would do to us. *Screams internally*

Earlier this year, I had plans to attend the seminar in London. But then I jumped at the opportunity to attend earlier, virtually, and save a significant amount of money. I have absolutely no regrets about how things turned out. But as the seminar came to a close, I couldn't help but think about the year and a half of planning, changing plans, hoping, and dreaming that had gone into making it happen. And then it was over.

But it is also just the beginning. I've been working with my first practice client since early July. Working with them has been such a blessing. They are truly a soul mate client and each session has reaffirmed that this is what I am meant to do. That reassurance has been most profound on the days I've worked 8:30am to 5:00pm on campus and I'm so tired I consider rescheduling our session. But I don't. And then 30 minutes into our session, I am revitalized. Re-energized by being in my purpose. Lit up by the work I get to do. It's almost better than sex. Almost.

I was also invited to join a small group of my fellow attendees to check in monthly about our progress with clients and through the certification process. It's fucking awesome - there's me in the US, someone from Costa Rica, another from Norway, another from India, and another from England/Holland. Scheduling calls is definitely a challenge - I fully anticipate that I'll have to be up at 3am for a call one of these days - but it is so worth it to be in community with this women who are on the same journey.

On June 20, I flew to Ontario, California to begin my journey back across the country with my friend Jane. On Sunday, we gallivanted around Los Angeles sight- and friend-seeing. We started off in Santa Monica, burning our feet across hundreds of yards of sand just to cool them off in the Pacific. Then we saw our beautiful friend Carlo, Jane's brother and sister in law, and our friend Melina and met her husband Andrew for the first time. We ended our Sunday adventures with our friend Xiaopan, who I also got to meet in person for the first time, with a picnic at Cal Poly Pomona. The heat and running around had drained us - I think I was asleep before 9pm - but it was so worth it to see and meet all our people.

The following morning, we started our journey to Tucson, Arizona. We got there in the early evening, so we had time to grab food and explore. We got dope ass tacos from Seis Kitchen, then drove and walked around downtown, and took pictures. We immediately made our disapproval known to a small Blue Lives Matter protest. That was fun, and kind of scary. Then we drove about 20 minutes outside downtown to watch the sunset at Tucson Mountain Park. It. Was. Breathtaking. 12/10 would recommend driving through the desert, seeing real in-the-ground Saguaro cacti for the first time, and watching the sun go down on another day from a mountain side parking lot. Makes Kacey Musgraves's "Golden Hour" take on a whole new meaning.

Before leaving town the next morning, we grabbed an amazing breakfast from 5 Points Market & Grocery. Then we hit the road for our shortest driving day to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We stayed with our friend Josh who lives and works at New Mexico State University. I call him my son (which I'm sure his actual mother would probably not appreciate, or maybe she would, knowing someone else in the world feels at least a fraction of her same maternal love and protectiveness for Josh), so it was great to be reunited and spend quality time with him. We grabbed food at a local Greek restaurant, took a driving tour of campus (#juststudentaffairsthings), then went out to Organ Mountains for a little nature walk. Also fucking breathtaking. It honestly looks like Pride Rock.

(Side note - as I'm scrolling through pictures trying to recall all the details, I just have to disclose that I was wearing my compression socks the entire time we were driving because I'm a high risk for blood clots. Paired with my Chacos and comfortable road trip outfits - I look like a fucking dork. That's putting it lightly. I can't wait to embarrass my kids, and myself honestly, with these pictures. *Smiles menacingly*)

Okay, where were we? Ah, yes, New Mexico. We finished our day nodding off to the new Aladdin before actually going to bed. The next morning, we hit the road once again, but not before stopping at our beloved Whataburger for breakfast #iykyk. Even as a vegetarian, I can still enjoy an egg and cheese honey butter biscuit and their french fries, so all is well. Then we started our 8-hour drive to San Antonio. We drove through El Paso blasting Khalid (his home town), stopped through a Border Patrol highway checkpoint - which was fucking wild - and watched the landscape turn from jagged desert back to lush, rolling greenery; felt the air turn from arid heat to the familiar humidity of the Southeast.

In San Antonio, we ordered takeout from Tank's Pizza - a Black-owned spot that pleasantly surprised this Jersey born and bred pizza snob. We took our food to the Riverwalk and sat on one of the benches, taking in the scenery and the much needed sustenance. We walked up and down the Riverwalk, just enjoying the experience while also looking for ice cream. Ben & Jerry's was closed, so I wasn't able to enjoy a frozen treat since there was nowhere else nearby with dairy-free options. But Jane got her fix, so that made me happy.

Our last stop that night was the grocery store in search of Alamo Golden Ale. I've been thinking about that beer since I first tried it in Austin last year - it is so good. Alas, it was nowhere to be found. But I did pick up a carton of Ben & Jerry's dairy free ice cream, so I got my fix too, in the end.

The next morning, Jane and I began the final day of our journey together. It was another long day - close to 10 hours - of driving from San Antonio to New Orleans, my favorite city. The rain, traffic through Baton Rouge, and pervasive reckless driving of Louisianians didn't help. But hey, we made it, unscathed somehow. And again, it was worth it to be back in the Crescent City. God I love it so much.

(Another side note - we listened to Get A Life, Chloe Brown on audio at some point during the trip. So great, 10/10.)

New Orleans has no shortage of Black-owned businesses and restaurants. That night, we got takeout from Morrow's. It was super yummy and worth the wait - it was PACKED in there! We took our food over the Crescent Park and about two bites in, the park patrol informed us the park was closing for the night. If you don't know, the only way to get into Crescent Park, that I know of, is a HUGE arch of stairs over the train tracks. It's a workout. So having to climb that twice in a matter of minutes was super (not) fun. We ended up just finishing our food in the car, then making our way to Cafe Du Monde only to find it had closed by the time we got there. Womp. So we just drove around the French Quarter for a bit, crossing over Bourbon Street to see if it was in its usual state. It was not, but there were still too many people out there in my opinion.

When we got back to our Airbnb in Mid-City, Jane allowed me to practice Reiki on her. With the palpable magic energy of New Orleans, I just couldn't resist. Needless to say, it was amazing and I felt like my truest, highest bruja self. I am so excited to continue deepening my Reiki practice and bring this modality of healing to more people.

Then we called it a night, knowing we had to get up super early so Jane could drop me off at the airport. Leaving New Orleans is usually bitter for me. It typically involves some combination of tears, resentment, and a pit in my stomach. Four visits in the past five years have only deepened my complete adoration of the city. It is one of the only places I've ever been where I have felt truly, fully myself - second only to Cuba. While I was still sad to leave this time, it was more sweet than bitter, knowing Daniel, Kona, my mom, siblings, aunt, uncle, and cousins were waiting for me at the end of my journey. Getting my beignet and chicory coffee fix at the Cafe Du Monde inside the airport, plus the mimosa at the terminal restaurant, also made leaving an easier pill to swallow. One of the first things I did the following week was ship Cafe Du Monde brand coffee and beignet mix to Jane in Miami, so she could get her fix too, after all. It actually ended up at the wrong house because someone gave me the wrong address. But the person who received it dropped it off and Jane's house that same day. Thank goodness for kind strangers. But I'm sure they would have kept it if they knew what was inside.

After a connection in Charlotte, I landed in Wilmington, North Carolina, where I was reunited with my boys after six long days away from them. Then we drove up to Jacksonville, North Carolina where my relatives live, and my mom, brother, and sister were visiting from New Jersey. On our way back home on Sunday, we stopped in downtown Wilmington to meet up with my friend and former client, Abigail, whom I'd never met in person before. While it was a short visit, it was still super fun, and it's always nice to meet your online friends IRL.

Another hour and a half in the car and we were finally back home. Phew! What a week. A lot of laundry and sleep ensued. I powered through the next three and half days at work just to get to the long Fourth of July weekend so I could do more of the same - laundry and sleep. Sleep and laundry. Some eating and showering in there too. The exhaustion was 100% worth it. A cross-country road trip is an absolute dream, even when you're on a time crunch. There's really nothing more I can say. You just have to go experience it for yourself. Let me know if you do, maybe I'll join you.

July consisted of signing my first KonMari practice client and diving into sessions with them, booking a super fun in-person client, visiting Daniel's mom in DeFuniak Springs, Florida and eating some much-needed (for Daniel) Wataburger. We also stopped to visit Daniel's childhood friend in Georgia on the way there, then to see his fraternity brother in Savannah on the way back.

I also spent lots of time pouring into friendships. I shared two wonderful meals and quality time with my friend and coworker Tanya. Had a Zoom date with my roommates from grad school, Audrey, Elizabeth, and Jane (aka The Bainbridge Girls™️). FaceTimed with my best friend from home, Annie, for almost 3 hours. Our friend from grad school, Jesse, came to stay with us for a week. And a dear friend from college, Chardonnay, interviewed me for our Alumni Association, during which we got to catch up a ton as well.

Looking back, and seeing this beautiful recurrence of quality time with friends, I am so grateful for what this season held for me.

The first weekend of August brought me back to North Carolina, again visiting my family in Jacksonville, but this time it was my dad, his girlfriend, and her two daughters visiting from New York. It was a great weekend. As I made my way home that Sunday, I again stopped to see Abigail, and we met up at Wrightsville Beach for a couple hours. I almost went straight home, but I was hungry and had been wanting to go to Holden Beach again and get food from this great place right on the water, Provision Company. So I did just that.

My plan was to pick up my food (conch fritters, onion rings, and coleslaw - yummmm) then go sit on the beach and eat. I was lucky I got to see my plan through, since the island had been evacuated of all non-residents the day before, in preparation for Hurricane Isaias.

Even after spending more time in the ocean that weekend than I had all summer, I could barely bring myself to leave the beach when I finished eating. There is something about the water that draws me to it. Its strength, its softness, its cleansing, its murky mystery, its simultaneous ability to hold you in its womb-like protection while looming over you its wrathful danger. All of this. I love and respect it for all that it is. I like to think it feels the same about me.

Since then, I've continued working with my wonderful KonMari Client and signed a lovely new in-person client. But other than that, my 9-5 has kept me immensely busy. I am typing this after our first day of move-in and I. AM. BEAT. The next four days (makin' overtime baby!!!) should be relatively easier than today, though. We'll see.

Honestly, there is still so much more to share - so much more I had intended to share with you here. Hard to believe, right? But I'm tired. And I'm sure you are too. Of me. So I'll end here for now.

Maybe I'm just over tired and emotional (not over emotional, just emotional), but I'm feeling extra tender tonight for anyone who's read this, especially if you've made it this far. I just want to truly, deeply, sincerely thank you for your time and support. There are no words - shocking, I know - to fully express my gratitude for you. I hope you feel that and know that you are important. You matter. And if you ever doubt that, you can count on me to remind you. Promise.

Be well.

Stay Wandering,


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