Sunday, August 21, 2011


So I’m doing something a little different today - today’s Awesome Woman is me, Cathya. =)  I feel super awesome today, because after over a year of visualizing and gestating on an idea and after a month of labor, today my store is officially open!  I’m super proud & grateful!  So I want to share my journey, where I come from and the many demons I’ve battled both inside & outside to get to this place.  We’ve all had our own journeys that have shaped us and when we can finally own who we are and just say “I’m awesome”, there’s no stopping us.  Some of you have heard little bits & snippets of my story, but I want to put it together.

I was born in 1958, the first child.  I was a honeymoon accident, but my mother always told me that I was a happy accident & that the reason they had my brother was because of me.  I look at early pictures & see a fearless, joyous, fabulous girl.  But then I went to school.  I once read that if you look at your earliest memories, that is the foundation of how you look at the world.  My first memory is in kindergarten.  We were doing the Farmer in the Dell and I ended up as the cheese.  So my first memory is that the cheese stands alone and somewhere in there, I believed I would never fit in.  Throughout my school years, I became a target.  First with freckles, then because of early puberty.  I started developing breasts at 8 and had acne at 9.  Some people have the innate ability to laugh things off.  I’m not one of them.  So I felt alone & isolated.  Along with the the lack of friends, my father is an alcoholic & very, very critical of me.  No matter how well I did in school, he focused on what I didn’t do well.  I once got 5 A’s with one B and he said “Looks like you still need to do some work”.  When I got straight A’s, he criticized how I dressed.  On the other hand, teachers loved me.  So most of my life has been based on performing to earn love & acceptance.   So that set the stage for my life patterns.  I took refuge in reading addictively, art & fashion.

When I graduated high school, a year early - I couldn’t wait to escape, off to college I went.  I wanted to study art, but since everyone told me I couldn’t make a living at art & I believed them, I ended up studying business.  I wanted to fit in, so I joined a sorority & discovered smoking, drinking & sex.  I’ve never done anything halfway, so I was off & running.  I didn’t know who I was, but I knew that I needed to be someone else, so I drifted from persona to persona, trying to find where I fit.  I desperately looked for love & approval.  Eventually, I drifted out of college, with one semester left on my degree.  I got arrested for drunk driving & married the man that rescued me, hoping that settling down would stop my drinking.  I drifted into accounting & tried the business suit, power thing, while doing shots of vodka in the morning to make it through.  I split from my husband, thinking he was the reason for my drinking.

Then at age 26, I woke up & knew I had to stop.  Luckily, Betty Ford had helped destigmatize alcoholism and rehab ads ran nonstop during 2am television.  So off to rehab I went.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  It stuck and I haven’t had a drink since.  I just knew that my life didn’t work & was willing to do anything different.  And if it didn’t work, I was checking out, because I couldn’t make life work anymore & it was too painful to continue.   Getting sober was like being reborn.  And everything in my life since is rooted in sobriety & the things I’ve learned & unlearned since.  The biggest thing was relief & the feeling that I finally fit somewhere.  There were all these people talking about all the things I had felt.  And they shared what they had learned & how they were able to do things different.  They gave me the gift of a spiritual connection, I could find my own higher power.  They gave me the gift of learning my own truths, finding my own path.

So what has happened in the second half of my life as a sober woman of principles & integrity?  At 93 days of sobriety I was fired from my accounting job.  The voice inside, no longer silenced by alcohol, screamed at the top of it’s lungs “Go back to school!  Go become who you were created to be!”  I wasn’t sure what that was, but as I sat with it, I realized that I had always dreamed of being a fashion designer.  So with this new support system, I started pursuing my dream.  I moved back home with my mother - who I absolutely adore.  First I went back & finished my business degree.  And then I applied for & was accepted into Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.  And I just did what was in front of me.  I didn’t know how I would afford tuition, but I left it up to the Universe that if this was what I was supposed to do, it would all work out. I surrounded myself with cheerleaders, the people that told me I could do it, instead of focusing on the people with all the reasons why I couldn’t, shouldn’t do it.  I was terrified that I wasn’t creative enough, talented enough, good enough.   But I just put one foot in front of the other.  The first day of school, I was in ecstasy.  I couldn’t believe they let me go to school to do this.  Many times I would feel so fearful & anxious that I would go in the bathroom & sob.   But I had learned to just show up & do what was in front of me and I would return to class & continue.  I graduated Summa Cum Laude & was invited into the Advanced Fashion Design program with 12 other students.  Again, I was terrified.  But I showed up & had many, many people that kept me going when I thought I couldn’t.  At our “final”, a very grand fashion show, I won the top award.   It was one of the most amazing nights of my life.

And then I hit the real world.  After several jobs in the garment industry, I was tapped out.  Abusive bosses and sheer craziness had sucked the joy from my life.  Once again I needed to find a new path.  And I began teaching at FIDM.  I loved it!!!!  I began doing freelance design jobs & was really enjoying life.  I started going on camping trips with my mom.  On one of those trips, I discovered Moab.  We drove through & I said “This is cute.  I could live here”.  It shocked the shit out of me & my mom.  I was West Hollywood through & through.  But it wouldn’t leave me alone.  And one more time I said to the Universe “I’ll do the footwork and if this is what you want me to do, it will all work out”.

I moved to Moab in a mini motor home, camped out by the Colorado River & started doing arts & crafts festivals.  I had no idea what  I was doing, but guides were put in my life to teach me and I showed up.  A month later I met my husband at a craft fair.  It was not love at first sight, more like distaste at first sight.  But we ended up camping next to each other on some people’s property & when it was dark & we couldn’t see each other, connected enough to hug.  And when we hugged, we knew we were home.  It wasn’t the lustful, weak at the knees thing, it was warm, fuzzy, safe.  So we sat up all night and talked.  And got right down to basics.  He asked me “What do you believe?” and we talked.  And discovered that just maybe this was it.  Because of our lifestyle, we were forced to take it slow.  Our early dates consisted of meeting up at a show & then camping out together for a week (he had a 10” 1950’s trailer) and then we wouldn’t see each other for a month.  Eventually we started applying for shows together....  After a few years, I was tired of shows and Jim was game for it and we opened a store together.  We had no money, but trusted the Universe and everything came together.  Just before we opened my mom reminded me that I had always dreamed of a store where I could sell clothing I created.  Of course I always thought it would be on Sunset Blvd...

Our store was very successful, but after about six years Jim was tired of it & convinced me to close it and do art festivals again.  This time we knew more & were able to get in better shows.  But after about a year, I started having abdominal pains.  It felt like burning knives plunging & turning.  The doctors decided it was from fibroids.  After a year or so of this, I had a hysterectomy.  I was already through menopause & was tired of the chronic pain.  After I healed from the operation, the pain returned.  I had a colonoscopy & was diagnosed with a spastic colon or IBS.  Doctors suck at having any knowledge about what to do about it, so I read up on it.  Thank the gods for the internet.  I started to become aware of what would trigger the IBS & started noticing emotional things that would trigger it.  And started trying to change old patterns.  It was during this period that I spent a lot of time on Facebook, hiding out from the real world.  I became a Facebook addict!  I met Kristen online & we were joking about Awesome Women Unite - and this group was born.  And as I paid more attention to how we as women are held back by the patriarchy, I also started to notice where I had internalized many dysfunctional behaviors.  I started changing patterns.  And my husband hated it.  I had changed the rules.  We went to counseling.  We read Mars & Venus books together.  And still things sucked with us.  I felt suicidal.  I hated my life & didn’t know what to do.  And then as it had so many times before, the path started making itself clear.  I went to a seminar with Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.  A friend mentioned ACA, Adult Children of Alcoholics and I started attending.  I looked at what things in the past had brought me joy that I had let slide away.  And it became abundantly clear that doing art festivals, being on the road didn’t work for me.  And as I asked the Universe what I needed to do, the idea of having a store was born.  A store that was all mine.  And I started talking about it, visualizing it, gestating it, letting the concept evolve.  And I came up with the idea of the store as a place to nurture creativity, for me & for others.  A place to nurture women & community.  A place to provide balance in my life.  A place to let my inner little girl play & invite other’s inner children to play with her.  I trusted the Universe to find me a place & make it clear to me.  I had planned to find a space this winter.  But sometimes the Universe has other plans.  And so one night, driving into town after 8 shows in a row, there it was.  Our old store was dark and both Jim & I simultaneously said “Why’s it dark in there”.  So I put one foot in front of the other and within a week had a lease.  I’ve juggled my way through bureaucracy, utilities and the million other things that come with opening a store.  I have no idea how we’ll have the money to do this, but I just have to trust.

Today I am a strong, capable, intelligent, creative, beautiful AWESOME WOMAN!!!!  I am combining the sum of my life’s experiences.  I am combining my right & left brain.  I have a herd of inner children working together as a team.  I am showing up, trusting the Universe & working my ass off.  And today I am FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!