My name is Chel, which is short for “Michele”.
I’m 44 years old as of writing this (born in 1974).
I was born and raised on Long Island, NY, went to college and grad school in Atlanta (Emory University, studied Art History and Film Studies), and I currently live in Southwest Florida. Eventually we’re planning on moving somewhere with a milder climate, seasons, big leafy trees, and access to a city/town with some great museums, shops, a science museum, etc. But for the next 6 years we’re staying put because my daughter loves her school.
I have a husband named Tom (we’ve been together since 2000) and a daughter named Grace (born in 2005, and we adopted her from Vietnam in 2006) and a bunch of pets– four rescue cats, two parrots, and a leopard gecko. All but one of our pets are rescues and senior animals.
I’ve also been a vegetarian since I was 15- I’m quite invested in the issue of animal welfare and things related to humane treatment of animals. I hope by the time I pass from this earth, factory farming has ended and all creatures are treated with care and kindness.
As far as “what do you do?”: I sort of had to “retire” several years ago due to health issues- I was born with Spina Bifida, which is kind of serious, but I’m doing pretty good, all things considering. However, when I was in 30’s my doctors made it clear that if I wanted to *continue* to do well and live a long life, I needed to make my health my main priority. I spend about 6-7 hours a day on health-related tasks, some of which I talk about and some of which I don’t.
Two hours of that is devoted to working out, usually by distance swimming. Swimming was and is the only “sport” I can take part in because of my health stuff, so when I was 18 years old I started swimming a few laps every day and I eventually worked up to about five miles a day. I’m super regimented about swimming every.single.day. It keeps me healthy *and* sane.
When I have free time, I spend it in my art studio I paint, draw, collage, keep a visual journal, and whatever else floats my boat. I take tons of classes and change mediums often.
I’m very shy. Since I was a chatty baby, my family sort of stuck that “outgoing” persona on me my whole life, and I didn’t realize until my late 20’s that I was super shy and an introvert. Now I honor the need for quiet as much as possible. This extends to social media- in November of 2016 I pretty much dropped off everything but Pinterest and the very unfrequent Instagram. Blogging is pretty much my jam. I started this “blog” in 1997 when I was in graduate school, but back then we called them “online journals”. I still think of it as an online journal, which you can probably tell by how long-winded I am in entries.
Spiritually, I consider myself a bit of an eclectic Buddhist. I was raised culturally Catholic (no real church-going), then went to a (horrible) fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian high school and realized that path absolutely wasn’t for me. In my 30’s, I started learning about neuroscience and mindfulness and wound up converting to Buddhism in 2016. I spent two years intensively studying and practicing Buddhism, but kept being drawn back to science and nature. So now I’m walking my own path- a lot of Dharma, but also a lot of science (neuroscience, psychology, astrophysics, and ecology…) and a little paganism (cycling with the seasons, etc.). I’m very interested in spirituality, so I actually spend quite a bit of my time learning, studying, and writing.
I’m an avid believer and supporter of science, evolution, personal choice, LGBTQ rights, and climate change. I struggle a lot with the darker side of humanity that has emerged in the last few years.
I love tea (loose black decaf tea leaves, please), books, gardening, and writing.
I’m a very very picky eater. Some of this stems from my vegetarianism, some of it stems from my gastro health (Spina Bifida affects the nerves and muscles in the gastro system- mine are extremely on the IBS-C side of things so I’m super careful with what I eat), and some it it stems from not wanting to invest too much mental effort into choosing foods. I’m not domestic, but I am super neat and organized. I am interested in minimalism, but more from a “let’s only keep what we love and regularly use” perspective, not a “let’s get rid of anything that doesn’t fit in a recycled mesh tote bag and move into a house the size of a tent” perspective.
I love movies, but the past few years I have moved from needing to see every movie in the theater towards obsessing over binge-able TV series. TV is really great right now.
I’m a really responsible and organized person (tending towards anxiety) but I am *terrible* at responding to emails, phone calls, and texts. It’s part of my depression, to be honest. I wish this were not the case, because it makes me feel crummy, but for some reason it’s just an aspect of who I am.
A huge chunk of this journal (late 2005-mid 2006) is focused on Gracie’s adoption from Vietnam. I didn’t do much “mom blogging” after she came home because I kind of feel like her life is *her* story to tell, if and when she is ready. From time to time I mention her, but I try not to get too personal.
Okay, there’s that. At least for now.
– last update: August 4th, 2018