You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

This photo was taken shortly after I had stepped off the school bus, in roughly 1977-78. We lived in a small trailer park in Hampton. 161 Simple Farm Road. I desperately wanted to go to school like my big brother. So, my parents lied about my age and enrolled me in a small private Baptist school at the age of 3. I think our neighbor’s name was Carl and I recall that he either liked to fish or was a fisherman that dabbled in photography. His was the first ‘real camera’ I had seen in comparison to my mom’s 110 cartridge Kodak. I remember the dress. I was standing with my best friend and neighbor, Angie. My hair hadn’t started curling yet.

In our childhood, everything happens to us. We aren’t seeking out change because we don’t fully grasp the concept. All I knew is that I wanted my life to be an adventure. I didn’t play by the rules. I didn’t buy into “what’s expected.” I forged my own path.

But looking back, even I can see that door slowly closing on me. Not by some outside source, but of my own making. We are all lulled into a false sense of security, the comfort of routine and expectations. Over time, we close ourselves off to change, because it seems safe, whatever “safe” means.

In my youth, I jumped at any and all opportunities to disrupt the status quo. If there was a protest, a march, a sit in, I wanted to be there. And in some cases I was organizing it. Then it all stopped.

Life got in the way. Making those impossible choices between, food, heat and water. Arguing with the city that we hadn’t used a years worth of water in a month and being unable to prove it, we had to pay the bill. Waiting for some procurement office to pay their overdue invoice and writing a bad check so we could eat for another few days. Yes, it builds character. It provides perspective. It’s those unwelcome experiences that changed me the most; willingly and unwillingly.

But I’m in a better place now, because of it. I’m a far better person, too.

I didn’t attend the women’s march last year. My younger self would be so disappointed in my adult self. What the hell happened to me? Last year, I was too busy drinking my feelings from the election. So when I caught wind of another march, how could I not go? So, I posted on Facebook. “Who’s with me?” And my tribe responded accordingly. Score one for my adult self. Now, to keep up the momentum.

Hello, me. Nice to see you again. I’ve missed you.

Doc Martens? Check. Keep calm, and kick mother fucking ass.