Chandra Rae Fredrickson
Chandra and I got up early and went to her favorite park. It was chilly out and we'd both skipped coffee but once the conversation started flowing none of that mattered in those moments.
It's tough to try to give a complete summary of everything that Chandra shared with me that day, or the impact that it had. It was from her heart and it impacted me greatly on many levels.
Here's what I took to heart from it all;
Be true an honest about who you are and what you want out of life. Know that you are a forever-changing, forever growing person and give yourself grace in that. Be more accepting of the love that you don't immediately understand. Know that heart-break opens you to greater love. Love fiercely!
Chandra, I am simply astounded by your strength! You've not only endured more than most endure in a lifetime but you've come out on the other side of that beautifully broken and finding strength in love itself! I'm moved by your example and am so very excited to see you continue in your journey, impacting people's lives through your heart and your art!
Love Aimlessly, My Friends
What gets you out of bed every day?
If you would have asked me this a year and a half ago it would have been a job that I loved, and the ability to keep growing in my career and teaching as many people as possible how to do hair. To do it well and be a good boss and leader in that. I quit that job a year and a half ago because I felt like it was my life.
I had always seen people traveling and having this adventurous life and I would say to myself “I wish I could do that!” “I wish I can do that!” BUT I CAN DO THAT! I can have the freedom to do whatever I want. Even though it was a career that I had chosen it didn’t have to look the way I was living it. So, I quit my job and went to Iceland and then Costa Rica just four days after that. I’ve gone on multiple road trips since then. I had a life that I thought that I was really happy with but I realized that I was holding myself back.
Now, I can get up and make my day look how I want it to. I have the ability to actually be creative. To do art. I have even been getting commission requests. I get to get up and create something for someone else and that’s such a beautiful thing that I never thought I would ever be able to do!
If I’m on a trip I'm able to experience the creativity of the world. When I was in Glacier Park… Just seeing everything. The mountains, the water that was crystal clear with rocks that are purple and blue and these beautiful colors... I was just like, “Wow!” This is creative. This is creativity and I get to experience this everywhere!
If I get up and I have a slow morning and just decide to read that day that’s my creative way to start that morning. It could be art or travel… whatever.
To date, what is the greatest lesson that you’ve learned?
It would be that you never arrive. I have been very sure of that lesson for that last couple of years.
When I was 21, I was engaged. I was living in Michigan and thought that I had it all figured out. I felt like I was grown, that I had found my person and I was going to get married. I thought I had arrived then.
Fast-forward to 25 and all of that was over and long-gone. I’d moved to Nashville after having moved to St. Louis on a whim. (and it sucked) and I met all of these friends and this community and felt like “AH! I’ve arrived!” I felt like I’d grown up from 21 and from moving to a city for no reason and now had a place in Nashville.
Fast-forward again and I’ve gone through some ups and downs, quit my job and was like “Oh! Now I’ve figured it out!” "Now I've arrived!"
You just keep looking back and saying “Well, at least I’m not there and I’ve arrived now.” What is this idea of arrival? Where are we arriving to? Just knowing that I will never arrive. That I’m trying to better myself and be a better version of myself all the time, exploring different ways of creativity… to explore the world in different ways and have connection with people. To be vulnerable and keep stretching myself.
At what point will you be satisfied with that? I don’t think that there is an end to that and maybe “arriving” is accepting that you never will. You give yourself so much more grace and allowance to be whatever you are in that moment because you’re not striving to be anything else. Things like “I’m 31 and I’m supposed to be settled and have a life that looks like… whatever” No! That’s not my life. That doesn’t have to be what my life looks like. It’s whatever you want you life to look like.
What is love?
It’s one of those questions that you feel like you have an answer to and immediately realize just how complex it is. That is a complex question!
It can mean something different for everyone but we all feel it and we’re all connected to it. I “love” a good book. I “love” that I can get lost in literature but it’s of course different that what I feel for Andy.
Love connects all of us. It’s so big! Let me just think on this a minute.
In my family, we never talked about love. There was no hugging. We never told each other that we loved one another. There wasn’t a sense of community in our family. There were a lot of circumstances that made us all that way but as we all get older you keep thinking “Oh, things can be different now.” Now, we’re all in different places across the country and it almost feels like it’s too late. When we get together we feel love, and we say “We need to do better!” “We need to call more!” It’s happened every year and then we didn't follow up. That’s on me too, but it’s something that we didn’t learn as a family.
Anyone that knows me otherwise knows that I love and hug everyone! I love touching people and telling people that I love them. I’ve learned something from not feeling that type of love in my family when I was younger. I’ve learned that it’s something that I want to be adamant about giving to the people that I do love now.
The complex part of love seen in my family happened when my mom was sick. She and I hadn’t spoken in years and she called me out of the blue. I never usually answered her calls, but that one I did for some reason. She told me that she had terminal brain cancer. She had emergency surgery scheduled that she’d delayed for two days to call people. I remember getting off the phone and spending the rest of the day figuring out whether or not I was going to go to the surgery, knowing full-well how eminent it could be during or after. I had many things going through my mind. I thought “This is my mom. I love her, right?” It was confusing. We’d had a tough past and I also loved myself too. At what point do I decide who I’m going to love more? Do I love and protect myself or do I go and show my love in that way?
I ended up going. It changed everything. She did well in surgery, and for the first time my family got together and we told one another that we loved and were there for one another. A lot of family secrets came out and we realized that how much we were protecting one another already.
Because of my mom’s surgery and where her tumor was it triggered the chemicals in the brain for affection. She wanted to tell me all the time how much she loved me and wanted to hug me. She would hold me all the time. Even in my childhood that never happened. I was like “I love this woman!” “This is the mom I always wanted!” I wanted to be held. I wanted to be told that I was loved by her.
If I had not gone to that surgery I wouldn’t know what that love was. I might not love and be friends with my siblings.
I feel my mom’s loss every day. Something that I didn’t think would ever happen. It’s something that I look back on and am grateful for what I learned in those months. From my childhood, I think that I struggled with feeling unloveable. Through that I learned how to love myself because I had only myself. I learned that I could make my friends my family and I learned how to love in that way.
It feels like I had a childhood that was colorless and then woke up to everything being saturated in color. What you put out your receive. If we’re just open… My family and I weren’t open to love because it wasn’t safe or comfortable… but I’m safe and comfortable in my skin and if I tell my friend that I love them with an open vulnerability and they tell me that back I know that that is love. I know that that is true.
There’s so many different categories of love but it’s all the same. It all effects us. If I lost a friend I would miss them every day like I miss my mom even though it’s a different type of love. My love for Andy is something that I’ve never felt before and it’s something that I’m learning all the time how to be open to such an amazing love. I don’t think that I could have gotten there without finding a place where I told myself “I AM LOVABLE!” “I AM LOVABLE AND I LOVE MYSELF!” That’s its own journey. Going from learning that you’re the only thing that you really have and everything else on the outskirts of you is icing on the cake but you really have yourself. Without first loving myself I don’t think that I would have been able to love him or accept his type of love without me first loving me.
Love is great and it’s painful as well. You can’t escape it whether you want to or not. There was a time that I was like “No more people!” “I can’t do this any more!” I called my friend, Jamie and told her I was done with people. She said “You just called me. You’re not done with people.” You can’t escape love.
I think that because of the hardships that I have endured I feel that I’m able to love more now than I ever have. I think the heartbreak of being torn by love makes you open up to a world that’s way more colorful than before. Now just seeing a sunset or the colors changing in the fall blows my mind!
About Chandra : Chandra is now a full-time artist, kind-loving soul and beautiful spirit.
Lives in Nashville, TN
From Jamestown, NY