Contradictions

It’s absolutely stunning in Atlanta today. The sun is glorious. Everything is blooming in an explosion of color. It is as perfect a spring day as I can conjure.

Days like make it seem like anything is possible, probable even. Like the cosmos have aligned to heap blessings upon me.

Then, I watched a hearse back its way into the driveway next to mine.

And all day long, I’ve been sitting with the contradiction of the beauty of the day & the man who is suddenly absent from this beauty.

We weren’t friends, he and I. I don’t think he liked me much, to be honest. But I still found myself tearing up as I stood at the window and looked at the hearse.

Something about this death, one that I was aware of but existed wholly outside of, that happened on this perfect Spring day in Atlanta, made me hyper-aware of the contradictions, the both/and of the every day.

I am the cosmos. And yet, I am dust.

I am light. And darkness.

I am filled with wild potential. Yet, I gain the most through surrender.

I am my own. But I am bound to those I love.

I feel expansive, full of hope, energy and love. I also want to turn inward and shrink from a world that can be ugly, too.

I found out, shortly after watching that hearse back its way down the driveway next to mine, that a friend needs a miracle to beat the cancer that has dogged her for a year or more.

So, I did what I do when shit gets too real, scary and overwhelming: I laced up my shoes and I ran. I needed forward motion, to remind myself that the earth is still there.

And I prayed. Because she asked her friends to. And that’s the kind of request you do not ignore.

And, as I ran, this became increasingly clear: She deserves a miracle. Everyone deserves a miracle. Hell, we all ARE miracles.

I ran in the brilliant sunshine and I explained to the Great Mother exactly what kind of miracle my friend deserves.

It is the best kind. The most brilliant kind. The long life full of health and vitality kind.

I know it is possible.

Because we are all the cosmos, full of stars and dust, infinite and finite… and we are all unfolding miracles.

A few years ago, in the middle of the most heated, long-simmering, agonizing public situation I’ve ever been party to, a woman lobbed this doozy at me: 

You aren’t God, you know.

My initial response skewed heavy toward the snark (in my own head… or more accurately, much later in the shower—which is where I generate my best after-the-fact-comebacks): Whew! Thank God. My to-do list just got a helluva lot more manageable then.  

Then I moved quickly into full scale-character assassination (hers, not mine—and still, fortunately, in my own head). 

But, here I am, years after the fact… and it’ll pop back into my head: you’re not God, you know. It happens kind of randomly. But, honestly, most often when I’m writing. 

And then, once I’m all aboard that train, I think about my second favorite barb tossed to me by the mom with a daughter the same age as mine: Oh, yes, Jane your perfect child.

Huh. Well, that sarcasm smarts a bit.

Look, I’d love to dismiss both comments with an tsunami sized eye roll. But I can’t do that… because BOOM! They just show up in my head unannounced. Then, I feel like I need to make those little barbs some tea and invite them for a little chit-chat. Because clearly I’m supposed to do something with both these comments—neither of which were meant to be kind. 

I subscribe to two schools of thought:

  1. Everyone is my teacher. 
  2. I’m not going to take wholesale criticism from someone I wouldn’t ask for advice. 

Which really is to say that I don’t have a neat answer to this, even thought I’ve spun it round & round in my head. I do know that I’m an external processor… and that I’ve already processed things (for the most part) by the time I share them in writing. The people closest to me see the messy process. And maybe I should be more transparent that things aren’t always easy, and right & wrong isn’t always apparent. Not everything is as packaged to perfect proportions as my essays can seem to be. 

My writing isn’t messier because—to me—that feels like oversharing instead of vulnerability. I can admit when I fucked up. I can share hurt, loss, and fear. But only if there’s a take away—even if it’s as simple as acknowledging that we are all in this chaotic, messy, beautiful life together.

I write because I’m a huge proponent of the power of story. 

But, y’all … stories have an arc. 

When all I’m doing is dumping despair or anger or hopelessness all over the page—which is sometimes the case—I never hit publish. Because what I want to put into the world is hope (even in the midst of despair), love (even in loss or change or a fuck up of epic proportions), and a genuine joy and curiosity about the world. 

I don’t know why the refrain about not being God keeps jumping in my head. But I do know that it’s humbling—and that seems like reason enough to keep it top of mind on occasion. 

As for Jane not being perfect, well.. I take issue with that one. Jane IS perfect. All kids are perfect, just the way they are. It us, as parents, that sometimes fall short. Myself included. 

Because I’m not God, you know. 

Dream Big (or even at all will do)

One of the greatest joys of being sober is doing shit you never even dreamed of…

I didn’t have such a great imagination when I was drinking. Sure, I could sit on a barstool & tell you I was going to run a marathon the year I turned 30 (even though I’d never run more than 3 consecutive miles in my life). Or that I wanted to be a professor one day (even though I barely finished my Masters’ degree because that shit takes work). Or that I wanted to be a writer (even if I’d stopped writing anything at all because drinking doesn’t leave a lot of time for creative pursuits).

I was good at talking. Not as good at dreaming.

Dreaming gets a bad rap, I think. There’s idle dreaming… the kind you do on a lazy afternoon. More like wishful thinking. And then there’s big dreaming, real dreaming… the kind that catches you unaware and propels you into action before you even realize that you’re planning to take a big risk. Even if you’re not a risk taker. Not even a little bit.

When people ask if owning the bookstore was a lifelong dream… I mean, I hate to burst their bubble and all (they always look so hopeful when they ask…), but no.

Honestly, it was something even better.

It was this random idea on a day when I was leaving the coffeeshop in my neighborhood. I wanted a book. There was nowhere to walk to buy one.

And I thought, “There really should be a bookstore in this neighborhood…”

By the time I got home, it’d turned into “Maybe I should open a bookstore right here, in my neighborhood …”

From conception to reality was just under a year.

Because it was the kind dream that catches you–and you just know it’s right.

Even if you’re not a risk taker. Even if you’ve never dreamed of owning a business. Even if you’re scared to death of signing a commercial lease. Even if…

Things fell into place, one right after another to make this bookstore a reality. Never once did I believe I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. The Universe pushed me one affirmation after another that YES this was right. That YES this would work. And that, in fact, this was more than a dream. It was a calling.

And none of it would have been possible at all, if I’d kept my head buried at the bottom of a pint glass. Instead, now I’ve got my nose in a book, living just beyond where my wildest dreams used to end.

Hesitation

I spent most of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

That’s a pretty shitty way to live.

It means that every time you feel real joy, there’s a pin-prick of fear… because what if it all goes away? And that tiny prick of fear builds into a swell…because how would you ever survive that loss? How would you go on?

And then that joy you felt is washed away by the rising panic that you won’t be able to hold on to that thing you love so much.

None of this ever really occurred at the front of my mind. That would have been debilitating. But it was always in the back… a quiet current of dread that snuffed out joy—or at least tamped it down to a dull roar.

I’ve stopped doing that. 

Mostly. 

I guess I just finally reached a point where my life had been in flux for so long—and nothing turned out like I planned, and yet I was still happy. Like, really very happy.

So, I tentatively started to trust. The universe. Myself. Joy. 

And I stopped just plowing ahead with knee-jerk reactions. It’s so much easier to be balanced when I’m not off like a whirling dervish at every spike of fear or worry that arises. 

I’m better at listening—to myself. To the universe. 

Trusting and listening. I’m not sure either come naturally to me. But both are bringing me more joy than I felt when left to my own devices. 

But the past few days I felt this… hesitation. This nagging worry way, way back in my mind… maybe it isn’t going to work out. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I’m trying to grab at things meant only for other people.

Which is, of course, bullshit. 

So, I drug this hesitation in front of the Universe & laid it there. No use in trying to act like I wasn’t feeling it. The universe KNOWS things, after all. 

But, like fear, this hesitancy is really vulnerable to light. As soon as I put it out there—admitted that I doubted what I was capable of, that I could bring these big dreams to fruition—I felt an internal shift. To a quieter space. A more peaceful assuredness. 

The next day, I was mapping out new adventures, scoping new partnerships, and feeling wide open & ready to embrace the new possibilities that suddenly seemed everywhere. 

I’m not special. Well… I guess I am and am not special in equal measure. There is no one exactly like me—but I am subject a terminal case of humanity like everyone else. But I’m so thankful I had folks along the way that taught me that breathing into joy is so much better than being suffocated by fear & dread.  And that honesty is the key to reaching joy. 

Acting like I have my shit together—even if it’s just me & the Universe in the audience of my one-woman-show—isn’t going to get me anywhere. But honesty… drawing fear and dread and doubt into the light… that’s magic. 

Puppy Love & Couple Skates

My first boyfriend’s name was Jon Robinson. We were 8 years old.

He was cute, best I remember. And pretty nice. Nice enough to inform me that no, you couldn’t get pregnant just from kissing. Apparently, I’d snuck too many episodes of Days of Our Lives, where the timeline between lots of kissing and having a baby was fuzzy at best.

And it was me that asked to kiss him, for the record.

My clearest memories of him, though, are at the skating rink.

I’ve never been a particularly skilled skater. But what I lack in finesse, I make up for in enthusiasm. The thrill of getting going fast enough to feel a breeze on my face always eclipsed the very real fact that I wasn’t great at stopping. By the time I was 8, I’d (mostly) stopped slamming myself into that little carpeted wall by the DJ booth to come to a stop. But I wasn’t above coasting up to it and casually bumping into it.

I’m sure I looked super suave.

But the thing about flashing lights and loud music is that you can kind of escape yourself out there in the swirl & twirl of it all.

Eight was a liminal age for me. We’d just moved to South Florida, and I felt (relatively) popular because I was the new kid. People found me interesting. I swear 80% of my school hailed from New York originally, and I’d moved to South Florida from Gainesville. Florida. Where there were cows.

I didn’t fit in. But I had no idea how much I didn’t fit in yet.

I was blissfully unaware.

So, I skated with John Robinson. And we’d laugh and wave at each other. We were at the skating rink on a school field trip, so the place was packed with 3rd graders feeling really grown with money to buy junk from the snack bar.

Third grade was the year before I felt self-conscious all the time. So I just got to be. And to enjoy skating (even if I wasn’t that good at it). And to wave at a cute boy and giggle when I saw him fly around the rink with his friends.

I remember him being both adorable and particularly good at skating–but who knows? I’ve learned, as I’ve gotten older, that memories lie.

2 things happened on that skating trip that I remember as if they happened just yesterday:

I got to couple skate with John Robinson while “The Inspiration” by Chicago blared in the background. If whipping around the rink solo is fun, it’s doubly fun when you’re attached to someone else by a sweaty palm, going faster than you’d imagined possible. It’s terrifying and exhilarating. And if I close my eyes and focus really hard, I can conjure it all back up.

Then, right after that legendary couple-skate, John Robinson pulled me aside, over by the lockers where everyone stashed their stinky ‘Roos. I thought maybe he was going to kiss me (why I was so obsessed with kissing at 8 years old is a topic for another time). But, instead he took my hand and looked at me extra-sincere like.

I know you’re thinking that we’re about to get to the really cute, puppy-love part of the story where he tells me how much he likes me. Or whatever 8 year olds do.

And it started out well: he told me how pretty I was (feminist or no, I am a sucker for being told I’m pretty. Always have been). And then he looked even more sincere.

I remember my heart pounding against my chest.

“You’re really pretty, but why do you dress like that?”

Huh?

I looked down. I was wearing my favorite quarter length sleeve sweater, with dark purple trim and rainbow colored stripes running through an off-white background. I loved that sweater.

“You’d probably be popular, if you just dressed more like everyone else.”

I mean, sure, I was still wearing homemade dresses on occasion. And I had to fight my mom about culottes all the time (which she though in some way were “pretty,” a mix between a utilitarians short and an impractical-for-school skirt. Let’s be clear: they were ugly AF), and sometimes she won.

But, here I was in my favorite sweater… and it was, well, wrong. Apparently.

I think I told him I’d try to do better. I’m not sure. It gets a little hazy after that. But I do know that I never felt quite the same about Jon Robinson. There’d been a subtle power shift. The feeling like itty bitty electrical currents when I was close to him was replaced with the subtle knowledge that he was doing me a favor by being my friend. That I was in some way jeopardizing his status as a “cool kid” with my presence, and I owed him gratitude.

I wish I walk up into that skating rink and hug my 8 year old self. And tell her she’s enough, as-is. That being cool isn’t everything. That she still won’t be cool at 45, but it won’t matter to her one iota. But I’d sure tell her to fight her mama harder on those culottes.

And, if I could, I’d couple skate with her. But we’d skate to Whitney Houston. I think y’all know which song.

Ground Control…

In the evolution of parenting, we’ve recently entered the tween zone.

It’s a strange land, filled with Caboodles, lip gloss, ill-applied blush, and an obsession with all things unicorn and glitter.

It’s a liminal stage. For us and our 9 (and a half) year old.

There are things to be celebrated, for sure: a newfound love of organization, a stab at cleanliness, and an intrigue with the persona she’s carefully formulating.

And then there are things that break my heart a bit: worry that playing with her best friends (both boys, both a tiny bit younger) doesn’t jibe with who she’s trying to be; a letting go of the most obvious vestiges of her childhood: her beloved doll clothes (those dolls were everything for several years. They even had their own bathroom set-up–with a toilet that made flushing noises!); a studied pain-in-the-assness that she believes is a hallmark of the preteen years.

It’s a little confusing for all of us.

But it’s a stage.

The persona she adopts right now is just as apt to change as the socks she put on this morning. It’s a performance. She’s trying to settle on what feels good. And right. For her.

Now, I can tell her what feels right for me. But that’s not going to do her any good. So, I just circle about her orbit, doing my thing: yoga & meditation & truth-telling & book-selling. I am so much a part of her world. But at the same time, vastly separate… something to be observed.

Until she wants to cuddle. Then she wants me to absorb her completely. She cannot get close enough. There is no beginning and end to us. I can feel us breathe together. And it’s never been any other way.

And then I realize that I can’t breathe, because the kid is almost as big as I am (at 9! … okay… I’m not a very big human. But still!), and she’s crushing the breath right out of me.

It’s a push and pull of nostalgia and realism. It’s creating and re-creating. Starting again. Pressing forward.

The thing that bothers me most isn’t Jane’s efforts at self discovery (even if they do mean she constantly tries to filch my mascara). It’s other people’s reactions to it. And those, well, they piss me off.

I can hear the flinch in people’s voices when I tell them I have a tweenish girl.

“That must be so hard,” they murmur. “Girls can be so mean,” they say outright. Or my favorite: the “Oh” laden with what I think I’m supposed to understand as sympathy for my plight.

It’s bullshit.

Girls are humans. They have joys and fears. They try things out. They can be mean. They can be kind. But you know who decides that? Them. Each one of them.

It’s my job to guide this sweet, insightful 9.5 year old toward an adolescence and adulthood filled with meaning and purpose–and hopefully lots of joy. That can, in fact, be done wearing lip gloss and sparkly nail polish. Or she might decide to ditch all that and shave her head and wear Doc Martens.

Cool.

Her form of self expression is just that: hers.

As the ad-hoc navigator of this journey, I get to serve as her touchstone. I remind her that she can be grown (see: lip gloss & blush) and still have fun (see: playing with light sabers in her besties’ backyard). I tell her about what I missed out on because I tried so hard to be someone I wasn’t & took myself way too seriously. I laugh with her when she tries something that she ultimately decides is ridiculous. And, sometimes, I buy her unicorn tank tops just because (so she knows I really see her). When all else fails, I call in my glamorous, childhood-beauty-pageant-winning friend to teach Jane how to apply blush correctly. Because God knows I have no idea.

I want Jane to know that she is loved and accepted, always. I value her for who she is. And she is worthy just as she is. Worthy of love. And acceptance. And all the glitter her heart desires.

Dance, I Said

If I were to run smack into my sixth grade self right now, my first thought would be, “Oh, honey.” And then I’d get straight to work helping me be slightly less of a dork.

The problem was that I just had no clue. Other kids were a little like aliens to me. I didn’t understand how they knew what was cool. I definitely didn’t know how to be cool. And that cluelessness led me to walk into the sixth grade dance believing I was actually there to have fun.

My sixth grade misconception is difficult to square with my beliefs as a parent. Because the parent in me believes things should be fun. That you should do whatever you want & be proud of who you are. That you should 100% let your freak flag fly.

But the realist in me knows that you have to understand the rules to break the rules.

I did not.

And that you have to be hella confident to break from the deeply entrenched social norms of middle school.

I was not.

So, basically, I had no chance of making it out of that dance unscathed.

I feel pretty confident I had on a jean skirt (too long, wrong denim wash). And some shirt that likely looked either too grade school or too much like I’d reached a tragically early middle age (likely my mom would have said it was “pretty.” Which was apparently code for: you are moving at warp speed from anything that resembles popularity). And I had barrettes pulling back the bangs I was growing out. To be clear: I parted said bangs down the middle and pulled them back with barrettes. Tiny barrettes. Very close to the part, because my bangs weren’t any longer than regular bangs. But I was growing them out. So, of course they couldn’t just hang down, or swoop over, or get moodily in my eyes.

Nope.

Barrettes.

So, there I am, in this fashion travesty. And I start dancing.

Like, I’m totally dancing like no one is watching. Except it’s middle school, and EVERYONE is watching. And I’m dancing like one of the nerds at the end of a John Hughes movie, who finally gets accepted for who they are… and all is right with the world.

Which is so lovely. But not particularly realistic.

And so…

I’m dancing (badly). With wild abandon. And this girl approaches me.

I can’t remember exactly what she said. I think it was something to the effect of “What the hell is that you are doing?” I remember her looking at me like she hated me. Really hated me. And I was confused. And scared. Because she shoved me like she wanted to fight.

When I think about it, I can still feel the adrenaline shoot through me. I was shaking. And I remember telling her that I wasn’t going to fight her. Because I had more respect than that for myself & her. Because I was a Christian. (I like that I could throw in self-righteousness even in the face of a beat down. Because let me tell you, that “I am a Christian” business wasn’t about mercy or empathy. It was me telling her that I was better than she was.)

I don’t remember how the whole mess of a situation got diffused. I think I threatened to tell on her.

No one said I excelled in sticking up for myself.

What I do remember is feeling a deep sense of shame that someone hated me that much, thought I was that gross that they’d want to fight me just for being myself. It was one of many messages I got in sixth grade that who I was was, in fact, nothing.

On the ride home (and for weeks afterward) I tried to combat that shame with that tried-and-true parental adage that she was just jealous of me.

I knew it was bullshit then. And it certainly did nothing to ease my shame.

I think about that often: how I internalized that shame, how I believed there was something deeply wrong with me, how I so quickly believed I was nothing.

And I wonder how to do better by Jane.

Fortunately, we’ve got a lot going for us: Jane was born with more fashion sense than I’ll ever have. And she’s developed a self confidence at 9 (and a half) that I sincerely admire.

And, on my end, well I just try to be honest with her. About people. About life (which is both pain & joy). And about working through her own response to other people’s shit.

Here are some things we live by in this house: When people are mean, it’s about them. Not you. It’s not that they’re jealous (because EW. That makes it sound like you believe you are better than they are). It’s that they are in pain. And if you can find compassion for that pain, you can release yourself from their judgement. Because, again, it isn’t about you.

But you also have to give yourself space to work though your own pain, when people spew their internal garbage on you. And to make a choice about how you respond. Because you can’t control what other people do, you can only control your response to it.

And we work on really knowing who we are. So that we can be proud of that. And so we can be people who put more good than bad into the world. And to try to love folks as they come.

Also noteworthy: Jane flips out if I dance in public. So maybe my dancing really IS that bad. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean I don’t do it anyway.

Figuring It Out

Simon would probably tell you that I’m rarely quiet.

We’ve been together for not-quite-but-almost 17 years… so he’s a pretty good authority on all things me.

It is true… I’ll happily chatter on about country music, or any injustice I spot from a million miles away, or about whatever I happen to be pondering that day.

It also may be true that I debrief him on my latest thoughts, feelings, and internal dilemmas first thing in the morning (before he’s even had his coffee. He’s a better listener that way).

And I regale him with stories about my day, my friends, and other randomness when we sit down to watch TV. Which sometimes annoys him. But mostly he’s used to it.

For all that talking, though, I talk at least 50% less than I used to. I’ve learned to think before I speak. To make sure I really think/believe things before they come flying out of my mouth. Trust me, this is a VAST improvement over the stream-of-consciousness he was living with 17 years ago.

It’s also true that some of my friends tease me about being a completely open book. Probably because I wrote about getting sober, my struggles with anxiety, Simon’s transition, my difficulty squaring a lesbian identity with my (super cute, newly minted) husband, miscarriage, and the almost-dissolution of my marriage… all without hesitation.

That’s a lot of sharing. And a lot of vulnerability. But that’s what I value. I tell my story so someone else will realize they aren’t alone. And maybe they’ll want to share their story, too. I believe we all need more connection, not less. We need to be vulnerable with each other and kind as we watch people navigate their own journeys.

But… and this is a real weird one for me… lately I don’t know what to write, because the things I’m sorting out feel both deeply interior and… quiet.

There are good things that happen every day over here. But quarantine has a cadence that is so familiar that it doesn’t lend itself to new revelations like being out in the world. There are lovely things about this quiet, s-l-o-w time. But not much that’s lending itself to good storytelling.

I feel like the Universe is nudging me gently to look at some old patterns that have resurfaced recently. There’s nothing mysterious about them… sometimes my thoughts get stuck in a loop. And, like listening to as song on repeat with your toddler, the first few times aren’t bad. Time number twenty-five can make you a little bit bananas.

It hasn’t happened to me in a long time, this endless loop. I think, deep down, I thought I had evolved past it. Obviously, the Universe thought I need some humility. So, I’m looking deeper than I usually have to to figure out why Loopfest 2020 happened (instead of trying to just abruptly shove it aside, as is usually my way). This is a level of introspection I haven’t had to hone in on in a while.

This mining process, turning my thoughts, patterns, and feelings over and over… it must use the very same creative/introspective energy I tap into to write.

Because, lately, I feel like I’ve got nothing in the way of stories to tell.

Not because things are bad. But because I’ve been presented an opportunity–the kind that doesn’t show itself every day–to really understand myself. And that’s where my energy is going.

And since I learned to shut-it (at least 50% of the time), and to only put things out into the world that I’ve thought through and believe, well it’s been like a game of Quiet Mouths over here.

Well, for everyone except Simon. Who still gets front row as I process in real-time.

The moral of the story?

Marry well, friends. (Also, probably keep Simon in your thoughts & prayers)

Chaos

In case y’all are keeping tabs on my progression through the pandemic phases, we’ve now reached the “I-Want-to-Create-Full-Blown-Chaos” stage.

Perhaps y’all are unfamiliar with that stage. It’s the one where you up and quit your job or buy a new house/boat/car or get a puppy or cut bangs. You know, something that adds flair and drama and conflict. Because what you’re really looking for is a way to feel ALIVE.

And now that I’ve been in quarantine lock-down for some ungodly amount of days, I find myself feeling that itch.

But I own a bookstore I love. And Simon gives me side-eye if I even look at Zillow (We’ve moved 4 times in the last 8 years. He’s right. I need to give it a rest). He’s also (wisely) categorically said no to a puppy, a goat, and a micro pig. We’re done having kids. Bangs look like shit on me.

And yet, I still crave it. That rush of chaos. The tingle. The thrill of it all.

This is the season, it turns out, where I have to learn to sit with the desire to create chaos. To feel those feelings. And just let them be.

In all times before this, when chaos has come knocking, I have run right toward it. In big ways and small ways. Damaging ways & innocuous ways. This is the first time I’ve been healthy enough to see this desire to shake things up for what it is. And to choose my response to it.

It’s the choice that matters.

To me, anyway.

From the time I was about 16 years old, I’ve beaten myself up with the idea that if I was just spiritual enough (in whatever form I happened to be practicing at the moment), I wouldn’t feel intense temptation, or wrestle with the desire to do completely selfish things, or struggle with feelings I’d prefer not to have.

But I’ve begun to understand that what matters is not that I’m somehow transcendent enough to avoid these feelings, itches, chaos-loving desires altogether. What matters is that I choose to not cause harm. To not leave a wake of unnecessary destruction. To not be the Goddess of Chaos just because.

Sometimes the right choice just comes easily. But there isn’t much triumph in that. The triumph is in the struggle. It’s in the choice.

Alcoholics tend to like chaos–sometimes even in recovery. But I’m learning I can say no, the same way I can say no to a drink.

I get to choose.

And y’all can all rest assured that there are absolutely no quarantine bangs happening over here.

Feeling ALL The Feelings

Whew, y’all. I think maybe there’s this COVID-19 pandemic wall… and I’ve hit it.

Not just hit it… run smack-dab-full-force-into it.

The past 2 days, I just cannot seem to pull my shit together. I feel an absolutely staggering amount of fear & sadness.

Not about anything specific.

It’s a general mailise.

Today, Publix made me sad. Which is odd, because Publix = where shopping is a pleasure. (Truly, I have an unnatural love for Publix. An undying devotion even. And don’t get me started on the delightfulness of their subs. My Florida will start showing…) I told my lovely checkout team to stay safe, and when the cashier said, “You, too,” I almost burst into tears.

Obviously, I need a break. But it’s hella hard to take a break from a pandemic. It’s a little… ever-present.

I’m tired. I miss hugging people’s necks. And being able to clear my throat without wondering if it’s a harbinger of this damn virus.

We’ve been in relatively strict lockdown for over four months. And it’s wearing on me.

But here’s what’s helping me through: the knowledge that it is okay.

It’s okay that I’m overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel fear, without trying to shove it away. It’s okay to admit that the world feels wildly out of control, and it’s scary as fuck.

It’s okay to cry.

The world will not end if I admit that I’m not feeling like a ray of sunshine right now.

The amusing part? I’ve spent years learning how to sit with my feelings. And now I don’t want to sit with them… because they aren’t the feelings I want to have.

Isn’t that just always the way it goes?

But literally, the only thing that has slowed down the rush of anxiety, put me back in touch with my own body, brought me back to this present moment, is acknowledging my emotions as they arise. Looking at how I really feel–not how I want to feel.

I often have a list of shoulds in my head. Things I should be doing. Things I think I should be feeling. Right now, I’m trying to release the shoulds & just focus on what is.

Yoga makes me feel really good. So I’m leaning into that. I’m reading a novel about a nuclear apocalypse, which is surprisingly good escapism from this pandemic clusterfuck. And it’s a small act of rebellion, since I’m reading Alas, Babylon instead of the book I should be reading for book club–because I want to. I’m hugging my kid a lot. She’s cute. And funny. And almost as tall as me. And I like her. A lot. So she gets extra love. And I go outside as frequently as I can without melting, because I always have better perspective when I’m outside in the sunshine.

Turns out that maybe this is my moment to lean in to being kind to myself. And to take things a little slower. And just to be–whatever that looks like right now.

So, enough about me… how’s your pandemic going?