Beginning and End

Everything has a beginning and an end.  A simple enough concept, yet incredibly difficult to rationalize when faced with a journey full of obstacles; obstacles that seem unyielding. 

My great aunt Adele lived through World War 2, a time riddled with tragedy and uncertainty.  As we face a global pandemic, Adele aged 95 was asked in a family Zoom how she saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  Adele’s steadfast advice was always this: “Accept whatever is taking place.  Don’t buck the trend if you can’t control it. Do all the things you are supposed to do to be safe. Accept— go with the flow.  Otherwise you will make yourself unhappy.  The situation will come and it will go.  Stand your ground- hold the ground- stand fast.  Things have a beginning and an end.  If you do this you will be happier.” 

I often forget how difficult it is to simply stand strong.  Constantly, I have outside forces blowing me off center—balancing being a mother with my career, maintaining a healthy relationship with my husband, and most recently COVID-19. Yet the source of the majority of my pain and guilt comes from the accident. 

I am afraid, and I am guilt ridden.  The day of the accident was the day that a woman’s journey on this earth ended.  And I am to blame.  I am responsible, and I have accepted the responsibility of my actions.  However, I am hyperaware that acceptance of responsibility does not mean there will be acceptance of the results of my actions, this will never end as it should not. It is my honor and burden to honor the life of the Woman who died. She too faced obstacles; she was a woman, a mother and a friend.  Though my journey as a woman, a mother and a friend continues on, I will never find peace as a result of my action.   

Whenever I am feeling consumed by these feelings, I think about something my close friend Jane once told me.  She said, “There’s time to be born and there’s time to die. There’s a sunrise and a sunset. Where you started is not where you are. Every journey has a beginning and an ending, meaning nothing is permanent. Beauty has an end, pain has an end and when you understand this, the heart and the soul stops wavering.  They become still and calm, because your beautiful mind reminds you that this too… has an end.  The wise will see the end of a thing, be it good or bad, from the beginning, hence they tend to focus on the present.” 

Generations separate my aunt Adele and my friend Jane.  And yet, as a result of varying experiences, they both gave the same advice—remember that everything has a beginning and an end.  I believe that the guilt I hold with me from the accident will be a part of me until my end, yet I hope to rebuild from the pain.  I want to rise from the ashes, wielding my pain as a shield against my demons.  I want to convert the turmoil into upward momentum, and make positive changes.  I know now that, to live in the present, I must act in order to prevent future tragedies.  I know that I can never bring back the life I took, but I know that I can help deter others from making the same mistakes I made.  I have an opportunity to bring positive change, and escape from the pit of negativity surrounding me. 

Currently, it seems as though this global pandemic does not have an end in sight.  I think about my children, and how their education is affected as a result of COVID-19.  They are the future, and they are only at the beginning of their expeditions in life.  This is their childhood; their time to enjoy the beauty of innocence.  Making childhood friendships that can last a lifetime is stunted by distance-learning, and their quality of schooling will not be the same. So, as a parent myself, I find it necessary to remember that this will end.  For right now, we must support our children.  Provide them with all that we can, and enrich their adolescence with love and kindness.   

Seasons come and go each year. Currently, the leaves are beginning to change as summer comes to a close. Hurricanes are forming, and once they pass, leave us with scattered leaves and the smell of autumn. These long, hot summer days are replaced with crisp, short ones. We know this pattern, for we are forced to confront it each year. We are ruled by the weather-when it rains, we reach for an umbrella. When it snows, we reach for our boots. We do not simply cope with the changes in the weather-we face them, head on. We do this because we know the temporary nature of weather. So think about your pain, and your turmoil, as a singular weather event. Grab your umbrella, grab your coat, and face it. Be resilient, and find a way through. Because a new beginning is on your horizon

Fear and Guilt

Lately I feel as though myself and many other people have been engaging in very hard conversations, some ending in triumph and others ending in fragmented emotions that seem unresolved. No matter how my conversations end, I still walk away embodying some level of fear and guilt and those feelings take me down a dark abyss until I reach the center of a black hole. I hover in that space for quite some time and finally get the inspiration to take a deep breath and find some sort of glimmer that reminds me of all the love around me. One of the sources of that love is the continued and sustained activism of so many young people that makes this movement feel different from many of the other movements I’ve watched from afar the past decade. Their actions remind me to love and forgive myself, then love and forgive others, then love and forgive the world. 

You all know I continue struggling with the accident. I often feel like there are two forces of destruction that will forever eat away at me: how can I engage in activism today when I have a death hanging over my head? Will people judge me for everything I say and constantly remind me of 2018? Then I think about the sheer death that COVID has brought across the planet. Then there’s the exposure of years and decades and centuries of racism that I’m now intentionally engaging to inform myself of what I need to do to be a good ally.  Then there are the days I want to wring so many people’s necks because they aren’t listening but only want to instigate hate speech, destruction, and terrorism. Then I’m reminded I’m a destroyer because I destroyed lives. As you can see, this cycle of mine probably won’t end for some time. This cycle represents much of my fear and guilt, my reflections on past codependent relationship, my struggles with not being able to control others’ actions, and my inability to be able to stand up for everything.

All of this is to say that while I’m a ball of ever-changing feelings, I’m also doing my best to learn how to be a good ally, how to engage the spaces I regularly occupy, and how to support the spaces I previously didn’t occupy. I’m learning how to own my family history and my mother’s biracial identity that was an unspoken secret for many years. I’m learning how to stand for the complexity I represent. I’m learning how to stand for the complexities I don’t represent. For so long I’ve lived with the fear and guilt that people were whispering the worst things about me, which ironically fed my fear and guilt more. I’ve had to reconcile with the behaviors within myself that inhibited me from taking responsibility because I was too busy looking at the actions of others, and I’ve learned to love the people who’ve done that very thing to me. And I’m leaning into the potential that the current global challenges are presenting to us all. 

There are so many days when I’m exhausted with myself, my fears and guilt, my ego and overthinking and I force myself to move forward so I don’t keep falling into emotional black holes. Sometimes I listen to music and practice deep breathing, other times I give myself space to feel empty so I can reach some sort of peace that encourages me to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. I come back to my children and my loved ones who give me peace and support, I acknowledge my fear of losing those wonderful blessings, then I fight to protect my own blessings and the blessings that every person should enjoy. I’ve stayed in my head and my own way far too long. Today I choose collective action and life over destruction. I choose compassion over a lack of empathy. I choose equity and equality over racism and turning a blind eye. I don’t want all the internal things I previously felt to turn external and harm my loved ones. I want to gather people and find ways for us all to stretch further and learn from one another as we remain six physical feet apart to protect our communities from COVID. We have time to get this right and we can figure it out together as we learn how to support one another. These are the communal steps of the movement I’ve begun engaging in as I continue reading and learning about the continued actions I can take and teach to my children as we learn to be great allies who’ve seen the hatred my mother experienced as a person of color who passed her entire life.


I share a lot of my emotions because I hope it will inspire important dialogue for any readers to have important conversations within themselves and among their loved ones. But I also share because I become freer with every emotion and thought I own and use my agency to determine how it will show up in the world. And with my sharing, I am learning so many specific actions to take to heal myself and to help heal communities that have borne terrible burdens for far too long. I encourage you all to keep reading and expanding your horizons, but also intervene when you see injustice happening. For those Asian Americans who are being negatively profiled because the president weaponized COVID against them, call out harassment you overhear. For those Black and Latinx Americans who are having guns pulled on them for living their lives, accost your fellow weapon-holding citizen and remind them of Black and Latinx humanity and life. For those international students who are facing deportation because they pursued their education in America, call your local elected officials and demand they step up to protect them. These are small actions we can take every day. I hope you take them with me and teach others of the importance of taking them as well. We can no longer collectively turn a blind eye as we destroy ourselves. We must engage in the movement because the issues won’t stop emerging and we can’t stop addressing the injustices we see and hear. 

And as you’re engaging, please find those healthy actions you need to take to care of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. We can no longer turn to substances. We can no longer use dependents as excuses for not taking hard looks in the mirror and treating our bodies right. Take it from me, glasses of wine won’t make injustices go away but engaging in healthy dialogue then taking a moment for yourself to reflect and be loved before you go back out to implement what you learned will. As the world changes, let’s make it the best we can for everyone.

Until next time ♥

Reopening

Hi lovely readers! I hope you’re all well and thriving. We’ve been seeing so many things on the news and we’re still hearing conflicting information about the state of the country and COVID-19. With that in mind, I’d like to take some time to talk about reopening. Numbers have been spiking across the country as states reopened far sooner than public health officials advised. There’s fear that we won’t flatten the national curve any time soon and there’s continued talk of continuous virus presence instead of multiple waves. As summer races by, we’re seeing communities protesting for the rights of everyone in the country to be recognized equally and fairly, other communities desirous of being outdoors to enjoy the sun and get back to the normalcy we knew before COVID, and many people in the country enraged by the current administration’s handling of the numerous crises that continue shaking the nation. 

I think these realities scare me more as a mother than as an individual. I’m terrified of how to engage in important conversations with my sons to ensure that they’re growing up to be people willing to stand up for others. I’m terrified of how to judge situations and environments that may not be safe because I don’t want to put others in danger nor my family as COVID continues evolving and effecting people. I’m terrified that I may not have enough compassion and respect, that I may not listen well enough or be open-minded enough. I’m terrified that my desire for a middle way may exclude people and harm relationships. 

I looked at myself in the mirror the other day and stared at the dark circles of exhaustion and lines of worry that were written on my face. I looked at my hands and hair and became aware of the physical toll quarantine has taken on my body. I thought about the people outdoors enjoying the sun and understood the potential reasons why they would risk life to live into the hope that everything would be okay. For a split second I thought the risk was worth it too, but then I thought of my boys and my parents. I could never live with myself if any of my actions brought them anymore harm. 

While I want to live quietly and gracefully, I also see the importance of maintaining an open mind and finding the glimmers in life. There are ways we can all work together to get through these trying times. We can demand accurate and consistent information from the government. We can be good allies for anyone different from us. We can remind everyone of our commonalities and the love we need to bring about peace. We can support our neighbors and protect them by being prudent with our own actions. I don’t have a list of actions, but I do know 2020 has taught me how to have a more open mindset that encourages me to hope for the best even when the worst is happening. We may never know the normal that existed before COVID-19, but we can work together to create a new normal of love and peace, demands for equality and accurate information, communal regard for one another and protection of ourselves. I hope each of you has gained a new mindset as well and will find the courage to share as we all work to make the world a better place. 

Until next time ♥

Codependency

Have you ever been in a relationship that you thought was perfect? Have you wanted to spend immense amounts of time with the other(s) and began seeing your own autonomy dwindle as you lost sight of who you were outside of the relationship? Have you ever started seeing the signs of codependency but didn’t know how to break those patterns because you found yourself becoming fully absorbed in the various dynamics of the relationship(s)? 

I’ve found myself in those types of relationships as well, and not just romantic relationships. I was excited about the chemistry and amazing conversations. We connected across many different interests and wanted to spend unlimited amounts of time together. Then I began seeing red flags in my own behavior. I wanted to check in about every decision I made because and lost sight of myself. I opened myself completely to the relationships only to be hurt because the other party knew I’d willingly allow my vulnerabilities to be used against me. I knew I wasn’t emotionally nor mentally safe, yet I also didn’t have the power to set boundaries and eventually remove myself. These kinds of relationships are difficult to manage and even harder to manage given the current global climate. 

Relationships are hard. They require continuous work and are beautiful at their healthiest. They can also be challenging when toxic behaviors seep in and go unchecked for too long. For me, the most toxic behavior is always codependency and I have to be very intentional to ensure myself and others don’t adopt increasingly uncontrollable codependent behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain level of dependency that is natural and allows relationships to thrive. My children must be dependent on my husband and myself to care for them. I depend on my husband to receive and give the best love of which we’re both capable as we invest in our marriage and family. 

There is a healthy dependence with those who are worthy of our trust and vulnerability that makes us feel safe and live into our best selves. This kind of dependence gives us the support and encouragement we need to grow and love ourselves. And we know the difference between healthy dependence and unhealthy codependence. Sometimes we need space and new boundaries to find ourselves again, regain strength, and make progressive steps because we should be never feel threatened within the safe and trusting boundaries of the relationships that define who we are. 

Just like everything else, I’ve been taking time while quarantining to reflect on past relationships that were amazing and those that weren’t best for me. Those reflections have also helped me get clearer on the ways I want to show up in the world and love myself and others well the rest of my life. I encourage you all to take some time and do the same. We’re never wrong in the choices we make, but we can always learn more about ourselves to be better each day. I love you all and am cheering you on as you grow within yourselves and with the people closest to you.

Until next time ♥

A Meditation on Newness

I want to open this post with a litany, say some hopefully meaningful stuff in the middle, then end with a meditation. It’s one of those sunny, warm, positive days where I feel like I can do anything. If any of you like science fiction, you may know a bit about ​Dune​. For those of you who aren’t fans of science fiction, I redirect you here: ​https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(novel)​. Within the Dune universe are the Bene Gesserit, a religious sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds to obtain superhuman powers (thanks Wikipedia). The “litany against fear” was one of their chants to calm themselves when they faced fear:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

We all experience fear. During COVID, this is probably the most fear many of us have ever felt consistently, but there’s power in facing our fear. There’s no right way to do it and there’s no set course of actions to take. We all have our own time and methods because all of our fears are different. But we gain something new within ourselves when we face our fears. Recently, I have experienced trust, patience, and grace. I have trusted myself more to be honest with my feelings. I have trusted my friends and extended family more to accept all of me without my attempts to filter myself. I have more patience with myself as well. One of my more major breakthroughs has been to ask myself what I would normally do before jumping to conclusions and careless actions. I put the situation back into the continuum of time and think. I slow down, do my best to keep things as light as possible, and let a lot of things go. I learned that in taking everything as seriously as I did, I created a chaotic environment for myself and everyone around me. But I am learning how to continue having grace with myself. I continue to feel the depth of the experiences of life while not projecting all of those feelings onto my loved ones.

I’m taking time to tell myself I’m proud of myself for all of the tiny victories I experience throughout the week. Please do the same for yourselves. Don’t deny your feelings or push them away with alcohol and drugs, whether those are literal or figurative because we each have some “substance” we’re dependent upon at times. With every progressive step you take, trust yourself to make the best decisions for your mind, body, and spirit, more and more. There’s no rush to get anything right, so take it easy on yourself. Ease into trusting those around you more and create safe spaces for everyone. Have faith that you’re all going to be better after this is over, and easily let the negativity go. Sometimes it’s easier to choose our isolation and hurt. Sometimes we need those times to get all of the feelings out before we can move on. But never stay there. Always remember, ​“I am loving awareness.” (​https://medium.com/swlh/the-most-powerful-meditation-to-ease-anxiety-and-fear-c93f86b8c57f​)

Be well, my friends ​♥

Zoom, Obama, and London Grammar

https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2020/nprs-tiny-desk-at-home-concerts-are-a-rare-joy-in-the-pandemic-heres-how-the-team-puts-them-together/

The last post I wrote talked about isolation from a variety or perspectives and I wanted to pick up on those themes, but in a more positive light this time. After proofreading, I want to give a disclaimer that it takes a few paragraphs for the positivity, but it’s coming. I promise!

We’re getting closer to “normal” but there’s no consistency in numbers of new cases and deaths. The summer is upon us and sun is the perfect antidote to lots of misery, but we’re still searching for ways to enjoy it while maintaining a few feet from others to protect everyone. And there’s still ample confusion on how the entire COVID situation was handled. Every time I see a news article addressing the way the current administration mishandled COVID and continues to mishandle COVID, I find one of President Obama’s speeches. Whether you like the man or not, he delivers powerful and encouraging speeches. The most recent I enjoyed was he and Michelle’s talk at the civic town hall for high school students. If you haven’t seen it, go to their Instagram and check it out. There were so many rich nuggets!

Not only do I turn to these speeches for inspiration, but it’s an escape from the gaslighting I often feel when listening to and reading the news these days. We’ve been hearing about how so many of our human relatives are to blame and how others are at disproportionate levels of risk. And the only thing we can do daily is remain vigilant of all of the information that’s being presented to distill for ourselves what’s actually happening. All of the confusion around COVID has done nothing but diverted our attention from vulnerable groups, bad politics, and environmental damages that continue happening. I’ve wondered so many days if I’m crazy or making things up because the world is so inconsistent right now. But Obama’s speeches give me grounding. They remind me of the hope I can never lose sight of because that hope activates me to continue fighting for change for a better world for my sons. His speeches pull me out of the emptiness I feel like I live in a lot and remind me of the potential that an empty pot holds. This is not a call to start creating everything that comes to mind, but we get such fresh ideas and perspectives when we think of the potentials of our empty pots.

Alongside Obama’s speeches and my potential as an empty pot, nature has been a perfect antidote to the waves of isolation and the fear of the future. Taking walks and feeling Mother Nature return to her radiant glory as we remain indoors was one of the most beautiful things to come from COVID. I have a newfound appreciation of protecting our planet and all of creation. I find inspiration to be a better person in nature. I’m encouraged to mend relationships and continue persisting in others as I sit among the trees and realize my connectedness to all that is around me. I’ve begun letting in more people as I move out of my aloneness. I’ve found myself reaching out to friends and family I love and trust for support because they push me to open myself up and indulge in things that make me feel good while remaining positive.

Some of the best relationships I’ve returned to have been my family relationships. Even when I’m tired and inward-turning, I have Zoom calls every Sunday at noon with my extended family. My children, parents, sister, relatives around the world (NYC, Munich, NJ, and PA), and 97-year-old great aunt in Long Island all gather for time together. We laugh as she glances down the hallway at her assisted living facility to see what trays are left after dinner. We listen to music together. I make sure I sneak London Grammar on the playlist as often as possible because “my darlin’, I’ll be rooting for you” are words everyone needs to hear every day of this pandemic. Whether you want to learn new languages or just debate putting on pants for the day, I’ll be rooting for you all!

That song has also encouraged me to return to my foundational sources of strength. A few times a week I schedule time for Joseph Campbell Talks with Bill Moyers (“Power of Myth” and “Hero with a Thousand Faces” are two of my favorites). In those moments I’m encouraged to face the isolation to get through it, whether I’m surrounded by a thousand people are just by myself (the Deep Water documentary is also another great resource on this theme). I’ve even rejoined social media. This one requires more vulnerability of me than I’ve previously been able to spare. You see, I exited social media scenes after the accident to protect myself and my family from as much hurt as possible. I’m re-entering cautiously while always reminding myself to be gentle as I continue filling my pot. As I continue living through isolation and aloneness, sometimes simultaneously and other times separately, I know that we all have time to be vulnerable. Whether it’s speeches or music, family or friends, documentaries or conversations, nature or the grocery store, take this time to be vulnerable with yourselves. I’m

hopeful that as I remind myself, you hear my words and do the same (and indulge in some London Grammar).

Be well, my friends ​♥

When Isolation Becomes Isolating

As we inch closer into summer, consistent warmer weather, and more states reopening, I want to take some to talk about the isolation that many of us felt and may continue to feel. When social distancing first began, much of the country didn’t know what to expect because we were (and continue) receiving such disparate information. The president said one thing, his staff said another, and still the news said another. Countries had differing figures and data sets. Global organizations suggested actions that conflicted with our national response. Many states were slow in responding for numerous reasons. And the country was swiftly advised to stay indoors for several weeks, seemingly overnight.

Many of us stocked up on supplies, occasionally venturing out to attempt to buy tissue when we assumed stores had restocked. Those of us fortunate enough to work from home attempted simultaneous work and school schedules. Some of us were required to continue reporting because we were deemed essential workers (A huge exclamation of gratitude to all of our essential workers, from healthcare to grocery store staff. You have kept this country afloat while risking your health and the health of your families. I hope we all continue honoring the work you do). Some of us weren’t lucky enough to do either because our jobs didn’t have to ability to fund us during shelter-in-place stages and we required federal assistance to feed our families and pay what bills we could. Regardless of which category we fall into, most if not all of us have experienced isolation and loneliness.

I’ve read stories of people who are surrounded by others every day but feel the most unseen they’ve ever felt in their lives. They’re isolated from the communities they built who see them as their authentic selves. Others are seen but still miss their larger communities that help them make sense of the world on levels some can’t. But most importantly, some of us have been alone before this started and continued being alone throughout the stay-at-home orders. I don’t know about you, but I initially tried containing those feelings, mostly because I was trying to understand the differences between shelter-in-place, stay at home, quarantine, and self-isolate.

That last one, self-isolate, was more familiar to me than all the others. Because of the auto accident (if you missed that, I encourage you to read the first post to get a sense of why I chose to start this blog), I removed myself from many communities before they could remove me. I thought that would hurt much less. The best way I can describe it is that I felt like I was on the outside of life, as though I didn’t deserve the right to feel and engage with the people who I brought into this mess because of choices I made. I was afraid and insecure, so I placed myself behind a glass wall and just watched others. What’s most interesting is that I thought that was good practice for sheltering in place, but nothing fully prepared me for this. Whereas before I could watch others live their lives while I separated myself, we’re all watching nature live its life while we stand behind windows and doors watching time pass and an invisible threat disrupt the ways we previously existed. There’s a real nihilism and torpor that comes with COVID.

We go through cycles of hiding our feelings, expressing them so boldly we don’t know how to make sense of what’s happening, then feeling empty and numb because we can’t get the answers we need. Maybe I’m projecting and that’s just me, but I have a feeling it’s not. This has set in all too well as I realize I’m caught between several weeks into the pandemic and being on the brink of leaving home. I think I’m more terrified now than I was turning inwards to my home. How do I know it’s safe? How can I protect my family when they’re out there? When is a vaccine coming? Isn’t it just safer to keep staying home even if we are all tired of home?

But being home brings up my worst thoughts, even when I am acting as the leader of the tiny country that is my home. What right do I have to live when another mother is dead? Why did I turn to drinking as an escape before? Why did I think that escaping would solve my self-doubt and insecurity? How can I grieve with the world as people continue experiencing the deaths of their loved ones and lack the ability to bury them properly? Could my parents be next? Isolation has a funny way of bringing up all of these vulnerabilities and plunging us into the abyss of our thoughts like deep pools. We can’t just run away from our feelings because there’s nowhere to go. There’s no ease of just being with friends or experiencing the bonds of physical friendship and good company.

For many of us this will quickly phase out as the country reopens because we will be able to get to communities that will help us make sense of all of this in person. But others of us won’t have that luxury. We’re craving the quietude and acceptance of good company but don’t know how to rebuild it because the distancing has separated our relationships. One of the things I’m learning now is that I welcomed being alone prior to all of this. I felt isolated but I wasn’t. I opted into being alone, which was the healthiest thing for me at the time because I was so vulnerable in ways I had never been before. But isolation is so different from being alone.

If you’ve been struggling or continue struggling as the country shifts into the next phase, I encourage you to visit the below websites. They offer great ways to receive support and manage your physical space as you continue processing where the world is on any given day. Whether you’re alone, isolated, or in the company of all the people you love, I’m sending you all warmth and light. Be on the lookout for the next post where I pick up on these themes with ways I’ve been coping, but for now I wanted to sit with the reality of isolation because it’s a crucial converastion and there are no easy answers.

Be well, my friends ​♥

https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-psychology/

https://magellanhealthinsights.com/2020/03/24/coping-with-isolation-during-covid-19/

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2020/solutions-around-world-tackling-loneliness-and-social- isolation-during-covid-19

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation

Me & My Boys

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned how there are days my sons are connected in ways that take me back to when they were infants. We had one of those days last week after Mother’s Day. It’s fresh on my mind and I’d like to take a post to write something for all of the parents. If you haven’t watched the Babies series on Netflix, I highly encourage you to do so immediately (but immediately after reading the post). Regardless of if you have kids, it’s fascinating the questions researchers are asking about babies and the answers they find! All of this comes from just watching them and letting them tell their stories in the most beautiful ways.

When each of my sons were born, I would just watch them sleep for hours. All of their little movements and sounds were the most precious things I ever witnessed. If I think of what heaven may sound like, it’s the peaceful innocence of my baby boys sleeping or laughing. But my love didn’t start when watching them sleep, which I’ve found myself doing a lot of recently. My love started from them the moment I found out I was pregnant. I always thought this was wild because I felt like I had the privilege of choosing to be each of their mothers. I chose them and continue choosing them every day. My choosing to be a parent was confirmed in one of the Babies episodes (I won’t say more about the study because I don’t want to spoil anything else). I was overwhelmed to tears because there are so many things parents can’t control but we can control choosing our kids every single day.

None of this choosing business makes parenting any easier though. There are many tough days when you have children. You struggle. You get frustrated. You feel unworthy and unprepared. You feel unappreciated. But you love them anyway. On one of those extra loving days, I was moving slower than usual in a good way. I was taking everything easy that day and just being. I took my time with my coffee and just enjoyed watching my boys laugh with one another and tell their inside sibling jokes. I eventually moved to the couch and they found their way to me. We curled up on the couch together and watched a documentary, I answered the random questions they asked, and we chuckled at their kid remarks to situations they aren’t yet mature enough to understand. We were gentle with one another that day, not putting pressure to follow the schedule or be productive in the capitalist way the US makes us think we should always be productive.

As we sat together, I went back in my mind years before. Although I felt them snuggling next to me, I saw myself holding their little bodies as they looked up at me with those beautiful infant eyes to let me know they trusted me with all of their vulnerabilities. They told me in that baby way how much they loved me and were excited to get to know me. I responded from inside of myself that I would do my best to always be there and love them with every fiber of my being. I shared that I would take care of them and always make sure they never went a day without knowing they were safe and loved. An inappropriate joke brought me back to reality, but I’m so happy I allowed myself to be with them over the years in the moments of that day.

Spending all day, every day with my boys has made us more interconnected than we’ve ever been. Sometimes that means we know when not to speak to one another because silence and alone time are necessary in those moments. Other times we know when a kiss on the forehead and an “I love you” are the balm to the weariest days without ever having to ask for it. There are so many things we’re feeling these days, but I sincerely hope you allow yourselves to feel the love around you on the best and worst of these days. Slow down and be gentle with yourselves and your kids. Really listen to their voices and laughs. Watch their hands create and have those unspoken conversations with them. Sit and be in your parenthood and their childhood. We all need more of that.

Be well, my friends ​♥

Freeing Myself of a “Can-Do” Attitude

It seems that all my posts are going to begin with an image: how that image totally connects with how I feel is utter nonsense. So, the story behind this picture. I was reflecting on one of the “early” days of COVID and how I was working hard to keep up this can-do attitude. I stared out the window for a solid few minutes because it felt like those days were years ago. Then I decided to see what Google produced if I searched “can do attitude.” Millions of results came up, many including the importance of having a can-do attitude. If I performed this search at the start of 2020, I would have been totally inspired to try and read the steps and apply them at least several times a day. But in late March, I simply stared at the pictures and laughed. It’s amazing to me how global events can humble you so much. And that’s exactly what I want to share today.

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you are excited to try new things in a controlled way that maintains your sanity as your world crumbles around you? Have you ever felt as though your optimism is the one thing so many people are clinging to because they don’t know how to manage their own distress? And have you ever become so exhausted with the charade even you believed that you just want to take off the mask, sleep for days, then start as the real you the next week? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you understand exactly how I felt at the start of this pandemic. If you answered no, you must be an incredibly lucky person.

And now I will channel my inner Sophia from Golden Girls. Picture it, central Massachusetts, March 2020. A pandemic is rapidly spreading across the US, my kids have been informed they will not physically return to school for the next several weeks, and we have no preparations for this. What do I do? Everything! I took on roles I wanted. I took on roles I didn’t want. Handywoman. Head mistress. Robust Amazon purchaser. Scheduler. Therapist. And that’s the heavily redacted list. One day I even found myself taking apart and repairing our washing machine and vent hood. Please don’t ever ask me to do either of those tasks again. The point is, in the middle of national and global distress I figured my resilience and strength were the only things needed to get my family through what we thought would be an unorthodox few weeks. Little did I know.

Between getting my sons’ bikes ready for scheduled outdoor time, ordering hiking shoes, and attempting the tightest schedule possible to provide continuity for my sons, I was tapped. Putting all of my energy towards taking the bull by the horns left me depleted, anxious, and despairing. As much as I kept moving and pushing forward, I quickly felt like a shell of myself and extremely guilty. How was I, the keystone for the family, feeling like I was failing and giving up during the worst crisis we’ve all collectively experienced? I was so hard on myself that I felt like I was failing to keep everyone else mentally, physically, and emotionally above water because I was drowning. There were my 73-year-old parents and three sons to manage. My husband is an essential worker so there’s always the fear of him becoming infected and bringing the virus home. We’re all vulnerable and scared, and I thought I could do all of this alone.

I quickly found out I couldn’t, like everyone else. I don’t write any of this to end with some therapeutic way you all can live your lives moving forward based on what I learned. But I am sharing because there’s so much I learned, and I think a lot of us learned this lesson early on. Others of us are able to keep going for much longer before reaching this realization. Wherever we are on the journey, I only hope at some point we all have that quiet moment with ourselves to say it’s okay that we can’t do and be everything because we were never supposed to. Once I freed myself of that can-do attitude, I felt loads of burdens figuratively lift from my shoulders. Let those burdens fall and free yourselves. Right now the only thing we can do is stay home, be mindful as the country starts opening back up, and be vulnerable with the people around us when we feel ourselves putting on the can-do mask to avoid the reality that we aren’t in control. Freeing ourselves of that mask and control makes it so much easier for us to finish this year stronger than we started. Until next time.

Be well, my friends ​♥

Keep Calm and Carry On?

“Keep Calm and Carry On.” Five little words that are so hard for many of us to do these days. I was scrolling through Urban Outfitters’ website and saw the most wonderful stock setup. I loved the relaxing vibes, the exposed brick and plant, the openness of a bronze palm sitting on the table, thought about how I could get some amazing sleep on that pillow. The only problem was that possibility was about as real as those items currently being in my house: not real at all. As 2020 presses on, we remain in uncertain times with the continued devasting effects of COVID-19, social dynamics shifting as we knew them, and the never-ending desires to return to a normal life that seems like it was decades ago. We are constantly hearing information on the news about vulnerable populations around the world, many more months without a vaccine for the virus, and unemployment rates increasing every day; yet, we’re encouraged to maintain hope and continue to uplift those around us.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself on an emotional rollercoaster over the past five or six weeks. I started out concerned about the regular operations of the outside world: when can my kids return to school, how will they see their friends, how do we need to alter our work schedules? Then I became really excited that my family was having so much time together to embrace one another and share space. That was quickly followed by feelings of overwhelm as I tried to become three different teachers for my sons as we figured out schoolwork and work/life balance. There were days where I gave up trying to be optimistic because my kids could see right through me. There were other days where they didn’t have to say a word because we were so emotionally connected, almost like how we were when they were babies. And there were other days when I was grateful we all ate something and didn’t try to kill one another. Like I said, an emotional rollercoaster.

Yet, in all of these feelings and attempts to control the situation, I (and I’m sure you all as well) have learned we have absolutely no control. Even the control we thought we once had was nonexistent. Now the last time you were here, I was telling you about a horrible accident I was involved in and how I’ve been recovering with the guilt and shame of my actions for the past two years. I realized I didn’t have control over many things a long time ago, but I never thought I’d not have control like this. I mean, a global pandemic has uprooted the entire world! But there has to be some glimmer somewhere, right?

Over the past few weeks, my glimmer has been in being kind to myself and those around me. Each day I have increasingly perfected the balance of talking about the current reality of the world with not becoming overly consumed by information each day. I need to understand what’s happening on a weekly basis to avoid feeling isolated and weary, but I also need to not overconsume to avoid feeling hopeless and depressed. I allow myself and my family one COVID-centered conversation a day then we bookend those conversations with our goals as a family and as individuals. I’ll cook dinner, my sons will do a homework assignment, I will fix something we hadn’t gotten to for years. These conversations remind us that we’re not alone, but they also give each of us agency over how we need to manage our feelings and concerns. I’m immensely blessed to have my family with me during these frightening days, but I realize that’s not everyone’s reality. Some of us are physically and emotionally alone. That’s why I wanted to create this blog, as a place for us to come together emotionally and spiritually, sharing space and kindness because we could use a lot more of that in the world these days.

For the past two years, being alone isn’t a new experience for me. Many of my relationships shifted or ended because people didn’t want to be associated with me. But there’s something utterly eerie about pandemic aloneness. It brings out a raw form of depression, anxiety, and fear for even the strongest of us. Many of us are usually worried about the future, but COVID-19 has some of us paralyzed with fear about the present. We question so much and wonder how we can escape. We’re vulnerable in ways we’ve never been vulnerable before, whether it’s a new outlook on life after surviving the virus or a sense of despair after grappling with the death of loved ones at the metaphorical hands of the virus. Or it’s possibly something existing in the middle of the wide chasm of experiences and emotions between those two poles. Whatever the fears, we aren’t alone.

The lack of clarity from our federal leadership doesn’t help the cause any. I need a moment for a quick aside. I watched a briefing the other day and I heard the “leader of the free world” say we should attempt to inject disinfectant into our bodies to wipe out the virus because disinfectant kills the virus in seconds. Who says that?? I don’t want to steer the conversation into politics because coronavirus is so much bigger than politics, but we’re vulnerable as a nation with the lack of regulations on the types of information that can be shared as people desperately search for ways to manage symptoms and avoid contracting the virus altogether.

Even reading these realities in black and white causes me to experience my vulnerabilities in ways very different from processing my internal thoughts or having a verbal conversation. Seeing the words, my words, is wholly different. I’m reminded of all the things I used to do to avoid seeing the words that describe my reality, and I’m reminded of the things I try to do now that are so much healthier for me and my family. There have been times in my life where stress, anxiety, and worry have driven me to vices. My vice was wine. After a long day, I’d pour a glass or two and mellow out without having to think about what happened earlier. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to work through my experiences and feelings, and I honestly didn’t want to at the time. Knowing that was a reality for me now terrifies me for so many others. It’s so easy to have alcohol delivered to our homes or to stop by the store the few times we go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distancing advice, of course), grab a quick bottle, then head home to get comfortable and drink our sorrows away. It even sneaks up on some of us. One drink becomes three drinks becomes the entire bottle. We’re all trying to escape because there is such a weight in staring down the truth.

I hear it everywhere that coronavirus is the great equalizer. In many ways it isn’t, but in some important ways it is. We all know what each of us is feeling because we’re all sharing the same emotions, albeit at differing levels depending on the day. We’re all thinking of the ways we can escape for a brief second to feel normal. And we’re all brought back to reality when the next notification of what’s happening around the world pops up on our phones. Like I said, it’s heavy.

But there are so many people we can reach out to, from the random person on Twitter to the friend we haven’t gotten a chance to talk to in years. We’re all working together to build community and eradicate the self-doubt we all grapple with as the weeks wear on. The world has changed. The world IS changing. But so are we in incredible ways. We’re taking risks to connect with we people we let slip away. We’re re-evaluating what’s most important, no matter how difficult it is to wrestle with fifth grade math when you learned it one way and your child is being taught another way (if you couldn’t tell, this is still a serious frustration in my house). Even though we can’t physically see people, we’re maintaining relationships through social distancing and virtual hangouts. We’re meeting our neighbors and caring for strangers when we learn they’re in need. We’re embracing our feelings and learning how to process our emotions. We’re seeking various forms of therapy and having those hard moments with ourselves, so that when we come out of this, we will be a more beautiful version of ourselves than when we turned inward to our homes and immediate families. We’re letting go of those things that hurt us so we can open our hearts for more love and joy than we ever imagined.

I’ll admit, when I started writing this post I wanted to conclude with an answer about how things were going to be better and offer a regimen of activities to do to get through the day, along with the apps you could download for exercises and recipes. But I was again struck by the the mantra to keep calm and carry on. The internet is full of lists that we can implement until we phase out of social distancing. You don’t need another. I don’t need another. But what we do need is the encouragement to keep calm, to continue carrying on. We need to know that it’s okay to not be okay. We need to know that we have the option of deciding the mood we will take into our days and that there are no right answers to this.

I was recently sent a link by a friend of the author Glennon Doyle’s Instagram. She was talking about mothers and mothering, and she said something that absolutely brought me to tears: “the miracle of grace is that you can give what you have never gotten.” I never got the words that whatever I’m feeling is okay because I needed to put together action plans: get out on bail, go to court, check on my kids, complete probation criteria, the list goes on and on. But I offer to each of you the affirmation to be calm with yourselves. You don’t need that drink because you are allowing yourself to feel and not have every answer. You don’t need to hide your tears from your children because we all need to experience the beauty of our emotions and learn the process of sharing burdens with one another. You don’t need to question if you should reach out to that friend because we all are desiring connections. You don’t have to get all of the work done by the deadline because each of us is reinvesting in the people and time that are most important to our overall wellbeing. As I experience the miracle of grace, I hope each of you will give yourselves the same grace I extend to you. Give yourselves what you’ve never gotten. Rest in that grace.

Be well, my friends ​♥