Sometimes, you need to just go with the flow. Take it one day at a time. Good with the bad, highs with the lows, just go with it. The last month or so has been full of challenges and difficulties, but delightful moments have also popped up to warm me in the shadows. I’m going to have a few days off from work at the end of the month that I hope will be a time to recharge and reset for the coming new year, but in the meantime, I’m trying to float along. I’m just going with it.
This week my mind is all over the place — Holidays soon! Thanksgiving to clean up after! Gifts to buy! Here are a few fun things on my radar at the moment:
I’m in love with this faux fur coat — it’s beautiful cozy coats like this that make me wish for colder weather!
These are beautiful.
images via: ofakind.com,, Matthew Inman, Bornn enamelware
On this odd in-between day between Thanksgiving with friends and Thanksgiving with family, I am simply grateful. Grateful for good friends and warm hearts, for my loving family and sweet furry companions, and for my own little spark of optimism that helps me get through the days that seem too hard. In my heart, I am taking a moment to be still and give thanks.
“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child — What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”
–Michelle Obama, Becoming
Thank you, Michelle, for this beautiful observation, and for reminding us of our infinite potential. This Friday I am thinking about growing up, growing older, and what it means to “be” something when you grow up. We are not our professions. We are not only defined by the work we do. And we are always evolving, changing, growing, becoming something new. We are more than the sum of our parts.
Myself, I am striving to find a happy middle ground between becoming and being, moving forward vs. holding myself in the present moment. But it is a real comfort to know that no matter where I am now or who I feel like I “am” at present, I always have the opportunity to become something else — to become something more.
(for now) there is stillness amidst
what was once her maelstrom
whirling slowed into a lilting-soft song/dance
less frightened, more eager
no longer slamming her body against the walls
of an invisible cage
(for now) she is perhaps not sated, but quiescent
he has soothed the beast within
brought her light
velveted the darkness
into an appealing purple twilight
she has sheathed her claws
(for now) they do not reflect the cold moonlight
instead (for now) she allows his warmth
to thaw her edges
–Charla M. DelaCuadra
With everything that is going on in the world right now, it is more important than ever to honor, recognize, and support the power of girls. The New York Times put together a powerful piece in #ThisIs18, a kaleidoscopic accounting of what 18 looks like around the world. What makes it especially powerful is that the photos and words are all from girls themselves. I was humbled and awed by the conviction of these young women, and encouraged by their savvy, grace, and intelligence. Take a look, and let’s celebrate girls and women not just on International Girls’ Day, but every day. The future is female.
“As I stared at myself in the mirror, I thought about what it would be like to paint my own portrait. Say I were to try, what sort of self would I end up painting?”
–Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore
Thanks to Erin Boyle I stumbled across a beautiful mediation on home, travel, and belonging in Candace Rose Rardon’s essay, Home is a Cup of Tea. She combines sweet sketches with simple musings about traveling, moving, settling, loving, and living — and how we define “home.” Like Rardon, I have fond memories of drinking tea. The tall, narrow cupboard in my childhood home full of tea tins, the fun of choosing a flavor for that particular afternoon, and the steamy, milky sweetness in my cup.
Even though the world may be extraordinarily challenging and difficult right now, we can pull strength and resilience from a sense of home, whatever that might be for each of us. Some days, a cup of tea and a quiet moment to recharge are exactly what is needed. Then we can jump back into the fray, renewed and ready to face the day.
Depression is a difficult thing to talk about. I know, because I suffer from it. Lock, stock, and barrel, I deal with depression and anxiety both. I do think the stigmas around mental illness are slowly beginning to change, but preconceptions and judgements still linger. Even when people mean well, it can still be a challenging topic to deal with. Especially since these disorders are largely invisible.
In some ways, I think some of the difficulties surrounding depression (and anxiety) can be attributed to the language we use.
“I’m so anxious about my meeting today! I can’t wait until it’s over.”
“Ugh, I’m so depressed they got rid of the pumpkin spice latte already. It’s my favorite!”
Sound familiar? The fact that we use the same verbiage to describe both fleeting emotions AND majorly debilitating illnesses often makes it difficult to be taken seriously, no matter how well-meaning someone might be. No, a walk around the block will not make me less depressed. Unfortunately, encouragement to look on the bright side will not make my anxiety any better. But someone listening, just being there, or simply acknowledging how difficult things may be can sometimes make a world of difference. And if you aren’t sure what might help? Ask. It’s that easy. A very dear friend recently asked me what helps when I am feeling bad, and I felt so seen. His kindness in that moment made me so grateful. Similarly, I almost cried when my doctor described panic attacks as one of the most terrifying experiences out there. Up until that point, the episodes I had experienced were described to me as “only” panic attacks (as opposed to a cardiovascular issue). The validation and relief that came with that simple shift was staggering to me. I felt seen. And I felt understood.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to explain is when people say you can “just ask” for help: “Just reach out — I’m here anytime!” Unfortunately, depression is insidious in that way. It isn’t simply feeling sad. To me it feels more like emptiness. Like inertia. All the color drains from the world, I can’t appreciate any of the good things in my life, and I want nothing more than to curl up into myself and cease to be, for fear of being a bother to anyone. As much as I try to “logic” myself out of negative self-talk, on the bad days, you can’t convince me I am anything other than lazy, weak, a downer, a failure, and a burden to everyone I care about. It takes an immense amount of willpower to even get out of bed some days, much less send someone a text that I’m feeling a little down. (I won’t ever say more than that, for fear of being a burden. Or a downer. You see? Insidious!) That being said, if I can get there, if I can send that little text, I am forever grateful if someone says, “Hey, you’re not a bother. I know it’s hard, but you’re strong. I believe in you.”
I had a rough day recently, which made me think I should put some of this out there, in the hopes that maybe someone sees this and feels a little bit less alone. Sometimes, that can make all the difference.
Very recently I had the pleasure of visiting with a friend I hadn’t seen since high school. We had a lovely afternoon catching up and laughing at the antics of her small son. Life took us on our own paths, and then somehow dumped us out into a fortuitous afternoon — one where we could just walk and smile and enjoy a moment in time together. It got me thinking, about thens and nows, and about the people we become.
Certainly I am not the same person I was 18 years ago. It was more than half a lifetime ago, and since then I have experienced joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, pain and love. But in some ways, I think I am still that girl, too. Idealistic, quick-witted, a bit self-conscious? That girl is still there. She is deeper now, though, and more multi-faceted. Hopefully a little wiser. Maybe a bit more of a realist, but no less a romantic.
The way we grow, the paths that we carve towards change — these make for quite the journey. I get caught up in the day-to-day so often that I forget sometimes how far I’ve come, and how far I still can go. Thank you, C, for unwittingly prompting this meditation on self. It was lovely to see you. And to see me, in a slightly different light.