I'd had a bit of a realization, recently. Just after recording my "return to podcasting..." I began recording it while I was pushing through creative blocks. Again. Story-crafting. Narratives. Characters in my head. And I've always been a writer, in some form. I've always processed the world internally. Introvert, before I knew what it was.
In my organizing and self-sorting and re-assessing...I noticed something.
That when I am writing a novel, I fade. I don't know how else to say it, but I tend to disappear into myself and live in imaginary worlds. Unchallenged. Safe in my words. And perhaps that's just what creative writing is. But I also noticed that I felt... stagnant. Heavy. In place, like I was stuck in mud. It felt like I was hiding, instead of living.
In writing (and living) Wild Horses, I saw just how much life is out there. How much there is to see, learn, experience. Travel. Life. Adventure. People and places. New, new, new. All those simple pleasures of life that I'd missed. And this was going to be my year to push past it all, to reinvent, to LIVE. Instead... COVID hit and I was pushed further inward, instead. And it's all okay. It was a necessary regrouping. Rebirthing.
And something turned over, in this latest hibernation, this recent self-evaluation.
I work a desk job by day. I sleep at night, I sleep well. And if I spent all those extra hours sitting in imaginary worlds... as much fun as that can be... well, it's no wonder that quaran-ten crept on. There was no movement, except some coffee-break walks here and there.
Recently, I took it back. I took my time back. I admitted to myself that I still lived with hypothyroidism. That I've been blessed with the bizarre experience of peri-menopause - the cessation of periods and the fluctuation of hormones and moods and anxieties and concentration and so on - about 10-15 years too early. Genetic, they say. Annoying, but not dangerous. So, self-care should be absolutely paramount, and it's been last - behind art, behind work, behind parenting, behind proving myself to others, relentlessly...and it had to change.
So, I immersed deeper and deeper and my body wanted deep stretching. Breathing. Connecting. Releasing. So, I took up yoga again, regularly. I am obsessed with Yin Yoga, but do regular vinyasa flow, too.
Online classes, streaming, or videos at home. And I remembered how much I missed it. And I saw that my self-care routine slips when I immerse into novel writing and no matter how I try to do everything, I just. Can't.
Full-time working mother, here. So, in that immersion into yoga, and away from the laptop, something happened. See, just after my first book was done, I did women's workshops. They were successful for a while. Meditations, connecting, friendships, collaborations, networking... And somewhere, I felt unworthy to lead them, not "something" enough to gather and connect with other women. And looking back, I can see so clearly... a path laid out that has led me to such deep self-acceptance and release and a return to what I started out doing.
Long story short, I've recommitted to self-care in a much deeper way. It's a pattern that keeps repeating... I begin on a course to meet or exceed my health goals, then ART HAPPENS and I abandon it all. I choose art, which I thought was the right thing.
This time, I'm choosing to let the art change... into lighter expressions that are healthier in all ways - poetry, songwriting, some fiber crafting, and who knows what else. Creativity is creativity, it never leaves, it just changes shape. I put the book ideas away until I can devote to them, fully, if I choose. They won't go anywhere, all those ideas. And I've decided that I just love yoga and women's workshops a bit more, and I'd rather recommit to those. To me.
So, I'm enrolling in my YTT (yoga teacher training); it's been on the burner for about 5 years now. And I keep putting things in front of it. Part of the fear in that was self-image issues. Me? Teach? But I... etc...
I used to look at myself and apologize. Take issue, and call myself... too big, too awkward, oddly shaped, thick thighed, not a yoga body, too voluptuous, and so on. I couldn't find the beauty in myself that others did.
And now... simply put, I have. I'm rather fond of...me.
And I've returned to a place where I just want to celebrate my body and what it can do. To celebrate each gift, and what it can do. What I can offer with what I've been given, rather than what I ought to get and what I want. Gratitude and reflection are the most magical of elixirs...
The course starts in January and I'm excited. Resistance whispers, but I ignore it these days. ...backseat and shush. Throughout life, in so many circumstances, we're allowed to change our minds when presented with new information, priorities, or opportunities.
Hi. I'm Stacie. And I've been to the bottom. I've been lost and confused and searching for purpose. I've been drowning and grasping and clinging to light, wherever I could find it. I've chased. I've hidden. I've been distrustful and cruel. I've overshared and been absurd and felt humiliated. I've been buried and stunted by anxieties and fears. I've vanished into conspiracies and wormholes and horrors and rage. I've identified periods of depression and sorted through them and their roots, and I've cried and cried and cried through things that have hurt my heart more than I ever believed that anything could. And yet, I stand. I've climbed and suffered and fought my way back to the present moment that feels just perfectly on time and beautiful and sunny and glistening with potential and hope. And I've grown deeply familiar with simplicity, ease, Grace, forgiveness, and compassion.
There's a lot of wrong to see or fear... out there. But there's so much right going on, in here. And when we change what's in here, the "out there" changes its hue, a little.
Perspective is everything.
I'm here to inspire, educate, and connect women and mothers - to remind them they have the power to create pockets of quiet, calm, beauty, and creative bliss in their otherwise hectic lives - whatever those things look like. However long it takes, and it can definitely be a process. Because I believe that a grounded and simplified inner-life leads to greater wellness and long-term success in life, overall.
"You've got to know what you want and be patient enough to let it all unfold, slowly."
I don't post many pictures of myself, but I succumbed this time - while practicing some yoga poses. It's something that I'll have to get used to, I imagine. 2020 has me feeling different and so appreciative of my health. Of the luxury to practice wellness, so easily. This is me celebrating the freedom to love my body, as it is, pain-free and steady, even as I work toward my best health. As it should be for all women.
Our wellness, mine and yours - body, mind, soul - matters. More than you'd ever realize. It's the cornerstone to everything else. Happy Mama, happy kids, happy family, happy work, happy life. I can't wait to share the past 20 years of learning, exploring, adjusting, failing, and reclaiming with you... in some new and different ways, as I explore this next chapter. I'm nervous! I'm out past the breakers, out of my comfort zone, here.
But, steady as she goes... onward. I can swim.
Rambles and opinions and purging my headspace... this might not make any sense.
It's been a long, strange week.
I'm in strange spot, in the middle of vitriol on all sides, trying to wrangle some glimmering light out of what feels so chaotic, right now, to so many.
RE: Donald Trump. 45. POTUS.
I won't blither on too much, I've really got to get another episode of the Queen's Gambit in - oh, do watch it, it's excellent - but I want to say this:
I have a poet's heart and see all things as story-fodder. And here is how, despite so much hurt and frustration and all the rest of it, we can show some grace and yes - even gratitude - to this man.
He came into office when maybe, the people needed a serious kick in the pants. A wake-up call. Asleep at the wheel, lost in our devices and gadgets and gizmos and chats and scrolling and micro-video-making for clicks and likes and taps. We had been falling a bit asleep, a great many of us, numbed by the ever-pulsing hum of social media.
Can you remember life before 2008?
Wildly different, especially socially. What happened in 2008? Well, Facebook happened. I noticed the obsessive, addictive dangers when I first started playing FarmVille and would put off real-life things to tend to imaginary potatoes. I remember *almost* paying real money for virtual fence pieces to finish the level I was on. WHY? Instant validation and praise.
I digress. But we cannot deny that we live in a different world, now. Good and bad.
And I believe that we, the people, needed the snow globe shaken. We were walking into traffic obsessed with our feeds. Checking our likes and loves while driving. Our youth being bullied with embarrassing photos until they committed suicide. Becoming dependent on this fake love for validation that we're enough.
Fast forward. Trump gets elected - many cheer - many sit in utter shock wondering how in the hell it could've happened. How? Many chose not to vote. Meh... it doesn't matter anyway, I have a right not to vote. They don't represent me...etc... there's no good candidate...
And so, we ushered in the season of Trump. And while it gives me a stomach ache thinking of all the times his blatant disregard for decency and respect, his womanizing, his treachery, his offensiveness, and so on... he was, in fact, a catalyst.
...the dynamite that blew up and sprung us from our seats. We chose him?
But I have found a lot of peace in recent years, in the way of acceptance. In realizing that things just have to go how they go, because they can't not. And then... what's the lesson, the down n dirty meaningful bit of insight at the bottom of this... chaotic mess?
A tough one, to be sure.
But there is one. We are our nation. Government... is not some big, bad oppressor ruling over us - distant and apart, controlling and stealing from us.
This is the United States of America. Many states, united in a common purpose, sharing the same ideals and values, evolving together, over time. And we are a democratic republic, powered by our Constitution, a living document. We have representative government, that we elect, intentionally. Balance of power. Checks and balance. We choose.
"No determinations are carried, it is true, in a simple representative democracy, but by consent of the majority or their representatives..." John Adams
WE ARE OUR GOVERNMENT.
Just as we are not separate from our world, we are our world, and our world is us. We too are our country, our country is us. What is a country, but its people and places, united and organized under a premise, a belief, a purpose, an idea?
The era of Trump has shown us, in no uncertain terms, that we let go of the reigns. We expect and want and demand and blame, but the government is us. We choose. We find leaders and learn about their priorities and make decisions. If we can't find leaders, that should be a wake up call to start building them. Fostering a love of service. And returning to integrity within the system.
I am willing to bet that in years from now, we will look back at this moment in time, and see the shift. When we started to really care, again. That new leaders began to tingle and find shock and cracks in the "system," and wanted to get in there and speak their minds. Change it up. That our future, our lives, our country, these things belong to us - for us to believe in, to build upon, to sculpt, to fight for, to protect.
It's like a bad relationship that brings you to your lowest low, but afterward, you are changed. Stronger. Smarter. Wiser. Emboldened. And chart a better and more enlightened course.
And had we not experienced the era of Trump's administration, would we still be numb? Would we have fought this hard for change? Would we be in the streets? Would the wheel turn this much to force so many voters out in record numbers?
Would we have taken democracy back with such gusto, if it wasn't endangered?
You don't now what you've got until it's gone, they say. And to have that glimpse that we've had, can be life changing.
So, thanks Donald Trump. For showing us that glimpse. But it's time to return to service. We'll pay more attention now. We'll be more responsible. You can step down. We'll do better.
I had a hot-mess-mom moment this morning. Well, that's the whole year, but stay with me...
I was deep into writing a new book, I'm about 30 pages (60 paperback sized pages) in and it's wonderful. Fah-Low has returned. I have thanked the gods profusely. I think it's Mark Twain who used to say that he wrote every day but Sunday... he just didn't want to "lose that thread." It could be someone else and I don't have the exact reference, but I get the concept.
That thread, that invisible, magical tether to the creative realm, from which story flows, incessantly, like an IV drip... if you're lucky. And I am, for the moment.
So, there I was... mid-scene, and the battery was low on the ol' Macbook. I couldn't find the charger cable. Anywhere. Upstairs, downstairs. High, low, it was gone. I began to panic... then, I noticed the little plug-in rapid charger for my Canon Sureshot, with the battery inside, is also not where I left it. More panic.
I prayed to Mimi, my departed maternal Italian grandmother to go get St. Anthony for me, because that's what you do when things are missing and you grew up with old Italian ladies who thought chanting with necklaces could help you locate valuable items.
It might've worked though... because... I surrendered to my frenzy. I pushed everything off my plate. S l o w e d down. Made the bed (found the charger.) Tidied up the table and the room. (Found the camera battery.)
Thanks Mimi and St. Anthony.
And I was so delighted and laughing at myself... and saw the lesson in it. And I wanted to talk about it, so this just in... I am recording a new bunch of episodes for The Jelly, my podcast. I see the metrics, I appreciate you listening (still!) and I have more for you. Soon.
I forgot how much I like to hear myself talk. Made up with my SnoBall.
Those of you who’ve followed me for a good while know that I write through my life. If I find myself in an emotional mess, in a state of confusion, if I find myself wondering about the nature of things, if I feel lost... I craft a question and dive in. I write through it and heal. I write my way out.
I haven’t written for a while, because I’m in such a lovely, yet challenging, state of just being. Self-care. Focus. Staying grounded and doing good work. Setting boundaries and knowing priorities.
And I love that. The right project will find me when it needs to and I’ll be ready for it. Truth be told, my goals and dreams are changing, the more I simplify toward what I really want from life.
And in retrospect, it’s been fascinating, the “archaeology of me.” ... all through my worries and oddness post-pregnancy, I wondered why I was so anxious. Like, beyond normal. No one understood. No one could see into my head.
I had to piece it all together in my own - it wasn’t PPD, it wasn’t baby blues. The doctors said I was fine, just antsy, and it would go away. Or I could take a drug. I was just unsteady and irrationally afraid. All the time. I wanted to get to the root of it. I wanted to face it and understand it, even if no one else could.
I could. It was my life, after all.
On the other side of Wild Horses and Mistakes, I realized that my anxiety condition from my youth and teen years came back but with a new vengeance. And a bit of paranoia. A new social media addiction wasn’t helping things... anyone who’s watched The Social Dilemma will understand why.
So... a little therapy here, a little yoga there. Lots of meditation. A focus on the right foods. Better sleep habits. Exercise. Choosing joy. The right mentors to follow. The right friendships for where I was at. And learning to trust my gut and intuition, as I wrangled through fears.
It’s been a 5 year journey so far, and I feel so much more like me these days that it’s just about awe-inspiring. I’m grateful - for the tools and the work on ME that I got to do.
Only this year, way on the other side, can I point a solid finger toward what I was experiencing.
On Postpartum Anxiety:
Moms... if this sounds like you, reach out. You don’t have to live life that way. There are tools. Groups. Strategies. Methods. Coaches. Spiritual practices. Books. Podcasts. PPA is real but it doesn’t have to wreck your life. And many doctors (I found) won’t even bring it up or talk about it. But it’s real and you can heal.
You can learn to get grounded, steady, healthy, and trust yourself again. Though waves will still come, you’ll be able to handle them. You’ll be more resilient. Stronger. Patient. Empathetic. You can learn all of the tools that YOU need to wrangle your life and keep showing up, feeling good and steady. Promise. And your little one(s) will benefit most of all.
Just commit to yourself and you’ll get there. My life is simple by design. I choose a peaceful life, with moments of bliss and adventure here and there. Peace of mind can’t be bought. But it can be chosen and cultivated and crafted, over time.
...and it’s always somewhere in the middle of things.
“Know thyself.” - Socrates
7 min read
9/11: Looking Back and Moving Forward - 9/11/2016
Today is one of those days that I do not anticipate very well. It's a day that, ever since the attacks, has been marked with such a kaleidoscope of emotions. Pain, fear, terror, confusion, loss, anxiety, heartbreak...anger. So much anger.
But on the other side of that, in the quiet moments, in-between, we found... strength. Resilience. Coming together, comfort of strangers, we bonded...in our sadness. We found peace and connection with each other, strangers on the street, in the peak of terror and tragedy.
And isn't this what it's about? Isn't this what we're promoting, building, trying to create? Harmony, oneness, kindness. We have it, friends. It's there, it's within us, always. We are a people capable of great Love, compassion, and altruism. But we only let it out, we only see it in others...when we are faced with great odds, turmoil, pain, and tragedy. Why reach out, why offer kindness and comfort...for "no reason?" Why extend ourselves, why become vulnerable...if there is not trouble? Why let that out, if it's "not needed." Perhaps, this is how we've gotten to this place. And perhaps, that's okay. Maybe...how we do it is OK. Maybe we find our greatest, most compassionate selves in our most difficult hours. I don't have the answers. Today, I'm just feeling...out loud.
I tried to stay off social media today, in order to not let it all in. I went to the water, I sat, I reflected, I remembered. I drank an iced latte. I watched the ferry load up and disembark. I wandered through an adorable crystal/metaphysical shop that smelled of intoxicating incense, and it was lovely. But I knew what I was doing. Ducking. Hiding from the Mack-truck of emotion that this day represents for me. I didn't want to feel it, so I built up a fortress of invisible middle fingers, extended all around me, in a protective circle. Not today! I won't feel it!
(Psst...this doesn't work.)
September 11 is one of those things that hits NYers especially, but many others, very hard. We all know or know of a volunteer or a worker who perished that day. Or at least, had a close call. Or still suffers with COPD from the inhalation of toxic smoke. It was here. At home. It was the first time that my generation witnessed anything like this. Our parents would go on and on about where they were when Kennedy was shot. Our grandparents told us all about Pearl Harbor. But that was all far away, distant, in a story. Intangible...not real. But this...my skin still crawls and puckers when I remember. Because it was...real. Too real.
What came back, as I sat by the water:
I was at SUNY Old Westbury. I remember being amazed at myself, that after all those years, after academic probation, after barely graduating high school...being a "lost in my head" n'er do well... I was doing it. And I was proud. At 26 years old, I was back in school, and I was doing it. The future seemed bright and sparkly and the world was my oyster. I was smiling on the inside...I believed in myself for the first time in a very long time.
The first class was wrapping up. Professor came back in. Her face sunken and pale.
"One of the twin towers was hit with a plane or something...I don't know, there's something going on." She seemed nervous. Class one ended. In the break between my first and second class...I sat in the car and turned on the radio. I heard it all, in live-time: radio tower hit, no big deal. No...wait. OH SHIT, A PLANE HIT THE TOWER, ITSELF! Smoke, sirens, confusion, yelling, panic...from the DJs, on the radio. ON Z-100! I was nervous, to say the least...what did this mean? How does a plane hit the tower, isn't it a no-fly zone? That means...it was...intentional? No... I went into my second class...had the same professor.
"The second tower has been hit," she said later. "I don't know what's happening...we could be going to war...I just don't know, I don't know." She was unglued, in a panic, and sent us home. "Find your loved ones..."
I drove home in silence. Shoulders in my ears. My heart racing, my palms sweaty. I was having my first-ever anxiety attack, although I didn't know it at the time. I needed to know what was happening. I would pass other drivers, stop at red lights: vacant stares, intense foreheads. They were listening. Waiting. Just like me. We were all scared, all of us. In a daze. I got home and looked for someone, anyone. Family. Dad was on the golf course. Brother was...I still don't remember. Working? At the firehouse? I know that I was alone, so I started calling people. Finally, my father got home and we watched the news. We watched it all unfold. Again and again...the same footage, again and again.
I found my old journal, from that day. I had a list of "buzz-words." Things that repeated over and over, that were etched into my memory, permanently.
The terror is still palpable, after all this time. "Will all the buildings fall?" "Will they attack us, here?" "Is this what it's like...on the other side of the world? All the time?" My heart broke over and over and over that day.
But as the days went on, as I returned to school...we had vigils. We prayed together. I witnessed first-hand, what concentrated energy and focused good intention, could do...to heal. I was forever moved by it. I encountered an older Black woman, on the way to an assembly, she was wandering around, seeming so lost. I could see it, in her face: scared. I reached out to her, "let's go in together." I merely offered my arm, as I would to my own grandmother, were she still alive. This older woman just pulled me into her and hugged me, hard. Like she's been searching for it for days, hours, sleepless nights. We talked and comforted each other.
Even years later, reuniting with people I hadn't seen in a long time...it was the first thing mentioned: "how did your family come through 9/11" It was hardwired into us. We are not invincible; we are vulnerable. But...we are resilient, we are compassionate, and we come together to aid each other like nothing you've ever seen.
We rise. Always, we rise.
Human beings are by nature... altruistic, loving, compassionate creatures. It is who we are, by design. Hate - is taught. Fear - is learned. Racism, bigotry, and cruelty, are taught. How about that? We teach it to our young, to perpetuate a cycle. Generation after generation. When is enough enough? When do we change what we bring forward? What generation, says...this far, and no farther? Or are we doomed to constantly repeat and repeat, without altering the course. Is it just a record, a flat circle, around and around? Revisiting, without changing? Shall we throw up our hands and just get drunk?
Fuck that. Kick the machine! Skip the record, disrupt the cycle! Dare to impart kindness and benevolence in your actions, to lead by example. Show compassion when it's easy to hate. Forgive when it's easier to hold a grudge. Live in love and kindness, engage in empathy, until it becomes a new habit. We can change our behavior, collectively. We can, one person at a time. This...is what we are doing. This...is our evolution.
Breaking the shackles of rigid belief and limiting, narrow ideologies. Embracing wholeness, oneness, unity, compassion, integrity, Love. [Perhaps we ought to] step into a time, live in a new world, that favors *humanity* and moral, ethical behavior.
We must lead with our minds, with our hearts, with our souls. Intelligent solutions, felt with compassion, with good intentions, for a greater good. It starts inside. With us. <3
<3 Dedicated to all the rescue workers and office workers who lost their lives, nineteen years ago. You are NOT forgotten. <3
I changed a few words that sounded bitter. But every bit of this still rings true for me.
Lead with Love. <3
4 min read
Repost from earlier blog, 2018.
Crisis. Chaos. Urgency. Demands. Anxiety and fear. Social change.
There's been so much, lately... and while I unapologetically let myself wander into flow-zones and creative bliss and write into inspired mindscapes, I work - daily - in public service. My career has been in the study, tending, and serving of humanity since I was young.
And the two greatest gifts that working in service of others can give - are perspective and empathy.
And I love what it does for my writing, I love the deeper dive it gives me, into humanity. I love the widening lens I have on myself, on my relationships, my life, as I learn more about human behavior. But I've also become better and more adept at crisis management, in times of trouble - and more precisely, communication during crisis.
Energy can rage high during times of crisis, and we've been hit with crisis after crisis, lately. The fear, pain, grief, and tension all come to a head over wrongdoing, inequality, unfairness, crime, acts of hate, personal loss, environmental devastation, petty disagreements, perceived hurt, lasting uncertainty, you name it.
It's so easy to get swept up in the fear - and it can distort the way that we communicate, even when our intentions are good and just. It's easy to react with anger. It's harder to respond with compassion. It's a practice, and a worthy one. Anyone that works in service - at any level - ought to be practiced in responding with awareness, compassion, and a calm-assertive mindset.
Confronting someone from a place of grounded awareness is often uncomfortable. It's tempting to shout and rage and blame, though it comes with regret and a handful of misjudgments and mistakes and even unintended harm, sometimes.
We've all been there, in our personal and working lives - there comes a time when we all must speak up.
Personal situations put us in the center of confrontation so often in our lives: it comes up when we have to share sad news, like an unexpected health crisis or the loss of a loved one. It comes up when there is a betrayal of confidence, or a wicked misunderstanding. It comes up when we grow and want more for ourselves - and we need to voice it. It comes up when we have to speak out against something immoral that we witness.
As we journey through life, opportunities to practice confrontation pop up constantly. The minor ones come and go, easily:
But it's the big ones that shake us and make us uneasy - it's the ones we don't like to think about. The confrontations that may cause change.
In the workplace, it comes up in the form of professional disagreements. When a supervisor must correct staff, or enforce a rule or regulation. When staff must speak up to a supervisor. When changes sweep through an organization, and staff must be re-educated. These are simple bubbles of change that rise up, anywhere.
And these dynamics occur in all sorts of relationships. In romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships, and larger scale relationships, as well. Government officials and the citizens who elect them. Between country leaders and other country leaders. Race, gender, ideology, religion, anything that denotes a kind of belief about oneself, their community, and the greater world engenders an idea of relationship. We are constantly in relationship - with ourselves and with others. We fight often, within ourselves, until we seek peace and find a resolution, and continue on down our path - and so it is outside of us, as well.
Any conversation that might result in an unpleasant emotional state, for one or both parties, can be unsettling. It's just the way of things and feeling nervous before a confrontation is normal. Not wanting to hurt someone's feelings is a normal, healthy reflex. It doesn't make us weak. But the truth must always come out if we want to ensure healthy relationships, on all levels. We must always say what needs to be said - sincerity is paramount, overall. When we swallow it down and over-accomodate others, we internalize and stifle ourselves, which is never healthy in the long run. And when truth must be spoken, those emotional soft spots should be respected, but not allowed to run the conversation.
"Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes..." Maggie Kuhn
When the moment comes to deliver the news or ask the question or raise the issue, a series of things can happen:
But stay with it. Speak the truth, deliver the goods, even if you tremble or turn red. Your body will have a reaction the first time you do it, as the rush of energy pours out, it won't feel good. You might sweat or cry afterward or feel anger or want to withdraw for a while. Sharing truth is vulnerable. But know that truth - most times - is always better on the outside, and that the waves of emotion that rush in for both parties, should subside quickly. Nerves will settle. The anxious feeling doesn't stay long and the liberation of not holding it in anymore will leave room for something new - for some growth, for some forward momentum, for some new inspiration in the relationship.
It's been a long quarantine, here in New York.
100+ days locked down, at home, virtual everything: schooling, working, coping, getting sick and thankfully healing fast. And back to work, in levels and layers, bit by bit. A little here, a little there, and then full-time and being in the center of the community, again.
No summer camp, and switching and maneuvering and juggling and accommodating, accommodating, accommodating. Big themes... flexibility, humility, creativity, gratitude.
There's a steady travel ban on, and if I, say... go see my Mama in Georgia for a week, that means about a month of vacation time. If you're a 9-5 er like me, that's definitely not doable. So you busy yourself, you connect in other ways, you check in. You keep breathing, though you miss people - FAMILY - terribly. You say a prayer of gratitude if they're all okay (they are.)
And then, maybe you get asked to house/dog sit, somewhere close. A different place, up and off the island. Still New York, still "safe." Family. And you breathe... because the chance to spread your wings - just a little - feels like magic.
But traveling with kids during COVID comes with some prep-work:
1. Pack sanitizer for the road, especially those unexpected rest-stop visits. I pack wipes for bathrooms - for germs and in case there's no paper in there. Be smart. Think ahead.
2. Charge up an iPad or something, if you're a single parent. Something to watch, listen to, being in the car for hours can get boring for littles. Boredom can lead to seat-kicking, yelling, and those big, awful, woe-is-me-I'm-bored tears. Bring things. Don't like gadgets? Mad Libs still work. Or picture books, if they're really little. But bring stuff. (Always keep a big Lego stash in your purse or man-bag.) Like any other road trip, basically.
3. Pack extra face masks. Don't leave the house with JUST THE ONE ON HIS/HER FACE. Kids are slippery, they drop things.
4. Load Mommy's playlist. Lay down the law: the driver picks the music. Kiddo can bring headphones and The Wiggles greatest hits, or watch Trolls 2 on the iPad. It's okay. Mommy (or Daddy) needs to focus on the road, and that focus needs the right music or audiobook or podcast, or whatever. Period. DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THEM. THEY ARE CRAFTY. OWN THE SPEAKERS UP FRONT. You can do this. Stay strong. Be the pack leader. Like Cesar says.
5. Snacks. You don't know what you'll find at rest-stops. Pack road snacks. Cut grapes, carrot sticks, berries, pretzels, fruit gummies. Most healthy, some fun treats. I usually hit a place for coffee and breakfast on the road, first. We'll have a few goodies if that stuff runs out.
6. Sunscreen. No-brainer, but sometimes we're so overwhelmed with masks and germs that we forget about the basics. The Sun still burns. Pack the SPF. It's summer.
7. Keep your cool. While on the road, you may encounter the... UNMASKED. Some folks, for whatever reason, will not show the courtesy. If you pass them, understand that they have their reasons. A summer road trip with your kids isn't the time to educate them or spew statistics. Just keep your distance and walk on, I think. Our kids learn from us - don't pick unnecessary fights. Or if you are of the UNMASKED persuasion, I'm sure you have your reasons (though I don't understand them), but keep your distance from those who do practice these safety measures. It's common courtesy. Be cool.
8. Don't be on your phone that much. If you're getting away for a quick long weekend, don't spend that precious time scrolling. Enjoy the new digs, the fresh air, family, the nice slow pace. Share pics, post updates, and put it down. Cherish the time away. Unwind. Connect.
9. Plan activities and food choices. It's nice to have a few structured things planned for the weekend. A local farmstead to hit. Open restaurants. A local ice cream shop. Hiking around a nearby lake. Kayaking, maybe. State Parks usually have some wonderful recreational things to offer for families. You just don't know what'll be open and closed these days. Check it out ahead of time.
10. Grownup activities. Kids will go to bed and you'll have some time at night. Bring stuff just for you: a good book, some journals, your current project, a yoga DVD. Bath bombs. Something just for you. Make that time, even while you're away. You'll thank yourself later. There's no feeling quite like needing a vacation after your vacation. We've all been there. So don't overbook yourself, work in rest-time. Keep it simple. Make it sweet.
I'll see you next week! xoxo
4 min read
A young man came into the library today. He was looking for some books to read over the summer.
"What grade level?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm done, I graduated," he replied.
"Oh, so you were in the parade through town, celebrating..."
"Yep. Sure was..."
"OK, so let me see what I can pull up, here..." I looked up the reading lists for the school and found some AP suggestions. "Are you going to college, are you gonna work, do you have plans, yet?"
"Oh, I'm going to college, for sure. I'm not sure of my major..."
We chatted a bit more. Then he took Dubliners, by James Joyce, thanked me, and left. Great kid, polite, kind, curious. I'm excited for him. Glistening with potential.
After he left, I began to think about these graduates and the world that they are walking into, right now. As freshmen.
To the College-Bound Graduates:
I wish I knew what to tell you about all of this. About the state of the world, of the pandemic, and politics, and climate, and social injustices, and the economy. I wish I knew what to tell you to major in so that you'd soar, in these shifting times. I wish I had a clue... I don't.
And see, that's the thing. Even us, as adults, aren't sure of things day to day. We do our best. We just show up, stay kind, work hard, take care of ourselves, and do our best.
But I would tell you to try things. If you don't know what to major in, then don't. Take an assortment of classes, they're all for credit. You can major in Liberal Arts for two years and then decide. You can switch over. You can always take a class or two later to make up some credits, to round out a major. Don't feel that you have to know it all up front and then go in. Many students don't. It's okay not to know.
Some students know early on what they want to pursue. Medicine. Law. Biochemistry. Nursing. Psychiatry. Veterinarian. Political Science. Teaching. And many, many students don't have a clue, and they see college as a necessary step in their lives, that they want to take, but aren't exactly sure what courses to take. And perhaps, for them, it's the experience itself that grants them what they need...
The exchange of ideas with your peers, in a new and expanded setting. Healthy debate. New perspectives. New worlds of inspiration and reading and research. New friendships and clubs to join. Many students have the soul of an artist or philosopher and just need to try a lot of disciplines out, before they choose. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Try things.
This...is life. Not knowing, and having the mindset to just... start... despite not knowing, is what great success stories are made of. Diving in without a map shows a bit of adventure and curiosity and ambition, a desire to learn by doing, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It's a perspective that you can take further in to life, not just with school. This is the creative mindset and it's incredibly valuable, especially in the world that you'll be joining. Flexibility, creativity, adaptability will all be essential mindsets to hold onto.
Trust that you'll find your way and things will speak to you and teach you, as you go. You may figure it all out in college, and you may not. It's just a step, but walk ahead with enthusiasm. We are learning are whole lives through, and college is a wonderful stop along that road.
We're all fools on the road of life. Some of us didn't go to college. Some of us went out after high school and plunged into the world of business and never looked back. Some went head-first into their artistic dreams, and never looked back. It can be nice to have a passion, to know exactly what you want to do with your life. But it can also be a lifelong adventure to not know... to show up and continue to learn and grow and explore. And many of us who live in this way, become teachers, in one way or another. Life teachers. Way-showers. Leaders. Trust your choices as they come up and keep checking with yourself. And remember that you're living a story and don't get too mired down by one moment, because moments come and go that challenge us to the core.
Remember when those moments come - doubt, fear, paralysis, pain, loss, heartache, confusion - that they are temporary, and that you can get up and dust your pants off and keep going forward. And figure things out.
I know that you'll make the world a better place, in your own way. Take your time and explore yourself and how you feel about things. About life. And how you'd want to improve it or document it or enhance it or entertain it. And just start. Read voraciously. Educate yourself about what fuels your passions. Try things, over and over again. Just try things. Live your youth.
And we can't wait to hear what you have to say.
2 min read
Reflecting... from this morning's meditation:
"Walk with me
Beneath the Green
I'll show you a story
you've never seen
You will believe in
I wrote this quote back in 2015. The end - and the beginning. And I’ve come across a stack of old notes and declarations... and I’ll say that it’s probably time for some new ones. The green checkmark indicates that this goal was accomplished.
- I will quit smoking ✅
- I will understand this anxiety ✅
- I will learn to manage a new routine ✅
- I will write a novel ✅
- I will travel and see my country ✅
- I will sing some of my own songs in front of others ✅
- I will meet more and more new and inspiring people ✅
Ongoing effort...never done, but I've made progress:
- I will grow tougher and smarter
- I will learn to love and value myself as much as, if not more, than I do others
- I will trust in my own magic
- I will learn and grow and transform my mindset without spending a dime
- I will not take myself so seriously
- I will love my life, where it is now, where it’s been, and where it may be going
Do you believe in magic?
It’s often messy and we make mistakes and are misunderstood and we often get what we need over what we want - because we learn to create for everyone’s benefit and not just our own.
Write it down
And here I am again. At the top of the circle.
And I think that at some point, life becomes more about how many times you’ve been around the circle, and how you’ve grown through it all. What you’ve learned. Who you've met along the way. What they’ve learned. How you’ve evolved and what you need to learn next time. And it's less and less about the things and more about the people.
Learning to embrace the long-game is life changing.
A quick review...