It happens to all of us. Being human, sooner or later, life is going to break our hearts. The only way we can try to avoid heartbreak is to never give our whole self to anyone or anything worthy of our tears. Praying Mantis are pretty good at that. Humans? Not so much.
So, climate change is real, people in high places can abuse power, and that soft, waffling flesh below your armpit is settling in for winter. Want a better world? Be a better you.
By “better” I don’t mean smarter, thinner or richer. I don’t mean saint-like, martyr-like or reality TV-like. I mean your very own version of your very best self. The one that you, and only you, wants to be, needs to be, and gets to be.
We all have them. We all have those days, weeks or months that drain the color from our cheeks, the spring from our step and the buoyancy from our hearts. We all have those times.
We all have those drains in our lives. Whether it’s a person, a project, or an ongoing set of trying circumstances that can’t be easily, or readily, or even ever changed, we all have something that drains our energy, decreases our resilience and detours or derails our plans. And sometimes, we’re the catalyst for all that mayhem in our own or other people’s lives, intended or not.
Go, go, go. I love the adrenaline of go. I love tight deadlines, multiple, multi-tasking projects, and to-do lists written in different, brightly colored markers. Yep, I like busy. At least I think I do. I’ve been writing to meet a deadline for so long that the deadline sometimes writes me into a corner. Then I multitask myself out and onward to the next list. Oh, the things I’ll get done!
I did not need, or want, a new car. I knew that to my core. My little grey SUV, Hoagie, had gotten me everywhere I wanted, and needed, to be for the past 11 years.
To car people, 11 years is a very long time. In the course of that time, the car value depreciates while the little dings, dents and miles grow. None of that mattered to me. Hoagie was my buddy. From work to play, in sun and snow, it wasn’t just a means of transportation, it was a four-wheeled friend.
This winter was, for most of us, what my wise mother would have aptly described as “a long-ass haul.” No snow for Christmas, but plenty in March. Temps so low outside that the dogs’ breath crystallized at first pant. Days as brief and dark as a Kafka short story. Seriously. It’s good to finally be looking at winter mostly from the rear-view mirror now. So damn good.
In every life there are times when all we can do is hunker down, hang on, buy a bagel and wait for the shit storm to pass. Sometimes that storm comes from external factors beyond our control. The company we work for goes under, or goes in a new direction, or needs to reduce workforce, or is bought by a new company that doesn’t need us. And that’s all assuming we had the good fortune to be employed in the first place.
Like a lot of children, I grew up with an alcoholic parent. I was the youngest child of my father’s second marriage. My dad was decades older than my mom. In my father’s maturity, my mother found a sense of safety and stability. In my mother’s youth, my father found a fresh start and a lighter heart. What they saw in each other was genuine. And like many couples, what they saw, revealed, and became to each other changed over the course of their marriage.
The world is getting louder. News—real, fake, insightful, dumb, heart wrenching, heartwarming, hilarious, maddening, muddying or clarifying—the whole world of news is in our face--and often, in our hand. I read most of the news on my phone and find that palm-sized version my delivery of choice. Somehow, it feels more manageable in that small, contained environment. I can turn it off whenever I like. At least I think I can.
The annual January push for shrinking your waistline and sculpting your abs is in full force. Gym memberships go for as little as $10, making it easy to get on-board with your New Year’s plan to finally drop the pounds, get into your high school (or grade school) pants, and feel once and for all fabulous. Sounds like a plan.
Coming through a trauma with a changed but intact heart, mind, body and soul isn’t easy. It isn’t won and done. It’s a process that often has false starts, unrealistic expectations, of both ourselves and others, crippling fears, flattened hopes and exhausted bodies. And sometimes, all of that happens on a good day.
I remember loving the idea of living in a country where people could speak their minds and hearts and that others would listen, counter and make their own case. There was, and remains, a long way to go in making that process inclusive, fair and productive. But the process itself was fundamentally good in important ways.
Human beings are absolutely capable of extraordinary acts of selfless courage and heart wrenching generosity. Many of them will never know the names, let alone the lives, of those whom they saved. Among these brave, generous people are organ donors, who literally give a part of themselves for the chance that another may live.
It’s true: A body in motion really does tend to stay in motion. For many of us, all that motion produces a satisfying adrenaline rush that comes from being a multitasking wizard. A modern version of Rene Descartes “I think, therefore I am” is “I do, therefore I matter.”
Many of us are defined by the work that we do—at our jobs, in our personal lives, and even how well we meticulously or haphazardly edge our patch of lawn, if we have one.
Our parents are the lead characters in our first story. Whether they loved us, left us, or lost us somewhere along the way—or we lost them—our parents are the passageway of our arrival into the world. Our parents, particularly our mothers, are the first and most intimate bond we have with the world and ourselves. What they imprint on us can make life feel welcoming or fearsome—and sometimes both.
For many of us, in any given day, there is not enough time to start what we want to finish, much less finish what we’ve already started. Between the desires and demands we have of ourselves, and the needs, wants and expectations of others, life can sometimes feel like one big To-Do list. At times, the adrenaline rush from all that busyness can feel exhilarating, purposeful and focused. However, prolonged times of actual crisis can feel completely exhausting.