Life is messy today.
Right now from my home office window, I can see the first snow of the season as it drifts gently down into my backyard — a backyard that still is somehow straddling not just summer and fall but now also winter.
The hammock that I like to lounge in on hot summer days is still sitting under my favorite tree.
That favorite tree is still in the process of shedding its vibrant orange and red leaves, many of which now cover my backyard.
Summer, fall, and winter are alive in my backyard-all at once.
My yard is in the space between. The space where nothing is clear. The space of messy overlap.
My life feels like it is in that messy space too.
My kids are remote learners but also attend school in person a few days each week.
I am working full time but I haven’t seen the inside of my actual office in months.
I am exhausted but also cannot sleep.
I am content but also cry at the drop of a hat.
I am hopeful but also anxious.
I feel loved but also lonely.
I long for the warmth of summer but also enjoy the forced hibernation winter brings.
I crave connection but also need time to be alone.
I am like my backyard — messy, unclear, and clinging to different seasons all at once.
Today I will embrace the beauty that this in-between space brings.
Today I will marvel at the scene of summer, fall, and winter co-existing in one messy space. One beautiful messy space.
Sometimes there is beauty in the mess.
Even my mess.
Even yours too.
Today my laptop crashed.
In the middle of my workday, with 27 tabs open as I balanced insurance billing, reviewed new client documents, read emails from my children’s teachers, and did some online shopping before my Kohls cash expires, my laptop was like “Nah. Peace out. I’m done.”
I have never identified more with a machine than I did in that moment.
It reached its limit. It simply had too many internet tabs, excel documents, word documents, sticky notes, and programs running all at once.
It just couldn’t do it anymore.
How many of you can relate? How many of you, right now, are at the end of your rope? How many of you feel like you can’t do it anymore either.
My laptop and I are right there with you!
As I sat staring at the screen, unable to engage the mouse, or the escape button, or any reset tricks, I realized that I had no choice. I had to force my laptop to reset.
As I pushed the power button, sending the laptop into its power down mode, I felt a twinge of jealousy. How lovely would it be to power down right now? How nice would it be for someone to walk in and say to me: “You need to reset. I’m shutting everything down for you and giving you a chance to catch your breath and restart.”
I’m quite sure a lot of you can relate. As a psychotherapist, I get to have some insight of how people, in general, are doing. You know what, the pulse check right now is pretty concerning. People’s lives are filled with stress, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness right now. So many people have a million tabs open at a time and are completely overloading their operating systems, at risk of crashing at any minute.
Don’t be like my laptop. Don’t wait until you have no choice but to shut down.
Take a break now.
Close some of your open tabs.
Schedule a reboot.
Give yourself a break.
Recognize that we all need a break and if you don’t schedule one for yourself, eventually you will just get stuck and need a forced reset — probably in the middle of some important project or at the worst time possible.
Take a few minutes, maybe right now, but at least soon, to figure out how to prevent your own crash.
Today I painted my nails two different colors.
I’m sure some of you are thinking “Girl, what’s the big deal? I paint my nails ten different colors each week!”
But when you are like me, you get comfortable with being comfortable. You don’t stray too much over the lines. You avoid change.
You order the same meals at the same restaurants.
You watch the same tv shows over and over again.
You wear the same clothes week after week — often buying the same shirts and pants in different colors and sometimes in the same colors because you know you like them.
You look for the predictable, the routine, the ordinary — especially in the midst of a pandemic. Those ordinary things became a lifeline for me this year.
As the world outside me swirled into chaos over the last several months, I leaned into the things I could control and the things I could predict. I responded to the daily uncertainty of our lives by choosing to live my life in comfort, a space that sometimes felt like control.
But today I leaned a bit out of my comfort zone. I embraced something unpredictable and different.
I chose change.
Yes, today I remembered that even though it’s safe and cozy sometimes to live inside the lines, sometimes the things that make us feel secure are actually the things that hold us back from living life to its fullest.
So, to those of you out there coping like me — by choosing order, predictability, and ordinary — today might be a good day to stray just a bit outside the lines.
I can’t promise that you won’t regret it but I can promise that it’s an important exercise.
Hey you out there, the woman holding back who she really is, stop.
It’s ok to step into your light.
It’s ok to show up and be yourself.
It’s ok to finally figure out who your real people are.
It’s ok to want more, ask for more, need more.
It’s ok to be the person you really are.
It’s ok to ask for help.
It’s ok to break a little, feel lost, and struggle with the next steps.
It’s ok to make changes in your life.
It’s ok to be vulnerable.
It’s ok to acknowledge that life is sometimes really freaking hard.
It’s ok to be 100% you.
It’s ok to be proud of yourself.
It’s ok to be happy.
It’s ok to be ok.
An important moment happened the other night.
It was just a brief moment, so brief that many people may not have even noticed it.
It was a moment that was so easily eclipsed by the other moments around it that I almost didn’t even write about it.
But just today alone two people have brought the moment up in session. Yes, we need to shine some light on the moment. We need to amplify the moment.
It was a moment when a father from a generation not known for understanding mental health talked openly, candidly, emotionally, with rawness, and with true humanity about addiction.
Yes, I am going to talk about a moment in THE debate. You know, the debate that has been talked about and fought about and debated about incessantly over the past few days.
But, I don’t want to talk about the content of the debate or what led to the moment or what people think about the candidates and moderator.
I just want to focus on the moment.
We all, collectively, NEED to focus on the moment.
It is a moment that so many people who have struggled with addiction yearn for — the moment when their loved one stands up and literally says to the world:
“My son/daughter/wife/husband/sister/brother/mother/father/friend had a drug problem. They’ve worked on it. And I’m proud of them.”
As I watched that moment in real time, I saw all those subtle changes in facial expressions, skin color, speech rhythm, breathing rate, and intonation that I’m trained as a therapist to pick up on.
In that moment, the Earth stopped spinning for just a beat for me. My own breath caught in my throat as I realized just how powerful that moment could be for anyone who has faced addiction and how powerful that moment could be for the topic of addiction itself.
How powerful are those two words for people on both sides of the addiction struggle?
It was an important moment for there still is so much shame and judgment around the topic of addiction, even after recovery.
That moment reminded us that not only is it ok to stand up, even when the whole world is watching, and be proud of your loved one for battling addiction, it’s crucial. It’s powerful. It can be life altering.
Perhaps even more importantly, imagine the power of being able to say “I’m proud of myself.”
To those of you who have been touched by addiction, I see you. I hear you. I’m proud of how fiercely you fight that battle.
Change is coming. The tides are turning. The shame is lifting. More moments are coming.
Share your pride for your loved ones. Share your pride for yourself.
I’m proud of all of you walking through the battlefield of addiction.
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.