I was thinking about different ways to start this post.
Intro paragraph option 1:
“There but by the grace of peanut butter am I here with you right now. There is an open peanut butter jar on my kitchen counter emotionally supporting me through this time. And, I’m ok with that. When the world is changing every moment, I need to surround myself with things that lift me up: like my people, my faith, and peanut butter.“
Intro paragraph option 2:
“Had I been invited to a group zoom conference this week wherein the agenda was solely to cry with others, I would have been all for it. The tears hit me on Friday and didn’t stop until I stopped slamming the door, but instead, silently welcomed them in like an old friend.”
Both intros give insight into my mental state for the past couple of days. And you know what? I’m ok with that. Why? Because the minute I put out on Instagram that I was having a rough day…
…ya’ll showed up. And told me that you were right. there. with me.
I wasn’t the only one who cried in my closet.
In fact, I was told that you‘ve cried everywhere: on walks, in the shower, in the car, in front of your kids.
You have felt overwhelmed, burdened and kind of out of control.
You’ve cried for your parent, whom you can’t see right now.
You’ve cried because you hold that newborn baby who just entered the world.
You’ve cried because he just lost his job and she just lost hers… and he may be evicted.
You’ve cried because he has a terminal illness and you can’t be there, physically, to hug him.
You’ve cried for them, that their school year is pretty much over and they’re missing out on graduation and prom and… memories.
You’ve cried because you’re doing this quarantining thing… alone.
You’ve cried because you or your loved ones work in the health and medical field and you are scared.
You’ve cried because you don’t know how sustainable this current situation is for your health, your finances, your spirit…
You’ve cried because you miss your routine, your normal.
You’ve cried because we’re living in the upside-down and it just feels… uncomfortable.
You’ve cried because it’s just too.much.
Friends, that’s why I’ve cried, too.
A while back my Cabo community experienced a hurricane. We endured 150 mph winds and we called it a Category 5 storm, but some said it was less than that. I will tell you this though: after the winds pummelled our homes, our trees and our hearts from Saturday morning, September 13th until the wee hours of Sunday, September 14th we all came out of our shelters, opened our doors to the outside world and saw that nothing, and I mean, nothing was the same. Our world had changed. (You can read about it here.)
There were no blooms on the bushes and flowers because they were… gone.
Our favorite restaurants, gone.
The wifi, gone.
The electricity, gone.
The girls’ school closed.
Half of our family moved from Cabo.
It took months to rebuild.
There was so. much. change.
And it happened so quickly.
And we had all of the feelings.
This COVID thing snuck up on our everyday lives and turned them upside down. What was… now isn’t.
And that’s hard.
Sometimes you just need to cry about it.
It’s ok… to just cry.
With each news story we read, or difficulty we face, or tragedy we hear… a weight is added. Instead of carrying our normal everyday stuff in our Life Backpack, it feels like we’re now lugging around bowling balls and it’s just… too… much. Many of us already had full backpacks. We had BIG stuff already in our packs weighing us down: loneliness and depression, divorce and addiction, anxiety and fear.
Now, we have the old stuff and this new stuff.
So, our knees buckle under the weight of it all, and we slowly slide down a wall in a closet…and we cry.
And that’s ok.
I want to encourage you to feel your feelings. To cry. To write. To run. To talk. To go inward. Or outward. Do what you need to do for you in order to be ok. This is a classic example of the popular airline metaphor: in the event of an emergency, the oxygen masks will fall from the sky. Please be sure to secure YOURS before helping the other peeps with theirs.
My friends, we need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. And we need to grab up and take hold of that oxygen and BREATHE it.
Here’s what I do.
I pray. I pray a lot.
I surround myself with words. I default to writing, reading and holding words so close to my chest that they’re tattooed on my heart.
I unzip my backpack, take out the bowling balls, and hand them to God.
They’re yours, my friend. I can’t.
I turn off the news.
I turn on funny shows.
I laugh with my kids. (Vivi asked me yesterday “If you could swim in ANYTHING, besides water, what would you swim in?” I responded with pasta. Her answer? “Hot chocolate that’s not too hot, but like in Willy Wonka: the chocolate river. Or, I’d swim in marshmallows.”)
What do I do when I need oxygen?
I go to my room, close my door, and I get into bed for a nap.
I call a friend, or text my sisters or brothers.
I organize a drawer.
Or I just sit and mindlessly scroll.
I hug my dog.
I hold Craig’s hand tighter than normal.
I pray again. (Message me, I’ll add you to my list.)
I drink one more cup of tea.
But most importantly, I slow down and let the feelings come. We just might be living in the upside-down, but there are opportunities for oxygen all around us.
After my Mom died, everyone around me stopped telling me about what they were going through. My friends stopped venting to me about their everyday stresses… they shrunk down in the shadow of my grief. They didn’t want to give me anything else to put in my backpack, they thought I was carrying enough. And for a while, I didn’t even notice that I was enveloped in a pool of my own grief and tears. Carrying just my stuff.
I was breathing in and out with that oxygen mask steadily affixed to my face. It’s what I had to do at that time.
But then, it was time to hold space for and stand next to others. Helping them, standing by them, as they put on their masks. Sharing the load. Doing what I could with what I had at that time.
Friends, that’s what we’re called to do now.
During times of trauma, it’s normal to freeze, go inward, grieve and be. But when we’re ready, here’s our reminder to look beyond ourselves. Let’s spread peace, not fear or anger. Let’s send joy and love and encouragement and hope to everyone in our circle… starting with the people in our homes.
By encouraging others, we’ll be encouraged.
Thank you for encouraging me.
We’re in this together, friends.
Don’t lose heart. This is temporary.