A Word on Haircuts

My age is sneaking up on me in mysterious ways. I’ve become inordinately concerned with going to the dentist, I pay attention to when my car is actually due for an oil change, and last week, I caught myself watching a young mom of three wild boys and saying to her “You’ve got your hands full there,” with a sage nod.

There is, however, one notable facet of adulthood and growing up that I can’t even pretend I’ve come close to mastering.

Haircuts.

I set out at the beginning of this year to find myself a real, grown woman hair salon. I hear it’s a burden that many women grapple with (hence the finding a hairdresser that works and then following her to the ends of the earth stories you hear), and I decided that this was going to be my year.

I made a vow to  Meg, after a healthy amount of teasing, that I would not trim my own hair as I did during my beyond broke study abroad college days. I’m a broad on a budget after all. Nevertheless, I have kept my promise.

My car slows, threatening to stop at every Supercuts I see along the road and somehow, I haven’t been able to go in. Supercuts feels like a regression haircut, like a low confidence attempt to slink back to childhood.

This week, I made myself an appointment at a local salon celebrated by Yelp with one dollar sign, meaning I can probably make the cost work. I’ve also gotten my brush stuck in my hair twice in the past month, so I have to face the reality that it’s something that needs to be done.

My creative universe’s practice in letting go of control begins at the shampoo bay. I lean back and let this perfect stranger guide my head to the cushioned rim. In spiritual circles, we call it leaning in to the experience, emotion, etc. and it seems like perfect poetic irony that in this excruciating situation, that phrase applies so very literally. So I lean in. My head rests against the questionably sanitary tiny tub and I let the Eastern European woman with kind, bored eyes named Katrinka  scald the shit out of my scalp. I tell her everything is fine when she asks about the temperature. She lets the first droplet of water dribble down my neck and my body tenses. I’m sure she asks me questions, but I am only aware of the second water droplet, which runs on a perfect line between the corner of my eye and the inside of my nose. If there’s a hell, I think I’ve found it. I am stiff and a headache begins across my temple, where I hold my tension.

There is nothing more humbling than being forced to stare at my own face in that mirror with the black cape concealing my neck and body with a threateningly tight grasp. “Has anyone’s head ever looked more like a basketball?” “Why have I never noticed how grateful I am for my neck?” I make a mental note to thank God for necks, the unsung heroes for those of us self-conscious about our round faces.

I start to wonder where my eyes are supposed to travel when I realize I’m warm and not just slightly. The sweating begins and my eyes become nervous darts. Should I close them or is that creepy? Surely it’s better than whatever is happening now.

I watch helplessly as several inches of my knotty ends fall to the floor and I observe how strangely sad this makes me feel. The sweat continues to bead along my forehead while Katrinka commences her 40 minute blow dry trick. I scratch and claw at my insides to make it through the small talk about the color of my hair, as if this is a topic anyone has ever been interested in. I feel lightheaded with the inability to scratch my own nose. I’m daydreaming about a Gatorade to replenish my electrolytes and joining some religious cult where cutting your hair is fiercely prohibited. Then I briefly consider re-enlisting in therapy.

Katrinka rings me up; the total is $10 more than the price listed on the wall – a sweating fee I imagine. I don’t even care — I’m free. Perhaps 2020 will be my year.

9 Honest Confessions of a Highly Sensitive Person

Many of us grew up with the sense that we had something different.

Many of us kept a lot inside.

We have known all along that our inside worlds are rich and abundant, but that some 80% of the population regards us as introverted, closed off, or timid.  We might have struggled to find our voice amidst a larger culture that is constantly demanding that we are too anxious, too “in our heads,” and too easily exhausted by large social gatherings. Here’s a list of just a few of the things I’ve kept inside that I want you to know: 

 

1.I’ve experienced a lot of guilt over the fact that my family is entirely too much for me.

I arrived on this planet as an HSP to a wonderful family who happens to be very loud, very nosey, and very indifferent to alone time. I have made peace with the fact that I can love them exactly as they are, accepting that their idea of fun and comfort might not be the same as mine. However, there were many years during which my sensitivity to their natural tendencies made me feel cruel and ungrateful because it has been always been difficult for me to spend long periods of time with them (cough, also an empath). As an HSP, there has been nothing more unifying and settling to learn to embrace our differences and understand that our variation does not mean I love them any less.

2. My anxiety is never higher than when you’re watching me perform a task.

By the time the task begins, I have already internalized what I believe your judgments about me might be (because I’ve been preparing diligently). Work observations are torture and I’m likely sweating profusely and stumbling over my words in a way that is generally atypical for me. It’s not that I am nervous because I feel I am incompetent, more that I am hyper-aware of your attention and I can feel it throughout my body.  As a former collegiate athlete, I took on-the-field personal failures so hard that I often let perceived criticism become a symbol of my self-worth. Striking out in front of a crowd, for example, was devastating for me – and my inner critic (influenced by what I thought you believed about me) was often abusive. Looking back, what my coaches called “playing scared” or making mistakes out of the tension that comes from the fear of making the mistake before it happens – pretty much defines my athletic career.

3. I have had issues with my relationship with food (and sugar especially) for as long as I can remember because excess food and excess exercise numb my internal experience.

For many years before I understood why my system was so easily frazzled (which I know identify as a trademark HSP / Empath quality), quieting the world with food (always alone), was the only way I understood how to cope. I knew the behaviors were unhealthy as I was practicing them, but the need to escape from the constant stimulation has a mind of its own.

4. When I am neglecting my creative outlets, you can tell.

Those who are close to me describe it as a hollowed out version of the person they know. My inner world is so very much alive and I’m working hard to keep up with it nonstop. If I haven’t gotten the words, the ideas, the feelings, out of me somehow, I clam up and become emotionally blocked. During these times, I’m even more likely to retreat from a social obligation, call out sick from work to spend a day alone, or becoming highly irritable in my relationships. Long story short – I’m far from my best self.

5. If possible, I nearly always reach for a drink when I walk into a social gathering.

I’m not proud of this habit, but If there are more than a few people that I’ll be forced to socialize with in the same space, I find an adult beverage as soon as possible. I am painfully in tune with the energy in the gathering space buzzing with electric noise, smells, sounds and a glass of wine (or two) lowers my threshold to the environment. There’s also a great chance you’ll find me outside with the dog thirty minutes into the party.

6. I am prone to anxiety and depression.

While being an HSP comes with many gifts and strengths, it also comes with its apparent difficulties. In my case, my constantly overworking mind and sensitivity to the outside world means that I feel anxious often. When left unresolved, my anxiety can spiral into depression. As I am gaining awareness around the attributes of Introverts, Highly Sensitive People, and Empaths and the ways in which they impact my everyday life, my propensity to seek ways to take care of myself grows. Today, I use tools that have not always lived in my repertoire to identify my triggers as they arise. I let myself rest and work backwards when I catch my inner critic wanting to inflict shame that I require more down time than others. I am diligent about sharing my internal state with a few loved ones whom I trust greatly, even though it is painfully difficult for me to do.

7. As a kid, I took more books to slumber parties than anything else because I knew I’d need to escape somehow.

I am not necessarily anti-social and in all likelihood, I was looking forward to the sleepover. There’s an even greater chance that by 8pm, I would be completely overwhelmed with the screaming girls, the new surroundings, and another family’s foods and I would have regret coming. I learned around age 7 that I could last a little longer before snapping into overdrive if let my mind escape into a story for awhile. Let’s also not pretend that I didn’t have 1-4 of my best imaginary friends there with me to diffuse my experience. Today, I practice yoga, mindfulness meditation, and work to be conscious of my breath in everyday situations in order to tap into stillness in a world that seems to be moving at warp speed. Without these practices, my daily life felt a lot more chaotic and unmanageable.

8. No, I don’t think my clothes are trendy or super flattering either. But if a shirt with a scratchy tag over a poky bra and a tight pair of jeans is my reality, I won’t hear a word you say all day. 

I’m not joking here. As a softball player, I couldn’t wear batting gloves, despite the sand paper callouses that had formed on my hands because I would step up to the plate and the sensation of the gloves would take all my attention.  In elementary and middle school, I wore soccer shorts and a crew neck sweatshirt literally everyday. My hair was permanently plastered back into a tight tight mid-pony because the baby curly hairs on my forehead tickled so very much. By high school, I realized that as a straight female, I was expected to dress a certain way. I marveled (often aloud) at how comfortable everyone else seemed to look when I could conjure hives just looking at a pair of low-cut jeans. Thankfully, it’s 2019 and not only have a gained tremendous insight about what my “red light fabrics” are and I avoid them with swine flu level caution, but athletic clothing somehow became married to casual clothing in a wonderful cataclysm of HSP bliss.

9. Finding someone you can share your alone time with (and hell, actually want to) is the greatest feeling in the world.

Seriously.

To Know Us

I think a lot about the things you are missing.

There are the obvious ones like Chayna’s high school graduation, Mom excelling at a job she finally loves, Jamie’s wedding, and every Christmas since that fall.

I think of the selfish ones like showing you my new favorite trail while we laugh about the fact that Chayna drives a forklift on a daily basis, the ugly truth that I no longer have an ally to duck out of family parties early with.

But I think the most about the subtleties – the number of times Chayna has changed her hair color, the people I’ve called to help me change a tire that weren’t you, the way Cailynn puts on her cleats. The way she loves and respects the game we did too would light you up and I wish you were around to see it. I wish you knew that she couldn’t wait to get to practice and that Mom has to drag her off after the stadium lights have gone off; she thanks her coaches at the end of every practice the way she learned from me the way I learned from you.

I think about the way it would feel for you to know us.

The Untapped Market

I have grown up into the junior adult I am today with the notion that a vast majority of the great mysteries, overwhelming emotions, and paralyzing conundrums of my life have already been written for me. Books are transportation devices to times, places, and conditions that make us feel less alone; they’re my favorite way to satiate my endless fascination with human nature without having to interact with too many actual humans.

There are self-help books on an endless slue of subjects and I would venture to say that some of them are even legitimate. I’ve scoured the shelves of Barnes & Noble, investigated every inch of my beloved community library and I’m coming up empty handed. It turns out there isn’t a book for how to meet up with your partially estranged father for a casual coffee in the middle of a suburban city neither of you know well for which one of you will be tremendously tardy (cough, not me) and you have both accidentally found yourself in the middle of a historic antique car show. It’s a damn shame, because I see a real untapped market there.

Before this day, I had not seen my father in over six months and it had been at least a year since the two of us were alone. Coffee and sports are our bonding zones and given that he was coming from a sporting event and I only had an hour and a half before work, coffee seemed like a safe call. It felt mature and so very ordinary to meet up with my father for coffee, which is precisely why it felt so unnatural. Him and I have never lived in that place. Our relationship was built on drinking from the hose, building janky skateboard ramps and duck-tape appliances, annoying my mother, and bowls of ice cream the size of our heads. The two of us sitting down for coffee in a public place surrounded by other civilized adults felt vaguely like a turtle and a grizzly bear walking through the savanna hand-in-hand. I chuckled to myself imagining the strangeness of it all as I guzzled my nitro cold brew and watched the minutes before work tick by and  monopolized a table for two. Time passed, I lost the ability to hide the fact that the cold brew went straight to my head, and we looked at old cars I couldn’t care less about like we had seen each other last week. It wasn’t tragic or simple or the most revelatory, meaningful hour of my life. It just was. We joked like none of the rest of it happened.

As we turned to go our separate ways, he stopped. “Wait! I forgot I have something for you.” He dug through the back of his camper shell covered truck bed filled to the brim with god only knows and finally came up with a thick black binder. He flipped through the pages to show me charts of family trees, typed and handwritten chronicles of my genealogy, which has apparently become the hobby of my paternal grandfather’s golden years. The front of the binder displays a blurry portrait of a dozen grey-haired, wrinkly-faced souls – my paternal grandparents smack in the middle. It’s a funny thing, this binder. I don’t have the time or energy to study it, though I sense that I someday might. Furthermore, my already-filled-to-the-brim apartment is literally begging me to not bring another object over the threshold. Storing it somewhere seems packrat-esque and strange, but I certainly don’t have the heart to throw it out. So, for now, it lives on the passenger seat of my car. It feels weirdly symbolic that I let it ride around with me without feeling the need to open it or trash it.

It’s a tricky thing to make peace with things that do not make you happy, things that you never would have chosen. I suppose acceptance doesn’t require my approval. As the universe constantly reminds me, alignment with my expectations is not a prerequisite for the things in my life that will eventually bring about healing. So, for now, I’m driving around with a peaceful sense of grief, an undeniable caffeine buzz, and a binder full of old people.

Messy, Imperfect Practice

“I’ve been busy”: Everyone’s least favorite excuse. I guess I can’t speak for you but it’s definitely towards the top of my list.

The truth is – I’ve been burnt out. I’ve been spending a lot of hours doing something that I’m not deeply passionate about, which feels very stressful. That feeling wears me down and I want to check out when I have free time. When all the boxes have been ticked and all the noses have been wiped, I want to sleep. And then I wonder why I feel slightly disconnected, slightly offcentered, slightly flat.

It’s the cardinal sin of hobbies that bring us great joy, I believe, that we start them to light a fire when our lives feel perhaps a little darker. It excites something inside us and then we find the rest of our life getting a little bigger and a little brighter because that spark is contagious. The universe senses when you are your most creative, inspired, connected, and loving. For me personally, these things go hand in hand. It is my sincere belief that people cannot help but gravitate towards this vibration. This energy that our thing builds in us is absolutely contagious and consequently, our lives continue to get even bigger. Our calendars fill with work opportunities, academic pursuits, and social responsibilities (because of that godforsaken contagious vibe) and then, do you know what happens?

We stop doing the thing.

I’m in that place. My life got busy. I stopped doing the thing that gave me the passion to engage in this busy life of mine in the first place. I believe that this blank page was the beginning of my spark and then I continuously told myself that I was too busy, too tired, too mentally depleted to return to it. As the days crept on, the mean voice that is sometimes in my head told my insides that I do not have anything worthy of publishing and I listened far too often. I woke up this morning (on Earth day, no less) with a bigger voice – the love voice. The love voice reminded me gently but unequivocally that I have this full, exhausting life today because I pursued this thing that excites me first. I have forgotten that this blank page is not a chore or a heavy obligation; this blank page is church, freedom, and authenticity. The honesty and grace this thing has helped me to find in myself deserves to be remembered and to be honored with messy, imperfect practice.

The Massage

Last weekend, I had my massage V Card taken.

My cousin recently started Massage Therapy school and apparently, the students are asked to find “clients” to bring in to their “clinical environment” so that they may practice on new pieces of flesh for a certain number of hours. My family, as you might imagine, is thrilled with my cousin’s choice of academic pursuits (especially because two years ago I, by contrast, chose to learn the masterful art of phlebotomy in an off-brand program in the civic center).

As the story goes, I was in Arizona for the weekend for my youngest sister’s 13th birthday and voila, the opportunity for a FREE massage fell right into my lap and despite my relentless anxiety, I accepted. I sat with my mother and my aunt in the Zen-Wannabe lobby of a small building in an absolutely terrifying part of town. The minimalist decor, clad with bamboo planters and soft chimey music on repeat playing overhead did little to squelch my preexisting awareness of the imminent crime lying just outside the simple glass door. It seemed oddly humorous to me at the time that I was about to get naked and let a stranger touch me in such a horrible neighborhood.

I’m led back to a small curtained space by a large, warm, nervous looking woman named Christina. Christina struck me as warm in the softness in her chocolate brown eyes and also in the sense that she was red faced and wearing a sweat band. I took a mental oath not to read to much into it, to treat the next 50 minutes of my life “as a sociological experiment,” which is what I sometimes tell myself to distance my busy brain from my actual physical environment (ie-turbulence on an airplane, waiting for my uber on the only rainy day of the year, when my nose bleeds in yoga class). We walk into the 6×6 makeshift curtain “room” and Christina tells me, in her best “zen, comforting, new massage therapist student” voice to “undress to my comfort level.” I almost laughed. I found it interesting that she did not offer me additional layers of clothing, which would, of course, been my honest comfort level. I thought of how much I could F**k poor, nervous Christina’s day up (and possibly the future of her education as a massage therapist) if she returned to the curtain to find me wearing a secret parka, smuggled into the space in my very large purse, declaring that I had reached my comfort level, thank you.

As one would expect, the massage commenced and the next 50 minutes of my life flew by in an uneventful, warm, blissful haze. Other than my periodic instances of unwanted mental commentary about why they choose white sheets, which are sooo very see-through, and trying to ignore the festering giggle inside that I sometimes get when people touch my hands – I was relaxed.

As the massage finished, Christina left the curtain to allow me to re-dress to my comfort level. She walked me back to the lobby and I thanked her, declaring that I would like to bring her home with me and bake her cookies. She laughed uncomfortably, as many people do when they don’t quite know how to respond to whatever shenanigans have just left my mouth. Honestly, it’s all a little fuzzy at this point, but I’m sure I meant something grandmotherly by it that implied that I would like to receive her massages on the regular.

 

…And then I walked back out the glass door onto the crime-riddled streets, as if none of it had ever happened. Maybe that’s for the best.

Confessions of a Middle Schooler

I’m sitting here watching the tiny learners, tiny explorers, tiny dreamers mindlessly copying notes about Ancient Egypt. A few of them are present but most of them, it seems, are letting their brain tell their highly trained writing hand to mimic the precise curvatures they practiced years ago and now execute on autopilot. They’re rehearsing a dance of muscle memory while their focus is elsewhere.

What I don’t think they know is that I’m sitting up here – trying to figure out adulthood and life the same exact way they’re trying to figure out middle school and life. I’ve been learning social cues longer and I’m the one with the laminated name tag and bathroom key hanging from my neck, so they think we’re different. They’re sitting right there copying down words they’ll never remember and I’m up here copying down their little faces, trying to open my heart enough to tell their little hearts that we’re the same, them and I.

 

And most days, I’m pretty sure they’re teaching me a lot more than I teach them.

Buckle Up, Kids.

Once again, the universe has given me some sort of cheap ticket to one of the most raw and intensive storytelling retreats ever created. It’s not for the faint of heart; it’s not for most people, I imagine. Its sense of adventure lives in the uniqueness and unpredictability of every day, every hour. It’s challenging and scary, particularly for an introvert who needs to know nearly everything in advance, thinks about germs too much, and only likes to be touched a maximum of five times per day – preferably on the hand, which can be easily sanitized.

Its name is substitute teaching.

I’ve learned that sixth graders respond with the same amount of respect that you show them, but that they can also smell your fear. Respect and fear can coexist, but they are not interchangeable.

I’ve learned that keeping a trash can near the teacher’s desk is a subtle comfort item for me, in case my anxious disposition doesn’t agree with my brain’s plan for the day.

I’ve learned that if you stand up in front of the classroom, looking moderately put together and adult-ish and tell the students that you are their teacher for the day, they will believe you. I imagine it helps if you believe it yourself, but it seems to work either way.

I’ve learned that if a boy takes off his shoe and you think to yourself, “no way is he going to throw the shoe,” that you should always expect him to throw the shoe.

I’ve learned that I have always taken for granted that learning and processing comes easily to me (and that I’m even more fortunate to have loved school) because it simply does not come easily to every child.

I’ve learned that most of this game is improv and there is no legitimate way to prepare or anticipate what each day may bring.

I’ve learned that these days are a great lesson for life: my job is to show up and do my best to support whatever environment I’m thrown into. The day is going to go how it’s going to go with or without my consent or my attempt to control it and it’s better for everyone involved if I sit down, shut up, and enjoy the ride. (And a sense of humor is a mandatory prerequisite for survival here).

I’ve learned that every child has a gift. Some kids are gifted in the classroom, some are gifted on an athletic field, others in the music room. It takes a lot of work, patience, diligence, and grace to help children find their gifts so that they can share them. It’s a worthwhile endeavor.

I’ve learned that it’s really exciting when you spend several hours trying to get a student to understand his assignment and then at the end of the day, he thanks you.

I’ve learned that there is at least one know-it-all (usually somewhere in the front) in every class and if you get stuck or unsure, going to this kid is your golden ticket. He/She will tell you exactly how their teacher does it, in tremendous detail, and will often offer to “show you”. MY GOD, ALWAYS LET THEM SHOW YOU. It’s basically fool proof – you’re getting the child to do a small part of your job for you and making him/her feel empowered at the very same time. Literally everyone wins, except for the Know-Some-Of-It in the second row that is angry and jealous towards know-it-all number one and probably always will be. But you’re only there for a day, you can’t be expected to solve all their problems.

I’ve learned that teachers are superheroes (along with the parents who have to deal with each of the tiny, nose picking miracles when they go home for the day). Teachers of special education classes (and those parents) are extra special superheroes that should be allowed to cut everyone else in the line at Costco for the rest of eternity.

 

Love Still Wins

I avoid certain neighborhoods mere miles from my own front door because they’re the last places I saw you.

Time and experience have the strange ability to turn me into a tourist in the neighborhood I grew up in. These old familiar streets, their feel and their smells aren’t mine anymore, not really. There are small pieces and big pieces of you and us and our life sprinkled all over this town.

My days of In N Out milkshakes are over.

I don’t walk through that janky old Dollar Store you loved so much without a knot forming in my stomach or my mouth turning to cotton.

Our old, worn down field is sharp on my insides because I still see you and my eight year old self running drills an hour before any of the other kids showed up.

I know that our house on the corner, where you taught me to drive in the front lawn when Mom wasn’t home, will always smell like the big tree that hugged the treehouse we spent hours together building in the back.

I don’t ever hear Tom Petty’s Wildflowers and not wonder, with a burning throat and empty chest, whether you and I will dance to it at my wedding the way we always promised we would.

I drove past my high school inadvertently yesterday. I scanned the big, ostentatious concrete buildings, but my eyes landed where I knew they would. When I looked at that field, I could have seen the hours I spent growing up there. I could have seen my teammates, I could have even cried for the one we tragically lost. I could have seen so many of my own personal trials and tribulations and instead I saw you climbing the fence at midnight to poke cups through the holes to spell out my initials the day before my senior game. I saw you sitting in the outfield, quietly drinking in the sounds of your favorite pastime away from the frenzy of obnoxious parents. I saw you explode from your chair, fists flying above your head the first time the ball off my bat cleared the fence. I saw the day I realized how much you believed in me.

I’ve driven through that winding road behind the house for the last time because the image of you standing, waiting for me to find you and pick you up, with our dog by your side and that backpack that lived in our garage for a decade is stamped permanently on my heart. Without the backpack and our dog, your bearded face and dirty skin would have been unrecognizable.

So much joy lived in these streets with us and most days, I’m pretty good at remembering that too. But love and loss and mourning and healing are strange, inexplicable processes. They’re not linear or fair and they don’t apologize for what they’ve done. Honestly, I never intended to publish something that came out so deliberately dark and sad, but maybe sad is honest and honest is pure. I believe that the places that are dark are also full of healing, learning, hope, and love. Mostly Love.

I listened to my girl, Glenon Doyle, in a podcast recently and she was asked: “if you were lying on your death bed, unable to speak, and all of your writing had been somehow erased and you were given a sheet of paper to write down three truths to leave behind for your family, your children, what would they be?”

She obviously said something sharp and sassy about the injustice of the question and then replied plainly, “Well, I’d tell my kids what I’ve always told them, the thing we’ve had posted on the wall of our home since they were born. Our mantra is:

  1. We can do hard things.
  2. We belong to each other, and
  3. Love wins.”

Copy that, Glennon. A lot of things hurt. But Love Wins.

Let Them Change

Fall is my season of gratitude.

Yes, they should all be seasons of gratitude (and this is something I’m working on all of the time), but for honesty’s sake: they are not. The winter holidays make me feel stressed and poor, spring is just fine, and I am forever overheated and overextroverted during the summer months.

Fall is my soul time.

I am captivated by the change of seasons; it’s what filled my childhood imagination and drove my dream to attend college somewhere that was not Southern California. I love how trees, the air, and the sky look and smell as the year progresses into autumn. The smell in particular reminds me that I am alive in a way that no other season does.

The day I physically arrived on the planet is in the fall. Football is in the fall. Wearing oversized clothing is in the fall. Earlier evenings and longer sleeps are in the fall. Starchy vegetables are in the fall… All things I’m passionate about.

Recently, a friend/soul sister sent me a daily ritual list that she found. At the top, you’re asked to identify your emotional/spiritual intention and then outline a ritual that will guide you towards living in this intention. I love the idea and yet, as I sat down with it, I could only think of a single word. Grateful.

Acknowledging that for today, my only intention is to live and love in gratitude, feels like a gift in and of itself. I haven’t gotten around to filling out the rest of the worksheet. That strong voice inside me that I can hear when I’m genuinely quiet is reminding me that grateful is a state of mind – it corresponds closely with byproducts of serenity, love, etc. etc. Honestly, I don’t know what the tools are to finding that place other than continuing to practice being there. Like learning to swim, there are drills and techniques – skills to hone. But none of the real work starts to unfold until you’re in the water… And then you practice.

Living with the intention of gratitude is cliche, I get that. It’s something that that hippy dippy yoga teacher you had once mused at you right before she lit a weird candle and stood on her head. I used to think it was woo-woo too…until I felt it. And here’s the thing: gratitude feels really effin good. I’ve done the critical thinking, black and white, needing concrete answers to every foreseeable outcome thing, believing that this was how respectable, intelligent people who take things seriously analyzed the world. I encourage you to do your own experiments with it, but here’s my spoiler: my life was not more organized, more clear or more productive when I ran around looking for problems to solve and criticized myself for not being and doing more all. of. the. time. I wasn’t smarter, more articulate, or more professionally esteemed. I was chronically anxious and I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping through the night and used copious amounts of caffeine to make it through each day. I didn’t laugh very often, I had an unfulfilling social life and my face broke out every other day. As it turns out, it’s also a lot more fun to walk around challenging myself to find a way to live in gratitude in spite of supposed evidence of the world’s imperfection. Maybe it is exactly as it is supposed to be and it is only my job to find a way to be in sync with the flow of everything else. I’ll never know.

So, for now, I’m going to continue to love the shit out of my favorite season.

Someday it will change and the trees will let go of the things that no longer serve them. But until then, you’ll catch me just peepin dem leaves.

I wholeheartedly invite you to join me.