Tag Archives: fear

off to see the wizard

Painting of a log cabin in the woods, beech trees in the foreground; the house has a steep, peaked roof and stands up on chicken legsGood morning, good morning.

On my screen is Baba Yaga, going off on an adventure in her cup, hair flying wild, broom in hand. Her house stands up on chicken legs. It’s just right for this day that I’m getting for my own adventure.

This morning, though, I am sick and scared, and even though I’m exited, there’s part of me that just wants to stay home, not do something new, stay where I know, with what I love and what’s familiar and good, stay with my pup and the view of the water and the trees and the bay. It’s like a wall inside me, this fear, something stubborn and seemingly immovable.

It’s scary, going to new places, doing new things, trusting: so much trusting. Let that be ok, I try and remember to whisper to the inside parts. Let yourself be the person you are: worried, careful, wanting to take care. Let yourself take care. Scrub the places that are breaking out. Scrub the safe zones. Uncover what’s ready to be risked now.

When you run up against the wall, you have options. you can sing,you can bleed, you can pound, you can cry, you can try and climb. sometimes the wall feels like it’s going to be there forever, sometimes you can’t imagine yourself not sitting up against it every morning, every day, every night. sometimes you look up to watch the birds build their nests on top. Sometimes you turn back, walk away. You forget about climbing. This is and is not a metaphor. You know the walls I mean.

This morning as I was doing my stretches, waiting for the teakettle to boil, I stood in a dark room and looked out at the thick morning fog. The lights twinkled on, off, on again as the clouds moved over the city. Then I caught a glimpse of something behind me, froze inside, turned to look in spite of myself — but it wasn’t him. He wasn’t there. It’s just and old wall, a memory, a forgetfulness and a remembering, a fear. I watch for him sitting on the couch, waiting in the dark for me. He probably didn’t imagine, all those years ago in New Hampshire — when he sat in my apartment in the dark waiting for me to come back home — that, more than twenty years later now, I’d still catch glimpses of how afraid I was that day, glimpses of his ghost, his threats.

How to explain an old fear like this that lingers in the peripheral vision, that isn’t even him anymore, but some embedded bit in my psyche that says keep to what you know, don’t go out there galavanting. Stay here. Be where you’re supposed to be. Be what we know, what we’re familiar with. Be safe. Don’t risk, don’t change.

It would be interesting to pay a different kind of attention to this, to learn whether there are times that I’m more likely to see him sitting there in the dark, waiting for me. Times I am more afraid, times my psyche sends up more flares in the flavor, in the shape, of his shadow, his echo, there on the couch, waiting for me in the dark. it’s an old message: You have something to be afraid of. You aren’t safe. You should stay vigilant, you should not relax. When I come home at night, alone, and catch that fear, I have to check all the closets, slam open the shower curtain (quickly — so it startles him if he’s hiding there), turn on the lights in every room. Still, he’s not there. He’s not there, Jen. He’s not there.

And he wasn’t there this morning. It’s a presence in me, though.

Sometimes the wall seems like it’s still there, in the body, in the heart. sometimes it feels like a forever thing. The wall obstructing your view, obstructing the future, obstructing your possibilities. Other times the wall is gone, and you are free.

It has its uses, the wall. It can be a friend, if I let it. If I look into the fear and ask it what it wants to tell me, if I don’t just berate myself for being stupid and afraid, or steep into self pity. I don’t mean never doing any of these other things — but not only doing them. If I let myself notice that fear, hold it in my hands, maybe even comfort it, comfort the parts that are afraid, the me that is afraid, the me that wants what’s known, that is tired of risking. Why do we have to do the scary thing? it asks. Don’t you know our show is on, and there’s popcorn you can make, and we can pull the curtains and make a safe cave and be here all day until all the bad things go away outside?

I do know that, I tell it, me, her, that scared self, the old just wanting things to be ok. And another day we’re going to do that. But today we;’re going to get on an airplane and go to a new place.

She wants to stay home cuddled with the dog. I tell her the dog is gong to be with a good friend and is safe and in good hands and will get to play a lot and even have her ball in the house like she doesn’t get to do when we’re home. We know she’s going to be ok. We both still cry a little, though, me and that girl inside, the scared one.

Underneath the scared one is the adventurer, the fearless curiosity, the place that ignores the wall, or just sees it as something to get to figure out how to get over. Come on, it’s time to go, she says to us. She’s tired of our weeping. She has backpack, hiking shoes, a walking stick, her hair in long braids down her back. She has her hand out for me to take. She wants to go out with Baba Yaga. She’s not afraid of the chicken legs, and wants to know how the old mother can get that cup to fly.

So we’re doing something different today, all the old places and times and selves that live in me, all the trauma history and memory and the adventurous girl and the tomboy and the girl in the twirly skirt who just wanted to be pretty. We carry our fear with us and our curiosity, the thing that has kept us alive all these years (maybe both have kept us alive, and finding a balance between them) — what is going to come next? The old stories can help carry us through, if we let them, show us all the ways we know how to be safe, to survive, and to risk everything we have for change. We’re off to see the Wizard, with our brains and our heart and our courage and our home always with us, always already inside, and out there for us to discover, too, over and over again.

Thank you for the ways you are easy with the walls you’re still living with, and easy with yourself when they flare up before you. Thank you for the ways you let yourself move around them, over, through, and the ways you lean against them sometimes, too, resting your head against concrete or brick, tears on your cheeks. Thank you for all the ways you use to get over. Thank you for your words.

(A note! While I’m away I probably won’t blog much, but I’ve scheduled a handful of posts to share excepts from the book (coming next month!) — I’m excited to hear your thoughts.)

the fissures will crumble the wall someday

graffiti image of a young white girl in a pink dress frisking a male soldier (who has his hands up against the wall, his back to the girl)The fog has baked off already — it’s just a cottony grey rim along the coast. The birds have finally discovered the feeders I put out a couple of weeks ago, and they’re jockeying for position, seniority, the most seeds.

I watched the movie Spotlight this weekend with my sweetheart’s brother’s family. Her cousin was one of the members of the Spotlight team who investigated and finally brought the story of long-term church cover-up of abuse and pedophilia in the Boston diocese, by Cardinal Law and others. After it was over, my sweetheart said, “Do you think it’s still going on, that sort of covering-up?” Someone else asked another question immediately or made another comment and the conversation went in another direction. I’d sat there in silence for a moment after she asked anyway. I couldn’t imagine that she really believed that maybe it wasn’t just the same all over the world. My immediate answer would have been loud and definitive, maybe discomfortingly so, the way I can get: Of course it’s still going on–in the church, in private homes, in other places of worship, in just about any institution you can imagine in which adults have power over the bodies of others, adults are abusing that power and then pretending like they didn’t do anything wrong or calling the children crazy or engaging in wishful thinking when the children try to tell someone what’s been done to them, or acting like it’s their right to take whatever they want whenever they want, like, say, our troll-in-chief has a habit of doing.

But there was something else that got me thinking after the movie was over. There were people, those higher up at the Globe and those working for or still supporting the church, who were worried about interrupting the work of the church, worried about this story somehow breaking the church in the eyes of the people. But that didn’t happen. Not in Boston, where it was found that some hundreds of priests had been sexually abusing children throughout the city for decades while the church did nothing but move those priests around and try and keep the victims quiet (sometimes, like in the case of Cardinal Law, moving the offending protectors to the Vatican itself), not anywhere else around the world where the church has engaged in systematic despoiling of a community’s or parish’s children.  The church survives, continues with its “work.”

Back in the early 90s, I agonized about whether or not I should go to the authorities about what my stepfather had done to my sister and me. Should I go to the police? Will they even believe me? And what about all his patients? Won’t I be harming them if he’s not allowed to practice anymore? I had the idea that maybe the good he (ostensibly) was doing elsewhere should mean more than the harm he did at home. I was a good victim, and a good woman — I was more worried about the well-being of others, had been well-groomed not just by my stepfather but by a society that trains us to put the good of the many above the good of the few. Sure, we say, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves — but does that really have to undermine his message of equality and democracy??

We’re raised with this kind of cognitive dissonance. We are trained to worry about the well-being of the abusers. We are afraid that maybe something bad will happen to them if we tell about what they did to us. A good friend wrote about this recently — we needn’t worry. The abusers almost always land on their feet, often even in the house of what used to be the president.  No one has stopped watching Woody Allen movies, or Roman fucking Polanski. Feminists aplenty stood with, stand with, Bill Clinton. Plenty of people still go to the Catholic church, still listen to the music of James Brown, John Mayer, still read the books of …

I trail off here and my heart gets thick and watery and I lose track of what I want to say. Do I really mean to say that the abusers always win, so we shouldn’t feel bad for them? Even if we tell. Even if they get held “accountable.” It’s disheartening (um, to say the least) to know that, more often than not, people are going to stand with the abuser, or abusers. It’s the way we are raised as Americans, certainly.

But beyond that, maybe the message I want to hold this morning is that we ought to tell, early and often and loudly. Tell and tell and tell. The abuser is going to tell his(*) side, and plenty of people will stand with him, whether they believe in him or not.

I watch an ex of mine being lauded in a community he claims to have been participating in for nearly a decade (never mind that we were together for part of that time, and he never once went to any event or  gathering of theirs during that time) – he’s being raised up as a leader, turned to for spiritual guidance, given opportunities to lead others during times of great tenderness, fear, vulnerability. In the years since we split up, and of course while we were still together, I was afraid to tell about the difficulties in our relationship. I was ashamed of being under someone’s control the way I was with him, feared his response if he found that I had talked about him or us, and believed that others wouldn’t believe me if I told them what he was like in private or that they wouldn’t care. Just last year, after we’d been apart for more than four years, I shared a tiny piece of our relationship on Facebook after I read an interview in which he claimed that we’d broken up because I couldn’t support his transition to male. I’d been astonished to read this — his transition had had exactly nothing to do with why I finally left him. But even then, all those years later, I was afraid to tell my truth about him. That interview was in the SF Bay Times because he’d been chosen as a grand marshal for the Pride parade. What if someone saw what I wrote and asked him about what I’d said. What if it embarrassed him?!? I was still more worried about him than about myself. And I needn’t have worried. No one asked him about the little bit I shared on Facebook. Nothing stood in the way of him being celebrated as a community leader at the front of our pride parade. He’s doing just fine.

Of course, worry about the well-being of the ones who hurt us isn’t the only consideration when we think about telling our stories of trauma and abuse, but often it’s one piece of our fear. What if we laid that part down?

It’s going to take many, many of us telling, over and over again, for this system that is thousands of years old to begin to change fundamentally, foundationally. And in the meantime, maybe we don’t need to worry so much about the well-being of the people who harmed us. We can tell. We can tell ourselves in private, we can tell our notebooks, we can tell our therapists. We can tell friends, community members, we can write it in poems, into songs, into stories, into memoir, we can tell our own truths, we can tell the truth about our lives. Muriel Rukeyser said the world will split open if we do. I once thought she meant that literally, wanted it to be a literal breaking open, the world coming apart at the seams when women, when all survivors of abuse and trauma and violence and oppression, came forth with the realities of their lives. But it’s a smaller breaking apart — fissures in the facade we are meant to live within, the facade of white supremacy, of male supremacy. Enough little fissures and cracks can bring a wall down. Keep telling in all the many ways that you tell. It makes a difference — in our hearts and bodies, in the bodies of those who hold the truth with us, in the bodies of those yet to be born.


* (I’m using his here in the specific and the general — specifically to mean men, to mean male, understanding that the vast majority of abusers are male-gendered, and in the old way, when he was meant to stand in for all of humankind, understanding that abusers come in all genders.)

(nablopomo #14) writing the wolf

graffiti of a shorts-wearing Little Red Riding Hood, next to the words "Fear makes the wolf look bigger." In the image, Red is placing a spray-paint can back into her basket.Good morning good Monday morning. Here, things are just beginning — it feels like they’ve been churning for hours: thin dreams, half-waking, in all the worlds at once.

The nablopomo prompt for today is another from Ricki Lake: I was terrified to go on DWTS, but facing my fear and overcoming it has been an incredible experience. Have you faced fears and overcome them?

There’s another prompt that my friend Ellen offered me recently: What would you write on a piece of paper that you were going to burn immediately after writing?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about facing fears in writing, and fears of writing. What are the places I’m afraid to go in my writing, and how do I push into and through those edges, write anyway? There are pieces of my own story that I never write, never talk about, never engage. They sit, still, bulbous, inside me, and I’m afraid of what will happen when I attempt to find language for them. Will I be up to their tellings? Will I be able to find the right words? Will it be too overwhelming for me?

The more I live into those questions, the bigger the wolf gets for me — right? Whatever the task, the more I avoid that task, the scarier it looks. Always. And then, nearly every time, when I actually just let myself take it on and do it, I find that 1) I am capable and can handle it (or can ask someone to help me, who is willing to do so), and 2) that it wasn’t as bad as I’d built it up to be. Mostly right now I’m thinking about my taxes. But there’s also this little business about writing something that terrifies me.

What do we do with the writing that we both want and don’t want, with the stories that we need and that we don’t want to commit to the page? What happens with these stories that scare us?

Dorothy Allison talks about the importance of writing in/to our fear, that what we’re afraid of holds an awful lot of energy, and that energy will emerge on the page, will transmit to the reader, will bring the story alive. We have to be willing to go directly into what terrifies us.  That will bring us naked on the page. We can use that energy, the energy of our fear, to bring the writing vivid and alive for the reader.

We pay attention to what we’re afraid of, don’t we? I can tell you how my stepfather’s face looked when he was getting angry, when he was shifting from Fine to Fucked-Up. I remember the nuances of the dining room table, the one I stared at during the hours and hours we had to sit there and confess all of our psychological workings, every thought and imagining. I remember my sister’s face, I remember how the light was in the house, I remember the qualities of silence in each room around his voice, around each of our own, how the house, his house, seemed to swallow us, the way he wanted to. Those details, when I can get into them, are important — they allow the reader to be there with my narrator, exactly in the situation with her.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to writing that’s drawn closely from life. There’re fiction stories that scare us, too. What happens when you meet a telling, a character, who both draws you in and repels you? What happens when you let yourself all the way into her, anyway, even though you find her disturbing, even though you question what it means about you that you can imagine her so clearly? I think it can be useful not to analyze too much, but just to write it — don’t worry about where she comes from. We all have plenty of models of terrible behavior to draw from. Use your fear of her to show her vividly.

There’s power in the material we’re afraid of, and we can make it ours, we can take it back. All those stories that we’re afraid of, they’re ours now, just ours. I say write them, even if you need to tear out the pages after you’re done writing and shove them into the back of a drawer (I myself don’t advocate burning any writing, but I’m a packrat when it comes to writing — you do what you need to do.)

Is there a story you want to write that you’re afraid of? Pat Schneider gives this simple prompt: Write something that scares you. Take 10 minutes, go into it. Give me the qualities of light, expressions on faces, how the narrator felt in their body.  Keep to that time limit, whatever you set for yourself. Dive in, then come back out, and stop for today. You can come back to the story; there’s no need to push into overwhelm.

Then, after you write, do something excellent for yourself. Go to the ocean, get a coffee at your favorite cafe, call a friend and laugh. Celebrate your success.

You face your fears every morning — thank you for that. Thank you for the fears your writing names and shows, thank you for the ways you’ve taken that power back for your own use. Thank you for your words.

letting ourselves fly

spray painted graffiti of the word "Hero"Yesterday it was skunks. Today it was a fresh new tennis ball near the courts, just waiting for a ball-loving puppy to come upon it and pounce. What a good life.

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Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as having said, Do one thing every day that scares you. There are several things on my plate right now that I’ve been putting off for years, that terrify me (book proposals, grad school, growing the workshops, building relationship with family — you know, little things). How do you step up to positive action that scares you?

You probably remember, too, that bravery is defined as acting in spite of fear; that is, feeling fear and acting anyway. Bravery, heroism, isn’t about the absence of fear — but taking steps along with feeling that fear.

This is up for me a lot these days, and for many of my friends as well: doing what’s right, what we love, what we want to do, won’t always be comfortable or feel safe or good. Sometimes doing the best next thing, taking the best next step, doesn’t feel good at all. It’s scary, it’s laden with trigger points, it looks like I’m about to step off the ledge into nothingness.

(You know the next quote I’d include here; apparently I’m in a quote-y mood this morning. Yes, of course, Richard Bach:

“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have
And step into the darkness of the unknown
Believe that one of the two will happen to you
Either you’ll find something solid to stand on
Or you’ll be taught how to fly.”)

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Sometimes radical self care is about letting myself hibernate, letting the inside selves move away from the things that scare them. Sometimes, the best thing I can do to take care of myself is to be that fierce mama and push the babies up to the edge of the nest, push them over, thrill and mourn a little as they let the air lift up under their wings. You know we all have that fierce mama inside us. The mourning is about the loss, the change, how those parts will never be babyish again, never need to be fed — they’re headed off into the world. Change is both sad and glorious sometimes. What happens when we can feel it all?

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What’s the flight that you and or your character are resisting right now? Want to take 10 minutes to write that out today? Or write about a time that you were afraid and acted anyway. Dive into either the fear or the possibilities that could manifest after you/they take the leap — or both! What happens, in your writing, if you or they feel the fear and still take flight, still take action, do it anyway? Follow your writing wherever it seems to want to go.

Thank you for the times that you are brave enough to rest, to take time out, to quit pushing, and for the times that you are brave enough to reach out and step forward into something new and unknown. You keep on inspiring me. Thank you for your words.

let it wash through

graffiti of dog with wings, by the words "Orasul e al nostru" (Romanian for "the city is ours")

she says, "the city is ours!"

Good Monday morning to you! Right now, I’m in my living room, and just to my left, at my feet, is a 5-month old, hound-lab-mutt mix puppy called Sophie. We found her in the animal shelter up in Mendocino County (a great road trip for us, a less fun road trip for her) on Friday and brought her home to live with us on Saturday — today is our second full day together, this new pack of ours, momma & poppa & Sophie Star. She curls up into a small ball when she’s sleeping, then stretches out wide and long, and is a fireball of energy when she’s awake. She’s quick, smart, and has been making this huge change very easy on us.

What do I want to tell you? I’m exhausted from not sleeping, really, for two nights — there’s a new life in the house, one I’m responsible for now. What sounds will she make? How will she take to her crate? Will she let me know if she needs something? This morning she let me get up and do my morning pages before I opened her kennel and we went out for our walk, just as the sun was about to lighten the sky. It’s 6:42 now — I stayed in bed as long as I could, and got up at 4:23, listened to some tail-thumping coming from the crate, but no whining. We are learning how to be with each other, how to flow with each other’s movements, how to accommodate each other’s needs. Yesterday we went on 5 walks together — in the past, I could go days not taking one walk. The past is finished now. (That, of course, is a tautology, but still…)

And this is the other thing I want to talk about: how scared I am.  Sometimes it’s terrifying to get what you want. I’ve been wanting this–a dog in my life, this addition to our home–for several years. It’s been an ache, a place of real sorrow: I’ve always been a dog girl, checked out dog books from the elementary school library and fantasized about the dogs I would have. It’s been 7 years since I last lived with a dog, and so bringing a dog into the family was something the Mr. and I have talked about and planned for. Once we decided it was time, we moved fast, maybe too fast, but we moved, and now here we are: transformed. Transformation means change, means what was has to end, means growth. And you know: with growth come pains.

What was a quiet, two-of-us house now has another life filling it, watching herself in the mirrors, watching and following us. She requires lots of attention, attention we used to give to other things. For awhile, we won’t be just running out to the farmer’s market, the movies, a friend’s nighttime party — at least, not together. Will we lose each other in this? What will happen to the family that was? How do I learn everything I need to know? What if I’m not a good dog-mom?

And so I’ve been feeling the fear, let it wash through me, paying attention, talking back to it: Just because you’re scared doesn’t mean it’s not the right decision, Jen. Just because it’s work doesn’t mean you made a bad choice. Trusting our instincts is hard work, ever, isn’t it? And then here, in the moments where it looks like maybe everything is going wrong, it’s so easy to listen to the counter-instinctual voices, the ‘editors,’ the saboteurs, who don’t want us to trust our instincts: they don’t want us to have to stretch or risk or be scared.

Here’s the metaphor, for me, to take out into the larger work of life practice: just because I’m scared doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice. Isn’t this an ongoing re-membering during the process of relearning to trust our own instincts and judgments? This is a radical self-care thing: listening, paying attention, choosing, and then walking through the internal fire in the aftermath, the firestorm of questioning, of blame, shame and guilt. Keep listening, paying attention, recalibrating, moving forward — that’s the work.

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Anyway, I guess there are a couple of prompts for today; give yourself 15 or 20 minutes, and write about (for you or your character):

1) The first days at home with an animal you loved (what experiences, what smells, what change?), and/or

2) the fear that can arise after you welcome into your life something you’ve been wanting, waiting and working for — what do those fear voices sound like? What do they say? How do you respond?

Thanks for your ferocity in the face of those self-doubts, and the many ways that ferocity manifests. Thanks for your presence. Thanks for your words.

one thing everyday (again, again)

photo of a swimming pool taken through the windows above, looking down on the water and "8ft" marker on the side

time to jump in!

Happy Friday, all!  It’s kind of loud here in San Rafael today, comparatively at least — lots of truck or engine noise since about 5am, but can’t tell what’s going on. Why am I telling you this? I just like to share where I am.

Spent the first part of my writing time doing some journaling in the notebook, which feels good to have time for. I like the more organic, integrating kind of writing that I do in the notebook, with a pen. My horoscopes keep telling me to make time to integrate all that’s been happening (and, being a Pisces, it’s imperative that I pay attention to my horoscopes.)

It’s been a full, admin-y week here; what about for you? Are you ready for your weekend?

It’s a challenging thing, determining what weekend means when you’ve got your own business — or, at least, that’s true for me. I spend 8 hours a day, three days a week, at a day-job, and then I spend the rest of my time, hours before and after work at the day job, the other two days of the work week, and often, weekend time, too) focusing on writing ourselves whole. The workshops are always on my mind — I’m returning emails, making phone calls, dealing with money stuff, researching grants, prepping for workshops,  facilitating workshops, getting the word out about upcoiming workshops, and making lists of what else needs doing. So many of you know this already: when you’re starting a business/organization, you do all the jobs. You’re the admin person and the outreach person and the fund-raising/grants person and the programs person. All those jobs have to find their place in your time somewhere, and often that means in the evenings or weekends. The workshops become what I think about, almost all the time. In the back of my mind, continually, is a running list, this inside voice, asking: did I call that person back yet? did I return that inquiry? when’s the deadline for that proposal?  have I heard back from that organization yet?

It’s easy to get somewhat (!) overwhelmed. And so it is that my downtime can look really down, really quiet, really dis-engaged: some tv or a bad movie, time to spend some hours reading a novel, or even applesauce-making. These sorts of activities let my brain go quiet, let some other sorts of thinking happen, let new solutions and ideas bubble up and around without my trying to force them out or onto a list or into structure before they’re ready. Time when I’m not racing from one appointment to the next is so necessary — time to really slow down, time to break, integrate, even play.

What I’m grateful for is all the conversation now about self care, about making space for rest and rejuvenation, for integration and replenishment. When I don’t make that space for myself, I get manic, overwhelmed, and soon decide that the real next best ting for me to do is leave everything and go off to an isolated house on the coast of Mexico and just write and fish. Someday maybe that’ll be what I do — but I’d prefer to have it be intentional rather than an extreme reaction to being on people-overload and just needing some downtime.

The place where I still struggle is in the ways that I take care of my body. I don’t exercise enough, and so I make intentions about yoga or jogging or swimming, and then I get frantic (or realistic, depending) about money and/or time, and then I don’t sign up for classes and I don’t do what I know would be so good for my mental health: moving. this. body.

And so I make a commitment here to go swimming once next week. I can write to you next Friday and tell you how it was. (I’ve added a reminder on my Google calendar!)

Fresh! and I were talking last night about that wonderful encouragement from Eleanor Roosevelt, that we ought to do one thing every day that scares us. And Fresh! has been working with folks on a daily-practice coaching program, where folks get witness and regular coaching as they take on a new task, a new daily practice, or start doing regularly something that’s scared them. Joining a gym or taking a yoga or dance class or swimming: these things can be scary for me! As much as I know I will feel so good after, I get scared about doing the moves wrong or not being limber enough or looking bad in my swim suit or whatever other thing is fizzling against my desire and drive to try and put it out and keep me in my inertia.

One thing, everyday: I’ve used that phrase to continue to commit to and grow writing ourselves whole.  And I can use it, too, to continue to commit to and grow my own self care.

A prompt, of sorts: Is there something that really has been scaring you that you also really want to do or try? Could you give yourself about 10 minutes today to write about that?

Thank you for your writing, for the ways you’ll be kind to folks today, for being there.