The waves were higher in Condado than I’d expected. They didn’t appear powerful from the shore, but once I was waist-deep in the light blue water it became a constant game of jumping over or diving under. I held my nose but water still crept in, filling my mouth with the taste of brine and salt. The taste didn’t bother me — I love oysters and seaweed and other ocean foods — but the residual puffiness did. Once, I reacted too slowly and was knocked off my feet, tumbled against the rough bottom, sunglasses ripped away. Yet I stayed in the water, because it demanded my full presence.
I’m detoxing this week. My intention in this is to listen to the whispers. To learn to separate fear from intuition. To lean into what drives me. To wake up feeling strong and go to sleep feeling peaceful. I tend to get swept up in the moment — when everything is fun and flowing, I never want it to end. But that awesome flow isn’t in the indulgence — it’s in the energy, the company, and being able to be with myself. It’s in savoring each bite and sip and being fully present. It’s in being brave, knowing myself, leading with love, and trusting the process. It’s about listening.
You are not your past. You are not the things you said and didn't say, did and didn’t do, could have been and should have been. You are not your family, friends, circumstances, heartbreaks and triumphs, hidden shames and boasted joys.
You are this breath, this moment, this sensation. You are the drumming heartbeat, the air on your skin, the energy that flows into you and through you and out of you. You are love. You are whatever you let yourself be.
And when you find yourself getting snared in the gnarly darkness, heavy regrets, and scratching what-ifs, maybe just sit awhile and breathe in more of yourself.
I could spend the rest of my life trying to find the words to convey how I feel when I'm standing knee-deep in the ocean, diving under the waves, or floating on my back, held up by the salt water. Like everything makes sense and bliss and peace surround me. Like I'm feminine and powerful and could be swept away in a heartbeat. Like I'm part of something vast and beautiful that I don't really understand but don’t actually need to understand. Just honor and trust. I think this feeling is what it means to be a woman. I think this is what it means to be human.
And yes, you will pay too much for your handmade gnocchi that tastes like chewy butter in your mouth or your sourdough bread spread thick with avocado and sprinkled with pink himalayan sea salt. And yes, the husky banker at the bar will lean too close to you, unaware of elbows and shoulders until he decides he wants something. The West Village doesn’t care. It wants you to learn to savor, and learn to wait, and learn to push if needed. It wants you to say yes, thank you, more, to whatever the hell life is. And if you’re lucky, you’ll leave with a spark of a story.
This is a reminder to honor your suffering. Sit with it. Study it. Address it however feels right. Call a friend and be vulnerable. Write, scream, run, nap. Say “hell yes” to what serves you and “hell no” to what doesn’t. Seek professional help if needed, and don’t worry that what you say sounds stupid or selfish or disturbing. You are NOT the only one with demons. Everyone experiences suffering and there is absolutely no shame in it. By honoring our suffering, by understanding that we all share suffering, and by trusting that we deserve a beautiful life, we can heal ourselves and we can heal the world.
Beautiful places can bring up the worst pain. I learned this as we drove through Iceland, surrounded by some of the most stunning works of art earth is capable of producing. Lush green hills that stretched for miles turned into black jagged cliffs piercing the sky turned into endless rolling blue waves. The beauty seemed to make the choking darkness inside me all the more pronounced. As I looked out the car’s window, I took a deep breath in, holding the clean air until I no longer could. Then I let it go, imagining my pain coming out with the air and disappearing into the land and sea.
I started coughing after dinner. A dry, hacking cough that seemed completely pointless yet couldn’t be stopped. The little numbers on my inhaler read 000. Nothing left. “There’s a urgent care center nearby,” our host said. I was scared of this — I didn’t know anything about the Indonesian healthcare system. I was more scared of not breathing, so we walked down the dusty sidestreet. The building was filled with children holding gaze to cut arms and men slouched with glazed eyes. The host accompanied me to the counter. Five minutes later, I walked out holding an inhaler and ginger herbs. The trip cost me less than $6.
The trailer parks and signs for boiled peanuts and tufts of cotton visible every now and then brought up a strange nostalgia. Not for the intolerance or racism of course, but for the energy that the South had, of magic and faith, community and sadness. But then, a hand-painted sign on the side of the road read, “America was great before 2008!” and on the back “Hillary Clinton is lying if her lips are moving.” I groaned. We passed by another lot of dilapidated trailers with broken cars out front, surrounded by dirt fields and new growth forests. A block of shops, most of the windows boarded up.
The last time I saw myself in this mirror I was a senior in high school, self-absorbed, insecure, applying too much eyeliner. Getting ready to go somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, the thrill of rebelling combined with the resentment of not having the freedom I wanted. Meeting a boy. Smoking a cigarette. Staring into a bonfire, everything distant. It used to scare me, how detached I could become. How I could know myself one minute, and become a complete stranger to myself the next. Everything feeling like it would never change, like we’d be stuck in a bubble forever. Somehow life brought me back to this mirror.
I constantly feel like I’m shifting space, like time is flowing and paths are appearing and there are a million “maybes.” These days I’m much more cognizant of what aligns with me and what I want from life, but there’s still uncertainty and doubt. And fears — of failure, or worse, stagnation. So I’m being intentional – meditating on what I want to manifest in this life, thinking about what feels right and true to me, and determining what I need to do to make things happen. But above all I’m listening to my soul and to the universe, and trusting that what’s meant for me will be.
I pull energy from my surroundings. This was something that both exhilarated and exhausted me when I lived in NYC. There, I was constantly bombarded with competing energies and couldn’t help but absorb the good and bad. It happens here in Atlanta, but to a lesser degree. I’m grateful that I get to work from home because it allows me to focus my energy where I need it and not feel drained. On the flip side, I find myself feeling empty if I’m alone for too long. When this happens, I go to a coffee shop — being around people working, talking, dreaming, reading is the perfect remedy.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about being broken. The world doesn’t abandon you. You think you would be discarded, pushed aside for the pursuit of perfection, but this world doesn’t foster perfection. It fosters chaos, confusion, progress, and growth.
There’s an old Japanese art where broken pottery is repaired by filling the cracks with gold. This art form does not hide brokenness, it celebrates it. The breaks become a part of the object’s history and uniqueness, and make it stronger. Some collectors will smash valuable pieces of pottery so they could put them back together with gold.
They understand that brokenness is an opportunity for strength and beauty.
My meditations lately have been on shifting what I’m feeling. Negative emotions can be beautiful things that deserve to be sat with, but when we’re ready for them be gone, it’s helpful to have tools to make this happen. There’s no need to feel like sh*t if it’s not serving us in any way.
There’s a guided meditation on @InsightTimer — “I Choose My Inward Dwelling State.” It asks: What are you feeling? NOTICE it. What do you want to feel? SAY it. “I am happy.” “I am in alignment.” “I am brave.” Breathe the words in, hold them, and let them come true as you exhale.
"Do you think about things people said years ago?”my acupuncturist asked as she placed needles in my neck. I imagined the release like a warm flood. “Do you think about things you said, and beat yourself up about them?" She had unknowingly summarized my last therapy session. I nodded, unable to look up from the table’s donut hole. "That's an earth trait," she said. "You need to practice release. Some people like to write on paper and dissolve it in water. But not you. You need to burn things. You have a lot of fire in you. Don't be afraid to burn things that need to go."
“No, I just – got like hit with a bunch of emotions, or maybe not, because I actually didn’t feel anything, and then I fell against the wall and wasn’t able to stand back up for a while.” It sounded strange when I explained it. He came over and wrapped me tightly in his arms. We both knew now this was the best thing for him to do in these situations. Hold me, make me feel safe and loved, make me feel like I’m still part of this earth. I inhaled his musty, rich smell. Fresh deodorant and a sweet, underlying flavor that I could never quite name.
Sweaty shoulders and a dusky room. The day has been quiet, and its stillness melts into the evening.
My fingers spread wide on the mat, palms pressing down. I close my eyes. With each breath something opens and something softens. Something melts away. There are a few things in this world that make me feel connected, that lead me home. Yoga is one of them. The warmth of the room loosens me and I can breathe easier. For the first time today I notice the air coming in and out of me. It’s an easy cycle, going down into my belly and filling it, like a comforting meal.
I’m sitting at my dining room table, looking at the sun set over Atlanta. The dusty oranges and pinks and blue strike profoundly against the powerlines and graffitied walls. My hair is wet from the shower, my muscles are open from an intense workout, and I’m listening to music as I write. My loved ones are nearby and safe. We have dinner plans with friends tonight but right now everything is slow and delicious. I am so damn happy in this moment, and I’m letting myself completely feel that. I know this pure contentment won’t last long, but when it’s here, I want to completely melt into it.
I have an irrational fear of sharks. I grew up in landlocked towns in Georgia where there’s more wheat than water. My first adult home was Atlanta, with freshwater ponds and swimming pools. Then New York, a city surrounded by water but easily forgetting that it is. Speeding taxis, falling debris, food poisoning – those were legitimate fears in NYC, not large fish with teeth. As an adult, my childhood nightmares stopped, but the fear was still there, vague and shadowy. I finally realized it was never about the sharks. The real fear was the unexpected disaster. The real fear was how quickly we can get pulled under.
“You are beautiful,” said the Uber driver. “Thank you,” I replied and looked out the window into the night, my shoulders stiffening. I slipped my hand into my black leather purse decorated with palm trees, and at the bottom brushed against the nail file that doubles as a knife. As I palmed the cool metal, I felt safer but also sad. The driver seemed lonely, lost, sweet. Perhaps he was extending compassion, hoping to connect with another person. Perhaps he was a serial rapist. I couldn’t know, so I held the knife. Because I’m a woman, because I love myself, I can’t always be kind. And it sucks.