Two hands reaching out to touch across a divide

Wherever You Are Is Okay

It is my deepest hope that you and your loved ones are okay right now. My heart aches for all of the pain in the world, and I pray that we as a species, a human collective, make it out of these dark times sooner rather than later.

These are unbelievably challenging times, truly unbearable and heartbreaking for a great many people. Everyone, every single human, is struggling in some way right now, so I want to remind you that wherever you are is okay.

I don’t mean that the world is going to be okay, because I simply don’t know that. And I also don’t mean it’s okay that countless people are suffering right now, because that’s not okay either. We find ourselves in a very sad and scary time right now, and there is just no way around it. A global pandemic and its inevitable economic fallout is not something I expected to experience in my lifetime. And yet here we are.

So what do I mean when I say wherever you are is okay?

I mean that if you’re scared, it’s okay to be scared. Be scared, and know that you are in good company. It’s a scary time. And if you’re sad, be sad. It’s a sad time. And if you’re hopeful, believing that we just might be on the brink of a new world order, then be hopeful. The world could use more hope right now.

Whatever you are feeling is okay.

Personally, I’m toggling back and forth between sad-scared-hopeful multiple times each day. And I’m doing my best to make space for those feelings, so they can pass through. Sometimes I succeed in this, and sometimes I fail. And that’s okay too.

It’s okay if you are failing right now.

This post recently gave me a lot of comfort. My favorite line:

“This is what unexpected, uncontrollable suffering does to humans. Yes, it sucks horribly, but it also forces us to lighten up on each other and on ourselves. The bar is low, friends. Very low.”

When I saw this I thought, good on you. Good on you for embracing mediocre parenting right now, and doing your part to ease up the standards parents (especially women) hold themselves and each other to. Mediocrity is home for now. Amen.

How nice to have permission to be the mediocre version of myself that I am right now. I’m more distracted and less productive than usual. Of course I’m distracted. The news is devastating, people are checking in and scheduling catch ups more than ever, and I’m working from home with another human in a one bedroom apartment. I’m mediocre as heck right now, and I don’t even have kids.

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Virtually everyone I talk to lately seems ashamed of their lack of productivity working from home. And I’m no different. I was being horrible to myself earlier this week, basically telling myself I was a worthless human being because I’m struggling to produce right now. Forgive my French, but f*ck that.

Mediocre is the new normal. Put that on a t-shirt.

And it begs to be said that we have so much to be grateful for if our new normal is simply being less perfect than we constantly strive to be. The new normal for a great many people is far far worse. I don’t say this to provoke guilt, because lord knows we’re all feeling enough of that as it is. I say this simply to be real.

If my biggest problems right now are the piles of laundry or tumbleweeds of hair taking over my apartment, or the fact that I’ve probably gained a few pounds and neglected to wash my hair, then I have a lot to be grateful for.

So I’m relaxing my standards right now, and I hope you are too. 

I’m not as focused on eating clean, not quite as fixated on constantly trying to reduce the inflammation in my diet and therefore in my joints. This just doesn’t feel like as much of a priority to me at the moment. I’m still trying to work with the 80/20 rule, but the other night we ate a frozen pizza for dinner while watching Netflix, and I felt exactly zero remorse about it. I just don’t have it in me to do ALL THE THINGS right now. And that’s okay.

Speaking of Netflix, I’m probably watching a bit more tv than normal. Usually I don’t like us to eat in front of the tv, and we make an effort to “be grownups” and sit at the table and have a conversation over dinner as often as possible. But sometimes it feels good to just zone out and be distracted from reality right now, and I’m not beating myself up about that. We can still strive for adult meals and conversation when we feel up for it, but when we fall short, that’s okay.

* * *

I’m also not sticking to my schedule as much as I “should”, or being nearly as productive as I aspire to be. If I sleep a bit later, I still make sure to get my morning walk in, even if that means my workday starts late. Getting out for a walk in the morning keeps me sane, and right now I’m leaning hard into whatever keeps me sane.

Emphasis on the me here. This is what keeps me sane, the things that are helping me right now. That doesn’t mean they’ll work for you, or that I want you to add them to your list of “shoulds”. Our should lists are already long enough as it is.

I’m walking every day as soon as I wake up. It feels so good to be in my body and in nature and to breathe in all that fresh morning air. If things get much worse here, it’s possible I could lose this, so I’m soaking it up as much as possible while I can. I’m writing every morning. Not “productive” writing like this newsletter or other things I intend to share immediately. I’m writing to and for myself alone, getting my thoughts and feelings down and getting clarity at the start of each day.

I’m pulling a card each morning, and taking the opportunity to touch in with whatever wisdom I can access that way. I’m staying informed, but I’m keeping my news consumption to a minimum. Not before I walk, not before I eat breakfast, and not before I do my writing. It doesn’t serve anyone for me to start my days with a flood of anxiety and despair, it really doesn’t.

It occurs to me that this is essentially a spiritual practice. I am taking care of my spirit right now, because my internal landscape is the one thing I actually have control over. In truth, this is always the case, but that reality is impossible to ignore right now.

I’m also holding tight to inspiration. 

This interview with Glennon Doyle, a fierce and fantastic woman had me feeling all the feels and rushing to order her newest book and support her organization.

And Cheer, on Netflix. It’s easy to judge a sport that has its roots in women standing on the sidelines of male achievement, but these kids are true athletes, and this show is about grit and belonging more than anything else. It’s truly inspiring. So much so, it’s reminded me to nurture my own inner athlete. So I’ve been practicing Pilates at home lately (a lifetime first) and busting out the TRX, and it feels so good to touch in with my physical strength and take care of myself in that way.

* * *

Perhaps this is what this is all about. Taking care of ourselves. How can we take care of ourselves in this unprecedented time, for the sake of our selves, and also so we can take care of others in whatever ways are possible.

If you have any brilliant (or even just okay) ideas to help care for others right now, please comment and let me know!

So far my own efforts feel small: checking in with loved ones, ordering books online from my local bookstore instead of Amazon, donating a bit of money here and there, and ordering some food through my neighbor’s restaurant to help her stay afloat. I’m also making a point of looking strangers in the eye to say “hello” or “good morning” on my walks, even more than usual, because it feels important to create connection anywhere we can right now.

I’ve read a lot lately about how in times of crisis, leaders emerge, and while that’s great and inspiring, it also terrifies me because I don’t know yet quite how to step up, and that makes me feel like a failure. But when I let go of fear for a second and lean into trust, I feel certain that if I keep nurturing myself and my spirit, that the wisdom and strength required to step forward will emerge.

So for now, that’s what I intend to do.

Trust myself, care for myself, and care for others in the small ways I am able to. And when I inevitably fall short at any of these things, I hope I find the grace to remember that my own failures are okay too.

May you and your loved ones be safe and supported, now and always.