Just Life

And | August 2020.

Our hydrangea has been sadly not covered with blooms this year. We planted it in 2018. There were at least a couple of blooms on it last year, and we’re not sure why it’s slow to bloom this year. So after reading Bonny’s post yesterday, this morning I checked on ours … and surprise! two blooms!

Which makes a really lovely segue to the One Little Word story I have for this month. I’m honestly glad to have a story this month.

For many reasons, August has been hard. sad. angry. withdrawn. lonely. hopeless. hard. I’m sure no more than y’all have felt (perhaps are constantly – or still –  feeling) these past months. When I’m in a healthy place, I deal with All That in constructive ways. I engage with others. I take action (I DO things). I spend time by myself that’s creative and constructive, and I re-charge. But this month, I just lost it. I didn’t feel like myself any more. I picked up The Road Back to You (the Enneagram intro book I read early last year) thinking maybe I’d just mis-typed myself. Maybe the strategies I’d been using to cope with things were just wrong. After a few days of healthy self-reflection, I realized no, I hadn’t mis-typed myself. Rather, I’d let All That take me to a very unhealthy place. And the things I was doing and feeling were completely normal (and yes!, unhealthy) responses for me. For you Enneagram folks, I am (still) a Type One and I’d let myself fall into the unhealthy side of a Type Four.

In a really good place, I could be “more self-accepting, spontaneous, fun, open to trying new things and being both/and rather than either/or … [I could] shift [my] attention from what’s wrong about the world to what’s good and right about it.” (The Road Back to You, p. 107, emphasis mine).

I read and re-read those words this past weekend. and yesterday morning I read this poem on Morgan Harper Nichols Instagram (the poem is actually ten frames long and I highly recommend reading all of it!)

then last night – and again this morning – I listened to her podcast about the poem.

The path forward is becoming clearer. I can disconnect from the negative voices. I can practice creative and constructive habits. I can DO things. I can be OK feeling many things at once. and I can open myself to surprises in a positive way (not always expecting the worst). Over the next month, I am going to seek out those good surprises. and I’m going to try to better about feeling the good and the bad (and all the other things) without letting all the feelings overwhelm me.

Maybe there’s a piece of this story that will help you, too. Thank you for giving me the space to share.

and thank you to Honoré for hosting our monthly meet-up!

14 Comments

  • Kat

    I think what helped me was listening to Michelle and Barack Obama on her first podcast episode. And then hearing them each individually during the DNC reinforced it. It is okay to be mad, mourning, upset, unsettled. We have never, ever lived through anything like this before. I too have found such solace in poetry and meditation. Sometimes that meditation is just quiet breathing, allowing my body and mind to settle to nothing but my breath. We each have to find the way through… and that won’t be the same for any of us. But sharing helps us all. Because there may be parts that help others.

    Thank you for sharing your space with your word this month. XO

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    Thank you for writing this! These last few months have been hard. It seems like many of us think we’re doing okay until we look back and realize that we weren’t. For me, the anxiety about the upcoming election is looming over everything. I’m glad you were able to find some direction the The Road Back to You. I’m going to look for that book — I’m a Type 4 and can get so easily overwhelmed, feel hurt, and act like an outcast. If you were feeling like an unhealthy 4, then we’ve been in a similar boat lately!! Here’s to righting our sails and sailing on!

  • Bonny

    I’m stupidly watching the news as I write this and the combination of Hurricane Laura, the RNC, and violence in WI has kept me in a hopeless mood. I don’t even think I can say I don’t feel like myself because I’ve felt this way for months. I can meditate, knit, and keep busy doing things, but the death, destruction, and ignorance remain. I may need to take a look at the enneagram, read more E.B. White, and more poetry. Thank you for sharing.

  • karen

    like you, I get negative and then have to scale back, for me it is Twitter and the fast paced news and the incredible nastiness that might ensue. I have been delightfully research art journaling on pinterest and it is JUST the medicine for me for now.

  • kym

    Oh, I am So There . . . right with you, Mary. Trying to find ways back to myself. Sometimes, I catch a glimpse. But “I” (the “me” that I know) seem to be a bit elusive these days. Thanks for sharing how you’re coping. I think we can all help each other if we keep sharing what we’re experiencing — and how we’re trying to recover ourSELVES.
    XOXO

  • Sarah

    I find it a constant struggle to stay on top of the news (because I think it’s so important to be informed) without letting all the bad news overwhelm me. Something I learned in my years of therapy is that one way to deal with the negative things or negative thoughts is to acknowledge them and then dismiss them. I realize that’s easier said than done, but it’s at least a habit to work on. In the long run, the goal is to take in the bad stuff more objectively and then move on.

  • Vera

    Yup, staying away from the negative is important. I keep informed (I think), but I do not watch the news (have not for decades now…and am much happier because of that). Also important to realize/understand/accept that there are things not in our control. We can be angry over them, but that does not change the fact that we have no control over them. The flip side is that there are things we can control. Understanding the two and acknowledging them is key, I believe.

  • Karen

    I think we all struggle with keeping a positive attitude during this incredibly difficult time. The violence, the divisiveness is so exhausting. We’re off to spend a week with my daughter and her family in the north woods on Wisconsin. It will require us to quarantine for two weeks when we return. We’re not worried for ourselves; we won’t see anyone but them, and don’t step inside a store while we’re there, BUT seeing those two grandchildren means I can’t see my granddaughters here for over a month. I’m so sad about that despite my anticipation of a “real vacation” on a lake. I must admit I’m tired of all the negotiations this pandemic requires.

  • eileen

    So many of us and frankly so many Americans are in this spot. I have a few good days, then a day or two of feeling like I am falling in a dark hole! I’m am anxious for my kids if Trump is not removed from office in this next election and will we all survive this Pandemic. What gives me hope is the younger generations, they encourage me that they can and will change America to a more Socially Justice country. Real change that will bring up those left behind to a level playing field. They see that fairness ‘for the least of us, we help all of us’.

  • Margene

    Finding a way to move forward and not take all that is happening personally and letting it eat me up inside. Not letting the news (at large) eat up my soul is very difficult. I do not know where true is and I can only stay connected the people and places in my immediate area. When I do that I feel grounded. I work towards staying in the now. This is now. I listen to my breath and I focus. One step forward. It feels right.

  • Jane

    This time feels so unsettled and you express it very well. One of my strategies is to just sit and acknowledge what I am feeling while I try not to sit in judgement. Often I journal about the moment. I have heard so many women talk about how some days they hum along and then have a day or so of feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and/or negative feelings. Two other things help me – getting out for a walk and creating/making something whether it’s a piece of writing or fiber work or something to eat. Take good care of yourself Mary.

  • karen

    my weekend was shelter away from news consumption (I did take a peek though) and overall I was happier for it. I can only control so much in the world and I can also control my inner happiness better. These have been trying times…

  • Michelle GD

    there’s so much wisdom (and peace) in living both/and. it’s not always easy to do, but healthier and gentler in the long run. I’m so glad you’re feeling some clarity (and have started some knitting! 😉
    xo

  • Alexa

    I have feel heartened to read that I am not the only one who has struggled in August. – thank-you for your candour and thoughtfulness … I came across this book which is out later this month and thought of you, because it very much embraces ‘both/and’: JR Briggs “The Sacred Overlap”. Sending warm thanks for a lovely post and good wishes …