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Life’s had a bit of an upheaval lately, for me.
From flooding basements to family drama. New health diagnoses. Loneliness. Fear over whether or not being completely banned and blocked from Facebook will end my career at Elephant Journal (it’s a crucial part of the job).
A lot has piled on the last couple of months.
Having been a single mother at a young age, I’m no stranger to hardship. In fact, I’ve experienced it since childhood. As both a child and an adult, I’ve been through poverty and job losses. Broken relationships, broken hearts, and family trauma. Health scares and death. But I’m not alone—we all go through these things. And worse…I know that comparatively, my woes are small potatoes.
And logically, I know that this too shall pass, that nothing lasts forever—both the good and the bad. Having that understanding makes it easier to weather this little storm of storms. In fact, I now gladly anticipate some of the harder changes more than I would have 20 years ago, because I know the outcome is almost never as scary as our imagination makes it out to be. And often, we look back and see what a blessing it really was.
The thing about being in the present moment, though, is that while it’s easy to stop and appreciate when life is good, it’s much harder to sit and appreciate what hurts.
I’ve gotten really good at that first part. Just today, I took a moment to appreciate that it’s a sunny, warm day after nothing but rain for weeks, and I am able to sit outside in my backyard to work. And that my kids are home and safe, the dog is snoring contentedly, and I get to putz around in my tiny garden later.
But the hard parts…I f*cking suck at those parts. I want to hide from them. Feeling bad feels bad, and who wants that? Better to distract ourselves, right? Anything but to feel whatever’s bubbling under the surface. Anything to avoid facing it.
Even though I know that sitting with our suffering makes it easier to go through, I still resist it.
Because I’m not so good at that, I’ve started to enlist a few tools to help myself. Meditation is one, and it’s a big one. Walking outside at dusk, another. Music, yet another. But not just any music. For me, personally, it’s often piano music that does it. Like this one from Yann Tiersen. Or, the odd time, some kind of 90s trance—“Children” by Robert Miles, anyone? Eh? Eh?
Thanks to the series, “Big Little Lies,” I’ve recently discovered another favorite composed by Sufjan Stevens. It’s only two minutes long, but that’s all you really need.
At first, I couldn’t figure out why, while listening, I found myself having a major emotional release. But then I realized how much I’d been avoiding all the stuff that’s been happening in my life lately. I’ve been holding it in my mind, my heart, and even in my body. It’s been under the surface for too long.
Obviously, listening to a two-minute clip—even a beautiful one like this—isn’t going to cure what ails any of us. But sometimes, it’s the pause we haven’t been giving ourselves, and that we desperately need.
May you find your own personal pause, too, if you didn’t realize you needed one.