Today I’m writing, channeling really, the style and likes of author and poet, Ross Gay, who without hesitation fashions sentences as long as his arms (he’s lanky and his arms go on a bit) or as long as his legs (even longer).
I’m writing as him today, because I adore his writing and if you don’t mind, I want to be him for a little while, and besides, his “The Book of Delights” delights me, but also hopefully, given his personal propensity for delight, he might find it delightful that someone would go — not to the trouble of — but rather to the all-out-delight of attempting to imitate him. Which is, of course, impossible.
In a world where striving and improvement are often the order of the day, when positive thinking is the antidote for trouble you’re up against, there comes a moment to stop all of it, to be extra-tender with ourselves.
Maybe our wings are tired and we need a rest.
Maybe we need compassion.
The song “She Used To Be Mine” is full of compassion. It’s from the musical, “Waitress,” playing currently on Broadway at Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
This piece by Sara Bareilles (who wrote the score for the musical, “Waitress”) is a moment of slowing down, of confessing, of looking honestly at the state of things. She tells us how her world has unfolded, about what has happened vs. what she had hoped for, about her dreams, about where life stands.
Because of its tenderness, I submit this song as salve, as comfort for whatever you, or someone you know, might be facing. Sarah’s song is shelter for her own heart, but also for anyone who has experienced any part of her story.
In the words of Sara Bareilles, “She is all of this, mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie…”
Our days can be same-old, same-old. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine. We get up, shower, have coffee, drive to work, do our job, come home.
One day we get in the car, go for a drive and see where it takes us. We call someone we haven’t spoken to in years. We eat, drink — do everything — using our non-dominant hand.
Creative writing can also, as a process, be somewhat routine. We roll an idea onto paper, do research about the setting of the story and develop it. We coax our word family to be upstanding members of sentences and paragraphs, and call it a day.
I enjoy reading about someone who’s doing something I’m completely unqualified to do, or could ever imagine doing, to learn a thing or two that would benefit my life.
Here’s an example, and it’s happening currently on the game show Jeopardy. Do I watch Jeopardy? Nope, but I heard about it. Could I ever play Jeopardy? Not in a million years.
Contestant James Holzhauer, however, is on quite a winning streak. It’s possible that he has broken the game, nobody really knows. One thing is for sure — he seems unstoppable.
He’s efficient, too. At the time of this writing, his total winnings are over 1.6 million in 22 games and he’s still going. (Note: he’s on a two week break at the moment to allow for a regular Jeopardy competition.) For comparison, it took former record holder Ken Jennings 74 games to win $2.5 million.
What is it about Holzhauer that makes him so good at the game? Is it his knowledge? Is he fast on the buzzer? Or is his strategy what gives him the edge?
Of all those possibilities, what I”m most curious about is what he does that could help the rest of us.
I’m not a person prone to inviting friends to spontaneous dinners at my house. I’d like to be more of a “sure, come on over” kind of person, but in general, I’m not.
Because… any dinner, no matter how simple, seems to require some sort of more-special-than-usual food prep, cleaning the house, and straightening things up to look casually wonderful, as if my house looks that way all the time.
Which it doesn’t.
I must say I do love when the bed is made, when kitchen counters are spotless, when the throw is draped elegantly over the arm of the sofa. I love when the pillows look as if someone with an artist’s eye placed them as perfectly as the sun rises and sets.
In reality, I usually make the bed, but not always. I cook, and sometimes I clean up now, sometimes later. Jackson (my 11 lb. dog) loves to play with sofa pillows. When he’s feeling extra happy, he snuggles behind them and paws at them — sending them sideways at the very least, or better yet, flying to the floor. All of them. He’s thorough.
You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round And you can’t find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again And I’ll rise up High like the waves I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
When the silence isn’t quiet And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet And move mountains Bring it to its feet And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
All we need, all we need is hope And for that we have each other And for that we have each other And we will rise We will rise We’ll rise, oh, oh We’ll rise
I’ll rise up Rise like the day I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I will rise a thousand times again And we’ll rise up High like the waves We’ll rise up In spite of the ache We’ll rise up And we’ll do it a thousand times again
During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
Sometimes we ask intimate partners to do for us what is actually ours to do.
We ask our partner to give us the reassurance, love or appreciation we feel is missing in ourselves, with the hope that they will give us what we’re asking for—and then we’ll feel better. They’ll take care of our problem.
But when they do give us what we’re asking for, it can never be enough, because we have insufficient context for what they’ve given. We haven’t build the inner foundation to receive it, hear it, welcome it, believe it. They try to help, but their love for us falls into our void, our black hole, our love bucket with no bottom.
As always, there’s hope. Check out the video below.