Ash

Hello Friend,

I hope life has been treating you kindly lately.

I wish I could say my journey has been easy over the second half of October, but it’s been rough. As I keep saying to my friends, my sister, my counselor: “I’m okay, it has just been A LOT all at once.” I’m sure you’ve had moments like that in your life, too – maybe you are even in a situation like that now, where things just. keep. happening. over and over and over again one after another and yet another with barely a break to breathe and recenter.

When all you want is for things to pause for just a bit, just long enough to catch your breath, to rest, to recover. It sucks when it feels like the brakes have given out and we are frantically steering our way forward, trying to find the least dangerous and damaging way to slow to a stop. I’m trying to coast along right now, focusing on the good things I pass – the crisp autumn air, petting Gunny as he soaks up the sun, appealing to my inner child by wishing on the first star I see each night, and so on. These moments of happiness, of presence, of “in this moment, I am okay,” are serving as speed bumps, helping me slow down enough to figure out how to navigate the next curve in the path.

A little context on my personal path at the moment: my uncle passed from heart failure on October 16th but I didn’t receive the news until October 17th. My home’s electricity decided to add to the fun on October 19th. In doing repairs, we ended up with a full panel replacement, which also left us with a giant hole in the wall to be repaired separately and drywall dust throughout our entire downstairs. And I do mean EVERYWHERE. We are still working on cleaning it all up a week later. In looking at all the dust, I’ve been trying to think of the events of the past few weeks (uncle’s death, home repairs, my car bumper damaged in a hit and run, to name a few) as a sort of phoenix moment. If I can view these hard situations as the flames and ash arising from the death of the old me, maybe I can see this as a moment of rebirth, too. I can more easily see how I’m handling things better than the old me would have. I have been laughing more than crying. I can see how much I’ve grown in that this domino effect of bad news overlapping hasn’t shattered me. Sure, I’ve had plenty of moments of feeling overwhelmed, but they aren’t even lasting half the day and are rarely lasting more than an hour at a go – that’s a major improvement over past self. So if past self’s hardships led to me of today, who is coping far better than past me could even imagine, then I can see this as the moment when the phoenix dies and is reborn in flames. Sure, there’s a lot of ash to clean up (literally in the form of dust and metaphorically in terms of processing everything mentally and emotionally). And maybe cleaning doesn’t happen every day, maybe growth in this new version of me, after this current rebirth, is slow at first, but I’m still growing, still moving forward, still testing my wings over and over again. And maybe you can see your own hardships the same way, maybe you can see yourself as a phoenix, too.

When you have phoenix moments, too, moments of major change and shifting from an old you to the new, I hope you remember it is okay to mourn what used to be and what could have been as you settle in to what is. I hope you have support and comfort and people reminding you how much you are loved. I hope you have people reminding you to be gentle with yourself because change is hard and often painful. Most of all, I hope you know how strong you are and give yourself credit for how much you’ve grown and evolved from who you used to be.

Wishing you well today and always,

Katie

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