“Some women fear the fire. Some women simply become it.” ~R.H. Sin
There’s something to be said for being able to sit in the middle of the storm and embrace it rather than fight it. The storms of our lives, as difficult as they may be, have powerful lessons to offer us. Sometimes we need to grow from them. Sometimes they help us to appreciate the bright skies. And sometimes they give us the ability to empathize and help others in new and needed ways.
I’m not suggesting that these storms happen for a reason. I think many storms come to us for no reason at all. That’s what makes them so gnarly to deal with. Storms are just part of life, part of our world, and eventually they find everyone whether we like it or not. I do think that we can make meaning from every storm, that we actually have to make them mean something in order to get through them and help one another.
We begin to create meaning once we stop fighting them and start embracing them, once we look them dead in the eye, wink, and resolve to get through them. We might end up a little battered and bruised, but we tell ourselves that we’ll survive. Then we get about the business of not only surviving, but thriving in their aftermath. I can’t wait to see you thrive.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at museums lately. Here is a collection of exhibits I’ve recently seen that are worth the visit:
The Met. Irving Penn: Centennial. Known popularly as a photographer for Vogue, Irving Penn also created incredible still-lifes and portraits that are prominently featured at The Met alongside his stunning fashion photography. The exhibit closes today so if you can get there, do!
New-York Historical Society. Eloise at the Museum. If you’re a children’s literature fan, I highly recommend taking in the adorable Eloise exhibit. Feisty and confident, Eloise is a hero for all of us and she gives us a glimpse into what it’s like to live at The Plaza.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan. America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far. For all of the talk in our media about Islam and Muslim culture, how much do we really understand it? This thoughtfully curated and approachable exhibit discusses architecture, travel, commerce, religion, food, art, and fashion in the Muslim world across the globe.
Museum of the Moving Image. The Jim Henson Exhibition. I am an enormous Muppet fan. Like many people, I count Jim Henson as an idol and inspiration. The Muppets provided my earliest thought that I could work behind-the-scenes in a theater. I’m heading over there this afternoon, and can’t wait to immerse myself in that colorful, hopeful world.
“How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too.” ~Unknown
Whether or not we believe in God or any kind of greater mover and shaker of the Universe, we can appreciate that the mountain, oceans, and galaxies are pretty damn marvelous. Just to share their existence, be in their presence, and appreciate their beauty is a wonder. And so are you. How fortunate we are to just be here, to be an integral part of something so miraculous. Let that idea of your own magical nature guide your weekend. See where it takes you.
“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” ~Timber Hawkeye
One day this week tapped into my prime stressors. I had a too-packed schedule, my blood sugar started dropping because I forgot to eat, subway delays abounded and made me late to my final meeting, and I had an unexpected discussion about my apartment building fire that threw me into some uncomfortable flashbacks. All of it was manageable, but together in a short span of time those stressors added up into a palpable storm.
As I stood in the subway on my way home, I closed my ways halfway, focused on my breath, and reminded myself that despite all of these circumstances, I was okay. I got through the schedule, I grabbed something to eat, everyone understands the subway issue, and I had survived the fire. Slowly the stress seeped away into the street below my feet as I made my way home. By the time I reached my apartment, I was back on solid ground.
Letting go of our troubles isn’t a one and done deal; it’s a continual process. Smiling helps. Breathing helps. Gratitude helps. Friends help. My dog helps. If you’re facing a storm now, of any proportion, give yourself a break. You’re doing the best that you can. Eventually, every storm breaks. You will go on. Believe.
Plant the seeds of your dreams and see what grows. Some of that growth is out of our control. Some of it has to do with our actions. Your way will find you if you continue to do your part. Show up. Work hard. Be kind. Let the Universe take care of the rest.
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl
This weekend, I decided I was going to spend this week doing two things:
I believe in the power of articulating our dreams. I believe that wondrous things can blossom from good intentions. I believe that commitment makes meaning. And…I think that belief is not enough. We have to work—diligently, consistently, and over a long period of time—to make our work work. Our magic isn’t separate and apart from our actions; action is the highway that magic rides upon. Without action, we’re just wishing and waiting. We can do better than that, for ourselves and for each other.
“We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea, and you don’t believe in miracles?” ~Anonymous
You already believe in the miracle that is this planet so why not believe in the miracle that is you? Your strength and ability to rise is infinite. Don’t shrink. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your light. Glow, and spread it around.
I talked to a neighbor this weekend and learned that she’s also a yogi. She’s had a rough couple of months. She’s working hard to clear out her life and restore peace. There are remedies for surviving a tough time.
Give it space.
Give it time.
Talk it out.
Walk it out.
Read it out.
Celebrate small victories.
Understand that this is all temporary. Everything. All there is, in the end, is change. The shifts won’t always be comfortable or quick, but let them happen. Something better is falling into place.
“It’s all messy: The hair. The bed. The words. The heart. Life…” ~William Leal
Sometimes this is how life feels—messy. We want everything in order, in place, fixed, neat, perfect. I get this in moments, but overall life seems to trend much more toward messy. It’s nature. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that there is a natural tendency of any isolated system to degenerate into a more disordered state. In other words, entropy naturally increases unless there are outside influences that restore or re-balance the system.
If we apply thermodynamics to our very illogical, emotional human lives, those outside influences are critical to prevent the systems of our lives from disintegrating. Friends, family members, passion projects, exercise, eating well, hobbies, art, books, spending time outside. All of these forces help to re-balance our messy lives. They help us restore some sense of order, peace, and equilibrium. Life will always tend to entropy. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help to put it back together. We can only fight entropy together.
My dear friend, Kelly, sent me an article about Alexandra Kenin, the Founder of Urban Hiker SF and Editor / Writer at WordSmithie. Urban Hiker SF is her side hustle and Wordsmithie is her full-time job. (She’s also a Penn alum, which of course I love!) The article is another example that we can piece together a meaningful life and career that encompasses all of our passions. It doesn’t have to be one-dimensional, and we don’t have to compromise our financial wellbeing to pursue our dreams. It’s just a matter of finding the right pieces that all hang together like one well-tuned masterpiece, and that’s what I’m trying to do.