A Year of Healing & A Year of Joy

Photo of a page from Shamari K. Reid's Humans who Teach that says "We must take care of ourselves, as we cannot be replaced."

If you have not read Shamari Reid’s Humans who Teach, I cannot recommend it more highly.

AERA 2024 owes me truly nothing. [Note for non-education professor friends/readers: AERA is the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. It is the largest professional organization of educational researchers in the country and the conference this year drew over 15,000 registered participants]

I came into AERA 2024 exhausted. As those of you who follow this blog know, it has been a long period of transition for me. In this transition, as I do, I have been in the practice of prioritizing the needs of everyone and everything over my own. After two major scares in the fall (one involving a loss of consciousness and a fall, and the other involving a car accident with my daughter in the car) which thankfully didn’t result in serious physical injury, I knew that things had to change, but getting off the hamster wheel is hard. And I am human. Very fully human.

So, I was not actually looking forward to being in 7 sessions and a committee meeting as part of this conference. I was beyond tired. I had prepared my sessions, which actually reminded me how much I love the research side of what I do, but I was not necessarily excited about them. I was stressed. Years past had me in my head about prospective lack of attendance. Imposter syndrome reared its ugly head and I wondered why I always do too much.

But, the conference ended up being so different from what I had thought it would be.

From the time I arrived at the airport this year, AERA was about community and reconnecting with the best parts of this academic endeavor and (some of) the very best people in my academic (professional and personal) circles. At the airport and boarding the plane, I saw many friends heading to AERA. I got to connect with them on the flight, at the airport after we landed, then saw colleague-friends for meals, coffee, drinks, in the hallways, business meetings and sessions. My heart was so filled with the joy of reconnection.

My sessions were beautiful and, for the most part, very well-attended. I learned so much from my co-presenters, got good feedback from discussants and appreciated the deep engagement from audience members. By the Sunday of the conference (when they were slightly less well-attended), I realized that the number of people in the room wasn’t important, what was important was WHO was in the room, and that exactly the right people would be in the room whether there were 2 of them or 50 of them or 100+ of them. I connected with so many emergent scholars who spoke about the impact of my research on their scholarship and on them, as humans. My heart was so filled with the joy of scholarship, the joy of new connections, and the joy of possible futures.

During AERA, I was challenged with the both/and of counter narratives or counterstories that challenge stereotypes and dominant narratives existing alongside our rights to tell our own stories and have them stand on their own. I was reminded over and over again about the importance of joy, of centering joy, not in a way that refuses to consider the very real challenges to our ways of being, livelihood, and lives, but in ways that reclaim our right to all of these things. I was reminded that my work matters, but that more than anything, I matter, and I’m not replaceable to those who truly love me.

On the plane ride home, I read Shamari Reid’s Humans who Teach which came at the exact perfect moment for me. Shamari is someone I consider both a friend and an academic sibling. His work on humanizing teaching is deeply aligned with my own views about how to make teaching sustainable and joyful as a profession. Also, Shamari walks the talk, and he stands for me and my well-being. For all these things, I am so grateful.

As I read and began what I know will be an ongoing work of healing and letting go of A LOT of perfectionist standards and harmful ways of being, I truly began to feel the words he himself has said to me for several years, that I am love and I am loved and I deserve to be loved right where I am and regardless of what I do. That being alive is enough. That I am enough. Also that love is about nurturing, that yes, love requires sacrifice, but also that at its core, love supports our physical, emotional and spiritual development, and that it starts with self-regard. Yes to all of this.

I am writing this as a commitment to bring myself back to my humanity, in its fullness, as a means of accountability. My humanity is as much my joy as it is my struggle. My humanity is as much my struggle as it is my success. It is all of this, and….

This will be a year of pacing, a year of intention, a year of joy, a year of healing, a year of learning and unlearning, a year of deep self-regard.

And as is human, I am afraid of much of this, but I am also ready to move forward trusting that I am surrounded by love, if I would only accept my full humanity and honor the full humanity of those around me.


Photo of a boat on water in the evening with dark clouds around it

I am hanging in there, Friends.

As I move through this period of transition for myself and my family, I am so present to the immense privilege of my life.

I do what I love.

I am deeply loved and held by family and community.

I am safe. I no longer have to worry about physical or emotional survival.

These are things that are absolute gifts that I don’t take for granted.

But it is hard to exist with an extremely open heart in a world where there are so many that don’t have these things, for whom basic survival seems tenuous, opportunities to be seen and feel loved seems far away, and opportunities to live in ways that are their best expressions of themselves (even within unjust systems and institutions) feel completely unrealistic.

So I am working on being with these contradictions in the midst of transition, to never take for granted that I am extremely blessed, sharing those blessings generously with others, and also recognizing that there are so many that don’t have these things, that the arc of justice is long and requires committed, intentional action.

I am often very tired these days, Friends, often sprinting the internal marathon between my head and my heart multiple times a day.

Thank you for those who offer water and rest, for those taking things off my plate when I’m not even sure what to give you, for those who continue to honor my spirit and my heart.

I want to let you all know that I am fine, as fine as one can be in this world in which we live, a world that is not meant for the fully human and tender hearted. I am continually moving towards greater wellness, but this is not a marathon I can sprint, it is one that requires slowing down and intentional steps forward, with occasional steps back.

Thank you for being my lifeboats, for coming alongside to pick me up from the water when I feel like I’m drowning. I know I will never be alone because you are with me.

I love you and am grateful for your care always.

It’s Not You…But Actually It Kinda Is (Breaking Up with X)

Photo of my Twitter profile bio

I remember when I first joined Twitter.

It was late 2012 and I was attending the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference in Las Vegas. Meenoo Rami had a pop-up booth where they were demonstrating uses of Twitter in the English classroom. I had just transitioned from the secondary teaching world into academia and although I was hesitant to try Twitter (mostly because I didn’t like the idea of character limits!), I thought I’d hop on.

In my early years with Twitter, I began exploring it as a public pedagogical tool. I loved engaging in Twitter chats which felt like a powerful way to build professional community. It was a way to extend our classroom space into a more public forum and to share my practice beyond the walls of my university. I began to build a professional network and was able to introduce teacher candidates to a tool that could be potentially helpful for them to connect with others and avoid the isolation of early teaching, as well as find professional resources.

Somewhere along the way, I found deep connections on Twitter. Parasocial relationships on social media are an entire field of study, one that I’m not an expert in (although it is one that, as part of a far too ambitious adjacent research agenda, I’d love to delve more into), but I am an expert in my own need for community and to connect in ways that feel meaningful. The idea of meaningfulness and the sense of proximity in relationships varies by context, but for many years, on Twitter, I was able to connect across distance and close to home with many people (particularly educators) who deeply resonated with my humanity. In a very strange way and world, Twitter felt like a third space home where I could share things like this blog — a personal-professional mix where I didn’t have to think so much, but could just be.

During the pandemic, when in-person social interaction was not really possible, Twitter became a lifeline. It also felt like an important time to be on Twitter, to stay informed about movements for racial justice and events that might forward such movements powerfully. When, during the extended social distancing and continued isolation period of COVID-19, my sister and her mother were in Yangon for the 2021 coup, and facing imminent danger, Twitter showed up in force, to support us and to bring attention to the Burmese people, allowing for my sister to eventually come to the United States.

Twitter also allowed me to conduct and share research that extended beyond my own networks and beyond traditional academic journal articles. As someone who has always thought research and teaching should be more connected and informed by one another, it has been a gift not only to be able to be in contact with a variety of educators who have been generous in participating in my research studies, but also to share preliminary and developed results of my research in a way that supports access.

Twitter was an incredibly special place for me. It was a place where I didn’t have to create a forced separation between the personal and professional. I felt, for a long time, safe enough to just be myself in front of whoever cared to listen, to work through ideas, and to say what I thought. Because, as a person, an educator, and a scholar, the lines between personal and professional often blur, it seemed like the “just right fit” for a professional social networking space.

Twitter doesn’t feel like a safe space anymore. It doesn’t feel like a just right home anymore. It doesn’t feel like community. Although many people I love and feel deep affinity towards are continuing to post on Twitter, we often feel like passing ships in the night. Twitter makes me feel more tired than joyful and I am thinking too much about what I post and who will see it.

So, it’s time to break up, or at least to get some distance, as I figure out if and how to construct a new virtual home space.

I’m moving most of my professional posts to Linked In, although I will be less likely to share blogs there. Linked In has always felt a bit too professional (or perhaps formal) for the personal and doesn’t have the same space for engagement and vulnerability. Facebook will still be my predominant personal social media tool although I tend to shy away from “friends” I haven’t met in real life. I’ll still occasionally come back to Twitter to say hi and post some professional updates and even an occasional random thought, just much, much less.

This is a hard transition for me, but it is a period of transitions, and I am grateful to be choosing to walk away instead of feeling pushed out of this space. I am grateful for many things this space has afforded me, only a fraction of which I’ve talked about here. But mostly, in this moment, I am grateful for one less thing to balance in the midst of a time of much transition.

Thanks to all of my tweeps for the beautiful memories and interactions. I will long cherish you, and them, and what this space has been for me.

Abundance & Overwhelm

Photo of a blossoming tree outside the two story education building (ED2) on the CSULB campus

When a lot feels like too much, I simultaneously go into hiding and overdrive.

As winter moves towards spring and hibernating grief shifts towards swiftly moving productivity, I go from quietly hiding out to perpetually in motion.

A frozen state of liminality is beginning to thaw as more and more is pulling me towards my new life, pulling our family towards a new life.

In a big thaw, the flow of the run-off can be so sudden and unexpected that it sweeps you off your feet, even if/when you know it’s coming.

Perhaps, I should grab for something to slow me down but I feel like the current is carrying me far too fast to reach out for something to hold on to. Everything is rushing by so quickly and I don’t have time to be where I’m at, even though I’ve tried to take so much care to proceed with intentionality.

The beauty of spring is coming and I want to be present for it.

But, I am so tired.

Perhaps, instead of fighting the current, I should go with the flow, allowing what passes by to go even as I wish I could slow down time.

I have never been good at letting life carry me, at not feeling completely in control.

But, I am so tired.

There is so much out of my control and I can no longer delude myself into a semblance of control over most of it.

Sometimes I find myself even at a loss for words.

So, perhaps in this moment, there is simply surrender to what is, a return to moment by moment, an acceptance of just good enough, an acknowledgment of abundance (with gratitude), an equal recognition of overwhelm (with humility), a desire for rest, and a longing for authentic connection that comes from just being, in my full humanity.

Mothering Moments

My son standing at a green chalkboard with a black face mask, holding a piece of chalk

February is an emotional month.

This February, particularly, it has been a metaphorical roller coaster, because of an actual roller coaster (model that my son and his physics group had to design for his physics class) and because, well my son turns 18 today.

I birthed an adult.

This morning, I shed some tears when I thought about this morning 18 years ago, waking up with light contractions. I would go to a local Indian restaurant with my sister in law for lunch, and she would urge me to eat as much as I could since this was likely to be my last meal before the baby came. We were stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital where they were not sure they should admit me because I wasn’t “that far along,” but did because I lived 30 minutes away, “just in case.” Less than 2-hours later, when they came to check on me, my son was imminently on his way. They rushed to call my OB/GYN who had been finishing up a leisurely dinner, sure that I wouldn’t deliver any time soon. He arrived just as I was pushing, in time to cut the umbilical cord and hand me a little boy that was half of me genetically, but held my whole heart.

I can’t fully describe how much I cherish my son. His early years were some of the very hardest of my life, when I was struggling with severe health issues that nearly killed me while also completing a doctorate and going on the job market. He was with me during the most exhausting parts of the tenure process, and sacrificed a lot throughout his K-12 schooling, switching elementary schools 4 times (because of moves and fit) and still never feeling like he quite belonged, even when he found stability in his 7-12 grade secondary school. While he considers himself pretty lucky to have had the life and family he has, things haven’t always been easy. There have been moments where he’s felt lost, including many where he’s felt alone and questioned his decisions, wondering if he’ll ever find his people outside his family.

This hurts my heart because he still holds so much of it.

Today, he turns 18.

We are waiting on college admissions decisions and anticipating the many transitions adulthood will bring.

He is irritated about the many, intense projects in his physics class, one which culminates today, only to shift focus to another due in 4 weeks.

I am irritated because sometimes I can feel his irritation, but I can’t force him to talk about it, and so I can’t help him through it.

We are exhausted from late nights and uncertainty, which neither of us likes, from things we can’t control and things we perhaps should have done better.

We are human.

In the journey of the last 18 years, perhaps no one has helped me to grow in my own humanity, humility and imperfections as much as my son. Few people have shown me as much unconditional love, grace and understanding as he has. He reminds me to care for myself and that I’m doing a good job as much as I remind him of the same.

I love my son with my whole heart.

What a gift to be his mother.

What a gift to journey together.

What a gift to receive his love and grace.

I hope the next 18 years bring all the joy and belonging that he so richly deserves, beyond that which he has in our family, as he moves out into a wider world, and that we continue to journey through those years together.

Legacies of love

Photograph from the bottom of a canyon looking up with a tall tree in the center

29 years ago, my mother died unexpectedly in a car accident.

A year ago, I was interviewing for a job that would be a significant turning point in my academic career and bring enormous change to my personal life.

Although the moments where I can recollect my mother’s physical touch and even her voice become scarcer and scarcer over time, my proximity to her and her guidance to me is as strong now as it has ever been.

There have been so many benchmarks that I wish my mother could have been physically present for:

  • My high school, undergraduate, and doctoral graduation ceremonies
  • My marriage
  • The birth of each of my children
  • The start of each of my professional careers (middle school & university teaching) and positions along with the moves that accompanied several of them

Yet, as I reflect, I know that my mother has always been with me in these moments, that I have been even more aware of her presence through her absence, that she has been guiding me through the choices I’ve made (including the many mistakes along the way). Through her loss, I feel the depth of her love; I’ve come to understand the strength in her sacrifices; and I’ve arrived at a place where I feel that my healing is a healing that spans generations and brings the best of her into the lives of my children, even though they will never meet in person.

Somehow, although to my knowledge, my mother never set foot in Seattle, I feel closer to her when I am on Coast Salish lands. Perhaps it is because of the deep relationships that local indigenous tribal communities have with both the lands and their ancestors. Or perhaps it is because I somehow feel she guided me to this part of my journey, reconciling with a place that caused a rift between us before she passed. Perhaps it is because I am healing and choosing what to bring through the present transition to this new place.

This week, through work with my therapist, I realized that I’ve been holding on to guilt, particularly in relation to my mom — survivor guilt, mainly, but, in many ways also, guilt for many privileges that feel undeserved and guilt for never being able to give back to her when she gave so much for me to be where I am today.

It is a process in letting that guilt go, in embracing that what she would have wanted was for me to live my best life, and in fact, that this was, in her heart, much of what drove her. I understand this, as I feel these same emotions towards my own children.

For perhaps all of these reasons, unlike many years in the past, today, I feel a certain peace, or, at the least, a movement towards peace. It is a peace punctuated with sadness and loss, but overwhelmingly filled with love and gratitude.

That is my mother’s legacy, not one of loss, but one of deep love that I’ve tried in all ways to pay forward to those in my life.

I will never not acutely miss my mother or wish she were here with me physically. But today, I feel her near me, more than ever, reminding me that I am stronger than I think, than the world might think I am, that I carry wisdom of generations, and that I will weather the seasons and transitions ahead.

She is in my heart, and the legacies of love she (and her mother) have passed down to me are as alive today as they have ever been.


Photograph through trees of a body of water and a mountain

I am in a long period of transition.

It is extremely taxing and exhausting.

I think this is because this transition is transformational, pushing myself beyond who I know myself to be, which in turn forces me to reckon with all that I have been.

In that “all I have been” space are many moments that are hard. It is these moments which seem at the forefront of my mind as I leave old spaces, move into new spaces, and find myself wandering across spaces that are both strangely familiar and unfamiliar.

It is all around disorienting.

I know I am not alone, both in that I’m not the only one going through extended transitions, and that I am grounded in communities through all the spaces.

Yet, sometimes, it feels so very lonely.

A year ago, I was preparing for a job interview that would change the course of my academic trajectory, that would set in motion this transition in which I currently find myself. I was preparing for an interview which was to take place partially on the hardest day of the year for me, the anniversary of my mother’s death.

While I know the ancestral wisdom, the deep values, and the sheer will of my mother, and her mother before her, always guide me and are always with me, as the anniversary of her transition comes again this year, I am acutely aware that I am moving away from her again, at least the physical space where her ashes lie. It feels unsettling even as I know it is what she would have wanted for me.

Transitioning from one space to another has always been closely connected to loss.

What do I take with me from all I have been here? What do I leave behind?

Who will come with me and continue to walk alongside me? To whom will I say goodbye?

This transition is my choice, but many of the questions and feelings remain the same.

Dear ones in my life remind me to give myself the space and grace of this time, but it is hard to remember in a world that rarely slows down, when there are so many things to do.

I worry that even if I give myself grace, others will see it as an excuse, an unearned respite from carrying burdens which have been with me (often hidden carefully) for so long. I worry that something urgent will arise and I will forget. I worry that time will continue to slip by, an elusive record of all that is left undone. I worry that the things I do will still not be enough, that I will not be enough. It is the “all I have been” and all I am becoming merged in the present.

I am tired.

When I am tired, I need to stop. I need to reflect. That is why I created this space.

Yet, in these moments I am mostly likely to run away, even from myself, to the silent judgment within me that makes me feel acutely alone.

I am breathing. I am grateful to come back to myself. And yet, I am also only here in moments, struggling to find my footing while keeping on a path that keeps moving without me.

It is all what is.

It is transition.

A long period of transition.

Moving with Intention

2023 has been a year.

I suppose that every year is a year, and this year may actually have felt closer to many years, but I mean that it has been a very full year with much rapid movement despite a beginning steeped in stillness.

Coming into 2023, I had a feeling that it would be a year of growth and change. I felt a shift in energy as I entered the year that was preparing me for a “what’s next” which ended up being a large personal and professional move, a move that will officially begin tomorrow, on the first day of 2024.

I entered 2023 on a social media pause. It’s interesting to me that my natural winter state is one of retreat, of time to collect myself away from public access, of drawing close to those who are nearest and dearest to me. I also spent a big part of the first quarter of 2023 grieving, reflecting on mental health, wellness, and trying to find a balance between overwhelm and balance.

In April, as I entered the second quarter of year, I made the big announcement about my professional move to the University of Washington (Seattle), a position which will begin tomorrow. It was an incredibly busy month where I was doing way too much and not making a lot of space for my heart. In May, as the academic year wound down, I realized the need for space and made commitments to embracing my own humanity. They were beautiful commitments, many of which I have held to in the several months since even while I haven’t been present to them consciously. I am grateful to my May self for guiding the rest of this year.

The summer was a beautiful season of embracing presence in the midst of transition, receiving affirmation and acknowledgment in the world, and realizing a vision months and years in the making. It was a time of completion as I left my interim department chair role for my final semester as CSULB faculty, and a time of new possibilities, as we toured several campuses with my son in preparation for college application season.

As summer moved into fall semester, the reality of transitions began to set in slowly. It was a particularly challenging semester, for many reasons. Personally, there was a lot to hold in the courses I was teaching, and my son struggled for the first time in a course where my interventions couldn’t do much.  It was also a time of too much, where all that I was holding began to spill out from my arms. I had a health scare and an accident this fall, with the latter taking away a lot of my sense of independence. Things I had worked extremely hard on began to unravel. The world also felt like it was unraveling, painfully, before our eyes. It still feels like this, particularly in Palestine. At many moments, I also began to unravel, feeling unmoored, untethered, in a time where I desperately just needed to hold on to something.

It is the winter again. I find myself at the dawn of a new day, when still so much of the pain of the world continues without pause. I know I cannot hold it all, but I feel stronger in my resolve to hold onto myself when there is nothing else to hold on to. I know that if I am here, I can stand up, show up, and use my voice to advocate for a better world for those facing so much injustice, violence, and loss.

This year, I hope to move with more intentionality, more slowly and deliberately, with more kindness to myself that allows me to listen to, understand, and have the energy to move authentically in solidarity with others. I hope to forgive my imperfections and truly live them as places of growth; I hope to honor the calling of my heart and body and trust myself as I walk always towards greater good in the world around me. I hope to do less, but to do what is done whole-heartedly, and always, in love.

Closing a Chapter: Final Reflection for the Fall 2023 Semester

Picture of a violet screen with the words "Please Wait" in white letters

It is the end of the fall semester.

As has been my tradition every semester that I teach, since the beginning of my academic career, that means it is time for a final reflection.

This final reflection, however, feels both similar and very different from previous final reflections.

It is similar in that I am finding myself ready for a break after a long semester and in that I am feeling so proud of how far the students I’ve had the privilege to work with have come in this semester.

It has been a particularly hard semester in terms of teaching, as I took on a new prep which I assumed would not be a particularly hard lift in terms of content knowledge (which it wasn’t) but that I didn’t realize would be extremely time intensive.

This semester, I taught the second semester of an action research seminar during which I was ostensibly supposed to guide the two cohorts of Masters students I was working with through a systematic inquiry into their own practice which they had set up in the spring. However, for many reasons beyond my control and that of the students, the course and the semester were not as simple as it might have appeared on paper. Our work required many hours of learning, unlearning, and close collaboration with the wonderful working professionals in the course. It was extremely fulfilling, particularly as they shared the impact of the process of action research for them, and as they shared their “products” and findings of their action research with one another.

When I say this final reflection is different, I suppose it is to be expected. This semester was the beginning of a transition which only now feels very real. I chose to stay for the fall semester at my current institution to support the transition of our new external department chair (a role I took on for an interim year last year as we conducted a search for a chair) into the institution and role, and to more actively support the doctoral student I’m working with. Although I was primarily still in my current institution, I began to lay the foundations for my transition to my next institution where I will begin in the new year.

I am grateful to be able to have had one more semester in a community that I love deeply, but transitions are hard, and given the multiple state, national, personal, and professional commitments I have and had this semester, this transition particularly was a lot, at times too much, for me, particularly in a time in the world when so many are suffering. As I tried to power through things, it was clear my brain, my body, God/ the universe were not okay with me continuing to pretend that I had no limits.

I am grateful to have survived.

I am grateful to have been given multiple chances to choose differently as I move to this new role.

I am grateful for the grace, kindness, and generosity of those in my community who love me deeply.

My university “clearance,” the process of check-out and transition, has officially begun. I am cleaning out my office which (strangely) never felt fully like mine, even after more than 10 years. Next week, I will return my keys and technology. I’ll keep my e-mail (for a year) and many of my friendships (for a lifetime, I hope), but in many ways, it feels like my time at CSULB will be quickly erased and soon it will be as if I wasn’t ever there. It is humbling to have given so much to an institution, to a place, and to feel like when it is over, things will go on, in many ways, as if I hadn’t ever been there.

I know this is not fully true, and that there will be parts of the work I’ve contributed to that will endure long after I am gone. But I also am feeling acutely the ways in which institutions cannot love you back.

And it is strangely okay.

Because as much as institutions cannot love you back, people can, if you invest deeply in them.

My time at CSULB’s College of Education has been an incredible blessing to me. I will be forever grateful that the search committee and dean that brought me into the university saw who I could be and opened a door for me. I worked hard to make the most of every opportunity I was given, including those that I “shouldn’t” have had; I overcame the skepticism people who doubted me because of the type of institution I worked in; I built relationships with beautiful teacher candidates, (teacher) educators, communities; I strengthened the work of teacher education in my institution, community, and state. I was fortunate. I take none of it for granted.

It has not been easy, but it has made me better, and I will ALWAYS cherish this time.

This chapter is closing. I chose to close it in a way that is in integrity with who I am and my commitments.

It has not been easy, but it has made me better, and I will always be grateful for the lessons I have learned this semester.

The chapter closes, but the story continues.

I am looking forward to the next chapter, to building alongside cherished community (established and new) and to continuing to grow in humility…after a pause.

Family, Grace, and Thanks

Today, my mother would have been 85 years old.

She is eternally 56, but I often think, and always on Thanksgiving, particularly when it falls on her birthday, about how my life would be different if she were still here, how we would celebrate her, how we would celebrate with her.

I feel (more) acutely her loss, and the longing for 28 years of memories that were not to be.

This is the first time in quite awhile that I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with my mother’s side (my side) of my family, as I’m with my cousin (my mother’s sister’s daughter) celebrating this year. We’ve had a beautiful and joyful time of laughter and exploration this week with our two families. I’m so grateful.

For a long time, because I was hurting and because I was also the youngest in my family of origin, it had never been my task to keep connected with the family. I didn’t know how to reach out or who to reach out to. I missed out on connecting with my mom’s side of my family, which was, in effect, the only side of my family I had ever known.

These were hard times where I felt incredibly alone. There were periods when I didn’t feel like I had any family that truly knew and loved me. They were there, I just couldn’t feel it.

These feelings have taught me incredible empathy, and an understanding when things happen in my own life and people I love need to distance themselves from me, or when I need to distance myself from them. Sometimes this is just something that happens. It is hard, but sometimes it is what it is. I have learned to trust that when the time is right, if the relationship is meant to be (repaired), it will be.

It has been, in some ways, a very hard week, at the end of a very hard month. And it has also been an incredibly joyful week as I reprioritize parts of my life, and I work hard…at rest.

I am grateful for the generosity of grace and space, of people who are able to make space for me and give me grace in my imperfections and in the spaces we may never agree, for the people who hold on to love for me anyways. I am grateful for the ability to be fully human and to write from a place of that humanity. I am grateful to make memories with my family in the midst of times of grief and loss on so many levels in so many places. I am grateful that we can hold hard things alongside beautiful things.

I know that many people, many who are grieved on many levels, struggle with this holiday season, particularly with a holiday that has a tainted historical origin and that is so connected with family. I am holding space for all those suffering, near and far, today.

It is both this particular day (and holiday) and every day that I am also so incredibly grateful, for the life I am blessed to have, the fullness and light, and the loneliness and darkness.

I am coming into myself and the presence of all the things. I am grateful in the midst of it, even when things are hard, and especially when they are beautiful.

Thank you for being here with me.