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.


Me holding a sign that says "Go _____. Our number one runner" to cheer for my daughter's race Photograph of two grave markers with 4 bouquets of flowers in front of them

May is a beautiful month for me.

May is also a hard month for me.

This year, as it has been for the last eight years, my daughter’s birthday and Mothers Day are within the same week, with the end of the academic year the following week. I am tired. I often wonder if there will be another Mothers Day that does not feel exhausting, as my heart and mind are divided between wanting to celebrate my daughter and the extraordinary gift of her life, deeply missing my mother, particularly as I get closer and closer to the age she was when she died, and the bustle of the end of an academic year.

May is a time of internal and external conflict. Outsourcing birthday parties, while easier, is pricey, and seems to add on to my perpetual discourse of inadequate mothering, even in this busy professional time, full of events and celebrations, for students, staff, and faculty in my college. This year, as department chair, it is particularly busy, as there is more to support and coordinate with less of the heart work and interaction with students that brings so much light to my academic work. This year, I’m also in the midst of final preparations for a grant-funded conference that is the work of my heart, and while I am confident everything will work out, it is a stressful time in terms of coordination according to the timeline that works best for my head and heart. And our college graduation coincides with two awards ceremonies for my son (school-sponsored and countywide) which I will have to miss as a member of the platform party.

In a few hours, my daughter will celebrate her birthday with my husband’s family, our family, and my sister. It will be a beautiful time, and a hard one. It makes me remember how different our lives are. It makes me remember whole families and how mine still perpetually feels broken, even as I try to repair it in this generation. I am so very tired. And I am holding a lot of sadness. I am also holding so much joy in her having this time with her aunties and uncles and cousins and abuelos, swimming and playing, in her full joy.

In these last several years, I have been working on making space where there is none, and holding space for all of the complexities of life, particularly as someone who loves deeply and whole-heartedly.  I have been working on giving myself the grace I so freely give to others. I have been working on being with what is, while working towards what is better.

It is beautiful work, and it is hard.

I hope that if you’re reading this, you will also hold space for me today, for others who are balancing grief, joy, and the myriad other emotions that may come during this time of year. I also hope you’re holding space for yourself. I hope that you will feel the warm embrace of love surrounding you, that you will have moments where you’re able to laugh freely and cry loudly, as you want and need to. I hope you will hold on to better when the moment feels not good enough, and that you will find, make, and take space for yourself in the midst of all you are doing and all that you are for others.

I am, you are, we are beautiful, in this midst of these hard times.

Holding Space for Ourselves, Holding Space for One Another

Picture of buildings on the Chicago river at night

It’s been quite an AERA 2023. AERA ends my spring semester travel season and is the last of 5 conferences in 7 weeks. It has been a lot in this season, almost certainly too much.

So now, before I head back home, I am taking a moment to pause and reflect.

What is here for me, above all, is gratitude and a deep presence to my own humanity.

This particular conference comes at the end of a non-stop 10 days of trying to manage my life, administrative duties (at work), two conferences, hosting international colleagues, travel, and for half of it, time with my family. I have told multiple people that I have felt deeply as if this has been a season of running into a brick wall, bouncing off of it, blinking in disbelief, and then running full force back into it.

This is not sustainable.

There was a period in my life during which I would have looked at the lack of sustainability, acknowledged it briefly, and then excused it as just what had to be done.

But it is not that time.

I am learning about listening, taking in, and taking action. At least 5 people I love and/or work closely with have told me in the last few days that I look exhausted, that my energy is off, that I need to rest.

I am breathing and acknowledging that they can see me before I can see myself.

This has been a time of recognition. I have been seen and uplifted in many ways that I have not expected. I have been taking in how deeply and genuinely I am loved.

And in all of that, there are those who do not know me, do not love me, who, though we may share many identities & commitments, do not walk alongside me or celebrate my victories.

There was a period in my life where I would have tried harder to make myself into something different, to shape shift into something I perceived as better so that I could be seen by those who do not care to know me.

But it is not that time.

I am seen by so many and loved so well. It is my time to breathe deeply into my being and to hold space for others. It is my time to acknowledge that in my humanity, I will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I will make mistakes. There may be moments where I cannot show up, where I need rest, where I let someone down or do something that requires accountability. There will be opportunities that I can pass on to others. There will be times where I do not measure up to some external standard that I may not have agreed to.

All of this.

This conference, I have asked myself, “For whom will it make the most difference for me to show up? Where and with whom can I be the most present? How can my time honor myself and my commitments? How can I be honest about where I’m at with all of the things?”

I did my best. I attended & served as discussant at sessions of people that I love deeply and wanted to show up to contribute to, panels of early career scholars & graduate students (including a former student that I taught in middle school who is now in a doctoral program), sessions of friends who continually challenge me to dig deeper and be better. I had tea and brunch and dinner with others that I love and value, some of whom I have never met in real life. I met people on bridges and in bathrooms and hallways. I gave hugs as I waited for sessions & attended receptions. I met new people who knew me even if I didn’t really know them.

I didn’t do it all. I didn’t see all the people I love. I surely didn’t get enough time with some people I love deeply. But, I am proud to be going home having honored who I am in the choices I made and having been present in the spaces I was in. I am grateful for a bit of time at home with a family who loves me and lets me fly (literally & figuratively) in ways that are sometimes hard on their hearts.

I am breathing, writing in an airport lobby that hasn’t yet filled up because my dear sister-friend wanted to make sure I planned enough time to get here  so I could get home. In doing so, I am grateful because things work out the way they are supposed to.

I will continue to breathe and be and not be everyone’s cup of tea, and honestly it will be okay, as long as I get to walk alongside my people and build in community and love.

Do What I Say…

Photograph of a sign that reads Progress Not Perfection

I try not to be hypocritical. I really do.

The problem is that I love other people so much more than I love myself.

So, I remind them to do all the things that I know are important in order to maintain our humanity in the midst of a dehumanizing world: sleep, eat well, spend time with those you love, breathe, prioritize, remember that YOU are more than you produce, pace yourself, hydrate, give yourself lots of grace, honor your truth.

I know these things.

I pray for them, hold space for them, offer grace and advocate for them, support them through the their struggles.

I do these things.

I feel the difference when I live in ways that hold these truths and these spaces for myself as well.

And yet, so often, I am not the model for others that I want to be.

I am working towards honoring my truth by living it.

I am starting by taking time each day to reflect.

I am feeling the impact of not living my truth.

I am making space for the progress and set backs.

I am giving myself grace when I need it.

It is a work in progress.

I am a work in progress.

But progress offers more promise than perfection and I am working towards loving myself.


Photo of a group of people Photo of a group of people

It was a wonderful day, filled with beautiful people.

In person, on the phone, via text.

So many beloved people.

I am grateful.

And very tired.

I will have one more meal with beloved friends tomorrow.

After a sleep, and allergy medication for my very swollen foot.

I was almost too tired to write.

That would have been okay, but this is also good.

A moment to reflect, even in my exhaustion.

A moment to hold that even with all the love that surrounds me, there is a part of me that still longs for those who are not here.

I am writing.

Writing is showing up for myself.

I am grateful.

What I Learned from 9 Days with my 7 Year Old

Photo of the author and her daughter standing in the reflection on the Mirror d'Eau in Bordeaux France

You can learn a lot from a 7 year old in 9 days.

I just returned from a 9 day trip to France (Paris, Bordeaux & small villages/ beach towns in the Bordeaux area) with my daughter. (I wrote about how going on the trip itself was already a big deal before it happened here.)

I knew I would learn a lot.

I knew I would heal.

But I still was not prepared for what I am taking away from this time and the ways in which it was transformative. Recording these things here for accountability and remembering:

1) There is so much to be gained from presence and an abundance of time

I did close to no work for 9 days, which, for those of you that know me, or read this blog with any regularity know, is transformative and borderline miraculous in and of itself. I glanced at e-mails and sent a few, but I didn’t open my laptop for 8 days, to the point that it was down to 1% charge when I finally checked the battery before our return flight home.

Not working gave me space and time to be present with my daughter, to be fully attentive to her, and to the space around me. It freed me up to breathe deeply, listen to my body, eat mindfully, care for her, spend time fully with others. I was not perfect. There were moments when I got bored and looked at my phone, but I was, to a remarkable degree, there during those 9 days. I remember them. I cherish them. I was not irritated when she asked me to play with her. I just was with her, and enjoyed her.

2) I am actually a really good mother, who is generally doing too much

I have doubted my ability to mother since I first became a mother 16 years ago. This was devastating to me because I have always wanted to be a mother. What this trip helped me to realize is that I can be an excellent mother, when I am present.

I am, on a day-to-day, regular basis, a fine mother, who is extremely overwhelmed with competing demands, but I absolutely know my children, love them, and want the best for them. It is just not easy to be the mother they need me to be when I am on a (often self-imposed) deadline or when I am trying to think deeply. Seven year olds (at least, or especially, mine) don’t like waiting (even a minute). My daughter wants attention and presence all the time, and while that’s not possible in the same way it was for the last nine days, it can be possible.

3) I am human

It was an excellent trip, but not perfect. I messed things up, took wrong turns, got really stressed at one point because things weren’t open and I got locked into a particular idea (while hangry), and my daughter kept reminding me, “Don’t freak out. We’re all human, Mommy.”


And in that humanity, I need space and time to recharge. I need people who I love around me. I need other adults who I can trust and be fully human with.

4) Things that I want are more possible than I allow myself to believe

While we were on our trip, a little boy asked my daughter if she wanted to play. He asked her in French, which she doesn’t understand, and when I translated into English, he said brightly, “Oh, you speak English! I was born in Texas.” I spoke to his mother and learned his family had moved to Bordeaux a couple of years ago, he was in a local nearby school, and they happened to stop by the playground on their way home.

This interaction touched me a lot. It made me realize that community has a way of finding you wherever you are and that living internationally is a real possibility (even when you have a family, and although it’s incredibly challenging). This gave me a lot of hope for a future that I want to believe can be possible, and faith that however things turn out will be okay.

5) I am deeply loved, but I cannot be (and am not, in fact) everything to everyone (or anyone even) and that’s okay

My little girl had a hard time without her Papa. I anticipated being away from him for 9 days would be hard, but I didn’t anticipate how hard. She is much more accustomed to my being away for several days, and while she misses me, she’s generally at home, and I am traveling. This is the longest trip she’s ever been alone with either of us, and it’s the longest time she’s ever been away from home. She was in a country where she didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. It was a lot for her, the whole time, and she handled it like a champ, but it was still a lot.

I could not be her Papa or take his place (nor would I want to), but we made it through, with lots of hugs and lots of love shared between us.

I know I am embraced by community at home. In fact, in less than 24 hours, I’ve had a friend come by, an amazing Zoom call with my sister-friend, felt the love of my family, and had multiple texts that remind me how loved I am.

I’m also embraced by my community in and near Bordeaux, who have showed me so much love, thoughtfulness, grace, and generosity.

This love, across two countries, has allowed me the space to see that however I am works, that I will be loved when I complain, when I am frustrated, and when I am sad, just as much as I will be loved when I share joyful moments and laughter.

What a gift this trip was for me. What important lessons for me to have learned. And one more lesson: that I must embrace the moments I’m given, living in them, not beside them, in my body, and not just my head. This will take work, as I have largely survived through thinking and disembodied movements in the direction that others want me to go, but I have seen the other side, and it is beautiful, even as it brings its own challenges.

In the Smallest of Things

Photograph of two bright bouquets of flowers

I had a great day today.

And I also had two panic attacks today, which were not great.

I just returned for several days away for a work conference, am hosting a retreat next week, and then hope to take a vacation with my 7-year old which we’ve been looking forward to for months (provided that we don’t get caught up in the current COVID surge). This morning, I had a series of great and productive meetings, humanizing but intentional, and moving work of my heart forward.

Then, when they were done, at separate times in the day, the panic set in, quite suddenly and fiercely, stealing my peace in waves of uncertainty.

Panic attacks are hard. They are exhausting both emotionally and physically. I have had both panic and anxiety attacks for at least 15 years. I have learned to be with them, make space for them, breathe through them, mask them, function in spite of them. But they are still hard and very draining.

This evening, after my second panic attack, I texted a friend to check in. While waiting for a return text, I went shopping at Trader Joe’s. I had planned to buy flowers for myself, and chose a bouquet that was vibrant and beautiful.

Then I turned around and saw a display of peonies. I love peonies.

So I debated about whether to put back the flowers that I had chosen and get myself the peonies, which would also require filler flowers because there were just five stems. They weren’t as good a “value.” They weren’t yet in bloom. What to do?

As I stood there, my mind drifted to my mother, as it often does when I am buying myself flowers. My mother hated cut flowers when she was alive. She thought they were wasteful because they would just die. It was like throwing money away, she used to say.

But everything dies. And everyone.

I had to unlearn that ephemeral beauty and the joy of individual moments are worthless. In fact, what I’ve come to learn instead is that they are sometimes the most precious things in their short and vibrant lives, in our short and vibrant lives.

I had to learn that things that had “no purpose” actually, in fact, had such an important purpose. That time that had “no purpose,” time not doing all the things, actually was the most important time. Time to be present. Time to breathe. Time to be.

My mother didn’t have a chance to know these things. She didn’t have the same life, choices, or circumstances that I have. But I often remind myself that she dedicated much of her life so that I could have this life, these choices, and the best of the circumstances I have.

We are not the same. We might never have seen things in the same way. But, she would have wanted my happiness.

My mother loved me like I love others.  But, she did not love herself so I did not learn to love myself.

We are not the same. We might never have seen things in the same way. But, she would have wanted my happiness. Just like I so desperately wanted hers.

It would have made her sad to know that I have panic attacks. I probably wouldn’t have told her. Maybe she had them too and never told me. I don’t know.

And maybe, just maybe, because she knew it made me happy in a way that she might never have understood, she would have bought me flowers on days that were hard and great at the same time, or on days that were just days because every day deserves beauty.

Probably not, but that is okay.

I have been mothering myself for 27 years, trying to honor who my mother was in the way I made choices in my life. But in honoring what my mother may have done, I may not have honored what she would have wanted.

I cannot know these things. All I can do is carry her with me, and her mother before her and all of my foremothers. I carry them in my heart, and with them, I carry all that they carried. All the love they gave, all the sacrifices they made, all the dreams they dreamed. And in healing myself, I am healing them.

Today, I bought myself a bouquet of prearranged cut flowers…and a bouquet of 5-stem peonies, with another small bouquet of filler flowers to keep the peonies company.

Today, I talked to a friend who reminded me of who I am. I texted with friends that made me laugh. I arranged my flowers, one bouquet for the kitchen and another for my “office” in my bedroom.

These are small things, perhaps the smallest of things.

But we are healing through them, in the humanity and grace of accepting all that is and is not. It is there that peace exists for as long as I can be with it.

For that, I am deeply grateful.

Legacies and Layers of Love

Photo of a card with a vase of flowers and a polaroid picture of two Asian American women standing in front of a door

The gifts of femtoring

I am still carrying a lot.

It’s been one of the hardest Mays on record (which is saying something since I didn’t even run a half marathon or birth a child this May). For the last two weeks, I’ve woken up on Monday & Tuesday convinced that it’s the start of a weekend and disappointed that, in fact, I’m only at the start of a full work day. We’re only a little more than halfway through this seemingly endless month.

In spite of this, there have been beautiful bright spots, and today, I want to take a moment to give thanks, and to remind myself that there are legacies beyond loss. There are ways to transform what we didn’t have, but most needed, into contributions to others.

This semester has been a particularly affirming femtoring (mentoring) season.

Dear friend and colleague, Erika, who I have known and walked alongside since I was a Graduate Student Instructor and she was an undergraduate, was offered multiple tenure track positions, a dream of hers that we’ve been working towards collectively for the last 3 years. She has worked so hard to write, publish, think through her important work, develop her teaching while raising her little boy and being a devoted mother, wife, and daughter.

Dear Grace, pictured above, completed her Masters thesis for which I was a lead adviser, alongside an incredible team of women who all deeply love her. In the card pictured above, she called our meeting a turning point. We fought for her to be able to complete a thesis project; we navigated multiple challenges in finding a third member (and a committee chair when I left the program for a year) of her thesis committee; we held space for her during a deep personal loss. She graduated yesterday having been awarded Outstanding Graduate Student in Research, Scholarly & Creative Activities from the university and Outstanding thesis by our college. In a few days, she will cross a good part of the country to start her academic journey towards her PhD. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Finally, in my EDSE 457 course, sweet and brilliant Joey wrote me a beautiful thank you card that she handed to me at our last session. What a gift to hold space for this lovely future educator in office hours, to help her see herself, and to make space for her family’s Vietnamese refugee histories and stories of resilience within curriculum, stories that she didn’t have access to in her own history courses. In her thank you card at the end of the semester, she said, “As an Asian American woman, I feel an indescribable sense of pride in seeing you be so successful in what you do and claiming space in such an important role at a university.” More importantly, she thanked me for giving her space to feel all the emotions, to be seen and understood.

These women are my heart. They are my community and my reminders that layers and legacies of love are healing.

I am far from perfect. I hold many emotions in and let many more out. I am carrying a lot.

But transforming legacies of loss and isolation, in whatever degree I can, into legacies of love and contribution, are my most powerful form of resistance.

We continue to move forward in community and solidarity.

Reflection – 2021

Photograph of Pink Flowering Grass

What does it mean to begin anew? To transform?

A quick google search and the Oxford languages dictionary defines the verb transform as to “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.”

This has been 2021.

New beginnings, transformation, reckoning, confrontation, integration, movement, grief, loss, rebirth, rediscovery, beauty, acceptance.

All of the things, often for much of the time.

And also a sense of nothing, all at once, and suddenly.

2021 has been a year that has tested my boundaries, personally and professionally, helped me to see what I want and don’t want in my life, helped me to move forward for myself and towards myself in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.

It is the year I feared losing my sister, but instead found her, and with her, such incredible light, joy, and resilience. It is a year we lost our father and I lost my uncle, but even in this, a year in which we became closer as a family, as grief and discovery remind us what we carry forth from our ancestors and what we strive to transform.

It is a year I feared losing myself, and instead reached out, found community, went back to therapy, rediscovered a capacity for love that I thought had long departed, took a sabbatical, used my voice powerfully, stood on wobbly legs, co-authored the book of my professional heart, wrote the YA novel of my personal heart. I even said no a few times.

In reflecting on 2021, I also look forward to 2022, knowing that it will be full because life is full. I call forth grace, ease and simplicity as I enter this year. I commit to working towards pausing, towards presence, and towards asking myself, “Are you listening to your heart?” as much as I reflexively listen to my mind. In 2022, I seek to make space for the abundance around me, and to love whole-heartedly, beginning with myself and extending throughout my communities.

What does it mean to begin anew? To transform?

I am on a journey to constantly rediscover the answers to these questions.

Wishing you blessings at the close of 2021 and as we enter 2022 together and apart. My love to you.

Faith, Hope & Love

two clasped hands in front of a tree

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

In the past few months, I have been opening myself up to love more wholeheartedly.

For people in my life, this may be surprising because I have always lived a life full of love. I love easily, openly and abundantly.

But my love has never quite been a full expression of its truth. It has been a love that holds back, even if ever so slightly. It has been a love that guards my heart, that guards my full self, and that dwells alongside unworthiness.

It is a love that has believed that if people saw the real me, all of me, that they would not love me anymore.

It is a love that has lived in fear.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” I John 4:18

In the past month, I have been confronting the ways in which I have been living a life of fear. I understand this fear, rooted in abandonment, coming from the early losses of people I loved so deeply and wholeheartedly before I knew the pain of loss.

Fear is a liar.

Fear has held me back from pursuing what my heart most desires.

Fear has told me that my love is not enough, that I am not enough, and that it/I will never be enough.

Fear has driven me to feeling like I have to prove my worth, through always doing more.

Fear has caused me to run away from the possibility of deep and true love, and hide behind work and obligation.

Fear has caused me to abandon my responsibility to myself, and center my responsibilities to others.

Fear has told me that if it is not now, it will not be ever.

But sometimes, in life, we are given (second) chances that we didn’t know we needed.

Chances at redemption.

Chances that restore our faith.

Chances that open up our world and open up new worlds of possibilities.

Chances that cause us to abandon our fears and embrace what we’ve always wanted, wholeheartedly and without reservation.

I have been given some of these chances this year, in incredibly unexpected ways.

They have been gifts.

But some of them are not gifts for now.

They are gifts that call me to restore my faith and hope in love. They are gifts that are meant to teach me to trust myself, trust my heart, and trust my love.

And I am so afraid.

In so many of these situations, I don’t have control of the outcome, and it terrifies me.

Because it has taken so much to open up to chances beyond who I’ve known myself to be. It has taken so much to begin to believe in myself and in those I love most. It has taken so much to trust. It has taken so much to be honest and strive towards living more authentically.

When things are not for now, every fiber of my being wants to run away and hide, to go back to a life of silence and self-denial, hiding and perfectionism, to see this “not now” as a sign of “not ever,” because I am terrified to lose that which I have just begun to find. I am terrified that I am not enough, that I can’t do enough, be enough, love enough. I am terrified of being a failure.

Yesterday was a really hard day where all of this fear spoke loudly into my heart.

But today is a new day.

It is a day that has lessons to teach me, if I am willing to listen, if I am willing to trust, and if I can believe in the love that I know is true.

I am deeply loved, treasured, and precious.

My community will hold me in my deepest fears and when I am drowning in pain.

I can trust my heart, even when things aren’t the way I so desperately want them to be.

Tears can be cleansing. They can be restorative.

My truth has never, in fact, been dependent on the outcome. It is what is, even when I refuse to acknowledge it. It hasn’t changed. It has only grown deeper. It can only be what it is, whether I run from it or run towards it, or whether I just stay still and take it moment by moment.

So that is what I have to do: take it moment by moment, learning to trust that which I can’t always see, can’t always know, can’t always touch; free myself from the need of constant external validation; and trust in what I know deep in my heart.

I’m scared, Friends, but I am trying.