Instead of evaporating, I took a deep breath and remembered that Chris and Noah had just left for bagels and I had 20 minutes alone. I lit a candle and I closed my eyes and tried to about what it would feel like to forgive myself. I noticed all of these physical symptoms for shame - gut clenched, unable to sit up straight, a weight deep in my belly. I tried to think about them neutrally as interesting phenomena happening to me and I did a few things to try to get my body feeling better and lighter. Then I did a 15 minute meditation.
Here's why I'm writing about this: I have been accidentally screwing things up for my entire life. I'm a human. That's what it is to be a human. But for the first time in my life, I have a tiny toolbox to draw from when I encounter screw ups or shame or anger or frustration. Over the past couple of years, I have collected a few things I can reach for when I feel panicked.
One tool is meditation. One is lighting a candle. One is texting someone safe who loves me (my sister, a good friend) to tell them about it. One is telling Chris about it and getting a hug and positive reassurance in return. One is working through my feelings by writing about it (hi! this is that).
Do you know what gifts these tools are? THEY ARE BETTER THAN EVERY CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOREVER. Because it means that I'm not alone and I'm not out of options - ever.
I read a few things by Shonda Rimes this week that blew me away. First, a commencement speech from earlier this year and second, an acceptance speech about women in entertainment. WHOAH. They are good reads. She talks about being a mom and constantly failing at either Halloween costumes or writing a Scandal script. She talks about why we should stop dreaming and start doing.
So I read those and I felt pretty uplifted. And then I was working on the 4 billion holiday cards that I send and I realized as I was writing them that life here is pretty damn good. What am I going to complain about? We're healthy, we're well. We're challenged. I've got a toolbox for shameful moments. My sister lives a couple miles from us. We're going to spend the holidays home in NY with my entire family, a group of humans who represent an embarrassment of riches in our lives.
Yes, there are other troubling things in our lives. Yes, some things aren't going well. Yes, my kid seems to thrive on hurling himself off of dangerous objects lately and we are BFF with the local pediatricians. But am I seriously going to focus on that stuff in our family's annual Christmas card? Is that what I'm going to let represent the entire year of 2014?
That's what Shonda's pieces were for me. Yes, there is so, so much work for our society to do for women and race and it's a helluva mess out there. Yes, working moms miss moments in their childrens' lives. Yes, there is work to be done.
But yes, we are lucky too. As Liz Gilbert said recently, women have many more options than our grandmothers and mothers had - and it is our choice to exercise them or not. And it's so important not to lose sight of these advances, just as it's important not to stop pushing for even more.
I miss writing in this space. I'm not going to make any resolutions about it because there are reasons I haven't been here much lately (most notably, time and bandwidth)... but I do miss it. And this morning's screw up has brought me back here, a home of sorts. For that I'm grateful.
Sending you all lots of light and hope and advancement and gratitude. xo