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Feel. Your. Feelings.

Friends! Romans! Pandemic Compatriots! 

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve gotten the chance to sit down and form some sensical sentences. 

But I’m going to cut to the chase and get real with y’all. It is imperative that you FEEL your feelings right now.

I’m guessing your feelings are going through some rough seas at the moment. I know mine are! One day I’m high on cloud 9, the next, I’m like a shell of my normal self. Wondering how on earth we got here and if I’m living in some sort of twisted Truman-show world. It’s happening to me and I’d put money on the line that it’s happening to almost everyone around you right now. Now, I’m not just telling you to feel your feelings because I’m some sort of woo-woo energy-healer-type. I’m telling you because there is a deep cost to not learning. Let me explain. With plants.

These Texas sage bushes are from the exact same store, planted at the exact same time, in the exact same pots with the same soil. The difference? One had proper draining holes. The others? Clogged. By the time I realized the problem and solved it, it was too late. The damage was done. Friends, the longer I breathe on this spinning rock, the more clear it is that a well-drained life is some sort of key. Perhaps not to eternal happiness. But definitely to health.

The problem is that the work of draining isn’t pretty. It’s not usually accomplished by writing a few journal entries. No ma’am. It involves hard conversations, often with other humans 😬. It involves crying. It involves sweating (yes, as in exercise, or as I like to call it now – “joyful movement”). It might involve hiring a professional to help you chip away at crusty layers of old trauma. Unfortunately, we’re also offered endless options when it comes to distractions. Scrolling. Buying 😒. Busy-ing. I now know if I spend more time avoiding then confronting, I’ll find myself with a metaphorical knife in my rib. My feelings straight-up car-jack me, Grand Theft Auto style. But in my better moments, I’m able to remember that they’re NOT the enemy.

Your feelings are there to protect you! They are there to warn you of possible threats! They also help point the compass towards rewards. But the more you ignore them, the more they morph into metastasized versions of themselves. And the more they do that, the more likely it is you’ll find yourself kicked out of the driver’s seat. Listen, as someone who deals with a medicated amount of anxiety, I KNOW sometimes it’s impossible not to find yourself there. But at least having the language to acknowledge what’s happening is sometimes just enough for me to keep one hand on the wheel.

So, I’m going to write you a permission slip today. Remember like we had in back in middle school? You have PERMISSION to feel grief right now. Even if you have it particularly “good” right now. I’ve seen lots of people (myself included) robbing themselves of their ability to process grief because others have it harder right now. Here’s the hard truth, that does NOTHING for those people. This ain’t the pain Olympics. It does not give that person their job back. It does not give that frontline worker a proper mask. You also have just as much permission to feel joy. Please don’t cut it off when it shows itself. All we’re doing is squandering a precious, precious resource. 

In closing, I want to share some resources that have helped me develop stronger feeling skills over the last few months

1.This graphic. Done by one of my favorite writer/illustrators Emily McDowell. So good. So helpful.

2. The book Burnout. This. Is. Your. New. Bible. For. Emotional. Wellness. Well-written and practical, it’s helped me completely re-evaluate my relationship with physical activity and stress. It’s also allowed me to put words around the particular challenges of being a woman in our modern world.  

3. Brene Brown’s new podcast. The weighty nuggets of gold this woman and her guests drop often leave me wishing I had a third arm to raise in praise. I do want to highlight the episode on Comparative suffering and Grief. Also, her interview with Glennon Doyle should be required listening for every female person. 

4. Developing a richer feelings lexicon. Did you know that actually being able to accurately describe a feeling in words can help you through it? Maybe instead of being “angry” you’re actually resentful. Maybe instead of “happy” you’re hopeful. Heck, you may be feeling emotions now that are completely new to you! Check this out for context. 

Ok friends. That’s all I’ve got for today. I’m hugging each and every one of you in spirit.