Stiff Upper Lip

I’ve been thinking a lot about words lately. Last week, I shared a blog post about how powerful words can be. A few days ago, I published an essay about how important it is to be aware of the power of your words when sharing online.

I wrote the essay after watching a preview clip of Meghan Markle’s interview. She discussed how the British tabloids have impacted her life and how difficult this journey has been. Yesterday, another clip from Markle’s interview was released. In the new clip, she discusses how she tried to adopt the British’s “stiff upper lip” but revealed that “what that does internally is probably really damaging.” 

I like that Meghan Markle acknowledges this in the interview because it humanizes her. It’s refreshing to see her open up. I think it’s important that she acknowledged there’s damage in pretending everything is fine when it’s not. Her choosing in that moment to be honest about the difficulties she endures shows why it’s important not to allow your emotions to get lost in the craziness of life.

All too often, we’re told to swallow our feelings and go about life as though everything is fine. In actuality, everyone has something they’re going through. That doesn’t mean you have to tell every single person your life problems. But you don’t have to pretend like everything is fine around those who care about you and are there for you. Feeling emotions is often seen as weak. But feeling emotions doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. When things are hard, processing emotions by allowing yourself to feel them is better than not letting anyone know you’re hurt and swallowing your tears.

At the end of the clip that was released yesterday, Meghan Markle mentioned how she takes things day by day because that’s all she can do. That’s what we can all do, take it one day at a time.

Close Focus

Lately, my eyes have been focusing differently.

Whenever anything is near my eyes,
ie a book or phone screen,
my eyes will innately focus
on that one thing
while everything beyond
what I'm focusing on blurs.

It's like focusing in portrait mode,
the background becomes fuzzy
while the words I'm reading
become better than crystal clear.

This way of focusing is a shock to the system.

It took me some time to realize
what was happening.

When something with my vision changes,
there are moments where I'm trying to decide
if what I'm seeing is actually there,
if my sight is true to my reality
or if what I'm seeing is an interpretation
stemming from my brain not being able to process
where my eyes are within the space I'm in.

Mind games with the eyes seem to be never ending
as things continue to shift each day.

The Power of Mindful Breathing

I have found comfort in my breath. Inhaling and exhaling are often done without thought. The body knows how to breathe without the mind getting involved. But there is something about getting my mind involved with my breathing that has helped calm my thoughts and body. Learning how to belly breathe can change the body’s way of pushing air in and out of the lungs. Whenever I need to settle my overactive thoughts, I will belly breathe until I feel my thoughts settle. I used to cope with these thoughts by avoiding them entirely. I’d distract my mind with useless thoughts to push out the overwhelming ones. Now I’m working with them by learning how to calm them down. Filling my stomach up with air through my nose and releasing it slowing out of my mouth. 

No Fireworks in September

A single sound shoots through the summer night. It’s loud and fast and gone before I can comprehend what is happening. There are no rippling sounds that fade into the darkness. No colors flying across the sky. No screams for help. As I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon, I’ve only heard this sound twice, at different times the last two nights. My only response to hearing such a jarring noise is looking out the window, texting a friend who is sleeping in the room across from mine, and locking the door. I don’t have time to be concerned about what I do not know. My mind is too busy to be distracted by external worries at this present moment.

One Year with Abnormally Puffy Eyes

I was in a McDonald’s bathroom somewhere in Iowa.
I was exhausted from a weekend full of family time and walking
around the Minnesota State Fair.
My dad and I had left a few hours before dawn and began the long drive back home.
As soon as we got on the road, I instantly fell back asleep,
holding the old stuffed animal dog I got as a Christmas gift when I was 8.
We had stopped at McDonald’s to get breakfast and pee.
I was washing my hands when I noticed how glaringly puffy my eyes were.
What is going on?
I thought as I poked the puffy skin around my eyes, taking in this unfamiliar sight.
I walked away from the mirror to leave,
only to return seconds later to stare at this unusual occurrence once more.
I chalked it up to not enough sleep and too much driving and walking
within a short period of time (something I’m not known to do).
This conclusion reassured me enough to leave the restroom without panicking.
I can’t remember if I asked my dad if he noticed anything different.
If I did, he probably just told me the same thing I told myself: it’s nothing.
We got back in the car and continued our long journey home.
As we were merging back onto the highway, I checked my puffy eyes
once again through the camera app on my phone.
In natural light, they were still puffy.
It’s fine. It’s fine. I just need more sleep.
Oh, the stories we tell ourselves in the moment so we don’t obsessively wonder
what bad things could be happening.

XXVI

I’m older than I was but I still feel quite young.
Birthdays aren’t as celebratory the older I get.
It’s just another age that takes a whole year
To adjust to saying, only to have to change it
When my birthday comes along again.
There’s nothing special about turning 26
Except for health insurance and my license expires.
As a kid, I thought I would have everything 
Figured out by this age. Turns out, there’s no trick
To being an adult, everyone’s just winging it 
And processing things in the moment. 
So cheers to another year of figuring things out
As they happen and learn not to stress about
Things that haven’t happened yet.