Engulfed is my word at this moment. I feel covered by a flood by messages, voices, and calls to action. My mind, body, and spirit feel swamped, mired in my pj’s. Finding one’s way through a moment like this feels just like my hiking boots that were submerged in the thick spring mud of the Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve this weekend. The skies were blue, the first bees and butterflies were flying, and I had to dislodge my feet from the mire. It was possible, but it took work. At some points on my walk, I had to choose the highest gound I could find and step gingerly around the muck. Other moments, I trudged straight through, or I couldn’t continue my journey.

The voices at the moment seem to be shouting advice, whether it’s helpful or not. The barrage of misinformation, misguided recommendations, and misinterpretations can drown you if you let it all in. As an avid swimmer, I know how I swim best. For me, it’s jumping in with my waterproof iPod (yes, I own one) turned up loud with some Rustic Overtones or NIN and pushing off the wall, my legs kicking hard, and hands pulling water. There are laps I slow down and take a slow-glide breaststroke, and others I roll on my back and scull my hands. The two-mile/seventy-two lap swim gets done my way. I swim with people who take more breaks to speak to their friends. Some who check their heart rate or sip water. But I prefer to keep my own pace, my rhythm. The expounding of sage advice for how to be in this moment doesn’t fit any better than if I tried to swim someone else’s morning routine or them mine.

Instead, friends and fellow writers are reaching out to ask for support for themselves and opening the door to support me. That’s what I need, open doors. People asking for fresh eyes on their work and offering the same in return inspires and motivates me. It allows more room to breathe than telling me how best to survive. Shouting to write every day or finish that novel now, doesn’t work for me. But neither does being told to take some downtime, just chill and ride it out. To be fair, I’m a snarky fifteen-year-old at heart and scoff at others telling me how or who to be.

An example would be meditation, an activity I’ve used most of my adult life, but right now can’t seem to do. Instead of beating myself up and forcing myself, I hike and host dance parties to the Dead Kennedys or Guster with my kitties. That’s what I need. When others shout, to me it sounds as if they’re telling the world what they need, not what’s best for me. And if that’s the case, I say you do you. Write every day, finish that novel, chill out, or whatever your freak flag needs to do to make it to the other side.

To keep from drowning, I must tread water the way I know-how and is best for me. We aren’t the same, nor are we living in the same situations. Instead of shouting how to be at other people, tell them what you need. We aren’t necessarily in a position to get what we want right now, but we might just get what we need. (yup, I went there).

*****Please consider taking 5 minutes a day to check-in with friends, family, and neighbors. Call, text, message, send a silly pic or gif. That small act of reaching out, especially to those who live alone, can make all the difference. Thank you*****

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