Below is the text of the newsletter I sent to my subscribers on Friday. Read it! Then go subscribe, because sometimes they get things you don't! :)
Dear, sweet readers --
Spoiler alert: 2017 has been my worst year of record. I've suffered from more illnesses, injuries and other infirmities than I care to relive or catalog here, and they have left me physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. They've taken their toll in other ways, as well: on a marriage that's dealt with physical trauma for 8+ months of the 13+ months it's existed; on our finances, despite incredible health insurance; on my career, since traveling with a messed up back and what might be a fractured pelvis has been all but out of the question. Further, unless something dramatically changes (i.e., my body miraculously heals), I will spend the rest of this year canceling the hopeful plans I made on rare good days, and starting what is yet undefined medical treatment.
To focus exclusively on the negative, though, would be fruitless and disingenuous. Sure, 2017 has had its share of lows, but it's also had highs -- moments of pure peace, love and joy -- that I doubt I will soon forget.
That's what this week of Thanksgiving is about: putting aside daily groans and gripes, and celebrating the many wonderful aspects of our existence. Some things we're thankful for are big, while others are comparatively small, but all of them are worth mention.
Here's my list:
I'm thankful for breathtaking and romantic getaways to places like Bermuda and the Poconos with Nick.
I'm thankful for fun family trips with Rusty to South Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia Beach and Charlottesville.
I've always hated my birthday, but 35 was my best birthday yet. I'm thankful for that day of quiet, peace and celebration.
I'm thankful for competent doctors and other caring healthcare professionals.
I'm thankful for a husband who likes to cook, creative inspiration, heating pads, ice packs, dessert wine and The Golden Age of Television.
I've never been more thankful to be alive than in the wake of our car accident.
2017 was the year I started my blog, and I am both humbled by and thankful for its modest readership.
I'm thankful, too, for the ever increasing number of women who see me as a matriarch they can come to for advice, support or encouragement.
I'm thankful for the satisfying work of interviewing amazing women.
In general, I'm thankful for the professional clarity I've found, and for the spiritual peace I've located alongside it.
I am thankful for a family that loves and checks on me from afar, and a family-in-law that gives without question or hesitation.
I am thankful for a dog who snuggles me during the day, kisses away my tears on bad nights and approaches each activity with reckless abandon.
I'm thankful for a gorgeous house that I love, and a new yard and fence to go along with it.
I am thankful for friends who: put up with my nonsense, are patient with the aforementioned canceled plans and send flowers or wine or jokes or cards just when I need them.
Most of all, I am thankful for a husband who has loved and cared for me throughout this painful year. He's shuttled me to doctors appointments, picked up countless prescriptions, watched more television than even a man who likes television can stand, mastered the art of meeting my needs in the middle of the night without really waking up (which is hilarious) and done truly unrewarding things like help me go to the bathroom on more than one occasion. He does it all with joy in his heart, too, and never once complained about it.
But he's done so much more than that: he's been my biggest benefactor and career champion, reading my writing in garbage draft stages and pointing out passages he loves; he's gotten me flowers, baked me pies and planned little surprises to lift my spirits; he's tolerated the days I don't feel like I can shower, and told me I'm beautiful at times when I know these were lies; but, most importantly, he's made me laugh, over and over and over again. Laughter during a hard year is inconceivably important and yet underrated, and my husband is the funniest.
I don't deserve him, I don't think, which is what I'm trying to stay. But I'm thankful for him nonetheless. That’s why the thing I'm most thankful for this year is the day-in, day-out joy of being his wife.
Here's wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving that, upon reflection, turns out to the happiest Thanksgiving you ever had.
Love, love, love --
This is a picture of me. I hate pictures of me, so it’s hard to believe I’m sharing one willingly, but there it is, right at the top of the page here. It’s a close-up, too: a perhaps misguided selfie taken in the bathroom of a brewery / restaurant that we visited ten days ago, while on our one day of ‘vacation’. I took it because I’ve been waging internal war with myself for the past two weeks, and I knew if I didn’t take it right then, the casualties of that war would stay hidden.
If you’re a woman, you probably know this war all too well: it’s between the forces within you that say you should take your time making yourself look as good as you want to feel, and the opposing forces, which say you don’t need to look perfect and should practice self-acceptance. Both sides make valid points. Each side wins battles, and each side loses.
In some ways, this picture is nothing short of an embarrassment. I’m ashamed of the unkempt hair and the barely visible but frumpy sweater paired with even frumpier jeans and cheap shoes. I’m horrified by the forehead expression lines, too. But framing this picture in that way is a deliberate distortion. That barely visible sweater was purchased from Anthropologie – is that a frumpy brand now? I bought those shoes on sale, sure, but they’re shoes other people have said they ‘absolutely love’ on more than one occasion. I’m wearing Old Navy Rockstar jeans, yes, but who cares? Blake Lively wears them. And this is my natural hair.
This next picture is so much easier to bear. This one is of me and my sweet husband, taken while walking the grounds of the place we got married. The backdrop is better, for starters. So is the angle, since he’s 6’4”. I’m wearing all black, chic snakeskin gladiator sandals and a coordinating crossbody bag. I just came from the salon, so my hair is blown-out perfection. We plan to use this picture in our Christmas card collage this year.
There are objective, aesthetic differences to these pictures, but they boil down to this: I appear more put together in the latter.
I can look beyond the surface, though. I know what was happening on the day each picture was taken. In the first picture, I was in an extraordinary amount of pain. I hadn’t left the (rental) house in almost a week. I had a serious, undiagnosed injury, and wasn’t getting any sleep. Taking a shower was a victory, so I wasn’t going to spend hours standing in front of the mirror. The second was taken on the first day I felt good in months, and over halfway through my ten weeks in physical therapy. I was visiting the place where my husband and I got married, too, less than two weeks before our first anniversary. Most importantly, I didn’t do my own hair that day – my awesome and sassy hairstylist did.
All of this might sound intuitive. And maybe to you it is. But examining these two pictures taken six weeks apart has given me a feeling of peace. I don’t have to wage this war. Both sides are right, both sides are wrong – it just depends what day it is. I don’t have to shame myself for being superficial on days when I have the time, energy and desire to look my best. I don’t have to shame myself for looking frumpy on days when getting out of the house for a few hours is a gift.
I used to spend hours every single day trying to look my best. I wore all black, suffered in 5” heels and never had imperfect hair. But then I met my husband. He loves when I get all dolled up now and then, but also loves me when I haven’t showered or gotten out of my pajamas, which is far more often. My natural hair was something I never embraced until I felt external love and acceptance, which prompted me to do the hard work of loving and accepting myself. In other words, the fact that I’m waging this internal war is itself a sign of progress – a few years ago, the superficial side dominated.
Nowadays all I want is to feel comfortable in my own skin. Some days that means primping, getting dressed up and putting on red lipstick. More often that means letting my hair dry naturally and wearing a comfortable sweater and flats. Comfortable means different things on different occasions. You’d never wear pajamas to the symphony, now, would you?
Women with a greater sense of self-worth already know this. Me? I’m still a work in progress.
Let’s talk about October, shall we? It’s not sufficient to say that it was a month of highs and lows. To start with, the Hubs started his new job at the beginning of the month, which involved a fair amount of excitement. Then we celebrated our first anniversary, which thrilled us even more. We spent the day at the winery where we got engaged, made filets that night, replicated our first dance, read our first anniversary messages, toasted our marriage with bridal shower champagne and enjoyed the top-tier replica of our wedding cake. Our friends got married at a beautiful location in the Poconos later that week, and I thought to myself: “October couldn’t get any better! Gorgeous weather! Hopeful circumstances! We’re digging our way out of the mess we were in!”
But life intervenes in moments like these: just when we think we’ve gotten a break – a reprieve from pain and stress and difficulty – we're reminded not to get too comfortable. For a while, things were so bad that I thought I was / we were cursed, and I told the Hubs as much earlier this year. I’d injured my back, then immediately broken out in a full-body drug eruption rash. As soon as that cleared up, I reinjured my back. And when I finally stopped feeling intense pain related to that, I developed the abscess and related complications for a month. Then I found out the hard way that I am allergic to beta blockers. All of this exacerbated my back pain. It went on and on and on. Being cursed felt like the only rational explanation.
It’s painful to feel hope like this and have it dashed. But I was hopeful in October, nonetheless. This feeling of hope culminated in my physical therapy graduation on Monday, October 23rd. It wasn’t a big to do or anything, but they looked at a bunch of criteria, decided I’d healed 80 – 85%, and presumed this trend would continue if I kept doing the exercises. I was so hopeful the next day that I spent hours painting our new fence. I made so much progress.
That night the Hubs and I celebrated my progress by running errands, because this is what married couples do. We went first to the butcher, partly because we had a coupon and partly because their meat is delicious. Then we went to Wegman’s for supplemental groceries, because Wegman’s is equally delicious. We took the Jeff-Todd-Way-to-Mount-Vernon-Memorial-Highway route home, as we’ve done 1,000 times before. The time was just before 7:30PM. Seconds later, when we got across from George Washington’s Grist Mill – a mere 2.4 miles from our house, a deer plowed into us on the driver’s side. Then, the driver behind us – who was watching not us, but the deer – plowed into us from behind.
I’d never been in a serious car accident before this. I didn’t know that in a split-second your life turns upside down. At the most superficial level, the cheapest, most comfortable and reliable car you have is totaled. Beyond that, you’re both injured, though in different ways. The groceries you just bought are ruined, leaking out of the car into a giant dairy mess. Your phone that you were just typing on vanishes, even though the window wasn’t open, and when a firefighter finds it, he will find it crushed into a million pieces. Worse yet, your psyche is wounded. What once felt like a safe road no longer does. What once felt like a peaceful night out no longer does. What once felt like a safe mode of transportation no longer does. And while some repercussions are obvious in an instant, others will take days to come to grips with.
We sat on the side of that road for 2 hours. We lost 13 cups of yogurt and 2 gallons of milk, but salvaged the meat from the butcher. (Miraculously, it had been in the back seat, not the trunk.) Likewise, we lost ice cream and noodles and drink mix, but salvaged the toilet paper we’d bought at the commissary the week prior. We got a ride home from a policeman, carrying meat and toilet paper in broken and bursting plastic bags. We thanked God that the kids in the van behind us were well enough to go home and get in bed. We thanked God that our dog doesn’t know what happened, and greeted us at the door as if we’d been away from the house for the reasons we frequently are.
And then we went to the ER. This ER is affiliated with my physical therapy office, and when I was wheeled into the x-ray room, I said, “I graduated from Inova physical therapy yesterday, which is why I got into a car accident today! I missed you guys too much!” I was full of jokes and laughter, just grateful to be alive. The Hubs was the opposite: truly shaken, exhausted, scared. Days later, my gratitude for being alive would be overshadowed by sadness and fear. By then, he’d recovered, and we’d changed roles. I was in pain again, scared the accident had undone all of the healing work I did. He was crammed in a rental car that simply does not fit him.
Things could be worse: a dear friend of ours lost her mother the week prior; a friend of a friend just lost her newborn child; my younger cousin died in a car accident, but his wife survived. Tragedy strikes. Life happens. And we’re all just a split-second away from a life-changing event, be it the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job or the loss of our innocence in a car accident. We’d do well to remember that more often.
We’re trying our best to cope with what happened, but we’re still sore 9 days later. Doctor’s visits will continue. We are nowhere near finished with the insurance adjusters. And at some point we have to buy a new car, since ours was totaled, even though the thought of that makes me a little sick. We’re comforted by the support of our family and friends – like DJ, whose take on the subject provided a much-needed laugh. We’re leaning on each other, because we celebrated our first anniversary and, for a nanosecond, thought we might lose each other 15 days later. We’re doing what humans do when they’ve experienced trauma of any kind: sleeping, talking, talking in our sleep, crying, singing, loving as hard as we can.
I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. Having even a handful of readers and the platform that comes with it feels daunting sometimes. But I do know this: we’re not cursed. On Tuesday night the Hubs and I watched Patton Oswalt’s most recent comedy special. He lost his wife unexpectedly last year. She was 46. With tears in his eyes while onstage, he told the audience his wife’s motto about life: “It’s all chaos. Be kind.” I’m not sure I agree with that 100% - sometimes life seems like a beautifully woven tapestry. That’s how it seemed the day I met the love of my life. But 768 days later, the night he got hit on one side and then from behind, wasn’t a beautifully woven tapestry; it was pure chaos. And in the 9 days that have followed, as we’ve pondered questions of life and death, we’ve realized the importance of living each day as if it’s our last. We’ve realized the importance of being kind – to each other, to our family and friends, to strangers.
And I think that’s what I’ll leave you with.
An artist I love, whose work I follow on Instagram, recently withdrew from the social media realm. I didn’t realize how much I’d come to depend on her daily dose of beauty and encouragement until I needed beauty and encouragement and found she’d disappeared. Yesterday she posted for the first time in weeks, calling herself out: “Where on Earth has Tori been lately?” Her response is a drawing of the Earth answering, “IDK I think she fell off.” This mixture of whimsy and humor quenched my soul, at which point I realized she’d answered the question earnestly as well, through a series of illustrations: she’d spent time in Sequoia National Park; she’d been doubting herself; she’d visited a therapist (which she highly recommends); and she’d wandered through Anxiety Land – a place where you can get on the Ferris Wheel of Constantly Repeating Thoughts, see yourself in the Wacky Self Image Distorting Fun House Mirrors (!), dine at the Eat + Drink Your Feelings Restaurant (open 24 hours) or go for a ride on The Shame Spiral (Feel bad! Then feel good about feeling bad!).
This is a positively genius way of describing what my everyday life has been like as of late. Part of me wants to blame the weather: it was lovely, cool and calming, then turned agitating and hot again. I mean, what do you expect? But I know it’s bigger than that. My job these days is to interview others and write, both of which require a clear mind and open heart. I’ve had the opposite – a cluttered mind and a closed heart. The world has seemed scary, mean and threatening, so I’ve spent most of my time processing things that happen and watching inherently uplifting animal rescue videos. (Animals are so loving and pure! Kind people do exist!) These things are good – even important: we have to process what happens to and around us, because the alternative is spinning out of control, and we have to do what we must to bring ourselves out of the depths.
But we also have to live.
The most important piece of advice that I’ve read lately came from Glennon Doyle, who said that “when the cyber world makes [you] feel hopeless, the anecdote is always to drop back into [the] real life, flesh and blood world – to get busy loving the world within [your] reach.” I’m done arguing with people online, trying to convince others to give more and judge less. My job is to drop back into the real life, flesh and blood world, take care of what’s in front of me and love what’s within my reach. Sometimes that means cleaning, doing laundry or playing with Rusty. Sometimes it means cooking or counseling someone who needs it. Sometimes it means rubbing my husband’s shoulders. Sometimes it means dropping off dry cleaning. All of it is rewarding; none of it is glamorous.
Lately I’ve been rereading Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden by Karen Maezen Miller. I read this book for the first time at the end of last year, and have already reread it once since. It’s a short, 166-page book about loving what’s in front of you, and right now I’m in desperate need of its instructions. How do I locate peace, love and joy within this mundanity and mess? How do I view what’s before me as important?
It’s easier than I expected. Let me share with you a beautiful passage that resonates deep within me:
“Until the day I landed on Lima Street, I was most comfortable – if you could call it that – at thirty thousand feet. I liked being up at cruising altitude, with nothing weighing me down. I did my best thinking when my head was in the clouds, or so I thought. Pursuing love and money, I’d logged enough frequent-flier miles to earn my vaunted Silver Elite status. Like most of the privileges you earn with the swipe of a credit card, it was bogus. A hundred thousand miles of air travel would get you five inches of legroom and a few cashews along with your peanuts. Oh, and seat farther forward in the plane, where you would be among the first to die.
“They gave you a plastic luggage tag to signify that your socks and underwear would be tenderly placed at the top of the heap. And the thing is, you believed it.
“While I was up above it all, my problems seemed smaller. Daily strife seemed distant. The earth seemed orderly. Other people were irrelevant. Except for the crying baby two rows back, it was as close as I could get to heaven. But there was more to my peripatetic lifestyle than business or pleasure. I was seriously invested in the idea that life was a climb, so the feel of the ground meant two things: either you were just starting out or you were crashing into a steaming pile of pilot error. Settling on the ground was not for me, not for long. I was so afraid of ending up nowhere that I spent much of my life ascending, quite literally, into nowhere.
“Consider the ways we situate ourselves in this world: by ranks of self-improvement and self-importance, attainment, worth and grade, by code and bracket – not to mention your boarding group. Here is that invisible ladder of success you’re supposed to scale, the ceiling you aim to break and a nonexistent bridge or two to cross. We buy into these pretenses as proof that we’ve moved up, gotten ahead and gone places. Separated ourselves. Distinguished ourselves. Made something. Meant something. Amounted to something. Lived a life that mattered.
“As long as we think like that, we don’t have an inkling of what life is, or where life is or who we are. As long as we think that this great earth is merely something we pass over en route to some Silver Elite Jetway in the sky, we don’t see that this earth is itself the unsurpassable way. You can’t grab hold of anything higher than what’s ready-made for you right here, where the glories unfold at your feet, ungilded lilies in the field.”
What’s ready-made for me, right here, is cleaning, doing laundry, playing with Rusty, cooking, counseling friends who need it, rubbing my husband’s shoulders and dropping off dry cleaning. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but that’s okay – I’m done jetting off to nowhere in my mind. I’d much rather watch the glories unfolding at my feet.
I’ve told you before that it isn’t important why I left my last job; that the only thing that matters is why I left that career. For the most part, this is true: it’s significant that I didn’t look for another position in public and government affairs, not that I hated the one I was in; and my reasons for leaving a soul sucking occupation are inherently less interesting than my reasons for pursuing a creative vocation. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, and I feel more professionally fulfilled.
But it would be disingenuous to suggest that my awful job wasn’t part of the new career equation. It was. It affected the timing of my departure, for instance, and impacted the way I felt about myself as well. Being treated horribly in a dead-end job gave me the courage to leave when I did. It also left me with a range of emotions, none of which was excitement. Mostly, I felt fear. My job and its travels and troubles had consumed all of my time – how would I spend my days, if no one else dictated my To Do list? The only future I’d ever been able to envision centered on a high-powered career – how would I feel any sense of self-worth if I wasn't pursuing the next corporate promotion?
I don’t think I’m alone in trying to answer these questions: When do I add value? What exactly does success look like? And, how can I maintain a decent sense of self-worth when life doesn’t go as planned? They’re difficult questions, made harder when you no longer have a boss to tell you when you add value, can no longer pinpoint where you are on a career fast-track and no longer have peers to compare yourself with. For the last 15 months, I’ve tried to answer those questions while working from home, alone – writing, taking care of our family, counseling other women. I’ve discovered that the value I add looks different than it ever did – it’s smaller in scope, but no less significant. Success looks less like contributing to conference call discussions and more like helping others whenever I can. My self-worth, likewise, is based not on what I do, but who I am.
It’s a radically different existence.
I got started thinking about this over the last few days because I noticed that each week is both similar to and different from the last. On Monday I worked on the book and prepared for a Compelling Women interview that I conducted that night. Tuesday, I spent hours helping a friend find a good therapist. (In the scheme of things, finding a therapist isn’t all that hard, but if you’re a woman who spends her days at work, her nights at school, her weekends studying and all the time in between raising two kids, time is a commodity that you do not have. This friend is dealing with a cheating husband and divorce preparations, too, which makes finding a good therapist critical to her personal and professional success.) Yesterday, I spent time counseling and encouraging a young woman who’s planning to leave a toxic job and chase her wildest dreams. Today, I’m listening to Monday night’s interview for the podcast, writing for the blog, doing laundry and baking for my husband’s first work picnic.
I did not do these specific things last week. But some things never change: people always need help; creative projects always require attention; there's always something to do when it comes to family finances and logistics. Life hasn’t ceased to be busy in the last 15 months, but the work I do looks like a hodgepodge of effort now, not a list of enumerated duties on a job description.
That’s why I’m grateful for messages like the one above: they’re rare but welcome external validation that what I do is valuable; that I can still be successful, even if I don’t get a raise or promotion; that my self-worth isn't in question just because I don’t work in an office. I’ve learned to trust my own compass, but it’s still nice to get confirmation that I’m headed in the right direction.
Here’s hoping you feel valued, get to define success for yourself and believe in your own self-worth, regardless of your career choices.
One of the most meaningful experiences of STORY 2017 was a presentation given by Brandon Harvey. I've intentionally neglected to tell you about it until now so that I could feature it in its own post. Brandon is a storyteller and speaker who founded the Good Newspaper. The Good Newspaper is based on the idea that "[t]here's no shortage of good news in the world. You just have to know where to look" for it. The Good Newspaper is Brandon fleshing out that idea.
Brandon's presentation was based on research about how we think about good news vs. bad news: neurologically, psychologically, culturally. He rightly noted that so many of us feel despair about what's happening in the world, but: (1) if you could choose to be born at any time in history but not know what gender, race or religion you would be, or what country you would be born in, you'd choose right now, because things are the best they've ever been for the most number of people; (2) given number one, there is good news to report; (3) even in the midst of tragedy, there are people doing good; and, (4) we can be those people doing good.
As such, the Good Newspaper is built around two ideas: celebrating good news, and BECOMING good news. It's released quarterly, and it celebrates all of the good news in the world. It features uplifting cartoons by some of my favorite creators (yes, that means Brad Montague!). It also offers ideas for how to become good news at the bottom of every page. These are ranked Good, Better and Best. Good might be reading more about a specific issue; Better might be donating to organizations working on that issue; Best might be donating your time to organizations working on that issue.
More broadly, Brandon Harvey talked about the need to spend 10 seconds focusing on good news. We are wired to dismiss good news quickly and ruminate on bad news or potential bad outcomes for extended periods. This practice of spending 10 seconds thinking about and truly celebrating good news helps us see our lives and our world from a different perspective.
Here's my challenge to you, in the form of Good, Better and Best rankings:
- Good: Tell three (3) people you know about the Good Newspaper. You don't have to be weird about it.
- Better: Subscribe to the Good Newsletter. It's free, and you won't regret it.
- Best: Purchase a subscription to the Good Newspaper. You'll be supporting good work done by amazing creatives, and treating yourself to a new way to look at life and, therefore, live.
Brandon Harvey also hosts a podcast, called "Sounds Good," that I encourage you to listen to. In all of these creative endeavors he mentions a Mr. Rogers quote that I've been obsessed with for years, which I will leave you with:
"WHEN I WAS A BOY AND I WOULD SEE SCARY THINGS IN THE NEWS, MY MOTHER WOULD SAY TO ME, 'LOOK FOR THE HELPERS. YOU WILL ALWAYS FIND PEOPLE WHO ARE HELPING.'"
Dear Creative Man Who Runs a Creative Organization I Admire:
I know you’re a busy man, and I’m sorry in advance: both for sending you this* and for even momentarily commandeering your attention. I wouldn’t dream of bothering you normally, but I had a crazy, not all that creepy and very powerful dream about you on Saturday evening. (If you're still reading this after that awful introduction, fantastic! I didn't know how to get around it.) (I promise you I'm not crazy, though this may be a thing crazy people say, too.) (Also, yes, that pun was intended.)
Let’s start here: for 4 nights last week (Wednesday - Saturday), I took a tiny blue anti-itch pill before bed to combat poison ivy on my calf. (If it matters, I got it while mulching in our yard with my husband, who can vouch for the fact that I'm not a crazy person.) It served its purpose, so I’m grateful, but it also sent me on a trippy roller coaster ride to Crazy Dreamland.
On Saturday night, the dream sequence started with my husband / me doing a puzzle, which I guess qualifies as crazy because we’re 35 and this is an actual thing we do. During this activity, I looked down at my phone and noticed that an old friend**, who I rarely talk to, had called at a relatively late hour and left me a VM. My husband, who IRL tweets and follows Twitter far more than I do, then offhandedly mentioned that, for some reason, 3-note musical clips had trended on Twitter all day long. Immediately following this comment, we went to bed. (Stay with me here.)
The next morning, I noticed that you (yes, you!) were on the front page of the newspaper. The story said you’d learned that you’d contracted a dreadful illness that would take away your hearing in a matter of months. (I am so, so sorry about this. I don’t believe this is premonition, or that I’m an evil person. The night before last I dreamed I was lost in a familiar city for so long that people thought I was homeless, and when I finally found my way out, my husband had covered our dwelling in blood and oil. #itcouldbeworse)
The important part of this story, though, is that you and your wife learned this news while hearing your playing, unwitting 4-year-old hum the same 3 sing-song notes over and over again. You, in your creative genius, sprang into action and challenged all of us who are hearing privileged to identify a trio of sounds we couldn’t imagine never hearing again. The message was simple and clear: share this story and concept far and wide — because nothing precious to us should be taken for granted.
In my dream, your story went viral. Musicians chimed in with 3 notes from their favorite songs. NBC “humbly” tweeted its station identifier. Creatives took the idea and ran. Everyday people, like my old friend, called their loved ones to share their soundbites of joy and wisdom. Phone companies went nuts, because hardly anyone uses the phone anymore. And it hit every social media platform, made its way to every home in the US — because you turned pain into purpose.
Now, this was just a crazy dream and, rationally, I know why I had it: Twitter informed me right before bed that you had tweeted (about something “genius”, no less!); earlier in the day I saw your son’s IG picture and birthday tribute. But this was my last crazy dream, because I’m no longer on the meds, and it definitely was the best. So, I've done a lot of thinking about it. Everything was so vivid that, when I woke up on Sunday morning, I checked to make sure this hadn’t actually happened. I still can see the below-the-fold clipping in my head.
I didn't always dream like this. A year ago, I dreamed of impending political apocalypse, budget deficits, spreadsheets, being yelled at by misogynists for doing nothing wrong and, even worse, yelling at others for just the same reason. A few months ago, I didn't dream at all. So much has shifted.
Life looks different now in part because I had the courage to walk away from a broken structure that took years to build, and I have my husband*** and intuition to thank for that decision. But life also looks different because I found my calling and tribe of creatives, and it’s you I have to thank for that.
Thank you for listening and for teaching me through your example to be creative and take nothing for granted.
Happy Tuesday, my friend. Be well. <3
* I'm too embarrassed to really send this.
** Hi, David Page!
*** Hi, sweet pea. I love you forever.