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A Walk

In 2013, I fell in love with a small, 12 week old black puppy. In the four years that Penelope and I have been living together, she has become my best friend, biggest confidante and almost constant companion. img_0555.jpg

Right before Christmas in 2014, Penelope and I moved into my current apartment. My apartment is small. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but it is pretty tiny- about 500 square feet. Not really enough room for 45 pounds of fur covered energy.

And so, Penelope and I walk. We walk two or three times a day, every day, no matter the weather. We walk when I’m exhausted, we walk when I can’t wait to get going with my day. We walk, quite literally, morning, afternoon and night.

Walking is a simple motion. Most of us learned it before we can remember. We do it without thinking. When we need something, we get up, and we walk. But the simplicity of the motion is what makes it so powerful.

Typically, when I workout, I want a workout so difficult that I can’t focus on anything else. I want it mind numbing. I want it to hurt, to stretch me, literally and metaphorically. I want to push my body past it’s limit. After a workout like that, I feel powerful, invigorated, full of promise and possibility.

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But when it’s really my brain that needs the workout, I go for a walk. When I need to think hard about something, I go for a walk. Heck, even when I need to memorize something… I often find myself going for a walk.

When Penelope and I started walking together so consistently, I started to notice some changes in both of us. First of all, her behavior completely changed. She doesn’t tear things up. She doesn’t get into my trash, and she doesn’t get onto my counters. Also, she became better and better with a leash. I guess I always thought dogs just knew how to walk on a leash. But I guess that’s not true- we definitely learned together. She sleeps more and better, she’s more calm in general- she’s just overall a more happy and healthy dog. That alone is enough of a reason for me, but I have seen some real benefits too.

I lost weight. A lot of weight. In the first 6 months we lived in this apartment, without really trying too terribly hard, I lost 30 pounds. And the vast majority of my exercise was walking. I became more confident. I’m cautious about walking at night, although I’ve never had a real problem when I’m out with Penelope. However, I am not afraid to go for a walk at night, and I like that part of myself.

IMG_1080Also, she forces me to get out of bed in the mornings. Sure, sometimes on Saturdays we go back to bed, but like it or not, I am usually up by about 7:30. I’m not a natural morning person, but I know that I’m most productive in the morning, so it’s nice to start my day with at least a little bit of activity. These days, our morning walk is usually about an hour- roughly 2.5 miles- and it is such a nice start to the day.

I also often use our walk as a time to catch up on phone calls or on books I’m listening to- or podcasts, although I’m mostly on books right now. I love to multi task and this is such an easy way to do it.

I am a lover of routine, and I like that about our walks too. In a life that sometimes feels frenetic and zooey, every day, I must carve out at least a few minutes to strap on Penelope’s leash and get outside. I don’t always love it. I don’t always want to do it. But she needs me. It’s our routine. And I always feel better afterwards, no matter what else is going on. IMG_1281

But I think best of all, walking every day with Penelope helps me to find perspective. The morning walk is a time to think through my day. What projects do I need to work on? Who do I need to be in touch with? What are my top three to dos? The afternoon walk breaks up the day: the major part of the work day is over. What do I still need to do for the evening? Did I get everything done I needed to finish up? The evening walk is the hardest- and the easiest one by far to skip, but I find myself in a better place to go to bed if I go ahead and take it. What does tomorrow look like? How am I feeling about today? And sometimes most importantly, can I make my step goal yet tonight?

 

Pictures in this post are various things I’ve seen while out walking! Enjoy!

 

Superhero Action of the Day: Carve out 20 minutes, and go for a walk. Try to make it a habit!

Fun and Mostly Free Fridays: Rainy Days

Happy Friday!

You made it! Another week is over. Today, we’re looking at some ways to kick back and relax… even if it is pouring rain and ruining all your outdoor Summer plans!

  1. Movie marathon: pick a theme, or a series, grab your favorite snacks and settle in. Bonus points for food delivery and comfy pants
  2. Read a book, just for fun. I’m working on some book reviews, but until then, maybe find a person you are interested in, or a movie you like based on a book, if you aren’t a big reader. Make sure to check the library!
  3. Look at museums in your area. A lot of towns and cities have a surprising numbers of art galleries and historical museums. Delve into some local history or art!
  4. Make a tour of restaurants and breweries. If you’ve got an active local scene, take advantage! You’ll never know what you come across that you love!
  5. Host a board game or puzzle party- everyone brings something edible to share, and settle in for some competitive fun.
  6. Home spa day: make a sugar scrub, give your feet some love, and soak in the tub- just make it an all around luxurious experience!
  7. Deep clean or organize your space: ok, so this isn’t the most fun thing to everyone, but it sure is satisfying! Choose one space and dive right in.
  8. Host a home craft and wine night: have friends bring a project they’re working on over and enjoy your favorite beverage while you finish up some crafting projects.
  9. Go window shopping. Give yourself a budget and go to a store that you don’t normally shop in. Pick out all the things you would buy if you had the money. I prefer to do this at home decor stores and pretend I’m decorating my dream house.
  10. Try a new recipe. If you have a recipe you’ve been eyeing that looked complicated, maybe it’s time to whip that puppy out and give it a spin. Or maybe it’s time to try a full scale, complicated meal? Rainy days are perfect for that.

Superhero action of the day: Did I miss a rainy day favorite of yours? Let me know by leaving a comment!

5 ways to make life easier

Hi Superheroes!

We’re all busy. Work, school, family, friends, working out, saving the world- how are we supposed to keep up? It’s hard! So here’s a couple of tips to help you out when things feel like you’ll never, ever, EVER catch up.

 

  1. Put your bills on auto pay. As many of them as possible. Yes, it is absolutely TERRIFYING to do that if you aren’t ABSOLUTELY sure there will be enough money in your account- but it is one less thing to think about (and forget about). Some examples might be: savings/retirement, cable/internet, electricity, gas, water, trash pickup, gym memberships, or (of course) subscription services. I try to leave the really big bills (for me that’s rent and student loans) up to me as to when exactly I pay them so I can double check that they’re not causing me a problem.  Almost everything else goes on auto pay, which makes my semi monthly bill paying sessions very quick and easy!
  2. While we’re at it… SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES. I’ve already told you I’m obsessed with Dollar Shave Club. But the other super handy subscription service I use is Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. I chose 5 products that I wanted to receive either every month or every other month, and I put them on subscribe and save. I get them for a slightly cheaper price AND I never have to remember to pick them up at the store. For me, those five products were dog treats, KIND bars, Larabars, tampons and face cloths. Five isn’t the limit either- the more you subscribe, the more you save! For me, these five products were something I either forgot to buy regularly but needed, or else i had to make a special trip just to get them. Either way, now they get delivered to my door.
  3. Plan ahead. I know this seems like a no brainer. But the more you plan ahead, the easier you’ll breathe. Find a calendar that works for you, and then use it! Maybe it’s your phone, maybe it’s on paper. Either way, schedule absolutely EVERYTHING in. Sometimes I even schedule in my travel time from point A to point B- and sometimes I add important listening or phone calls to that time. Also, plan your meals. You’ll feel so much better physically, and man, does it make you feel like an adult.
  4. Keep your home clean. This is SO hard when you’re busy. Believe me, I know. But it is so, so helpful to take 5-10 minutes at the end of your day, no matter what, and do one chore. Put away laundry. Swiffer the floors. Wipe down the surfaces in your bathroom. Oh, and try to do your dishes before bed too. Or at least load the dishwasher.
  5. Have a triage list. Sometimes, things just get too crazy. Hopefully these periods don’t last too long, but occasionally, all of us will have to let somethings go in order to get through a very busy time in our lives. I find it helpful to know which of my priorities and projects can get dropped in what order. For example, for me, my list looks like this: TV, pleasure reading or making, time with friends and family (sorry!), cleaning, side projects, exercise, sleep, cooking, work (because work is usually the thing sucking my time away). So, TV is the first thing I cut out, and work becomes my “must do, must finish on time” item. Although I really start to feel uncomfortable when I have to start cutting in on my cleaning, side projects or exercise, I know that if I have to, I can cut down on that stuff and come back to it when life slows down again. I don’t like it, but I can deal with it.

 

Super hero action of the day: How do you save time when you’re busy? And what’s your triage list look like?

7 ways to beat the heat

Happy first day of Summer, Northern Hemisphere! Was it hot today where you are? It was in the 90’s here today- not as hot as some places, I know, but plenty warm enough for me! Also, my superhero hideout does not have air conditioning, so by the end of the day, it is WARM up in here.

So today, let’s look at ways to stick it out in the heat!

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  1. Popsicles. I know this is probably pretty obvious, but man do I eat A LOT of popsicles during the summer. I usually buy these Outshine fruit bars. I regularly eat one before bed, and I at least FEEL cooler, even if my body temperature hasn’t gone down at all. 31oc1rk5z6l
  2. If you have one of these handy microwave rice bags, pop it in the freezer for about an hour to give yourself a nice chilly hug.
  3. TURN THE OVEN OFF. Again, maybe this is obvious, but if at all humanly possible, just don’t use the oven. Summer is a great time to use your crock pot to do your cooking, or to take a good look at salads and smoothies.
  4. Use cold water. Sometimes I drink a huge glass of it. Sometimes, even in the middle of the day, I take an ice cold shower for as long as I can stand it. Sometimes I just run my arms under cold water at the tap- or just my feet.
  5. Stay hydrated! When you’re hot, you’re sweating, and sweat uses a lot of liquid! Plus, sweat is the best way we have to cool our bodies. And water is good for you.
  6. Choose strategic times to exercise, and give yourself a proper cool down. My boxing gym is not air conditioned. When it’s 90 degrees outside, it’s about 100 in there. Sometimes that means I don’t go to a lot of boxing in the Summer. It’s just too hot. To avoid this, workout first thing in the morning, or after dark- or go someplace cool- just make sure to cool down properly when you’re done!
  7. If all else fails, get an ac unit. Last spring, I bought a portable room air conditioner unit (you can check them out here). It’s loud, it doubles my electric bill if I use it a lot, it’s a pain to store… but it gets the job done. Even better, I can choose when it’s hot enough to use it and when I can do without, because it doesn’t take up the entire window for the entire Summer. I can remove the vent when I want to, or push it into another room. Totally worth the inconvenience.

Superhero Action of the day: what’s your favorite way to stay cool when it’s hot outside? Drop me a comment- I’d love the new ideas!

Balance

There are so many different kinds of balance, aren’t there?

There’s physical balance, of course. The kind that allows us to walk, stand on one foot, or, with practice and focus, pull off some crazy cool yoga poses.

There’s mental balance- the kind that comes with clear, logical, sound thinking.

There’s emotional balance. The kind that keeps us from getting too involved in situations that are beyond our control. From diving too deep off the rabbit hole of emotions, good or bad, honestly.

There’s spiritual balance. This one comes deep within ourselves, from knowing that we’re living lives that are good, that are on track with our life’s purpose.

They’re all important. Balance of all kinds is so important.

Tonight, I’m struggling with balance of the food and exercise kind.

I am finally to the place in my journey where I love my body. I do. I’m proud of it. It works so hard. It is so strong. It is capable of some truly amazing things.

But I also… I want to improve it. I still have areas that I look in the mirror and wish were different. I long for a slimmer stomach, and more toned arms. A perky behind. Some days, it is hard to, well, balance, those two things. They are such opposite ideals.

One of my major hobbies is exercise. I love the endorphin rush. I love the feeling of doing something I couldn’t have done two weeks ago. I love the sweat and, yes, even the pain of it. I workout hard. My favorite form of exercise right now is boxing. In the winter, I like hot yoga, in the summer, I lean more towards weight training. I like to hike, and I am looking for ways to get more involved in water sports- paddle boarding and kayaking, specifically.

But you know what my other major hobby is? Food. You guys, I love, love, love to eat food. And my tastes are very broad. Sometimes, like when I’m on a Whole30, I eat great. And I really do like it! I love finding new recipes, cooking and eating healthy food, the pride of eating clean. And then there are days where I make a special trip to the store just to buy ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Balance, right?

But how do we rectify that? The truth is, I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. One day at a time, right? Sometimes, it feels like an endless cycle. Workout, eat good food, have an ice cream or pizza attack… workout again.

Does the ice cream contribute to my emotional and spiritual balance? Sometimes. Do I sometimes self medicate with it? Absolutely.

I’m not sure there is an answer. If there is, I don’t know it. What I know is that both working out and eating ice cream make me happy. And sometimes, that’s enough.

 

Superhero action of the day: how do you keep your life in balance? Where are the places you can improve that balance?

10 qualities to cultivate in yourself

Hi Superheroes!

Sorry for my absence. This past week kind of knocked me on my butt, and I got to spend some serious time doing self care- and not doing much else.

But I’m back! And tonight, we’re looking at 10 qualities Superheroes should cultivate within themselves! So let’s get started, shall we?

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  1.  Courage. We’ve talked about courage already– I think it’s an obvious one for us. Living without fear is hard, but we can do it. Do things that scare you and prove to yourself how unstoppable you are!elpephant
  2. Compassion. The ability to care about other people is so important. Especially people who are hard to care for. helping-hands
  3. Forgiveness. People are going to hurt you. I wish I could say that that wasn’t going to be the case, but people are going to do it. It sucks. It hurts. It isn’t fair. But you’ll forgive them anyway. Not everybody, not every time. But you have to learn to forgive, or it will eat you alive. And then you can’t help anybody! Forgiveness is hard, but you can do it. This does, of course, include forgiving yourself. You’re going to screw up. You’re going to hurt others. Be gentle with yourself. 26_is_3469479_r0b_2x1
  4. . Learn to listen. Listening to people is a very important skill. Without listening properly, it will not be possible for any of us to move forward. Listen to what people are saying, and what they aren’t saying. Both of them are important abilities. conversation
  5. Communicate. By the same token, you have to learn how to tell people what you need and what you are feeling. This is so so hard for me. I’m a strong person. I’m very capable. It’s hard for me to tell people I need help, that I’m not being served. Conflict is terrifying. But dealing with it is worth it. I’ve had that shown to me, over and over again. Face your fears on the subject and talk to people who need you to talk to them. You’ll get better at it with time. aaeaaqaaaaaaaalpaaaajdy5otq2ywe0lwjjntktndg4zi04zdi4ltriogmzn2rkndrkoa
  6. Passion. Find something you are wildly passionate about. I don’t care what it is. It could be saving the whales, or it could be nail art. Find something you love without reservation. Find something you care about so much that you feel like you can just get out of your own way and do it. Get good at it. Get involved with it. Do the things that make you feel full and satisfied.determination_28458525236229
  7. Determination. If something is worth doing, it’s worth getting knocked over and trying again. Sometimes you’ll get knocked off course. Get up and get back to it. loyalty
  8. Loyalty. When you find your people, stick to them. I’m not saying stay in bad relationships of any kind. I’m saying that when you find the people who love and support you every time, you do the same for them. Don’t be the person who isn’t there to catch someone else. It’s a nasty feeling.bigstock-man-on-top-of-a-mountain-stand-51437401.jpg
  9. Honesty. Speak the truth to people. Speak it in love. Speak it with kindness. But speak it. Find the courage to tell people you love that you don’t agree with them. Find the strength to break off bad relationships. Stand tall and proud on your truth mountain and live your life. 
  10. Love. Love fiercely. Love deeply. Love as many people and things as you can. See the beauty in as many things and people as possible. And then try for more. Love always. The rest will come together.

Paleo (ish)

In 2015, I did my first Whole30. I was trying to really reset my nutrition, jump start some weight loss and in general, feel more in control without being unhealthy about it (You can read more about my journey with food and fitness here

The Whole30, if you aren’t familiar, is a nutritional reset. For 30 days, participants eat no grains, no sugar, no dairy, and no beans or legumes, as well as some food additives and stuff. There is a ton of information about how and why to do a whole30, so I won’t get into all of that here. Check the website if you want to, and I would encourage you to do so.

I have had very solid, steady results with my whole30s. I now do one every spring. I sleep better, I have more energy, I’m less bloated, my menstrual cycle is less annoying, my skin clears up like magic, I usually lose a little weight (8-11 pounds over the month), and overall, I just feel… better. It’s difficult, sure. But that’s another point in its favor, for me. I tend to be a very easy going person. I’m an astoundingly unpicky eater, so I very rarely express firm opinions when people ask me where we should go for dinner. If my food isn’t exactly what I ordered, I’ll eat it anyway. Even when I’m cooking for myself, I find that I will eat something even if I don’t love it. So it is very, very good for me, one month of the year, to say “I can’t eat this and I need you to accommodate me.” It isn’t easy, but it’s a good exercise for me.

The hardest thing, then, is the period following my annual whole30. All of a sudden, I can eat all these foods I love, and so I often overdo it, and end up at the beginning of June, frustrated and off balance nutritionally.

Here’s what I do to help with that: I eat paleo at home, and then, when I’m out, I make a decision that works for me in the moment.

What do I mean I “eat paleo”?

I avoid grains: no sandwiches, pastas, rice, etc.

I avoid added sugars: this one is pretty obvious, but also really hard! I try to limit and avoid adding sugar to recipes but I also try to avoid eating things with a lot of sugar in them.

I avoid dairy: I use almond milk, I tend to cook without cheese, etc.

So what do I eat?

I eat lots of vegetables. Leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, you name it, I eat it, when it comes to veggies.

I eat lots of meat. Almost all of my meals have at least one serving of animal based protein, from eggs to seafood to steaks. When I can afford it, I try to eat meat that has fewer chemicals, and that was raised and slaughtered humanely. Someday, when I win the lottery, I’ll eat all local meat. But for now, I have to make due sometimes.

I eat lots of fruit! A lot of people think I don’t eat fruit, but I LOVE fruit. Yes, fruit has sugar in it, but you know, a banana is better for us than a snickers bar. And fruit is PACKED with vitamins and nutrients. So too bad, I love it.

I eat nuts and seeds. Almonds, cashews, walnuts- and anything made from them- are fair game! Almond milk and almond butter are staples in my fridge.

So, why do I eat this way? Well, eating paleo acts as a road map for me. It helps me avoid foods that i know don’t help me feel my best. I have a lot of trouble counting calories without it turning unhealthy, and so eating paleo is a way for me to eat without counting and still feel like I’m on top of my nutrition.

But I’m far from perfect about it, and that’s ok. I love ice cream. I love ice cream so much I’ve been known to eat it for meals, eat it twice a day, eat my own and then finish someone else’s. And I refuse to live in a world where I deprive myself of something I love- and for what reason? So it isn’t “good” for my body. Ice cream is good for the soul. The same is true of pizza. Pizza is a wonderful invention.

But I know I can’t eat like that all the time. It’s all about balance. And for me, I try to find that balance by eating paleo (ish)

 

Superhero action of the day: where do you need to add balance in your life? Is there something you can make into a “not all the time” food without feeling miserable about it all the time?

The power of forgiveness

Are you carrying baggage from something in your past? Of course you are. We all are.

Have you ever watched a superhero movie or TV show (or read a comic!) and the hero gets hurt by something and it sends him or her down a winding path towards becoming the “dark” version of themselves? Yah. The prime example of this, in my mind, is playing out with admittedly tedious repetition on the CW show Arrow. And I mean, I love that show, but man, Oliver is really good at this superhero martyrdom stuff.

In any case, there comes a time in everyone’s life where someone is going to hurt you. Sometimes, that hurt will be accidental. The person in question won’t mean to cause you harm, but they’ll do it anyway. And that will hurt.

But sometimes, in all likelihood, someone will hurt you on purpose. And, oh, my darlings, that will hurt. I wish I could protect you all from it. Because when you learn that someone has hurt you purposefully, the pain in your chest will overwhelm you. It will drown you. The waves of pain will wash over you, filling your lungs and chest. Purposeful hurt is unavoidable, betraying, overwhelming.

Somehow, though, if you’re lucky, you’ll learn to forgive the hurt you’ve been dealt.

Slowly, with conscious , deliberate, small steps, you’ll turn to face the onslaught, and then, you will find yourself not bowled over by it, but standing tall. And then, you’ll find yourself moving through it, beyond it.

Sometimes, you won’t recover from it completely. Sometimes, it will change the path of your life. That’s ok.

You can’t carry it around for long, my loves.

How can you swing your lasso of truth, use your super strength, throw your shield, throw a punch, or use super speed if you are clinging to an entire suitcase of hurt? Not us, superheroes.

We’re gonna put that down. Even -or especially- if the person who’s hurt you doesn’t apologize. You get to step up, and be the bigger person.

Get inside what the other person was feeling. Where did the hurt come from? It’s almost never “just to hurt you”. Usually, it’s indicative of a bigger problem with that person.

Wounded animals lash out. And we are just human animals. Whoever hurt you? I bet they’re hurting. That doesn’t give them an excuse. It will help you to understand.

And once you understand, I think you’ll find that the sting has gone out of the wound. It just doesn’t hurt as bad anymore. It may be disappointing, exhausting, frustrating. But the sting will be gone.

And once you can start to forgive, life becomes… easier. You’ll sleep better, be in a better mood, be more open to new experiences and relationships. You’ll have the mental capacity to be a more full person, and I think that’s so worth it.

 

Superhero action of the day: start unpacking your suitcase. Who do you need to forgive?

Let Monday be a new week

You ever had one of those days? One of those weeks? One of those Fridays where everything you can think of seems to have gone wrong, you fought with your work bestie, you spilled your lunch, you royally screwed up a project AND you forgot about a meeting.

I have.

And I don’t know about you, but when I have weeks like that, I get to Sunday night, start thinking about going to work the next morning and I already want to crawl under the bed and hide.

Or, have you ever had a week where everything went really well and you nailed everything, aced a test, breezed through a presentation, solved all the workplace problems, made a new friend, brought in pastries just because and made a home cooked meal every night?

Yeah, I’ve had those weeks too.

And then I get to Sunday night of the next week and Monday is looming, and I’m feeling good about last week, but when Monday arrives, I’m not quite as on top of things as I could be. And I beat myself up. “You did so well last week!” “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you do this right?”

Let’s try a new strategy: Let Monday be a new week. Let last week, whether it was your best week, your worst week or somewhere in between, rest. It doesn’t matter anymore. If things carry over, now they’re a part of this week. Last week is over. And worrying about it can’t help us anymore.

This applies to relationships too. If your boss, friend, coworker, partner, spouse, student, child said something to you last week (or even yesterday for that matter) that set your teeth on edge, Monday is a great time to make a decision: do you need to address it with that person? If so, find a time. Explain why you’re still upset. Stay calm. Don’t blame them. Just get it off your chest. And then… move on. If you don’t need to talk to them about it, then the onus is on you to let. It. Go. Holding grudges only hurts you.

Let Monday be a new week. There’s no point in hating it. (side note, if you really DO hate the place you spend most of your time, ie, work, please find something else to do that makes you happier. None of us love our jobs every minute of every day but you deserve better than outright misery 40 or more hours a week) Just think of all the opportunities this week brings you. Changing your attitude can and will change your life. I really believe that. If you’re reading this, you’re already pretty lucky. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to be able to read. Lucky to have internet access you can afford to spend on reading blog posts.

Superhero action of the day: Find two things about Mondays that you’re thankful for. Maybe its seeing your coworkers. Maybe it’s your nice quiet commute. Maybe its your yoga class after work.

But maybe its your chance to start fresh.

Don’t forget to do something amazing today!

On Grief

I went to another funeral this morning.

This time, it was the matriarch of a family I got to know through one of my schools. I’ve now worked with 4 of their 6 kids, and they’ve become good friends. The matriarch of this family was a strong, funny, kind, warm hearted woman. I didn’t know her well, and I wish I had known her better.

And so, I went to her funeral. It was a catholic mass funeral. It was my first catholic funeral, although I’ve been to mass several times before. (I was raised protestant and I am currently attending a methodist church.)

If you’ve never been to a catholic funeral, I found the experience lovely. Truth be told, it isn’t that much different from a heavily religious protestant funeral, but, as with many things about the catholic church, with a little more formality and ritual. There were some scripture readings, some hymns, a short homily, and the sacrament of the Eucharist (communion). It was a lovely ceremony, and I understand completely why people throughout history have found solace and healing in the familiarity of the heavily scripted service.

Because it was clear, the people around me did find comfort in it. There were a lot of tears shed this morning. It’s painful, when we lose someone we love. But the crowd that milled in front of the church after the service was a very different one than the tense, hard, sad group of people before the service began. Afterwards, though there were wet eyes in every direction, people smiled, and even laughed. The healing process has begun for those who are grieving this death.

I’ve been thinking this afternoon about finding comfort in the familiar, and in ritual. How can we relate to those ideals? How many of us, on finding out we’ve lost something or someone, have found comfort in doing something repetitive? Walking, cooking, or writing? Something else? I’ve said before that a hard workout soothes all wounds for me, but I think a great part of that is the repetitive motion of the hard work. Winston Churchill once said “When you’re going through Hell,  keep going.” When you’re hurting, you’ve got to keep living. You’ve got to find a way to keep going forward.

In the last year, I’ve known my fair share of grief. I’ve been to two other funerals, one for my beloved grandfather, and one for a cousin that I loved. I’ve lost jobs, friendships, and relationships. I’ve given up on a few dreams, and birthed new ones. Think about your past year- I imagine you’ve had at least one of these experiences.

I’m not saying this so you’ll think about what a bad year I’ve had, because it has been far from all bad. I’ve had some incredible highs, too. But I have known pain. Grief. Some of these things still make me hurt. That loss, it can redefine our world. It changes us. But hopefully, we can learn from it.

And here’s what I know about pain and grief. It will fade. But only if you let it. In some cases, only if you force it to lay down and be quiet. There are some things that will never be right again. There are some pains that it seems impossible to recover from. And there are things that happen that we can’t live through and be the same, ever again.

And when we’re in the throes of that pain, of that grief, it is easy, so, so easy to believe it will never end. Isn’t that strange? We long for it to end, pray for it to be over, dread waking up the next morning and starting all over in the mess and thick of it, but it seems so much easier to just let the pain drown us.

But you, my superhero, you can’t do that.

Instead, you have to get up. Yes, every day. You have to find a way to dig deep and find a place within yourself where you can keep going. You have to use that pain, that grief as a way to fuel you, to make you better. Just be sure it makes you better, not bitter. Don’t let it crush you into the kind of person who hurts others because of your own pain. You have to exorcise that pain.

And in order to get up and do that? You have to face the grief head on. You have to acknowledge it. You have to face it, head on, and say ‘hello’ to it. You have to sit in the room with it and learn it. And then, slowly, carefully, you can start to cut it out. You can start to remove it from your life.

When we face our grief, it starts to lose its power over us. It begins to fade. Just a little bit. It won’t happen all at once. It will take many, many sessions of acknowledging it and letting it go, especially for those really deep, dark or old wounds. But you can do it.

Sometimes, when we’re done cutting out the grief, we may not recognize ourselves anymore. We may have cut away so many parts of ourselves that we’ve left holes. We can fill those holes with new things though. Things that bring us joy. Things that light us up. Things that make us strong, that make us shine.

Things that make us thrive.

Superhero action of the day: take 10 minutes today and sit with something that is hurting you. Just let it hurt. You don’t have to do anything about it except feel it. Do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, until you can start to do something about it.