Another few weeks. Another compilation of tips for these crazy days.
July 27, 2020
Return. Yesterday evening I watched a video of Rep. John Lewis’s casket being carried in a horse-drawn carriage over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I didn’t think I’d cry while watching this. I cried. I couldn’t help but think of the man that bridge created. Rep. Lewis nearly died on that bridge, and he returned to it throughout his life. He experienced fear and prejudice and violence on that bridge. And he came back. He marched over it multiple times after that first horrifying march. He was a different person each time, the world was different each time, but no doubt marching over that bridge was never easy. We all have our bridges. Most likely, we haven’t been beaten or tear gassed on them, but in some way, we’ve been brought to our knees on a bridge, on a journey from one place to another. This year is a bridge. I see the sentiment cropping up: Just get to 2021. Make this year end already! How much more can we handle? We are wishing away the upset of 2020. We want to put it behind us and never look back. I suspect, though, that there will need to be much healing of what has happened in 2020. We not only have to live it but also have to return to it. We need to reckon with how we did or did not care for the vulnerable and sick, with our own fear about illness, with the realities of economic uncertainty, with our belief in systems being shattered, with the ugliness of racism that keeps coming back, with the sneaky racism that infects those we know and love, with the relationships unsettled or torn apart by what we’ve learned about each other in this year. We need to return to these things again and again as different people in a different world. When Ryan died, I did not push myself in any grieving direction. I knew it would happen. That was different from when Shaun had died seven years before. I was in awe of that process and fought a lot of it, despite being utterly at its mercy. With Ryan, I trusted the process, still at its mercy but more willing to let it be what it needed to be. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary treasures things about Jesus in her heart. She stores them there and reflects on them. I gathered and stored thoughts and feelings and griefs about Ryan after his suicide. I treasured them. I couldn’t process them right away, but I had to let them find a place in my heart. In 2020, we are gathering many things into our hearts. We cannot process them now; they will unfold over months and years, but we are storing them away. Returning to this treasure trove will not be easy, but it is a process we will go through for a long time. We cannot be afraid of this year. (Tired of it? Yes. Exasperated? Yes.) Rep. Lewis was an example of strength, dignity, and courage in so many ways. One of the most concrete ways was that he stepped foot, over and over again, on the place that caused him some of the most pain. He returned, and he showed us how to be transformed.
July 28, 2020
Your body is wise. Yesterday I was visiting with a friend about how grief affects the body. She’s tired; her body is exhausted. It reminded me of that utterly worn-out feeling you get with grief. It’s not like normal tiredness or sick tiredness or anxious tiredness. It is a bone-deep exhaustion that’s emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual all at once. We don’t talk about this very often when we discuss grief. But it’s definitely a piece of the grieving process. Grief is sensual. It’s a head thing, but it is very much a body thing too. You hold it in your muscles and bones, as well as in your heart and soul. Covid exhaustion isn’t quite the same as grief exhaustion, but there’s a certain listlessness occurring these days. I’ve seen the meme where it’s described as the “covidcoaster”: one day you’re great and doing all the healthy things; the next you drink heavily and can’t remember how to put on real pants. We are disoriented. We are being told so many things. Some of it rings true; some of it rings very, very hollow. We are struggling to let our guards down, which is keeping us safe. But it is also exhausting us. This exhaustion takes us by surprise, perhaps. We think we’re fine and then, boom, we’re not. Listen to your body. Listen to that exhaustion. It’s how you know that you need to slow down, that you need to acknowledge the grief that’s occurring. Our bodies know in ways our minds don’t (always) that this is unusual and scary and tiring. We can rationalize our safety measures and risk factors. We can think logically about masks, distance, and hygiene. But our bodies are doing the work of holding the tension, fear, and depression about this new world. So of course they’re exhausted. Let your body rest. Let it settle. Listen to what it has to tell you these days. And honor it by paying attention.
July 29, 2020
Reconsider women’s beauty. A “challenge” started this week: post a selfie where you feel beautiful; ask other women to do the same; flood social media with photos of ourselves being pretty. My feeds, of course, have been full of beautiful women. Strong women. Intelligent women. But that’s always been the case. I’ve been tagged to participate in this challenge by a few women. I’m grateful, but I haven’t done it yet. Until now. I was looking for a way in, to make it resonate. The point of social media is to put our best selves forward. We do it all the time. I post the beautiful loaves of bread, not the wonky ones. (Okay, I admit, they all have their beauty.) We post ourselves at our best. Who wants to see us with unbrushed hair, the holey pajamas, just trying to get through the days? No one. Maybe our significant others. Maybe. Social media allows us to show off our shiny, pretty selves. I’ve mentioned Breonna Taylor a few times in these tips, mostly in tandem with other Black people who have been killed recently. But she was a beautiful woman too. She doesn’t get to post her photo this week. She was killed while sleeping. The cops executed a no-knock raid on the wrong house. Her boyfriend, a licensed gun owner, opened fire when the house was being broken into. Of course, he did. Because a gun was there and at the ready, presumably for “protection.” But Breonna had been sleeping, and the cops returned fire, and she was killed. I certainly have thoughts about the elements of this story, particularly the raised stakes once guns are present in any situation, but that’s slightly beside the point. What matters is a young woman is dead and shouldn’t be. When we consider our activism, when we consider our votes and campaigning and issues, do we consider the women? Do we see the Breonna Taylors? Even those of us who have long called ourselves feminists: Do we look for the women? Or do we get tired of having to search all the time for the equality? It’s easy to post a photo of ourselves on the socials. It takes much more effort to find ways to truly keep our eyes on women and the justice they deserve. We women need to be heard. We have voices of strength and integrity. Women have been releasing roars of lament and rage in recent years. At times, we have whimpered in exhaustion or sat in stunned silence. We are as beautiful in these moments as we are when we’re all done up and ready to party. When we consider our beauty, we need to attend to the beauty that isn’t as obvious. Breonna Taylor’s death is ugly; it’s uncomfortable; it’s unjust. But take the time today to find photos of her. See her face. Say her name. Pray and work and vote for justice. If we’re aiming for beauty, maybe justice is how we’ll achieve it.
July 30, 2020
Keep your eye on the ball. Today Trump has done what Trump does: distract. Today is John Lewis’s funeral; a devastating economic report on the last quarter was released. John Lewis, who had more integrity in his pinky finger than Trump has had in his whole life, is being laid to rest. He has been laying in state as people pay their respects. He is being mourned. And our economy is doing poorly. It was being propped up before the pandemic, and a recession was expected even before that crisis threw everything up in the air. The economy that was “great” wasn’t actually doing all that well, and we’re seeing just how bad it has become. Add to that the continued failed response to covid-19 and over 150,000 American deaths. Of course, Trump needed a distraction today. Of course, he went for the election. It is extremely unlikely that the election will be moved or canceled. I’m sure AG Barr is tying himself in knots trying to find a legal (or semi-legal) way to make it happen. Take some deep breaths, though. See the distraction for what it is. Look at Lewis. Watch some of the funeral if you can. Read his piece in the New York Times today. Look at the people who are out of work and struggling and in need of help. Donate to the food shelf or a women’s shelter or a medical charity. See if there’s a way to help parents who don’t know what school will look like this fall. Ask your teacher friends if they need sanitizing products and pick up some extras next time you’re at the store. Donate to or volunteer for an organization that registers voters and works for voting rights. Trump threw a flaming torch into all the balls we’re trying to juggle these days. Let it fall, stomp on it to put out the flames, and keep your eye on what matters. Trump is being Trump. Let’s not allow that to stop us being the thoughtful, intelligent, and kind humans we are.
July 31, 2020
Rethink. Writing and editing are continuous rethinking. A sentence doesn’t work, so you rework it. The word you want doesn’t fit, so you find a way to fit it. You can’t remember the rules for lay/lie, so you rework the piece to avoid those words. (I will neither confirm nor deny that the last is an autobiographical confession.) The Chicago Manual of Style has a Q&A section on their website. It’s updated monthly with questions from editors and writers. Some of the discussions get into the editorial weeds; others are applicable to all areas of life. It was in response to one of the questions submitted to Chicago that one of their editors answered, “There is almost always a way to rethink.” I have loved that from the moment I first read it years ago. We can fall into patterns of thinking; it’s easy and we’re lazy. New thinking takes work and creativity and imagination. We don’t always have the time or energy for it. And that’s not necessarily a problem. But I suspect that one of the reasons 2020 is hitting us so hard is that it’s requiring a lot of rethinking. And that’s taking a lot of energy and making us tired and crabby. We need to find the excitement of rethinking. We need to tap into the creativity of this time. Some of our problems are new or haven’t affected us the same as they are now, and they require new solutions. Some of our problems are age-old, and we’re realizing just how insidious they are and have been; they require new solutions. When old solutions no longer work, when they become tired and problematic in and of themselves, it’s time to rethink. All the pieces have been thrown up in the air. We can rearrange them if we so choose. Some of us want to put them back exactly the way they were, and that’s an understandable reaction. But it isn’t realistic. It’s up to those of us who have the energy, desire, and creativity to rethink the pieces, to try new orders and new ways. That’s a big ask. So let’s start small. Where can you rethink in your day? What’s not working for you that you simply put up with? Can you rearrange it, let it go, do it differently so whatever it is actually works for you? Is there a person who drains you? Can you rethink your relationship with them? We need to practice rethinking so it doesn’t become quite so exhausting, so we can allow the imagination to flow rather than stagnate. And if we rethink here, within our own lives and homes and workplaces, maybe it’ll expand into our country and world.
August 3, 2020
Breathe into the space. I am not the only one to note the parallels between an infection that inflicts the lungs and a Black man crying out for breath—both of which have caused massive upheaval. Our breath is sacred, grounding, life-giving. It sustains and refreshes. When we talk about being inspired, we are talking about how the Spirit, a breath, invigorates and moves us. We have been holding our breath and trying to let it out again during these months. We have become very attentive to our own breathing and that of others. We are not, in many ways, comfortable, and our breath is strained as a result. There’s a slightly annoying thing that yoga teachers say when they direct you into a difficult pose: “Breathe into this space.” You might be stretched out into a shape that you never could have imagined your body taking, but they want you to “breathe into it.” Sometimes, the teacher suggests you scan your body at the beginning of a class, noticing what places in your body are holding tension or pain or stress. Then they suggest you breathe into these spaces. It takes a while to realize the wisdom of this concept. When we are bound, when we are holding things, when we feel like we’re not quite moving right, we need breath. Breath is what gives us the ability to loosen, to move, to expand. When we are afraid or stressed, we tighten to protect. It freezes and calcifies. But breathing into a space, as impossible as it might seem in the moment, gives us something new. It brings our attention to what needs healing. It slows us down so we can attend to what needs movement or stilling or touch. Our inclination in these months of pandemic and protest is to conserve our breath, to protect, to strain in these spaces. Natural as that inclination may be, it’s not helpful. We are being called to stretch. Still. It’s an ongoing call this year. (It’s an ongoing call in life, really.) And as impossible as it may seem, we need to breathe into this space. So many lives have been lost. So many have been deprived of breath. We need to be breathing in honor and memory of them. By breathing into this space, we may be able to loosen it to create new space, new movement, new abilities.
August 4, 2020
Fold the laundry. You’ve heard about the seven deadly sins, I assume. They originated from what were actually eight deadly thoughts, not necessarily actions. The desert fathers and mothers, the early monastics, warned against sinful thinking. If you were constantly thinking about food, you were not thinking of God and how God provides for all one needs. If you thought about how great you were, filling yourself with pride, then you were putting yourself in God’s shoes, not letting God be God. Today we might consider mindfulness as the way we control our thoughts, to not get carried away with dangerous or unhealthy thinking; for the early monastics, watching our thoughts was a way to focus solely on God. The eighth thought, the one that got lost in the move from thinking to doing, is acedia. In today’s medicalized world, it often gets described as a kind of depression. There are distinct differences, however, between depression and acedia. One can and sometimes should be treated medically; the other is a spiritual “sickness” and therefore has a different treatment. Acedia is a listlessness, a heaviness. But the desert monastics also called it the noonday demon: it’s the thing that doesn’t allow you to settle into where you are and what you are doing. In the middle of praying your daily psalms, you get up and wander to your next-cave neighbor to see what’s happening with her. You chat for a bit. Then you wander back home. And instead of continuing your prayers, maybe you dust the cave. And because that was work, you decide a nap is necessary. By the time your nap is over, you haven’t said your prayers or you’ve rushed through them. You meander into nighttime. And then you get up the next day and it all happens again. Over and over again. Acedia is the tedium of the quotidian endlessly spreading out before us. The pandemic has created a sense of acedia within me at times. Why vacuum today when the floors will still be there tomorrow and guests will not be? A nap sounds so much better than weeding the gardens. Ordering pizza requires much less effort than actually cooking decent and healthy food. Scrolling through Facebook is more mind-numbing and somehow satisfying than actually working. In her book Acedia and Me, Kathleen Norris addresses this deadly thought and how she has come to terms with it. One of the things she suggests is doing the daily work. With acedia, you want to avoid the tedium, but, oddly enough, doing those tedious little things is what moves you out of the listlessness. So you say the prayers, you do the dishes, you check in on your neighbors to make sure they’re alive and well (not as distraction but as genuine care), and you fold the laundry. You enter into the quotidian rather than wish it away or waste it. I am not always good at this. Naps are some of my favorite things, and occasionally laziness feels nice. But so does a freshly dusted home and a clean kitchen. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the tedium of these pandemic days, despite the fact that your days might seem more “normal” than they have in a while, consider entering that tedium and doing the work of it anyway. As for me, there’s a basket of laundry that’s calling out to be folded.
August 5, 2020
Choose the open spaces. Today marks one year since Toni Morrison died. I still can’t believe we live in a world without her. That seems dramatic and strange to say, given that I never met her and she wasn’t a close friend. And yet, in some sense, I fancy that I know her well. Her words ring in my head and heart. They bring me back to myself when I falter. They sing to me and hug me and comfort me. They challenge me and awe me and expand me. I am a different person because I have read Toni Morrison. I can’t say that about everyone I’ve read, but she moved something in me from the first sentence of Song of Solomon. She’s moving me still. Her last published book was The Source of Self-Regard, a book of essays. I haven’t made it all the way through them, in large part because I’m savoring them. I want to stretch this out, so I pick it up and chew on a few essays at a time. Then I put it back down, knowing that in a few months, I’ll need more sustenance. I would love to read what she would have to say about our world today, in the year since her passing. I am certain it would cut to our core. I share two quotes, though, from The Source of Self-Regard that I think capture much of what she would tell us today:
“No more apologies for a bleeding heart when the opposite is no heart at all. Danger of losing our humanity must be met with more humanity.” (“The War on Error,” 29)
“Our past is bleak. Our future is dim. But I am not reasonable. A reasonable man adjusts to his environment. An unreasonable man does not. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable man. I prefer not to adjust to my environment. I refuse the prison of ‘I’ and choose the open spaces of ‘we.'” (“Moral Inhabitants,” 47)
I do not want to be reasonable either. Our problems these days call for unreasonable imaginations. They require humanity and openness and refusing to accept what has been normalized. When we choose the “we,” we expand. When we choose the “I,” it becomes a prison. We’re seeing this play out over and over again in 2020. We have to elbow our way into the open spaces. We have to be unreasonable. We have to be human.
August 6, 2020
Consider what’s radiating. One of the things I’ve learned from going to the chiropractor and getting massages is that what you think is the problem isn’t always the problem. You might go in with a locked-up right shoulder, but it’s actually your left hip that’s out of place. Your right knee feels off, but it’s actually your left knee that’s wonky. Something hurts or is injured, but we protect it and therefore other things get off balance. The chiropractor or massage therapist deals with the immediate problem—the locked shoulder or off knee—but then they go to some unexpected place to get to the root of the issue. The problem, the pain, has radiated. The way it’s manifesting needs to be dealt with, but true healing won’t happen unless you dig a little deeper to find out where the real problem is. Our society is like this too. The more I pay attention to the political, the more I realize that the problems we see are not the main issues. I think Elizabeth Warren was brilliant at articulating this in her platform when she was a primary candidate. The immediate problem is x, but the root of the problem is y; so she had plans for dealing with x but also for addressing y. Hearing her speak about our issues has taught me a lot about cause and effect, about what’s radiating through society. If we address only the immediate crises, we will never heal, never be the country or people or world we are called to be. The pandemic and the protests have shed light on what we have been protecting and what has therefore gotten off balance. At the roots are racism, unfettered capitalism, deregulation, individualism, and, I would say, a skewed understanding of the “American dream.” These are the issues that need addressing so we can heal what ails us. But it isn’t just out there, in society, in the world. It’s in our homes and neighborhoods, our churches and groups of friends too. What are we protecting in our little worlds? What’s getting off balance because we aren’t attending to root issues? What is it that we need to address on the surface, and where do we need to go deeper? What is radiating? And if we heal these things, what will radiate instead?
August 7, 2020
Arrive. Over the years I have done morning writing off and on. I get up, get a glass of water, set a timer, and write. It’s a way to clear my head and heart. At some point, I realized that the writing needed to be paired with movement. As I worked through my uncles’ suicides and the resulting grief and anxiety, the writing brought stuff up; I started doing yoga to let it out of my body. This was a stop-and-start process. Until three months ago when it became daily (minus weekends). The writing begins my day; the yoga sets the tone for it. I have noticed, though, that in recent weeks the writing time is scattered. I haven’t settled into it well. My mind wanders, and much of the writing time is spent thinking about what to write or staring out the window. It feels fruitless. So I decided to try something I’ve learned in the yoga time: arriving. Often at the start of a yoga class the teacher gives you time to settle onto the mat. You sit or stand still. You arrive. You take time to let your breath slow down, let your mind calm, let your spirit catch up with your body. You set an intention and think about what you want the practice to be about, what it might have to teach you. And then you begin to move. But first you have to arrive. This morning I arrived to the page. I set my timer for a few minutes longer than normal, and I allowed myself to sit in silence for a bit. It transformed the time. Rather than rushing into words, I allowed stillness and silence to create space for the words. There was still some window gazing, but I was much more focused on the page than I have been. Arriving makes for a different way of being present. There is a mystic who says that when you do the dishes, you should do the dishes. (I can’t remember if it’s Merton or Nouwen or a Buddhist monk.) I think of that often while I scrub pans and silverware. Be present to the work you’re doing at the time you’re doing it. This is another form of arrival. So often we move from one thing to another without thinking much about it; we carry what we’ve done with us, or we are mentally five steps ahead of where we are physically. But to arrive at where you are and do what you’re doing can transform what’s being done. It allows for more attention and intention. It allows grace to seep into the process and, perhaps, into the self.
August 10, 2020
Attend to your perception. A few years ago I purchased writing book called A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie. Each day has a reflection on the writing life and a quote from someone wonderful. They’re short, perfect little lectios for my writing time. I usually read one as I start my morning writing, and I reflect on it or not, depending on how I feel or what the topic is. Today’s reflection was about how Abercrombie takes her dog for a walk, and he smells and hears so much more than she can comprehend. She’s lost in her brain fog while he’s sniffing away, getting all the news he needs for his day. They can walk the same path over and over again, but he’s still sniffing and listening, gathering information about his little world. Our dogs do this too. The way Buddy can sense a storm coming is truly remarkable (if annoying). And Cully’s ability to know where chipmunks are in the yard is impressive. Scout too has her instincts: I love watching her hunt a spider who finds his way in the house or be dazzled by the way light moves across a wall or the ceiling. These animals teach us to notice things differently. Covid-19 is raging unchecked in the United States. Our worlds got very small very quickly earlier this year. We have been expanding them, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly. I understand the inclination. But the more I read about infection rates, the more I want to stay home and never leave. I can get trapped in this small world. I can feel hemmed in by it, constrained by it. While I find safety and comfort here, it can also cause a kind of claustrophobia. But what if we shift our perception? What if we open our eyes and ears to see and hear what’s happening right here? What if we smell the changing seasons, the different times of day? What can we perceive about who we are where we are? What self-discovery, what human discovery can we unlock if we shift our perception?
August 11, 2020
See Mary. An interesting thing happened yesterday. I went to get the mail, but when I got to the front door, a woman and her two daughters were standing there. Their car had run out of gas. The person in the house across the street from where the car was stalled was threatening to have it towed because it “bothered his dogs.” I have a hunch he was bothered by their Blackness. She was frightened. They had been trying to get in to the local women’s shelter over the weekend but were not having luck. She had no phone. She had come here from elsewhere. She was trying to find safe haven. She looked exhausted. The girls looked confused but resigned. They were vulnerable. I called people. I tried to get help. I learned that it is incredibly hard to get help. She did not want the cops because she said they had not been helpful in the past and they’d not had good experiences with cops. I understood. When a Black person tells you they don’t want the cops called, and that Black person is not threatening you in any way, you listen. You listen especially hard because there’s a litany of Black names ringing in your head, names belonging to people who should still be alive today but aren’t. I am not confronted by vulnerable and endangered people very often, if ever. I sit in my home, do my work, run some errands, live a comfortable and unbothered life. There are little crises here and there, of course. Friends and family with medical concerns. Various griefs that life brings. Mental and emotional struggles. But fleeing for one’s life and safety? That’s new to me. Nothing about the encounter was easy. She was wary. So was I. Strangers on the doorstop rarely make one comfortable. We watch a lot of detective shows; they make an impression. And I admit that during a few of the phone calls, I simply wanted her to go away. Thank me for trying. Move along. Find someone else more qualified and able to help. But she was Mary with her two Christs standing at my door, asking for concern. I could give her that—and some granola bars. I got them some gas as well, and, with the help of another neighbor, we gave her a couple of gallons to at least get her along her way. In the direction of safe haven. She has weighed heavy on my heart since I left her and her daughters at their car. I am hopeful they find rest, safety, care. I met Mary yesterday; she was tired.
August 12, 2020
Watch what you buy into. I’m not the first one to say this: we are being bombarded with information. Social media has changed the landscape. New stuff comes at us all the time. It’s tempting to take what we see at face value. Take this new “save the children” hashtag that’s been going around. On the surface, saving children from trafficking is certainly an admirable and important thing. But the hashtag is not about that. It’s a code for a theory tied to QAnon: that Hollywood and various political and celebrity elites are involved in a pedophile ring. This is the same thinking and theory that led to the shooting a few years ago at a pizza parlor because the guy thought Hillary Clinton was running a trafficking ring out of the restaurant’s basement (which didn’t exist). This hashtag and conspiracy claim that people are more focused on covid deaths, which are minimal and possibly a hoax, than on trafficking victims. Because apparently we can’t care about more than one thing at a time. People, we are smarter than this. We can dig a little deeper into memes and stories to find out where they come from and why they’re trending. Keep this in mind as we move toward the election too. Already Trump and his enablers are trying to push Kamala Harris as an extremist for the left wing of the Democrats, also claiming that she’s not qualified to be a vice president because her parents are immigrants. This is simply false: she’s very much a moderate Democrat, and she is qualified. We can discuss what level of moderation or progressivism is needed right now, but let’s keep our eye on the ball. She’s intelligent, solid, and strong. (From the speculation I saw, all of the candidates shortlisted for vp had these qualities.) Maybe, maybe we look for the good here instead of tearing down or being tempted to the fantastical. Rash judgments are easy, and Lord knows I make plenty of them. But stepping back to see what’s behind a trend or a hashtag or a story is essential, especially in these final months of the election. We too are intelligent, solid, and strong. Let’s put these qualities to good use.
August 14, 2020
Take courage. I was recently reminded of something one of my high school religion teachers wrote to me. I had asked her about courage. She responded with a beautiful letter. In returning to this letter, almost twenty years after she sent it, I see how very much she gave me in her words. As a freshman in college, I relished these words for the support they gave from a favorite teacher. Now, I see them as communion, as visitation, as encounter. As I have worked through anxiety over the years, one of her lines has come back to me regularly: “Lauren, some days it takes courage to simply get out of bed—and begin the process of trying to be real all over again.” This week has been difficult for me. From Mary on our doorstep to voting on Tuesday, from being behind on a work project to worrying about someone I know who’s sick—the anxiety has been high. I am keeping my chin up, trying to push through. I can’t not push through right now. I would love to spend this rainy day curled up in bed with a book and tea, letting my mind and body reset. I don’t have that time, though. So I’m creating smaller resets: enjoying writing, doing gentler yoga, quilting at night, doing the work that needs to get done. Slowly things will get set back to right. They always do. When we struggle with anxiety and grief, it’s easy to think we are not strong or capable or courageous. We are tempted into believing that we are less. But the truth is, opening our eyes every morning and putting our feet on the floor is an act of courage. Being real, opening ourselves to what makes us vulnerable, letting the fear come but not being swept away by it—this is courage. Marvel movies and action blockbusters have distorted our sense of courage. We think we need big guns and lots of explosions and sexy outfits. Sometimes we just need yoga pants, a comfy shirt, some coffee, loving words from loving ones, and a commitment to be real in the face of what comes. Yes, this is courage.