Hello wonderful human,
How are you this extended weekend, as tomorrow’s holiday honors the courageous and committed Martin Luther King, Jr. I invite you to join me in doing, reading or listening to something, or engaging with another from the heart of MLK, in the way he called us to and devoted his life to. There is much work to do around racial reconciliation, inclusivity, equality and healing, but each of us can make a difference within and beyond the circles we inhabit. Don’t underestimate that. Your efforts matter—large and small.
The past few weeks have been unexpectedly full, given holiday activities and commitments, a 27th wedding anniversary!, preparing for the upcoming work semester and maximizing a robust snowfall before we return to university and Zoom workspaces.
My parts are restored and excited to begin and resume consultation groups with new and returning students this week. This is just what Pauses should give us: replenish our spirits, clarify our purpose and rekindle our love for our work and the people with whom we work. Experiencing the despair of underemployment due to a chronic injury, emphasized the privilege it is to be able to work at all, to be busy, to have the capacity to contribute to another or a group. None of these capacities are a given. I hope you can recognize and treasure these opportunities if you are so fortunate to experience them.
Our recent volatile weather patterns–from blizzards to balmy–included torrents of rain that melted piles of snow covering the impermeable, frozen earth. As you might expect, this combination brought flooding to our region, including stealth rainwater that snuck into our carpeted, full-of-books basement for the first time in the 20 years we’ve lived here.
As frustratingly inconvenient and stressful as this was, (yes, a chorus of unhappy parts emerged!), we were able to focus on some positives: At least we were home. At least it wasn’t sewage (been there, done that, yech!). At least we could dry things out on our own without too much expense. The damage gave us the nudge to simplify and refresh our cozy living space a bit. Maybe we can invite you over sometime!
I’m continually struck over the paradox of the winter season:
The blustery weather that creates a magical sanctuary of snow also brings damage and injury. Celebrating winter is a privilege. Squealing like a child while skiing through idyllic snow conditions brought by inhospitable blizzards is only possible with appropriate clothing to keep you warm and dry, health and equipment to enjoy the activity, a reliable vehicle to access trailheads and heated shelter to return to after a demanding day in the elements. I recognize this reality throughout the long days I’m outside ski touring—the gift after being compromised for so many years from winter activities that my brain couldn’t handle.
You might be surprised looking at the photos below which one represents my biggest brain victory in 12+ years. Yes, I still notice subtle gains in ability and filtering even after this long. May this encourage you or a loved one impacted by a brain injury. The brain’s healing path and pace is unpredictable and can be as subtle as the shifts of a glacier or geology. It could take years to notice the improvement, but when you do, it’s significant.
The first photo is in our Toyota after my first day traveling in a car full of 5 humans to and from a day backcountry skiing. To say I was exuberant is an understatement! I waited years before I could ride in a car with anyone besides Erik due to challenges processing any conversation in a loud, moving vehicle. I also had to wait years to be able to share this activity with him because of its neurological and physical demands. Moving for 6-10 hours in one day demands more on our brains than I ever realized before getting hurt.
The other photos give you a sense of the winter sanctuary we’ve been able to immerse ourselves in the past 6 weeks, along with a cozy cabin in the Canadian Rockies we skinned up to and shared with 6 friends for 3 nights. Being able to navigate the social, auditory and physical demands of that endeavor is another brain-healin’, introvert’s victory! I give thanks every step and every turn of these demanding days.
I hope you, too, are able to recognize areas of capacity, courage and ability in your own life. What are you able to do that you may not have been able to (for whatever reason) a few months or years ago? What can you celebrate and savor in a deeper way this month? this season?
And to loop back to where this mailing started: What MLK-inspired action or introspection might you choose for today or tomorrow, or beyond? I’m sharing with you for accountability, even though this gesture feels so embarrassingly small. But it’s more than nothing. And that’s something. I will finally get started reading two books I’ve held close for too long: The Pain We Carry, written by my passionate and mighty IFS Colleague, Natalie Gutiérrez, LMFT, and Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (unless I can find the moving audio version of Coates reading this book to his son instead! I included a link to this once upon a mailing.)
Thanks for pausing with me today and for your role in your family and your community. I hope this gave you a few morsels to chew on or be encouraged by.!
wishing you health and safety,