Untie the Knot in Your Heart

We-all-have-an-old-knotThe holidays can be a beautiful time of year filled with family, friends, laughter, and a little more time to relax and enjoy, but they can also be a time of loneliness and longing, of regret and despair, and of too much time on our hands to dwell on the “what if’s” and “if only’s”. You can make yourself sick with that stuff.

A lot of people suffer from the holiday blues. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, they’re particularly painful. The grief is compounded by the intense longing to share more time with the person we wish we could hug, when it seems everyone else gets to be with family and friends. Basically, the holidays magnify everything. If you’re happy right now, that happiness is multiplied in the sharing of the experience. If you’re in pain, the pain feels even larger, and more defeating and overwhelming.

Sometimes we’re derailed by our expectations and “shoulds”. We have ideas about how things should be, how life should be, how people should be, and how we should feel. And sometimes our expectations are not realistic. Remind yourself that no feeling is forever, and that you don’t have to believe everything you think, as the saying goes. And also, short of grieving the loss of someone due to death, or heartbreak of any kind, try to be disciplined. Again, this does not apply to people who are grieving, because I’m a firm believer that you have to allow yourself to feel your feelings and lean into reality as it is. But short of those knifing losses, be disciplined with your mind. Don’t allow yourself to spiral down, or feed a sad story, or contract against your experience. Open to it, acknowledge your pain or envy or longing, but don’t feed it or wallow in it, because it will become hard to breathe.

If you notice that you’re doing a number on yourself, pick your mind up and choose some thoughts that will strengthen you. Maybe this holiday season will be tough, but who knows what 2015 has in store? I’ve certainly lived through some challenging and lonely holidays. It’s not easy, but then they’re over and life moves forward, and the truth is, you really never know what’s around the bend. Your world could be turned upside down in good ways or difficult ones, on any given day, and with no warning. That’s how life is.

Maybe today is challenging, but tomorrow, anything could happen. You might have an idea that lights you up and inspires you and sends you down a road you’d never have imagined taking. Maybe you’ll meet someone, and you won’t even recognize the way your life looks six months from now. I’m not necessarily talking about romance. I’m just saying, leave room to heal. Leave space to be surprised and amazed. If this holiday season is rough, and you have it in you, find a way to uplift someone else. That will definitely lift your spirits. And do take some time to focus on what you do have, right now. When we feed gratitude, we remember the gifts in our life, and how many things are going right, and that sets us up to come from a place of abundance, rather than fear or neediness. We really can take so much for granted. It’s a gift to wake up, even if you’re in the midst of despair. Just having this experience of being human is a gift. Having a healthy body, a place to call home, food in your fridge, people you love beyond words, who also love you and see you and cherish you. These are the most important gifts in life. Just the potential for connection is huge.

Hang in there if you’re having a tough time. You’re not alone. Sending you love, and extra hugs, Ally Hamilton

The Weight of Regret

disciplineregretHere’s the thing: it feels awful when we aren’t treating ourselves well, or we’re allowing ourselves to be treated badly by someone else, and it also feels terrible when we’re treating other people poorly. The number one thing you need in order to be at peace, is the feeling that you’re a good, kind person who’s doing your best. If you know that about yourself, it sets you up to be forgiving when you make mistakes, and it also creates a foundation for you to be forgiving of others. It’s hard for love to exist without the safety of knowing perfection is not expected. It’s not easy to make ourselves vulnerable, or to be completely honest if we fear that the result might be the withdrawal of love.

There are some things that are really not okay, and I’ll spell out a few of them. If you know someone is in love with you, and you don’t feel the same, it’s not okay to accept their gifts, and when I say gifts, I mean literal, physical or material gifts, including jewelry, expensive dinners, new hiking boots you really want, or any number of other goods and services, but I also mean it’s not okay to accept the gifts of their time and energy and tender heart if you don’t feel in your gut that this is the person for you. Sometimes we care about people, we enjoy their company, we have a good time when we hang out, we’re attracted, but there’s just that certain something that is not there. If you allow that to go on for too long, you are literally stealing time away from a person who may not be strong enough to leave you. Time they could be spending getting over you and moving on, and possibly finding someone who could and would love them all the way. Everyone deserves to be loved like that. Everyone deserves to be cherished. It’s so hard to walk away from people when we’re in love, or we’re “hooked in”. If you’re the stronger party, putting an end to it and sticking with that is a gift you can give, even though it won’t be readily or happily accepted, but the other party’s well-being and your own integrity hang in the balance.

It’s hard to gift someone their freedom when it means you lose your comfort, because of course it feels great when someone is in love with us. Being adored and cared for and thought of is wonderful, but it kind of stinks if you’re accepting that without feeling it in kind. Further, if you know that’s what you’re doing, you’re not going to feel good about yourself. Shame, self-loathing and regret weigh us down. Most of us have had times when we weren’t feeling good about ourselves, and we let someone treat us poorly because we were desperate for love, or a happy ending. Often, that’s really what we’re doing when we’re stuck in a painful cycle with someone; we’re trying to rewrite ancient history, which cannot be done.

It takes discipline to do the right thing, and to stick with it, for yourself, or someone else. It takes a commitment to feeling good about yourself, whether you’re the person taking advantage of someone’s love, or you’re the person giving when you know in your gut you should be walking out the door. Kidding yourself is a terrible business. The number one relationship in your life is always the one you’re having with yourself. That’s the foundation for all the other relationships. I would protect that relationship fiercely. Allowing yourself to participate in situations that make you doubt your integrity, your kindness and your compassion is a sure way to damage your ability to feel good when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, or lay your head down to sleep at night. Don’t let too much time go by like that.

Sending you love out there,

Ally Hamilton

The Power of the Real Apology

Never-ruin-an-apologyWhen my son was almost six, he fell off the play structure at school one morning, and broke his elbow. He went to the nurse’s office, bawling, and she made him bend and straighten his arm a few times. She then treated the scrape he’d also gotten, and sent him back to class. At some point during the morning, he told his teacher his arm was really hurting, but since he’d been cleared by the nurse, she told him to do the best he could. Three and a half hours after he’d broken his elbow, he went to gym class, where he was asked to run laps. He made it about halfway through the first lap when he collapsed, and when his coach saw his elbow, he told him it was definitely broken, and sent him back to the nurse.

It was at this point that I got a phone call. I was at the school in under five minutes, my daughter, a toddler at the time, hanging from my hip as I raced across the school grounds to get to the office. Once inside, I saw my son, laid out in the nurse’s office, the principal brightly chatting next to him. He was pale, his pupils were dilated, and when he saw me, fat tears moved down his face with no sound. I took one look at his elbow, which was four times bigger than it should have been, and knew it was broken. I put my daughter down and picked my son up, the principal still chatting away, phrases like, “sometimes these things don’t present as that bad at first”, and “he seemed fine”, as my mind raced about where to head. The pediatrician? The ER? Did I need to call my health insurance provider? All these thoughts were flooding through my brain as I carried him to my car, his knapsack over one shoulder, my daughter toddling along to keep up, the principal continuing with her very unhelpful sing-song chatter. I finally turned to her and said, “Listen, I’m not going to sue the school. If you want to help me, grab his knapsack, or carry my daughter, but please stop talking so I can think.”

It turned out that the right order was the pediatrician, and then the hospital for X-rays and a cast. It so happened that it was Halloween, but we didn’t do any trick-or-treating that year. At no time that evening or the following day, did anyone from the school call to check on my son. Not the nurse, not the principal. I knew at that point we were switching schools. Accidents happen. Mistakes are made. But when there’s no acknowledgement, no apology, and no understanding, there’s also no future.

I’m sure there was a concern about litigation. This happens with corporations and politicians a lot, and it can also happen at the scene of a car accident. “I’m sorry” can be construed as admission of guilt, wrong-doing and culpability, so people often turn to the “non-apology apology”, which is an actual thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-apology_apology

“I’m sorry you feel that way” is not the same as, “I’m sorry I blew it.” Mostly, that’s all people want when they’re feeling hurt, confused, or angry; they want to feel understood, seen, cared for and heard. They want to know that the other party realizes the legitimacy of their feelings, and wants to take responsibility for their part. That’s all most people need to forgive, to move closer, to move on. There was no part of me that wanted to sue anyone. Not for a millisecond. But without a heartfelt apology, or even a call, there was also no part of me that could stay. And that holds true for any relationship, whether we’re talking about the one you’re having with your children’s school, or the one you’re having with your partner, your mother, your child, or your best friend.

Fear is what stops us from saying we’re sorry. Maybe it’s fear of being sued in some cases, but when we’re talking about personal relationships, we’re talking about fear of being shunned or rejected or punished in some way. The fear that love will be withdrawn. The fear that we will no longer be seen as trustworthy or lovable. There are all kinds of reasons a person might be afraid to own his or her mistakes. If you grew up in a house where you were punished excessively, that would do it, for example. I don’t know when we became so afraid of each other. So afraid of being honest, of being real, of being vulnerable. Maybe it’s because we’re sold this false bill of goods that we’re all competing against one another, and only the strongest survive and thrive. Perhaps we see admission of culpability as a weakness, but really, it takes strength to own it when we screw up, which we will. No one is perfect. No one operates from her highest self in every moment. Forgiving ourselves and forgiving one another are necessary gifts we have to grant if we want to get along with each other in this world. And we could really use that right now. We need more connection, more caring, more love, and less fear. We need to be able to reach across the divide and say, “If you’re suffering, I’m suffering, too, and I’m sorry. Let’s try to make it right together.”

We get so caught up in being right, sometimes we lose sight of what it means to be human, which is so much more gratifying. Sending you love, as always, Ally Hamilton

It Doesn’t Have to Own You

fearPatience and tolerance are two qualities well worth working on if we want to move through life in a peaceful way. Sometimes things unfold the way we want them to, and at other times, we may find ourselves at a complete loss to make sense of what’s happening, what we’re doing, or which way to head. So many of the things we’ll move through are not comfortable or desirable, but it’s how we face what we’re given that most determines how life will feel.

There are certain things you can control. You can do the work to heal, and that in itself is a personal project that might take years, and a willingness to explore the tools that will be the most useful to you. Maybe it’s yoga and seated meditation, maybe it’s therapy, journaling, reading, salsa dancing, hiking, the possibilities are endless. Generally, those pursuits that put you in a state of “flow” are going to help you loosen your grip on any stance or story about your life, or why you are the way you are, that might not be serving you. That might, in fact, be blocking you from opening to joy.

Sometimes people bristle, and say, “Wow, there’s so much emphasis placed on people turning inward, like it’s all about them.” The thing is, if you want to give everything you’ve got, your first order of business is to strip away anything that’s blocking you. Like self-doubt, low self-esteem, feelings that you might not be worthy of love, or have anything special to offer. Also, you might need to lean into your rage, or stop blaming other people for your unhappiness. You might need to reclaim your power, or discover it for the first time. You might need to unlearn things like, “Everybody leaves”, or “Everybody cheats”, or “You can’t trust anyone”. You might need to mourn, to grieve. It’s also possible that you’ll find yourself way off course, and totally out of touch with your intuition. It’s more common than you might think, because so many people learn to push things down, to repress their feelings, needs, wants, ideas, to take care of other people at their own expense. The healing process is personal, but the one commonality amongst us all is that it isn’t easy. I’d argue that it’s a responsibility to undertake that journey, though, because once you’re at peace with yourself, you can move through the world in a peaceful and loving way. It might be an inward journey at the start, but it leads toward connection and the ability to live and love with your heart wide open, and those are gifts you can then bring to the world around you.

Being patient and tolerant with yourself is huge. So many people are living with a loud, relentless, shaming inner critic. It’s like living with a roommate who loathes you, who’s full of contempt and disgust, who never misses an opportunity to let you know all the ways you aren’t measuring up. Who would ever want to live like that? You can’t evict your inner voice. You might have to starve it, and learn how to feed a loving voice. That way, the inner roommate is rooting you on, not tearing you down. That’s life-changing. Being at war with yourself is heartbreaking. When you feel like crap about yourself, you aren’t going to make loving choices. You’ll find yourself in relationships where you have to shrink, or accept so much less than what you really want. You may be inclined to drown out that inner tyrant with drugs or alcohol or shopping or food or sex, but none of that works. You really have to get in there and have a face-off. A voice-off. Eventually, you’re going to have to grab that nasty voice by the throat, push it up against the wall, and say, “Enough! Enough with your crappy attitude, you don’t get to pollute my house and kick me in the head anymore.” Believe me, that feels good. caring about yourself, your well-being, your tender heart, those things feel good, and you deserve to care about yourself. It’s a gift that you’re here. Your body is a gift. Your energy is a gift. Your time here is a gift. These are not gifts you want to squander.

Life is amazing and incredible and really, really interesting, but no one would argue that it’s easy. People will do things and say things and want things that break your heart. You will break other people’s hearts, too. Mostly, people don’t do this to each other intentionally. Most people are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. They’re trying to figure it out just like you, like me, like all of us when we’re honest about it. Sometimes you’ll get the breaks, sometimes you won’t. You can’t control that, but you can work on the way you deal with it. I wouldn’t keep score in your head. I wouldn’t try to bargain with life. If you think you’re going to get a free pass from suffering because you’re a good person, it won’t take long for you to realize the error in your thinking.

The absolute best things I know are love and connection and shared experiences and giving everything you’ve got every day. Figuring out what you can do, today, that will uplift the people around you. What you can do, today, to nurture yourself, so you’re coming from a place of abundance, and not lack, or the feeling that you have to cling or grasp.

Opening to reality as it is, is the most powerful and brave way to walk through the world. No one can take that from you. If you’re able to lean into your feelings, to be with your longing, your grief, your shame, your confusion, your loneliness, your fear and anxiety, you’ll find these feelings don’t own you. They don’t overpower you. They don’t move in and plunk themselves down on your couch, or unpack their bags and take over your drawers, closets, shower. They come, you acknowledge them, you allow them, but you also keep the door open. After you’ve given them a little of your time and kind attention, you walk them to the door, and encourage them to move on. That way you can also be ready to receive joy, love, laughter, gratitude, hope. What you resist, persists, as the saying goes. Try not to resist too much, try not to worry too much. Work on your relationship with yourself, and feed the relationships in your life. Uncover your gifts and share them, freely. Don’t worry so much about your five-year plan or your ten-year plan, or what all your friends seem to be doing. Just follow your heart and do those things that set your soul on fire, and try to trust that the way will become clear. Wishing that for you, and sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Happy Thanksgiving

As-we-express-ourI love this holiday. No gifts, just an excuse to gather with friends and family, contemplating all the reasons we have to feel grateful. Of course, the more we do this regularly, the happier we feel. But culturally, we’re so trained to focus on everything we don’t have, and all the ways we aren’t measuring up. The more we feed that beast of lack, the worse we feel. When we’re coming from that “never enough” place, it leads to hoarding-to feeling that we must grasp at what we’ve got, while striving to accrue more.

Left to its own devices, the mind tends to get snagged on the negative. To focus on the one person who isn’t getting us, the one insult in the sea of compliments, the one person walking away, the one family member who’s challenging, instead of all the people moving toward us. Some of this could be biological. Back in the day, we used to worry about being eaten by saber-toothed tigers. If we weren’t on the alert, if we weren’t planning ahead, and thinking about all the things that could go wrong, we might end up as lunch for some creature. Of course, we’ve certainly turned the tables at this point. There aren’t many of us who need to worry about tigers anymore, but that “negativity bias” can be hard to shake.

Some people are addicted to worry; they’re addicted to stress. The Dalai Lama has a great quote, “If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time.”

You can lose hours, days, weeks or years worrying about things that will never come to pass. You can literally make yourself sick with worry, because thoughts create chemical reactions in the body. We really aren’t made to withstand continuous stress. Short spurts when we’re on the run from that “tiger” can be pretty manageable, but a constant state of high blood pressure, anxiety and fear are depleting and debilitating.

One of the great gifts of a consistent yoga practice is that we get to hone our focus. We use “drishtis” to train the mind on one point. We use sensations in the body (the most important of which is that steady, deep breath) to stay rooted in the present, and in so doing, we create space between our thoughts. We use the breath to calm the nervous system, and to build a foundation of steadiness in a spinning world. Maybe eventually, we develop a seated meditation practice, and start to really understand that we are not our thoughts, and that we do not have to believe everything we think, as the saying goes. Sometimes we’re dwelling on thoughts that weaken us. Yoga practice helps us to pick the mind up, and place it on thoughts that are going to strengthen and nurture us.

A gratitude practice is a great form of health insurance. I’m not saying it cures everything, I’m just suggesting that when we start and end each day reminding ourselves of all the gifts in our lives, that has a huge impact on our outlook, and the way we’re moving through the day, and sleeping through the night. The more we remember how much we do have, and how many things are going well, the more we come from a place of abundance, or “Santosha” (contentment)which leads to our generosity. If we think we don’t have enough, and other people have more, and we’re never going to reach our potential, we come from a place of fear, and we are unlikely to give much when we’re afraid. When we come from a place of gratitude and love, we know we have enough to give, and the beauty there is that giving feels so good.

We could really use givers in the world right now. It would be remiss not to acknowledge the suffering, grief, confusion and division that exists when we look around. We can’t solve these problems by continuing to isolate ourselves or draw lines when we feel hopeless or heartbroken, we have to reach out. And we don’t reach out from fear, we reach out from love. If you’ve just lost someone, this holiday season will probably be painful, and my heart goes out to you. If life isn’t unfolding the way you wish it would, the holidays can magnify those feelings. It might look like everyone else has the family, the friends, the love. You never know what someone has from the outside. Maybe this is a lonely time in your life right now; I’ve certainly had lonely and painful holidays. Remember that feelings are not facts, and they are not forever, and how you feel now is not how you will always feel.

“The best things in life aren’t things,” as Art Buchwald famously said. Connection and shared experiences, the love and laughter of those we hold dearest, belief in ourselves and in the goodness of people, these are the things that allow us to relax and breathe and open. Our main job here is to uncover our particular gifts and share them, because when we do that we feel fulfilled, and we know we’re having a positive and meaningful impact on the world around us.

Wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving, and also hoping the other 364 days are filled with gratitude.

Sending you love, Ally Hamilton

It’s Not You, It’s Me

motivatingIt’s hard to see clearly when we’re in the heat of a thing. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations or relationships that are disappointing for whatever reason, and we take it personally. If people aren’t wanting what we wish they would want, or things aren’t unfolding in a way that matches the picture in our heads, we think it must be something that’s lacking within us, some way we aren’t measuring up. This is very common when we’re children, for example. If you were born into a home where you weren’t cherished for any number of reasons, including the timing of your arrival in your parents’ lives, there’s a good chance you internalized your experience. A lot of people grow up trying to earn love or praise or affection or approval. Those can be difficult habits to break.

The thing is, people can only be where they are, and they can only use the tools they’ve got. I can look back on relationships in my life, and recognize thanks to time, distance and healing, that very little is personal. Most people are not setting out to hurt us or let us down, and recognizing that is liberating, and it tends to lead toward forgiveness. You can’t really be angry with someone who doesn’t have the tools or desire to commit to you. I mean, you can be angry if you want to, but it’s not about you, and the only part that’s personal is the healing you’ll have to do around the heartache. For example, the much older man I dated in college who cheated on me throughout our relationship, did not change his stripes with the next woman. He cheated on her, and the woman after that, and the one after that, too. If he still has the energy for it, that behavior likely continues to this day, unless he’s undergone some huge transformation, or gotten himself some help (assuming he wanted any).

At the time, I was so young I thought for sure his extracurricular activities were a reflection of something lacking in me; that I must not be pretty enough or smart enough or something enough to make him want to devote himself to only me. I was seventeen, and I had low self-esteem and I was trying to rewrite my own history. It just didn’t occur to me that the lack was within him, and most painful interactions fall into that category. Most parents, for example, do not intentionally screw things up. Maybe your mom and dad were really young when they had you, maybe they suffered from abusive backgrounds themselves, maybe they struggled with addiction or depression—there’s no end to the possibilities that might prevent a person from being a present and nurturing source of love.

A lot of it has to do with a shift of perspective. If we experience the world and other people and the things that happen only as they pertain to us, we’re probably going to take everything personally. If someone cuts you off in traffic, they become a person who’s disrespected you and singled you out. No matter that they’ve already done it to twenty people behind you, and will do it to countless more before the day is over. The colleague who doesn’t smile and say hi in passing obviously doesn’t like you or think you’re worth the time of day. It might not occur to you that perhaps they were up all night with a sick kid, or that they’re stressed out about their finances, or that their partner just announced it’s over. It goes on and on.

The reality is that most people are just doing what they’re doing. Constructing stories and explanations for other people’s choices and behavior is a dangerous game. Everyone has their stuff, their fears and pain and raw, unhealed places. We all have our worries and obsessions and dreams and occasional absurdities. We’ve all had our particular life experiences which have shaped us and informed the way we feel about the world and other people. If your partner has experienced betrayal in the past, you don’t have to take their trust issues personally, and the same holds true for each of us. Look back at the times when you’ve hurt other people. Did you do it on purpose? Mostly it happens because we don’t know who we are yet; we’re unacquainted with ourselves, and we don’t yet know what we need to be at peace. Other times it happens because we’re young and we lack the tools to show up for ourselves or other people. Maybe we don’t know how to communicate honestly and with compassion just yet.

Rage is an enormous burden. Blame makes you powerless. Grudges weigh you down and suck the joy out of life. They take up space where love could be happening. Take yourself out of the center of the story, and consider yourself from the side of it, or as a strand of it. When we’re the main character, it’s all about what we’re putting out there, and what’s coming back to us. When we recognize that our stories overlap with everyone else’s, and that we might cross paths with people at unfortunate times, it frees us up to understand and move forward openly. What you need in order to heal, is personal. Everything else, not so much. The main thing to remember is that we are all worthy of love. If you don’t believe that to be true of yourself, it’s time to reach out and get some help. Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Time is a Gift

tomrobbinsBecause our time and energy are finite assets, it’s really essential that we’re careful about where we invest them. It’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s dramas, or to allow the mind to get snagged on some thoughtless or unkind thing someone said or did. We can lose hours, days or years dwelling on choices we’d like to do over, differently, or sad tales we tell ourselves about why we are the way we are, or why life is unfolding the way it is.

We can find ourselves trying to chase down love, approval or acceptance, we can allow the sting of rejection to overwhelm us, we can spend time trying to defend ourselves against lies, but it’s time we’ll never have back again. Life will bring us enough ups and downs; we really don’t need to create suffering for ourselves, but so many of us do. I am not someone who believes that there are no tragic events, or that it’s just the way we’re thinking about an event that makes it unbearable. In my view, there are things that can happen sometimes that bring you to your knees and make you doubt everything you thought you knew about heartbreak and pain and the ability to go on. Those same events remind us that there isn’t any time to waste, and that the best use of our energy is to love the people in our lives with everything we’ve got, and to follow our dreams and believe in ourselves. Life isn’t going to hand you five or ten years to be pissed at your parents or your ex or all the people you’ve ever worked for, to boil yourself and keep your rage alive by feeding it, to point your finger in blame, and then hand you back that time one day when you realize what a gift it is just to open your eyes in the morning.

People who want to be angry and bitter deserve compassion, surely, but not a lot of your time and energy. I’m not talking about people who are trying to heal or take ownership of their lives, or make big shifts. I’m talking about people who are unwilling to loosen their grip on their angry story. I had an acquaintance like this. I’d see her at different functions every five years or so, and it was always the same. She’d find a way to corner me, and tell me her tale of why she was the hero of her family and her workplace, the generous but unappreciated benefactor, the one who always got the short end of the stick. Usually she’d be quite drunk, and the more she drank, the more angry and self-righteous she became. For quite some time, I’d listen to her, even though it was exhausting. I thought maybe she just needed someone to hold a space for her to unload the pain. I really didn’t care about the details of her stories, the list of wrongs, the way this person or that person had failed her or betrayed her, but sometimes I’d try to offer up a different viewpoint, and then she’d attack me, too. You can’t help a person who’s armored themselves in bitterness. I don’t make myself available to people who don’t want to let the love in. It’s a choice.

Let me be clear: we do not get to choose what life will put in our paths. We get beautiful lessons in life, and we get brutal ones, too, and that is not a choice. Unthinkable tragedy could befall any of us. People sometimes ask, “Why me?”, but why any of us? There’s no way to predict what any of us will have to endure, and if you go through a knifing loss, I hope you don’t compound your pain by feeling that you ought to be able to get over it faster, or with fewer racking sobs or relentless tears. The more we’re present in each moment, the more we allow the feelings to wash over us and through us, the more we’re honoring our experience. Loving someone so intensely that the loss of them makes it hard to breathe, loving someone that way is a gift and an honor. The loss of the ability to express that love through hugs or phone calls or shared experiences is so painful. If it’s a sudden and unexpected loss, of course that has its own particular difficulties.

My point is, death and loss put things into sharp perspective for us. If you’re worrying about the five pounds you’ve gained, for example, perhaps that’s not the best use of your time. Hugging someone you love would feel so much better. If you’re obsessing over a call or email you haven’t gotten, maybe there’s a better use of your energy. Maybe you could do something nurturing for yourself or someone else instead. If you’re getting caught up in what other people think of you, remember it’s none of your business. When the big losses or heartaches come, you take the time to breathe, to be kind to yourself, to reach out for help if you need it. Short of those tragedies, don’t be your own obstacle by dwelling on the unimportant crap. Pick your mind up, and bring it back to right now. Choose better thoughts. Make better mistakes moving forward. Forgive yourself, and forgive other people, as much as you can. Holding grudges and carrying heavy stories around will weigh you down, and that of course, makes it harder to fly. I really wouldn’t waste too much time.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton