Let the Heartbreaks Soften You


keatsSometimes people do things that are incomprehensible. I once knew a man who was married to one woman, while starting a family with another, two towns away. I mean, you have to know it’s only a matter of time before that explodes everywhere, right? I was once betrayed by someone I believed was a friend, someone I’d tried to help, in a way that left me in tears for weeks, trying to make sense of it. I had another friend years ago who screwed me over for a job. The thing is, it takes a really long time to know another person. Sometimes you believe you do, and then something happens and you realize you didn’t know the person at all, not really.

Sometimes this happens because we project and assume. We project our own ideas of what it means to be a friend onto the other party, without stopping to wonder whether they have the same definition. Or we project our ideas about who we think someone is, or want them to be, without allowing them the time and space to show us through their actions. Or we assume how things are for us, is how they are for other people. We imagine everyone is working with our frame of reference, and what’s obvious to us will be to them. There are all kinds of ways we can get burned.

Transitions are never easy. Even though we long for stability, we resist the one stable thing we can count on: everything is in a constant state of flux. Fear is usually at the root of our resistance to change. The devil we know is better than the one we don’t, or something like that. That very thinking keeps us stuck in situations that crush the light out of us. If everything is always changing, if people and feelings and circumstances are always in motion, it means we can never know what will happen next, and for many people that’s a scary thought, so they try to pin down the things they can. People don’t like to be pinned down, though, or taken for granted or expected to always be the same. That isn’t a fair, reasonable or rational expectation.

What we can hope for from our close family members, partners, and loved ones, is communication. Few things are worse than transition without conversation. I know a woman whose fiancé left her three months before their wedding and never looked back, never explained himself, never said a word. He just took off while she was on a business trip, and left a note that said “Sorry.” That’s it, one word, and she was left to piece together what had happened on her own. It’s cowardly to bail without explanation, and it’s also disrespectful to the tender heart of the person left in the dark. Life is hard enough when we do have answers. Maybe we’ve grown apart, or what we wanted five years ago doesn’t feel right today. You have to be where you are. You can’t force love and you can’t force life, and you cannot control what other people are going to do, or say or want or need, but you can handle yourself with integrity and have compassion for people, and think about the way you’d like to be treated. Y’know, just common human decency.

Even when we aren’t treated with respect, we’re still getting an answer, right? If someone won’t talk to you, they’re actually speaking volumes about their own limitations. Some of the most important conversations happen without words. Could words soften the blow? Undoubtedly, but you can’t manage another person’s path, and people can only have the tools they have. What you can do is recognize something very essential: if a person treats you poorly, that’s a reflection of where she is on her journey, it’s not a reflection of anything lacking within you, and then you can go about the business of healing. Your first task is going to be opening up your gorgeous heart once more. Try not to let the heartbreaks harden you. Recognize that people in pain spread pain, and that it can be no other way, and try to wish them well. In the meantime, let your own light shine.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Take Off the Armor


glassmanThere comes a time when you really have to put down the blame and the sad stories and take ownership of your life, and your own happiness. You can’t point fingers and expect to feel good, because you’re making yourself powerless, and that feels terrible. You can’t feed your despair and also wonder why you aren’t happy. We are all here for a blink of time. It’s not how long we have, although I hope we all have long and healthy lives, it’s what we do with the time we’re gifted. Stoking the flames of your rage and bitterness would be an awful way to go.

There are so many people living in fear. Maybe it’s the vulnerability of being human that terrifies them, but it seems they’ve decided a shield of anger is better than an open heart. Usually when you’re dealing with that kind of armor, it’s because the heart it’s protecting was so badly broken. The thing is, those breaks can harden us or soften us. Softening feels a lot better. I know people personally who seem determined to die angry, though. It’s almost like they want their tombstone to read, “My life was hard, and it wasn’t my fault,” with a list of people at fault underneath.

You can’t cuddle up with the “last word”. If you choose being right over being at peace, it’s going to be a long and lonely road. Sometimes people are afraid to put down the sad story, because who are they without it? I once met a woman with blazing eyes who told me she could not forgive her father because then he wouldn’t pay for what he’d done, but she hadn’t spoken to him in years. So who’s paying? I mean, some things are unforgivable. Sometimes you have to choose not to have someone in your life, but you can do that with rage or acceptance.

Pain makes us grow. The butterfly needs the struggle out of the cocoon to strengthen its wings. If you cut open the cocoon, it will never fly. We need the travel down the birth canal to squeeze the fluid out of our lungs so we can breathe easily. If you’ve never suffered, you can’t help people who are in pain, because pain creates empathy. Sometimes people have blinders on and they actually think their story is unique, but you know what? I hear stories from people every single day and they’re the same. Something happens when we’re young. Maybe we aren’t received with love. Maybe we learn the world is unsafe and our best bet is to be invisible or indispensable, or both, depending on the minute or the day. Maybe those experiences create doubt within us. Doubt about our own worth. That’s a very common story. That, and fear of abandonment. Also, people suffering over betrayal, abuse, cruelty. Almost every time I post someone says, “This was exactly what I needed to hear today.” Or, “Are you psychic?” I’m not psychic. We’re all so much more the same than we are different.

Your memories are yours. Your ideas, your experiences, your frame of reference, the way you’ve come to perceive the people and the world around you, all of these are unique to you, but if you start talking to people you will also find the themes are uncannily similar. The pain and struggles and fears and doubts and failures we face are universal. How we respond to them defines us.

Life is not easy. It’s incredible and wildly interesting. It’s full of moments that are so gorgeous they suck the air out of your lungs and make your heart expand simultaneously. There are events that will undoubtedly put you on the ground with your mouth full of dirt and your head full of why. In the world right now, there are bombs going off, shots being fired. Children are dying, or they’re watching their parents die. These things are happening and it’s hard to bear witness and there are no easy answers. Sometimes people are ripped from us when we aren’t done loving them. We aren’t done. It’s not a level playing field. Some people will suffer in ways that make your own heart ache. Don’t think you’re the only one. You’re not alone in this.

The thing is, you have a spark that is yours alone, and you can feed that spark until it becomes a roaring fire in your heart, and lights you up from the inside. You can give that fire that’s yours, you can give that away every day. Whether it’s a fire of rage or a fire of love is up to you, but I think we have enough rage in the world. Healing is a lot easier than being bitter and angry and isolated for eighty, ninety or one hundred years. When I say healing, that’s personal. What you’ll need to heal is something only you can determine, but I’d get on that, because life is ticking away right now, this minute. I don’t say that without compassion. It takes a lot of bravery to release an old story.

I tried life the angry way. I pointed fingers and made my unhappiness and frustration and disappointment the fault of other people, but it wasn’t. Things happen and they shape you, but none of us is in a time warp unless we choose to be. The earth keeps spinning, and it will continue to do so long after we’re gone. Take hold of the one thing you can—how you’re going to show up, what you’re going to offer. May all beings be free from suffering.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton


If you need some help, you can do this with me right now: https://yogisanonymous.com/courses/from-pain-to-peace-using-your-practice-to-change-your-life

Self-Pity is a Thief

gardnerSocial media can be amazing when it comes to connecting with people you might never have encountered otherwise. It can be a beautiful forum for sharing ideas, laughter, concerns, gratitude, tools for living well, and beauty. I’m in contact with people I haven’t seen for twenty years because of Facebook. I get on this page every day and am blown away by you people, and how thoughtful, kind, compassionate, enthusiastic, honest, intelligent, funny and thought-provoking you are. I get emails from people that are raw and brave, and I have zero doubt this is one way we can show up for each other. We can reassure each other that we’re not alone, and people care, and more importantly, strangers care. I think that’s huge to know, because it restores our faith in the goodness of people, if we need to have our faith restored. I see people rooting each other on in the comment threads, offering support, or condolences, or ideas. So those are some of the ways this world is not virtual at all, and can be a real blessing.

Having said all of that, sometimes social media, and I’m including Twitter and Instagram and whatever else you might be doing, can be a source of pain for people, if they’re feeling badly about themselves, or moving through a dark time. It can really seem like everyone else is having this idyllic, carefree, fulfilling life with their bare feet in the sand, and their annoyingly perfect dog in the background. Or that everyone is wittier, more cutting edge, better informed, more engaged, cooler or hipper or hotter or glossier or whatever-er. It can become a source of feeling “less than”.

Social media is certainly not the only contributing factor that might make a person wonder if they’re measuring up. Most media is designed to do that, after all. If you want people to buy products, apparently you have to barrage them every day with messages that they just don’t cut it. They don’t look right or smell right or feel right, and there are a million products, diets, supplements, cars, pills, and different kinds of beer that can help. We could talk for hours about the way women are relentlessly encouraged to be as tiny as possible. Perhaps we should all disappear, and don’t even think about getting angry around that topic, because then you’re really taking up too much space. Men don’t fare much better. They’re supposed to be virile and unafraid and able to take charge under all circumstances. Video games start to look awfully appealing if those are the standards men are supposed to meet. In a virtual world, that might be possible, but in the real world, it’s asinine to think we’ll never be afraid, or we’ll always have the answers, or know the next right thing to do, and that goes for both genders. Anyway, my point is, most advertising is designed to make us all feel like we’re blowing it, in all kinds of ways, and if you’re feeling vulnerable, you can get sucked down the rabbit hole.

Self-pity and self-doubt are thieves. They rob you of your power, of your belief in yourself, of the desire to take ownership of your life. Blame and shame and rage are poor traveling companions, but sometimes it’s hard to take action when we’re already feeling like we should just give up. It’s easier to point our fingers, and make other people the cause of our unhappiness, or to feel angry at the world at large because it’s so unfair. And you know what? It is unfair. It’s not a level playing field. Some people are born into loving, nurturing families where there’s no concern about health insurance, or keeping a roof over everyone’s head, and other people are born into abusive environments where they weren’t wanted, or their parents were too young to be responsible for themselves, let alone a baby. Some people have to deal with loss and grief and mourning that just brings you to your knees, and other people have a path that’s a lot smoother. Here’s the thing. There might be a few people living a life where their hair is always done, and their cars are sleek, and they talk to their housekeeper about the meals for the week. That doesn’t add up to a happy life if there isn’t happiness on the inside. Most of the crap we see that’s designed to sell us something, is just so far removed from most people’s reality, it’s laughable. I think most people know this, it’s just easy to get sucked in when you’re feeling tested, down on yourself, rejected, hopeless or really confused. It’s a distorted perception of reality when we’re moving through times like that, and believing we’re not good enough. Or that other people are more deserving, or more likely to get the breaks, or the girl or the guy or the promotion.

If you ever find yourself thinking, “No one likes me”, or “People suck”, or, “Everyone cheats”, you know you’re hanging out with the White Rabbit. Extreme thinking, sentences that involve “always” and “never”, are good indicators that you’re not thinking clearly, that you’re allowing yourself to spiral downward, or spin out of control. When we feed self-pity, we make ourselves sick. It’s likely we’re all going to feel sorry for ourselves at one time or another, so please don’t misunderstand me. Sometimes horrendous, deeply painful things happen to beautiful people, and it’s hard not to feel like we’re being “singled out”, especially if many unfortunate things happen at once. I’m just talking about self-pity as a way of life, as a way of moving through the world. There’s no possible way you’re going to uncover your gifts and share them freely, and light yourself up, if you’re in the blame/shame/rage cycle. You really have to step off that wheel, dust yourself off, and start again. That’s the beauty of being human. It’s never too late to start where you are, until your final exhale.

You are not less than. Less than what? Other people? You’re you. You cannot be less than you. We have about seven billion people on this planet, but we only have one you. So what are you going to do with your spark? What are you going to offer up? Whatever it is, you’re the only one who can do it, and you can’t buy that knowledge, you have to dig for it. You really don’t want to move through life feeling bitter and resentful, and unable to be happy for other people’s good fortune. I can’t think of too many things that would feel more unfulfilling than that. There’s so much beauty inside you. If you’ve been hurt, disappointed, heartbroken, allow those experiences to open you and make you a more compassionate, understanding, empathetic, patient person. Don’t believe the hype. You aren’t missing anything. You don’t have to be anything other than yourself, your authentic self. Let your pain inspire you to grow, let it mean something. And stick with the social media that lifts you up! 

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

May All Beings Be Happy

May-all-beings-be-happyWhen we lived in tribes and villages, we were constantly connected. The whole was only as strong as each member. If one of us had food, we all had food. If one of us had a sick child, we all had a sick child. We lived off the earth, we read the stars, we respected the planet, and all the living creatures on it, but we don’t live that way anymore. We buy food in boxes. We live in boxes, and we drive in boxes with wheels, and we go sit in a box and stare at a box all day, and then we go home at night and stare at another one. We like our information in small chunks. We want instant gratification. We’re incredibly quick to create an “us” and a “them.” We’ve really separated ourselves from each other, and I believe this is why so many people are so unhappy. Do you know how many dating sites there are out there? I don’t, but I know there are a lot because somewhere, deep down we understand that happiness is tied to connection and love. It’s just that we go about finding it in such absurd ways. Maybe you’ll find it romantically, but in the meantime, it’s available every time you interact with anyone.

We think about our surroundings as they pertain to us. We get annoyed when it rains as if it’s a personal inconvenience, when we ought to be celebrating. We treat our animals horribly, except for the ones we think are cute. We cut down trees to erect more buildings. We think of the tree in our yard as ours, but it isn’t, not unless we planted it, and even then it isn’t ours. It belongs to the earth and the sun, and it provides oxygen for all, but we’ve lost the thread of connection. Your kid is sick? How awful. Let me distract myself so I don’t have to think about how horrendous that must be, or how it could happen to my kid, too. Some journalists were beheaded? That’s heartbreaking, but let me go to rage and indignation right away because I don’t know how to process the pain of that. I don’t want to sit with that and breathe that in, and think about those two mothers, those two families who are suffering and grieving and trying not to think about their children’s last moments. It’s so hard to lean into that, isn’t it? It’s messy and awful and it feels absolutely devastating, but that’s what we need to do. We need to think about all the people everywhere who are suffering as a result of violence, because regardless of race or gender or religion or culture, they are part of our tribe.

And obviously, there are grieving mothers and fathers all over the world right now. Grieving sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. Blame and rage aren’t going to help us. You know the saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting”? We need to try something else, and my suggestion would be that we attempt to understand and tolerate each other more, and let me be clear. There are some things that are incomprehensible. There are some people with whom conversation is impossible, because they’ve built walls against anything rational. They’ve created constructs to justify reprehensible actions. I’m just suggesting that wherever possible, we open the door toward more communication. If the majority of us are working together to solve our problems, it’ll be a lot easier to handle small groups of people who’ve lost their minds and closed their hearts, but when division is everywhere, our energy is scattered, and then we’re really in trouble.

The more we create an “us” and a “them”, the more we set the stage for division, rage, bitterness and misunderstanding. I’m sure we can all look to certain parts of the world and recognize how this thinking plays out. People suffer and people die. I posted about how sick I felt after I heard about Steven Sotloff the other day, and someone asked me why I felt sick. If it’s happening to one of our sons, it’s happening to all of our sons. This isn’t a political issue, it’s a human issue, and we need to care; to sit up and take notice and offer our empathy, because we were built for that. If you don’t know what I mean, check out “mirror neurons”. It’s natural for us to care, to extend ourselves, to reach out, but we’ve cut ourselves off.

The village doesn’t gather for dinner every night. We’ve built in so few opportunities for community. You have to seek it out. You won’t find it on line at Starbucks, because everyone’s looking at their phones. One of the reasons communities spring up over social media is that we’re all desperate to know we aren’t in this thing alone. It’s not like it’s an easy gig, but it’s so comforting when we come together and understand we’re so much more alike than we are different. Hatred is taught. Love is natural to us. The more we remind ourselves of that, the faster we change the world around us.

It occurred to me right away that the best way we can practice tolerance is by starting with those people who challenge us the very most. Those people in our lives who are suffering from personality disorders, or a lack of empathy, or the effects of their own trauma or abusive history, because those people are so hard to understand, aren’t they? Don’t we think to ourselves, “How could someone do that? I could never do that.” But maybe you could if you’d lived the life they have. We just can’t know what another person is carrying, what fears or bitterness or rage they’re harboring, what abuse or neglect they’ve endured. It takes a lot to make a person cold and hard and capable of creating knifing heartache. That doesn’t just happen overnight. I believe if we can try to find compassion for those people in our lives who trigger us to our very marrow, then we have a shot at extending compassion to strangers whose actions seem completely foreign to us. I’m not saying you need to reach out to someone who’s incapable of doing anything but lie to your face and stab you in the back. Why set yourself up for more of that?

I’m just saying, try to imagine what life must be like for people who behave with no thought of how their actions are affecting those around them. Or worse, how life must be for a person who’s intentionally and unapologetically hurting other people. That cannot be a peaceful way to move through life, filled with hatred and a thirst for vengeance. Obviously, if someone is hurting us, we do everything in our power to remove ourselves from their reach. But from a safe distance, perhaps we can see that meeting hatred with hatred won’t work. We can forcefully and fully meet hatred with love. We can take the power of that love and defend ourselves against bitterness and rage, because that stuff will erode any sense of hope we have. We can make ourselves safe, but we won’t get there by creating more division. What we need is more connection. We spread around us what we have within us. Our only power lies in our commitment to make the worlds within ourselves more loving and peaceful and compassionate, because that’s the stuff we need to be spreading. In the meantime, if it feels right, maybe we can all think together, “May all beings be free from suffering.”

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

You Define Yourself

growhorizonThere’s no point trying to make someone “see the light.” First of all, you can never be certain that your ideas or opinions about how things should be are right for anyone but yourself (barring the obvious instances where something is clearly not okay, like when a situation puts someone in emotional or physical danger). We never know what other people need for their growth, nor do any of us have a crystal ball, and for most people, strength comes from having been tested. Even if you can see clearly that a loved one’s course of action will end up causing them pain, you can’t know if that very pain will be the thing that causes them to break open and love themselves at last. Sometimes we need to crash into a brick wall again and again before we decide, “Okay, I’ve got that lesson. Next!”

Some people are blinded by anger and their need to be right. It doesn’t matter what you say, your logic won’t help, and neither will your patience or compassion. If someone is determined to make you the enemy, to blame you for their unhappiness, there’s nothing you can do, except decide not to participate in the madness. If you engage, defend yourself, try to point out those instances that prove your perspective, you’re still not going to get anywhere, because if a person needs you to be wrong so they can be right, they will invent the story that backs up their point of view. Trying to communicate is futile, but you can go ahead and exhaust yourself for awhile if you must.

When people are attached to blaming others for the state of their life, they’ve made themselves powerless, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It does not matter what anyone has done to me. I take ownership of my own life. I decide what I’m going to do with what I’ve been given. I rise up, or I allow the past to ruin my present and future. It’s up to me, and it’s up to you. It’s up to all of us. Is blaming other people easier? I don’t really think so. I know it can feel that way for awhile; if we point fingers at other people, we can avoid looking at those places where we still need to heal for a bit longer, but eventually, we’re just on a mountaintop, by ourselves, shouting into the wind. People can spot bitterness a mile away. You may gain sympathy, but what kind of payoff is that? I’d take empathy over sympathy eight days a week. You define yourself as a victim, or a survivor, it’s a choice.

Sometimes a person is so hurt and so confused and so unable to face their own self-loathing, they just spew venom. You don’t help by standing there with your arms open so you can get covered in it, you do them a disservice that way, and you certainly dishonor your own tender heart. Sometimes you have to leave people on that mountain so they can spit it all out until there’s nothing left but their pain. They might die on that mountain, screaming into the ethers about how wronged they’ve been, or they might climb down that mountain eventually, ready to start again. You can’t control another person’s journey. You can love people with your whole heart. You can wish them well. You can offer tools that have worked for you if they’re even remotely open to listening, but if they’re in the blame/rage/shame cycle, it isn’t likely they’ll be able to hear you, anyway.

I know it can be brutal. If someone is close to you by blood, or through circumstance, it can hurt so much not to be seen clearly. That doesn’t even feel good from a stranger, but you know yourself. As long as you know you’ve done your best and you’re doing your best and you’ve apologized when and where it made sense to do that, as long as you know you’ve shown up with love, and in the best way you know how, then you can look yourself in the eye when you’re brushing your teeth at the end of the day. Life is too short and too precious to spend a lot of your time and energy trying to rewrite someone else’s story. You have your own horizon to look toward, and you get to choose the path as you walk toward it, and you also get to choose the way you walk it. That’s enough, and that’s a lot.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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People Who Don’t Make it Easy

I moved into my house seven years ago. My dog was six at the time, and he’d seen me through heartbreaks and good times, and a move across the country, too. He was my best friend. He was the kind of dog who could turn people who weren’t dog lovers into friends, with one exception.

I have a neighbor across the street, I’ll call him Walter, although that isn’t his name. He’s kind of like the crotchety mayor of the block, always standing in front of his house monitoring the comings and goings of everyone around him. He’s the kind of guy who’ll run out and yell at neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. I don’t know exactly how old he is, but he’s over seventy for sure. About three weeks after I’d moved in, I came home to find a notice on my front door. Apparently, my dog had been barking and someone had called the police. I was pretty bummed out and wondered why whomever it was hadn’t just told me upon my return. I’d only been gone an hour, and my dog had never been much of a barker. I’d lived with him in apartments in New York City, and in a tiny house with a neighbor right on the other side of the wall. No one had ever complained about barking. The next few times I left the house, I drove to the corner and walked back. No barking. So I chalked it up to a one-time thing and went about my business. A couple of weeks later, I came home to a second notice and a warning that if there was a third incident, mediation could ensue and my dog might have to be removed from the premises. At that point, I put baby gates up when I left the house, so my dog would be in back, unlikely to be heard from the street if he did bark. A few weeks later, I left to lead a yoga retreat. I had a friend stay in the house to watch and walk my furry friend. One day when she came back, she found, you guessed it, another notice. Strike three.

When I got back, I went right over to Animal Control to speak to someone in person. As it turned out, I found the guy who’d been out to the house. He said he hadn’t heard barking when he’d pulled up either time, and that it wasn’t until he knocked that my dog made any noise, which one would expect. I asked him what my recourse was since none of the neighbors on either side of me were complaining, and the person calling in wouldn’t reveal him or herself to me. He said he couldn’t tell me who it was, but I could guess, and deduce it from his reaction. Kind of hilarious. “Bill?” I asked. “No”, he said. I made up three or four other names and kept getting that no, until I came to, “Walter?” Silence. I wasn’t surprised. The officer suggested I try talking to Walter, since mediation would only follow if he pursued it. He said maybe Walter was satisfied just to have caused some trouble. So I went over to Walter’s, understanding I wasn’t supposed to know he’d complained. I just asked him directly if my dog had been bothering him. Immediately, he called my dog a “problem”, said he’d been barking and that he had called the police three times. I asked him why he hadn’t just talked to me, and said I was confused because no one else around me was hearing it. I wondered if it could be the dog on the other side of Walter’s backyard, but he was adamant and unfriendly, although he didn’t pursue mediation. Things were strained from then on, even though I would always wave and say hello. It’s no fun to have tension with someone you’re going to see every day.

A few months went by, and my dog had become a favorite on the block. People would stop and pet him on walks, and we had settled into the ‘hood nicely, but Walter was impenetrable. I’d try to talk to him when I was alone, but he’d basically grunt at me and that would be that. One day, I saw Walter walk out of his house with a person I could only assume was his very elderly mother. She was hooked up to an IV and also had an oxygen mask. Walter had his arm around her, and was holding her up as they made their way to the car. She couldn’t have weighed more than seventy pounds. I hadn’t realized Walter was living with and caring for his elderly mother, and that he’d lived in that house his entire life. At that point, I tried harder to cultivate a friendship, but he just wouldn’t have it. Sometimes it seemed to me my friendliness was embarrassing him, but since I couldn’t get more than monosyllables from him, there was no way to approach the topic. A few years went by this way. My beloved dog died one awful morning, and Walter’s mother died, too. I had two kids. You know who finally “broke” Walter? My son. Because even Walter could not resist a two year old enthusiastically waving and yelling to him from across the street. Sometimes I’d bring my boy over to say hi to Walter, and little by little he started talking to me. By the time my daughter came along, it was on.

Today, several years later, Walter always waves and says hi to us, and very frequently crosses the street to hang out in the front yard. He doesn’t yell at neighborhood kids anymore. We have a new dog, and Walter even likes him. About six months ago, around 3am one morning, I awoke to a very loud crack and an explosion of light that shook the house. I was shaking, and went to the front door not knowing if my house had weirdly been struck by lightning, if we were having an earthquake, or what was going on in my half-awake, fight-or-flight state. I didn’t know if I should be grabbing my kids and running for the car, or what. There was Walter, crossing the street, saying, “You’re okay.” Turned out there was a problem with an electrical transformer right outside my house. It’s nice to have neighbors who care and are paying attention. Sometimes the people who don’t make it easy to be friends are the ones you want to watch. Underneath his gruff exterior and short fuse, it turns out Walter is a pretty cool guy. I’m glad I didn’t give up on him. He was just lonely and sad, watching his mother slip away from him. Most people have pain underneath the surface. Dig a little before you give up, you just never know what people are going through.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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