Reaching Out

Hello!  I’m Adrienne!

I am a poet, a photographer, a grant writer.

I am a potential a-symptomatic carrier who works from home.

I am a daughter, a grand-daughter, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a friend.

I am a cousin, a niece, an in-law, a coworker.

We are all the wearers of an astounding variety of hats, serving a number of roles in our lives and in the lives of others.  And right now, all of those roles are being played at once.  Parent has become teacher.  Teacher has become online miracle worker. Child has become caregiver.  Caregiver has become “quarantined.”

Partner has become somewhat irritating coworker.

Working professional has become potentially pajamaed, over-tired, coffee-guzzling face behind a computer screen trying to work from home in their office/kitchen/bedroom/playroom/kid’s virtual classroom.  

Working professional has become potentially isolated, over-tired, coffee-guzzling, mask-covered face of the overwhelmed, under-rested, at-risk “essential worker.”

Working professional has become unemployed, potentially anxious, over-tired, coffee-guzzling, frustrated face of the sufferer of an unknown and uncharted future. 

Friend has become therapist.  Therapist has become “essential worker.”

Most of us are also now in some role of “helper.”  Help me with my homework.  Help the company figure out how to do this differently.  Help them get what they need.  Help us figure out how we will get through this.

All the hats are being worn at once and we often feel like we are running out of steam.

More Caps For Sale Written and Illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina, Published by W.R. Scott, 1940

I am a wearer of hats. 

I am a listener, a companion, a friend, a confidant.

I am an empath.

Empath – One who experiences the emotions of others: a person who has empathy for others.

Empathy – Feelings, emotion, the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another.

I feel the feelings of others.  And that mass of emotion feels much more substantial and palpable to me than it has in a long time.

But I am a person who has continually made it clear to the people in my life that I am there for them.  That they can reach out anytime and I will reach back.  I don’t want to change any of this.  I still want to be there for everybody.  But sometimes, it’s hard.  Sometimes, I forget to be there for myself.     

I know that I am not the only one who feels this way right now.  

There is a collective heaviness.  An anonymous, emotional bulk we are wading through as we reach out, as we receive, and as we reckon with our new reality.

This gift of intense connection with others is usually a wonderful thing.  It’s a celebrated part of myself that has allowed for countless incredible experiences shared with others.  It was also one of the reasons I had to leave my job as a Wilderness Instructor in 2015.  

Connecting with a client through our shared love of snakes2015.

While working with at-risk and trauma affected youth, I became incredibly invested in the struggles and misfortunes of my clients.  I put every last bit of myself into guiding them towards healing and reconciliation.  I helped and supported many young people with empathy, compassion, and patience.  I also absorbed much secondary trauma and went so long without properly caring for my own emotional health that I had to transition out of this rewarding but incredibly taxing work for self-preservation.    

This is why I bring it up. 

We can’t “transition out” of our daily lives.  And for many people right now, daily life is beyond challenging.

Our current emotional climate has made me realized that this is a crucial time to reevaluate my own self-care.  To reexamine how I am offering support, to myself and to others.  And to query others: What are you doing to take care of yourself and your spirit during this time?  What does self-care look like for you?

Self-care – The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

I know. You may now be saying “What do you mean focus on ME?  How could I possibly do that?  What about all of those incredible, dedicated people who are working on the front lines of this crisis right now with no reprieve?  What about everyone else who is in a much worse way than I am?  How does my experience even compare?” 

This is what I mean.  How easily the snowball grows, gathers momentum, and rolls faster and faster down the mountain until it rolls right over you, squashing the delicate blooms of self-worth and self-love.

The fact that many others are struggling does not mean that your experiences and your emotions are no longer valid.  We are all searching for the light.   

And like so many things, any of us are attempting to find some kind of sustainable balance.  It is exceedingly difficult to tend to the needs of others before we address our own.  We can only go so long burning the candle at both ends on with our own self-care before we burnout, breakdown, and find ourselves bawling in a ball on the bathroom floor.  

I am sensitive.

I am emotional.

I am working on self-care.

I am rediscovering that I have to actively protect my vulnerability, while also allowing it to champion my truth.  

I am a better me when I take care of me. 

And yet, this intense connection and love for others is the reason I am writing this post.  I want to help.  I want to be there for people.  I want to be supportive and understanding.  I want to be cheerful and uplifting and inspiring.  How can I do this while still taking care of MY emotional self?  

I can turn to writing. 

Turn to art.  Turn to creativity.  Turn to nature.  Turn to that which inspires and nurtures and heals my own spirit and share it with others.

That, and try my damnedest not to misplace any of my hats.

I am a hula-hooper, a crafter, a hiker, a camper, an optimist.

I am a writer.

As I revive my blog, my intent is to follow this post with more posts.  (What a concept!)  Posts with words.  And images.  And lots and lots of love.  This is one way I am helping myself and hopefully, maybe, helping others.  I’m putting something positive out there that just might help someone feel a little bit better, or, at the very least, provide a few moments of distraction from whatever today’s struggle might be.  

I hope to l write more about our travels, our love of the national parks, and life in the north woods.  I hope to write about our many wild neighbors, the gloriously sloppy Spring of northern Wisconsin, and the peace, perspective, and reflection that the natural world can provide.  

Who knows.  Maybe, sometimes, I’ll even writing about writing.  (Won’t that be exciting!)  

In the meantime, I just wanted to reach out.  I wanted to say Hi.  I hope you are well.  I hope you are staying somewhat close to sane these days.  

And I hope that you are able to find some unexpected joys during this time.  I hope you are celebrating a dizzying assortment of personal victories like painting those kitchen cabinets, figuring out how to make the perfect poached egg, finding a long lost pair of favorite earrings behind the shelf you repositioned for the third time in the last months, organizing the shoe boxes filled with old photos, finally going through that pile of God-knows-what in the garage, putting little e-zee glide fuzzy feet on the bottom of everything you own, or just making it through another day dealing with ___________.

I hope you are finding time to take a breath and give yourself a little love.

As we are reminded every day, we are all in this together.  And, even though it might not feel like it all the time, you are still you.  I am still me.  And we are all wearing all of the hats at once…together.

Caps For Sale Written and Illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina, Published by W.R. Scott, 1940

For now, I’ll leave you with a new poetry video, and link to a breakdown of the selection of “armchair adventures” already available on inkinthebranches.

(“Hydrangea” appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of the Aurorean.)

And, I’d like you to meet the main character of the first story I will tell in the coming weeks:

So stay tuned, stay creative, and stay well!

If it’s helpful, here are a few resources that support my self-care:

On Stress Relief & Self-Care

Journaling to Help Alleviate Stress

Basic Self-Care Strategies

Yoga with Adriene

The Pressure of Productivity

Yoga Wellness North

On Creativity

The Third Self: Mary Oliver on Time, Concentration, the Artist’s Task, and the Central Commitment of the Creative Life

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