As I sit on my couch, with my dog Pumba snoring next to me, I feel relaxed and grateful for the sound of the summer rain outside after a couple of gorgeously warm, sunny days. I feel so happy, so at peace.
As I sit in this place of gratitude, I’m also quite aware of the haves and have-nots as the quarantine continues. I’m aware of the systems of oppression that fiercely and negatively impact so many — and always have. Destruction is flaring up in new ways as a result of this pandemic.
I see it everywhere and there are times I feel helpless and insignificant.
But I don’t stay in those feelings.
I refill my glass of water and power up for my day.
The system may be set up to make me feel powerless, but I know my power.
I can live in gratitude and joy while actively standing up for what I believe in and fighting the injustices I see in the world. Both/and.
For me, it starts with messy conversations. Conversations about things I don’t yet understand or am scared to talk about. I throw them on the table with enthusiasm, or place them gingerly, with trepidation. I take a deep breath. I move the table lamp so the light hits the topic directly, and I dig in.
Getting messy is the path to getting better. In looking at my life, whenever I have actually faced the ugliness and chose to take a risk and dive deep into a conversation that scared me, I got better. Getting messy means practicing a skill that you have not mastered, but each time you do it, you get better. Better at learning, at discussing, at listening, at understanding. Better at knowing yourself, better at processing your own feelings. Better at feeling those feelings, instead of shutting them down.
And in getting better, you become more of who you already are—a divine being, living a human experience full of growth and transformation.
Over the next couple of months, I’ll be creating opportunities for you to join me in some messy conversations. Some will be guided conversations in intimate spaces. Others will be bigger community discussions. Some will be one-time talks, others 10-week sessions. If something lights you up, or pisses you off, or calls to you in some way, it’s time to get messy and dig into it together.
That’s what is up now…and here is what’s happened.
This past year my life has shifted dramatically — by choice and by chance. I was in a fire accident last summer and suffered second degree burns to my chest, neck, and face. The skin has healed, but the nerve damage takes a lot longer. The miracle was in learning to surrender. It happened on July 21st. It’ll be a year soon. It was scary, painful, and it also just was what it was. I came to understand clearly that “I” didn’t get burned, my body did. I grew spiritually. It wasn’t all horrible. My friends showed up in amazing ways. I fell in love with my husband more deeply. I see the world differently now.
Resilience, love, and fear. It’s messy.
Months and many conversations later, Carlos and I decided to restructure our real estate company in order to explore what it might look like for a real estate agency to operate within a racial justice framework. As part of that effort, Carlos took over the daily operations of the agency while I set out on a new path to write, speak, and teach more. It was a big leap and it didn’t make sense to many people. It’s messy. It’s invigorating.
We also launched our oldest son out into the world after he graduated high school and went on to college in Chicago. He’s back now due to the pandemic, but he’s changed and the shift is noticeable. Mothering him is different and delightful and still challenging AF. Motherhood is messy and magnificent.
My mom went from full-time care at home with my Dad to a home care facility. I am losing her to Alzheimer’s and yet deepening my relationship with her heart and spirit. A million weeks into quarantine and I can’t hug her and kiss her face all over. The weight in my chest can be unbearable. I think that’s grief. Sometimes I compartmentalize to cope. It’s messy. We’ll talk about it. If you want.
That’s what I’ve been up to. What are you up to? How are you managing life in a pandemic? Are there some messy conversations that you want to dip your toes into? I would love to hear from you. I would love to know what comes up for you when you think of messy conversations. What subjects were you taught never to talk about? What taboo subjects have you braved and seen a huge impact on your life?