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A fellow writer whom I’ve been exchanging essays with, providing feedback back and forth, recently read one of my pieces about anxiety. She commented that while she knows that I’ve mentioned my struggles with anxiety, she noticed that in our weekly zooms for our writing workshop, I look so composed and so together. I found this interesting because I thought …well, I am sort of composed and together. And then it occurred to me that it has been years of conditioning in a non-accepting world that I have spent concealing my fears and anxieties.  Hiding is a learnt behavior because I know that it’s not socially acceptable to wear them on my sleeve. There are very few people that I allow to see that side of me. It is such a painful, raw, unfiltered version of myself that I only share with a certain few.  It is a level of vulnerability that leaves me feeling splayed open and exposed.  I am running down Fifth Avenue, unclothed and with nothing available to cover myself.  My hands unsure if they should cup my breasts or shield my lower region.  In the midst of panic attacks, I tend to share with the people closest to me, that girl unintentionally streaking through Manhattan.   I am in such a raw place that I don’t even have the space to hold back.  I am fortunate enough to feel safe enough to divulge this side of me with a small handful of my people.  

And then… the feeling passes.  Dissolving like the tiny little pill I place on my tongue for relief; the aching subsides, and a new flood of emotions crashes in.  Shame.  Like wind whipping my face, the embarrassment burns my cheeks, an outward symptom of my outpouring.  Because sometimes, even with those select few trusted souls, I can look back on the texts, re-hash the conversations in my mind, recalling what I’d said in my moment of grief, and I identify with what I like to call the “anxiety hangover.” It is that moment of shame you realize you’ve divulged so much of yourself and you’re feeling a bit better and you think, “Why was I acting so crazy? What is wrong with me? Was it really that bad?”
Of course, nothing is wrong with me.  And yes, it was that bad, that is…in my mind it was.  The distance from that panic attack and the freedom from thought are eons away, even if they exist only minutes later.  It is merely my mind that has mapped out a path in which I’ve fallen down the well, and find myself scaling the walls, no rope in sight.   The juxtaposition between the gripping grief and the mental freedom feels insane.  “How did I get here?” I ask to no one but me.  “How could I have been so low yesterday and today I'm alright?”
In a world where mental health is slowly becoming more and more widely accepted, I find that it has become somewhat chic to feel anxiety and depression.  We grant grace to celebrities who have had a stint in rehab, or required extra support.  If the Average Joe confides in you, painting a picture of their mental hell, they can appear totally crazy and out of your normal realm of understanding.  I’ve experienced this countless times, specifically at doctor’s appointments.  Anything medical is a major trigger for me and when I have no choice but to act vulnerable because the pain, a knife too sharp to keep inside, slices the surface, I find the other person (the doctor, the nurse) as kind as they can be, are confused by my reaction.  Things that are seemingly “no big deal,” are a big fucking deal in my mind.  The compassion is there (sometimes), but the empathy is rarely present.  How can one consider themselves a medical professional with an intent to facilitate someone's wellness, if they do not examine the entire scope of wellness?

I find, even now, sharing these words on a public platform, there is an immense amount of fear of judgment.  And I’m working on that.  Who will read this? What will they think?  Will someone who I know doesn’t like me read his and criticize my struggle?  Do I even care?
I remind myself that there is power in sharing the struggle.  If I can bare my soul, naked, running down Fifth Avenue, and one person can relate, it will all have been constructive.  It’s worth it.  Is it comfortable out there, by myself, stripped down? No. Not even close. But I have that inner circle to bear witness, and they are essential. I am on a mission to make those moments of shame dissolve like that tiny white pill, and it is my hope that in speaking freely about this, without little fear, that understanding will emerge, and become as contagious as the pandemic. All anyone needs in those moments of hell, is someone who understands.  Someone who, even if they will never know the depths of the aching, will ease the morning hangover of shame, their open mind a tall, clear glass of water.  

And I hope someday I too, can heal the pain of the next day’s shame.

Vulnerability is the theme for my writing group this month.
Read more pieces about vulnerability from my fellow Illuminate members:

Quitting Cold Turkey by Mia Sutton
I Have Been Sick All My Life by Jennifer Brown
Butterfly Wings by Megan McCoy Dellecese
with love, eunice by Eunice Brownlee



2020. The madness of this year encircled me; it did not permeate me. I was too consumed around the intense fears that rattled my pregnancy. I remember looking for a therapist and reaching out to several by email – sifting through the responses, one in particular stands out. A pretty blonde woman in her fifties (I googled photos to see if she appeared sympathetic, because of course one can gauge empathy from a psychologists website biography photo) wrote me back noting how difficult it was to be pregnant, ‘especially with the state of the world’.... The coronavirus pandemic had yet to hit the US but was days away from detonating, a high-stakes presidential election approached.. I knew all of this, and yet I didn’t even know what she was talking about – I couldn’t even acknowledge the state of things occurring outside of myself. In the self-absorbed caverns of my mind - the world whirled wildly around MY life, MY fear- the changes, the unknown a predator threatening my every thought. My plaguing mind a cyclone, gaining speed and intensity with every thought it touched.

The fear came to a screeching halt with guttural screams—mine—between contractions surging through my core-- the moment seven pounds and one ounce of sticky new life was placed on my chest. The soft cries (his) and the gasping sobs (mine) met for the first time and every facet of my life would alter.

Outside, the mask-faced world kept spinning. My parents stood in the parking lot amid the strict pandemic no-visitors rule, while I, an hour after birth and completely depleted, clutched my sweet, swaddled baby against the scratchy hospital-gown, pressed into my chest, presenting him through the glass to the parking lot below. Though a few floors up, I could see their eyes glittering behind their sunglasses. That warm June afternoon, my husband’s gentle protective arm around my shoulder to steady my wobbly legs beneath me... faith floated between all of us. Hope strung from one generation to the next, the strength of my parent’s love threaded to me, my husband, looping to the tiny baby in my arms. This new life that I’d spent months agonizing over – fearing his arrival, withstanding the birth, looking upon the life changes with such dread....it never occurred to me that it would be a perfect instant, twinkling in time, amidst the madness of this year. I never grasped that this fleeting moment would surge with peace, with hope. That the thing I’d feared the most, would be an anchor in a swelling sea of uncertainty. This tiny precious being, would become my one sure, my one pure thing. Enveloped tightly within that swaddle blanket was the heartbeat of MY world.

The one around me could wait.

Hard Work, Heart Work

"Heart Work"
Pun, Intended.

Does it pour from you?
Explore from you?
Are you saturated?
Does it pulse through,
the blue
your Snow White skin?
Do you feel the power,
Of your own power,

What's on Your Wrist?


Holiday time means I roll up my sleeves and knit; I’m hand-crafting gifts, custom orders, and even some luxurious cozies for me!  And when I roll up my sleeves, there’s nothing like a natural, wooden timepiece with sleek design and superior craftsmanship to gawk at.  With a large face and slim bracelet design, I glance down at my Jord Cassia wood watch in rich walnut wood with rose gold hardware, and know I need to get focused at the tasks at hand…and yet suddenly I’m distracted by it’s beauty!

I just love how feminine the watch sits next to a lace sleeve.

Casual days or a little dolled up, my Cassia from Jord always brings life to my looks!

The unique design with interlaced wood and metal links brings forth an unparalleled level of quality. I am motivated by its simplicity and careful details.  It’s not everywhere that one can purchase such a beautiful, affordable, luxurious timepiece; it’s only at Jord Watches.

Now, for a limited time only, you too can enter to win your own Jord wood watch right here!: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/cabernetandclarity

Even if you're not a lucky winner, you'll instantly receive 25% off a wood watch of your own!  What do I love about that?? Everyone wins!

Shop the full collection of Jord Wood Watches here: http://www.woodwatches.com/#cabernetandclarity

Luxury Wooden Watch

Day 31: The Farewell

"So it's fare thee well my own true love,
We'll meet another day, another time.
It ain't the leavin'
That's a-grievin' me
But my true love who's bound to stay behind"

-Bob Dylan



As I embarked on this composing crusade, I told myself things like "you can go for it, but you'll never finish it....Attempt it, just know that thirty-one days of published content is about as likely as..."

And here I am. Day thirty-one and I'm just as shocked that I made it here as you are.  I took this seriously: purchased a new laptop and built a blog two days before, seriously. And yet, contributing to a purpose, a discipline such as this, was more a gift to me.  It lead me on a roadway back to myself, it pushed me to compose words again, and it motivated and inspired me on most days.  Other days, I felt stuck, tired, unwilling... resisting the acceleration of the vehicle I was propelling towards my intention. 

Conquering this fear and doubt has only made me challenge my thought process with other varying elements that have restrained me from striving for more.

It's farewell for now. 

But only for now.

Day 30: Death

I recall the earsplitting ring of the phone that night, followed by the gut-wrenching sound of my mother's shriek.

He was gone.

There had been an accident.  He was the only involved and as I imagined the metal of the Tacoma scraping against the stone wall before it plunged into the water beneath him, I had to squeeze, wrinkle my eyes shut, sealing them tighter and tighter in a failed attempt to expunge the gruesome visions.  My cognizance juxtaposed; I longed to know the details and also prayed the images would vacate my agitated mind.  In this era of time, the imagination labored, sweating on and endless wheel; a treadmill of speculation.  The anxiety, palpable.

My thoughts shift from gruesome to pure pain and I relive the moment I disclosed my love for him, for the first and only time in our relationship, a mere nine hours earlier.  It was a foreboding of sorts as we never really talked like that, and I recall a dizziness; as if I hovered over my body, spectating as I embraced his frail frame for what would be the last time.  And somehow, I knew it would be.  He was exposed, his dignity deflated.  He'd always swelled with pride, never desiring to present any weakness, and as a result, he was unbreakable, immortal in our eyes.  Except for that summer daybreak when we faced the harsh reality that the ticks on the clock with him in our lives were always scarce.  We'd fallen into his facade of perpetual existence, and were proven wrong.

The days that followed were hazy and despairing.  Hoards of people made appearances.  I grew ill, my state of mind gnawing at my well-being, coughing until the muscles in my side shred: torn up the way our family would be, at the loss of this man we so loved.  I spent the next few days hunched over in both my mental and physical state of being: my thoughts sickening me and my heart splitting, aching...the pain unfathomable.  

The wild, spirited nature of someone larger than life had vacated this world, and we all knew our own lives would cease to be the same.

My face compulsorily spreads into a smile when I think about those carefree summer days when he would pick us up in his truck, ask us to hold the wheel while he lazily spit sunflower seeds out the driver's window, whistling to every tune on the radio and making us pee our pants with laughter.  There were also moments of seriousness; I have a clear-as-day memory of him telling us not to cry when he dies, and that everyone dies, but to laugh when his time came, and to remember the good times.  It's hard to fathom that this conversation is so seared into my mind as it occurred when I was likely six or seven years old, and yet I guess it was one of those moments frozen in time, never to be forgotten.  I'm sure I didn't even understand it at the time, and if I am truthful with myself, I still can't understand or accept his passing.  It is a major area within me that I have yet to find peace.  A decade elapsed and I'm left feeling continuously robbed at every moment he isn't here.  His existence was stripped from us, and so often I beg the skies for omens.

Every now and then, a hawk appears, soaring a little too low to the soil, and I wonder if it's him, nearby. 

I wonder if he's there to remind me about all those times he took us fishing, always giving us the big catch, or the times he'd jump out and scare us so badly we were mute for what felt like hours...and yet once recovered, we'd gleefully run back for more.  His back massages, arm-tickles, his little giggle laugh, his extraordinary fervor for life, and his love for children. 

We didn't say "I love you," because it never needed to be said.  It was always inherently felt.

What I'd give for just one more laugh with him, one more conversation, one more scare.

And I realize;

I don't require a bird sighting to awaken in me, the truth.  That I'll never forget my uncle.

Day 29: Religion

Peace within, unwavering inherent faith in oneself, that is my denomination.
Church is a hushed Sunday morning, burrowed in pajamas, leisurely savoring coffee, a sanctuary built together.
Our vows a ritual of authentic conversation.

Might not appear quite like yours, and yet it bears truth and love above all, with a solid intent on kindness.  

My belief in divinity is simplistic.  Sacred.  It is a keen connection to self and an awareness of the repercussions of all actions.

It is clean, uncomplicated, guiltless.

It is the only way I know how.