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I am capable.

It’s funny, what we forget during those difficult times. We can forget we’re smart, or we’re kind, or we’re capable. Growing up I knew I was all of those things. I was most proud of being capable, an independent spirit who could do things.

But somewhere along the way, I forgot this.

As the temperatures dropped this week, a wintry chill breezing into town, I was reminded I needed to get my air conditioner out of the window. Every year I wait too long. Every year. Because I have casement windows—the kind with handles that open the windows out towards the street instead of up—I have a floor air conditioner unit. The air flows out through two hoses, so holes need to be cut into the window panes.  I have one of the handymen in my building install it when it begins to warm in the spring, and I have him take it out in the winter. But I always wait too long and I spend weeks freezing in my apartment.

This week, I had the idea to take it out myself. I’d found long-forgotten covers for the holes, so I placed them after I unhooked the hoses, and then I used duct tape on the outside to plug any drafts.

It was ridiculously easy.

I am capable. I can take out my air conditioner. I can cook dinner. I can hang a picture on my wall and I can hook up a DVR.

But. Can I create a meaningful life?

I’ve been thinking about moments. The small, sweet ones that make a day. The big moments that change a life. The fleeting ones, missed, never to come back.

But there’s one in particular I keep coming back to. That moment when you stand in front of the closet and think, there is nothing in here that feels like me. This is how it begins.

Transformation.

Many years ago on these pages, I spoke of standing at the crossroads. I had begun to feel some unknowable thing, certain only that something wasn’t working. Every day I faced the hours ahead feeling like I was wearing a sweater that no longer fit, as if it were two sizes too small.

In the following years, the metaphorical clothes kept shrinking.

Soon the physical manifestation began, which I wrote about earlier this year. Clothes emerged from my closet with new holes—sometimes days upon days in a row—some on the seams (seemingly from wear, but relatively new), some moth worn. Items began ripping, reminiscent of Bruce Banner when he’s angry and about to transform into the Hulk. It began to feel comical, like someone put a weird voodoo spell on my clothes. That, or they just didn’t want to be with me any longer.

And then one day I stood in front of my closet and it occurred to me. None of this represents me. Only I didn’t know exactly what me was supposed to be.

Sometimes you don’t know how to feel, and your sense of well being wavers from minute to minute.

It’s that time when you are in between two lives.

There’s the one behind you, near enough to still see in the rear view mirror. And there’s the one you’ve longed for so long—even if you aren’t sure exactly what you long for—not yet visible.

I’ve tried to make sense of this year, with all of its twists and turns and bends where it seemed there were straight lines. I’ve tried to preemptively see the blessings in the difficulties. I’ve tried to understand what craziness was trying to tell me, where it was trying to lead me.

But you can’t do that. I know that now. You can’t jump to the end of the story without having lived through the middle.

The middle is where everything happens. This is where life is lived. This is where you find yourself.

Once, in the throes of broken-heartedness, a friend gave me a piece of advice. The only way out is through. I’ve thought of that many times this year, when things seemed so hard I just wanted to go home, crawl under the covers, and stay there for months on end.

The truth is you have to keep going. You have to drive through the storm in order to see the sun again.

The storms of this year have settled and I’m left looking at what is left.  Once the clouds parted, what I expected to see was wreckage, debris everywhere on the ground, remnants still falling from the sky. Instead, in the middle of the space in between who I was and who I will become, what I see is a vast field of empty space.

Sometimes that empty field is overwhelming. So many possibilities in the space in between.

But then I remember what I’ve always known. I am capable. And I can build whatever I want on that field.

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I can build a life of my dreams.

xo, with goodness and grace.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes there just are no words.

When the unimaginable happens—as it did in Paris, and Beirut, and Baghdad, and Kenya, last week—sometimes all you can do is to fall to your knees and ask for mercy for the whole of humanity. Sometimes things don’t make sense.

So, there are no words.

When I first heard the news of the Paris attacks, in the early stages of its unfolding, I was horrified. On my way to a workout, I thought of a picture I’d taken the evening before on my way to an event with a friend. I posted it on my personal Instagram page, with a caption that was heartfelt, and then I went to class.

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After class, I began to worry I’d gone wrong in posting that. Even now I feel awfully vulnerable posting it here. It was how I felt, but I began to wonder if it wasn’t appropriate. Perhaps it was too soon to try to see the good in something so clearly not good. The perils of social media—sometimes your heart is in the right place, but you don’t always hit the right note.

I left it up anyway.

Because, here’s the thing. I choose to believe life—in all of its complexities and awfulness and heartache and things we cannot ever understand—at its core is beautiful. The outpouring of love and concern and support around the world demonstrated the good in spite of the bad. It is not right we have to witness parents explain what happened to their children, but there is an inescapable hopefulness in watching a father tell his young son the flowers people were placing on the sidewalk were to combat guns. Flowers fight guns.

Sometimes goodness is complicated. But in spite of it all, I do believe there still is beauty in life.

And, somehow, the next morning, and the morning after that, and the morning after that, the sun comes out again.

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That is grace.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I err on the side of being a Pollyanna. It’s my nature, to try to see the positive in everything. And sometimes, I know, it can be annoying.

But, this year. This year has been hard, y’all. When you are being stripped down to the core, when you are sitting in the muddiest of mud pits, let me tell you, it’s hard to see the world through those rosy lenses.

Still, it happens. I’ve been blessed with moments, in the middle of darkness, that help me to see there is always light.

This week, I found beauty in the unlikeliest of places.

Basically, everything I need to know about life, I’ve learned on a SoulCycle bike. Things like…the hill makes you stronger; keep climbing. When you need to sit down, let yourself recover. When you lose your way, just move to the beat. When you think you cannot turn up the resistance higher, try a little more. When it gets too hard and you think you can’t go any farther, keep going. And when you keep going, you will be surprised at your own strength.

And so on.

I tend to take the same instructors week after week, mainly because I love their energy. Energy, I’ve learned, is the key to so many things in life.

Before class at the end of the week, I chided myself for not canceling it. I was tired and wanted nothing more than to go home and hang on my couch. But I showed up anyway. SoulCycle taught me that.

As class started, I found myself worried about keeping up. I became concerned about not having eaten enough. I felt a vague hunger. I was mentally exhausted.

And then, my energy shifted. Suddenly, I was happy to be there and in my body and in that moment. The music was loud, and as I cycled and moved with the choreography, I felt grateful for it all.

I had one of those moments where everything felt right. I felt happy. Genuinely, deep into my core, happy. I looked around and could feel the joy pulsating through the room. I thought, life can be so beautiful.

And then the disco lights came on. Seriously.  I mean…you can’t not be happy with colored disco lights spinning around the room.

There, in the middle of 60-something sweaty people, I found my center.

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And it was beautiful.

xo, with goodness and grace.

Sometimes I forget how restorative my city can be. To have a few weekdays to wander is a luxury, and one I don’t have often enough.

There’s so much hustle all around, so much energy and movement. But then you find places where stillness exists, and it stills you, too.

Want to see some of those places?

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Too much fall? Maybe. But let’s just go with it.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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