First, the dog died. It was horrible and sad, and there is no way I can write about how I am without telling you that. We made the awful decision to euthanize our 13 year old, much-beloved hound; he was just fine, and then suddenly was emphatically not. Torsion, twisted gut, or bloat, all terrible names for a terrible condition. It comes on suddenly, without warning, and even if we had the money for the surgery, there was no guarantee of full recovery, or that it wouldn't happen again.
It was Valentines day.
And then I got sick. I am still battling a lingering sinus infection. It makes my face hurt, and it makes me so tired.
And the snow. Oh, heavens, the snow. It just kept coming. And coming. It came again yesterday. More snow than in any other February since they started keeping track. It's magical and beautiful, and messy and awful.
So, there's all of that. So much going on. So much feeling so heavy and hard to deal with. And my friends are going through heavy and hard things, too.
What can we do? What do we do when we are stuck in the swamp and lost in the woods and at the bottom of the well?
Well, we fall asleep. We lose our senses and fall asleep. It feels like we can't think right, that it's hard to just get through the day. So we sleepwalk through it, do the minimum...
Until we come to our senses on the bank of a stream, or find our way through the woods to the house with the fence topped with skulls...
Fairy tales tell us what to do. We must turn away from ourselves (what?!? the opposite of self care?? Isn't that codependent? hear me out...) we turn our attention outward, because inwardly, we are lost. We are in pain and stuck, frightened and dulled by grief, sick and tired. So we look out into the world, and we do what we can do.
We do what we can to. Tiny things. We do what we can to ease the suffering of the world, and find our own hearts beginning to heal.
The girl who has fallen down the well shakes the apple trees crying for help. The girl who has been sent to Baba Yaga ties the tree branches with her own ribbon, and gives her bread to the dog. The tired, sad woman sends a text to a friend in mourning and says, "Hey, I'm thinking about you."
A world with more kindness in it feels easier to bear. A world with more gentleness and sharing of burdens feels brighter.
Every personality test I've taken, lists me as a teacher, helper, and nurturer. It's how I am in the world. Maybe you aren't -- you're an artist, philosopher, rebel, leader, systematizer, organizer, investigator.... You know what kinds of contributions light you up. You know what kinds of reaching out, what kindnesses, what gestures are your gift to the world. So do that, even just a tiny bit. Make a little picture and set it where it will be seen. Organize the supply closet. Tell your employees where they're excelling. Write to the lawmaker you support. Find a solution to a tiny problem. Do your thing.
The world will feel less dark. The ice will melt. Your broken heart might still be broken, but some light might start to shine through the cracks.
When you are sick of winter, or just sick, just start. One tiny thing to make things better, and it will heal -- you and the world.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I coach waldorf moms and other sparkly unicorns, helping them find wonder, ease, and contentment. I write about parenting, storytelling, and about living a life with stories.