Week 1: Coronavirus makes the world stand still

We’re 1 week into this (in the US) and the change is palpable.

When Americans first heard about COVID-19 (AKA coronavirus), it felt a million miles away. Something scary the people in China were dealing with, but something distant, and not something we needed to be too concerned about.

On March 8th, I saw the new Broadway production of Jagged Little Pill (amazing!).  On March 12th, Broadway turned off the lights for the foreseeable future.

March 13th marked the first day of my mandatory work-from-home schedule.

And slowly but surely, city-by-city and state-by-state, Americans have been told to shelter-in-place. Nearly everything is closed, except for grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations. Although you can still exercise outside, the streets are quiet. The air is thick. And you can feel that change coming.

I don’t just mean a change in health, financial circumstances or daily habits. I mean the change within us all.  A change in mindset.  A spiritual change.

week 1

On my walk to the grocery store today, I waved and said hello to 6 people. SIX PEOPLE. We made eye contact, smiled, and waved. This would not have happened a week ago. We are already missing social engagement and connecting with our friends and coworkers. So, in an attempt to connect, we are saying hello to our neighbors in bolder ways.

I’ll take that silver lining for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is going to be hard. And devastating. This will touch all of our lives, in small ways and large. And it will cause all of us to rumble with our demons, as Brene Brown explains. But from this fire, we can rise like the phoenix. With a new lease on life, clearer priorities, and a more compassionate a humbled heart.

It’s just the beginning.

While it’s not much consolation, we’re in this together. Technically we’re apart, but collectively, we’re in it together. Which I personally find to be beautiful.

I’m not sure if I’ll post weekly or just this once, but heck, I’ve got nothing but time on my hands. Sooo, you may be hearing from me more.

Love and hugs and air-high-fives to you all! Stay safe out there.

Erin Terese

It’s the last day of 2019

It’s 10:56 PM and the helicopters are a buzz. We’re closing out the decade and moving into a new one. A brand new decade, brimming with promise and the possibility of dystopian doom. What could be more exciting!

What a time to be alive.

sunrise_in_the_city

Technology is accelerating it’s grip on our daily lives and we’re loving it. Social media has touched every country and every generation of humans. We’re in it together, for better or worse. It’s chaotic and beautiful.  And we’re learning about boundaries, together.

We have everything we need to solve many of the world’s problems. Power is in the palms of the people. Resources are available and if we can learn to work together, we can accomplish just about anything. Even though there are a ton of issues facing our species and our mother-Earth, we have the ability to come together and make real change.  IF we can come to agreement. IF we can work together. IF that’s something humans have the desire or capacity to do.

I am so hopeful and so terrified.

Well, maybe not terrified. I suppose I was terrified. But the more I’ve lived and the more books I’ve consumed, I’ve come to realize we are a fascinating species. We are so diverse in culture and mindset and in just about every way you can imagine, it makes my head spin. In fact, the very idea that we are in-it-together can be argued.  Many people still prioritize themselves first, without concern for their neighbor or neighboring country, let alone folks on the other side of the world. 

We are a planet of humans, living very different lives. Parallel worlds in many ways.

With all this new technology, we should be able to connect to those humans more easily. We should see them as brothers and sisters we’ve yet to meet. Our hearts should double or triple in size as our compassion deepens and our capacity for empathy grows. For the first time in our existence, we can see into the everyday lives of others all around the world, in near real-time. If we can figure out how to harness this for good, imagine what a world we could create!  Rather than seeing how different we are, we can see how similar we are. How beautifully diverse our human family is.

But again, we all have our own mindset.

And that’s perhaps our biggest ray of hope. All over the world, people are waking up to the truth that we create our own reality. That our minds are powerful and we have more choice than we can even fathom.

So rather than make predictions about what new technology will enter our lives or what political powers will come in and out of control or what will happen in my personal life, I’ll simply state that I am hopeful. Always hopeful. That this new decade will see more people coming into their personal power and living their lives more boldly, with open hearts and open minds.

Cheers to 2020 and to all of you!

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

Days of Sheringham: Part 3

When I arrived at Heathrow Airport, Kathryn was waiting for me at the gate.  She insisted that picking me up from airport made the most sense and that it would get me to her house the fastest, helping me adjust to the time change. Since England is 8 hours ahead of California, I gladly accepted.  Ten years ago, jet lag never fazed me and I would’ve insisted on taking a cab, bus or train… but times have changed (AKA I have aged), and now jet lag is crippling.

We met about five years ago in San Francisco when she was visiting her son, Jon, a good friend of mine and roommate at the time. We bonded instantly.  Jon took us to his favorite brunch spot, then for a few afternoon cocktails in the Castro. Almost Halloween, the bars were packed with fabulous gay men in costumes and some of the best drag you’ve ever seen. A few drinks later, we’d made friends with an adorable young couple (one of which became my beloved hairstylist) who had us laughing so hard we cried. Later at dinner, we shared stories of heartbreak – we were officially friends – and Jon was officially embarrassed by the two women sitting at his table, crying in public.  It was beautiful.

When I first mentioned that I was looking for a cozy getaway spot for a make-shift writing retreat, Kathryn instantly offered her vacation home in Sheringham.  After searching the town on Google-image, I knew it was the right place.  A small coastal town, with just enough to keep me occupied, but not enough to distract me from my mission.  This was it!

The plan was to spend two nights with Kathryn and her husband at their home in Essex, then drive out to coast where they’d help me get settled for my solo adventure.  As it turns out, this was an excellent plan.  It gave me just enough time for a day-trip to London and to recover from the flight over.  By the time we were in the car on our way to Sheringham, I was rested and ready.

Once we parked the car and unpacked our luggage, we took a stroll around town so that I could get acquainted.  First, a walk to the seaboard, where we were pelted with wind and hail (and doubled over with laughter)! Then, a walk about town to point out the local market, pub, and theater company.  After the tour, we settled into a local café for a cappuccino and crumpet. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty social person, but Kathryn has me beat.   Everywhere we went people recognized her and stopped to chat.  The café was no exception.

While sipping cappuccino and stuffing my face with crumpet, one of the owners of the café casually mentioned that they were hosting a Live Harp and Poetry Reading Night the next evening. Kathryn jumped at the idea, asking him what time it started and strongly encouraging me to attend. Poetry, wine, and harp music in a small seaside town? Sign me up!

The only problem was that most of my poetry lives in a notebook, back in the States. So, I could attend, but wouldn’t be able to share any work of my own.  As fate would have it, that night the jet lag kicked in and I awoke at 2 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep.  Annoyed, I reached for my phone to launch a meditation app in hopes it might coax me back to sleep, when I remembered – I’m here to write. There was no need to force myself to sleep. Time was on my side and I could write to my heart’s content.

And so I did. That night, I wrote two poems: one that I’m quite proud of and planned to share at the poetry reading, and another that is for my eyes only.  Some things aren’t meant to be shared.

One of the first to arrive at Harp and Poetry night, I took the opportunity to chat with the owners and scout out a good seat.  I sat next to a man named Gerard. He was originally from France, but had spent the last few decades in England, now calling it home. Poetry night was something he greatly enjoyed.  Having been a part of the group for years, he’d acquired the role of translator: translating French poetry to English and English poetry to French. Not because it was necessary, but because it was lovely, and everyone in the group appreciated it.

As the remaining guests arrived, I realized this group had been meeting for years. They had a rhythm and cadence and routine. And yet they welcomed me with open arms. Nothing was awkward.  At first I was afraid that I might not be up to the challenge, but they made me feel so welcome, I didn’t even hesitate when it came time to add my name to the list of readers.

Among those who read were a retired architect, professor, published author, preacher and others I didn’t have the pleasure to speak with. The topics were varied: wildlife, longing, sex, politics, anatomy, gardening, war, loss. Oh, and one man was FUNNY. I mean, stand-up-comedy kind of funny. Who knew that was even possible? Who knew poetry could be hilarious? Probably the same person who knew how captivating a harpist-storyteller could be.

poetry night

When it was my turn to read, I stood up, shuffled my way to the front of the room, and read my soul and words aloud. I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to writing about my deep-dark feelings, but reading them out loud and in public is a completely different story. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it. My heart was pounding, my face was red, but I did it. Once I’d settled back into my seat, I turned to Gerard who looked at me and said “Very good. Your face is red.”

It’s not quite the compliment I was hoping for, but hey, it was honest. And I’ll always take honesty.

What stood out the most to me about that evening, was the passion in the room. Here was a group of people, united in their love of words. They helped each other grow, in confidence and skill. Month after month, year after year, they gathered to share their personal work or their favorite work by other poets. Not for profit, not for agenda, but for passion. For love.

We should all be so lucky to be part of a community like that.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  This follows Part 2.  Each part in this series is written by whim, not necessarily in chronological order or any order for that matter.  Enjoy!

Days of Sheringham: Part 2

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Perhaps it was overly ambitious to think I’d spend my time in Sheringham writing.  It’s been a busy year, to say the least.  Actually, the last five years have been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve desperately needed some downtime.  Case in point: my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 was to chill the f*ck out. I failed by epic proportions. This year has been anything but chill – it’s been a year of growth and change and progress, but nothing about it has been “chill.”

Now that I’m here in East Anglia, my body wants to sleep.  I’ve been sleeping between 9 and 11 hours a day. Every day. Yes, you could say that I’m tired.  Yesterday I woke past noon and begrudgingly dragged myself down to the water to enjoy what little daylight was left.  Instead of walking the coastal trail as I’d done each day prior, I walked along the shore – my boots in the sand and stone. And it was gorgeous.  Absolutely breathtaking! The tide was rising, but I couldn’t stop walking.

Rather than get stranded on the beach (on a particularly chilly day), I stopped an older couple as they passed by and asked if there was a way to access the coastal trail from the beach.  This way, if the tide got too high, I’d have a safe way out.  Luckily, the man and woman were extremely friendly and confirmed that yes, there was in fact a pathway to the trail, which incidentally was not far off from where we were.

sheringham_beach

I made my way along the shoreline and eventually crossed a long stretch of stones to reach the coastal trail.  It was a brisk, but beautiful walk back to town.  Out of town by sand and stone, and back into town by a winding trail along the cliffs.  To call it picturesque is an understatement. As I exited the trail, I was surprised to see the couple I’d met earlier on the beach heading toward me.  They waved hello and stopped me for a chat.  Not only had my American accent given me away, but they could tell I was traveling solo and kindly invited me to join them the following day for their weekly walk into a neighboring town. We decided to meet at their house at 10AM the following morning.

*  *  *  *  *

This morning I set an alarm.  Since I’ve been binge-sleeping, I didn’t want to risk missing our 10AM start time.  Arriving promptly at 10, I rang the doorbell and was quickly greeted by Susan.  She brought me into their home, introduced me to their sleek Tonkinese cats, and escorted me over to a table containing a map of the area.  Prior to my arrival, she’d mapped out areas of East Anglia I might want to explore.  Not only did she show me each location on the official map, but she’d hand written (drawn) a map on a full-size piece of paper for me to keep – with details including bus routes, restaurant recommendations, and inside-tips only a local could provide.

This.  This is the magic of travel.  This is the warmth and kindness I didn’t even realize was missing in my life.

After a cup of delicious pour over coffee, we bundled up and began our trek to Waybourne.  We discussed politics: what it’s been like in the US with Trump as president, and what it’s been like in the UK after the Brexit vote.  We discussed careers. Travel.  Food.  Pets. Architecture. Death. Grieving. Creativity. Art. Psychology.  Somehow, as if by magic, no topics were off limit.  Maybe it’s because I’m just passing through town or maybe we realized that we’re kindred spirits.  Susan and Trevor have a subtle joie de vivre. The kind of joy that’s tinged by sorrow – much like myself.  The soft smile of someone who appreciates the beauty of life, because they know how hard it can be. They’ve lived it.  And yet they – we – choose to stay soft and loving.

You’d think by now I’d get used to the ways of the Universe.  That I wouldn’t be surprised by the people that “just happen” to cross your path at exactly the right time, right when you need them the most. And yet, I’m still amazed.  Still grateful at the magic that draws such people near. I am so grateful for fated friends, tucked in all corners of the globe, waiting to be discovered.  I only hope I offered them an ounce of the inspiration and kindness they bestowed upon me.

To be continued… Part 3.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Here’s Part 1. Each part in this series is written by whim, not necessarily in chronological order or any order for that matter.  Enjoy!

Days of Sheringham: Part 1

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Once upon a time, not very long ago, a rogue puffin was spotted on the east coast of England, in the county of Norfolk.  This may not sound very exciting to your average person, but to me, learning this was like finding out Big Foot had just moved in down the hall and was going to be my new neighbor.

I adore puffins. Something about them feels magical to me. Shaped like a penguin, but smaller and more colorful, these beautiful creatures bring a smile to my face every time I see one. Seeing one in the wild has become a bit of a bucket-list item for me.  So to arrive in Sheringham and hear that one was seen not far from here just a few months ago, made my heart skip with delight. Far from home and away from its family, this puffin made its way to Norfolk.  It wasn’t supposed to here. It went rogue. Clearly, we are kindred spirits.

Puffin overlooking the ocean while perched

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m thousands of miles away from my family and friends. Needing time to write and reflect, I booked a two week vacation in England. Much like this rogue puffin, I’m not supposed to be here.  I should be back in the US with loved ones, over-indulging on high calorie food and counting my blessings.  But here I am, on the east coast of England, eating fish and chips and indulging in the gluttony of time-spent-alone.

In a world that moves so fast you can barely remember which version of the iPhone is the newest, taking time to yourself is the ultimate luxury – a betrayal to our role as women.  A woman my age should be married with kids, struggling to pay the mortgage and trying the newest fad diet to lose weight. A woman my age should be recently divorced and worried she might never marry again. A woman my age should be wondering if it’s too late to run away and start over as she sits in the waiting room of yet another job interview, in a field of work she hates. A woman my age should be devastated that she’s single or angry that having children and a family isn’t working out like she planned.  A woman my age should have it all figured out and be happy.  That’s a lot of shoulds.

One thing that’s true in all of those statements, in all of those shoulds, is that women (this goes for men too) are not supposed to slow down and evaluate our lives. We should be this and we should be that, but we are never taught that what we really need to do is slow down and breathe.  Slow down and take stock. Slow down and get to know ourselves and figure out if all the shoulds in our life align with what it is we really want for ourselves.  Who is deciding the shoulds?  Is it us or is it them? And if it’s “them,” who gave them the right?

I’m 35 years old and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m starting to really understand myself.

The majority of my life I’ve felt like a fraud. A failed version of who I’m supposed to be.  Not really sure who I’m meant to be, I’ve gone from one situation to the next, trying to figure it out. It’s only now that I’m starting to get at the truth:  I’m not supposed to be a certain way.  I’m supposed to design my one life to the best of my ability, and squeeze every ounce of joy, pain, loss, and gratitude from each new experience.  I’m meant to feel.

That’s all for now.  To be continued… Part 2.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Each part in this series is written by whim, not necessarily in chronological order or any order for that matter.  Enjoy!

Super You on the SuperMoon

There are a lot of articles circulating about the SuperMoon and how to harness the energy for personal growth and the highest self. I don’t follow astrology much, but I can tell you that I personally have a connection with the moon and pay attention to its phases.

Regardless of what you believe, it’s always a good idea to pause and reflect. To contemplate what is working in your life and what is not.  What you want to stop, start and continue.

The past few months have brought about a lot of change in my life.  I had a romance end, a new career opportunity rise to the surface, the illness of a loved one and many loved ones in my life struggling with changes in their own lives.  Any change can trigger past hurt and insecurities, but many changes taking place at once can really put you through the ringer.

This is exactly what happened.

With the help of my therapist, my yoga practice, mindfulness, meditation, journal entries, talking to loved ones and a whole host of other self-care techniques, I have done my very best to process all of this change and look for areas of growth.  What do I want? What is important to me? What would I like to change? And perhaps most importantly, what would I like to release?

moon

Since this SuperMoon is all about release, it’s no shocker that today it has come into sharp focus: I want to release my intense desire to control the outcome. While this serves me in many ways, it also really holds me back and keeps me from experiencing the beauty that is found in letting go.

Now, I cannot promise I won’t be a plotter and a planner, always working toward the next big idea (that’s just who I am), but I can relax into the journey more.

I want to release the need to analyze every situation in my life and what it means, relaxing into the gifts it brings, without always questioning its greater purpose.

I want to release the fear in my heart and lead from a place of love and acceptance.

I want to release the idea that I am anything less than completely whole.

I want to release the belief that I know best and live from a more humble place.

I want to release the fear of failure and judgment and pursue the life of my dreams without hesitation.

I want to live fully, with an open heart, an open mind and to love with a sense of wild abandon.

What would you like to release?

Your truly,

Erin Terese

 

 

The Growing Process

How long has it been? Nine years?  Thirty-four years? Maybe a thousand glasses of wine, two thousand miles of coastal exploration and fifteen gallons of tears? Who knows.

However you choose to measure it, what’s most surprising to me is the cyclical nature of growth.

I’ve been analytical for as long as I can remember.  My loving mother spent many a nights with me as a child, listening to me vent, helping me talk through my confusion, stifling a smile or laugh or look of horror as I explored the corners of my mind.

I have always been curious.  But it was about nine years ago that I was brought to my knees and was forced to look at the world with new eyes.  Forced to see how my choices, my view of the world and the people I choose as my tribe impact every facet of my life.

We want to believe that once we learn a lesson, we can check it off the list and move forward. Ah-ha! I have learned to have patience.  I was patient in that situation, therefore I am now a patient person… check, check, check.

Sadly, this is not how this works. It is not that easy.

All of our lessons and areas for growth will loop back around.  We will be confronted with choices and situations that will make us rise to the occasion again and again.

Can you be patient in this situation? Can you be loving in that situation? Can you show compassion to that person? Can you exercise healthy boundaries now?

Let’s unpack this a little bit more.

For most of my life, communicating my true feelings was not easy for me.  I had so much fear about what people would think, who I might offend, not to mention I often didn’t know how I was feeling.  Years of mindfulness and meditation have helped me understand myself better.  Writing has helped me articulate myself better.  Having hard conversations where I feel like I might throw up or faint, run away or cry, has helped me grow and create better relationships, with both family, friends and lovers.

growth process

But is it ever really easy?  It is ever really done?  Do we ever really know exactly what to say, exactly how to say it, when to say it and what actions will validate our best intention-ed words?

Hell to the no.

We try. We try again and again. And it does get a little bit easier. You learn that you can and will survive these scary situations, but it doesn’t mean you enjoy it or that you don’t mess up.

The same can be said for confidence, worthiness, self-care, mindfulness, authenticity, vulnerability, courage… we learn what it is and how to do it. And then we learn it again. And again. And again.

Each time we will be tested differently. Each time we will respond a little bit differently.  Each time will learn a little bit more.

And hopefully along the way, we learn to offer ourselves some compassion. Offer and acknowledge how far we’ve come and how well we are doing. Knowing that we all make mistakes, we all have greatness and we all have so much to learn.

The best thing I can offer myself today (and maybe you can relate) is to cut myself some slack.

We are all doing the best we can. I honestly believe that. We will trip and fall, hurt people and hurt ourselves, impress others and exceed our own expectations, time and time again.

I think what is most important is that we are always true to ourselves.  That we honor our values and uphold our integrity.  This way, we can always hold our head high. And if, er’ when we mess up, we know exactly where to go back to.

We go back to our true self.  The one that wants to love and be loved.  The one whose hopes and dreams pulse through our veins. The one who hears this with their heart.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

P.S. Happy 11:11 ❤