When I feel the need to hide

I can tell when the anxiety creeps up, almost a physical sensation of strings dragging across my back and neck, tightness in my shoulders, and short breaths as I move about my day.

Luckily, I’ve spent the past few years working on this so I recognize it. Like this morning when my eyes popped open at 3:45 and all the breathing techniques I’ve mastered fail me. I tiptoe down the cold stairs, trying not to wake the dog who will then wake my husband. What house am I living in today?

We went out to dinner with friends last night, and three of of us agreed. When the world seems to be falling apart, it’s so hard not to feel empty and dark ourselves. There’s very little I can do to stop worrying about the upcoming election (unless Trump decides to just stop being Trump and the MAGA folks resign), or the impending climate disaster, wars in various countries, and the anger and violence that so many people carry and exhibit.

So I can only work on myself. Hiding might feel good in the moment, but it only makes things worse. I’ve begun limiting my news watching. For the first time in a long time, I am reading a novel.

My yoga twice a week helps my muscle strength, critical for bone density. Yoga settles me, too, even if I’ve had to give up my competitive nature to compete with everyone in the class. Often, the best I can do is breathe and stretch. I won’t be much use to anyone if I’m a puddle of nervous energy, rolled up in the fetal position on my couch.

What I’m reading and listening to these days:

Breath by James Nestor, again

Anchored by Deborah Dana (thanks Donna!)

What do do when you don’t like the way you feel

Emily McDowell, who reminds me I also need to stop analyzing everything.


My Christmas cactus lives alone in a corner.
Once a year, red luscious blooms
spread over spiked green leaves,
shouting, look at me, I am extraordinary.

In winter’s gray I walk, breath coming quickly,
my face wrapped in a scarlet wool scarf,
frozen fingers curled into mittens.
I run, determined to outpace the cold
and my sharp-edged thoughts:
Look at me,  I am flawed.

They say you should call yourself
by name,  hug yourself like a friend,
water yourself with kindness. 
A first wave of warmth envelopes me,
I breathe. Today that is enough.