The breather.

I willingly woke up at 6:30am this morning. And as the orange glow filtered in through my kitchen blinds, it made me take pause as I mixed my celery powder into 8 ounces of water. (Don’t even ask, ha.) I took a photo, as proof to myself (and to document on Instagram Story) that I had gotten up before 9am during Quarantine. I’m now at the kitchen table, sitting right alongside the only window in the house that provides any kind of view. It’s the same view I’ve been looking at now for weeks on end. But today it hits different, with the sun rising up at the end of my block. The scene is quiet and still, but at this hour, it’s supposed to be. The day isn’t in full-swing so I can’t prematurely determine whether it’s productive or a bummer yet. And that gives me peace. Because right now, this day feels like a collaboration between me and the sun. We rose together, and hopefully we’ll set together when the day is done.

I don’t know about you, but the last week or two have felt especially suffocating. And with Michigan weather being what’s it’s been (SNOW, Michigan keeps giving us SNOW) – let’s just say … I was losing it.

Staying home isn’t what bothers me. I’ve been actively working from home for over 2 years now, and I’m very much okay with the discipline and reflection that comes with being home alone all day. I can start the day off writing, consume copious amounts of coffee, and work in quiet solitude between my home office and my kitchen table for hours and hours. Then, when my husband would get home from work, it’d be time for dinner and drinks and decompressing. It was a good set-up. It was a schedule I took for granted. Because let me just come right out and say it…

Productivity’ ain’t been happening for me since early March.

And I won’t go on about how my husband is driving me crazy (which he is) or how some days I’m the most impatient/quick to bark human ever (because I can be) or how pitifully I miss my family that are only a 45 minute drive away or how stressed I am/lost I feel that so many music plans for 2020 have dissolved in a matter of weeks.

No, I don’t need to bitch about all that stuff because I know you feel me. I know my aggravations and anxiousness are very similar to yours. However, a lot of you have CHILDREN, which I imagine only amplifies all those emotions. (Bless you, by the way.)

So let me just tell you about yesterday afternoon that led me into this morning.

Around 3PM yesterday, it was very apparent to me that I had 2 choices: 1) Stay home and potentially play out an episode of “Dateline” 2) Go somewhere (when I’m allowed nowhere) and calm down. It’s wild the restrictions Quarantine has on literally everything, even how we process emotions.

So I packed a little backpack – water bottle, journal, pen, Kindle, headphones, small blanket – and headed out. Oh yes, me in all my righteous anger hopped in the car (my first time behind the wheel in a month) and drove.

And where did my freedom drive lead me to, you ask? One neighborhood over.

I stopped at a small neighborhood park, caution tape wrapped all around the play equipment. I walked over to a tree beside the soccer field, spread out my blanket, and remained there for a solid 2 and a half hours.

It felt like the first exhale I’d had in months.

The sun was out and I could feel it’s brief heat in-between the big breezes. And even though it wasn’t a “warm” day per say, it felt like a baptism – to be outside and completely alone. I was mesmerized by the look and sound of trees swaying along. Yeah, you read that right … I LISTENED TO TREES. I leaned against a big trunk while I read and would look up to see the blue sky, spliced by “still winter”-looking branches resting right above me.

It took me back.

Years ago in Nashville, I’d pack up my 2 dogs with a blanket, book, journal, (and a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee) and drive up the street to Sevier Park in 12 South. I’d find my perfect place on the grass and the 3 of us would stay as long as the day’s schedule would allow me. It was like a safe haven amidst the chaos for me. A place to be still with the sun. When I look back on how much I needed those “breathers” back then, it feels like another life. The girl from 7 years ago never would’ve admitted this to herself but … she was incredibly lost and a lot of times, just downright stupid. I had no idea what the “light at the end of the tunnel” was and even I saw it, I was so emotionally self-destructive I probably would’ve just passed it by and kept fumbling through the dark. But even then, I recognized the need to shut off … even if it was only for 30 minutes a few times a week.

Having flashbacks to those sanity-dependent “breathers” I used to have in Nashville really put things in perspective for me yesterday. Back in the day, it was easy to blame exes or money or the music business for my unhappiness. But the reality is, I was fighting myself. Which, to be honest, is probably the biggest battle any of us fight in this life. For me, the heartache I caused myself throughout my 20’s cut deeper than even my recent bout with cancer or this Quarantine. That’s crazy to type and even crazier to read back, but I stand by it.

But now, Life’s battles are not mine and mine alone. I have someone fighting them alongside me. A very, very good someone. And when I compare my heart – from that lonely girl in Sevier Park to the woman I’m slowly (but surely) becoming now – sitting by my kitchen window with a husband snoring upstairs, I know which one is infinitely better.

So in conclusion, I’d like to thank the trees for talking me off the ledge yesterday. I needed the reminder. Turns out, “grey skies” don’t last forever but you’ll never know unless you come out and see for yourself.

We’ve got this.