America, you’re beautiful. And ugly.

I spent an absolutely fabulous week with my family celebrating both my mom’s birthday and my own in the great state of Alaska. It’s been long on my list of places to see, I’ve been wanting to see that spectacular scenery for a quite some time.

Some key awe-inspiring highlights:

  • All that space. It was a lot whether you live in NYC or anywhere. The sky is huge and the animals are everywhere. Dolphins, whales, bald eagles, fish jumping so high, so close in streams, you could almost pet them. Completely amazing.
  • Our excursion guides. Fascinating and kind people who had, by and large, chosen to make Alaska their home. Their stories were beyond interesting, and they seemed truly invested in helping us love the place as well.

  • Quietly sailing through a fjord. It was so peaceful. Beautiful.
  • Walking on a glacier with beloved family on my birthday. Extended time with family and spending my birthday with them – it doesn’t happen often, we all live so far. But I love them and have a heart full of #gratitude (and to be clear, I am NOT a #gratitude kind of a gal.)

We came back late on Friday bubbling over with full hearts, awesome memories, phone cameras full of classic shots, and a few extra pounds. And also a heart-poundingly deep appreciation for the beauty that exists in America.  Additionally for me, a longing to go back to explore that beauty more deeply.

And then over the course of that evening and the next day the violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, and I was snapped out of my happy bubble and instantly filled with rage and deep sorrow. Fear also. I was so upset about the blatant display of racism and the lack of leadership that I had to go for walks and do some deep breathing over the days since to calm down and organize my head.

What a reminder of how razor thin the distance between emotional states can be! The overwhelm of these conflicting emotional states can promote or derail progress. This is true for me, and it’s certainly true for my clients. I think the actual truth is feeling wrecked and joyful can often happen at the same time and take up the same space. Reminding myself that it’s ok to sit with and breathe with distinct feeling states has helped me move back into empowerment and action. Culling my photos from the Alaska trip brings smiles to my face (all is not lost) and reminds me that with all the ugly, America can also be so beautiful. 

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