This Little Light Of Mine

First Days in LA

It’s always comforting to look back and see what you’ve been able to endure. But while you’re going through it – whatever it is in the present moment, it really does feel unbearable.

There are gut wrenching moments like the break-up of a “true” love or when someone close to you dies unexpectedly like a parent or a friend. Those moments are deeply painful and seem impossible to get through while you’re in it.  Of course, once we muddle our way through and a little time passes, we realize it was “bearable” after-all.

I moved out to Los Angeles right after college. I came to the City of Angels not knowing a soul, having no place to live and exactly $800 dollars in my pocket. I remember counting the crisp 100 dollar bills over and over again right when I got off the plane – somehow hoping there’d be more if I kept counting. The fear I had in my belly that crept up to my chest was intense, but there was also a tinge of excitement. The move from Boston wasn’t just an adventure, it was a much-needed life change. In my head, I was reclaiming a life that had been ripped away from me for so many reasons. The most important reason: I was supposed to be a dancer but instead went to college. Moving to Los Angeles was compensation to finding my way to where I was supposed to be anyways. Righting a wrong sort of speak. That scary time in my life was about leaping into a new world to make myself whole. Mission accomplished by the way…  

Graduation Day

Another vivid time in my life where I remember being scared was years ago before online dating was the mainstream thing it is now. I started talking to a guy on yahoo personals. Yaaaas, it was THAT long ago. The site no longer exists. This was before everyone had webcams – instant messaging was the “cool” thing – and yeah, back then, online dating was an embarrassment. No one admitted to using it.  Honestly, I’m still amazed I was on the site myself back then. I’m a lot of things, being a “trailblazer” is NOT one of them. But online dating was new and I remember deciding to take the leap and agreeing to meet this man I’d been talking to for months. The thing is, I had to fly to another state to do it. Even as I write that I realize how fearless I was. Or stupid. Stupid is probably the right word there.  I’d taken every precaution necessary and controlled the situation as much as I could – and yet, I remember that fear too. It was the fear of putting myself in a dangerous situation with a stranger who could have been a serial killer mixed with the possibility of meeting “the one”. In my head it was that stark:  He’d either be a bad person or the one.  Ha!  Well, fast forward to him clearly not being a serial killer. But I remember that gnawing pit in my stomach – that incredible fear in my belly as I made my way to the airport to see him. Luckily for me, he turned out to be a decent guy, a good man. We’ve worked together over the years – but the dread of thinking I’d made a mistake getting on that plane years ago to meet a stranger…I still remember that gut-wrenching knot of uncertainty like it was yesterday.    

Dread mixed with uncertainty. Moving to Los Angeles on my own and yeah, meeting a stranger in another state. In a lot of ways, it’s the same feeling I’m having nowadays during this Covid time. And yet, it’s something deeper – more painful…

Even with things that were out of my control or bigger than my personal decision making, like 9/11 or the Challenger Disaster, straight up fear and dread is crippling. Not being in control of what’s next is hard for most human beings.  9/11 touched me personally in that I lost a college friend – Cesar Murrillo – in the twin towers who I’d just spoken to on the phone a week before.  And although I didn’t know anyone personally on the Space Shuttle Challenger – I was a teenager and remember exactly where I was when it happened. I’d just gotten off a bus in downtown Boston and everyone was talking about it. I’ll never forget the panic faces. The tone of sadness in everyone’s voices. Collective despair.  Again, that familiar fear of dread. Unknowing. No control.   

We’ve all been in challenging and scary situations at one point or another. And each time although it may be a different circumstance, that belly fear is the same.  While we’re IN IT and no matter how many times we experience it, it’s uncomfortable and confusing. You’d think that being scared on a semi regular basis would make us less prone to reacting to it the way we do, but no. Fear, unlike confidence, is not a welcomed feeling to the human spirit. We never get used to it no matter how many times we experience it.  And that’s a good thing actually. Fear helps us know when something is wrong, gives us an ability to reassess and re-consider things.  And yet, fear still sucks. Straight up. I don’t care how important and unavoidable a feeling it is to the human psyche – I hate feeling like this!     

The one thing I do know for sure about all of these fearful moments is We Do Get Through It. We endure. We get to the other side. This damn little light of mine keeps searching through the darkness always looking for the light. That has always been my super-power. No matter what comes our way, no matter how tragic, no matter how disappointing or dreadful, we persevere. The human spirit survives anyways. 

One of my favorite quotes that I’ve written way too many times is by Winston Churchill. It’s simple, but so tangible especially in this particular moment:

If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Don’t stay in one place, keep moving forward, find the light – it’s the only way to get out – keep walking through to the other side…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to see the light or positivity especially when we’re lacking leadership, people are losing jobs, there’s no income, no end in sight, and the death toll is an everyday occurrence in mind-numbing numbers. Being isolated doesn’t help either… and yet, we can do this! We can get through this. Together.

Finding Old Friends Again – Robert

I find joy in the littlest of things.  The kindness of early morning walkers waving to say good morning because masks cover their smiles. The act of people clapping on their balconies at 7pm at night to honor those on the frontlines or people being kind to cashiers and delivery people – it’s good to finally see, all of us finding our way to being nice to one another. 

I take joy and much needed comfort in reconnecting with old friends on zoom, by phone and the like – and yes, even that “man” I  flew to meet long ago named Robert on Yahoo personals who is still a friend today. Finding happiness in little moments daily against the large dark clouds feels insignificant as I write it, but all you need is a little tiny light in a dark room to brighten the entire space. I’ll continue to take the little moments and shine anyways…

We’re going through a difficult time. Yes, it’s scary. I’m not pretending it’s an easy trek. I’ve never been down this road before either. Personally, it’s a combination of dread, loss of control and an adventure I don’t want to be on. To be honest, I fall twice a day and cry every other – but when the tears let up, I get back up on my feet, wipe my eyes and look for hope. That’s the light. Choose to hold onto that. We will endure.

This little light of mine…

It’s always about the Joy.

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 14 @DNICE Instagram Block Party

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 14

March 21st, 2020 6:30pm – Instagram Live with @dnice is what I needed

As I’m writing this, I’m still listening and watching live D-Nice on Instagram.  Fifty thousand people listening to this amazing talent spinning some old school music.  It’s exactly what we all need… being able to connect when we can’t really be near each other.  Dancing on Instagram with 50,000 new friends is really a thing! 

Quarantine is also bringing out the best in all of us…. 

Posted this today before the house party on IG — but see, I had a vision it was going to be a dancing kind of day!

Keeping it in joy for as long as I can!

We Are Better Than This #30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 12

March 19th, 2020 7:20pm – We Are Better Than This

What I didn’t plan on, what I didn’t foresee is how much my arm and wrist would hurt with all this additional writing.  It’s not just that I’m typing later in the day – In the past, I’ve written for hours at a time and never flinched.  But with this whole coronavirus situation, my whole way of doing things been has thrown in so many surprising ways.  I’ve been using social media that much more and writing (by hand) in the morning, typing throughout the day and then trying to type at night, I’m definitely feeling it in my right hand and arm.  I never understood what carpal tunnel was/is, but I do now.  The strain is real.

As I’m writing this, Governor Newsom (California) just announced a “stay at home” order for all of California.  Hmmm. About time. I’m so okay with this – we’ve had this in place in Los Angeles for a bit of time anyways.  It’s all good. I’m happy to do what I can to help my fellow Angelinos and my fellow Americans to stay safe.  This is easy.  We’re in this together and we’ll get through all of this ONLY by caring about one another.  Kind of crazy though, right? 

I want to mention I was on Facebook and pretty much reprimanded a few people who were inflaming people and freaking people out.  I don’t know why people enjoy almost gossiping or sharing crappy stuff?  I honestly don’t understand the point most days.  I mean, sharing something that may be an injustice so people are aware of it is one thing, but sharing people behaving badly – like freaking out over toilet paper?  I don’t know.  We are better than this.  All of us. If people are behaving badly out of fear, don’t exploit it. Help people calm down. Relax.  And remind them we’ll get through this together.

By the way, there’s plenty in this country for supply. But if you keep hording, there is not enough for your neighbors.  Take a breath. Be considerate. Be kind. Be a loving human being. Yeah, let’s bring that back. A loving and considerate American. THAT is my American dream.  That we all get back to loving each other for reals.  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s kind of kumba-ya-like, but isn’t that the real American dream?  Where we all feel safe and supported?  Hmm… Maybe it’s a Global-human-dream. 

Okay, yeah, I need to stop writing right now… my hand hurts and I’m a little over-top even for myself.  Ha! 

But hey, if you’re gonna dream, you might as well dream big! 

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 10 & Day 11

March 16th, 2020  9:20pm  –  Oh, all this social distancing is making people nicer!

Yesterday I wrote a piece for the AuthorToolsBoxBlogHop that I belong to so I didn’t write for my personal night time writing challenge for Day 10. Well, I did write, but not for THIS.  Hmmm. In the future, I may have to include days that I actually write for a BlogHop or for another reason as a “day” of the writing challenge anyways.

Today’s joy was easy. A woman was walking toward me as I was out for my daily jog and as she noticed me, she went to cross the street. Everyone is doing this – we’re all moving out of each other’s way. But as she crossed on over, she waved to me and said, “Have a great workout”.  I smiled and waved back. 

No biggy.

But it happened again with a guy on a bike. Then another woman walking her dog – she waved and said, “Good morning”. Everyone is keeping their distance, being careful, but adding a “Hello” or a wave and a smile. 

Maybe my bar is so low that I was surprised at the kindness.  Or maybe, in a crisis, the best of who we are prevails anyways.

Yeah, I’m gonna believe in the latter.  I just have too.

On my Walk in the Rain Today

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 9

March 13th, 2020   Friday 8:05pm   – Facebook, Video, Unexpected Kindness

Well, today’s joy came unexpectedly. I posted a video on my facebook page thinking I might be able to help a few people who find themselves unexpectedly working from home, but actually, people reached out to me and ended up helping me.  Kindness really is a thing! 

Here’s what I posted:

“Social Distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.” Please take good care of yourselves and yes, be kind. Here’s my few minutes of advice. Hugs y’all.

We will get through this, together.

Hugs and much to everyone!

Carmen