It’s been a long time…

And there’s no better time than quarantine to write, so they say. Well, I’d like to say hello from the apocalypse. It’s been many months of waking up to the same day, over and over – many months of wearing the same sweatpants and not leaving the house. It’s been many months of taking the same jogging path every day, only to have worn down trails in both the neighborhood and the mind that have become as weathered and familiar as an old hiking boot.

I’m sure we’d all say that it’s been hard to live a life that feels like it’s progressing in any way. Our relationships seem to have been put on pause (except for the video chats and phone calls here and there), and the multitudes of text messages that flood our phones. Life feels surreal.

When 2020 began, I was absolutely certain that this was going to be the best year of our lives. Everything was taking off in such a way for me (and others in my life) that I was convinced 2020 was going to be the year we bloomed. I was indisputably happy and excited about almost every aspect of my life – and for the first time in a while, I felt my life gain an extremely promising momentum. Then, all of a sudden, 2020 came to a rapid, grinding halt. Everything around us shut down – stores, restaurants, salons – everything. In addition to that, I felt all the progress I had made come to a screeching halt. Friendships, relationships, plans, jobs, progress – all of these things got put on hold in favor of a (necessary) order to stay at home.

At first I was devastated. I fought denial and grief for months. I couldn’t stop thinking about the life I had left behind. I thought about the people I saw, the things I did and the places I went just before our cities locked down. I craved life as it once was; together, close, and carefree. I missed live music, dinners and yoga with friends, dinners at my place and wandering through my neighborhood to buy books. I missed being able to see my friends in New York. I missed New York as it was – vast, crowded, formidable, and a city where you’d bump shoulders with multitudes of strangers on your way to grab pizza with friends in Park Slope.

The world as we knew it is sadly, gone. It still upsets me sometimes. Most days, I deal with the way things are, telling myself that “it is what it is.” There’s no use trying to fight something we can’t change. All we can do is adapt. As they say, “what you resist, persists.” In this particular instance, resistance causes mental pain. I used to look for silver linings, but the thing is, I’m learning that you don’t need to force yourself to find that. This isn’t to say we should adopt mindsets about the situation being hopeless and bleak – rather, we can take a more pragmatic approach to viewing it. We can find what we can do to make it more bearable, while looking for the small bits of joy and activity we can appreciate right now. At other times, we can be gentle with ourselves and show understanding for our own sadness, grief, and loneliness.

It’s been quite a year already, and in many ways it feels like the months have gone down a drain. I’m still trying to learn what progress can be made, and for me, this comes in the form of exercise, playing music when I can, reading when I can, and taking care of my health as best as I can.

I hope one day I can look back on this piece and consider the age of quarantine and lockdown a long-gone, faraway place. A place where we exercised patience, where we learned how resilient human beings can really be, and where we learned that relationships really are everything.

Until then, I’ll be writing more in this blog, because there’s definitely a lot of time.

A Million Dreams

 

I close my eyes and I can see
The world that’s waiting up for me
That I call my own
Through the dark, through the door
Through where no one’s been before
But it feels like home
They can say it all sounds crazy
They can say I’ve lost my mind
I don’t care, so call me crazy

We can live in a world that we design
‘Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

There’s a house we can build
Every room inside is filled
With things from far away
The special things I compile
Each one there to make you smile
On a rainy day

However big, however small
Let me be part of it all
Share your dreams with me

A million dreams are keeping me awake
A million dreams
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

Any Excuse

I’ll take any excuse to love you

So explain to me that the sky isn’t blue

That this pain I’m feeling isn’t real

Tell me that people don’t really have two hands Tell me we’ll live forever

even though I know someday we all have to go

I’ll take any excuse to love you

Any excuse to believe that this might somehow work Tell me that when you paused

when I asked if you thought we’d be together always

That you really meant yes

Wrap Me

wrap my heart in embers

encase my chest in cloth wrap it stop it from breaking

or at least hold its shattered pieces together

wrap it in steel so I can’t feel the quaking

the chasms

roaring rivers running through canyons

filled with lions

cool it with breezes, funnel in light

hold me so hard that it stops hurting

hold me hard and plant flowers in my emptiness

I want to watch them bloom in the springtime

please

remind me that everything dies but that there is new life

Bookends

I want to devour those pages

those words, intoxicating fantasy

the pit in my stomach,

Ravage you, cover to cover

I want to feel your cobblestones against the soles of my feet and revel in the sunshine playing off of your shoulders

The window gaze reflecting sharply searing into my consciousness

Take me down a little dirt road to faraway England where the sun shines down on the fields of peat

Take me through forests

Replete with dew

The smell of cinder in the trees

Take me through twists and turns to that old bar

Brett Ashley smoking in the corner

lazy gaze of wine, drunk, and afternoon glistening in her eyes

Take me running through glittering cities

breathless

the grates hitting our heels endless causeways

and then lead me back to that forgotten orange

Sitting in the fruit bowl placed up high

Long gone summers, kisses, laughter

Take me through those corners and tell me why you always keep the light on in that empty room just in case

I want to feel those corners like they’re mine

Memorize the pages, run them across my tongue like aged honey

Filling my chest like love found,

Like love lost.

Take me back to the time we were sitting in that old Chevrolet and the dust was catching the sun just right across the windshield, lazy day in 1979

You put your sunglasses on and kissed me and everything felt like cigarette smoke and sunshine.

-mh

The Times We Live In: A Mindful Approach – How to Live with Courage and Love in a Time of Fear and Hatred


It’s a tough time to be alive. We live in a time where hate crimes are a regular occurrence and where random acts of violence appear on the news every other day. We live in a time where normal people are killed mercilessly as they do everyday things like run marathons, attend parades, have a night out or simply walk around the neighborhood. This is a time where it’s much easier to focus on everything that’s going wrong – it’s a time that’s making it much harder for us to see the things that are actually going right.

We post on social media and express our disgust, fear, hatred and sadness about the events going on around us, and we focus on everything that’s bad in this world. In a sense, we rubberneck as the car accident happens, and then we spread and perpetuate the experience of fear and negativity by posting photographs and commentary online. Very few of us are doing anything to solve the problem – we simply point out what is wrong, and then social media allows the fear and hatred to spread like wildfire. The more we focus on the negative, the bigger it seems. The more we focus on the negative, the more it becomes all we see. What we need to recognize is that this world is not “going downhill*” and that the people performing these acts of violence don’t illustrate society as a whole – they illustrate a small, hateful population that is getting a lot of press.

*note: current US election not included in this sweeping generalization about the world not going downhill

I want to challenge us to focus on the good things that are happening in the world. I want to challenge us to focus on the positive events that still exist and have always existed – the positive energy that we’re actually inhibiting by spreading the fear, hatred and negativity. This isn’t to say that we should be ignorant; we should all be aware of the events that are unfolding across the globe. But what we should do instead of throwing more hatred into the mix is to throw more LOVE out into the world every chance we get. We need to break the cycle of negativity by interrupting it with love. What if instead of focusing on the random, unexpected acts of violence, we focused on performing random, unexpected acts of love? Could we cause a domino affect that would break the cycle, setting off a new chain reaction? What we look for in life tends to be what we find. What we focus on changes our experience of what happens. Our thoughts manifest – and this isn’t touchy-feely spiritual nonsense…this is physics.

Negativity is a defense mechanism, and it’s a defense mechanism that is outdated. It stems from survival instinct – we almost use negativity to try to “prevent” bad things from happening to us. In this day and age, we don’t need that – it doesn’t help us. We can’t prevent bad things from happening, and our very focus on them is what gives the fear and hatred fuel to multiply. Negative thoughts create negative actions, which in turn create more negative thoughts, actions and events. We need to develop a new, better defense mechanism – and that defense mechanism is called positivity. If we focus on positive energy and the good things going on in the world, we promote a cycle of love, acceptance and gratitude – and it multiplies.

Here are the things we should be focusing on and the things we should be doing more of – especially in times like these:

  1. Focus on positive energy and events
  2. Focus on the beauty in this world (it’s everywhere!)
  3. Focus on the good people in this world
  4. Focus on the love of our friends and family
  5. Focus on our goals
  6. Focus on giving love to others in spades
  7. Focus on helping others
  8. Focus on our similarities and not our differences
  9. Focus on our humanity
  10. Volunteer time to help others
  11. Promote love
  12. Promote courage
  13. Smile more
  14. Hug more
  15. Show your love more frequently
  16. Spend more time with your loved ones
  17. Focus on the things you want to do, and do them
  18. Make sure every day of your life is happy
  19. Make changes if you’re not happy
  20. Appreciate everything. Little moments, big moments, and everything/everyone you have
  21. Forgive people who have wronged you (let go, for yourself and for them)
  22. Keep looking up
  23. Create beauty wherever you go
  24. Be so, so grateful to be alive.

Why don’t we focus on the great things? Let’s become fountains of love and positivity. Let’s be so, so, so kind to one another that we soften the hardened hearts around us and prove that there is still so much boundless love to be found in this world. Let’s keep looking for the light, always.