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J. Kate Franklin Headshot

Standing Still

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I don't know about you, but I've become a pretty good at holding it together. Some time ago, I realized my own ultimate capability and never looked back, inadvertently using the personality traits that made me unique and began manipulating them into some sense of propulsion from the uncertainties of my life, particularly my emotions. There's this underlying notion that if you're smart and talented, then it's your job to fix the messy things in your life not only pretty much immediately, but as seamlessly and nonintrusively as possible, making us emotional still-lifes -- a bunch of walking Cezanne's. Fiercely committed to being the best friend, daughter, boss, jokester and part-time dancing queen 1984 ever produced, I began to forget to give myself a break because there was always so much to do and so much to be to everyone else.

I'm often deeply emotional and severely introspective; that's never been the problem -- being in touch with my inner workings, that is. My "thing," I've realized, is far more subtle but perhaps just as conflicting for my own personal growth. Like all of us, at any given time I'm susceptible to experiencing a full array of emotions, but given this self-inflicted sense of "keep-it-togetherness," I never really allowed myself to fully take on the true depth of a lot of it -- both the bad and good. Maintaining homeostasis has sort of always been vital to my learned way of life. While the first step was admitting those feelings of loneliness, confusion, fear, love, wonder, etc., the real power in it all came from giving myself over fully to all that comes with each of these -- and the subsequent sleepless nights, puffy eyes, repeated outfits and greasy hair. The true transformation lies within the stillness of it all, I'm learning.

I'm beginning to realize the crying in the shower scenario we all play out isn't just a big coincidence. Be they propelled by happy or sad tears, those moments force you to briefly connect to life moving in and out of your wet and pruney finger tips in the most motionless, honest and unapologetic way. Yes, perhaps because of the nakedness comes the inherent vulnerability, but what if you were able to experience all of your emotions in the same authentic way and in real time -- in the moment, as they happen. Life would be that much richer if we learned to accept our reactions to things and just go with it. Not numbing it all or sweeping it under the rug and promising to come back for it later.

Now I'm not suggesting we all become a bunch of unglued emotional wrecks. It's more about simultaneously developing a strong anchor -- while letting your sails get blown about by whichever way the wind blows; sometimes soft and romantic, or wild and stormy. When is the last time you stopped fulfilling your self-inflicted titles (mother, father, boyfriend, girlfriend, CEO, champion do-gooder) and really reveled in feeling completely humbled by another person's love, overcome by a lover's touch, grateful for a parent's comforting words of wisdom, or fully invested in the betrayal of a friend's trust, the loss of a pet or the confusion of life's next step for you. While I'll preface this next bit by admitting it may be easier at first to do this in a glorious setting, I urge you to take some time regularly and just stand still. Forget it all and just don't think, don't try, don't push, don't fix... Just be and see what comes. Whether it falls down on you like rain, washes over you like a wave, tears through you like an arrow or burns inside like a flame -- don't judge it. If anything, lean into it, let it cover you and be done. It will eventually pass. We know nothing stays the same. We forget that when we're emotionally vulnerable.

While away in Hawaii recently, I found myself on a cliff at sunset suddenly overcome with the urge to just stand there with my eyes closed and just take it all in -- all that had happened in my life over the past few years, all I'd been disappointed by, all I'd been pleasantly surprised by, all that I was scared by and all that I was overjoyed with. As I could feel the expression on my face change from a peaking smile to rolling tears I let everything I'd been holding onto over the past few years run right through me -- the pain of death, loneliness, and confusion, as well as the gratitude for love and courage. By being unapologetic for experiencing all of those emotions, first and foremost to myself, I've never felt more at peace and happy to wear life's battle scars a little more proudly. I may have a bit more apparent emotional bruises and visible laugh lines, but it means I've fully lived -- and fine by me that I'm working on being a super woman not Superwoman. There's a difference -- a big difference.

For more by J. Kate Franklin, click here.

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