letter #021 | dear younger me: ten simple things, part one

ten simple things, part one

Letter #021

October 14, 2023

dear younger me,

Sometimes I open a new note to start writing the week’s letter and have no idea what to write about. Today was one of those times.

I often feel pressured to write something uplifting, inspirational, or thought-provoking, but I’m starting to think that desire/self-imposed expectation is not only unrealistic, it's not even necessary.

So much of life is composed of simple, and even mundane, moments. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

So, today, I’m going to write about that—some simple things I’ve seen, thought about, and experienced over the last 7 days:

During times I’d experience a lot of anxiety, a grounding practice for me was to step out of my mind and into my immediate surroundings so you'll see some of that sprinkled within this list, too.

in today's letter, we'll explore:

  • inspiration behind today's letter
  • ten simple things
  • this week's ✨ glimmer gallery ✨

Today's letter was inspired by an issue of Lisa Olivera's Human Stuff newsletter—a beautiful tribute and exploration of our beautiful and confusing lives as humans.

Part of me is trying to convince the rest of me it isn’t okay to share a somewhat random list on Substack — that it must be a long-form essay between 1500-2000 words or it isn’t worth anyone’s time, isn’t nourishing, isn’t enough. God. That old voice is so quick to reveal itself these days, which is a relief — I know it’s not actually me thinking those things, and it no longer lingers — but it’s also a reminder that we might have to contend with certain voices/beliefs/fears within us for a lifetime. We may not be able to meditate or self-compassion or exercise or green juice or journal or (anything) our way out of it sometimes. But we can learn to relate to those inner voices, and to ourselves, in new ways. We can catch it quicker, and respond a little more kindly, and let in the goodness when it comes, too. All of this feels small moment to moment, but it is everything.

from Ten Things, Part One by Lisa Olivera

ten simple things:

1. I went to the pool with one of my students and her mom after her session today. This is where I’m writing today’s letter from. Aside from one persistent ankle-biting mosquito, it’s been really sweet sitting here watching them float around, bond, and splash each other. One blessing folded into another.

2. This week, I discovered this song by Summer Walker and J. Cole called To Summer, From Cole - Audio Hug. I love its vibe, I love its intent, I love its lyrics. The idea of an audio hug is so beautiful to me. It’s encouraging and the backdrop of the simple piano medley runs so nicely over J. Cole’s verses and Summer’s melodies. It's beautiful.

3. I went to a church group this Thursday. It was the first meeting of a 10-week Bible study. I tried doing it back in 2020 but wound up leaving it 1 or 2 weeks in. Though it was virtual then and very bare bones, in hindsight, I also wasn't ready to receive the messages it brought forth back then.

The in-person version I attended on Thursday was more than wonderful. It lifted the energy of my whole week. We shared a meal together and got to ask sincere questions about our faith (“What happens after this?” “Why trauma?” “Why is it so hard to be good?”). We laughed together and a few of us cried. It was a word stronger than beautiful and so much richer than I expected.

4. There are two young kids here at the pool today. I assume they’re brothers. They chase and taunt each other, get mad, make the other one laugh, and then start again. It reminds me of the endless squabbles I’d get into with my sisters growing up. What a blessing it is to be little. What a blessing it is to grow up and grow older with someone.

5. A gentle breeze is blowing as the sun sets behind the towering palm trees. This is the kind of place that makes you feel like you don’t have any problems anymore. Nature and community. Two of our greatest teachers.

6. One of the things I often write in my gratitude journal is how blessed I am to live in a safe and peaceful community. Even without being on social media, word travels in-person of the world’s current events (e.g., the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) and they’re heartbreaking. I don’t speak on them often because I feel ill-informed and powerless sometimes. So I pray and try to learn while working to make my little corner of the world better for those within it.

7. I got to talk with my best friend Maya yesterday. We shared for a long time and I hardly remember about what, but at this point in our relationship, even shooting the breeze is cherished. (All time is quality time.) We’ve been a part of each other’s lives for longer than we haven't. She has always been someone to tell me what I needed to hear even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time. From kids to grown women, she’s always made it known that she loves me fiercely and has my back no matter what. I’m grateful for her.

8. I made it to the gym 4x this week. This is my 2nd week training at 4 days a week and I like it a lot.

I grew up always wanting to be good at something the first time I tried it. My experience with the gym has taught me how much better it feels to try and fail at something over and over again before finally overcoming it. It’s a feeling that far exceeds just getting something on the first try. But funny enough, I don’t wish I learned this any earlier than I did.

I think all the time I spent being frustrated and quitting things early on because they were difficult in the beginning (as all things are)…those experiences have just made this lesson all the richer. I can appreciate it more deeply than I would have if it had been that way all my life.

9. I started reading about trauma recently. How it shows up in the body. How it affects the brain. I started reading this book I’ve had on my shelf for years but never opened. Once I opened it, I was tearing up within a few pages in. The experiences we go through as humans can be so heavy. And it makes me sad. For others and myself. I haven’t picked up the book in several days because the material is so heavy and close to me, but slowly, I know I will make my way through it. I’ve seen the way my own unhealed trauma has shown up and caused chaos in my close relationships at times. I don’t want to carry that through to the family I have one day, so I’m going to work my way through those chapters, slowly and with care.

10. Sometimes when I get The Sads™ (i.e., a low feeling), it scares me. I feel like I never know how deep it’s gonna be or how long it's gonna last and that brings some cause for concern. This is the longest stretch of time I may have ever lived without a season of depression. At times, it feels like a part of me is trying to stay on guard at all times for its return. That constant low-key-but-still-present high-alert status…gets exhausting. I’m learning how to develop tolerance for emotional discomfort. How to regulate my dysregulated nervous system. How to feel safe and secure in the absence of others. It’s hard…but, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s bad.

My trainer Devyn sent me a really good quote this morning about how we often think of “good” things as being “pleasant” and “bad” things as being “unpleasant.” Neither definition is totally accurate. He wrote that,

Good means purposeful and many things are good but unpleasant like childbirth, exercise, labor (work), pain in the body (serving as a signal that something is wrong; without it, we wouldn’t get a sign before it was too late).
…In Hebrew, there are two words for "why". This means there must be two principles that drive the question of "why?"
1) Why is this happening to me? For what purpose will this have in the future…
2) From what source, what past reason brought me to this?…
There's either a past purpose that brought me my present pain or there is a forward-looking reason for which this pain is going to be very good.

I thought that was an excellent way to reframe the concepts of pain and goodness.

That's all for now. Thank you for being here. 💛

✨ the glimmer gallery. ✨

The glimmer gallery is a weekly collection of moments that made the good times better and the harder times bearable.

Have any thoughts about this letter? Did anything resonate with you?

Just write or text me a reply to let me know. It makes my day to hear from you and I read every message and reply to as many as I can.

Dear Reader,

I hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe and that deep laughter fills you to the brim and spills out of you with joy. I hope you feel loved, safe, and seen this week, Reader, and that you see some of the fruits of your labor this week, too.

Thank you for being here. 💛

See you next Saturday.

With love,

Amahni E. Yarber


PO Box 814, Chino Hills, CA 91709
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