Anchors away

Lately I’ve been relying on prompts for some of my daily writing. No shame in it. My Boricua brain works hard, doesn’t need to do all the heavy lifting. (Maybe one day my brain will share this message with my body? “Oye, ¡deja eso! Que lo levante alguien mas.”) I’m training myself to view prompts as surprise gifts, opportunities to go on an adventure. I hope to learn to let down my guard a bit, trusting that things—in this case, thoughts and ideas—that originate outside of me are not a threat to my safety or a sign that I’m too dumb (not creative enough, not writerly enough) to think of on my own. And if I can’t trust ideas from reliable sources—in these recent cases, people who know and love me—then I’ve got bigger issues and have not evolved as much as I thought.

So my last post on setting boundaries was inspired by my beautiful cousin Kate, a health and wellness consultant. Today I’m inspired by my dear friend Jenna. She recently sent a link to an article that spoke about the emotional benefits of acknowledging your anchors: those people, things, events, rituals in your daily life that maintain and enrich your sense of a safe, positive life rhythm. Jenna included a list of her 10 anchors and asked for mine.

Her list reflected her generous nature and the joy she finds in life. I could never generate a list like that. I became afraid of what my list might reveal about me. I know Jenna will love me no matter what. She’s the recipient and storer of my secret shames. I recalled my post on boundaries and learning to love myself enough to want to safeguard myself. Loving and valuing myself gives me the strength and courage to also let down my guard and experience new things because what’s the worst that can happen? Someone might disapprove or not love me? Big deal. I love myself and that’s the foundational strength I need.

I wrote my list.

  1. Waking up before my alarm to the first light of day, usually tucked up against my husband B’s back or holding hands, and feeling the excitement of promise.
  2. Logging in to my morning writing group and on a really good day, I have a cup of lawsuit-hot coffee to sip as I write.
  3. My morning run or bike ride. Pre-pandemic it was a swim (and chatting/gossiping with the life guards). Now it’s hill sprints in my neighborhood (and checking out front yard gardens) or biking loops around the park (and recognizing the daily walkers, runners and bikers). Picking up The New York Times at the front desk when I return.
  4. The good morning texts I share with my friend Dena, who I’ve known since we were 11 years old and still makes me laugh like a kid.
  5. Listening to NPR any time of day… there’s always something on that I like/look forward to. Bonus if I’m driving. Love it.
  6. My husband B’s and my schtick of kissing each other goodbye, then sticking our tongues out at each other, then accusing the other of being immature.
  7. Making my parents’ laugh, whether in person, on the phone or via Zoom. They were my first audience and still think I’m funny.
  8. The dogs in my life: Augie, who belongs to my neighbor Irwin, Shadow (my in-laws’ dog), Skye (belongs to my neighbors Joe and Rose, who are also parents to eight-year old twin girls who are my favorites for girl talk).
  9. My breakfast bowl: mini plain shredded wheat, muesli, sunflower and chia seeds, chopped almonds, berries, and oat milk—bonus if I have a super, overripe banana.
  10. My bed and my bedtime routine: read (book or New Yorker) or crossword, propped up with two pillows, until I can’t keep my eyes open (if B’s in bed, he’s already snoring), drift off tucked up against his shoulder and/or holding hands.

Ugh. High-strung, regimented urban middle-aged woman revealed. Jenna saw someone different, and she saw possibilities.

“I love your list! And, if you need further proof you are born to write: in a freakin’ list to your friend on Facebook Messenger, you are still literary and have the parallelism of hand holding and bringing it full circle in 1 and 10. I think it’s a blog post in the making.”

Well, here it is, Miss Jenna. I think the list (like me) holds much, much more.

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