|Dear Main Street Peeps,
It has been quite some time since my last Founder’s letter. In fact, my last letter is dated May 29, which now feels like a lifetime ago. It is hard to imagine how quickly time is passing, even through this pandemic.
As I speak to friends, family and colleagues, it seems that while many of us enjoyed a relaxing summer, we now feel a general malaise. Perhaps we felt fall would bring some normalcy? And now we are here and people seem fatigued … Zoom fatigued, masked fatigued and just plain ol’ tired. There is a lot to make us tired – ongoing racial injustice and unrest, the divisiveness of red vs. blue and blue vs. black. We could all use some certainty, some normalcy in our schedules and an end to this f #%*-ing pandemic!
And, if you are in my stage of life, you might be tired of your kids being home and the house being a mess … while also feeling fear and sadness thinking of their departure. After six months of all four of my sons being home, as of this morning, they have all left. And what did I do? First, I sat in my kitchen and cried. For us, we have had the gift of time together, having deep and important conversations, playing games, watching movies and sharing meals. My tears were tears of gratitude for this incredible gift of time. My tears were tears of sadness as, just moments after they left, I felt emptier. And my tears were tears of joy and hope as they are healthy, prospering young men with bright futures ahead and Scott and I are truly “empty nesters” for the first time!
Transitions are tricky right now, feelings are exacerbated, we have less capacity to deal with challenging situations. Emotions run deep and many of us feel an undercurrent of fear, of worry, of craving normalcy – even if just in our subconscious.
I wish I had a magic wand (how many times have you said or heard that?) so I could heal those in need, heal those who are grieving or even just share what tomorrow might bring. With the upcoming and heated election and a cold winter ahead, there is fear and toxicity in the air, in our minds.
As the ultimate optimist, I want to reassure everyone that it will all be okay, this too shall pass and we will get through … and I do believe that, but we might need some kindness, some connection and some help along the way.
So for today’s letter, I would like to share a few things that are helping me through and close with some personal positivity. First, a few tips helping me through Covid:
- LET SHIT GO. For those who love control like me (I bet you’re surprised I am a control freak – LOL!), this is the time to LET SHIT GO! Easier said than done, right? Maybe. But after several thousands of hours and dollars of therapy, I am happy to share what I have learned, at least the most important things. Here is how you start to let shit go.
- Lower expectations. Lower expectations of people and events and of pretty much everything. You will then find gratitude and joy in even the smallest gestures and simple things.
- Agree to disagree. Not my strong suit. However, with the help of Sam Harris’ podcast “The Brink”, I am speaking less (another shocker) and listening more and trying to find common ground with those who think differently, vote differently and see things through a different lens or experience. (Thanks to my son, Danny, for sharing this important podcast with me.) I will admit I am a work in progress but I already feel I am letting go of trying to change what and how others think and feel, and I already feel lighter.
- Keep a journal. Writing is cathartic for many of us. It also helps us digest our lives and express our emotions. Although I am not journaling at the moment, through the years I have found that writing about my feelings, thoughts and experiences helps me let shit go.
- FIND YOUR YOU. What is it that you need right now to stimulate your mind, keep your body healthy and provide an anchor to help you feel grounded? Find your YOU or your new YOU and commit to your health, your mindset and your personal growth. Here are some ideas to help you on this path:
- A good book. I am reading the book Superlife by Darin Olien. It is about being healthy, fit and eternally awesome! YES! Finally – eternally awesome! While I jest, this book has helped me become healthy again. During Covid, with all my boys home, I found myself eating way too much animal protein, too many sugary snacks and chips and way too much caffeine. I worked out daily but still felt tired and often times, irritable. Not anymore. For those needing some great health tips to find your eternal awesome, this is a great read.
- Permission to feel. A colleague of mine, Jana, recommended Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett. While it was helpful for me in some ways (perhaps my years of therapy already gave me permission to feel), I do think others might find some helpful tips that will resonate. You will find compelling and relatable stories supported by research and practice – your emotional intelligence can come to life and, for many, this is liberating. Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett is also available on audio.
- Have courage. Some of us struggle with being vulnerable. Others have issues with control or perceived control. As this pandemic and our old way of life seems so far out of reach, our feelings of fear, vulnerability and control feel intensified. Courage is necessary as we move forward. Courage to feel, to think differently, even to LET GO! (Are you getting my theme here!!) Thank you, Brene Brown, for your Call to Courage.
- Stimulate the mind and body. This feels great and, for me, is essential. Moving my body and stimulating my mind have helped me calm down and relax – which on a normal day isn’t an easy thing for me to do. Through the last several months, being a Main Street member and joining our virtual sessions, have allowed me to think, to move and to connect. For me and so many others, this has been my saving grace. I plan to start this coming week with Daniel’s mindful Monday session, box with Donte and other Main Street members, energize with Helene’s yoga, join the culture series with MaryAnn and run with Sari and Ben’s Main Street cardio / running / walking / dancing club! My calendar is filled with Main Street events so I can move, learn and connect! AND for those of you who have the “Covid mush brain” as I do, we all know exercise improves learning and memory in young adults and, I believe, for people of all ages!
- Use mindfulness to build strength and balance. This can happen in a variety of ways and through many mediums. As I shared in one of my previous letters, I use the Calm app to ground my thoughts and energy and ease my mind. When Nicol and I feel anxious, we sit together and do a 4-minute breathing meditation and find it very helpful. In Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, I read about a new book called Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World by Sharon Salzberg and can’t wait to begin reading.
Now for the positivity, I would like to close this letter with a dose of happy. After several months of anxiety for my son, Nicol (and his mother!), he has transitioned to his new home at Main Street! Nicol describes his experience at Main Street as “FIRE”! (By the way, if you are older than 21, FIRE is a GOOD thing and a term my youngest son, Ethan, has shared with us. Feel free to use the word and impress the younger generation!) And Nicol isn’t the only one experiencing a feeling of connection, of independence, of FIRE!
Many of our Main Street peeps, both residents and non-resident members, are sharing their joy, their positivity, their kindness with each other through our fall virtual programming. We are a community that engages one another, supports one another and values each other’s gifts. We are moving together, learning together and laughing together!
Last week we had two special Main Street events. One was our first inaugural golf outing. David G., a Main Street member, and Justin H., a Main Street Apartment resident, shared why and how Main Street has changed their lives. Our golfers, volunteers and staff were so moved by their sentiments. It was a day of sunshine and spirit and, like all Main Street events, we walked away feeling a sense of community. (Enjoy photos from the golf outing at the end of this message!)
And if community is your gig, look no further than our new Soulfull Café, which opened last week. If you want to feel some love or enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch, Soulfull is your place! Come fill your cup and fill your soul.
When conceiving Main Street, I never imagined this incredible connection people would share. I hoped Nicol would feel a part, would want to participate and might even want to sleep there every now and then. I never imagined how comfortable he would feel, how connected he would be and that Main Street would become his home … especially this soon.
As Nicol’s mom, I am still in awe that my son has his own apartment, is a part of this welcoming community and is able to make his own decisions and feel independent. His brother, Jack, dropped him off at Main Street shortly before he left town. He was quite emotional when he returned home sharing what he witnessed – his brother, Nicol, with mask on and fob in hand, walking into his own apartment building! We can all see that Nicol is feeling empowered, feeling pride and walking taller! What a beautiful thing for him to experience and for his loved ones to witness.
I am lighter as I am connected to this beautiful Main Street community. I am regaining my health, I am stimulating my mind and my body, I am letting shit go (or trying) AND I am using the words “empty nester” when I am speaking about myself and my husband! I truly never believed Scott and I would be empty nesters. Yes, this big transition is stressful and scary and my emotions are high! AND … YES, we are empty nesters and that feels simply F#%$@* AWESOME!!!
To sum it up in one word so eloquently shared by Nicol, “Main Street is FIRE!”
Thank you to all of you who contributed your time, your efforts, your money and most importantly your hearts! Main Street is a reminder that “We’re All In This Together” and even through a pandemic, we can build and support one another, find hope in a brighter tomorrow for people of all abilities and feel the shared love of a beautiful community.
With Love, Pride, Excitement and Gratitude,