I was making carbonara for lunch while on FaceTime with a good friend. We were laughing about the berry cobbler he baked recently and how it sent us to another dimension. Baked was an understatement. We get disconnected because the WiFi cut out. Whose? It doesn’t matter anymore. I jump on a call regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and the public health messaging around it. I forget to put myself on mute while I’m grating cheese, so the moderator does it for me. “I can’t hear you, you’re on mute,” they say. I get a notification from my neighborhood watch phone app that there’s a house nearby that’s on fire. I open the app and read in the comments that it’s a “crack house” but that most hope everyone’s okay. I close the app and briefly unmute myself to answer a question. I step outside and see that the Santa Ana winds are raging and blowing the smoke westward. I finish the call as I am eating pasta. I get a notification from Calm asking how I’m feeling. LA Times: The UK variant strain of COVID-19 was discovered in Colorado in a man with no travel history. I am putting my phone away.
It’s past one AM and I’m just wrapping up Christmas Eve. Celebrating with family today and tomorrow are usually big traditions for us, but with ongoing concerns around COVID-19, my family and I opted to celebrate from afar.
When we would celebrate, we would gather with all extended family able to unite in Southern California, which often resulted in over fifty family members partying under one roof. I miss being in each other’s physical presence. I miss playing board games until midnight. I miss competing for prizes during self-deprecating relay races. I miss taking corny family photos by the Christmas tree.
This time, we celebrated over video chats over Zoom and Facebook. Though I didn’t get to eat the vast buffet of foods I’m used to having when we each pitch in a meal and eat family style, I cooked for myself Hainan chicken with butter garlic rice, served with homemade pickles. Though far from ideal, I got to catch up and eat with family from Los Angeles to Orange County, to the Philippines and Australia. We made a lot with what we had, and I’m grateful for our yearning to connect, and not to mention, the means to match.
Not to be deterred from the holiday spirit, I dressed up and even spiffed up my face. I’ve made it a point to be more comfortable without makeup, especially since I spend so much time at home now. That being said, it’s a special treat to get dolled up, get weird, and be a little silly.
I hope you all have a fun and safe holiday! Peace and blessings.
Amid the shadows
I faced the sun.
That’s good for now.
As we wrap up November and head straight into the holiday season, like many, I find myself contemplating the year and everything that’s happened. As one of my friends put it, it’s like hundreds of years of trauma and growth finally reached a climax in 2020, and we’ve been challenged to place life as we knew it on hold to face our personal and collective demons. You had plans in 2020? Yeah, think again. The Universe, Nature, God, Spirit—whichever you subscribe to—has other plans.
Personally, I faced a devastating heartbreak from the end of my most significant relationship, which I’m still grieving but am finally finding my own sense of real closure on. Amid these unpredictable times of prolonged, collective loss through financial hardship and instability, illness and death, catastrophic climate change, and divisive rhetoric, I find myself breathing through the act of holding space for myself and the jarring experiences and emotions we are all trying to grasp.
One of my friends asked me what it means to hold space. To me, holding space means to allow what is to just be—staying in the present and meeting yourself, others, and situations just as they are. For me, holding space means taking pauses, creating, with intention, a moment to receive and accept. None of it is passive, and it is an active and often emotionally taxing practice. In these times of strife, I find it to be more and more important for my own sense of groundedness and the interconnectedness that is written into our humanity. Holding space can feel like an act of defiance at times, but its intentions are anything but that. Just like the dormant season before the bloom of spring or the fire that initiates germination, holding space for what must be is a part of growth and new beginnings.
Hold space where and when you can—for yourself and for others. In times of physical isolation and when the world we once knew must transform, making room is where it begins.