August 2021


How many times did someone ask you how you are today? You probably responded with something like, “Fine, thanks,” “I’m good,” or “OK, and you?”

But were you really fine?

I’ve gotta tell you that I’m not always fine these days. In fact, I feel like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster. One minute I’m OK… and maybe even happy! Then in the next, I’m so anxious I feel like I’m about to pass out.

Here’s what I mean:

Last week, in a medieval castle on a small island in the Peloponnese, our daughter Ciara’s long-time boyfriend proposed to her. I got to be one of the first to hug them, toast to their future, and begin to plan a wedding with my daughter.

I’m bursting with joy.

Three days later, two different women whom I care about deeply, told me they were facing health challenges so serious that it could impact the rest of their lives.

I’m so worried and I feel completely helpless.

Today, I’m with my wonderful husband, enjoying a hot and sunny vacation in a place we love.

I’m sweaty, but I’m really happy.

Fully vaccinated, I was finally feeling hopeful coming out of this pandemic. But the Delta variant has re-introduced uncertainty and is making me nervous again.

Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. That was all just this week.

* * *

I’m guessing you’re feeling similar swings of highs and lows. Swings seem to be the norm these days.

It’s so hard to be filled with hope and fear, freedom and constraint, celebration and mourning all at once.

What do you do when your world feels like a roller coaster?

Sometimes you just need to “be in it” and live all of the feelings so that they don’t build up or get pushed down so far that they burst through in unexpected moments. Acknowledging the struggle and taking time to celebrate the joys helps me.

But it’s really hard to process and celebrate alone.

So, I’m being open and vulnerable, sharing my truth with a few trusted friends.

Putting “all my shit out there” has allowed my inner circle to comfort me and celebrate with me.

The support I’ve received has been amazing.

My friend Vicky said, “A friend of mine is a psychotherapist. She lost her husband recently to cancer. It was sudden, heart-wrenching and put a strain on her family before and after the loss. Between it all though, there were marriages, grandchildren – joy and agony all mixed into one.”

I asked her how she was coping with it all, and she said, “This period of time is so challenging, but it’s rich. These experiences are rich. I’ve often thought of that statement when I’m feeling the weight and the whirlwind of it all. The extreme highs and lows of this human experience is the real stuff of life. The joys and the agonies are universal and connect us. Please know that I’m here for you for all the highs and lows.”

In these two tiny, texted paragraphs, Vicky let me know that I’m not alone in my struggles with the complexity of our times. What’s more, by naming the struggle a “rich” one, she gave me words and helped me gain perspective that made these swings make more sense.

I also appreciated her reassurance that I could be my true self with her, and she would be there for me no matter what. I don’t usually feel I have “permission” to share the lows, and I worry I’ll be a burden if I do. She helped me get past that.

When it comes to our own low moments, keeping them to ourselves can push us lower.

So… whatever swing you’re on today, I hope you’ll give yourself permission to share it with someone who holds your heart gently. Whether you are celebrating together, mourning together, or living through a mixture of all sorts of feelings, you won’t be alone in experiencing the richness of your one precious life.

Another dear friend pointed out to me that trees grow up and down at the same time. Now I know that people do too.

* * *

Do you feel the fluctuations of the world on a daily basis? It turns out you’re not alone. Sharing your ups and downs will likely bring you points of connection with others going through their own roller coaster.

There are all sorts of ways to share your experience:

Share it Small: Pick someone you trust, and tell them what you are experiencing. Chances are, they’ll let you know their story too, and you’ll both feel less alone.

Share it Big: Tova Mirvis, last week’s Parlay House speaker, decided to share her truths about the complexity of separating from her community directly with the New York Times. She was flabbergasted by the thousands of people who related and responded to what she thought was only her journey. You may not need to be as bold as sharing your truths with the world, but writing them down and sharing them more broadly will not only be a release for you, you’ll make others feel less alone, too.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.