132 Comments
May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Thank you for your words. 🙏🏻 I keep feeling that exhaustion is layered like a strudel; we can recognize physical exhaustion, but often less so moral exhaustion, exhaustion borne of ancient and ongoing injustice and intergenerational trauma, exhaustion that has its roots in cruelty, exhaustion that comes from relentless self-blame. I’m writing a book right now on permission, and while its focus is the creative impulse, I keep thinking that the tentacles of permission are so much more far-reaching: permission to rest, permission to listen to one’s body, permission to show up for oneself, permission to say No. There is so much in your words for which I am grateful, as always.

And I will write to Calvin today.

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I've been reading and re-reading this comment since Sunday. The layering of exhaustion, the tentacles of permission—it's all so beautifully put and feels so true. Thank you.

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Oh yes! That word 'permission' feels so important. Thanks for naming that 😊 I think intergenerational trauma plays such a big role in this - it's often the root of our nervous system dysregulation, and I've found the nervous system to be such a huge driver of exhaustion in my own journey and many of the clients I work alongside

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

Elissa, Your words spoke so directly to me. Looking forward to reading your book.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

"I did not begin to live alone till I was forty-five, and had “lived” in the sense of passionate friendships and love affairs very richly for twenty-five years. I had a huge amount of life to think about and to digest, and, above all, I was a person by then and knew what I wanted of my life. The people we love are built into us. Every day I am suddenly aware of something someone taught me long ago — or just yesterday — of some certainty and self-awareness that grew out of conflict with someone I loved enough to try to encompass, however painful that effort may have been." May Sarton

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Gorgeous--thank your for sharing, Mae ❤️

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I'm amazed at how this group continually grows my reading list -- I've never heard of May Sarton. My husband is Belgian, and my daughter is thus Belgian-American. Can't wait to share with her!

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

Thank you for this and reminding me of May Sarton and her brilliant, quiet, strong being that influenced me deeply in my 20s. I will open up her books again and take her in now 40 years later. That's a gift, thanks Mae.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

So funny, I was just reading that quote in the Marginalian and here it is!

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We seekers often find ourselves in the same circles! I am a longtime subscriber to the Marginalian, and I am also a devotee of the On Being podcast.

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That is where I read it and it seemed right so I shared xo

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

I’ve had three skin cancer surgeries, one on my nose that has changed the geography of my face, followed by screenings every four months, 1/3 of my colon removed, and three other abdominal surgeries that have changed me forever. I feel like every other person in the world is inside a gigantic circle and I’m on the outside, looking in from a distance. But because I’m writing this, I have survived every invasive, horrible, terrifying, brutal, and anxiety-inducing thing that’s ever happened to me. I try to remember that every night before I fall asleep. And because you’re reading this, you’ve survived those things too.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

Hi Peg-

I have also experienced the feeling of surviving the rearrangement of my body. Sometimes I sit in amazement that it still works despite everything that has been removed! You are not alone and neither am I because you wrote this. 🩷🐝

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May 24, 2023·edited May 24, 2023

There’s a large number of folks who understand by experience. I love what you said about sitting in amazement at the wonder of what you survived. The first appointment I had about three surgeries spaced two weeks apart was a conversation about the Mohs procedure on my nose.

My surgeon started talking about how deep they might have to go to get all of the cancer and the possibility of grafting skin from my forehead while it was still attached and allowing the graft end to grow onto my nose, taking months to do so. My vision got all spotty and my ears started buzzing. I didn’t pass out however. 😵‍💫

Thankfully, I didn’t have to consider that outcome, but on a chance remark to my primary care doctor and a referral to a dermatologist, that became my reality in two weeks after calling for an appointment.

I’m in northern Virginia and the dermatologist’s office is in Alexandria. I sat at the window on the 11th floor waiting for my first procedure while looking at the Capitol Dome and the Washington Monument. I’m so thankful that I live in an area that has brilliant doctors on the cutting edge of treatment for everything imaginable, and I’m so glad that we’re both still here. ♥️

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I'm glad we're both still here too🫶 It's been a journey finding a place where I can tell my truth about where I'm at. Yes, I'm grateful to have survived and my body works really differently now. The journey hasn't ended w survival, I'm in the kingdom of the well-ish😂. I have appreciated Sulieka's process so much. Grateful for this forum and to have made your acquaintance 🩷🩷🩷

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And me yours. I’m all ears for anything you would like to share. Common ground takes many forms, and I’m also thankful for Suleika and her merry band of dear friends who have brought us all together. There’s comfort in participating and being able to share and say anything, in this place where we’re not judged, but supported. It’s a wonderful chance to exhale.

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🌬️🥰🫶

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

My kindergarten report card said, “plays well alone.” I still do.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

Interesting how one small thing like this can influence the rest of our lives. My dear mother grew up poor and was allowed only an 8th grade education after which she went to work cleaning and caring for other's children till she married. In the 8th grade "prophesy" about her it said...she would be a chambermaid and that was a sorrow for her all of her life. So for me...when I graduated from high school...in the Tiger Rag..Alton, Iowa...under my postage sized picture it said..."Good sense, common sense, and still time for nonsense." I have treasured that...and probably would have not remembered that had it not been for Mom's sorrow.

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May 22, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

I'm sorry your mother had that sorrow. We are each so much more than our jobs. Even the president isn't JUST a president.

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That saying is such a treasure. ❤️

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"Good sense, common sense, and still time for nonsense." Love it 💜

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

Mine said, “Doesn’t always do well in group activities.” It’s kind of the same, but your teacher said it in a positive way. ☺️

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With all due respect, Peg, I think it’s pretty different. In any case, it’s funny how we remember these things from so long ago—in my case, it was 63 years ago! 😁

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63 for me as well!🥰

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I'm 63. If I were writing my own report, I would say "Does better with plants and pets than people." I like people, but sometimes they take everything out of me and make me cranky. Plants and pets are nourishing.

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All of mine said that I was "chatty". Which plays a big part of who I am to this day while living with a chronic physical disease.

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I love a chatty little kid. ❤️

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Where do I fall on the Solitary Spectrum? Hmmmm! I’m pretty far on the solitary side. I may not be an island but I could live on an island. Or a thousand acres with a house in the middle surrounded by big fences. No neighbors would be nice. I know this sounds awful. I’ve worked in some form of service my entire life and actually like talking to people. I enjoy sharing experiences with someone. I think it’s called “social introvert”. I care about people a lot. I care for people I haven’t met. And people I know in real life. I love with Todd my S.O. I used to hate being alone. I thought it was wrong not having a huge social circle. That I was off or weird. It used to bother me being different. I would literally crumble at being thought if as “weird”. I hated that word. Now I embrace my weirdness. It took a nervous breakdown and a lot of therapy to get to this point. Again I love meeting up with friends at times. Or talking to random people. I remember one meeting with a young woman and get dog at Watch Hill some years ago. We walked the entire beach talking with out dogs. I learned a lot about her in that one time. We never saw each other again but I appreciated that shared experience with a stranger. When I am social I prefer small groups. Crowds make me claustrophobic.

I really don’t intend to go off the grid. I just like to think about it. I can find solitude in my own room. I just like to play the grumpy loner. It’s part of my persona.

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Love all of this but especially the bit about connecting with the you woman you never saw again. Brief encounters can be meaningful and stay with us for a long time ❤️

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I feel very similarly as you! I always question my strong desire to be solitary and so often judge myself for it- as I read so much about connectedness is important for mental and physical health. I DO try to connect with friends semi-regularly but it doesn't feel like a native inclination.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

the more I read the less abnormal I am feeling!

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❤️

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Laurie, I love "social introvert" label, which I may start using. As honestly I don't know if I am an introvert, who has learned to survive in a world that rewards extroverts or what. My old report card would say "needs to speak up more;" still appropriate as I hate, hate meetings and would rather take the time to order and expand my thoughts. I have few close friends, but not a large circle. And yet, I am described as thoughtful, kind and patient as my career involves service. I have a question for you...do you remember conversations where you connect and really share with others? I seem to.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Carmen Radley

The very first line right after Hi friend is what stuck with me most. I too spend a lot of time thinking about how to honor people no longer with us. Our daughter left this earth at just 24 years old after an intense adventure with cancer. Her very best friend, her literal other half, is getting married next year. How do we honor and include her our daughter while keeping the vibe high and circling and celebrating the bride. For all of us, including the bride, it's a tricky balance of isolation while being surrounded by celebration. A lit candle or a an empty chair is not the solution. Maybe a Margarita truck or silly signs with puns on the port a potties. These two friends celebrated life and all it threw at them. How do I find a way to do that now? More than anything I feel love but there is still an aching longing and sadness.

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May 21, 2023·edited May 21, 2023

I can’t imagine your loss, and I’m so sorry. Maybe find a star, whether made from metal, wood or even a homemade one, and find a place to hang it up high, looking down with its soft, imagined light, shining over everyone and everything on that day.

With what you shared about your precious daughter’s life, it seems to me that the first thing she would insist on is for everyone to have a fantastic day, with her starlight covering everyone there. 🌟

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Peg - you made my day. I absolutely love this idea for many reasons and I think it could work. A star is a great symbol. It's subtle but powerful. I'm going to tuck this idea away and talk to the bride to be about it. Thank you so much 💜

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I had replied earlier but it’s not showing up when I look, so I just wanted to tell you that your comment made my day! My first reaction was to help you because although I have never lost a child, my heart aches for what you had to face. I hope however you honor your daughter, you will know that so many other people love and miss her too. ♥️

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Perfect, positive, and genuine.

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"More than anything I feel love but there is still an aching longing and sadness." ❤️❤️ Sending love to you, Sharon.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Remembering and being prompted by a poet who first inspired me, the writer inside me, to write (Walt W.) and now, by the writer, you, Suleika, whose Isolation Journals prompted me so many years later, to write again. My desire for solitude and the sweet moments when I find it, cultivate that writing. My need for connection often leaves me in a puddle of tears. And that too, cultivates my writing.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

“Who are those people who put out a book every year?” I literally asked myself this last week. A friend who is extremely prolific and filled with energy announced their latest project. It made me want to weep with frustration because I simply can’t keep up. But their personal reality isn’t mine, and I have to remember that I need white space (my version of “still”) so that my ideas can breathe.

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I really love the idea of white space. I'm with you. ❤️

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I get it. We place our own hurdles in our path, and then we have to back up to get a running start in order to get over them. Be gentle with yourself and focus on your own accomplishments without drawing parallels to anyone else. ♥️

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“Compare and despair!” Is a quote I often have to remind myself to heed. I work VERY slowly and have gotten so much flack for it in my career, making me feel like the odd-ball reject that no one has time for. Clawing my way back to self-respect has consumed way too much of my psyche and I’ve learned what I always knew: “I am what I am and that’s all I am,” thank you Popeye! My work — painting — cannot be done quickly and would not be what it is if I did it any other way. I know I am stronger for standing up to criticism but it can be exhausting. Our culture honors speed and quantity which are pretty low on my list of values. Thank you for sharing your experience as being part of the slow crowd.🥰

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Isolation is a dream killer but solitude can be bliss and there's a fine line between the two, the idea that sometimes 'stuck is just still' is extremely helpful, I'll bring those words along with me today. In the three years of isolating and still minimizing risk (Covid), I have come to embrace these growing pains.

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The ebb and flow of my energy has changed dramatically with time. When I was 23, before I had a motorbike accident in which I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which left me comatose for three months, I derived my energy from social gatherings. Now, I’m in my mid-30s, after my accident, but also after the pandemic, when I learned how to sit in peace to craft my memoir (still WIP), I began craving solitude. However, now, if an entire week goes by without any social interaction, I feel something is wrong. The grass is always greener on the other side for me 😂😂

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I relate to this! It can sometimes feel more like an oscillation than a balance. ❤️

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

I spent many years searching for family. What I mean is unconditionality-but it was not there. No qualms about what is because I failed, it was a good try. What I created is beauty around me and extraordinary companions. My kitty, pup, and plants are so happy-content-that is good. And I bought my kitty a glorious new cat tree for my birthday. What is truly is.

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Beauty around and extraordinary companions--sounds like an extremely good recipe.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

I find this essay exquisitely, painfully beautiful.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad

I live in a 900 square foot apartment with my temporarily unemployed partner and our elderly Great Dane. I spend my days with 21 4th graders. I am hungry for solitude at this point of my life. We are facing job changes and a move home across the country, but we will be staying with my mom until we find a house to rent or buy. There are tons of blessings embedded in this scenario, including the gifts of having a partner, a mother, and the joy of returning home to family...HOWEVER...I would give a lot to have a week by myself in a bright cottage with a window over the kitchen sink. I would walk barefoot on the warm wood floors and admire the sun's patterns on the walls. There is not one living being who needs me in sight, just books and a garden and open windows. No wait--each day I am visited by one of my dear friends (who are also beleaguered by too many demands on their emotional resources and not enough time for themselves) and we will sit on the porch drinking iced tea and sharing our thoughts without interruption. Eventually we end up laughing until we can't breathe, and we feel like a million bucks!

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"Sharing our thoughts without interruption." ❤️

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Maybe carving out time for a hike in the woods either on your own or with your dog could help you find some of that solitude you’re craving. Trees are a powerful antidote to overwhelm. ❤️

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TREES!!!!! Yes!!!!

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I also find that walking in the woods and being around trees and nature makes me feel better every single time I do it

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That sounds so so appealing...the cottage, book, fresh air, a garden and laughing until you can't breathe!

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Suleika this is what resonated with me today that you wrote:”Much later I came to understand that, along with the treatments and care from my medical team, finding ways to convert isolation into creative solitude and connection was the most powerful form of healing that I could conjure for myself. It became my ethos, and later the ethos of this community.”

This to me is the bravest most courageous piece of wisdom that I’m reading today. You have created powerful ways to connect within isolation which has helped me and I’m sure many others. In this age of disconnect plus with your health challenges, you have found a path to connect with many and they with you, to show us there’s always a way and to not give up. Today I go to a funeral of someone who lived a long life and hopefully a good life. I won’t know many of the people, and most I will never see again, but thru you and thus community of The Isolation Journals, it’s guided me to feel I’m not alone, and I have this powerful connection to this community. Another life lesson is “ it’s not all about me” and because of this awareness, resting when I need to, I can be there for others. May you all give yourself the time of rest and grace.

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Beautifully said Sherri

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Acknowledging the ebb and flow of your own energy is deeply kind and a gift to yourself. Tap into the vast creative potential of dream and resting states for your body, mind and spirit: it’s where all creativity stems from. Allow yourself to start over, again and again. Your innate wisdom deeply knows this.

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"Allow yourself to start over, again and again." I love this so much. ❤️❤️

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May 21, 2023Liked by Suleika Jaouad, Holly Huitt, Carmen Radley

Following Quintin's story, from your book to the posts on here, was heartbreaking.

The difference between alone and lonely, between isolation and solitude, between happy in our own company and yearning to belong sometimes in a group or with another. ❤️

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