The True Chill

His e-mail title was, “comma before a quote.” I opened the e-mail which began, “I keep making the same correction.” Anyone who writes and receives an e-mail from their editor like this most likely has that all over body cringe.


Grammar mistakes are like kryptonite for me. I immediately fall down the elevator of shame that is an express ride to shame.

Confidence is an odd thing.

When I have it, I can do anything. When it’s lost, I’m lost.

Right now I’m in the dreaded lost phase. Everything I write seems disjointed and oddly shallow. There’s no there– there. Commas are becoming unknown to me in my mad dash scramble to conquer my inner fourth grade teacher who red lines my paper.

I’m having a glass of red wine in one of my favorite pubs and this is my thought stream:

“Aren’t you too old to sacrifice your skin for that? Or: Can you afford to have wine out, especially when paying your own way seems tougher by the minute? Or: Aren’t you too old to be out? Or: People are looking because I look terrible. Why did I get this nasty cold? Maybe I’m out of touch with my health.”

What causes this sudden, ‘I’m naked on a stage and looking my worst’ thing to happen without apparent warning?

I’m not sure but my guess is this happens as the result of a few things stacking up which become a perception or story of reality. A person doesn’t smile back, you run into someone  who actually doesn’t like you, you get a bill and think–holy crap, how is that getting paid? and you step on a scale or look at that spot on the back of your head and voila! You feel badly. Throw in an errant comma and–burned toast. You crumble apart.

Confidence: Zero.

It’s these times when I either tuck into bed with Netflix and make the world go away or reach out to someone who I think is for sure going to be nice. But frankly Netflix and chill is not a one size fits all solution. I know–heresy–but I’m thinking there are only so many period dramas to hide in. I’m also thinking calling on your person to solve the confidence problem may not be the way either–not all the time. They may need a minute too.

So, what’s my move? I’m going to try none of the above. Maybe a brisk walk until I notice that through the windows of those houses I pass are people all playing out their lives in the best way they can. Even the really pretty homes filled with pretty people have imperfect days. I am most certainly not alone.

I’m also thinking that my problem is one of self absorption. If I was doing something kind for a friend or a stranger, I wouldn’t care about my own thoughts so much. Confidence is based on self esteem. Self worth is based on what we bring to the lives of others.

Stop! Breathe!

Now my mind is going to a new plot where I am critical of how myopic I’m capable of being. But that’s not helpful either. This is the time for perspective. Some days you cuddle the dragon until he wants to use his fire to make smores and sometimes the dragon walks by and tells you you’re ugly and sets fire to your offerings.

Everyday isn’t going to feel like a victory. But that does not add up to the measure of me.

Life is long. The story, too, is long. No one day or snapshot is the full story and no one day tells me if I’m okay.

Time to think long term. Take off those shoes. Write something to a friend. Tell some folks you love them. Look at a picture of your people and reflect on those times when the dragon ate out of your hand–happy. Those days are there too. For all of us.

Dark days are present sometimes. It’s getting cold and I’m turning up my collar on my coat. I never feel quite as carefree when it’s cold. That’s a factor to consider in the loss of confidence as well. I’m also affected by my sense of being connected to a larger community. On days when I’m not dialed into the world around me, I feel lost.

It’s most certainly not the time to pick on me….nor you.

Let’s say it together: “Today is not my only day. There is no permanent record. I am doing my best most of the time and most of the time it’s totally fine.”

If that isn’t enough, perhaps looking ahead to better days. Plan a vacation that may be possible, think of a holiday and research a cool, new dish to cook or make up a fitness goal.

“This whole adventure is up to us to make up,” my friend Vanessa reminded me. And, hey, I have a friend–so that’s good. Oh and I have an amazing guy who loves me and children and grandchildren and sometimes work is so meaningful too.

Maybe I’ll take a hot shower and breathe out, “Thank you, thank you.”

Confidence smonfidence. We got this.




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