Joy on Wheels

The following letter was sent to my newsletter subscribers at the end of March. It seemed to resonate with lots of readers, so I’m re-posting it here. If you’d like content like this delivered to your inbox each month, make sure to sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the page!

My green and pink skates on the grassy beach at Seward Park, with the lake and city in the distance

Hello, friends! 

Every time I sit down to write this letter to you, I’m faced with a conundrum. All the topics I come up with seem frivolous when faced with the ever-escalating crises the world is facing. It feels insensitive and self-indulgent to talk about my life (let alone promote my books!) when so many are suffering. 

Sometimes I get so paralyzed by this that I wonder if I should just stop, if things have gotten so bad that I have nothing to offer you anymore.

But, you know, life is strange. It’s such a study in contradiction. Despite all the rhetoric suggesting otherwise, it is possible to hold two seemingly-opposite thoughts or emotions in our minds at once. In the grand scheme of things, these letters don’t matter. And yet, they do! They matter to me, because this is my main way of connecting with you all, which is something I value deeply. 

I don’t want to stay stuck in the state of fear and hopelessness that I tend to feel after reading the news headlines. So I’m moving forward with today’s letter, acknowledging that yes, things are dire – but we still need to figure out how to replenish our spirits and find blissful moments. If we remain paralyzed, nothing changes. If we remember how to find joy, then we can avoid being crushed by the weight of the world, and do the things we need to do in order to make it better for others.

Recently, I’ve taken up a new hobby that has lifted my spirits significantly. It all began one sunny day on Alki, a sandy beach in West Seattle that has distinct California vibes. We walked along the bike trail alongside the beach, and there she was. A roller skater with earbuds on, skate-dancing to the beat only she could hear, deftly maneuvering around pedestrians and bikes in the most graceful way possible. Brimming with joy.

Months later, I found myself at a roller skating rink with the family. While cruising across the smooth wood floors, I remembered something I’d long forgotten: how good it feels to glide along the ground on wheels, picking up speed. That freedom, that bliss. 

I started coveting a nice pair of skates. But I didn’t order them right away. I kept telling myself that the idea was ridiculous, that it was just a fleeting fancy, that I was too old, that I’d never been good at anything requiring physical exertion, that I would never look as graceful as Alki Skater Girl. So why waste the money?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that taking up skating could be exactly what I needed. I’m still working on getting over my lifelong FOPO (Fear of Other People’s Opinions), and am trying to constantly remind myself that my body is the vessel through which I experience life – not a display piece that exists for others to assess and judge. I may look a bit awkward while I skate, but honestly, that’s not what matters. What matters is how skating makes me feel on the inside. Young again. Brimming with joy.

A few months after I first opened the tab on my phone, I finally submitted my order. I started rolling around the house every night to break in my beautiful new skates. Last week, I even did the 2.5-mile Seward Park loop (because when I start getting into something, I go hard!). And I wobbled on the rough patches, and I fell a few times, but I just laughed at myself and didn’t get too lost in the embarrassment even though people were watching. Take that, FOPO! I’m gonna skate right over you 😉

So I’m here today to invite you to reclaim your own joy, however that looks to you. Doing so can make it easier to reach out and help others in the ways you can, by donating or volunteering or just being a joyful presence in the world, reminding us all of what makes life worth living.

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