Angela Blanchard
2 min readSep 9, 2023

This morning I’m thinking about how essential it is to have reflection time. To sit with feelings, to let thoughts run full circle until I see the patterns, helpful and not so helpful, in my thinking.

Much of the trouble we get into stems from running from emotions and thoughts we expect to be “too” painful. And somehow believing pain or discomfort is a trend, not a moment. Even the big losses, the profound griefs can be borne one moment at a time if we will allow ourselves the space/time to do it. Breathing through it. Letting ourselves be.

For me, I must first do these “exercises of feeling” out of sight. Because people will jump to help. To make it better, to make it lessen. End the pain before I’ve gotten to the bottom of what this grief is telling me about my life.

Sometimes I’ll do the same thing to myself. Jump to make pain or discomfort go away. Just run from some painful reality toward whatever distraction is handy. Feelings won’t kill us but what we do to avoid them, if we do it long enough, turns lethal.

I mourn my losses that come with age. And losses that come from just living. During Covid I had this very specific worry that I would somehow not be able to keep up with the grief I felt, process the changes quickly enough. Losses piled up. Professional. Personal. Collective. Now and then, I notice something else altered so permanently it’s time to put a headstone on it. Pause. Wave goodbye. Bless it. Release it.

I have the luxury of flexible time to pay attention now. I can choose to be present in my own life. To inhabit the space that is my spirit, body, home.

I’ve used my early morning reading time today on two books. Rereading bell hooks “Communion”. When I read her books, I always experience a kind of grief coupled with exquisite relief. Grief because all the truth and beauty she speaks were not always available to me. Relief from laying down the burden of trying to find words for my experiences as a woman, loving, working to stitch up the world — because she has found those words and shared them. I read bell books and know I’m neither crazy nor alone.

The other book I read this morning. “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows”. John Koenig. Which is just a precious original lovely book. “…true sadness is … exuberant upwelling that reminds you how fleeting and mysterious and open-ended life can be.”

I wrote this for me and maybe for you too.



Angela Blanchard

Out to Change the World. Born for Storms. Senior Fellow Watson Institute Brown University President Emerita BakerRipley @cajunangela AngelaBlanchard.com