Strong in our broken places.

“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to. It’s not for them.”

-Unknown

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I spent Mother’s Day on a boat. The morning dawned with overcast skies and I was afraid that the marine layer would wrap itself around the coastline and not let go. To my surprise, the sun broke free from the fog’s grasp and by late morning, it was casting gentle rays of light out across the water, creating a perfect spring Southern California Sunday.

We never left the harbor. The boat was borrowed and expensive: a sleek, beautiful vessel complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a spacious deck. Far too valuable for any of us to pilot, even if we did know how, which of course, we didn’t. Besides, there was good food to eat and tequila to drink and – most importantly – girl talk to be had underneath that shaded canopy on the sea.

How do you celebrate a holiday when the person that holiday is built around celebrating is no longer with you? How do you continue to embrace gratitude for all that you’ve been given on an occasion that can’t help but remind you of all that you’ve lost? How do you keep moving forward, heart open, even on days when moving forward feels impossible?

I don’t know what works for other people, but here is what has been working for me, as a strategy for dealing with the difficult days: 1.) Surround yourself with your tribe. 2.) Do what feels good. 3.) Don’t apologize.

So this past Mother’s Day, that is exactly what I did. The three friends I shared that boat with are all brilliant, creative, generous, tough as nails, women. They also – like me – carry the scars of having lived on this planet long enough to have had their hearts broken. All of us have been humbled by the difficult days. And yet, it is in those difficult days that we have found our strength, our grace, and our empathy. We are, in the words of Ernest Hemingway, “Strong in our broken places.” These friends – and others like them – are my tribe. And these days, they’re the only people I feel like spending time with.

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One member of that tribe is my friend Sam. Sam is someone that I’m not sure that the old Sarah – the Sarah from before all the bad stuff happened – would have been friends with. Sam is a fiercely talented actress, and she moves through the world with an authority about who she is that the old me would have found intimidating. In truth, I still occasionally do find her intimidating, but mostly, I recognize her as a kindred spirit, someone that, through her own example, has given me permission to be the bolder, braver person that I know I am, deep down inside.

Not long after I met Sam – before we’d become the friends we are now – she invited me to a screening of a short film she co-produced and starred in, called Life Grows On*. It’s a twelve minute movie that follows the cycle of one woman’s life, illustrating how she responds to her own difficult days (and her joyful ones, too) in a way most women can relate to: by changing her hair. It’s a beautiful film, and I cried when I watched it. And I also knew that I wanted to be friends with the person who made it.

For me, these last few years have been a journey toward self-acceptance, of learning to give myself permission to be who I am. I’m not there yet, but I’m a lot further down that road than I used to be. And that is thanks in large part to friends like Sam:  friends who are teaching me that it is in our broken places where often, we are the strongest.

Surround yourself with your tribe. Do what feels good. Don’t apologize.

Until next time, friends.

*P.S. – You can watch Sam’s film Life Grows On by clicking here. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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23 thoughts on “Strong in our broken places.

  1. Enjoyed this, as I have all of your posts that I’ve read. I agree “our tribe” is key in getting us through life. Don’t know what I’d do without mine 🙂

  2. Mother’s day is rough. I try to pretend it isn’t happening each year but my son is just old enough to know he should do something for me but not old enough to understand why Mother’s day hurts mommy. It’s a fine line to walk.

  3. Its amazing how you’re able to make the best out of bad days. I probably would hide myself in my room all day, sulking and doing nothing about it. YOU’RE PRETTY AMAZING! By the way, I just wrote my first blog, and if you do have time, please read it and tell me how I can make myself better. Your suggestions will be precious!!

  4. We each have different ways of coping with days that make you sad but I do so connect with the cutting hair. Some how it has a cathartic effect with lighter tresses leaving me with a lighter heart. I don’t have a tribe though since I have friends from different aspects of my life. Isn’t it sometimes boring and tedious to spend time with only like minded people?

    • I wouldn’t say that members of your tribe have to be like you. It’s more about finding people that you feel comfortable with and happy when you’re around them; people that bring out the best in you, and you bring out the best in them. I think the best way to find those people is to work really hard doing what you love and living an authentic life and before you know it, those people start to show up. Good luck to you!

  5. Sarah, you inspire me sooo much. I just wanted to tell you that your writing, stories and advice are just WOW. I wrote a post about your blog today, it makes me very happy that I got to share your blog with my friends..:)

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