The To & Fro
thoughts on spring, writing books, and embodiment
In the middle of March, I went to a hotel near our home, locked myself in my room, and finished my third book (did you know I’m writing a third book!? Surprise!). I sat there, staring at the screen, crying, remembering, processing—how did I get here? To all of this? To being a writer, to holding these gifts of time, energy, and kindness? What’s happened along the way to make me who I am today?
I held the sweetgrass braid my friend Sylvia gave me. I prayed that the words I’d written, the words I’d continue to write, would be the ones needed in the world. I can’t take credit for the sacredness that already exists around me, but I can grab onto it and ask it to teach me something in my own writing.
So I sat at the desk in my hotel room, taking it all in, looking out the window at a winding river and a cityscape, breathing deep gratitude that I can’t yet fathom.
We’ve moved twice during COVID. In 2020, right after Native came out, we left our Atlanta home of six years, without saying goodbye to the people we love. We moved across the east coast to Vermont, where we spent eleven beautiful months, cocooned, safe, in the presence of a patch of Mother Earth we will never forget.
Then, my partner got a job and we headed back to the city—to Philadelphia, a place we’d wanted to live for a long time for no real reason except this deep wondering if it could be home. And so far, it’s been amazing, but there have been layers of culture shock along the way.
The to and fro of it all has been exhausting. By the way, do you know that phrase, to and fro, comes from Middle English, when we used to say toward and froward? Now, of course, we use forward, and froward is more often used to describe a person who is willful or disobedient, and I kinda love it.
Anyway, back to the story.
It’s been a long two years, and I think many of us have been in trauma/coping mode. Of course we have! How could we not be? How do we actively move from coping to processing to healing? I don’t know if we’re ready yet.
So, we continue to exist in the to and fro, don’t we?
When I came home from working on the book for two days straight, I crashed. I crashed hard, my body taking in everything that I’d been accumulating these last two years. I was couch-bound for four days, doing what I could when I could, leaning on the help, love and kindness of my family.
Sometimes, even in the to and fro, our bodies say you’ve gotta stop, Love. You’ve gotta slow down. So, reluctantly, with tears and frustration, fighting the urge to keep producing, I let myself slow down. Embodiment is hard. Thinking about embodiment is easier.
While Spring is here, the weather patterns are shifting, and it’s hard to find a level place to land. Coats one day, light sweaters the next, wondering on those warmer days if we will skip Spring altogether and head straight to the heat of summertime. The to and fro will not be ignored, that’s for certain.
So, we keep coping, and we hope for some processing, resting, and a little bit of healing along the way. We set up boundaries, we get off social media, we get back on social media, we repeat mistakes, we give ourselves grace.
We begin again.
We move to and fro.
We take it all in.
We light candles and pray.
We dance in the kitchen.
We stare out a window.
We nap again.
We call a friend.
We go to therapy.
We read a children’s book.
We try again.
We try again.
To and Fro.
Sometimes to and fro can be a gently rocking boat or train, or a cradle, or succumbing to surrender so we can rest in the palm of God’s hand. Thank you for your vulnerability.
Regular naps and dream journaling are my new patterns of to and fro cleansing and recharging.