What’s new? I am asked as I heat the pasta for company, as I pass a neighbor on the sidewalk, as I run into a friend in the tampon aisle.

Lately, I’m unsure how to answer. I am content, I am happy, I am good.

We’re good, I say. Nothing new. You?

The company, the neighbor, the friend — there is always something new. Babies are born, jobs are lost, relationships are overbearing, schedules overwhelming, calendars overstuffed.

I can’t relate at the moment. The waters are calm. Noneventful, even. Sure, we’re swimming slowly toward a hopeful adoption match, slowly toward my book release, slowly toward a reading curriculum for Bee. There are conferences to attend, speeches to give, emails to send.

But I feel like we’re treading water. I feel like the boats around us are sailing away into various horizons and we’re here, in this spot, waving white handkerchiefs above our heads as our legs cycle below the surface – slow, steady, rhythmic.

We’re holding our breath.

We’re cheering for you!
We miss you!
We can’t wait to see you!

Three texts I’ve sent this week.

I don’t mind this pace, mostly. I’m bent toward contentment, toward acceptance, and sometimes it’s nice to have an unchanging view.

But this doesn’t feel like contentment.

It feels like, somewhere, in some moment, the shoe will drop.

And it will sink into the deepest of waters.

Is this boredom? Anxiety? Low-grade depression?

I’ve experienced each on different occasions, and so yes, I think it’s a swirly combination of all of it. It’s the slow thaw that comes when winter melts away. It’s hearing a bird chirp and wondering when I’ll chirp, too. It’s realizing that the crawl I’m working toward isn’t aligned with the season, that the snow has disappeared but I still feel a little cold, a little left behind, a little bit stuck in winter.

What’s new?

Nothing. You?

Is this stress? Did I take on too much? Am I doing a poor job of taking care of myself?

Sure. It’s that, too, perhaps.

A few days ago, I came home from a long morning at the coffee shop to find Ken and his mother flipping eggs and Bee meowing like a kitty and I heard the bacon sizzle and the sun was just a tiny bit out and things looked hazy from a smoking stovetop, hazy from the orange sky, hazy from a long, long week.

What’s new? they asked.

You know, I’m a little bit sad I think, I said. No real reason. Nothing’s wrong. Just sad.


It takes great effort for me not to tell myself a story of why I’m sad. It takes great effort not to pinpoint a reason for the reasonless, to twist a tall tale of some sort of personal injustice, to blame someone else, to blame something else, to figure it out, to push through, to power through, to change up the routine, to shake it up, to sweep it under.

I am content, I am happy, I am good. Really. I am all of those things.

But today, I just feel a little sad.

It’s raining as I write this, and I find a small comfort in that the weather matches my current state of affairs – that the sky is a bit claustrophobic with clouds, dark and moody and sort of ominous.

Bee wishes it was summertime. She wants to swim. She’s ready for frog-catching and lightning bugs, for bike rides, for frozen yogurt.

It’s raining, she says. I feel sad.

It’s OK to feel sad, I say.

I know, she says.

I know, I say.

  • I’ve been feeling the same. I think I need a change. I want my kids to be independent and driving and getting into college and getting jobs, but I don’t want them to leave. I’m tired of running them around, and always watching the clock and the calendar and the appointment book to make sure I’m at the next thing on time with the right people in tow. But I don’t know what I’d do instead of this. I’m tired of my job, of trying to make myself relevant and busy, and being frustrated when others are working on things I should be (would rather be) working on. I’m biding my time for these last 7 years (I’ve started a count-down timer) before early retirement, but really then what would I do, and really 7 years is so far away, how can I get through until then. I would rather sit with my husband drinking coffee each morning, caught in a sunbeam from the breaking dawn, and making haphazard plans for a trip to Europe or the islands or just up north. But what options do I have, so I keep overbooking our family, and keep going to work every day, and keep looking at my neglected and dusty creative corner of my house, wishing I could just go there and stay for a week, month, a year, forever!

    But like you say, I’m content, I’m happy, I’m good ~ things are really really good! But I’m sad, too.

    • Oh Megan, I hear you!!! Wish I could offer you a hug. Hope the sad lifts for you soon, as well, and that you find yourself taking that European vacation soon enough. ;)

  • You always capture it. The buzzing in my head…the thing that can’t seem to be captured. This is it exactly. Wishing you well on moving beyond sad. And hoping it helps knowing others are right there with you.

  • There’s nothing at all wrong with living in that present moment of a little sad and a little swirly. I find living in/with and loving in/with the moment always makes me feel better than trying to figure out a future Why. Hugs!

  • Oh how I understand this. Recently, I felt so in the flow, everything was easier (not perfect just less struggle) and I felt favored…but nothing obvious or remarkable was happening. I didn’t have anything to report. It felt like everyone else was driving and I was drifting (but in hindsight, my bliss was rather remarkable). At the time, the lack of orchestrated dips, dives, climbs and falls left me melancholy, underwhelmed and anxiously aware of my mood. I second guessed the ease, doubted the value of flow and then I started to worry and let that fear expand. It’s taking a while to pull up from that, and I mistakenly tried to build joy by doing, but what has truly helped most is reminding myself that I may just be in a Sabbath period, my seeds may still be under ground, outlook is more sustainable than outcomes, I truly want the kind of peace that comes with ease, and abiding can be more maturing than accomplishing. Thanks for giving me more time and perspectives from which to reflect on this period. I hope that you find peace there too.

    • This makes SO SO SO MUCH SENSE TO ME, Abi. Thank you for your words and perspective and putting your finger right on this one. Sending hugs your way.

  • I felt nearly every one of those things today as well. It’s so gloomy around here and the week has felt so long. Things aren’t in order. It’s a recipe for sadness. I do the same thing, trying to pinpoint exactly what it is, try to make something up just to satisfy my need to understand things. Sometimes, it just doesn’t come. I just hope that tomorrow feels a bit better. Thanks for this.

    • “Sometimes, it just doesn’t come.”
      YES!!!! Yes, yes, yes. And the sun is out today, so today feels much better already. Thank you, Marisa.

  • I’m so glad you had the courage to write this. I can relate, so much. I didn’t quite know how to put it into words. I’m happy, but I’m sad. Nothing is wrong, things are good actually but sometimes I feel a little sad.

  • know this confusing beast, and know how muddled it can be. thank you for articulating it better than i ever could have. sending love from australia. x

  • Erin there’s something about your writing that always rings true and deep with me. Thank you for sharing these things, taking the time to work them out and write them down, I appreciate you!

  • Thanks for this. Feeling it, too, right now. I am finally understanding, though, that melancholy and gratitude can co-exist and that has helped. Sending love and wishes for lightness. I appreciate you!

  • It’s nice to know there are so many of us who feel this way. I really loved this post and I really loved the comment that mentioned “abiding can be more maturing than accomplishing.” So wise! I think it is so natural to want to make sense of every little emotion, feeling, experience…in myself and others. I am trying to learn how to let go but I’m not there yet. Something to think about and try and make sense of:) ha ha!

  • Hi Erin, Thank you for sharing. I wonder if this is in all of us as a result of the Fall. What made me think of this was this quote from Federick Buechner “The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.” Maybe there is a critical element in our stories that is forgotten or perhaps for some of us that we have never known. We are forever people; it is the way we were designed. We were created to live in a perfect world where death didn’t exist and where life would give way to life on into eternity. The Creator placed forever inside of us and it creates a natural disappointment with the brokenness of the here and now. We were hardwired for Eternity. We were made to live forever. This is not first a matter of what we believe;it is first a matter of who we are. Eternity lives and longs inside of us; there is simply no escaping it. This is why I struggle. Deep inside each of us is a cry for forever. It is every human’s struggle this side of eternity. That is why the whole world groans (Romans 8:18-27). The problem is that eternity doesn’t mean anything to most people. It’s not formative in the way we live our everyday lives. As a culture, we believe in eternity the way we believe in God. Most people say they do, but you wouldn’t know it from observing the way they live – I live. Most people live in a constant state of eternity amnesia. We’re forever people who have lost sight of forever. Life, real life as it was designed to be, simply cannot work without eternity. It is the nature of design. These words by C.S. Lewis say it all: “IF I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.” Ginny

    • Ginny – I lOVE that CS Lewis quote, and I think you’re spot on. Knowing we’re “made for another world” helps me to sit with the discomfort and tension and sadness a whole lot longer. “The whole world groans.” Such an oddly comforting verse.

      Big hugs, and thank you for such an uplifting comment for us all. :)

  • I’ll not pander and pretend I identity with all of your reasons, but this is the perfect description of how I moved through the waiting game of adoption. Thank you for sharing. It’s so good to know there is company in this one.

  • I just got to this post, Erin and felt compelled to write. Each word, emotion, thought trains you wrote resonated with me. I often feel this way but I tend to add overwhelmed to my bubbling pot of reason-less sadness.Things are chugging along, all is well but then you get enveloped in haze of sadness which leaves you with more questions than answers. Couple that with the fact that I feel I am being thankless for all my blessings by being sad and then fear grips me that what if something of tremendous value is taken away from me in order to punish me for my thanklessness so I power through my sadness. I want to keep reading and rereading your posts. Keep up the good work.

    • Oh Jehanara – you are so very kind. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement. Biggest hugs your way.

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