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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Nehring

A Deconstructed View of Life

“Honestly, I never thought I would be writing about community. I am so introverted and empathic that it was easier for me to hide than to connect outside of myself. But when you have people that show you how to do this, that it is a practice, that “it’s okay to not be okay,” and all the other cliches, you feel so empowered to stay open, to create healthy relationships that live beyond the physical, to keep living a meaningful existence and a life of love.”

I don’t know what’s happened this year, but something has deconstructed in how I view life, love, strength, growing up, space, time, moments, and this list can go on. Lately my mind is swirling back to many things I have experienced in my life, many things I have done wrong and many things I have done right. In many things I am searching for forgiveness, and many things or opportunities have presented themselves where I can do good or right. The idea of letting high expectations go and learning to ride the inconstancies of life now, it’s almost as if riding the inconsistencies seem to be the new expectation. The question that always comes up within it all is, “What do I need to do?” And that question has become so fruitful in and of itself, because it is not pertaining to this burden, but having gone through so many pivotal moments, it’s the power of pause and seriously feeling into what I need to do for myself to stay functional, what do other’s need that I might be able to offer with the understanding that they don’t need to accept what I offer, but that there is availability. I have realized the need for people to have healthy outlets and resources to stay walking upright and feeling alive to thrive. Watching the U.S. women’s soccer team play on TV the other day I realized when I yelled at the TV from the gut, “COME ON!!!” and clapped uncontrollably when Rapino got the goal, how good it felt to release all this angst from this year. My eyes actually welled up. I had to sit on my couch for a second going, “What was that?” I realized how important healthy outlets are for people and how desperately I needed and missed that. I miss my country concerts. I miss singing out with a crowd of people who I really know nothing about, except that we all have hearts and lungs, wants, needs, desires, and that we enjoy a proper release of emotions in a given time and place belting from the core out.

And not to bring up a taboo topic, and I hope you continue to read, because there is promise here, but buckle in—is this word death. Covid. I think this year people have been presented with this idea of mortality through this experience. Some people, rightfully so, are scared. I am scared. Who wouldn’t be if you’re presented day after day after day after long living day the climbing numbers due to Covid? Writing about it causes me angst even—which is why I am writing about. It’s hit all of us personally in different ways, provoking questions and feelings that surround this word. It’s loaded. Because not only are we watching this every day, we are presented with this within the realm of “normal” struggles.

Which brings me back to how I feel my life has been deconstructed this year like a plate of food on a top chef show, and I am trying to look at this going, “What is this? How do I process through all I am feeling?” It’s confusing me on so many levels and makes me want to run and hide, and yet I want to embrace everyone I know—even strangers—to say, “Hey, I love you, what do you need?” Which, as I watch robins digging into my pots looking for nesting materials, brings me to the question of what is life? How do we lean in? How do we trust? How do we create this personal relationship with what this whole process is? And leaning in is scary too, because for me, it’s not only leaning in and being honest with myself, but leaning into others asking for support one way or another. That terrifies me because when you give out so much love and openness, we know enough about this world that things change. That it’s so much easier to stay alone and protected. But I have gotten to a point in my life where I can’t do that anymore. I realize how much that hurts myself and others. I recognized this when my students came back to the classroom. On the surface there are all these life skills to be taught of proper sentence structure, correct verb usage, building reading stamina, etc. that they need to know, however, like myself, they have come in with a deeper life experience that we cannot ignore. They’ve had to babysit, make dinners, clean homes, and try to take care of themselves because, of no fault of either, their guardians have had to work. They are exhausted, frustrated, and addicted to games and phones (trust me, there have been many heart-to-hearts). But these “Come to Jesus” moments are so crucial in understanding that people still live after death. That we all have been experiencing that taboo on a daily basis because death is change. Change is inevitable. Life is change. And really, death is life. Who would’ve thought to put those two words together except in religious life? But spiritually speaking, we all experience this. And it makes me weep in so many ways as well. In grief and sadness, as well as with joy in loving. It’s painful, and yet beautiful and fulfilling that we need each other. We need proper connections and outlets. We need community for support and care. We need this form of music and lyrics. Honestly, I never thought I would be writing about community. I am so introverted and empathic that it was easier for me to hide than to connect outside of myself. But when you have people that show you how to do this, that it is a practice, that “it’s okay to not be okay,” and all the other cliches, you feel so empowered to stay open, to create healthy relationships that live beyond the physical, to keep living a meaningful existence and a life of love.

I write this in my own confusion and clarity to encourage others to ask themselves, “What do I need?” To feel into what each of you need, to start small, to keep walking, or to reach out a hand, or do wherever that question leads you to do. The community has resources. If you are looking for resources, they are available. If you don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out for a list.


May we all continue to lean in to reach without. You are dearly loved. You are not alone.


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