Feeling all of my feelings has been the gateway of getting back home to myself.

Nourishment has been my word of the week. I’ve been thinking a lot about feeling emotionally fed, staying with the discomfort that arises in life, and how I’d like to be more connected to myself. As the year winds down, reflecting on the joys and the pain of 2021 has left me feeling hopeful. Personally, I’ve made some significant changes. The biggest is walking every day. Today marks seventy-seven days of grounding down and looking up. I feel like committing to this practice has been my way of nurturing myself. Life can be challenging. The struggles we all face can start to weigh on us. And what I’ve found is that moving through it—walking through it—is offering me space to heal the parts of me that need healing—staying in the thick of my feelings when I rather not—is stretching me. It’s nudging me to take a closer look at self-trust. It’s in those moments of stopping, looking inward, and staying with myself that I remember it doesn’t happen all at once. Walking extends the invitation to learn something new, even by observing the cardinal soaring by or embracing the tears streaming down my face.

View from above of the ground with dead leaves, a tree branch, and white sneakers.

Nourishing myself has looked like looking up and being in absolute awe, even on my most crappy days. Slowing down to pay attention over these last 77 days reminds me of the infinite possibilities I have simply by being alive and well. I’ve been thinking more about how everything and everyone has an ending.

Close-up of tree bark with wave-like patterns.

How do I want to live my life?

How am I filling myself and others up?

What mini-moments of gratitude are in front of me?

Am I paying close enough attention to embrace it all?

These questions swirl in my mind and call me in to explore them further.

I am filling myself up by taking inventory of what needs to go and what I want to stay in my life. Clearing the way for more intentional living is how I want to fill up as I walk into 2022. This year as a whole has taught me that if I don’t stop to experience the ease of life, it will pass me by. At times, I found myself wanting to turn away from the things that shook me up this year. But what I learned on my walks is that I must look at everything and appreciate the unique beauty of each experience in its own right. Looking away doesn’t make things go away. Feeling all of my feelings has been the gateway of getting back home to myself. I’ve been able to fill my cup, reconnect to my worth, and remember that being here now, in the moment, must be an intentional practice—even if the moment feels hard to stay in.

Tree branch covered in lichens laying on ground covered in dead leaves.

In Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart, she talks about learning to stay. My daily walks have taught me how to do just that. When I’m deep into my walk, but I want to go home, I stay. When I feel tears coming as I walk, I stay. When I’m filled to the brim with emotion, I stay. Staying is my self-nourishment, and I am so grateful that I am learning to lean in and walk through it instead of running away.

I’m curious to know when was the last time you felt full?

Photo of black birds flying against a cloudy, gray sky.

When was the last time you felt full? We invite you to share a reflection below.

Explore and subscribe to Alex’s free Gratitude Weekly — a short weekly newsletter encouraging us to pay attention to and reflect on the micro-moments of life, loss, community, and joy — here.

All photos by Alex Elle

Alex Elle

Alex Elle

About the author

Alex Elle is an author, certified breathwork coach, and Restorative Writing teacher living in Maryland with her family. Writing came into her life by way of therapy and the exploration of healing through journaling and mindfulness. The intention behind Alex’s work is to build community & self-care practices through literature & language. Alex teaches workshops, courses, and retreats to assist others in finding their voices and create clarity in their lives & relationships. Her new book, How We Heal, will be released In November 2022, and is available for preorder at alexelle.com.