Level Letters: Did you have to stop to realize?

She asked, “Did you have to stop to realize that’s what was hurting you?”

“Yes. Yes, I did.”

She stopped on the trail and turned back, eyebrows raised, “Wow, what a metaphor for life.”

We were hiking and talking about the ways life has been different over the past six or so months. My friend asked if I missed teaching yoga. An old injury of mine came up and I said I needed to change the way I create sequences of poses because as much as I want my body to love doing many Warrior Twos, it in fact does not. The pose is foundational and great for lots of people; a little of it is great for me, but too much of it lands me alternating heat and ice on my back and visiting the chiropractor far more often than I’d like. It took a year of problems and an accidental hiatus from the pose to realize the cause of the problem.

“Did you have to stop to realize that’s what was hurting you?”

Human beings are incredible, adaptive creatures. We can and will adapt to nearly anything. Sometimes, you have to stop and remember that just because you can endure something, it doesn’t mean you should. 

Some time ago, I spent several years in a job I knew I didn’t love, but seemed to have more good than bad to offer for the bulk of the time I was there. As things devolved, I felt more and more confused and unhappy, but continued to convince myself that what needed to change was me: my outlook, my mindset, my attitude… and then it would be fine. I could make this work.

I could make it work, but eventually had the (blessed) lightbulb moment that I didn’t have to make it work. After much debate, I quit the job. Some of the relief was instant. A lot of it was of the slow-release variety.

As people were kind in new workplaces, as colleagues behaved respectfully of boundaries and outside interests, I realized what a strange, unhealthy environment I had convinced myself was normal.

As I felt myself actually look forward to doing work, I realized how I’d pushed myself to do work I was never made for, thinking it was typical to have to work really hard to be happy. I do think happiness is a choice, but it is significantly more work when you refuse to change things in your life that are causing pain.

We move through our days with routine, often busy, feeling like there are hardly enough hours in the day to keep up much less to take a breath.


The stop so often precedes the realization. Maybe that’s why we fight it.

Stop and see what you realize. Let it catch up. Pause, and see what finds you.

– LL

Such a Fun Age, a novel by Kiley Reid
I finished this book this week and really loved it. A popular description of the book tells you it “explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone ‘family,’ and the complicated reality of being a grown up.” It’s also a pleasure to read.

A Week of No Social Media
This was a super solid decision for my week. I love browsing Instagram, finding new artists or writers, and seeing what friends are up to, but sometimes I think “reacting” to people’s posts masquerade as actually connecting with them, but leaves me feeling a little empty. Removing this option for myself led to more reading, less screen time, and more energy. If you try it, tell me how it goes!

TAYLOR SWIFT and folklore.
Taylor Swift is consistently a daymaker, but this week especially, because homegirl pulled a “hey guys, I’m dropping an album tonight, is that cool? lol” style launch. I’m here for it. Also, I am perhaps the one person who in fact does hear one of Swift’s ballads and think “I can’t wait to binge listen to this one (slightly depressing) song.” So. Loving it. If Lover was made for listening while walking sweet city streets, folklore is for walks through the woods. Truly a 2020 gift.


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