Today, I have shaken off the miasma of yesterday’s slump. I’m shedding a skin composed of demands from external factors, some which are simply the reality of life and a demanding job but some which are self-imposed and easily dropped. That shedding is a process, like peeling an orange. The skin rarely comes off in one long peel, and even when it does, there’s pith and seeds to pull away from the sweet fruit before it’s ready to be consumed.

But this morning, I sat down to start another visualization meditation, excited for whatever was going to flood my brain the way yesterday’s had. I settled my body and breathed in and out…waiting. And for 5 minutes and 37 seconds nothing happened. I had glimpses of images from yesterday; I got distracted by birds chirping and trucks rattling by. I finally gave up because it felt like I was forcing inspiration, and I know that’s not possible.

For 12 minutes and 10 seconds, I breathed and let my mind wander to what I most desire. And you know what I saw? I saw myself talking to a sold out crowd of 2,500 people, mostly women but not all. I saw myself wearing a blazer where the sleeves actually were the right length (v. long arms!!!!!) and the cut was just perfect. I saw that my hair looked amazing and my glasses had no smudges on them. And I saw an amazing pair of high heels–I think they were one of my favorite pairs of J. Crew putty colored suede shoes that tie and buckle and have a 3 1/2 inch heel and cutouts along the side and are just the kind of shoes that make you go, “I love those shoes!”

Three hundred and thirty six hours is long enough to develop a new rhythm but not long enough to form a new habit. And that means I need to be intentional and present and aware of the clock ticking all while attempting to throw time out the window so I can sink deeply and swim freely into my creative “ouch zone,” as Quinn’s elementary gifted and talented teacher used to say.

In some (often) unconscious way, I have always tried to honor the spirit of animals, vegetables, grains, elements and more. I talk to flowers in my pollinator garden as if we are intimate friends. I encourage the potato plants to thrive, despite the weeds that inevitably crop up around them. I stop to say hello to every bunny in the neighborhood on our daily walks.

We didn’t just talk about addiction, of course, because these men, and the other woman and I are more than the product of this disease, which steals from every person with whom it comes in contact. But it was so easy to ask questions, to recall a similar experience, to look at this couple, who in many ways are a mirror of us, and see where we had been, where we are and what damage still lingers. Because believe me, no matter how much better it is, no matter how fabulous it is, in fact, there is lingering damage. Scars heal over time, stop being red and raw, but never go away entirely.