When the Anxiety and Pain in the World Feel Like Too Much

dancing feetEvery morning, we have a dance party.

My six-year-old gets ready for school and then we turn up the speakers on a song she loves—usually a silly one, like a Weird Al polka medley—and her ponytail flies around while she leaps and twirls and sprinkles her spontaneous footwork all over the carpet.

After that, she puts on her backpack and walks out the door into her world.


Anxiety and pain always manage to thread themselves through my newsfeed, some days more than others.

So many people saying, Look! Look at the pain the world, look at what’s wrong here, look at what needs to change. I hear pain over what has happened, worries about what’s still to come.

If we are to be good humans, we need to look. We need know what other humans do to each other and we need to say to the wounded, “I see you. I love you. I’m here.”

Witness can be powerful, healing.



I can get stuck in the swirl of stories that call me to witness, my attention held by events and words that can only ever break my heart. But if I step away from the worry that circles so many conversations and pay attention to right now, something that brings reverence or hope is always waiting: the miraculous voices of children, the wonder of breathing in and out.

I’m not suggesting we ignore the injustices of the world. I do not advocate heads in sand.

I’m suggesting that beauty and delight exist alongside our heartaches, in this moment—that right now, as you scan these words, you physically inhabit a space where hope and wonder are near. Where you are, the sky is filled with sun or clouds or rain or snow. Where you are, the divine and the peaceful can be found in something close by: a face, a voice, the sound of your own heartbeat.

And wherever you are in the morning, you can stop for a moment and know that somewhere, a little girl is twirling, twirling, believing today has the chance to be beautiful.

(Image by mizanthrop via flickr)


Kathy is a writer living in Phoenix, AZ.

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10 Responses

  1. Suzette says:

    Thanks for the reminder – yes beauty and awfulness to exist side by side – so, I suppose we have a choice in what we see.

    • Kathy says:

      I personally see a constantly changing balance to find—mourning with those who mourn, but also recognizing the joy that’s available. I never find a permanent equilibrium between the two, probably because one doesn’t exist.

  2. Olea says:

    Yes, this is lovely. So peace-inspiring.

    But then, when my anxiety is soothed, I question: how can I bring the healing that comes from that wonder and reverence to others, who most desperately need it?

    • Kathy says:

      YES. This post definitely leaves out that part of it. I think we can share in all sorts of ways with our specific gifts.

      At times I do less than I want to because I want my efforts to reach people on a larger scale and I feel so small. I remind myself to start where I am. How am I loving the people right around me, one at a time?

  3. Jenny says:

    Beatiful Kathy thank you!

  4. Michelle says:

    Really beautiful. Thank you.

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