Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I burst a blood vessel in my eye today.  Randomly and without any seeming provocation.  I literally walked by a mirror and was like “Wait, what?” Similarly the other week I threw out my back, just by walking.  Not even bending or turning. Or walking quickly, for that matter.

It’s so funny how we can have sudden “Wait, what’s happening?” moments with our bodies, isn’t it? And funny how that’s true of life in general—we go from “I’m fine” to “I’m not fine,” sometimes inexplicably and without warning.

I’m fine.

Actually, I’m not fine.

Oh wait, I’m fine again.

Dang, am I not fine.

You know I love May, for a lot of reasons.  May is wonderful in just about every way. One additional thing that makes May wonderful is that it is Mental Health Awareness Month. An opportunity for us to #breakthestigma that surrounds the notion of what mental health means for each of us.

Here’s maybe a first step. (and sometimes the first steps are the smallest).

If you’re suddenly not feeling fine, reach out to someone you trust, even if just to say “hey.” If by the time they get back to you you’re feeling fine again, well- trust that they are going to love you all the same. And most likely even more than they did before.

And if you see someone who seems to you like they might not be feeling fine, go up to them and just say “hey.” Maybe your hey was exactly what they needed to remember that we are not alone, none of us.

We are all sometimes fine and sometimes not fine, and it’s just that the physical “not fine”s are often just so much easier to spot—when my son got his black eye this past weekend, I knew it had happened and I knew to put ice on it. When that weird rash showed up a few weeks ago, I knew to take him to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t the Heavens-To-Betsy Measles.

The stuff that lives in our hearts and minds are sometimes not so directly obvious. But always there just the same.

(And I don’t know about you, but for me this is one of the most important understandings that I’ve collected in my 46 ½ years on this earth: We are all broken, in one way or another, and if you show me your broken places, you are safer to me than any perfectly polished Instagram version of a person. You are human, and so I can be human too.  I love your broken places because they make my broken places okay.)

I always come back to this article, so apologies for those that have heard it from me dozens of times, but Omid Safi, in his On Being article, “The Disease Of Being Busy,” asks us this indescribably important question:  “How is the state of your heart today?”

My busted eye vessel and broken old back and my son’s black eye and weird rash… those are all out there for anyone to see.

Our hearts? Maybe not so much.  So let’s ask each other.  

Reach out for the “hey.” And offer the “hey.”

We were not meant to do this thing alone.

So, how is the state of your heart today, dear one?

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.