Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I have so much to say, yet nothing of value to add.

I’m hurting, but my pain is nothing compared to yours.

I want to share my joy, but feel guilty for having anything to be joyful about.

I want to empathize with your struggles, but don’t have the right words.

I want to shout about the things I disagree with, but I’m so tired of listening to all the disagreements.

I’m holding on by a thread today, but tomorrow I’m fine—really, I’m fine.

I don’t have a right to….

You don’t have a right to…

You don’t understand me…..

I don’t understand you…

Can’t you see I’m trying?  

Why don’t you try harder?


If you are caught in a swirling—and your swirling may look different than this, but you may be swirling nonetheless—it can feel paralyzing. Pointing fingers at yourself and pointing fingers at others. Self-pity and self-loathing. Judgement and empathy. Joy and heartache.

I’m not happy or sad… I’m happy and sad. And that’s hard.

My head has been hurting a lot the past two days, undoubtedly because of the barometric pressure.  A new party trick; my head, the weatherman. The literal pressure that is pushing down on my head, seems like a figurative representative of the world at the moment. So much pressure, bearing down on so many.

So what to do?

Wait for the weather to change, is the easy answer. Because the weather will change, it always does. My weather changes by the hour, some days.

But that doesn’t help us when the current weather is battering us, does it?


Bird by bird. Bird by bird, bird by bird, bird by bird… I clutch on to those words (Anne Lamott, you’ve saved my life with those words), whisper them over and over and over…. Just do one thing; just do the next thing. Focus on what’s right in front of you; don’t try and tackle the whole thing. Don’t worry about your entire life; worry about the next five minutes. And then the next. And the next.

When I was in the deepest depths of my own despair, sometimes the next thing, the next bird, was to simply sit up. And to sit up was an act of monumental courage. And then, it was to scoot to the edge of the couch, as if in anticipation of standing up. I didn’t actually stand up; I just scooted to the edge.  The next thing was just the anticipation. It was moving in the direction of standing.

So, if you’re feeling battered right now; if you’re caught in a swirling and you can’t find your footing; if you’re unable to stand today (whether literally or figuratively)… please try to inch forward, as if in anticipation of standing. Just move toward the place where standing would be a possibility.  


We each have our own unique stories of how we are living in the world right now. Hard and beautiful and layered stories; stories of hope and joy and despair and stress and sorrow and worry and fear and comfort and love. Each different. And each as true as the sun that rises with every new day.

As we all walk through our days, then, may we remember to proceed gently, and handle with care.

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.