Cultivating Grace: A Letter from the Editor. Spring 2023

Letters from the Editor
| Spring
2024 |
Volume 3,
Issue 1

Cultivating Grace: A Letter from the Editor. Spring 2023

Cultivating grace for yourself is a continual process of observation and allowing, and is particularly important when challenges and difficult times arise. Nicole Pietrandrea Hough explores how she started getting more deliberate about finding grace in her life in the midst of hardship.

This past January 1, I had a grand plan. The plan was to do an IG Live interview on each of the 31 nights of Dry January to create a place of connection for anyone participating in giving up alcohol for the month—especially anyone who might be having a hard time with it. The idea was important to me. This is part of my mission, after all—to make sure anyone struggling with alcohol knows they’re not alone. As I was looking at my calendar and the daunting task ahead, a familiar sense of perfectionism and overwhelm started to creep in. I expressed this to my 18-year-old daughter who wisely responded, “Why don’t you just make it most nights then?” The thought of doing “less” or making things easier for myself rarely occurs to me. I’m an “ideas person” and I get excited by big plans—and the next plan, and the next… But I was aware enough to notice the instant relief I felt when my daughter proposed this new version of the idea. I often forget that I don’t have to do things at level-one-hundred at all times. It’s a concept I’m working on. 

 

I went live on IG that night and talked about the experience with my daughter and about giving myself grace. “Grace” became my word for 2024 and I’ve been focusing on identifying when I need to call it in. The first order of business was learning to take an honest look at my reasons for doing any given task. If the underlying reason is fear of judgment, feeling like I “should,” or to fulfill someone else’s (or society’s) expectation of me, then the answer is no. Unless it’s a moral dilemma or I will be breaking a promise to someone I love, I’m learning to give myself a pass and focus on gentleness instead. In the simplest terms, this means being aware of where my priorities are minute by minute, noticing how I’m feeling, and looking for ways to be kind to myself.

 

It turns out my year of focusing on grace came not a moment too soon. In mid-January my dear mom passed away, just ten months after my dad’s passing. It was an all-too-familiar situation: needing to grieve and allow myself space and time while also not wanting to lose the things I’ve built—which my parents were both proud of—or miss out on important moments with my almost-grown kids. Somehow life goes on and the grieving has to fit into it. It all felt like the ultimate test of self-kindness and love. I’ve learned that grief can affect both cognitive function and physical stamina and I now pay attention to the days I can push myself and the days I need to go to bed at 7:30PM (literally my new favorite thing). There is no right-or-wrong approach but it does involve getting intimately familiar with what’s in your heart, giving yourself kindness, and saying, “It’s okay,” to any feeling that’s coming up for you, no matter what that is. I think of one of my mother’s favorite bits of advice as I navigate my days. When urging me to step back from some of life’s many demands, my mom used to say, “Nicole, save yourself,” which was her way of reminding me to simplify. Does this mean I won’t push myself to the limit any more? Probably not, but in the midst of a challenging year I’ve gotten crystal clear on what’s important and what is not, which feels like a good thing, and I know when to light a candle and take a minute to just feel and accept whatever comes up.


In this issue, Meg Daly shares her own and beautiful and compelling journey with grief, grace, and finding herself again (Return to Center, p.30) and Whitney Combs discusses cultivating an approach of compassionate accountability in recovery treatment (The Art of Compassionate Accountability, p.18). We’re also excited about our conversations with an amazing group of female entrepreneurs in the AF beverage world whose stories we loved learning more about. (Shaking Things Up, p.20).


As for my Instagram plan, I ended up doing seventeen nights of IG Lives with some amazing guests and some really caring, lovely conversations.  I paid attention to when I felt up for it and when I didn’t, and yes, when I look back on it all, it was all okay—and I saved myself in the process. I hope you’ll join me for a year of grace and compassion for yourself too, whatever that looks like for you. 

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