When I was training for the New York City marathon in 2017, I spent a lot of time running in Riverside Park in the city. Riverside Park, for those who aren’t familiar, runs along the west side of Manhattan, right up against the Hudson River. You can start in Upper Manhattan and stay the course all the way to Battery Park (the bottom of the island).
At the time, I was living in Upper Manhattan near a historic (and tall) church. No matter how many miles I was running, how hot or cold, or tired or sore I was, I knew that when I saw the church, I was close to home.
It became a reassurance to me. On particularly tough days, I knew that as long as I could see the church building, I was going to be just fine. I was going to make it.
After two years living away, I’m back in New York City. Though it wasn’t until my third day here that that really sunk in. And it wasn’t a profound seeking. Rather, it was as mundane as walking to pick up toilet paper and trying to untangle the headphone cord from my mask strings.
But as I turned the corner and looked up, I saw the church. As long as you can see the church, you know you’ve got this. As long as you can see the church, you know you’re home.
And I felt this woosh of emotion run through every inch of my body. I am exactly where I need to be.
I’ve been thinking a lot about moments that overwhelm me in awe. And moments that ground me in peace. What does it mean to have something that steadies you? And does it mean when you don’t have that?
I feel extremely fortunate to have many grounding forces in my life. From external things like my friends and family to more personal things like daily Happiness is and morning routines. This week, I encourage you to find something that feels reliable. Something that reminds you of who you are at a core level.
Lean into things that assure you of your wholeness—that are steady in times where you feel shaky.
Maybe it’s the consistently delicious coffee you make each morning. Or calling someone you love every Sunday night. Maybe an affirmation you say before a big work presentation or a sticky note you keep on your door to remind you to have an awesome day.
As I’ve been writing and thinking about these things I call “anchors,” I realized something else. You see, I used to work at that church. It was one of my first jobs in the city. And on the first day, my manager gave me five small stones with words of affirmation on them like love and hope and kindness. I kept them on my desk and over time gifted the stones to important people in my life when I felt they needed what the stone promised.
Except for one. Since January 2016, through cross country road trips and multiple apartments, in New York and Washington State and Pennsylvania, I have had one tiny reminder with me at all times. The stone that says: Power.
I was talking to someone the other night about how in New York City you don’t have space to be sentimental. Your apartment revolves around dual purpose furniture and minimizing “stuff.” It can be a little crowded, to say the least. I was feeling grateful, in that conversation, that much of my sentimentality I lock away in my heart. A song. A photo. A memory. A building I can see from the fire escape.
But ah this sweet and simple stone. A stone I had on me when I ran that marathon. A stone that I held under my desk during stressful work meetings. A stone that reminded me that perhaps my best anchor is myself—that told me that I have all the power and strength and courage I need.
So perhaps there is space for sentimentality in New York City. Space for love and peace and things that remind us who we are. Perhaps every part of this world can stretch and offer us what we need in ways we cannot comprehend until we experience them. Perhaps we really are the luckiest. And perhaps… we do have everything we need, right in front of us, if only we’re open to see it.