when things fall apart


Some things that have happened in the past few month or so. My mom had a health crisis requiring emergency surgery and was sent home too soon as it is clear our hospital system is under intense stress and they needed her bed for someone else asap. I scheduled multiple appointments, took notes at multiple appointments. Somewhere in there I got hired at a new job that I’d applied for in a haze of fear and self-doubt after Francie didn’t make the Canadian literary prize lists. I kept getting up early and going for runs, walks. I did yoga every single morning. Our home hosted multiple teen sleepovers. I cooked excellent meals, sourced veggies from two CSAs. I completed two puzzles. I biked to church. I got a booster shot. I agreed to sit on another committee. I agreed to take part in a mentorship program. I sent and received many emails related to the other new job I’m starting (again) this winter, teaching creative writing at UW. Kevin went to England for a week with our youngest and got to have lots of nice lattes and go to soccer games. I crushed two tires on our car while turning into a parking lot (don’t ask). I played “writer” on a few occasions, including at the Wild Writers Festival this past weekend. I had a meltdown over the phone with a bureaucratic person who was obstructing my mom’s care. I sent many desperate texts to friends who replied with kindness and humour and met me for walks. I dashed over to mom’s house often. I almost stopped drinking alcohol completely. I lost weight from stress-not-eating. I started a low-dose anti-anxiety medication. I called my therapist for an emergency appointment and asked, Is life overwhelming right now, or is it just me being overwhelmed by life? How can I tell the difference? I decided I still love writing, storytelling, fiction, books. I revamped my resume. I wrote several poems. I consulted with many kind people, who offered guidance, listened, and gave me different perspectives on things. All these things.


Things fall apart. But they also hold, strangely. At times, often while doing yoga or running or biking, I feel strong, flexible, confident, present in my body in that moment. Things fall apart, but I am still laughing, dreaming, planning, being alive, savouring being alive. Things fall apart, but the purpose of life becomes clearer in the debris: be where you are right now. Do what makes you feel good. Find ways to do good and serve others while feeding yourself. Look for beauty. It’s everywhere.


And … seek help when overwhelmed, when in the overwhelm. Doesn’t matter whether the overwhelm is within or without. No point in pointing fingers, or blaming yourself for not being sufficient to the cause. There are many hands reaching to pull you up and remind you: care for yourself as you care for others. Protect yourself.

And thank your wise past self for setting good habits in good times that will see you through the hard times. Notice, appreciate, celebrate your own capacity to make this all possible: this life in pieces, this whole life.

xo, Carrie

PS I’m beginning to wonder whether my gift to my future self should be learning how to say “no.” How to prioritize needs / demands, self / others. How to protect my time and energy. I thought I’d learned how during the pandemic, but maybe it’s just one of those (many) things that needs to be learned over and over again.

The writer fantasy
Under construction


  1. Amy

    Bookmarking this for a bad day. Thank you as ever for your honest musings

    • Carrie Snyder

      Thank you for reading and responding, Amy.


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