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  • Mairin McCracken

The Huddle #41: Squirrel!

Hello, lovers. As a post-Valentine’s treat, here’s a little love story about a squirrel named Mario and a human named Karrie: 


My aunt, Karrie, recently noticed that a squirrel who had been spending time on her balcony had little chunks of his tail missing. Clearly the town falcon had been trying to make his move, and Karrie wouldn’t have a squirrel abduction on her watch. So, she did what anyone in her position would do - opened her door and let the squirrel in. One thing led to another, and eventually, Mario (as she began to call him) started hiding treats around the apartment. A walnut behind her pillow, pecans in the door hinge, a perfectly placed peanut on the windowsill - Mario would hide it, Karrie would find it. Hearing story after story about Mario’s escapades, I couldn’t help but wonder - what are we squirreling away? 


Lately, I’ve been turning up the volume on the conversation between my subconscious and my conscious. I’ve noticed how, in a conversation with someone, the smallest statements can trigger an over-the-top response. A quick conversation with coworkers about TJ Max can lead me into a grief spiral, while a piece of constructive advice from a loved one can uncover all sorts of ideas I have about myself and my relationships. 


On a super fun note, I’ve recently decided to play the “Let’s count how many parking tickets I’ve gotten in the last six months!” game with a friend. We counted, and let’s just say it was A LOT. See, usually when I get my monthly parking ticket, I’m hit with a rush of guilt and shame, which I almost always immediately shove into the back corners of my brain for a later time. While I’ve been paying the tickets in real time, my feelings about the tickets - and what they tell me about who I am as a person - have been piling up in stacks. And even though hating myself for getting parking tickets is about as useful as finding a walnut on my pillow, it’s only a matter of time before the parking ticket guilt becomes unmanageable for both my budget and my mental health. It’s like every good therapist says - in order to change a pattern, you’ve got to discover the “Why.” That, and stop parking in No Parking zones. 


Uncovering little pieces of our former experiences can be painful, but it can also be a huge relief in the long run. That pinching sensation in your hip when you get on the Peloton bike? That’s Mario letting you know you might look at what’s being stored in them hips - whether it’s emotional baggage, or just some good old fashioned tightness. I once had a massage therapist tell me that I was storing quite a bit of “Mom related fear” in my left hip, I kid you not. We worked it out, I cried and told him that my mom had just been diagnosed with cancer, and in yoga the next day, I felt like a colossal weight had been lifted. Placebo or not, this sh** works. So, to you nail biters out there, what do your nail beds want you to know? And lastly, to my friends who leave right before Savasana- no judgment- is there something you could be squirreling away in your haste to leave the room? 


I’m not here to tell you to call your therapist and unpack all your pain (though this is one of my favorite activities! Come on in, the water’s warm!). Nor am I here to tell you that in order to fully live your life, you need to poke around the dark corners of your mind for hidden secrets. What I am here to offer you is this: Next time a lil' walnut reveals itself, can you play with the idea that this thought/memory/emotion has shown up for a reason? That you were meant to uncover it in this very moment. What are you going to do with it? 


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