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by Vangi McCoy, Cohort 1

This was originally posted in Vangi’s Substack documenting her experience living with ALS. You can find her original post, along with others from her blog, On Becoming a Mermaid, here. To learn more about how you can support Vangi, click here.

The term “glimmer” is one of my favorite new things I’ve learned lately. Glimmer is the opposite of a trigger — they are small moments that spark joy or peace, which can help cue our nervous system to feel safe or calm. Before I learned the term glimmer, I would say I am constantly seeking awe in the world around me —which for all intents and purposes is noticing glimmers. This term was coined by Deb Dana in her 2018 book “The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy.” She says, “We’re not talking great, big, expansive experiences of joy or safety or connection. These are micro moments that begin to shape our system in very gentle ways.”

Graphic including A Little Guide to Glimmers with bullets describing examples

Source: @helenmarie

I face challenges and uncertainty each day. As I struggle to get from point A to point B, I try to notice little things that are beautiful and make me smile. My glimmers that first come to mind as I am writing this include the smell of brewing coffee and that first exquisite sip, the sun on my face, babies (I’m obsessed with connecting with babies. If you have a baby and I’m flirting with him or her in the store, know that their little cherub faces make my day and I am NOT a creepy stalker), the feel of my corgi Crosby’s fur, the pink wispy clouds as the sun is rising that disappear by the time I get my phone. That’s a start. I was recently in the parking lot of a grocery store and there on the concrete was a little baby bird without a care in the world. It doesn’t sound like much, but that is what glimmers are — just a little thing that makes you smile.

Why did I include this as part of my ALS journey blog? Every day I am faced with things my body can no longer do, so seeking and finding glimmers in the world around me helps keep me positive and all the gloom and doom of this disease somewhat at bay. I challenge each of you to seek glimmers around you each day. Glimmers have become a part of my gratitude practice.