You take a deep breath. One, two, three, four, five… release through the mouth. Your eyes are closed, but not clenched shut. Your shoulders are a little hunched: swing your arms around to loosen up. Gently, gently… You’re not fixing yourself. You’re improving yourself. You’re a good speaker, a good team player, and a good person.

You plant your two feet on the ground, shoulder width, and feel stable and rooted to the ground. You take turns limbering up one knee, then the other knee. Limber, loose, alive. Limber, loose, alive. Shake out the tension like water droplets from your hands. Limber, loose, alive.

You open your eyes. You see your face in the reflection. You’re a good person. You will do great things. Your eyes dilate. Your heart rate slows down. You feel a warmth of energy going from your core, the base of your stomach, the center of your chakra, expanding slowly, gently outwards, all the way to the tip of your toes, tip of your fingers, tip of your nose, tip of your ponytail.

From your shoulder blades a blossom of feathers bursts forth, white and ethereal, glowing with virtue. You are filled with goodwill, with compassion for the audience that is murmuring beyond the curtain. You are a god-sent messenger and you are here to bless them, inspire them, elevate them to a higher state of being. You are here to help them on their journey to be their best selves.

You look ridiculous.

I DO NOT

Your eyebrows furrow and your cheeks fill, momentarily, with a burning objection, but you raise your hands into the air, your fingers set perpendicular to your palms, and you pull your hand down in levels, shushing through pursed lips. SH-Sh-sh-sh-sh… SH-Sh-sh-sh-sh…

You repeat this motion two, three more times before your face returns to neutral. You silence the bickering angel and demon on your shoulders. Now is not the time for warfare. It is time for peace.

You reach your arms out into the air, as if in prayer, wiggling your fingers. They are antennae absorbing the energy of the universe. You are filled with power, electricity, charging from the bottom of your heels, slowly moving up your calves, your thighs, your belly, your chest, your chin, nose, ears, all the way up the tippy-top of your head.

As it reaches the final point, you open your mouth and elevate your soft palate, shoot a stream of energy out the volcanic spout atop your head in the frequency of A, four hundred and forty Hertz of pure magma, your voice growing grander and stronger and broader, expanding to fill the room. You are a warrior, a viking queen, a Valkyrie. You are announcing the glory of your people, the glory of your destiny. You will not be denied.

As you peak, you maintain the flex of your core and a controlled, parabolic curve with your hands, with power and intention, slowly down, down, down. When you return back to your neutral state, your arms gently by your side, your feet steady, your nose slightly tilted down, the butterflies fluttering in your stomach have been replaced by ember coals, a smoldering that will last for hours on end.

You are a ballerina. You are full of grace. The curve of your neck, the arch of your spine, the floating elegance of your wrist is renowned in all the world. The whole stage comes alive with applause, and all you have to do, all you have to do, is accept their love and admiration. You have already won their hearts.

So smile. With chocolate in your eyes.

MOMMY

Smile.

MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY SAM IS SWINGING SOFIA BY THE HAIR EVEN THOUGH I TOLD HIM TO STOP AND HE’S NOT LISTENING TO ME

You pull your shoulders back, interlock your fingers gently across your stomach, just below your breasts, and look in the mirror.

MOMMY SAM THREW SOFIA BEHIND THE COUCH AND HE SAID IM JUST A BIG OL BABY EVEN THOUGH I TOLD HIM IM HIS OLDER SISTER AND HE NEEDS TO LISTEN AND HES NOT LISTENING

You open the bathroom door and pull your little girl up, up, up into your arms and give her a hug. Her face is ruddy from shouting and the tears, but for a split second she is flying, her mouth open and free.

Inside voice, Amy. Mommy’s right here. Mommy can hear you. Now let’s find Sam.

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