The Alchemist

By: Lara Scriba


(7 min read)

This past week, I fell into ”the hole.” A place I’ve grown to know very well over the years. It’s a predictable cycle that occurs when my self-awareness wanes, and life seems to move a little too fast. I’ve included the poem below, “There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson, which illuminates perfectly this journey. But I felt it important to share what the experience actually means to “fall in the hole,” at least for me. Maybe it will resonate with you, or you’ll recognize your own patterns. So here we go… 

After a week of too much noise, too many nights out, too little sleep, too much unpredictability, and too little time alone to process events and reset… my world slowly but surely got darker. The to-do list became an overwhelming reminder of unmet deadlines, and the gap between my reality and my expectations felt insurmountable; the “mean girl” narrative ran unchecked in my subconscious. My relationships at home began to suffer as a result.

Well, what did you expect?

Slathered with disgust, I find myself asking the same thing over and over. The ideal reality I hold so precariously in my mind, and the expectations I unconsciously hold for myself, others, and situations go unmet. This intense scrutiny and criticism, which in my mind will force a course correct and flawlessly lend itself to the perfect outcome, only leads to disappointment, disconnection, and intense frustration.

Never good enough…

This feeling of lack, of never being good enough, consumes me, and I realize it bleeds out into how I make others feel as well. I spiral into a mentality of lack and fear. Now that my unobtainable goals were obviously not met, it’s time to prepare for the worst. 

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” that’s how the saying goes, right?

Yet I can only focus on the worst. Hope eludes me. I pick, finding holes in all the best-laid plans.  Articulating where either I’ve failed, or you’ve failed to appropriately plan and self-righteously lay it all out for it to be assessed relentlessly, inspecting for further flaws. I find memories, instances, and circumstances that all build my case. Don’t worry. There is enough blame to go around. I’ll take you down with me. Neither one of us will make it out of here with an ounce of hope.

I’ll never measure up. 

The world feels like too much to bear. The fog hangs heavily in my brain, thick and impenetrable. Any echo of hope or resolution is silenced. 

I want to sleep, to hide away from it all.

I call it the hole. I stumble in here at times. Other times, it feels like I embrace it wholeheartedly. Finally, convinced of the clarity behind my own demise, I swan dive into that hole.  t feels like the only true reality at the moment.  

But then I get lonely down there, silently stewing in the misery of my own mind.

I was feeling like an outsider in my own life. I watch others move through their day, methodically or even cheerfully. My god, don’t they see the disparity of our realities? How can my experience be so different from yours when we are experiencing the same things?

This is the moment where the crack begins, and the light slowly shows itself. I am finally able to ask and be honest with myself that my perspective is skewed. That there is another way if I can allow my mind to grasp it.

I’ve been here before; I just need to muster the strength to take one step at a time.

I nurture myself and create space for silence. I sleep. I allow my heavy heart to rest and my mind to stop spinning for my system to reset. I find nourishing and grounding foods to anchor me into the true reality of my situation. To come back to and orient me back into the solidity of my physical body and tend to me as I would a sick child. 

Remember that our physical body isn’t the only thing that gets sick; our minds do too sometimes and need just the same tenderness, compassion, and care as when our bodies are fighting a cold. Fighting off negative thoughts and persistent patterns takes just as much energy. It’s ok to modify our day to take time out to recalibrate and give our minds the time to reorient and rebound from our current experience. However, trying to twist, pull and prod at our mind, insisting it shifts perspectives, doesn’t always work.

The beautiful thing is that the body informs the mind just as much as the mind informs the body.

Though I’m struggling with my mindset, I can gently guide my body to move in a way that creates a sense of safety and ease.

I unroll my mat, the sun gently warming my skin, and I notice the contrast of the cool breeze on my cheeks. I ground my feet to the mat with a sense of purpose, toes lift and are carefully placed down one by one with acute awareness. I ground my body to the earth below me and orient to the space around me.  


 I begin to move, slow and steady. One movement, one breath.

As I move, I begin to simply notice what presents itself. To see where my body is tender or gripping along with where my mind is looping or recognizing the untrue or unkind stories I am telling myself.  

My muscles tremor, and I feel the tears well up in my eyes. The foundation of my misery also beings to shake and crumble as my mindset slowly starts to shift. My fears and untruths begin to reveal themselves and fall away as quickly as they appear. Next breath, next movement.


I have chosen a playlist that is new to me and upbeat to elicit new patterns and a sense of momentum and strength within my being.  No words, just powerful musicFamiliar songs elicit a sense of familiarity to set my brain at ease, but a lack of words so that I am not imprinted with another’s story. I am in the process of creating my own.

I feel the energy building, originating in the base of my feet and slowly moving up my body. Slowly, breath by breath, I feel myself coming alive again. The fog is lifting, light filling the cracks, ascending slowly up the ladder.

Finally, tears gently flow as I shed the weight of unwanted guilt and unrealistic expectations. Creating space for a sense of ease, hope, and abundance to flourish.

The world feels like it’s at my fingertips rather than perfectly poised to be my demise.

I luxuriate in the feeling of the warmth of the sun on my skin. My breath floats easily, and my heart softens, relieved of the burdens it gripped so tightly only an hour ago. I feel a sense of expansion, spaciousness, and ease. I am free.

I am the alchemist of my experience and my energy, transforming body, mind, and soul.

One movement, one breath at a time.

The poem below is a beautiful reminder to me that growth and healing are not linear. Some days I am deeply aware of my process; some days oblivious, or sometimes it takes me a few days to finally realize the state I am in, as it can creep in slowly.

Either way, I am deeply grateful that I’ve found ways to circumvent the chaos in my mind by using my body. To create a sense of safety, ease, and peace within my being on days when my mind can’t seem to get on board has been an incredible gift that never ceases to amaze me and truly has saved my life.

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

― Portia Nelson


Lara Scriba
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
The information provided is the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The author, the business, All Things Wellness, LLC, and its owner Peggy Willms, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this article or website. We assume no responsibility for tangible and intangible damages such as physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.