Life Advice



Millennial Life: Catching the Glimmers Keeps You in the Present

Cassie McClure on

It was the squeals of the two women that caught my attention first. They were cheering on a pigtailed girl on the kiddo swing, the swing where you stick your feet through and the seat wraps around your waist. The women, maybe mom and aunt, hooted and reminded the girl to stretch her legs out as she swung forward to gain momentum. It was a glimmer for me, a moment that reminded me of a time not long ago that also made me root for my girl.

My mom and I stood around watching her learn to swing and having the most challenging time kicking her legs out in rhythm. At one point, my mom ran over to the seated swing to show her the rhythm, and we all laughed. My mom still enjoys swinging more than I do or ever did. My daughter, once she got the hang of the moment, did too. I still enjoy that moment.

I've been actively looking for the glimmers in the last few weeks. Glimmers, as detailed by Deb Dana in her book "The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation," are those moments that are the opposite of triggers. Glimmers are the moments that recall safety, comfort and social connection. And they're things you can try to catch.

I thought about catching it in the moment last night, sitting out on a public lawn with people milling all around me. They were, for a change, people I really didn't know. There was a breeze, soft music and a wide-open sky, with colors changing against the clouds by the second with the setting sun. I soaked in a moment of no responsibilities: no dinner to cook, no hellos to say, no expectation of being anyone beyond someone sitting on a chair in a cobbled-together 1920s outfit.

My life is strange and seems to get stranger daily.

Glimmers, for me, keep me grounded. It's an easier strategy to think of those moments to capture sporadically rather than being imperiously told that you are to live in the present and not worry about the future. That feels futile because, yes, of course, we're here and putting one foot before the other over and over, but what are we doing that for? It's the glimmers that both startle us and connect us to others.


If the trigger is the nice sweater snagged on a branch, a glimmer instead is the bird song that breaks the mold from the regular doves angrily tweeting at each other and knocking over my dog's water bowl. I sat at my kitchen table, paused from work, and moved only my arm toward the phone -- tap, swipe, tap, and record. I sent the recording to my friend who had, for the last few years, picked up birding.

"What bird is this?" I asked. She told me it might be a regular house finish -- well then -- and that my next stop should be donating to Audubon. I asked if this meant I needed now to also become a birder. She said it is. I still laugh at our brief exchange weeks later.

Even if the bird was a moment of extreme simplicity, those brief interactions remind you of how your friends uplift you, how fortunate we are to have air in our lungs and homes and family to return to. It's a recognition of when life is briefly a gift, even when other days are masked only by the typical shades of the present.


Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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