Grounded in the storm

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When was the last time you left your house? When was the last time you did something that felt plain old ‘normal’ – you know, the old normal? In an act of quite literally global solidarity, gratitude for our healthcare workers, and compassion for the weakest among us – the world has quite literally come to a screeching halt. It’s scary, it’s daunting, and more often than not seems utterly uncertain – but we’re in this together, all of us – for the good of humanity. How are you doing with it all?

Tough as it is, it’s all worth it. There’s comfort in the uncomfortable – even if our anxiety struggles to clear a path for us to see. There’s comfort in the knowledge that to keep us safe and allow our heroes time for their lifesaving methods, we need to stay put. There’s comfort in the belief that the sun will rise again, butterflies will continue to flap their wings and the earth has a little time to heal without us constantly trampling on her terra firma. How are you doing with it all?

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My uncle tends towards humor to lift his spirits, my husband looks to working out to keep his mind centered and my friends seem to run the gamut of science minded, weathering through, yoga, meditation, art projects, baking and hoping for the best. Me – I fall somewhere in between but err on the side of sunshine, yoga, coloring, meditation, chats with friends and dark chocolate. How do you manage that inner monologue that can often set us on a roller-coaster ride of emotion?

In this disaster of epic proportion – I’m reminded of a lesson I used to teach my high school 9th grade Global Studies classes when studying The Age of Exploration. As students entered, they saw five words on the board (pineapple, coffee, chocolate, sugar, spices). They were asked, ‘what do these words have in common?’ I’d get suggestions like they have vowels, some have double letters, they all begin with a consonant and the like. I then asked, what countries in the world were known for chocolate or for the best coffee? We’d get answers like Switzerland for chocolate and even one knew that the most expensive coffee was that of Sumatran tiger poop beans in Indonesia. Eventually, they saw the connection – how trade, travel and having their favourite chocolate at their house were all marks of the interdependence of the world. Sure, in the 16th century we weren’t chatting about WIFI, FaceTime or Zoom – but that interconnectedness was still ever-present.

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Remember when you asked your teachers, ‘when am I ever going to use this in real life?’ Today, travel, trade, business, and connections of multiple proportions form that interdependence. Today you know where your coffee comes from as you have a choice of blends at Starbucks. Today, your family in Australia is reachable at the swipe of a phone or a click or a button. And, today, your business can be run from anywhere and if you have the means, the world is quite literally your playground. That interdependence and interconnected mindset is housed within much of our lives. Global labs are researching this virus and sharing their findings, engineering companies are making their ventilator plans available on the open market and people all over the world are reaching out to one another for comfort, familiarity, and hope.

I sure wish that lesson’s meaning was only able to be found in things today like how someone in Iowa can hop on a plane to meet an Australian quokka in person, or we can eat authentic Indian food in San Diego, or how a scientist in Antarctica can share data with others across the globe. In this case – yes, this global interdependence is showing up in a virus that traversed the globe through travel – but, perhaps, if we look further, we can find that perspective, gratitude, and meaning on a more positive note. I see planes of healthcare professionals crossing time zones and borders to lend their healing hands. I see donations of support for national, international, and local relief programs that continue to pour in to help so many. And I’m comforted by the knowledge that today, we can easily share global methods of containing, testing, and supporting those dealing with this virus.

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It may have all begun with the spice trade or the Silk Road – but it’s far more than that today. Can that be what you grab onto today? Can that idea be what steers your mind, nourishes your soul and inspires hope to squash the anxiety brewing underfoot? The good is there, the help is showing up, and the courage is beyond measure. Whether you believe it or not, ‘we’re all in this together’ and ‘you are not alone’ are truthful sentiments that can help to guide you through this wild ride. We can do what we’re being asked to do. We can stay home to support each other. We can remain physically distance while maintaining that profound social connection. We can know that on the other side of the world, the same thing is happening, and together – we really can make a difference.

Use what works for you and if you need assistance, give yourself permission to ask for it. Use my uncle’s humor, dive into a project, bake, yoga, tend to a hobby, be of service to others, read, meditate, cook, color, talk to a friend or counselor, or steel a minute to feel the sun on your face and watch the butterflies soar across the sky. You don’t have to call it self-care or give it any type of label – just seek what you may need and give yourself permission to find it, and then find it again. It doesn’t feel like it in the middle of the storm, the panic, or the anxiety attack – but there is another side. The storm will eventually run out of rain, the palpable fear will subside, and the raging angst of your mind can quiet. Stay connected, find the positive, and grab that gratitude practice by the horns. I’m grateful for each and every one of you – thanks for helping to keep me grounded in the storm.

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To every healthcare professional, first responder, emergency worker, infrastructure supporter, effective and kind leader, and everyone on the front lines of this fight – the world is forever in your debt. Endless gratitude, light, love, and for the moment – virtual hugs. You are the superheroes – we see you, we appreciate you. You are the angels who will save the day. We believe in you. We love you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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