As I’m writing this, we are coming to the end of the first phase of our shelter-in-place for corona virus, and restrictions are beginning to lift. Everyone is looking forward to going back to “normal” – but that’s not what I’m thinking at all.
In fact, there’s a lot about “normal” that I am not interested in going back to, both in my own personal life and in our planetary experience. Instead, let’s stop fully in the present moment to assess what’s true, and step forward into the extraordinary!
For weeks, we’ve been under a state of worry, fear, and certainly restriction with the corona virus pandemic. Here in California, where I live, everyone has sheltered in place, and the news is full of the latest statistics, struggles, and losses. I turned off the news weeks ago – I can read what I need to know, but I want to fill my consciousness with someone other than corona virus.
This shelter in place time, however, has been a blessing – and a challenge – for me. That’s because, right at the time we had to shelter in place, I also became ill. Not with corona virus, fortunately, but with hyperthyroidism. As a result, I got the double-whammy. I felt amped up all the time. My heart pounded, was erratic, and I was very weak – at one point, I couldn’t take more than one step on the stairs before I had to pause and wait for my heart to settle back down. My body felt hot, and I struggled night after night with insomnia. At times, my heart pounded so hard that it was painful and terrifying. No wonder it’s known also to cause anxiety, both physiologically as well as from the worry about the physical symptoms!
So I was forced to sit. I couldn’t exercise, not even a gentle yoga pose, for a few weeks. I sat on the couch and in the garden, and I rested a lot.
But mostly, I reflected, introspected, and processed what was happening to me and why. I knew there was a gift here in this scary illness that halted my life, and a gift in the shelter in place.
Woe is Me
It would have been easy to get stuck in “woe is me,” the victim consciousness of “why is this happening to me?” and feeling sorry for myself. Feeling like a victim of circumstance, and powerless.
Woe means distress and suffering. There was plenty of that to go around. But I didn’t need to see my life that way.
Many of us have been lured into this state, feeling scared about the corona virus, helpless and out of control. Yes, there’s a lot out of our control. But our mental state – the thoughts we chose to believe – is something we have volition over. We have the ability to choose what we focus on and create our experience of what is happening intentionally.
I knew I didn’t want to be caught up in the collective “woe is me” mentality that the media was encouraging with every frightening story about statistics and suffering. I certainly had a lot of compassion for those who were suffering physically, financially, and who lost loved ones to the virus. I, too, had lost income and my well-being for a period of time. But I knew we weren’t stuck in a terrible state, unless I allowed myself to focus on those thoughts.
I knew there was something other than “woe is me” that I could experience about my condition and the world.
The Universe actually gave me a gift – not just for me, but for many of us. It offered a situation where we all had to come full-stop. When you’re horseback riding and you want your horse to stop, you say “Whoa.” So I shifted from “woe is me” to “whoa.”
My life had come to almost a standstill, and there was an opportunity here. I always look at what comes my way as some sort of gift, or at least an opportunity. With being forced by my illness to stop seeing clients and everything else that I was doing, it was time to take a good look at my life and what I was creating.
“Whoa” stops us in our tracks and gives us the opportunity to become Present. Until we are fully present – with our attention and awareness right here in this moment – we can’t really know ourselves. I had to stop and ask myself some important questions:
- What may have caused my condition?
- What do I really value?
- Who do I want to BE?
- What changes do I need to make in my life?
I don’t have the answers to all of these yet, and I know it will be a work in progress ongoing. But I came to some clear realizations as I sat, and sat, and sat.
- I discovered that hyperthyroidism is often associated with precipitating stress. I knew that I was overloading my schedule – doing too much, too fast, with too much pressure on myself. This was not the “normal” I wanted to go back to. I needed to slow down, be more present (my life lesson!), and do less.
- My meditation and yoga practice needed to return to the top of the list. It has felt so good to prioritize my meditations in the morning. I feel my mind and soul quieting down and opening up a spaciousness in me. Yoga is returning slowly, as my strength and stamina build in my physical recovery from hyperthyroidism. I’ve noticed that when I make time for yoga, whether during the day or before bed, I sleep better, in addition to feeling more alive and at ease in my body.
- Two of my most important values, which are related, are supporting a vibrant ecosystem and eating healthy: therefore, I needed to commit to cooking at home with local, organic, ethical and sustainable food. As a result, I have been learning to prepare meals and step out of my comfort zone with cooking. We are eating food that’s not only tasty, but I feel good about on all levels. My daughter and I have started an organic vegetable and fruit garden. We feel good about growing and nurturing this life right in our yard, and spending more time outdoors not just with the plants but the animals as well. We have created a bird bath that is frequented by many different species, and are currently fostering two swallowtail butterfly caterpillars into their transformation. We’re reconnecting with nature right here at home, and our whole family is rejoicing about it.
- I knew that, although I don’t buy as much “stuff” as the average American, I still had too much. I needed to spend less and only purchase what I need. In fact, as I looked back at March and April of my illness and shelter in place, 90% of what I spent money on was food and healthcare. That was true to how I wanted to live – sure, from time to time I’ll need to replace “things”, but overall, that’s all I really need.
- I let my creativity and joy drop off my short list, too. So it was time to break out the art materials and draw mandalas, create pastels, dance, and sing! To spend time listening to the birds, and playing games with my family. Prioritizing joy and creative pursuits were vital to my happiness and thriving.
- And now, with the recent killing of George Floyd and the consequential protests to bring light (again) to racism and unconscionable killing of black people has me reflecting more deeply on my white privilege, understanding racism, and what I need to change in my consciousness.
It’s a plenty big Whoa. What a gift it has been to stop, be Present, and see with this clarity. And then to take action by educating myself, learning new skills, spending time with my family, and growing past my edge of comfort. Not perfectly, and it’s not “done” (will always be a work in progress), but I have created a shift that feels sustainable and in alignment with my True Self.
Whoa is Me!
As I step forward from my pause in Presence, I feel a sense of inspiration. I shift from full stop with Whoa! to that form of Whoa that is amazement, delight, and awe.
I feel Whoa! not just about my inner journey and personal realizations, but also my physical body. I have been watching Dr. Zach Bush recently in some interviews, who predicted the corona virus outbreak and is passionate about the microbiome of our bodies and the planet. In our body, we have trillions of cells; but we also have quadrillions of microorganisms that support our flourishing on the planet. Without those bacteria, fungi, and yes, viruses, within us, we wouldn’t be able to survive. A strong, balanced microbiome, in both the soil and in our gut and other systems of the body, keeps us and the ecosystem in healthy, thriving balance.
For me, that was a Whoa! moment. I felt so grateful for all of this life within me, working harmoniously together (when it’s in proper balance, of course) for my well-being. I knew I was healing on many levels. The consciousness of all these microscopic beings was serving the higher good of the community of what I call my body. I embraced my body with tremendous love and appreciation, for all these organisms and processes that I didn’t quite understand, but I knew created the miracle of what we call life..
We are truly a community – we can’t separate ourselves from the air we breathe, the water we imbibe, the food that emerged from nutrient-rich soil (we hope – with organic, local, and regenerative farming), the sun that gives our planet light and energy, and the entire web of life. We can’t ultimately separate ourselves from each other as human beings, for we all come from the same stuff of the Universe. That is truly Whoa!
And within me – and you, and all of us – we have the ability to create anew, with each breath and each moment. We are conscious, Divine beings, and can decide who we want to be and what we want to contribute to life. We can intentionally choose what we want to do with our time, energy, and gifts, and how to apply them to the greater good. With the power to change our thoughts, attention, intention, and actions, we can transform our experience of life, and together, even transform our world.
We don’t need a lot. We may believe we don’t live in a big enough space to support what we truly want, or that we don’t have enough money, time, or energy. But we don’t need a lot of real estate, money, energy, or even clout.
Think of the last time you walked down a street and saw a weed growing in a crack in the pavement. We’ve all seen that, and maybe you’ve wondered, how did that dandelion grow there? It doesn’t even look like a millimeter of space in that crack. Yet it grows.
It finds a way to flourish, even in those conditions. It may seem like there can’t be enough soil, there’s not enough space, and there certainly isn’t enough water in there. But the dandelion isn’t thinking those thoughts. It finds the crack, and it knows what is possible. It grows because it knows. It only needs just enough room for the seed to slip in, and it believes it can thrive. So it does.
We all can, too. Even if there’s just a little crack in your life, that’s more than enough space for your thought of creation to slip in and germinate, if you know who you really are. If you open up to the awe of your Divine self, the infinite possibilities that lie within you and before you. If you know, believe, and put your focus on what you want to grow. Whoa Is Me! That’s who you are: an amazing, awe-inspiring consciousness that came here to Be who you Are. And you can make a difference in the world.
Don’t Go Back to Normal
If you find yourself, from time to time, stuck in “Woe is Me”, don’t judge yourself. Instead, embrace yourself with compassion. Then, stop – Whoa! – and be present. Ask yourself the important questions, and give yourself time to gain clarity and your new vision. You can write a new story in your life and for the planet. Recognize that you have unimagined possibilities within you, waiting for you to just give them a crack of space and attention to flourish. Then, exclaim to yourself, Whoa is Me! Be inspired by the gift of this life and your ability to create your vision.
Don’t go back to “normal”. Together, we can change the story and go forward into an extraordinary life and an extraordinary world.
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