It’s funny old times. I’ve heard myself say ’unprecedented’ a lot, because in my experience it is. I don’t have anything to compare this to and while I’m being cautious enough to stay informed from official sources, I too still occasionally find myself down the rabbit hole of social media where there are views from every end of every spectrum – and many of them unofficial, uninformed and fear driven. I have sat with how I feel and mostly it’s not fearful (although the way I feel is new to me) mostly I’m open and curious and want to do the best and right thing for my family, our community and our world.
What I’ve found myself doing though are some of the things that are creating fear. Talking about it a lot! Engaging in the ‘fake news’ stories my kids are bringing home from school. They are still at school and struggling to understand physical isolation at home because at school (although they are taking all the precautions) all their friends are there so why not just be able to do all the same things at home?
Mostly I’ve felt uncertain. Like traversing a new country or some tricky terrain and having to be more present and pay more attention to the way. Without a map, or with a map being created in the moment by another country who is weeks ahead and it not quite matching my experience. In uncertainty I’ve done some of the things that have contributed to pressure on the supermarket. Not out of the need to hoard (I grew up on a farm and we shopped weekly anyway and have hugely full pantries and freezers anyway because you couldn’t just nick out for milk. And even though we live less than a block from our local grocery store my cupboards were already pretty much full). It’s just I had this really cool ‘idea’ (which gave me certainty and made me feel sure I could feed my family of 6 easily if we needed to stay at home) that I could bulk cook some things as I’ve been meaning to do that for ages but haven’t had ‘time’ and so I go to the shop, un-panicked, and there’s no beef mince or yeast or flour and I wonder how if I didn’t think I was fearful how it is I’ve done the very thing that all the ‘panic-buyers’ have done?
I always shop online from Woolworths weekly. I fortnightly get a 24 pack of toilet paper as I swear my family eats it. It hasn’t come for the last fortnight and now the online system is under pressure and couldn’t be delivered for days with many things missing. And I am not fearful, but I keep talking about it (look at me, right now, talking about it). I got a four pack yesterday. I know there is plenty of everything in our country. But either way I’m more helpful at the shops and everyone is more connected (even as they stand a bit further apart). The local fruit and vege shop has plenty of food. And when I went this week it was as busy as usual (but not that busy). And nothing is missing. And I think we must be crazy. And my kids are already complaining that we’re ‘running out of everything’ and yet it’s unprecedented times and I’ve told them we may not have a few things and also if they are not frugal with the toilet paper, they will have reusable cloths that they can help wash. They are being extremely frugal now.
So, in uncertain times there are a few things that will help. Of this I am certain. Our human emotional needs need to be met, and if we can’t find a way to meet them healthily and productively, we’ll go down the path of fear. Hoarding is just a way of getting certainty. To be sure you will have ‘something’ (toilet paper, beef mince, flour) when everything else is uncertain. Trying to know what everyone else is doing so you can be certain you’re doing the right thing can engulf you. I promise there are simple ways to know what to do. I have sisters who work in health and they are the people I choose to listen to about the facts. And then I work on myself to stay in the energy of openness and ok-ness. I like the idea of staying home, but then my kids come home from school and fight with each other (because there’s been lots of change and they are disappointed about the things that have been cancelled or postponed and one thing they can be certain of is how much they can annoy their sister and that I will for sure pay them attention (of the screechy kind) and then all feels normal in their world), and in that I realise that isolation for our family will mean we are altogether (wonderful, and I can see many projects we can do and terrible because they need certainty as much as the rest of us humans and they are less calm about that).
So, here’s what I’m doing (and therefore suggesting). I’m sure there’s more. But just know that you are not alone and there are many ways to meet your needs in ways that will keep you safe and happy, reduce the risk to others and keep you focussed on the healing of the planet and our systems (even if they all seem to be breaking first).
I’m focussing on (and these by the way are things we can do always and not just in the midst of a pandemic):
Certainty – to have things that I am sure of happening every day. Some kind of structure, a meal plan and order in the house. Sometimes we can try to keep certainty by continuing ‘business as usual’. It’s not business as usual for now, it can’t be, but there is an amazing opportunity to rest (if this is needed) or pivot (if you can in your life, job or business) or reinvent things. There is plenty of food. We will not run out. Yes, there are some things that are unknown, and I cannot profess to be the expert on our economy or systems, but I know even if it changes form it will not collapse forever. We will be OK. I am certain that my dogs like a good scratch and a good talking to each day, and now I’m home more by choice I have time to do this without rushing. I am certain there is enough time. Enough energy. Enough.
Connection – social isolation is opening up all kinds of new ways of connection. I’m a massive extrovert and the idea that I will have to stay at home with only a few people (a number of whom know exactly how to give me the shits) was initially daunting. I spend a lot of time at home already as I already work from home. The only way to make this work is to make it my choice. And it’s easy to do that. I can do that because I love people, and if me staying home and minimising my physical contact with others is the way I can right now demonstrate that love, then I can do that. I’m already a lover of Zoom and already participate in a number of group calls, weekly and fortnightly with other women. I need more of this. We all do. My best friend from Uni and I have struggled hard over the last year to connect, but somehow this week we have texted most days and even spoken on the phone for 30 whole minutes because we needed to. She even has spare toilet paper she said she can send us because she’s one of those cool people who already got “Who Gives A Crap” before now. I wanted to be one of those people but like with bulk cooking I didn’t quite get there. You may be OK but others not, so check in with them. You might not be OK. Make sure you ask for support or accept it when it’s offered. Yesterday I was at the shops and rang my (other) in-laws and asked if they needed anything. It was hard for them to say yes, even though he has a compromised immune system and they are staying at home. It was hard to accept the help. It can be hard to accept help. But accept it. Sometimes it’s all people have to offer. They want to. Let them. It may be hard to accept that you are the scared or anxious one, and thus isolate further so as not to bring ‘down the tone’ of all those trying to be positive. I’ll be honest. I’m a MASSIVE IDEALIST (I’d be surprised if you didn’t already know this about me!) and at times not much of a realist. You could be the opposite. I’m all about sharing that idealism and positivity and also happy to balance it out with some realism and down-to-earthness. I probably won’t join you in a negative spiral but can love you whilst you go there. And when you’re ready we can find a way forward after that. Let people love you, even if you can’t find the positivity or the calm or centredness for yourself. That’s OK too. If you can’t find the silver lining you are not doomed. But make sure you stay connected in ways that are not about drama and fear. Because we all need it, it’s basic to the human condition.
Variety – hilariously I was not always a fan of positive variety. I was always much more certainty focussed and like to be in control of everything! But I still needed variety and got that by being super busy and juggling all the balls and through drama (usually relationship drama). When (the idealist in me wants to say ‘if’ but let’s go with when) it comes to ‘lockdown’ in our town many people will rally against the lack of ‘freedom’. Many of us are entirely motived by freedom and feeling a sense of it in our world and if this gets ‘taken away’ it can feel pretty terrible. Firstly, ask your body and your higher self what is the right choice for you and your family and your community. And do that. This does not mean ignore the things that are going on. This means isolate before you ‘have to’ if that’s what feels right. Make it your choice. And when this is recommended and then even enforced, find your own way to make it your choice. Write down all the things you wanted to do but didn’t have time to do. The variety of projects and books and crafts and home-based activities that exist. Notice the resistance to ‘not going out’ and allow yourself an opportunity to not run away from that (the resistance). What is it about for you? What would it mean if you could face it and just be with it? Stay home, alone (or with others) and let whatever that is heal in you (and the world). Structure is the foundation to freedom, so working out how to balance the certainty with the uncertainty (variety, fun, new things) will bring you what you crave. And you will have created it internally, not externally. And that will be wonderful.
Significance – golly this can be a hard one. Especially for the busy, hardworking, workaholic, over giving types I seem to be (and to know). When the very thing you feel valued and important and seen and appreciated for may change (unless you are a health care worker) it can be hard to imagine that the most important place to get validation is from within. So many of us (me included for many years) have our worthiness intrinsically tied into what we do and how much we do it. Without this, who are we? I know my role as a mother should bring me significance of all kinds (and many women (and men too) get their significance from their kids) but my kids are not going to give it out that easily. Last Monday after a massive weekend at an event, Miss 11 told me I was selfish because I didn’t cook dinner. There were many options, but they wanted dinner. Something I made that they could complain about, rather than having to make something themselves. Lol. So, I’m not focussing on that. I’m focussing on how I can support my people and write and create and do the stuff I do best, which may be important to them and remind them that this too will pass, and the new normal will be better. Of that I am also sure.
And then, when you’ve noticed all those things (those are things that come up in fear so just address them first and work out ways to meet them consciously) and done what you need to do to feel centred in all the things, you can move on to higher level stuff from a balanced place.
The higher/deeper/wider needs and the ones that truly bring fulfilment beyond yourself are love, growth and contribution. You can contribute to others, you can keep growing (this is a whole new experience for me so I already feel excited about how I can grow, but for others of us we need to dedicate time to learning new things and doing the inner work so we are not afraid and we can base our decisions and our actions on love. You can focus on the incredible stories of hope, transformation and support. You can do big and (as important) small things within your family, community and world to be the source of light and peace for those who are unsure or scared or unwell or working in a more at-risk job. And you can choose to stay home, but not contract. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented love. And I know we can all find more of that. Of this I am certain.
Big loves xx