Ok. I have to admit that I have written and rewritten this post several times over the last few days. My brain feels mushy. I'm distracted. Maybe you can relate. This post doesn't say everything exactly the way I want to and that's just going to have to be ok right now. But I feel like it is better to say something than nothing right now. One thing that I'm trying to hold in my heart and mind for myself and others is "We are doing the best we can."
I'm on my sixth day of social isolation due to the Coronavirus. I do not have the virus, but I'm 4 1/2 months into a pregnancy with a baby due in late August, so I have been extra cautious. I basically leave the house to walk the dog and go to the doctor. I know I'm able to say that with an immense amount of privilege. I have stable housing, a supportive partner, flexibility to work from home, and resources to mitigate the potential long term implications of this situation. My heart goes out to the people who have been affected or who have a loved one who has been affected by the virus. I'm afraid for the artists, nonprofits, health care providers, service and hospitality workers, and all of those experiencing housing or income instability who are going to be impacted in the short and long term by this crisis. The cascading effect of all that is happening right now has the potential to be devastating to many.
While I've been at home, I've remained in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. Video chats are priceless. I've been trying to limit my social media time, but I check in a few times a day to catch up on the news and to see what's happening with the people I care about. The anxiety is palpable. Everyone's senses are heightened. It feels like we are just waiting for the next shoe to drop. I see people posting panic over every cough or flu-like feeling, only to recall they haven't slept in several days so of course they are feeling unwell. Nonprofit leaders I have spoken to are deeply in touch with the urgency of this moment and the impact it has now and in the long term. We are all worried for ourselves, our families, our communities, and the state of the world now and once all of this comes to a close. It reminds me of the "new normal" conversations that we had in the nonprofit sector around the 2008 recession. It is much harder to be present as the future becomes more and more uncertain.
It's ok to not be ok. Situations like the one we are in now expose our vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities in our systems, institutions, and in ourselves are put on display. We see systems fail to support those who need it most, institutions that we trusted not respond in the way that we hoped, and we worry that we are not doing enough or feel helpless in the face of the scale of the crisis. On our good days, we might be able to imagine a future with systems that are actually set up to care for our collective wellbeing. But until then, living during pandemic is scary and exhausting.
If Brene Brown has taught us anything, we know that vulnerability is a chance for us to have the kind of connection with each other that we need to get through this, and the opportunity to show up with love, humanity, and humility. Because it is needed now more than ever.
So, how do we show up with the love, humanity, and humility that is needed right now? Especially when we are feeling so much anxiety and fear? Every time I imagine the anxiety everyone is feeling, I want to send out an invitation for us to all take one giant collective breath.
Want to do that now? Ok, let's breathe.
When we feel our most exposed and scared, I believe that we need to simplify things. We need to embrace the pause that this time is offering us to check in on the basics. Like our breath. Like drinking water. Like sleep. For me, that has led to checking in daily on these three questions:
Every time I ask myself these questions, I get a different answer. But when I feel that pang of pain for our future or that feeling of overwhelm creep in, I turn to these questions about the here and now, and what I can do for my mind, body, and spirit. When I am able to give my mind, body, and spirit what they need right now, it makes me better able to see through and past these times. When my needs are met, I have more capacity to show up in the way that I want to for my family, friends, and community.
It will take all of us to get through this. It is not up to any one of us alone to carry the weight of the world. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can hold up our part. Give yourself what you need right now. And then do what this crisis has activated you to do for others.
Here are a few things that are helping me be present with my mind, body, and spirit:
I'd love to hear what you are doing to meet the needs of your mind, body, and spirit, or what resources you would share with others during this time. I'll collect any I receive and post them on this blog and in my social media.