Botanical drawing by me, Rose Candela. Check my shop for other available original art!
A few days ago my husband, son, and I were on a vacation, visiting a science museum. It was a joyous time. And, at the same time, I felt a tinge of grief.
The grief (that day) was about all that we’ve lost in the past year+ as a family, in terms of experiences. Almost 18 months of being tentative, being isolated, being straight up afraid some days.
As I was feeling this, and still am, I recognize that I’ve been angry at the pandemic.
What does that even mean, really? How can someone be angry at a virus that has spread around the globe?
Really, my grief and anger is wrapped into my relationship with the unknown and my various coping mechanisms to insure I know what’s next.
My coping mechanisms have changed throughout time, but usually have to do with being critical with my body or mind or status – and then trying to change it.
I often plan and try to arrange my schedule when I’m deep in the unknown. A bit of scheduling and planning is amazing for modern life. But obsessing and feel resentful when things change — that could use some cultivating compassion, for sure.
Back to the anger, back to making amends.
How do you make peace with the forces that rule your life, that aren’t YOU?
If I had the answer, I’d probably tell you here. Instead, I’ll share what I’m trying to do to make amends with that was, and is, totally beyond my control.
State what’s happening.
This might be a simple moment of recognition can go a long way. As one of my therapists recommended to me, stating: I’m in my shit today can be super liberating, and you don’t have to get too caught up in the details of why or explaining it any further.
Ugh, I don’t want to even admit that this works, but it does. As Brene Brown claims: the antidote to foreboding joy is a gratitude practice.
Like, if you’re feeling ok/good about your life, sometimes we think things like: I don’t deserve this or when’s the other shoe going to drop? try to take a moment and find one thing (just one thing) you’re so grateful for.
For instance, I do this when I’m walking in the woods near my house. I often think, this is amazing and immediately I worry: we won’t live here forever. That’s foreboding joy – taking yourself out of that feeling good about life place and imagining the worst case scenario to protect yourself from future pain.
In this example, when I think that catastrophic thought, I try (emphasis try) to say: I’m so grateful to live here. Then, I leave it at that and take in the surroundings a bit more.
Release what needs to be released
Since a few months after the pandemic began, I started to mediate again after about 5 years of a irregular practice. I’ve missed only about 5 days in the last year. In the mediation I love to listen to, lead by Tara Brach, she has this line: release what needs to be released.
Isn’t that beautiful? We have the power to release what needs to be released in bodies and minds. Often, what needs to happen is the invitation of releasing.
Like in the pandemic, learning to release what we can’t control: government policies, vaccine hesitancy, the behaviors of others, the variants spreading…to name a few.
Which brings me to my last idea.
Find agency in amend making
Last, but not least, is to find agency in amend making.
One thing you can control is your inner monologue. Yep, it’s true. Most days I don’t believe that idea, but when I practice shifting my story, my life also shifts.
I feel freedom when I change the story I’m telling myself.
Within the context of this pandemic, let’s remember that we’re being told a lot of stories. News, though sometimes based on facts, is a story.
Don’t let the stories of others become yours: now or ever.
And in looking at this time, you can also say: I forgive you to whatever you feel has robbed you from living fully in yourself right now.
So tell me, dear one, who or what deserves some forgiveness from you, in this time, right now?
At the end of the day, I often notice it is me that needs the extra love, the extra forgiveness.
I’ve given so much of myself away during this time, trying to save the world. (Hint, it didn’t work). I’m tired and like I said, the inner criticism rages when life feels out of control.
So, I give these amends to myself right now.
It’s always so good to return home to that safe place during times of trouble, grief, and sorrow.
May you always find refuge in yourself, your home – today and always.