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June 12, 2020

Every Season Matters (Coronavirus Pandemic)

This weird season- this waiting season in which we are all cocooned is not a waste. I know this because every time I felt that I was in a holding pattern, for every time I know my life was derailed from its purpose, through my regret, I can look back and see what lessons I learned, what growth occurred, what wisdom was gained.

I’m not saying this to tell you to be more productive. I’m telling you to be more still. I’m urging you to trust that something is growing in you right now.

I’m speaking to the mother who is at her wits end; to the father who has lost his job; to the high school senior who’s plans have been derailed; to the single woman whose dating life is on pause- who may feel that this pandemic is taking precious time from her and that she may never find that life partner; to the empty nester who is holed up by herself and feeling lonely, to the grandmother who is missing her grandchildren; to the entrepreneur who is feeling lost. Something is growing in you right now. You may not see the fruits of it for years to come, but when you do, you will say, aha! I’m using it now. This time is not wasted.

The only way to create strength is through hard times. The only way to create resilience is to walk through something difficult. The only way to create wisdom is to experience the lesson.

How to create more in life

I have taken time to study people who have managed to create more in their life than the average person. Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ discusses this topic a bit. Gary Vaynerchuk studies and talks about this too. What I’ve come to find is that there is no one, not one deep influencer, that has come from easy. They all have a struggle story. Some they share publicly and some they don’t. 

And it is also the reason why most really successful Trail Blazers don’t create children who are the same. You know why? Because instead, they have created a level of success for themselves and are able to give their children more. They are able to create a lifestyle that allows their children to avoid the hardships they experienced and as a result, their children are not as resilient, driven, wise.

This isn’t a bad thing. It is the dream of all parents to give their children the best in the world. And not everyone needs to struggle. But know that if you are- if you feel you are in a holding pattern, you are growing. You posses invisible muscles. And you get to choose how they develop. It is happening.

See, the best things we have to offer the world come from a place of pain in our lives- a place that we have overcome. I’m sure when Oprah was going through her difficult childhood and early adulthood, she did not think of her hardship as the foundation of all that she was to become. She was probably just waiting and hoping that it would be over so that she could get on with her life. Not realizing that it was all the lessons learned, all the difficulties that allowed her to connect with her audience- that gave her the persona that so many women were drawn to.

So if you feel that you are in a holding pattern, I want you to consider these things.

Give yourself the gift of living one hour at a time

I got this from Tiny Buddha, written by Wendy Leeds. She talks about when she was going through chemo for her breast cancer, she was afraid she couldn’t get through the whole 6 month treatment. And then she came across the idea of living her life hour by hour, and that changed everything.

Here’s how it works: let’s say it’s 1:15 PM where you are. All you have to do is focus on doing the best you can until 2:00 PM. That’s it. You don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner tomorrow night. You certainly aren’t going to worry about that appointment you have next Tuesday, or how you’re going to replace your old car.

You just have to make it through this one hour, secure in the knowledge that the next hour, and all the hours after that will take care of themselves. It sounds simple, but living this way has seen me through some really tough days. Go ahead, give it a try, and see how this one change can make this tough time easier.

Be grateful

Another tip I would like to give you is to take some time every day to focus on all the wonderful things you already have in your life. Even though you may feel like you have nothing to be grateful for, I promise you, you are surrounded by an abundance of miracles. The trick is to seek out the little luxuries in your day, the moments of unexpected joy, the color, sound, and beauty of the world around you. Find them and then to celebrate them all with a full heart.

As you go through your day, look for things that feel good. Revel in things like the warmth and comfort of a quilt around your shoulders, the beat of your favorite music, the splendor of the morning sky, the juicy sweetness of a crisp apple.

See how many of these incredible things you can find. Make it a game to find more of those things today than you did yesterday. Play the game with people around you and see how this one simple activity changes your life.

If you’re still having trouble coming up with the good things in your life, complete these phrases:

I enjoy seeing…

I enjoy hearing….

I enjoy doing….

I enjoy knowing….

I enjoy being with….

I’m so glad about….

I love….

I’m so glad I can….

I’m grateful for…

I’m looking forward to…

When you start looking for, and talking about, things you’re grateful for, you’ll begin to welcome more of those wonderful things into your life.

Look up and breathe

Finally, when you’re anxious, depressed, or at your wit’s end, all you have to do to instantly feel better is look up. Simply raise your gaze to the sky or ceiling or whatever is over your head. Take a moment to feel a connection to the universe.

Then draw a breath deep into your belly. As you continue to breathe deeply, feel a sense of relaxation begin in your shoulders, and work its way down your spine. Feel your muscles soften as a sense of ease fills your body.

With your next inhale, repeat the phrase, “I now fill my body with peace and light.” As you exhale, feel your body soften and relax as you repeat to yourself, “I let go of the weight of fear and worry.” I let go of the boredom of the repetitive. I live in the present and find good in the present. I am growing.”

Repeat until you are completely relaxed. Then take that sense of peace into your day, knowing you can repeat this technique as many times as you wish to bring this sense of peace into your heart, no matter what is going on around you.

It may not be possible to avoid the dark days in life, but it’s always possible to bring some light into that darkness and peace into your soul, by choosing acceptance, gratitude, focus, and love.

Don’t stop dreaming

Last, and this comes from me: don’t ever stop dreaming. Sometimes our dreams are the only thing that gets us through our tough times. Did you know that your brain knows this instinctively? Do you know what a brain can do when it is going through extreme trauma? It can dissociate. It can literally separate all of its senses and to another place. It is a coping mechanism. At its extreme is dissociative identity disorder.  Remember all extremes are not healthy, but a little dissociation in the form of dreaming is a healthy thing to do when the going gets rough.

I’m going back to Oprah. She has talked about how she used to dream when she was in the middle of helping her relative clean other people’s laundry by hand. She knew she was not going to wash other people’s clothes for the rest of her life- even though all statistics and circumstances said that she would. She dreamed of what she wanted to be, the life she wanted to live in the midst of her dark times. That was not wasted time. She was priming her brain for her future. If she had been a privileged child playing with her dolls in the house, watching the help wash her clothes, there would have had less opportunity to grow.

So, let’s honor these times when the growth is not tangible. Let’s remember that every second we are living is our life. This right now, right here, is your life. You are not waiting for it to happen. No matter where you are, it is happening. When I remind myself of this daily, I am much more able to feel present. No matter what your life’s goals and dreams, this right now IS your life. 

Enjoy it!

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