“We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” Brene Brown
I vividly remember the lazy Saturday mornings of my childhood when I would slowly come awake as the sun peeked through my blinds and the birds began to chatter. I loved those quiet, peaceful moments. And okay, I’m 52 now, so yes it was a long time ago, but it really seems like an eternity. In the last several decades, a “busyness” has crept in so slowly that many of us can hardly recollect a time when waking up leisurely with nothing to do was OKAY.
Many Americans are finishing week three of “shelter-in-place.” Our worlds have stopped on a dime. Every “normal” thing that we took for granted on a day to day basis has changed. We have joined many countries throughout the world in this effort to flatten the curve of the spread of coronavirus.
And while we are collectively trying to navigate this pandemic and the global ramifications, we are individually trying to process it as well. We are grappling with emotions like grief, gratitude, sadness, anger, compassion, frustration, confusion, powerlessness, joy, fear and even full-on outrage. It’s an emotional roller coaster, to say the least! Sometimes the waves of emotion are slow and gentle and they ease in and lift us up, and other times it feels like a tsunami pulling us out with such force that we can hardly catch our breath!
While we have disconnected from many areas of our lives, in the days and weeks that have already passed I have begun to reconnect to myself and to the world around me in ways that I haven’t in a very long time. We have been given a collective “time-out.” If you have children you are probably familiar with “time-out.” When my kids were toddlers time-out was how I helped them redirect their frustration and aggression. Now, they didn’t always like going into time-out, often kicking and screaming as they were sent to their room! But by the time they emerged they were usually more peaceful and calm. Usually!
So, while we have been placed in time-out, many of us kicking and screaming, this is a chance for us to reconnect with areas of our lives that we have all but dismembered. Many of us are reconnecting to creativity, neighbors that we seldom see, nature that we rarely get a chance to enjoy. Maybe you now have precious time with your own toddler, that you once had to send to daycare for over eight hours a day. Or time with your teen, who is about to go out into the world to start their own journey. Maybe your body has been whispering for years that you need to take care of yourself. Or maybe you have squashed your dreams and passions in order to take on more work to pay your bills. Many people in our communities have suddenly become aware of how big of a problem homelessness is, or how many children struggle to get enough food. With this time-out, we can come together and provide for those that otherwise would have gone unnoticed due to our busyness!
“I like to make a distinction between solitude and being alone. Alone signifies loneliness, whereas solitude means really connecting with yourself.” Deepak Chopra
So, how can you take this time to reconnect with those areas that have been pushed away in the corners of your life? By bringing awareness to your experience, giving yourself permission and adjusting to the circumstances.
What have you noticed in these past few weeks? For many of us, our days are spent with those we love close at hand (yes, sometimes too close!) Have you had a chance to glimpse into your daughter’s eyes and really see her and hear her? Have you begun to notice how your teenage son is looking more and more like a man and let that sink in down to your bones? How about the giggle of your kids from the next room while you were trying to work. Did it hit you that though you need to work, what was more important at that moment was to laugh and be with them? Have you noticed that you feel more rested? Less? Are you happier? Anxious? Do you feel freer now that you are unencumbered by the rushing from here to there? Are you missing your co-workers and friends? Just being aware of what you are feeling can help to move through the sea of emotions so that you don't get stuck in the muck.
We don’t often allow ourselves the time to be creative, because we deem our precious time too important to waste on something so unproductive! Practicing self-care is another area of our lives that we KNOW is important, but often takes a back seat to just about everything else. So what have you struggled to give yourself permission to do during this time? Nap? Sleep in and really feel rested? Sit down and read a book? We must allow ourselves time to dream and let our minds wander. Repeat after me: Today I give myself permission to……(fill in the blank.)
And finally, how are you adjusting to the situation? It's been amazing to see all the ways people have arranged their businesses and lives! The creativity and collaboration are downright inspiring!
How about the incredible way that people in our communities have rallied around the nurses and doctors, and small businesses to support one another? Have you adjusted to a new rhythm that includes time for art, playing games, and taking walks around your neighborhood? Sometimes we forget the one constant in life is change.
However disconnected you may be feeling, there is always the opportunity to reconnect to the most important aspects of life. We ARE hardwired to connect not only with others, but with the deepest parts of ourselves that may be hidden, but have never gone away.
With Love and Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel