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No Longer Slaves…..

No Longer Slaves….. March 24, 2020 Corona Virus Thoughts

It has been awhile since I have written, probably due to all the ‘busyness’ that starts to happen in life. And, with the COVID-19 virus spreading, and the world ‘stopping’ for some of us for awhile, it feels like a really good time to just get some thoughts down on paper.

First, I hope you are all safe, and taking care of yourselves and those that matter to you. I know there is a lot of emphasis placed on the physical health of people during this ‘pandemic’ but it is important to pay attention to our hearts, minds and souls as we go through this process as well. Our bodies are a reflection of all of the rest of us-not the other way around. As those of us who work in trauma understand, (and as said so well by Van Der Kolk) the body keeps the score of what happens in the rest of our lives.

And now, that our country (and our world really) is taking a pause to protect our bodies, I think it is also a good time to take a pause and look at the rest of our lives. There is a lot there, and this may be one of the few (or the only!?) times in our lives that the world is actually ‘stopping’ life as we know it for many of us. How can we use this time? We can live in fear. Or, we can use this time to really live-to find out what that means.

For me, I realize it is a lot about slowing down. About taking some time to run, joyously (not just to get in my 30 minutes), resting, meditation, listening to music, (turning off the constant run of the updates of media), smelling the freesias that are growing because we had so much rain this year, and just really being present in the moment. Because right now, that is all we are given. That is true all of the time, but when we are stuck in the ‘rat race’ we often get caught up in the ‘future plans’ rather than appreciate the present that we are experiencing.

I cleaned the treadmill last night. The BOTTOM of the treadmill. I didn’t ever think about that before-and yet it felt like a big accomplishment when it was done. Anyone doing things like that right now? Seeing parts of your house, or your life, or your family you haven’t noticed before, because life was so busy?

I went for a run in my neighborhood last night. I have lived in the same house for almost 20 years, so it is a very familiar run on very familiar streets. Yet last night it was different. There weren’t any people out, very few cars, and it felt different in my heart. I started paying attention to different things-things I had ‘seen’ before but didn’t take the time to really notice. I was listening to a song called No Longer Slaves and really hearing the words about no longer being slaves to fear. And noticing the lights in my neighborhood. So many lights on in the homes and it made me smile. I imagined (maybe from a place of hope and not just fear and sadness) that families were sitting in their homes, with the warm and cozy lights turned on and spending time together. Yes, maybe they were fighting, or worried about money, or fearful of getting sick, but I do believe that in all of it, they were together. Life was giving them an opportunity to get through this thing together. I felt myself filled with warmth and hope that maybe amidst this whole scary mess, maybe something good can come of out of it. One of my favorite quotes is by Mother Teresa: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” The first time I saw that quote it brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I realized how little time we have for that in our current society. And maybe now, we will have a little more time for that-for loving our families (even when we make each other a little bit crazy!).

The other thing I noticed as I ran were all of the American flags. I was running as the sun was setting, and I noticed a few of them against the brilliant orange and red sky and I was filled with gratitude for our country. And as the sky got dark, I noticed how many of them were still flying, and lit up by the light in the darkness. They were in people’s yards, on their roofs, and at the baseball field, still flying in the wind, lit up to give us hope. As messy as the state of our country is in right now, I believe this whole thing is reminding us to be kind to each other, to love each other and to support each other because we are in this scary circumstance together and all united. We are a country filled with hope, determination, innovation, support and love for each other. I think sometimes we get caught up in politics, but at the end of the day, I think we tend much more toward being kind and supportive to each other. Fear can make people do some really crazy things, but love and kindness gives us a soft place to land so we can make choices and reach out to others in support and not hate.

I do believe this is going to be a significant time in the history of our country. We will learn a lot about how science and government handle things like the coronavirus. I think we can learn even more about how we can be gentle and kind and strong and fierce, and hopeful and encouraging all at the same time-to our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and strangers. I am noticing how much love is being passed around.

From the brilliant kind soul of Fred Rogers, here is another one of my favorites:

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

Maybe you are one of the helpers-in your family, in the medical or mental health field, in the grocery or truck driving industry, or as a neighbor. Or maybe you are seeing the helpers showing up-the small businesses who are giving back despite not having an income, the parents who are becoming teachers, the teachers who have to be the parents and the teachers, the stores that are giving extra time for the elderly to shop, or the people who are trying to share the love through Facebook in a world of hearts. Either way, you can see it in others and be one yourself. And that is what is going to get us through this whole thing. Because there will always be fear, there will always be another hill to climb, or another pain to face…. But we can hold on to the good moments, take the time, make the effort to hold on and share those moments, those experiences, those feelings with others. We need to share those too, because they are what make life worth it.

Please stay safe, and stay connected. Take this time to explore what matters to you. You won’t get this time back-we never get any of the time back, so if we can do our best to use it, instead of being afraid of ‘what might happen in the future’ we just might get a chance at really living right now, while we are still alive.

Hang in there. We’ll get through this together…

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