By: Mel Greenberg
Every single thing about this time is disturbing. The idea that the unknown is the new norm is unsettling beyond words. So much so that finding the words to talk about it all has been its own complicated journey. As compounding bad new began to come in, I started to visit a lot of dark places, most profoundly, my own mortality. When you begin to question how much time you have, how you search for ways to spend that time in the most meaningful ways. This has brought so many issues to the surface. Understanding these feelings myself, let alone articulating these thoughts to anyone else is daunting. And until recently, felt utterly impossible!
Then, almost as quickly as life as we know it changed so dramatically, I found clarity – empathy and calm are slowly replacing fear and anxiety. The root of my conflicted emotions comes from a place of vulnerability. I feel exposed in every way. Here’s the funny thing – a few weeks ago I sat down to write an introspective piece exploring the idea of exposing yourself in later years – emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually. It all made sense – until it didn’t. Until terms like self-imposed quarantine, and social distancing became a notable part of my vocabulary. Until being exposed took on a frightening, potentially deadly new meaning.
Understanding this concept of being exposed now brings me peace of mind. Accepting, acknowledging that I have no answers and that’s okay. That I am ‘out there’ fully open to what comes next. My well-being, my future in the hands of the universe – I am exposed. So, I trust. I believe. But I also struggle. So many questions keep circling. Relaxing feels a bit irresponsible, and yet I know that is precisely what my soul needs. A collective sigh – a deep breath – a moment for me. I must allow this for myself. If my spirit is exhausted, how can I possibly thrive where and when I am called upon to do so.
Part of existing here – now, is admitting the discomfort I have felt. How can I possibly let go and enjoy my life, my partner, myself in the midst of the physical, social and economic breakdown we are facing? Am I horribly self-centered to even consider such self-indulgence? I have really struggled with this, carrying the weight of my fears, I let them wear me down. That too felt wrong – in my heart I knew this was not the answer.
So, a few days ago I checked out. I turned inward and began to listen to my voice, the beats of my heart. Long walks, meditation, allowing the space to comfort myself – to feel good. I began to indulge in the things that had been a regular part of my day. Ordinary activities are now extraordinary gifts I give myself: ones I believe we must honor and respect for each other.
“How do you define ‘taking care of yourself’? Create a new self-care practice today. Observe your comfort level when it comes to being good to yourself. Discomfort is a wise teacher.”
I recalled the words of Caroline Myss and Peter Occhiogrosso, as I began to awaken and take stock of what I needed to add to my daily life, which is now anything but routine. There is a beautiful opportunity in front of us to establish a new practice of self-care. One that recognizes existing limitations while broadening our experiences. To spend our time fully invested in the present, in those we love; giving our attention first and foremost.
Meditation has become an essential part of my day. I’ve done it for years now, but the simple practice of quieting my mind and slowing my body is now something I turn to for peace and guidance. I begin and end each day with a deep practice. In the past 10 days the transformative powers of mediation have revealed themselves in countless, remarkable ways. The emotional roller coaster that I ride, sometimes daily, has slowed. Even when the dramatic news flowing in has not.
I choose to embrace these days – this unprecedented time of uncertainty as a gift. We are all facing challenges that differ greatly based on our lives. My children are grown and out of the house, I miss them and wish they were closer. I work at home, so I’m isolated much of the time. I miss social gatherings. My friends and family live across the planet. I worry for their well-being. But I am blessed, and I am not alone. I share my life with a supportive partner and what I see in these days and hours of seclusion are new opportunities.
Every single moment of life has slowed down. There is absolutely a before and an after Me. I prefer the after girl. She’s far more in tune with her life and the people in it. I find myself enjoying activities and communications I rushed through before. I’ve established some daily routines – or I might stay in bed with my dogs all day. Although, as I write that, I’m thinking – not a bad idea!!
But seriously, here’s the thing: everything about every day is new. As I began to understand that my fears could be replaced by actions, my ability to take care of myself in healthy, enjoyable ways has emerged. Calls and long, meaningful conversations with family and friends. Candlelit baths, watching the sunset – really watching the sunset, taking in the vast beauty of the desert sky turning in for the night. Mornings spent sitting out with my coffee, listening to the sounds of birds and wildlife around me that often went unnoticed. Because, well you know, mornings are busy and noisy and there was no time for that.
Now there is time, more than I imagined. Time to breathe and savor the scent of the afternoon rain. Time to appreciate just being. And you know what? I don’t want to forget these days. These hours spent exposed to the beautiful life around me. The way the world stopped spinning uncontrollably faster. The way we’ve come together, in support and with love. I am grateful for the lessons of these days. The simple changes that light my way and give me hope.