15 Mar 2020

Cocooning

Like many of you, my family and I are practicing social distancing until the threat of this virus passes.  We canceled a long weekend trip we had planned for Spring Break, grocery shopped, made a list of movies we wanted to watch, a list of household projects we could work on, and outdoor activities we wanted to do.  We’ve done our best to prepare and are doing our best to take this all one day at a time. 

As we were talking with our kids about it Friday, I told them that I had made the decision to think about this period of isolation as “cocooning” – the way I had when they were newborn babies.  I like this word much more than “quarantine” or “lockdown” – both of which feel heavy and imposing.

And then I remembered a metaphor that I learned in Life Coach training that’s become a powerful lesson for me.  And that is that when a caterpillar starts the process of becoming a butterfly, after it builds its cocoon, it completely dissolves into a pile of goop.

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and people are, understandably, on edge.  Something that cannot be seen with the naked eye has abruptly interrupted our way of life.  Schools are closing, the market took a nosedive, flights are cancelled, sporting events and concerts have been postponed or canceled altogether, and on social media people are arguing over who’s reacting the “right” way.

Goop.

In my own thinking, it’s been real easy to get swept up in the ripple effect this could all have on our healthcare system and our economy.

Goop.

But I know that the one thing I can control right now is how I think.  I always have control over that.  So when I find myself thinking “WTF is going on?”, I remind myself that my record for getting through crises is 100%, and I’m usually stronger and wiser because of them.  I know that there will be an end to this pandemic and that what I choose to do now will determine how my life looks on the other side.

And so it is with all of us.  What we choose now, how we choose to treat ourselves and others will determine how we emerge from this.  Practicing self care, kindness, compassion and understanding are of utmost importance right now.   How much more beautiful our world would be if we all used this time to build better relationships with ourselves, families and communities at large.

Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Whenever you find your thoughts are overwhelming, put them on paper.  Write it all out, all the “what ifs” and “WTFs”, then tear it up and burn it.  Your thoughts will determine your actions and reactions; create ones that are supportive and life giving.
  • Detox your environment.  Declutter, unfollow, and become attuned to all the messages you’re taking in from the time you wake up until you go to bed.  Honor yourself when you know it’s time to turn off the TV and your phone. 
  • Get out in nature.  Engage your senses with the sights and sounds only Mother Nature can provide.  Go for a long hike at a local park or simply take a different route when you go out to walk your dog. 
  • Support the healthcare workers and first responders in your life.  Send them a text or email thanking them for their service right now.  They do not have the choice to practice social distancing and many of them will be working overtime in the weeks to come. 
  • Support local businesses by buying gift certificates online to use later.  Better yet, send those gift certificates via email to the healthcare workers and first responders in your life.
  • Look grocery store clerks in the eye, call them by name, and say “thank you” when you’re checking out. 
  • Check on the elderly and anyone else in your life who has an underlying health condition (heart disease, diabetes, asthma, COPD, chemotherapy patients, transplant recipients, etc.) and ask if you can do anything for them. 
  • If you know someone in a nursing home or rehab facility, send them a card.

These are just a few ideas, but I’m confident that if we all start making the choice to live from a place of love, we can build something more beautiful than we had before.

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