Staying Connected While Keeping the Distance

Between the pandemic and the resulting stock market tumble, my mind is often a crazymaking mess, fueled in part by our president’s lack of concern, care and compassion.

To keep myself from getting derailed by the body’s fight, flight or freeze response, I’m practicing mindfulness, which my friend Jacquelyn Fletcher Johnson, founder of Heartwood Healing, describes as paying attention to the present moment without rehashing the past or panicking about the future.

While I’m certainly not convinced that things are going to be “just fine,” being mindful has helped me think more clearly and calmly.

Two other things have helped: a mantra I’ve borrowed from my sister Karen (“Whatever happens, I’m going to be okay, today and in the future”) and a practice I learned from my friend Diane (Focus on what you want, control what you can).

To help keep my focus positive I’m staying connected with others while spending my days at home. I’m sending at least one card a day and even some handwritten letters. I’ve found a bliss buddy; she and I occasionally text one another what we are grateful for. I’m having weekly conversations with aunts, uncles and cousins, some of whom I haven’t talked with in years. And on Saturday, I’ll be meeting with my book group via Zoom rather than in person.

I’m also taking inspiration from what others are doing.

Deb Shanilec, my minimalist friend who helps people discover that less truly can be more, plans to celebrate her upcoming birthday via a virtual party around her backyard firepit. Teresa Thomas, founder of 50 Fun Things, is hosting an open-to-anyone online “Happier Hour” each Friday afternoon with the goal of raising a toast to joy.

And while joy isn’t my constant companion, it does remain my friend, in part because I’m practicing what Jacque refers to as the “art of the return.” By repeatedly and gently bringing my attention back to the tasks at hand, to my values and to the people and causes I care about, I gradually return to my future hopes and dreams.

How are you keeping calm? What are you doing to carry on? Who is sustaining you? What hopes and dreams are you envisioning for your own post-pandemic life? We’d love to hear. Please share.


5 thoughts on “Staying Connected While Keeping the Distance

  1. I’m learning how to use new communications software, campaigning to raise funds for the poverty-stricken people here in Mexico, those who can’t just “order it on Amazon” if they don’t find it in the store, and putting shorter work days just because I can. Bev, you won’t believe this, but I’m actually planning and preparing edible meals! That’s new. And I’m keeping the plants alive now, whereas I sort of walked past them before, just expecting them to wave at me and smell nice. (Hint: They need water and sometimes not the sun or shade you place them in before you know they need the opposite, and also some plants don’t like being next to others.) Is that mindfulness? Noticing these things? Today I posted some alarming facts about COVID-19 on my Facebook page and then I took them off. I decided if someone really wants to know how dire the situation is, they can look it up on WHO’s website. On my real estate, I want people to feel better. It may not help, butcha’know it sure can’t hurt. (You can take the muchacha out of Minnesota but you can’t take Minnesota out of the muchacha.)

    • Okay, planning and preparing meals? You definitely have me beat. My culinary skills remain about where they were at when we first met. And a few months ago I realized my last remaining plant–a cactus even–had died without me noticing. I still feel bad about that.

      I alternate between taking all the cv news in…and blocking it out. Informed enough to be as spooked as I’m willing to take on most of the time. Sometimes let in more, sometimes block out more.

      Am glad I didn’t go to Panama this year. They shut down all flights and the hotel that’s part of the development I’m in is being used for quarantine. Scary times.

      Stay well. Thank you always for the gift of your friendship.

  2. Thanks, Bev, for your words . I have continued to go to work. I’m a human resources manager for a manufacturing packaging company. An essential business. Work has kept me quite busy. When I get home I like to go for a long walk on my new knees. I’m of the belief that if I don’t use it, I’ll lose it. I love being outdoors especially when the sun is out. On my way to work it is often in the quiet as I ask the universe to help me have my best self show up. I want to add that the majority of our manufacturing employees are Asian and I’m proud to work right along side of them. I’m so happy that they are deemed essential. I’m blessed to be of service to them.

    • Love the thought of you walking on new knees. It must feel a kind of rebirth. Also like the idea of showing up with your best self. I’m going to borrow that as I’ve recently been showing up with my stressed self.

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