I’ll take just a moment here to address what seems to feel heavy on the hearts of those coming into my studio, those asking to, and those I come into contact elsewhere in life. Taking care of ourselves and each other is really important right now. Listening to our still small voice, breathing in deeply, filtering out the fear mongering. Lately I’ve been trying to just get very intentional with the question “am I a blessing to everyone I meet?”. I’d like to be. Believe me when I tell you that I understand it can be so tempting to just recoil from all the discomfort surrounding us like a cloud. I have had to work hard at this every single day since the impact of great loss, and I understand the instinct to isolate in these trying times, take sides and feel the division, acutely.
But I encourage you to seek out your neighbors and community members, your young relatives and your friends. Let love in rather than build a wall of resistance around you. I see a lot of rhetorical advice right now and this is not that, because I do think it is important to honor your process. Instead, I simply want to share that the act of holding space for others while you are in pain or shock or confusion can help you heal in profound ways. Don’t be afraid to reach out or reach in. You don’t have to know the right words. You don’t have to have solutions. You don’t have to “fix or fade” anyone’s experience, including your own. It’s ok to just be with these feelings. Breathe. And proceed with caution. What works for me, oftentimes, is to just get really clear about the next right thing I can do, or step I can take. The next moment, the next breath. This is mindfulness in action, but I see it more importantly as survival skills/coping mechanisms. Interestingly, they are instinctual in fight or flight situations. I love that; the wisdom of the body is so innate that it knows precisely what to do when the mind cannot bear the burden. And let’s face it, the news is traumatizing. Raising children right now feels frightening. Just thinking and feeling and standing strong can feel scary! But the light in all of this, the invitation, the opportunity, as far as I can see, is to trim the fat– get very clear, very focused, on what actually matters and on what we can actually do. And it is quite a lot, I have found, for the time I have spent feeling disoriented and confused after darkness threatened my light from shining. It starts with you. If you want to offer peace, if you want to have anything left after giving, you must learn or remember to replenish. Here again are some tools that have helped me tremendously to replenish myself in times of trouble and strife:
- Make art. Whether you think you have talent or not is not the point. Just gather supplies and let your inhibitions have a day off. Try to find colors that match your feelings. Try repeating patterns that represent your thoughts. Move your paper or canvas around for a change in perspective. Drop your agenda or any instinct for perfection or control and just be a creative conduit from source to pen, market, crayon, paintbrush.
- Write. Journal. Keep it to yourself and say whatever you want. This is not a status update. Steep in a strong brew of your feelings and allow the potency to run through you. Burn what you write, using a candle, a gas stove or a Bon fire. Release it all in your writing and release it again into the fire– allow for alchemy or atleast liberation.
- Get bodywork. Seriously. This is not a shameless plug– massage and energy work are essential tools for profound healing of angst and uncertainty. They allow for the wordless realm, where fear resides to be reached and responded to. Your kids need it too.
- Spend time outdoors. Leave your phone behind. A teacher/writer I adore recommends you sit on the ground and let yourself cry. And then mix some dirt with those tears and make effing warrior paint. I am not afraid to tell you this works. It works.
- Be a love warrior. Hug everyone you can– everyone who is open to it. Stand on the sidewalk with a sign that says free hugs. And then hug like your life depends on it. Because it does.