Driving home from The Grove Park Inn on Feb. 25th with one of my life-long friends (Terri Boylan), listening to Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability was a highlight for me. I had just come from the 34th Annual Arts & Crafts Conference for the 7th year in a row in Asheville, North Carolina. I had sold my artwork to peers, collectors, and respected & dear friends. I had the great joy and honor to facilitate a Roycroft Artisan brainstorm session with some of the most talented people on the planet that are like family to me. I had amazing conversations about the future, full of excitement and discovery. You just can't stop me after Grove Park Inn every year. I get SO filled up with all the good in the world, all the healthy choices I want to make for myself, all the friendships that have deepened, all the art I want to create... it's really a spiritual experience for me on many levels.
As we were driving home on that Tuesday, my hubby called me and told me the CDC was saying that COVID-19 wasn't a question of "if, but when" it would hit. That it would disrupt daily life for everyone. This was a sobering moment to say the least. I didn't go into denial, I went into "what can I control" mode. I made it home Wed. afternoon, unpacked my car from the art show, and headed straight over to Costco for a cart-worth of, well, everything. It was surreal in many ways. Seeing all the shelves full, seeing normal shopping happening, no one worried about much of anything. I was grateful for each and every item in that huge store. I was calm, but reserved as I walked up and down isles, picking out all sorts of tasty varieties for the days ahead. I was thinking to myself, this may be the last normal shopping trip for me for a time. It wasn't. I returned to the grocery store the next day to buy things I forgot, and the next day because I didn't think to buy x, y, or z. It was almost like the twilight zone everywhere I went - for a full two weeks, my husband and I thought maybe we were going crazy --no one else was paying any attention, and the collective denial of our fellow man was HUGE. Everyone around me and on social media was making a joke of how blown out of proportion this whole thing was, and some actively mocking and belittling anyone that was voicing any sort of concern. I felt very alone. Yesterday, March 11th arrives, and WHO declares it a pandemic. Everyone is forced to see it now, things start to change. Everything closes down: schools, sports, concerts, tourism, conventions, airlines, stocks. I asked myself, what is in my control? Cleaning. Taking my kids out of school one day before the district extends Spring Break. Staying home. Numbing out to a favorite movie. Working on taxes. Washing my hands. Mindfulness on not touching my face. Breathing. Treadmill. Meditation. Being grateful for all that I have...
In The Power of Vulnerability, Brené talks about how we as humans handle crisis. We have one of two paths: under function, or over function. That's it. I am an over function queen in crisis. I tick off the checklist, I do the deeds. I gett'er done. I'm also an under performer in crisis when I think I've run out of my list of things I can control. I've laid in bed in the fetal position and scrolled the news on my phone plenty too. The key to these patterns that we all share is to be aware of which one you are in. Take the time to do a self scan. Am I over performing? That means I may be stressing out the people I'm with, I may be barreling ahead too much without thinking. I may be adding stress to my crisis. Am I under performing? Am I frozen in unrealized fear, ready to numb out at all cost? Am I not functioning like I need to be? I say to myself "Jules, you are under functioning. Get up." This very new practice is really working for me. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two, but with smaller amounts of time between. Smaller waves. It's a great regulator to take the time to check in on yourself and see where you are on this simple, binary topic. All the emotions come into play still, but if I use these terms, I find that I can see it better as constructive criticism, and the negative self-talk can't take hold. Brené 's research on the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living is a daily ritual for me to review now too:
We all are going to have a bit more time on our hands perhaps with all the disruption to our daily lives. What will you do with your time?
What if we can lessen the blow of a different disease, the "Disease of Busy" (too much stress, too much work, too many activities, too much travel, too much everything) because of COVID-19? What if the silver lining is that we make it a goal to slow down, we find time to appreciate our family more, ourselves more and seek deeper connections? Pickup that guitar that's gathering dust, or learn how to really use that new tech thing you bought that's still in the box. Catch up on your family photo albums... play those games that are in the closet. What if we can take some of this balance back out into our world when this crisis fades? I believe we have a global opportunity to collectively use this gift of more time. We may even leave a larger impact on our planet than we can fathom. Wouldn't that be something? It may not impact the whole world for very long, but this gift of time could impact your life, and your family for many years to come, if you choose it.
I know this hiatus from the norm will increase my gratitude, make me a better mom, wife, artist, cook, and house-cleaner. Setting this intention now for myself is how I'm going to succeed. It's how I'm going to honor my creator and the universe for the positive, collateral and residual good that can come out of something so unknown.