Mid-March this year our lives came to a screeching halt. The virus had clearly arrived, and with it came many challenges. My Passion Planner blanked-out, except for work–which quickly switched over to telehealth appointments. My social life reduced to a smaller circle, and my face to face contacts shrank to immediate family. Change can be wonderful. But unwanted, intrusive, scary change complicates our coping. After all this time, I am finally finding gratitude while waiting.
The Big Reset
In the early days, I naively approached the pandemic like an extended snow day. I relished the good excuse to do less. There was time to learn and begin adding a new technology to my office. Life felt relatively safe inside my family bubble. However, When March turned into April followed by May, and the sun did not kill the virus in June or July, it was clear even to the most optimistic that we were in this pandemic for the long haul. No more baking and binge Netflix in my free time. The hellacious honeymoon was over. Since Covid showed no signs of relenting– it was time for transformative change while waiting for a new normal.
Waiting with Gratitude
We are all waiting; for better treatment, for a vaccine, for clear information. And growth is happening. When I practice mindfulness, I can find gratitude while waiting by looking for signs of thriving during the pandemic. In celebration of this month of gratitude, I wanted to share some of the longer-range coping strategies that helped after the cookies no longer served me in managing stress. Hopefully, this post will affirm your good efforts to thrive during these weird times and maybe encourage some new habits moving forward. The big reset of pandemic change catalyzed intentional changes in my be-ing and do-ing.
Grateful for More Be-ing
- Reading: I love to read, and much of my unscheduled time has been spent in quiet page turning. Reading a variety of genres has been a comforting inspiration. The big Influencers on my kindle this month are The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk (2014) and How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell (2019). Expect at least one post on each of these mind-expanding reads soon.
- Meditating: In pre-pandemic times I signed up for a Yoga Nidra class at You Power Yoga in Edmond. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that elicits delta waves, known for stress reduction and improved sleep. I love a good nap, but it disappointed me when I unintentionally slept through several sessions. Over time, I noticed more dreams at night, which is usually a good sign for my creative self. Several clients shared that they were using the 10% happier app for meditation, so I took this recommendation to heart. I am about one month into daily meditation and it is all that and a bag of (chocolate) chips. The app has short informational classes as well as guided meditations. Nightly meditation is a blessed relief that I look forward to on stressful days.
- Reflecting: My Passion Planner was clear and open from mid-March to August. As I posted in April, I had some “crucial conversations” with myself about my lifestyle. My pre-pandemic schedule revealed a belief that that “busier is better.” I was happily saying yes to meaningful opportunities. But there were too many. It was time to say no, thank you, to create space. As I am struggling to let go of the fear of missing out (FOMO), the freedom of spaciousness in my planner is encouraging. I am hoping to trade FOMO with JOMO (joy of missing out). Spontaneity, creativity, and deeper connection is slowly replacing a long-standing habit of skimming the surface in order to fit everything into a 24 hour cycle. This new pace of life is lovely.
Grateful for Do-ing Less:
- Learning. I have been so thankful for superb online programs. Covid cancelled my 12th pilgrimage to Santa Fe for the Creativity and Madness Conference. Fortunately, my colleague and usual travel companion discovered an excellent online substitution in August. The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine offered a free (!) five week master class this month on trauma. I am gratefully overflowing with continuing education in 2020. The access to wise mentors through the internet is a new resource that is positively impacting my practice.
- Exercise. My prior frenzied schedule made fitness time hard to come by. I have now added zoom skills to my yoga practice and although I miss the energy of in-person community, the flexibility and safety of online classes has been a gift. With all the extra inside screen time, I developed a habit of walking outside in the courtyard between clients. I have deep gratitude for fresh air, changes in temperature, a bit of sunshine or light rain, and the opportunity to stretch my legs. Sparkly sneakers from Kate Spade added to the fun (an online covid purchase).
- Creating. It was disappointing to cancel the fourth Mindful Muse Creativity Retreat in July, but my co-creator-in-crime Charles Gosset geared up for the challenge of designing something different. We developed a new logo, website, online video, and a “safer at home” online retreat guide. It was challenging to adapt to so much technology, but I am so thankful we did. The outreach helped to spread the word to new creatives, and the feedback has been positive. After benefiting from free online classes throughout the pandemic it felt rewarding to be generous.
Intentionally Moving Forward
Before the pandemic, I was usually running late. Cramming too much do-ing into my day, there was little time to wait. I am now finding gratitude while waiting. There is good, slow growth in the stillness of life. Wishing you the mindful practice of gratitude in your waiting during this strange historic time. I am hoping we can discover a better normal moving forward.
What are you grateful for in this time of waiting?
Health and Happiness,
Dr. Lisa Marotta
Looking for a gratitude challenge this month?
Check out Wake Up to Perspective a free seven-day opportunity to deepen your grateful living practice through daily email beginning November 18th.