Keeping calm in times of crisis

When crisis comes, it’s critical to remember the calm center within, and hold onto that light for yourself and others.

Happy March 2020, Dear Readers. February was filled with intensity, crisis after crisis, and where I live, winter storms that came one after another. The world is now facing a pandemic via the outbreak of the Covid 19 strain of Coronavirus, which at the moment has entered about 60 countries, affected nearly a hundred thousand people, and killed several thousand. I’m not gonna lie, this is seriously scary news to deal with on all levels. Headlines over the weekend stated that people in the United States were buying up face masks in an effort to protect themselves, and the head of the Center for Disease Control has urged everyone to stop buying them, as fears increase that public health workers may not end up having the protective equipment they need in order to do their work.

In a moment of collective anxiety over the transmission of a potentially deadly virus such as this, it is easy to forget that humans live amongst all kinds of germs, viruses and bacteria 24/7. True, the vast majority of them don’t have the potential to kill us as we walk around in our daily lives. The past week brought the whole subject of germs and hygiene into sharp focus for me, so I thought I’d share a personal story with you.

As it happened, my eldest daughter who is in her mid-20s, became very ill with nausea, vomiting and severe intestinal pain early last week. After having a miserable night of suffering, her boyfriend brought her to the emergency room of our city’s central hospital the following morning. She spent most of the day in the ER, as the doctors took samples of blood and urine, and did a CT scan to figure out what was going on with her. They also gave her strong pain medicine, put her on IV drips for dehydration and antibiotics, and took turns coming into the room to let us know what they had found out throughout the afternoon. Turns out she had an unusual presentation of an appendicitis, along with extreme inflammation of her upper GI tract, which was obstructing the normal flow of her colon, causing severe abdominal pain. That evening she was admitted to the observation floor of the hospital, and moved to a room where nurses watched over her, administered medicine by IV and injections, and did what they could to make her comfortable for the following three nights and days. A surgical team of doctors checked in with us each morning, giving updates on her condition as we waited to see how she responded to the very strong antibiotics she was being given. Because of all the inflammation surrounding the appendix, the lead surgeon felt it would not be wise to perform an appendectomy right away. It became a waiting game as they sought to determine whether they should operate and remove her appendix. So my daughter spent the week in the hospital bed, suffering through many hours of pain, diarrhea, nausea, and just generally feeling pretty awful. She was not allowed to eat or drink any fluids for the first 24 hours, and then only allowed food, after two days of fasting, for a few hours before they restricted any more, thinking they would do exploratory surgery the next day.  Many more hours of no food nor drink followed; however, the doctors eventually decided not to do the surgery after taking a second CT scan two days after the first one.

My daughter is very fortunate in that she has a loving, caring family and friend group who were with her, often in shifts, throughout her hospital stay. I came each morning and stayed with her through the day. Her dad and sister came in the afternoons and stayed into the night. Her boyfriend came in the evening and stayed, sleeping in the lounger chair next to her bed at night. Friends came, bringing flowers, cards, various kinds of food and drinks in hopes she could eat and drink, told stories and made her smile. Slowly, her pain lessened, the inflammation was reduced, and by the end of the week she had improved to the point that the doctor put her on oral antibiotics and finally released her from the hospital.

This week was one of the most stressful I’ve experienced in many years. It was so unnerving to not know what was happening inside my daughter’s body and whether or not the doctors would perform the surgery, since it seemed they kept changing their minds. There were frustrating communication gaps between the lead doctor, her team, the nurses and the night resident who would come and give conflicting information to us. For the first part of her stay, every time a nurse or nurse assistant would come in the room, they put on disposable suits and wore masks over their faces. Only after a couple of days did we find out that was a precaution because they didn’t yet know if she had a contagious infection. Once the lab results came back negative on that, they stopped wearing those suits and masks each time they came in. Then there was the worry hanging over the atmosphere of “germs being everywhere,” while I became obsessed with handwashing and sanitizing everything I touched, like door handles, toilet flusher, faucet handles, and every surface became suspect of possibly holding harmful bacteria. I got so deep into the anxiety of germaphobia that I’d come home from the hospital at night and take off everything I wore, took super-hot showers, and started worrying about possible germs lurking in my own apartment. This past week was an In-My-Face example of examining how my thoughts contributed my state of consciousness and emotional state of being. The more I focused on the frightening germs that seemed to be everywhere within the hospital, the harder it became to remain calm and strong for my daughter’s healing process. I had distinct moments when I held my hands over her torso and tried with all my might to energetically suck the sickness from her and give it over to the healing angels whom I knew were also there with us in the hospital room. I believe it helped her somewhat to be in a state of prayer and meditation around her healing, along with all those antibiotics they kept pumping into her body. I know healing works on all levels—physical, mental, emotional and etheric. But for me personally, the most difficult part was fighting the irrational fear that kept cropping up of catching the bad germs that were all around us.

This personal story brings me back to the original point of this blog post—the Covid 19 epidemic that is sweeping through the world, and especially the collective fear that its presence is bringing so palpably into focus. For so many centuries of our collective memory, we have fought epidemics of one horrible disease after another. The fear of death and suffering through contagious diseases is still alive within our DNA, so how can we best fight those fears and evolve beyond them? Because that is exactly what we must do now. Dear Readers, I don’t have a solid answer to these concerns, other than to keep realizing that we are powerful beings of light having a human experience in these most extraordinary times. We must trust that kind, helpful, smart humans are all around us, helping those of us who become ill. The angelic realm is always here, ready to help us as soon as we remember to ask for support. The vast majority of the time, we do have the strength and courage to look our fears in the eye, and realize that fear is the old acronym—false evidence appearing real. We are powerful, and the more light we can gather, ground and radiate out to the world, the more inoculated we become against the world’s ills and disease. So, as the past week showed me so clearly, the most important thing we can each do is to keep calm and do what we can to be the steady presence for others, no matter what arises.

 

I see your courageous spirit and honor it

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It takes courage to compete in the school spelling bee!

In these days of corruption, constant shocks and upsets, each of us need to call upon our inner warrior of light. Like the heroes of popular culture, we must go within and conjure our brightest, most courageous selves to come forward and lead. We are collectively in the midst of an unprecedented learning/ teaching moment—through the power of compassion, heart bravery, and deep listening to one another, we are growing our human “movement of movements” toward a new epoch for humanity and Earth.
Dear Readers, what a messy, chaotic and exhilarating moment it is!

Every day the national and world headlines are filled with examples of people standing up and speaking truth to power. We applaud their bravery and empathize with the repercussions of those acts of courage. Some are chastened, others repressed, and sadly, some pay the ultimate price of their very lives for taking decisions of extreme moral courage. Yet, if we pay attention to the people in our very own daily sphere, we see that acts of bravery are all around.

I’d like to give you an example of ordinary children displaying courage from my own life. This school year I am tutoring children who struggle with reading in an elementary school outside of Denver. A month ago, I volunteered to coordinate the school’s annual spelling bee. Having never organized one before, I had quite the learning curve of how to pull off this minor feat. Fortunately, through the help of a few knowledgeable teachers and the kind-hearted principal of my school, I managed to check off all the moving parts, finalize the contestant list of 22 students, hold practice sessions, and arrange for our bee to happen.

Finally, the day for our spelling bee arrived. At 1:30 pm, a group of parents and family members were seated in our cafeteria on one side, rows of nervous student contestants on the other. There were 22 students ranging from third through fifth grade, all of whom had cleared the 85% correct score on the written test they needed to compete. I sat at the table with three judges, all teachers from our school. Our principal acted as the MC and Pronouncer (the one who gives the spelling words to each student). She did a fabulous job of setting the tone—this is fun, it’s practice, and if you wish, you can use this spelling bee as one of the amazing extra things you did in elementary school this year!—for the students. Each student wore a name badge, and took their turn introducing themselves to the audience and judges. First we had a practice round as a warm up to help them get used to the protocol of answering—“olive: O L I V E: olive.” Then the rounds began. For the next 45 minutes the students competed, taking their respective turns at spelling increasingly more difficult words. Slowly, students spelled a word incorrectly and were out of the competition. After seven rounds, only the top two spellers remained. Then came the final, nail-biting round of spelling. If one student missed the word, it went to the other to attempt the correct spelling. If they both got it wrong, another word was given. This continued for about 10 minutes as we all watched intently to see who would be the ultimate winner. The finalists were a fourth grade boy and a fifth grade girl. They both did an extraordinary job of staying cool while concentrating on their mental puzzling out of the spelling words. In the breathless finish, the girl spelled incorrectly, leaving the boy to give the correct answer and the prize of first place in the bee. Afterwards, congratulations were showered upon not only the top finalists and winner, but for all the students who competed in our spelling bee.

Watching our students competing today, I was struck by the degree of bravery they each displayed by their act of showing up, standing up, spelling the words to the best of their ability, and stepping away when they failed to give the correct answer. There was an undeniable feeling of pressure on each of them to perform well, to give the correct spelling, and to concede defeat with grace. Each student performed admirably, showing all of us adults that doing something difficult can be an inspiring, courageous act and one that they can be proud of accomplishing.

Dear Readers, in these extreme and uncertain times, I encourage you to take notice of where and how you act courageously in your daily life. Who in your sphere inspires you to be brave? And just as importantly, who do YOU inspire to be brave? There has never been a more urgent need to notice and celebrate courage and compassionate action than right now. Keep calm, stay steady, and keep on going. The world needs your light, kindness, and your moral courage.

 

The Only One to Show Moral Courage

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The show continues, dear Readers. Those of you who follow politics know that this week brought a fiasco in Iowa with the first caucus to determine the Democratic presidential candidate. And today, as everyone already surmised, the Republican-majority senate acquitted the US president of the impeachment charges against him. The only moment of reckoning was when Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, stood and gave a heartfelt speech explaining his reasons for voting with the Democrats, saying “the verdict is ours to render under our Constitution. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfill our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasked senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.” Senator Romney continued to explain his rationale for voting to remove the president, the leader of his own political party, thus:

“The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.  (video here) 

I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me? (NYTimes, Feb 5, 2020)

Senator Romney made it clear in his speech that the main reason he voted against his party to remove President Trump stems from his deeply held belief in God and his moral duty to act in a way coherent with that divinity. He is well known as a Christian of the Mormon faith. Unlike many of his senate colleagues, however, Romney’s faith gave him the moral imperative and courage to LIVE his beliefs through his vote. In the Christian Bible, Jesus the Christ is famously quoted as saying, “By their acts will you know them.” To his credit, Senator Romney took those words seriously. He began his speech by stating,

“As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

Romney ended his speech with these words,

“My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate, but irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability believing that my country expected it of me.

I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong. We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.” (find the transcript of his speech here https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/mitt-romney-impeachment-speech-transcript.html

What strikes me the most about Mitt Romney’s speech, followed by his act of voting Trump guilty of article 1, Abuse of Power, is the fact that he is the lone Republican senator to display true moral courage, as Senator Adam Schiff spoke so eloquently of during his argument for convicting and removing President Trump last week.  Schiff implored every senator in the chamber to put their party aside and find their moral courage, which is more difficult to garner than courage in battle. Yet, when it came down to the impeachment vote, only Romney was able to dig deeply enough into his soul to discover that moral courage and then to act upon it. In his interview with the New York Times before the vote, he admitted he would “pay an enormous price” for choosing to vote the way he did and go against his political party.  Indeed, nearly the moment he uttered the word “guilty” people in Trump’s sphere began to vilify him and shout for his removal from the Republican party.

Yet, as many readers of today’s NYTimes commented, it is Mitt Romney who will be remembered in history as the majority senator who courageously stood up to Trump’s bitter bullying, humiliation and pressure to stand with party over country. In these extreme times of shredded democracy, surreal MAGA concert-like performances by the current presidential administration, and a type of civil war not seen since the American Civil War of the mid-19th century, it can be easy to forget just how many thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate people actually live in America. Yes, there are many who are blind, in denial, ignorant and just plain stupid, BUT there are also millions of us who deeply care about the ideals of democracy, liberty and freedom that the framers of the US Constitution intended. As Senator Schiff hammered home repeatedly during the trial, the implications of today’s acquittal will reverberate for decades to come. A blatant defiance of the system of checks and balance of power between the presidency, the Senate and the House is sure to deeply and negatively impact that balance, along with stacking the judiciary with far right-wing judges for many years to come.

Thomas Jefferson once stated, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” Tonight, at the end of this grueling and arduous impeachment inquiry and trial, I wholeheartedly agree that Americans who paid close attention received a large education in the past few months as to how our system of government and trial works, and how deeply flawed it has become. We learned firsthand about what obstruction of justice is, what abuse of power is, what partisanship is and why exactly it is so harmful to a democratic system. And, we all got to see and hear from those whom We, The People, elected as they “did their jobs.” Now, dear Readers who have the great privilege of being able to vote in the 2020 primary and election this coming November, it is up to you.

Please take the time to read this excellent editorial by the NY Times editorial board concerning the impeachment vote and general malaise within the Democratic party at the moment. Here is the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/opinion/impeachment-vote-trump-acquitted.html

References:

https://everydaypower.com/thomas-jefferson-quotes/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/trump-acquitted-impeachment.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/mitt-romney-impeachment-speech-transcript.html