August Angst

These are very strange days indeed, these brutal August days. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but clearly we are living in extraordinary times across the board. It is safe to say that no one alive on Earth has ever faced what we are now facing on the daily. How do we retain our sanity in the midst of such unprecedented chaos?

As I often do on this blog, I’d like to share a personal story of what’s happening in my own life at this moment. This spring, before the pandemic upended our entire society, I applied and was accepted into a Masters of Teaching graduate program at University of Colorado, Denver. I was scared, excited, and had to work through relentless mindtalk about my ability to accomplish such a massive undertaking. I’m sure that, for some, getting a master’s degree is simply the next item on their life’s to-do list. But not for me. I’ve sort of done my life in a weird reverse order in some ways, therefore working towards higher degrees wasn’t on my radar until mid-life. That’s where I am now.

The fall semester of 2020 started this week. After a very uncertain summer, the university decided that most courses would be held online, either asynchronous or remote, which means we all join a Zoom meeting once a week. I’m sure that many of you are experiencing similar ways of meeting, either as students, for your jobs, or by helping your children with their own online classes. Will this become the new normal for education? Nobody yet knows. We are going into this school year with myriad questions, but not many answers.

Four years ago, I returned to university to finish up my bachelor’s degree that I never completed back in the days of my twenties. For two and a half years, I loved going to classes, studying for exams, reading lots of books and scholarly articles, and writing many papers. I took classes I was interested in and enjoyed. School was great! I was actually sad when it was over. Then I took a year to contemplate what I should do with that degree, what path was next in my life?

https://studentlifethespot.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/10-inspirational-quotes-for-students/larson/

As I looked and reflected deeply within, the idea of becoming a licensed teacher kept coming up, and even as I shrugged it off or tried to ignore it, that invitation would not leave me. I used many arguments against the voice. What about my age? I’m not in my twenties and full of invincibility, I told it. Didn’t matter. What about all the crap that teachers have to put up with in public education? They complain all the time about the low pay, long hours, fights with administrators, and badly behaving students. Didn’t matter, the invitation remained. What about the amount of work it will be to actually do the master’s program? And the internships- I will have to borrow money in order to work for free at a school for two semesters? And the cost of grad school?? Yikes. My mind would spin out into these whining rants over and over.

And yet. Whenever I took a deep breath and remembered my students from the past year of being a literacy tutor, their faces, sweet smiles and stories would calm my mind. Every single time my mind would mess with me, then I’d think of those kids and drop down into my heart space. What I know, deep inside, is that those kids needed me last year. There will be others who will also need me to be with them, helping them to learn, to cope, to grow through their childhoods in good ways. If I give up before I start, I am letting them down. And I cannot, in good conscience, do that to them.

So, here I am, the first week of this crazy semester, trying to figure out how to get my footing as I begin this ascent. How to organize my time with four online classes? Only one has a formal meeting day and time for the 2 hours, 45 minutes of Zoom class (ouch). The others have syllabi, schedules for readings, assignments and due dates, and discussion threads. Without having to leave my apartment to go to campus and meet in person, it’s up to me to figure out how long each day should I devote to each course, to the readings (most of which are done on my laptop), and to taking notes (in a Word doc? In a notebook with a pen?).  Geez… I sort of feel like I’m back to the basics of how to do school. Then, there ‘s TECHNOLOGY.  Oh my goodness, it is more complex than ever!  The more apps and fixes and hacks the techies create (supposedly to help students) the harder and more difficult it seems to become. Oy.

As I struggle through each day of this longest, hottest, strangest summer ever, there are many moments when I either want to complain, give up or break down. At those moments, what seems to help the most is remembering that there are many millions of other people who are going through similar or way harder struggles than me. None of us are immune to the pain and hardship of these days. My heart is breaking for the folks in California, and my own Colorado, who are running from the wildfires during the extreme heat and dry winds of August. We’ve been here before, during the past decade of drought and extreme weather conditions. The global climate catastrophe hasn’t gone away just because the world is engulfed in the 2020 pandemic.

Dear Readers, are you finding good ways to cope with your own lives and challenges? This unusual summer will soon give way to perhaps a beyond unusual autumn. I wish you all strength, courage and loving guidance to be with you, as you traverse your individual paths and we collectively move into the unwritten future. Keep your chin up!

Pandemic Diaries, part 4; and Resources to Help

 

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Photo credit: Questions from a 9-year-old in Chicago who hosts “The Show about Science.”Credit…Bianca Giaever/The New York Times

In the week that has passed since my last update, life has become increasingly paradoxical—on the one hand, personal reality has become strangely quiet and predictable, while on the other, we collectively continue climbing up the roller coaster in anticipation of the moment when we all begin screaming in earnest. Perhaps that is a bit melodramatic, and yet, I’m sure many are feeling similarly about now.

Being a news/prose junkie, I have read/listened to a lot of information and intel over the past week about Covid 19, New York’s crisis, the drama which unfolded on Capital Hill surrounding the unprecedented, 2 trillion dollar aid package by the US government, and yet more news stories. This weekend, I am at saturation level with mainstream news and am taking a break (as I hope are many of you also). I have consciously worked to turn off the news, put down the phone, refrain from checking the New York Times and NPR every couple hours. Instead, I’ve slept a lot, stared out my windows into the wide open sky, taken daily evening walks around my neighborhood, and noticed the stirring of spring all around. Crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, windflowers, and the first tulips are blooming in neighbor’s yards. Trees are getting ready to begin blooming soon. In a couple of weeks it will be Easter, a holiday that is near and dear to my heart as it ushers in full-on Spring. Renewal, rebirth, and reset—these are as real and important as the current crisis humanity is facing, and important to notice–perhaps more important than the latest body counts and infection rates of Covid 19.

I’d like to share a few resources with you, Dear Readers, that I have found comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Perhaps one or more of these wise people’s words will also help you in some way as you each navigate the current pandemic and its surrounding emotional roller coaster energies. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some articles, websites and YouTube videos. If you have found any resources you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section of my blog!

https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/

Charles Eisenstein is a brilliant thinker, author, and maverick for a growing audience of people around the world. His essay on Coronavirus and its implications, just published on his website, will give you lots of food for thought. Reading it pushed several of my buttons, and I had to read it in sections. He never fails to make me think, and, ultimately, give me hope for our future.

https://www.shareable.net/series/coronavirus/

Shareable.net is a website devoted to highlighting ways that humans help one another in communities around the world. They have created a series of articles to show how people are helping each other (and ways that you can help your neighbors and community) during the coronavirus days.

https://bioneers.org/what-bioneers-are-saying-about-covid-19-zmaz2003/

Bioneers.org is a wonderful group of thoughtful, brilliant people who are dedicated to the work of creating a healthy, equitable, sustainable world for all of us humans and nature upon Earth. I highly recommend reading their articles, watching their videos, and listening to their podcasts regularly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/podcasts/the-daily/

The Daily podcast by the New York Times. This one is devoted to kids questions about the Coronavirus. Great information, plus sweet kid voices asking the questions.

https://www.youtube.com/

For those of you who can benefit from listening to a spiritual master, I’ve been watching this man, named Mooji, the past few weeks and find his teachings and advice very soothing and helpful. This link is to his latest message to humanity, and is highly recommended.

As we continue along the pandemic situation, with all of its challenges and frustrations, I wish each of you the courage, strength, and knowledge that you are here on Earth at this time because you are needed now. Continue to ground the light and love, and shine it out to all you meet, whether in person or virtually. Love, light and blessings to all.

 

 

Staying grounded in a pandemic   

Be-a-blessing-quote
image via http://kristypace.com/

Dear Readers, how are you managing during these ultra-stress-filled days of pandemic across our world? I am sending each of you copious amounts of calm, emerald green light, silver light of healing, and crystalline light of clarity to help fortify you as you navigate the days and weeks ahead.

My own mental, emotional and physical bodies seem to be continuously cycling through stages of calm, feeling grounded and able to handle the latest news cycle, to experiencing the effects of stress and anxiety on all levels, and then eventually cycling back to peace again. This is happening at least daily, if not hourly sometimes. As the situation becomes more extreme and challenging, we will all be stretched in ways we probably didn’t even know we could be—and it doesn’t feel good! My physical body is certainly feeling very uncomfortable and in pain in certain areas. I’m not ill, and don’t have any symptoms of the coronavirus, thankfully. Yet, it is extremely disconcerting to hear what news reporters and government authorities are telling all of us. Within the past 48 hours, Spain and France have been put on lockdown and quarantines are in place for nearly all their citizens. Today (Monday, March 16, 2020) here in the United States, the president announced that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that no groups of more than 10 people gather, people refrain from going to restaurants and bars, and practice social distancing (standing at least 6 feet from the next person). This afternoon, the city and counties around San Francisco went into quarantine, as the mayor asked all residents to stay home except for getting essentials like food and meds. The greater San Francisco area has around 7 million people. New York city likewise has gone into quarantine, with all the normal activities of that metropolis coming to a standstill. One by one, large cities across the United States are following suit and it is very likely that nearly all of them will be in quarantine status very soon.

I think it is not an exaggeration to state that almost no one alive on our planet today has lived through a time quite like the current pandemic. Surely, many millions have lived through horrific wars, intense natural disasters, and epidemics of various kinds over the last decades. But there is something unique about the spread of the novel coronavirus that is leaving millions of us in shock and awe. It feels like we are in a bizarre, dystopian reality show, which is being written by the human collective minute by minute.

Dear Readers, part of the mission of this blog is to encourage you to find the interrelatedness between us all and the natural world. To make the connections we have to each other and Mother Gaia as strong and as compassionate as possible.  To inspire you to dig down deep into your heart and soul for answers to life’s perplexing and confounding problems. At this pivotal moment in time, we have reached a true crossroads. This coronavirus pandemic is asking each of us, and all of us, to fully grasp how utterly connected we are with one another and with our planet. We are being challenged to go beyond the old paradigm of separation and to see with new eyes just how profoundly we are one people who share it all—down to the very smallest living particles in our bodies. This is a moment. We, who are willing to see clearly, must understand that this virus pandemic is forcing us to confront this truth, and let down our egoistic self in favor of raising up our collective self. In our mandated “social isolation” from one another, we have the tremendous opportunity to reach out in every way we can imagine—in the virtual world of conferences, classes, church services, human services, workspaces, as well as entertainment, sports, shopping, and socializing.

How creative can we be in the face of crisis; the pandemic is asking us. We already have excellent examples all around, both of generosity and pettiness. What of the Tennessee brothers who bought up tens of thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer to sell for inflated prices on Amazon.com, only to be told they couldn’t do it? They ended up, shame-faced, donating them all to the greater good. Or the lyrical story of Italians who, unable to come out into the streets like they are accustomed to do, instead opening their windows and balconies to sing together? People across the world are helping each other in ways small and big. Many thousands of health care workers are dedicated to helping the sick and infected, at possibly huge cost to themselves.

It has been said, it is only when confronted with an emergency that the best in human nature presents itself. Therefore, Crisis is also an Opportunity. I believe this is a moment when we can each choose to find our core strength and courage, when we can step up to the opportunities presented to us for showing compassion and love in the face of adversity. We have a real chance now to lay down the old games of greed, selfishness and pettiness. Life is giving us a new gameboard and we can make up new rules for how to live on Earth. All the things we have been dreaming of—a world based on freedom, love, truth, justice, peace and goodness—are within our grasp. This pandemic could be our grand opportunity to create the new rules moving forward. We don’t HAVE to return to the old normal once we’re on the other side of it. We can forgive transgressions now, we can live justly now, we can give generously now, and build on that momentum moving into the future.

Dear Readers, I encourage each of you reading this post to dig down deep and find your true strength and reason for being alive on the planet. What are you here to do? What are you living for? What kind of world do you wish to build for your children and great grandchildren? This crisis moment can show us in stark terms that not only is a better world possible, but it can happen with lightning speed. In just one month in China, because manufacturing came to a standstill, carbon emissions were cut by 25%. That is an enormous amount of pollution that didn’t occur in a very short period of time. We have the solutions to the problems humanity faces. Perhaps, a year or two from now, we will collectively be able to see the real path to solving them as one of the great learnings from our current pandemic.

Please take all the precautions you can at this time to keep yourself, your family and your community safe. Keep calm, be brave, and shine your light for all who are still in the darkness.