April 20, 2020

We are Strong Enough to Do This. We can Get Through this Tough Thing.

Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


“What happens if things don’t go back to normal?”

I keep asking myself this question.

Against all odds, I opened a 600-square-foot Pilates studio in the heart of Manhattan less than a year ago.

What started as a thought—“Maybe I’ll have my own studio someday…”—turned into a real possibility when the studio I was teaching out of announced it was closing.

Then a seven-page business plan turned into a reality when I signed a five-year commercial lease in July of 2019.

All of this happened over a span of nine months.

Then, nine months later, I was ordered by the state of New York to shut down my business due to a global pandemic.

We all have our story of how COVID-19 has disrupted our lives. For some, the disruption has been devastating, as it has permanently taken away loved ones. If that is you, my heart goes out to you and your family. After all, when pain is inflicted on one, it affects us all.

Regardless of to what degree the virus has disrupted our lives, we can all agree on one thing: we have been forced to find a “new normal.”

For some, this has been an exciting whirlwind of innovation and problem-solving. Creativity thrives in the face of challenges. I have watched, in awe, my fellow business owners pivot in incredible ways. People are utilizing technology like never before. We are connecting with each other in amazing new ways.

But I am also noticing so many people carrying on as if this were a short-term disruption.

“Just get through April 20th!”

Currently, as I write this, the extended New York City quarantine now goes through May.

“We’ll be back to business as usual by summer!”

While optimistic, this mindset is not helpful. That kind of thinking is like that of a person committing to a fad diet.

“If I only eat carrots and saltine crackers for the next four weeks, I’ll lose those 10 pounds! After all, it’s only four weeks…”

But what happens after those four weeks are over? We all know the answer to that question. The problem comes right back.

The dieter’s mindset was in “short-term” thinking mode. It was only focusing on “getting through the four weeks” instead of long-term lifestyle changes.

I get it. It’s easier to go through pain when we believe it to be temporary.

But what if we changed our mindset from this period being a painful and stressful event that we have to endure to this being a sacred time of uninterrupted focus? A time when we get to finally make some real changes in our lives?

I do not want to discount very real responsibilities—children to feed, employees to support, rents and mortgages to pay. As the sole breadwinner with no trust fund or second home or alternative revenue, and as the personal guarantor on my five-year commercial Manhattan lease, I understand responsibilities.

I believe we have been given an opportunity. For those of you who are lucky enough to be in good health and have your basic needs met, this is your chance. Your chance to actually change your life for the better.

You know all of those times you thought about burning it all down?

Quitting your job to pursue your passion?

Ending that toxic relationship?

Taking control of your health?

What was stopping you before the pandemic? Likely it had to do with the relentless commitments, responsibilities, obligations, lack of resources—the list goes on.

Good news: all of those excuses have been wiped off the table.

There has never been a time in the last 100 years when the majority of society was forced to stop.

Commitments? Canceled.

Responsibilities? Put on hold.

Obligations? Removed.

Resources? You have access to more resources than ever before.

But I get it. It’s scary. It’s unpredictable. It’s risky.

I would have understood those responses three months ago.

But now?! What, let me repeat, what do you have to lose?

This was what I asked myself before I signed that big scary commercial lease.

“What do I have to lose?”

At the time, I had quite a lot to lose.

But I knew that even in my worst-case scenario—a scenario that I am now truly experiencing, though I would have never imagined a pandemic to be the reason I was forced to close—I knew I would ultimately be okay.

The real answers were what propelled me forward:

What would I have to lose if I chose not to take this leap?

I would lose the chance to get financially secure and scale my business.

I would lose the opportunity to grow as an entrepreneur.

I would lose access to a platform to serve more clients and help people live pain-free.

I would lose the ability to support other movement professionals to grow their own careers.

I would lose my ability to take control of my life and make my own reality. After all, taking active control over your life is a skill. Like all skills, you will start to lose them if you do not keep up the practice.

We cannot control what happens to us in this world. But we can control how we happen in the world.

What do you have to lose by not pursuing your dream, goal, relationship…now

What are you waiting for? For the quarantine to end and for things to go back to normal?

What happens if things don’t go back to normal?

What if this is the new normal?

If you feel like you know what changes need to happen but you don’t think you can do it alone (no one can), then there is help available for you.

You are not alone.

I know it feels that way.

I felt alone when my clients started to leave New York City before the shutdown was enforced.

I felt alone when I was forced to close without any acknowledgment as to how I was going to feed, house, and support myself.

I felt alone as I read posts online from my friends who were thrilled to finally get to work from home, seemingly not recognizing that my life was just turned upside down, like so many other small business owners.

What was I to do?

I cried.

As the thought occurred that I might actually have to sell my studio equipment, pack up my apartment, take my cat, and move into my parents’ house, leaving the life I had built over six years in New York City, I cried. I cried long, deep, and full tears.

I grieved my lost dreams. I mourned my life as I knew it in New York City. I said goodbye to the business I had newly brought to life.

Then, the fog lifted and I saw a glimmer of sun. Even if it came to that, I would be okay.

And then I realized that in saying goodbye and detaching from what I was grasping so tightly too, I found the strength to move forward.

My business is not confined to four walls. My gifts and purpose are bigger than a 600-square-foot studio.

Clarity, calm, and peace flooded in. Gratitude—immense gratitude—followed quickly after.

I realized that I was not alone.

If it were not for my own support systems—my family, my coaches, my mentors, and my clients—I would not be where I am today.

And where is that exactly?

That is being at true peace and having clear confidence while simultaneously on the brink of losing my own business during a global pandemic and economic crisis.

The thing is, I have been here before. Many, many times.

I grew up in a single-parent home without knowing my biological father. For my mother, never having any child support, life was not easy. Opportunities were not handed to me. 

As the stories so often go, I moved to New York City jobless and moneyless to follow my dreams and make a better life for myself.

Every challenge and triumph that has happened to me in my life up until now has systematically prepared me to be able to stay standing strong today.

I am filled with gratitude for having gone through those hardships. They forced me to work on my mindset and my beliefs to overcome my circumstances. At the time, those struggles, which pale in comparison to today’s hardships, felt like too much for me to handle.

Little did I know that they were only conditioning me to get stronger.

This is your conditioning.

You can get through this too.

With a training program this rigorous, it must mean there is something extraordinary you are being called to.

There is something at work in you right now that the world is in great need of. Deep down, you know this to be true.

Do you have enough strength to withstand the storm? Do you have the flexibility to pivot and lean into the force of the wind like a tree in a hurricane? Or will you breakdown in the face of resistance?

Will you waste all of your energy trying to hold onto what has already been dismantled?

Because if there is one thing we know for sure, there will be more storms.

Let go.

Grieve and say goodbye.

Find gratitude.

Quit that fad diet and make some long-lasting, sustainable, life-altering changes.

It is time for you to create your own “new normal.”

What do you have to lose?

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