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May 31, 2020

How to Stay Grounded & Flexible (without Losing our Joy) when Times are Uncertain.

I live on a mountain that experiences enormous amounts of wind.

The wind comes barreling down the valley behind our house and passes through our property like a freight train. This happens almost daily. 

We’ve had certain, large trees in our neighborhood topple over from the pressure. But most of them stand firmly rooted with their branches swaying to and fro, wildly like arms of a symphony conductor. I often think of the trees blowing outside. They have a deep, solid foundation of roots that keep them from falling, yet their branches bend to adapt to the changing conditions. These trees are such a metaphor for life, with more rapid changes and intensity occurring than ever before. 

So how do we hold on to routines and ways of life that keep us grounded while adapting to the change continually being asked of us? Achieving this balance can be hard for everyone, and as a parent of young children, I often find it especially challenging. 

I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, it’s essential to have a solid foundation to work from, yet being willing to adapt and shift to meet change is equally crucial. 

So what does a solid foundation mean? 

It means having a consistent practice that enables you to center yourself and return to your soul. This practice can be achieved in several ways: through meditation, time in nature, yoga, painting, gardening, and so on. Choose whatever resonates with you. You’ll know you’re practicing the right thing if it makes you feel inherently calm, uplifted, and beautiful on a deep, cellular level. Although it might seem easy to forget to adhere to such simple self-care methods, especially with less time and more pressure than ever before, it’s never been more essential. 

It can also feel counterintuitive during times like these to partake in an activity that is less about doing or accomplishing, and more about being. But ironically, by simply taking time to be, the doing that follows becomes more effective.

Finding small ways to nurture yourself will help you remember what’s important, and will sharpen your inner compass from which all decisions are made. By maintaining a more profound sense of connectedness with yourself, you’ll make choices throughout the day that are more aligned with what you value most. 

Once you’ve found a way to strengthen your foundation, you’ll find yourself becoming less likely to feel overwhelmed because it will become easier to let go of the things that no longer serve you. What you truly need will become more apparent as well, and you’ll find it easier to re-structure your day in a way that serves those needs. 

As a mother, I initially found the shift to having my children home full-time, as a result of this pandemic, an immense challenge. I was blindly trying to pile more on my plate that individually didn’t seem like a lot. But combined, it felt impossible to uphold. There were long emails from teachers and administrators, multiple new software platforms, and teaching methods to learn to support their education needs. There were more snacks to make, more things to clean, and more emotional, mental, and physical needs that had to be met.

Little by little, in trying to adapt to that change alone, without considering the other changes made, my schedule crept in until I reached a tipping point of overwhelm. It wasn’t until I started to consult my inner compass that I found easy ways to adapt to the changes, in a way that suited our family. I was no longer trying to keep up with shifting external circumstances. Instead, I began operating from a place of internal focus. 

And the truth is that there are cycles to all of this. It can be easy to get caught in your new standard as changes creep in, and find yourself trying to keep up until you reach a breaking point. You may be reminded that you need to reconnect with your inner self by hitting a breaking point. And that is okay. Cry if you need to. Give yourself the space to struggle too. Honor that pain. Do whatever you need to do to get out the pent-up energy and strain off your body, so that you can enter a nurturing self-care place, with more calm and ease. 

I now find it easier to let the emails flow in and the emotions run their course. I’ve established a new routine that feels aligned rather than reactive. And our family still sways in the wind: making changes regularly as the needs arise. But we are operating from a place of calm, a place of knowing, and dare I say, a place of joy.

Because it’s never about the external circumstances. It’s about our thoughts, and our reaction to the circumstances that matter. When thoughts, feelings, and actions come from a place of deep-seated awareness, focus and love, a fulfilling reality (even during turbulent times) is possible.

~

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