Our "normal" goal is usually to be in balance, and even then, without a pandemic or social and political unrest, it's a challenge. The whole work/family ratio, "on and off-time," and as we all have become so intimately acquainted with these past months, the blur of life's factions, blended into one. Balance. The inner and outer world.
Our outer selves may have created a comfy and efficient workspace at home with a lovely backdrop for Zoom meetings, all while diverting others (kids, pets, UPS deliveries) to avoid even more distractions. If we are fortunate, we may have done this successfully and stayed engaged and productive. If we are not so lucky, it may be a daily workout session of who has something to do, for how long, and how quietly. Not knowing how long we will be operating like this, as the "phases" progress, takes a lot of energy.
The success of fast-food chain restaurants is proof. Everyone knows that a Quarter Pounder will taste the same in Beverly, Paris, or Madrid. NOW…Uniquely, we are living in a time of uncertainty. Our desire for certainty and predictability in a time where there is precious little, gives way to the discomfort most of us are feeling.
The effort to push away the looming anxiety, fear, unknown, and disruption is exhausting. Continuing to find new ways of navigation and supporting those around us at either end of the age spectrum, requires heroic energy to initiate and maintain. Our rhythm, tempo, and schedules are moving from the "stay safe, stay home" insular model to "go out, measure your risk, and be careful" model. How this happens, and how we control our exposure and that of vulnerable others in our world… is our new challenge.
What's playing on our internal radio stations? Is it the Top 40 "We are doomed" hits, the "I'm not coping as well as my friends," or the "this isn't real, and I'll do my own thing" soundtrack? We all have these songs, tapes, and messages coming at us all the time. The playlist is undoubtedly linked to our experience of vulnerability and fragility, fighting something we can't see, feel, or weigh. Like the breeze or love, it's real and so, so disruptive.
The old saying that "you are what you eat" is true on many levels. What we listen to, watch, and surround ourselves with becomes part of us and takes up some valuable inner real estate. We are seeing peer pressure manifest widespread in the "masked vs. the unmasked." Validating your feelings, those of others in your inner circle, and admitting vulnerability with our children can help us develop more muscle and resilience around the inevitable… coping with circumstances beyond our control.
Isn't that the crux of what certainty and predictability provide? As our sense of control is challenged these days, we elect areas of our lives where control is still ours to be had. We choose our level of risk and exposure in the "outside world." We realign ourselves with healthier habits of nutrition, fresh air, and meaningful connections. We steer away from destructive behaviors that have never served us well and won't now.
I urge those I talk to daily to examine where control can be found... and had. With the extra time we have, take a deeper dive inside. Using the resources that you absolutely have, find the places even if they are small, to recapture. We all serve as role models for those around us, no matter the relationship, age difference, or role. I want to learn more about this for my own quality of life and deeply appreciate those around me who have led by example. Validating the difficulty, sharing the burden, and taking a deep breath (or 20) when I've needed it has helped me to keep, keeping on.
It is to be found, but we may need some guides. There are many local resources, online webinars, YouTube videos, and books and articles by the great thinkers, writers, and experts of our day and days past. Avail yourself of your favorite or discover a new one. We all need inspiration right about now. It's there for you. And I imagine that you are the inspiration for others, without knowing it.