We did a fun podcast with Joshua and Amanda Wilson!
GNV couple Amanda and Josh started an ongoing conversation for everyone who feels a little burned out by this whole thing. Oh wait, that's everyone. Check out their great episodes....and we're coming in hot at lucky #13, devoted to what else, storytelling!
The Wilsons do a Podcast During a Pandemic
Special to the Gainesville Sun:
Time at home offers chance for Soul Searching
There are more mornings now when my 5-year-old son climbs into my bed, his warm body cuddling in close.
“I’m not waking you up, Mommy,” he says, “I’m just climbing in quietly.”
There are more mornings now when I just let the birds singing serve as my alarm clock. And still others, I’m awoken by a bad dream: something wild and fearful, an expression of the anxiety of these times we’re living through. And I’m not sure if I’m asleep or awake.
I had a girlfriend text me recently, “Every morning I wonder what version of a tiny hell I’m going to wake up to.” It can feel that way, when the stuff of scary movies and sci-fi thrillers now fuels our nightmares and waking moments, both.
I learned weeks ago that looking at a news app on my phone before bed was about as smart as it would be for me give Stephen King a ring and ask for a bedtime story. Put the phone down, Taylor, put down the phone!
In all of this, too, the silver linings are real. They aren’t Pollyannaish or selfish. They are tiny chances for renewal and fresh eyes.
There have been dreamy days full of sunshine, where the kids have played in the yard for most of the day. We end the day with more freckles, gross feet, and picnics in the garage and staying up too late. Those days are the best and bad dreams, of all kinds, seem far away.
There are days full of gratitude for what is essential in all parts of our lives: essential workers, essential relationships, essential breaks from the grind.
By this point, we all share a new normal. We’re all well-acquainted with the challenges of working from home, the perils of home schooling, the frustratingly arduous task of grocery shopping and the mind-numbing familiarity with Zoom (I wonder if we’ll all become “Zoombies?” Sorry, couldn’t help it. Don’t give that title to Stephen King, it’s mine!)
Have you noticed that the funny memes have slowed down? My girlfriends and I recently talked about this over our daily ongoing text thread. We wonder if people are running out of funny. We sure hope not.
Yet part of all of this mess, and the ensuing hard stuff, doesn’t have much to do with the virus or politics or the news or meme count. We can’t blame it on the loved ones we’re stuck with or stuck without. I think part of the hard truth (I’ll speak for myself) is that: we’re flooded each and every strangely long and ambiguous day with ourselves.
I think the lot of us are being struck with realities that we already had inside of us: the things left untended to, the self-care we had already neglected, the conversations we should have already had with the people we love.
We’re so easily faced now, with less places to go (in some cases, escape) with our insecurities and fears and worries. We see our suspected or known shortcomings up close and personal way. We hear our long-known idiosyncrasies and neuroses loud and clear.
The good news is, just like the new habits we’ve picked up during this stay-at-home time and the new recipes we’ve tried for all the dinners we’ve never attempted before, we can still re-invent ourselves. Not in a pressured, “This is a pandemic! Make lemonade!” version. But in the way we’ve already always wanted to.
It’s not easy, and it’s never been. It’s never been a cinch to hang out with ourselves in discomfort. But that’s the good work. That’s where the essential part of all of us might be, hanging out in the confusion and yuck.
I don’t think it’s a nightmare to soul search. This stuff is scary because we see that it’s real now more than ever. Threats of bad health are real, as is the threat of losing who and what we love. But maybe in it, we can regain ourselves a little bit: the light and the dark, the insomnia and the singing birds, the disaster and the recovery, at one time.
The author and speaker Brene Brown always preaches about finding courage over comfort. It seems that this is a moment where that is our tricky but optimistic invitation.
Can we be courageous with ourselves, during a time when it’s tough to be courageous in general? Can we sit and wait, with our own company? Maybe more than ever, it’s a chance to try.
This column was printed in partnership with the storytelling group Self Narrate (www.selfnarrate.com) and printed in the Gainesville Sun.
A moment for opposites. And cookies. And wine. April 11.
I don’t know about y’all, but I feel like I’m living in a world of opposites. And not like the good kind that Paula Abdul sang about on the “Forever Your Girl” album. They are instead opposites that cause confusion and anxiety. No wonder we all may feel some version of exhaustion or burn out - as if the virus wasn’t enough to put us all on edge.
There are a lot of invitations to feel split in energy, attention, and emotion right now. I’m afraid; but I’m hopeful. I’m tired and run ragged; I feel like I’m never doing enough. I feel safe in the comfort of my own home; do I feel safe “out in the world?” I am loving all the house projects I can do; I never want to organize another shoe. I have all the time in the world; hours and days are flying by. I needed this time to slow down; I feel lazy...will I ever speed back up again? Homeschooling gives us a chance to see things differently; I need them to go back to school. I’m loving this time with my kids/my partner/my family/myself; I need to run away like ASAP far, far away. Also where’s the wine.
Does this sound familiar?
I think what we’re coming to know more deeply this time is the tension and discomfort of holding opposites. I first heard this phrase in a spiritual way, and then in therapeutic circles. “Holding opposites” allows for two seemingly polarized things to be true at the same time.
“The world feels scary right now, and I can find comfort in the home that I love.”
“I have more slow days than I used to, and I can find joy in rest.”
“I miss human interaction, and I can also learn how to better be alone.”
“I need more cookies out of the freezer, and I also need more cookies out of the pantry.”
If we use “both/and” thinking - where can allow the opposites to both be true - then we can actually hold opposites in a way that is growthful and expansive. Holding opposites is hard and wine-inducing….I mean, anxiety-provoking - when we use it as “black or white” thinking. That sort of all-or-nothing thinking can make us feel limited and stunted, stuck.
Ultimately, holding opposites involves finding some comfort in the discomfort. And it seems there’s no better thing to learn right now. And it’s all real and worthy of our attention. I read this recently:
“....we, too, can find ways to hold two seemingly disparate things at the same time. We can live with uncertainty and ambiguity and still find a sense of peace and wholeness in ourselves and with the world. Our lives, fleeting as mist, brief and unpredictable, challenge us to experience as much as we can, as fully as we can: to hold opposites while retaining our integrity, to cry bittersweet tears at a wedding, or to laugh during shivah when recalling a humorous moment with the deceased. And as we celebrate that we live and are sustained to celebrate the harvest season, we acutely feel the absence of those who are no longer alive to share with us. In communal recognition of this human experience, we gather…..We celebrate the harvest without knowing what the next planting season holds. And we celebrate at the time of the full of the moon, as we know that it too, in the continuous circle of nature, will wax and wane.” (Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener)
It doesn’t always have to make sense or feel peaceful. But opposites are inevitable, and feeling them all at once is hard. There’s power in knowing that we’re all feeling the vast array of the feels together. When you feel the gnarly pull of an opposite today, and can’t quite land, call someone. Tell them about it. Lean into the feeling instead of pushing it away. And maybe have a glass of wine. I’m going to try again today, too.
Self-care in a time of weirdness
Self-care is like flossing, doing your taxes early, or cleaning out your refrigerator: you know it’s a great idea, but you just don’t do it.
In the thick of a global pandemic, it’s hard to think about self-care, isn’t it? Like me, you may keep reading posts and articles that remind us to take care of ourselves and to rest when we can. Heck, I’m even posting those posts.
The thing is, self-care was hard for most of us before a virus ever crept into our midst. We’re just realizing how much we miss things right now. Unlike flossing, taxes, and remastering your fridge, self-care is avoided because it causes guilt. Guilt is a nasty beast, and in times where we’re cooped up with ourselves and each other more than ever, any and every emotion and feeling can slap us in the face harder than ever before, too. But guilt over self-care is not a new feeling. We’ve learned to look at self-care as a luxury, as something you do if you happen to take a trip to an all-inclusive retreat on an island, or it’s your birthday, or if you get a bonus or win the lottery. There’s only one tiny problem with this mindset: these things hardly every happen. So guess what? Neither does your self-care.
There’s too much to care about right now, you might say. Fear, finances, facemasks, and freaking homeschool. Moments of rest and rejuvenation and retreat may feel so far away right now. Days that used to feel like weekends and sabbaths aren’t distinguished from any other day. You might say that there’s no worse time to think about such indulgences as self care. But maybe we can see this unique moment in time as instead a remarkable time to reinvent and redefine it.
Caring for yourself doesn’t need to be something you’d get a gift certificate for, like a massage or a mani/pedi. It doesn’t need to be going to a physical space to take care of your body or mind, like a yoga studio or the gym. And it’s certainly not vacation time. What if we can adjust our thinking on what caring for ourselves is by using what’s already here?
What if we made our habits more delicious and appealing? Your morning and night routines can become incredibly sacred. That’s self-care.
What if we could see the sunrise with coffee, after not waking up to an alarm clock with nowhere to be, as a moment to indulge in right now? Yep, self-care.
Go on a bike ride without your cell phone. I promise it’s possible. Self-cared yourself again.
Oh what’s that you say? You’ve always wanted to play the guitar that’s collecting dust (pollen?) in your living room corner? Pick it up and search for lessons on YouTube. Heck yeah to self-care.
You’re tired, my friend? Lay down. Put the fan on. Feel yourself breathe. Sleep. Because you can. That’s self-care.
Watch anything - ANYTHING! - that makes you laugh. Have megawatt boundaries and say no to the news for a while. SELF! CARE!
Are these self-lovin’ options - or other ones you’d like to implement - causing you anxiety, just thinking about doing them right now? Yeah, that’s normal, too. If you’ve never made time and space for it, caring for yourself drums up that guilt we talked about, and maybe you’re not feeling invited to a discipline of joy right now. It’s OK. Start small, ease into your self-care...but start today. One small thing.
We can also embrace this as an opportunity to encourage others to take care of themselves. We’ve seen the power of telling people to stay home; people are sharing their work and passions for free; folks are donating to small businesses to help keep them afloat. When one person gets on board, others do, too. And so it can be with self-care! Send notes and photos of encouragement to your running group. Set up a massage station in your home for your family. Make a place in your yard to meditate and share the idea with friends. Take walks and call a someone while they walk. Have a friend or family member who needs encouragement from you to keep seeing their therapist online? Love them with reminders to check in with their provider.
And when the tides turn, and this all blows over, remember that you set yourself up to be a better caregiver to yourself in the midst of a gosh dang global pandemic (cue slow clap.) Do not use our eventual return to normalcy as an excuse to stop caring for yourself. It’s not the end of an era or like the gravy train stopped. It was never really a gravy train to begin with. Regardless, keep the gravy comin’. Keep walking and calling, move your body, laugh too hard, have great healthy boundaries, and book that massage you said you’d only do for your birthday or if pigs flew. And if flossing, tax prep, and fridge whipping make you feel shiny and new, hey - do that, too.