I’ve been doing some emotional closet-cleaning lately. Turns out, there’s more outdated, scratchy, ill-fitting stuff in there than I realized. ( A high- quality Meditation online was helpful, revealing what I want and need to let go of.) Without a reason not to, I’ve gently explored difficult moments in my past. Which then caused me to reflect on my current coping strategies in the clutches of Covid-19. I’m a pretty ‘driven’ person. I tend to benchmark my life with challenges & achievements. What I’ve been through. What I’ve learned. Always, always looking for The Silver Lining. In the midst of the devastating and historic Pandemic, with deaths here in the U.S. blasting the endurance limits of people and institutions, I’m learning unexpected lessons about myself.

A few previous major life-experiences have seriously stretched my ability to adapt without breaking. Sometimes that breaking point has felt scary-close. But in some situations, I’ve embraced tough trials like a kid being offered an entire plate of brownies. “Yes. Please!” The Pandemic Experience, for me, has been a mixed-bag. Aside from frustration and fear, I’ve also noticed some new thoughts and new understanding creeping-in. These revelations are exposing emotions that make me wonder…would I have felt these things, this new understanding, without the frightening and tragic prompt of The Virus?

My survival instincts have been strong since childhood. Even what I’d call ‘excessive’. When others were freaking-out in March about not having enough personal hygiene and cleaning supplies, who had a full closet of those items already? Yours truly. Suddenly, my obsession (learned from my Depression-era father) was paying-off. When stay-at-home orders were first imposed, I also had plenty of food:  on my shelves and in my garden. My proclamation to the Fam:  “Chill. We’re not going to starve, or need to venture out to where strapped-on citizens are fighting over supplies.” I’ve got this.

With those ‘basics’ covered for a minute, I began to look at my personal space of Home. Being stuck ‘inside’ had forced me into stark realizations. “Too much stuff!” Clothes in my closet. Furniture. Linens (sheets, towels, placemats, blankets from 20+ years ago) wadded and stuffed into a closet I dreaded looking into. My cosmetics and styling products needed a closet of their own. I felt claustrophobic and began clearing-out and bagging-up. Trashing. Donating.

Diving deeper, I began noticing how ‘crowded’ I felt in other ways since the Pandemic. People and pets in my space. Never had solitude felt so important and utterly missing from my life. But this anxiety led me to more new discoveries. Social Media, streaming music and movies became new spaces that I could retreat-into. Design shows. Cooking shows that sent me into a baking-frenzy. (In the past, I’d always avoided sugary stuff. Now I was making the most decadent desserts I could find.) Even after all of this, plus a return to my piano and sewing projects, even more new ‘downloads’ came. It felt like I was progressing through deeper, more important emotional layers.

I’ve always been restless. I can relax, but the truth is – I crave ‘movement’; mental and physical. Out into the world. Travel. Interacting with new people and new cultures. During the Pandemic I’ve had to come to terms with being ‘still’. At first I noticed that I was actually breathing differently. With anxiety. So I felt forced to ask, “Why do I start to feel crazy when I’m forced to stay in one place, with the same people and scenery, for too long?” Then an even more important question surfaced: “What kinds of inward journeys do I need to take, right here, and right now?” What do I need…versus the powerful urge of what I want ( to hop on the next plane, going anywhere beyond 500 miles)?

People around the world seem to be coping with the current reality of accumulated trauma, fear, instability and inconvenience according to their own inner guidance systems. It’s not just me, then:  the Pandemic is – among other things – a giant magnifying glass that shows us who we really are, in our deepest, most private places. Is anyone truly thriving right now? It doesn’t feel or look that way. But is there something else happening — inside those of us who are using this time wisely and bravely? Being gentle with ourselves. Allowing new insights to flow in our direction, even if that ‘flow’ is sometimes our own tears. There is meaning. There is message. Great and small, in quiet minutes, as well as in months and probably years. I believe this. I’m going to live this.

related Posts: Will We Remember What We’ve Learned? Holding On by Letting Loose “Relationship” in a Time of Social Distance

meditation video: https://youtu.be/SM4uUc9523o

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