At the present moment...

by - Sunday, March 22, 2020

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep rolling under the stars. ~ Jack Kerouac

Two weeks ago, my daughter and I took a ride south for afternoon luncheon at a Victorian teahouse in Flemington. Since it was her spring break, we decided to enjoy some special time together, checking off this favored spot on our list of places to visit. As we laughed and devoured the Devonshire cream, carrying on about the cups of hot, flavorful elixirs chosen in this splendid place, we focused on the moment without a thought about her return to college life the following week, her last semester as a senior.

But she is never going back to college life.

Amid a flurry of emails, she was summoned to move out of her college apartment in a one-hour window last week after they extended spring break to figure the course of online instructions for the remaining semester. As our nation embraces new limitations and ways of living en masse, we have new rules to follow and need to keep our distance. And the rules change continually.

This is how we take things now, hour by hour, until further notice.
My husband is working from home too, setting up his laptop-office upstairs behind closed doors, busy amidst a deluge of conference calls. As for me, no one is thinking about buying jewelry. For what? Where are we going? We have been summoned to stay at home. My time is much better spent focusing on my other day job at the helm of two households since my mom lives forty-five minutes away in her own home. With her ongoing health condition confining her seventy-five-year body to bed, the situation presents its own challenges now. By default, I am also her health coordinator, and I thank God for Amazon. Ordering her essentials when CVS is out of gloves, chucks, Triple Paste, A&D, or adult diapers at least provides me some peace in mind for her well-being. There is always something to be thankful for even amid crisis.

So, when unexpected tides move in, we can look up or look down, the choice is up to us. We are being offered a moment’s respite from the busyness of unconscious life here. Lifting our heads, quelling the chaos enough to take a look around, we can see opportunities we may not have before. We can see the good, feel the good, and then be good for someone else. Kindness is the most straightforward yet most extravagant gift, and it has the power to turn a difficult situation into a beautiful opportunity. To give or receive a helping hand, an encouraging message, or a simple smile. It is this spirit of togetherness that unites us, a global community, even when practicing "social-distancing."
But kindness starts at home, with yourself, wherever you are. As souls having a human experience, our mental wellness will be challenged now since we have to embrace safe-distancing to discourage the spread of this virus.

1) As you wake up, offer self-compassion. Take deep breaths of gratitude to soothe your heartbeat as you rise. Think of at least one thing to be grateful for each new day and focus on it for several moments. Open all the window shades, pull the curtains away. Let the light in.

2) Shower daily and put on clean clothes, even if that means changing into a fresh set of pajamas! Hygiene is paramount. One thing I introduced to my self-care routine about a year ago is finishing a shower with a cold-water rinse. This has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, wake your body up inducing a higher state of alertness, and incur a more robust immune response because it increases the number of white blood cells in your body. I started with a few seconds and now stand under a cold shower several minutes each morning. For me, it even reduces headaches and body aches almost instantaneously as well as ease in breathing, especially during allergy season. Happy cells renewed in your body will thank you! Brush your teeth, then drink some water.

3) Hydration is also essential. Treat yourself and drink water in a fancy glass. Another part of my morning routine is drinking hot water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. This jump-starts my system with a hefty dose of vitamin C and aids in digestion before that first cup of coffee.

4) Whether swept into waves of a pandemic or simply grounding our spirit to embrace daily challenges, meditation provides the key to balancing harmony within. Spirituality comes in many packages, and it is up to your intuitive guidance to find what works for you. I was raised Catholic, and prayer is a meditation I do every day. Rosaries, mala beads, there are different ways to count prayers in world religions. Just taking a few minutes sitting in stillness, observing your breath, and blessing the chakras can help quiet the mental chatter and balance energy inside for better flow.

5) Music energizes, comforts, inspires. Play music all day in the kitchen or whatever space your work takes you.

6) Sustenance fuels you up. Prepare healthy meals by grabbing a few ingredients from the pantry and search for a new recipe to try on the internet. If you are financially-able, order take-out from a local small business who is hurting right now with all these closures. Pay it forward and leave an extra tip for them too.

7) Connect gently. First, check-in on the heartbeats in your home. Offer compassion to another by texting someone you love or calling at least one friend a day. Reach out and have actual conversations, making genuine connections. Know that we are in the first days of rewiring community and local consciousness.

8) Keep healthy boundaries so you can be physically aware of your space, and know when to turn off work and spend time taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Refrain from working in bed! Let everyone designate their space in the household, we're going to be like this for a bit.  Take little breaks throughout the day. Unplug from your work, and try not to let it drain your energy. That goes for social media and online messaging, too, as you may find it hard to disconnect once you get hooked in. You don’t need to be bombarded by the media scene. Make that commitment each day to just unplug and surrender.

9) Get up, stretch out, make some tea or coffee. Have a snack. Do some breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation. Continue to check in with yourself and your mindset. This will help you remain present and keep track of time. Or take a nap. Allow your body to stop and rest as needed.

10) Weather permitting take at least one walk or bike ride daily, play, hike, get a healthy dose of natural vitamin D. Dance, create, read, write letters to people, do the things you have wanted to catch up on. Make movie-time 4-6 pm.

When you’ve taken care of yourself and your needs, then you can begin working again in the right state of mind, together with your family and the community, navigating changes ahead.
For those interested in astrology, Saturn moved into Aquarius on March 21st, the first time it’s been in the sign of the water bearer in twenty-six years. Saturn rules limitations, constrictions, and structure. Saturn is the zodiac’s taskmaster - it brings about tricky challenges and encourages a push through obstacles to undergo meaningful growth. Accountability and “tough love” are the name of Saturn’s game, through hard lessons correlating to the themes of whatever sign it’s traveling through. We are being called to clean up. This time we have to clean house before taking on a new life. The road ahead is full of challenges – and opportunities. We will learn a way to create better human spaces through all this. Let’s use this time-out to start fresh and begin with a consciousness of self. It all starts from within.

With all the unknowns in our world right now, there is a lot of beauty, joy, peace, and strength out there too. It inspires me daily as well as calms my spirit. For this, I continue to be grateful at the present moment... xoxo-Sonya
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. ~ Kitty O'Meara

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