Everyone loves a diamond; diamond rings, diamond earrings, diamond necklaces, it has become the American way to want and desire the majestic royalty associated with such possession.
Diamonds did not begin all bright, shiny and sparkly. In fact, the beauty that many cannot take their eyes off of began as an ugly rock, very deep within the earth. The original formation looked a bit like coal: black, bland and lacking any luster. It takes a huge amount of heat and intense pressure to shift the rock that is deep in the Earth’s mantle. It only emerges through a transformative process of intense volcanic eruptions.
Like diamonds, our true and whole self—the real us—is often hidden deep within and it takes an eruption to bring it to fruition. This process of change is our ever-evolving self.
The pandemic we find our lives around is our erupted state.
Many of us have found our everyday stature and existence to be completely different than it was a couple of weeks ago. We are asked to stay at home and only go to doctor appointments, grocery stores, and be outside for walking, running, etc. The goal is less physical connection as we distance ourselves socially.
Yes, life as we knew it is not the same; and yet, it can be very much the same and maybe even better. It is all in how one looks at and defines this outbreak.
A pandemic is a disease pervading an entire country, or the whole world. Definitions are descriptive and descriptions are fluid, meaning that they can move, shift, and take on new formations depending on how the individual wants to see what is in front of them.
Let’s peel away the word disease. Much like peeling an onion, the term has many layers. There are, indeed, many ways of looking at and describing a disease. Maybe it is an illness, maybe it is debilitating, and maybe it is life-changing or, even, life-ending. Another way to consider disease is literally a dis-ease or not having ease with an aspect of your life or your entire life.
What if this pandemic is one way the Universe has chosen for us to emerge as hidden gems? What if this pandemic is another way to un-knot our nots: not being good enough, not making progress, not having an abundant flow, not being seen or heard, not being fulfilled, not experiencing joy, not being able to breathe and not being loved?
Continual transformation, and personal growth too, involve a willingness to take action. Learning takes place through organized actions, small steps or movements.
A while back, I was working out with my trainer. He asked me to warm up by getting into a push-up position with my feet on sliding discs. The warmup involved pulling myself forward from one side of the gym to the other followed by pushing back to the starting spot. I was to do this twice. There was some interesting learning in this move. Pulling forward was so much harder than pushing back. It got me thinking…
Pulling forward is like learning something new, changing and growing. Pushing back is like resistance. Resistance is so much easier to act out than growing, learning and changing. Resistance does not bring about a healthier version. Resistance brings about more of exactly what you are suppressing.
So if you are resisting this retreat (the COVID-19 quarantine) we’ve been given, you very likely could be attracting exactly that which you are fearing and worrying about and thinking about.
In the midst of these big changes—working from home, kids getting home-schooled, no toilet paper, restaurants and activities shut down, job changes and the sickness itself—resistance feels safe, peaceful, and takes little to no effort. We demand routine that is comfortable. We insist the new is not necessary and somehow wrong for us. We miss out on the best of our blessings.
Pulling forward is hard, no doubt about that. It requires muscle work, mind work, heart and soul work, and drains our energy sources, but only in the short-term. We always think it will be forever-draining. It never is.
Do you notice the way every fall the leaves descend to the ground, leaving the trees barren and blah for the winter? Do you notice how every spring the trees fill back up with bright green leaves of vibrant coloring? Nature is organic change. It happens with ease and comfort. That is the way our lives are supposed to be, but we often find they are not. Why? Because we push back…
We resist the beauty, the blessings and the gifts. We resist leading by example and living up to the leadership in all of us. We think we know better how our lives should progress. We think we can power up and solve our problems. It is in our own resistance that we find ourselves messed-up and miserable.
We learn our most basic functions from our head. It is our head that has to learn the new skills and routines; yet, in our day-to-day and when decisions have to be made, we operate from a sacred source–our heart. Our heart is our most sacred choice-maker but we resist the language it uses, the path it pressures us to take, the actions it asks us to unfold.
Ease and comfort are not really mind-oriented tasks to learn. They are heart-centered actions to take. Unknot your nots by letting go of that which you think won’t bring you ease and comfort. Follow the path of least resistance.
Change is powerful! It truly is an energy boost. We make choices to resist it because we are not comfortable ”pulling forward” with heart-centered decisions. Sometimes it seems foreign to us. We beg and plead for the norm of using our head to power up. What we often do not realize is that our head is filled with noise—the voice of reason is really the voice of our past stories, of too many people who kind of do not matter, of society-influenced rules and structures, and the will to fit in and not feel left out, of our fears and disappointments.
“Each of guards a gate of change that can only be unlocked from the inside.” (Marilyn Ferguson)
Resistance is pushing back, enabled by a justification in our head to be logical and scientific.
Pulling forward—earning, growing and changing—is an invitation to that which is bigger than us, a life filled with love, peace and joy. Letting our hearts be our guiding force manifests a life that flows naturally and organically with ease. Like nature, it will emerge in us a sense of beauty and awe-inspiring moments, experiences and opportunities.
Each of us has a hidden gem within us just waiting to be transformed into the best version of who we are. That whole, healthy and abundant self within us yearns for peace and the calm flow of love, laughter, and joy.
This COVID-19 retreat is our eruption; and, with any eruption, the little shifts—the minute actions we take, our attitude, and our feelings about being within ourselves and our homes—will bring about a collective diamond in the rough if, and only if, we are willing to accept and allow a different way to our normative state.
I am in a house with seven other people. My husband and I have two young adult children and two high-school kids, plus my father-in-law lives with us in a memory-care apartment within our home. We have caregivers and nurses still coming in to take care of our father.
Here’s how we are transforming our diamond in the rough:
Talk it up and out.
This really has two parts.
First, own our feelings and acknowledge them without judgement. This requires inclusivity as we now must think about others in addition to who we are. What is being asked of us as a collective is out of the ordinary as we know it. The very fact that there are limited places to escape and limited ways to distract ourselves is out of the ordinary as we know it.
The sacredness of feelings and emotions is now a necessity more than a luxury. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, expressing our feelings and emotions can become one mechanism for security in our relationships with others. Awareness of our own compassion and for the compassion we have for others will be generated as we mature in our knowing that feelings and emotions are neutral aspects of human behavior and expressing them is how we, as a species, formulate healthy relationships that lead to self-fulfillment.
Second, be an observer of your language, replacing self-defeating words with empowering language that allows for simple compassion at a time when the collective is in the beginning of a shift, while we figure out working from home, helping our children learn, and living with limited availability to outer activities and entertainment.
Carol Dweck in her book Mindset challenges us to add one word to every thought we have about learning, growing and change. I find this particularly beneficial during this pandemic and such times. Watch what happens when you include “yet” following a thought, concern or challenge. Some days we have found us in each other’s’ space and a not-very-pretty look to our interactions. This is exactly when Dweck’s advice becomes a useful tool. As we communicate and express our thoughts, concerns and challenges, it might sound like:
“I am frustrated because I need a quiet space each morning to meditate. I know you need a quiet chunk of time in the afternoon to take conference calls. I also know we are working on this and we just haven’t found what works yet.”
The joint effort of expressing your thoughts, feelings and emotions with yet is a heart-centered choice and a brain-filled willingness to stay the course.
“Everything is figureoutable.” (Marie Forleo)
Showing up and staying in the expansive energy of openness and vulnerability will be what drives us to create solutions that work for all of us. The collective achievement overrules individual gain.
Locate energy sources.
Energy sources can take on many forms: exercise, eating well, meditation, sleeping, reading, nature. What fuels you up? Figure out what is right for you. Make it renewable, meaning when you need it, there is abundance instead of scarcity. Whatever it is, schedule it daily. Change requires effort and effort takes hard work. The muscles, the mind, and the emotions all need fuel to sustain the movement forward.
Even amidst this very unknown moment, we can fuel our energy so it becomes a resource. It will lift us up and rejuvenate our mind, body and soul for the long road ahead as we fully recover from this crisis.
Pay attention to how certain activities, foods, and daily practices affect your mind, body and soul. I have noticed that when I stay up late thinking I can sleep in, it usually doesn’t work that way. When I keep to a schedule and awaken at the same time, I get the sleep I need to stay the course all day. This has been working for the children as well. I have also noticed that some junk food seems to be fine. When anyone overindulges in it, one’s energy is a bit wonky and we get more irritable with each other.
These observations are helping us to choose sustainable energy sources that aid in our supportive and compassionate lifestyle.
Surface leverage points.
Have each family member ask, “What am I good at?”
We all have a gift or two, a strength, and a passion, a skill at which we are exceptional, that brings benefit to others. Let those shine. Use them every day. Honor them.
As each family member unleashes what they are good at, the family unit becomes stronger and regenerates a solidarity. This new awakened identity is a rebirth of the family value system.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Viktor Emil Frankl)
We are in uncharted times, but we know from somewhat similar, past historical evidence, that it will not last. So while it is here, what better time to pay attention to what is working and what has not been working? Strengthen who you are as a family.
At the heart of it, change is always a choice: the choice to plug into your energy source daily, the choice to leverage your gifts and talents in any circumstance, the choice to talk with clarity. Change is your choice to make.
Even in this challenging time, we can choose to live boldly and become a different version of who we are. We can choose to honor the very heart of who each other is and work collectively to support one another through what can make us stronger together.