The other day I ventured out to Lowe’s. I was in the middle of planting my summer annuals when I decided I needed a large flower container for my patio.
I went fairly early, so it didn’t feel too crowded at first, but as time went on, more and more people were shopping. What was I thinking? It was Sunday. Churches are still closed for the most part, so what are many of us doing? Focusing on our outdoor landscaping and space.
As I approached the garden store part of Lowe’s, I noticed many people had masks, but several also bared their faces. I thought to myself, I know what side they are on.
For the most part, I stayed 6 feet apart, and if I noticed someone getting too close, I chose another aisle.
I found some beautiful containers along the wall. The ones I liked were a light aqua color in freeze-resistant hard plastic. The color was perfect as I have a small bistro table set made of multicolored broken tiles, and one of the colors is that light aqua. Perfect! The pot came in various sizes, and I was trying to decide between the 18-inch and the 24-inch container. A woman was standing next to the containers, and I said hello and asked what size she thought was best.
But something shifted my focus from the conversation about the pot. This woman did not have a mask on. So, as we talked about the plant containers, my mind went to Sure. I know what side she is on and whose example she is following. But she is just another person dealing with all of this. Yet I’m feeling angry that I have to wear this double-layered mask with a paper towel inside. My nose is running, and I can barely breathe, but I’m right, and she is wrong.
I continued to look at the pot, and she suggested, “Just buy them both and see which one works the best. Bring the other one back. That’s what I do when I can’t decide.”
“Good idea.” I thought.
Then I am not sure how the conversation changed, but I might have said, “I see you are not wearing a mask.” And that started it. She said, “I don’t believe all the hype. They are building this up and making it more than it is. This is no different than the flu. I tell you this could be a Communist plot.”
I couldn’t help myself. “So, I get it. What news station do you listen to?” Fox, I thought for sure.
She said, “I don’t listen to any of them. They are all fake. Fox was bought out, and I would never watch CNN.” Of course, I said, “I knew it!”
She then proceeded to tell me about the Communist plot and conspiracy theories. I stood there and can’t believe I said this. “I am more communist than anything. I like some of Karl Marx…”
I hope I didn’t say it too loud, but knowing me, I probably did.
She didn’t really flinch. She just kept going on and on about how we have been brainwashed into fear. I don’t remember her exact words, but I stopped listening at one point. When she suggested the book I have to read – something about the plot. I did a quick body scan and noticed my heart was palpitating, and it just didn’t feel good. Yet she is a person. I said the book you need to read is A Course in Miracles. She got out her pad and said, “What is it? A course in what?” I couldn’t believe she was writing it down. I did not write her book down, didn’t want to know. I’m right, and she is wrong. Then I said, “A Course in Miracles and believe me, I am not practicing it now. We need to shift this conversation to where we can join and not feel separated. Let’s go back to discussing the pot. I think I’m going to get the smaller one. It will be perfect. Wish you could come and see my flowers.”
It turned out every time I needed a customer service rep in the store, they were always working with her, and I was interrupting. I was beginning to feel connected to this woman, although I disagreed with her politics.
As I was checking out, she was leaving with her huge order of wooden barrel pots. I said, “Wow, you are doing lots of planting!” She then told me she and her husband had bought a large farm and were planting an organic garden. She added that eventually, they wanted to open it up as a wedding venue.
Guess what, I thought? An organic garden?? That kind of fits with my side.
I let it go, and, in my mind, I referred to her as the No Mask Lady.
The next morning, I woke up thinking how, if only I had practiced beginner’s mind.. I don’t know what anything is for, and had I stayed curious, I might have learned who she was at a deeper level. I might have been able to learn something. I might have wanted to take a look at her book.
Yes, this is a time of social distancing out of love for others and ourselves, but I experienced separation because of a difference in values and self-righteousness.
I’m not going so far as to say she was now right, and I was wrong, but there has to be a way we can connect with others and plant the seeds of healing together.
Stick to talking about your garden. We all love flowers.
The Coronavirus has changed the world as we know it. These are tough times right now and we are all living with incredible uncertainty. That uncertainty is causing an array of emotions -anger, fear, guilt, sadness and curiosity. This is all natural for us as humans. We feel incredibly threatened and have no true idea of what life will look like in the future. I think most of us would agree, life will never be the same. Hopefully this will not only be a challenging time but also a time for all of us to learn how to help each other and the universe. And humans are resilient-we will get through this!
If there was ever a time to call on your spiritual journey to carry you through it is now. A Course in Miracles teaches that we can’t change the world, but we can change our minds about the world. We are all going to see the world differently. We can’t control everything going on right now. All you can do is live every moment, follow common sense precautions like hand washing and social distancing. Taking normal precautions is a good thing but if we let our fear, guilt and anger overtake us, we will be no help to the world.
We can best help by keeping ourselves healthy so that those who really need the frontline care of our courageous doctors, nurses, and health care workers can get the proper care with the proper equipment. They are the boddhisatvas- a Buddhist term for one who stays around until everyone is healed before taking the final step into Nirvana.
Did you know that the sanskrit word for compassion is Karuna? I heard this on a Dharma talk the other day and I thought- “Wow” That doesn’t sound a whole lot different than Corona, which actually means crown. I’d like to think that rather than be afflicted with coronavirus, which they say we may all have a touch of, we could be afflicted with koruna – compassion for everyone right now. None of us are totally sure how to handle our lives right now so reach out with calm and kindness as much as possible.
Here are some other ways to balance the anxiety and stress of these uncertain times.
Meditate – Simply give your self time to sit, breathe, and allow whatever thoughts and feelings to come up-tears are good and so is laughter. See my post on meditation.
Yoga and Tai Chi or just meditative dance are all fun and relaxing. Put on some quiet music or a video and move through your favorite poses. Sometimes I just put on healing music and dance like I’m floating.
Take a break from television and social media. We can become oversaturated with newscasts and updates. It is good to stay abreast to directives for how to live and work right now, but not all day. I notice how emotional we can get when our fear takes over-that will just fry your immune system
Boost your Immune System. Keep your cells healthy. Check out my post https://themiddlewayhealth.com/our-internal-warrior-the-immune-system/on taking care of it by healthy eating and drinking but more importantly healthy doing and thinking.
Exercise-One of the best things you can do right now is to keep moving. Many people have worried about gaining weight while isolated. Easy to grab snacks and eat out of anxiety and boredom. Get out and walk, if you can. When I am on the phone (unless it is a coaching call) I walk inside my house-amazing how many steps on I can get this way. There are some great fitness videos and workouts on You Tube.
Cook and Plan healthy meals. I happen to love to cook but friends who have just been eating out in the past are now getting back to enjoying their kitchens and culinary creativity. Get out the cook books and have fun making nutritious and colorful foods.
CONTACT ME FOR MORE STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE COACHING IN MEDITATION AND WELLNESS
A friend of mine just turned 80, and was pleased to have passed his last physical exam with flying colors. He shared some of his lifestyle secrets. Besides getting plenty of enjoyable exercise, he enjoys “a fine, mellow, exquisite, small cigar to CELEBRATE LIFE…. at night, under the stars, on my deck…” but said that Above ALL: Thanks to my meditations I have NO stress, NO anxieties, No tension, No fears. How come? I simply drop it all, every night in deep meditation. It works like magic! “
So what is this magic? Meditation has several health benefits and positively affects our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Relaxing the mind actually relaxes the body, the blood vessels, the cells, and thus can lower blood pressure and stress hormones resulting in a sense of calm and the ability to focus, and more clearly manage life’s challenges with balance. Meditation is very healing, because when we quiet our mind, each cell in our body relaxes.
Spiritually, meditation is used as a time to simply be at peace with one’s definition of God, or empty one’s mind in order to connect to a higher power. It seems that when one desires this connection to be continuous, every moment could be a meditation, and life would flow in a way that would decrease our fears, worries, and tension. We would take life less seriously and enjoy it more.
Ideally you would stay mindful and relaxed as much as possible during the day. But most people live a very rushed, busy life, and are plagued with the human condition of “monkey mind” where our thoughts jump from place to place often disconnecting and leaving our mind overwhelmed and the body tired. And face it, many people find a quiet mind kind of boring.
Hence the need for setting aside a regular time for practicing meditation and training our minds to focus on one thing; the breath, a candle, a prayer, a mantra, or as in Zen, absolutely nothing.
There are many definitions of meditation and many forms of practice. There are several great books on meditation. One of my favorites is The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. I love his teaching because the goal is not to have to sit at a certain time of the day, but to be mindful and pay attention to your breath, and to what your are doing and thinking throughout the day. When you wash dishes, you pay attention to washing dishes. When you eat, you pay attention to eating. Your everyday activities become the focus of your meditation.
The concept of mindfulness as meditation is quite magical, and with practice life becomes a joyful and blessed experience even in the midst of the most stressful situations. As my friend so clearly exemplifies, health comes from living a life of moderation in all things, celebrating life, and dropping our worries and fears by practicing the magic of meditation.
CONTACT ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE COACHING IN MEDITATION AND WELLNESS
I love to travel, but until my suitcase is packed, I have a hard time getting excited. So I have come up with a plan for packing that keeps the joy in the upcoming journey.
Make a List–I use a master list that I bought as a pad of packing sheets. This sheet guides me prior to packing and also stays in my suitcase when I am packing from my destination to go home. Here is an image.
At the top of my list I write where I am going, how long and the expected weather outlook. Knowing your destination climate is so important so that you pack clothes that will keep you comfortable. Also you can prepare for cold evenings or rainy days where you need an umbrella etc.
Give yourself lots of time. I begin packing at least a week ahead of time. Sometimes I have my suitcase open and ready for clothes two weeks ahead of time. That way I have time to change my mind about my vacation wardrobe.
Carry On – As much as possible avoid having to check a bag. There are many ways to keep the size of your packing to a minimum. For one thing, roll your clothes instead of folding. This allows you to fit clothes in corners of the suitcase and use every bit of room in your bag. You can take two bags. One can be your carry on size suitcase-be careful to keep it within the parameters designated by the airline. Make your other bag an expandable shopping bag. For women you can put your purse inside this bag. You can also put a brief case inside a larger shopping bag.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” -Antoine de St. Exupery
Soft Shoes-My favorite travel shoes are Mary Jane looking flats. I have both Keens and recently bought a pair of Campers flats. I can walk miles in these shoes and they pack without taking much room in your suitcase. You can wear a bulkier pair of comfy shoes or boots to the airport. Other comfy flexible shoes that pack well are Toms. I also pack a comfortable pear of walking sandals.
Color coordinate-pack light. Pick a color and coordinate around it so that you can mix and match outfits. I also pack with layers. Vests, skirts, and leggings take up little room but are very versatile wardrobe pieces that can help you interchange outfits.
Chargers and Electronics Accessories–If you are like most people, you will be taking your cell phone and possibly a camera. Chargers are very important. I keep a small accessory bag for electronic chargers and accessories. If you go to a country outside the United States you will need electric outlet adapters. We have a kit that has a variety of adapters for a variety of countries.
Download tourist books-We went to Paris this fall and I really wanted to take several tourist guides. Some of them were small books that could easily be packed, but one that I thought would be especially useful was Rick Steve’s Paris. This book is over 3000 pages. Not a practical pack on. I purchased the book on I-books and it was downloaded to my I-phone and I-Pad. Voila-Rick could go with us easily as we traversed the streets and museums of Paris.
Prepack toiletries– Have two of everything so you can have most of your toiletries in your suitcase ready to go. Travel size toothpaste, hair gel, and moisturizer, packed with a new toothbrush. That way you don’t have to throw in toiletries at the last minute.
Medication and Supplements are trickier. What I do is sort my vitamins and put enough in a container for the days I will be gone. If you take daily medication, do the same. Pack enough of your daily meds for the days you will be away. Also have a copy of your prescription, in case you run out of medication or lose some pills.
I take Metamucil every day and while I was on a vacation in Germany, I dropped my whole container of Metamucil on the bathroom floor of the bed and breakfast. Trying to find Metamucil or the equivalent in Germany was tough. Finally I did find psyllium powder in a German pharmacia, so my recommendation is to take extra.
Glasses. Make sure you have both your regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses.
Travel documents –make copies of all your important documents and leave a copy with someone back home. Pack a copy.
Plastic bags-Put extra bags in your suitcase. I pack both quart size and travel size zip lock bags. You can use these bags for snacks, packed liquids, and the bigger bags are good for shoes, and for smaller dirty items.
Umbrella–Always pack a compact size umbrella. This way the weather will not get in the way of your plans
Returning Home and Unpacking-Take your time
When the vacation is over, it can be depressing to unpack. Don’t rush. Give yourself time to unpack and wash and put away your clothes. If you plan to travel again soon, start thinking of what you need for your next trip and start your list.