Are you social distancing out of love or separating with hate

Are you social distancing out of love or separating with hate

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.

 

On Writing and Healing and Keeping a Journal

On Writing and Healing and Keeping a Journal

 

Writing and Healing-Reflections

Putting your deepest feelings on paper or into a journal can be a journey into your own soul and a tool for self-discovery and inner peace. There are also some surprising health benefits.   There is research that shows that writing what you feel may be a boost to the immune system and help prevent illness. James W. Pennebaker, a psychology professor, did a study where he asked people from all walks of life-prisoners to medical students to write about traumatic events in their life. The control group was asked to write superficial events of their life. The group that wrote the traumatic events had fewer doctor visits and showed a boosted immune response to hepatitis B Vaccine and the Epstein Barr virus. (Important – it seemed the writers used negative response words in the beginning and showed new incites about the incident by the end).

Another study was done at State University in New York, where 51 people with rheumatoid arthritis were either asked to be part of a group that wrote about traumatic events or a group that wrote about neutral events and again the group that wrote about the traumatic events reported less stiffness, swelling, pain, and fatigue than the group that wrote about neutral events. All of this is showing that in fact, writing your deepest feelings is every good for your health.

I started keeping a daily journal in 1985. My first journals were written on 3×5 cards. Eventually, I kept my journals in actual notebooks, and today, I have two bookshelves full of the writing I have done to record my life. Some days are simply – that -simple-what I did with my kids, how I felt, where I ate, traveled, etc. Other days the writing is deep-maybe a poem or reflections from a book I’m reading or feelings I would not necessarily want the world to read. Sometimes I think, “Who is that crazy person? Me!”

One of my goals is to go back and read my journals. I have begun the process, and it’s sometimes fun to look back and think about those early years as a Mom and an older college student pursuing a degree. Sometimes it’s hard to see how serious I was taking life and how many moments I missed worrying too much about things that today seem trivial. It will also be hard to review a time when my spiritual journey took me away from those day to day moments-maybe too much. Eventually, I had to come back to the middle way.

But regardless of how it feels to go back and self-reflect, I have always found the journaling process to be healing and an excellent tool for gaining inner peace. My journals are often my best friend.

My journal goes with me wherever I go as much as possible. There are days that I don’t take the time to journal, but I always go back to those days and add reflections on what I did or how I felt that day. Lately, I enjoy taping my daily newspaper horoscope in my journal and then write about what that could mean to me.

When I travel, I love to journal the sights, sounds, experiences, food, and people from my trips. At the beginning of the summer, we toured Eastern Europe with our Rabbi and Members of our Synagogue. This trip was structured around the history of Jews before, during, and after WWII. There were both painful and joyful moments filled with reminders of the Holocaust and the effects of the War in Eastern Europe and the Renewal of Jewish life today. I was the only one with a journal in my hands throughout the trip. I am currently transcribing those journals and my reflections and hope to include some of the 2500 photos I took while there. I plan to share some of this writing with you.

If you have ever thought of journaling, it is never too late to start. Just get yourself a notebook or writing journal and a good pen and start writing. Write as if no one will ever see it. It is your private conversation with yourself or a dear friend as in Dear Diary.

There are no rules for journaling. Do it your way-the way that feels most comfortable for you.

Here are a few tips to get started.

Choose your writing tools. The sky is the limit. You can use binders, notebooks, decorative journals, or even 3X5 cards.

Find a quiet place and time for writing.  I can journal anywhere-at home, in restaurants, on airplanes, or doctor’s offices. But it is really comforting to journal with a cup of tea or glass of wine. Light a candle for an even sweeter effect.

Let go of obstacles that get in the way. If you are worried about someone reading your journal, find a private place to keep them-your secret place. You can even buy lock and key diaries, but they are bulky. A journal is for you. They can also be used if you are writing a memoir or autobiography and wish to share some of your story with others.

Let go of your inner critic. Most important is to let go of an inner critic and editor. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. Just write. Later if you want to share your story, you can worry about editing.

Use prompts to get you started and keep you going. As I said, I sometimes cut out my daily horoscope as a prompt for writing about my day or life.

Write the good, the bad, the ugly. Write when you’re happy and when you’re sad. Write when your grateful. Get it all out in your journals. Just Write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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