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We are at a point this January where we looking backwards and forwards, and we’re also still in this liminal, in-between space of no longer and not yet. The vaccine has arrived, yet the virus is raging worse than ever. There is an end of a presidency and the start of a new one, and currently we’re kind of in a place of both and neither. For the Janus-like looking at beginnings/endings, war/peace, life/death, and transitions, I’m reflecting on 2020 and announcing what is to come in 2021.
2020 Looking Back
“There must … be something great in the mortal soul. For suffering, it seems, is infinite, and our capacity without limit.”
― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.”
― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.”
― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Here we are at the beginning of a new year following a year that will always be held with a difference. We’ve all experienced the uncertainty with a full range of emotions while navigating the way, moment-to-moment, of how to respond. So much of what we’ve gone through reminds me of the meaning in C.S. Lewis’ book Till We Have Faces, that we are confronting the delusions we hold in our mind and apply to life, ourselves and others. When 2020 was a new year and decade, people spoke of 2020 vision. We didn’t know it, yet, on January 1, 2020, but we were definitely going to see things more clearly.
This year has been one of loss for everyone, but for some, it has been an experience of great loss, isolation and tremendous suffering. We have lost loved ones; we have lost years of socialization, which has been so harmful for all of us, but mostly for the youngest and oldest; we have lost milestone events that are rites of passage; we have lost businesses, music venues, restaurants. We have lost the freedom to hug.
I am humbled by the resilience and grace with which many have faced this loss. I am welcoming self-compassion, self-gratitude and acknowledgment for how I have been transformed through this experience. I invite you to join me in taking a deep bow to yourself for coping as well as you did and discovering insights about yourself along the way.
Living and adapting to life through a pandemic hasn’t been all suffering. Many of us uncovered in the stillness, and quiet, a new pace that allowed for us to connect to oneself and others in more satisfying ways. We were made to be and allowed to be alone, which caused loneliness, and also gave us access to parts of ourselves that often evade our grasp when in the company of others. We found permission (thank you, COVID), to be an introvert, to not be the one who always has to travel to Thanksgiving, to say no to gathering with casual associations or to accommodating the people in our life out of guilt, fear and obligation. We found permission to be intentional about with whom we share our breathtime. We found permission to rest, to take long walks with the dogs, kids, and close friends. We gave ourselves permission to get dirty planting a garden and harvesting the goods for canning. We were slowed down enough to enjoy with presence a spring, summer and fall season that to me were each superlative as being exceptionally lovely, which leaves me wondering, were the spring ephemeral flowers more profuse, was the summer temperature more mild, were the fall leaves more stunning, or was I paying more attention, and therefore, more able to experience delight, beauty, awe and wonder? There was space, and permission granted for once, to do something different.
You know, the brain loves novelty. Newness keeps our brains active. Relationships need fresh perspective, flexibility, freedom to show up or not show up out of mutual respect and emotional nurturance. Many of us, though not without pain, have stretched our brains to experience personal growth through the Pandemic.
Another COVID adjustment that has brought positive insight and growth has been healing from a bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Having anxiety about what to do with all the options was eliminated suddenly. In its place grew more intentional awareness of one’s choices and agency of what to do, or not do. Also, many people chose to turn off social media and instead, chose to read, walk, meditate, cook, garden, or be with someone in person or on Zoom or talk on a real phone call. Those with children, though challenging, have found that this time of slowing down, staying home, and not shuttling the kids around to all the things has been a time to be savored. Without all the distractions, noise and busyness of “normal” life, we were able to sustain our attention long enough to focus on what really matters.
Again, I invite each of you to place your hands on your heart and take a deep bow for what you have been through.
2021 Looking Forward
Whole Idea Healing: psychotherapy, mindfulness & herbal medicine now located at 513 East Main Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408. (423) 240-4578
For 15 years, I have held the intention of practicing in a space capable of hosting psychotherapy sessions, herbal classes, groups, and meditation sits, while also being able to formulate made-to-order botanical medicine blends and retail some of my popular formulas. All of these things I have offered over the years, but now they’ll be able to be consolidated under one roof at the new location on the corner of Main Street and Adams Street. There is parking on Adams Street on the side of the house. If it’s ever full, there is street parking on Main Street on the other side of the street. There is a fenced backyard, so eventually when weather permits, I will offer classes, meditation sits and workshops in the backyard. Stay tuned for events, which will, of course, be mindful of safety.
I am excited to announce that I have begun the two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program led by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. I was introduced to mindfulness in the year 2000 through a teacher retreat. In 2003, I began to seriously practice mindfulness meditation. Over the decades, I have deepened my practice and blended it with psychotherapy. My intention is to continue to deepen my own practice, and also to refine my skills as a meditation teacher. It’s a great honor to be able to learn from Tara and Jack.
Also on the horizon, I will be breathing life back into Forest Bathing, mindful nature walks and backpacking programs. We will need to have fewer COVID cases for backpacking, but I am hopeful that that will happen later this year.
Questions to ask yourself in this time of looking back and looking forward:
What is something I see more clearly?
What am I letting go of in order to cross through the next threshold?
What am I intentionally bringing with me?
What choices will I make in 2021 based on what I experienced in 2020?
Until we see each other again, stay healthy. And may you have peace, comfort and wisdom this year.
whole idea healing 513 East Main Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408