Hello My Dear,
Are you having a full summer? Is life being kind to you? I’m at the start of two weeks away. A much needed trip to my favorite beach.
To be honest my summer has been plagued with uncertainty and Olympic levels of stress.
One by one the pillars of my personal life have been shaken as I’ve watched each of those I hold most dear face terminal health issues or personal crises.
I’ve stood by and loved, listened, cared for, supported and came to recognize each of their fates was ultimately beyond my control. The ending of each of their stories was out of my hands. At times that feeling of powerlessness and uncertainty has felt brutal.
And other times absolutely absurd – just laughable – in it’s relentlessness and outrageousness. Like the day I was preparing to visit my mother with terminal cancer and father with dimenitia only to end up in the ER waiting to see if my husband’s chest pains were from indigestion or a heart attack. (Thankfully the former.) But that wasn’t clear until we sat in the unknown for a few hours waiting for test results.
At that point I was ready to pen a cease and desist letter to Universe. Like enough already!
At one time or another we all face seasons of stress, challenge or upheaval when it can feel like all we can do is show up and keep going as Life plays dodge ball with you.At those times it can be tempting to hunker down, engage our defenses and thicken our skin to weather the storm or resort to fighting it like Forest Gump’s, Lt. Dan who railed against Hurricane Camille from the crow’s nest of his ship. Or perhaps just numb out altogether.
But there is another way. A way that initially feels downright unnatural but ultimately provides more peace and freedom.
It is the way of meeting what Life is serving up and allowing it to open, tenderize and transform you.
My season of uncertainty isn’t over yet but I’ve found a rhythm and developed a practice for tending the curveballs as they arise.
Here are the key’s I’ve found most useful:
- Feel your feelings – all of them. Especially the ones that seem inappropriate, outrageous or undesirable. Let them move through you like wind through a screen – as you do they shift and soften you.
- Listen deeply to your body. What is it telling you it needs? Rest. Movement. Sleep. Contact. Stillness. To get outside. To be held. To eat. To fast.
- Get support, get support, get support. Get it from those who offer, those you can safely be vulnerable with and those who will hold the space for you.
- Open to your version of something bigger – whether it’s the Universe, God, the Great Mother, Nature. Consider the possibility you are being held and supported. Take it a step further and start to notice when you are feeling supported.
- Metabolize the stress in your body. You can do this by using the previous keys as well as getting extra support like body work.
- Prioritize and cut out what’s unnecessary. This is a great time to remember what matters most to you and let go of anything you’ve been carrying that’s doesn’t.
- Dig deep and find out what you’re made of. You will likely be surprised what you’re capable of. The more I’ve built in time and space to fall apart and open to my feelings the more clear, empowered and capable I’ve become.
- Seed joy, beauty and nourishment. After each storm passes notice the rainbow. Build in activities and practices that bring you joy and feed your Soul.
All of these require taking time and space for yourself – claiming personal Sanctuary – to BE and focus exclusively on you. Depending on your circumstances it may be as short as a few moments you can grab intermittently or long stretches just for you. But to do so is essential. It helps you decrease your stress level and build your resilience for future storms.
Using this approach to claim Sanctuary in the Storm will allow you to move beyond surviving to living from your tenderness and your strength. It will bring you to the heart of what matters most to you. And bust your heart wide open and fill your life with love, like a desert full of blossoms after the storm has passed. It will teach you that with support it is safe to be vulnerable and you are always being held. And it will remind you, like all seasons, this one will pass.