Today started out hard. The clouds, thick and heavy, masked the sun while a cold north wind turned the air bone-chilling damp. My mood matched the weather. And, yet again, I found myself plunging into darkness which I've come to know all too well these last few years.
So, I dragged myself out of my slump just enough to attend an online yoga class from home. That helped a little. Then, I drove down to the yoga studio to get oriented to use the Surya studio (whose name means Sun!) with a lovely group of women in Women Create begining next weekend. That helped more. Entering a new space filled with light and beauty instead of standing in my living room for yet one more sun salutation felt enlivening. More than that, talking to a real live person felt like a balm to my tired soul. I left buoyed a bit. Then returned home to more gloom and isolation before getting out on a walk, before heading off to class for an evening with live humans! So many of my students were sick or going to be absent that I decided to bring my chocolate lab Remi up to campus for a little dog play therapy. We had just enough time to stop by a friend's office to say hello, give her a hug, and share some dog love with her as well before my class. Which felt amazing. As did connecting with students in class. I ended the evening listening to and working with a student who's faced major adversity and mental health struggles but who has resurfaced and found ground again after weeks of challenge. Acknolwedging her struggle and experiences while holding space for her to find a way forward left my heart full: my body present, my spirit alive, and my self connected and grateful.
Exhaustion. Darkness. Struggle. They were all there.
But the balm or antidote was there as well. Newness. Connection. Joy. A way forward.
I've been thinking a lot about resilience recently. What the role of grief and pain are and how we make space for them since they are such a normal part of the human experience. While, at the very same time, how we connect with and access our wholeness so we're not swept away by the very real challenges of these pandemic times. And how we find a way forward and through that makes space for this all.
I heard a wonderful presentation by Alta Starr the other day who talked about resilience like this. Resilience is the ability to connect to our core aliveness. To resource ourselves and others toward our wholeness. Resilience is a state of creativity, mutuality, satisfaction, purpose. She then went on to share that according to one framework there are 12 factors that we can experience resilience through: 1) Nature, 2) Animals, 3) Creativity and art, 4) Imagination, 5) Knowing that we can learn, 6) Purpose, 7) Skills and competencies, 8) Agency, 9) Making meaning, 10) Awe, 11) Deep connection to other people, 12) Taking collective action with people.
I loved that list. And her definition of resilience. And it made me think about how our communities can begin to do this again--connect to their whole aliveness. And how my upcoming Women Create program can serve as a space and place to resources and rebuild ourselves and our communities as we heal from these pandemic times (even if the pandemic/endemic is with us indefinitely).
This story has come back to me over and over again the last few weeks. So, I'm going to share it with you here. Because it feels like such a powerful example of cultivating resilience in community.
The story comes from a researcher whose work is in communities that have been devastated by natural disasters. Communities where overnight everything has been destroyed by an earthquake, for example. What do those communities do as soon as the earthquake is over? They begin looking for missing people, cleaning up, moving debris, and eventually rebuilding. But the interesting part of the story, to me, is this. Often when these natural disasters occur, communities are told to stop cleaning up, to wait to do something until FEMA funds arrive. (For some unknown reason I can't remember but that I assume has some annoying bureacratic reason.) And do you know what happens when communities wait for FEMA funds to arrive before cleaning up and rebuilding? They start fighting.
So what does this mean for healing from these pandemic times? As communities not just as individuals?
I think it means we must find ways to begin taking collective action with people. Making new meaning together. Deeply connecting with one another about what's real in our experience. Reconnecting with our agency, or our power to choose our actions and move towards them again and again. And imagining and creating whatever it is we and our community needs most to connect to our core aliveness--our wholeness.
After an inspiring conversation with one of the women deciding whether or not to join Women Create, I left with the realization that while each person in the program will create something of their own, the real power in this moment is what we collectively create. And how that makes its way out into the world somehow. In ways that help to inspire a sense of awe, imagine new ways forward, help others know they aren't alone, and show the power and choice we have to renew and recreate what was lost in these pandemic times in even richer, deeper, more amazing ways than before.
Want to join us as we both create what we love and take collective action that makes a difference in the lives of individuals and the community? Women Create begins next Saturday and Sunday (Feb 26 & 27) in the beautiful 3 Oms Surya Sun studio for a 2-day retreat before we spend 12-weeks creating consistently and bringing these creations to the world in some way. It will be enlivening, connecting, and you'll leave with a huge sense of confidence in your capacity to connect to and bring forth your wholeness in whatever creative exploration you choose to follow. No matter what, sending much love and all my best to each of you in these challenging times...as we summon the strength, with one another, to rise.