There is so much hopelessness and despair in these strange times.
Young people are looking ahead to a future that looks bleak, seemingly stripped of opportunities and possibility. Older people have been deprived of time with their children and grandchildren, living in constant worry about contracting Covid. And then there are the parents, especially parents of young children, trapped at home, having to wear so many hats, with precious few opportunities to take a breath and find a quiet moment of ease.
Hope seems to be in short supply. And so we’re invited to ask the question: Where do we look for hope?
If you get only one thing from this article let it be this: We need to look for hope inside, not outside, of ourselves.
About once a year I need to take steroids for a sinus condition. My family finds this quite amusing, as the effect the drugs tend to have on me is that I go into hyperdrive, doing all sorts of long-neglected tasks around the house. And, inevitably, I end up organizing the cupboards and the pantry. Perfectly.
The decluttering of these spaces has a peculiar effect. There’s a spaciousness. A freshness. Contentment.
Recently, fueled by curiosity rather than steroids, I decided to undertake a decluttering of my mind. And I can hardly believe how good it feels.
I’ve read about digital detox before, and have admired those who could put their phones away for weeks at a time, even if I wasn’t so envious of the circumstances that often brought them to that point. But, I reasoned, I’m not that badly addicted to my phone, and so maybe detox was taking it too far. So when I heard a podcast recently about a more pragmatic approach that recognizes the role of technology in our work lives and family lives – he called it digital decluttering – it sounded like something I might be up for.
Here’s why I was ready to try it…
Last night my 15 year old son told me he wants to flee the country.
He said he saw the statistics about the number of mass shootings per year in the US vs the number of mass shootings in other major developed countries. The US had more mass shootings than the next ten countries combined. In 2018 alone, we had 268.
And here we are again, faced with two more unthinkable tragedies. There’s so much pain, so much loss, so much senseless loss of life.
And as we feel that pain of it all, there’s an inevitable pull towards fear and anger, towards a feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness. It sometimes feels like pushing play on an all-too-familiar toxic stew of feelings that look something like a big black tornado, waiting to suck us in everytime one of these senseless acts of violence happens.
So my question is: how does the inside-out understanding guide us as we watch the approaching tornado, or even after we’ve already been sucked into it and are trapped in it’s vortex of fear and anger?
How often do we hear about the value of “slowing down.”
It’s a really important part of starting to invite a new experience of life. It’s a beautiful thing to invite ourselves to slow down our minds, slow down the crazy pace of life, slow down our frantic doing, long enough for something new to emerge: a new thought, a new experience, a shift in our perspective on something that’s felt sticky for us.
My husband and coaching partner Jason and I often talk to clients about mental “gears.”
When we’re in 5th gear (or even 6th or higher!), we’re revving at super high speed and life can look and feel frantic, overwhelming, out of control, even impossible. When we slow down any amount towards 1st gear, we often experience a positive shift in how life looks and feels. Frantic becomes interesting or “full,” insurmountable becomes challenging or even fun, we go from stuck to unstuck and life seems to flow again.
Shifting to a slower gear can be truly life-changing, but what if there’s an even bigger shift available to us, a shift that people rarely talk about, but definitely should?
It’s high school graduation season in America. If you have a graduate or are close to one, you know that it’s an exciting time of gratitude, hope and celebration. And fear. For many parents, it’s one of the scariest days of the year. Because graduation night in many places means graduation parties. Big graduation parties.
Our little town is no exception. Our high schoolers head way out into the woods and have a big, all-out, rowdy party to celebrate the grads. They’re out of cell phone range, there’s alcohol and marijuana involved (at the very least), they make a big bonfire, and they all spend the night in the woods. You can just imagine the scene.
As I was chatting with another mom about all this, she shared with me just how gripped with fear she was about the party. Her son and mine, both seventeen, were planning on being at the there and she seemed truly terrified by the prospect of what might happen. She was already planning a miserable, sleepless night.
What really struck me as we talked was not that she was so worried, which seemed pretty standard, but rather that I surprised myself by not being worried at all. And I mean really truly not at all.
I’m grateful to all the Paleo pioneers for leading us down the path of greater understanding of how our bodies really work. Because of them, millions of us no longer waste time and energy on health and fitness strategies that are based on a misunderstanding, and many of us have discovered a level of wellness that we didn’t even know was available. So it may not surprise you to learn that there is also a huge misunderstanding of stress in our culture. The way we currently think about stress leads us all too often in the wrong direction and causes us to spend far more energy than is necessary trying to cope with, or manage, our stress. A deeper understanding of how our minds work has the potential for a life-changing shift and will dramatically change the frequency and amount of stress we experience. And if a Paleo lifestyle advocates a life of less stress, then it only makes sense that we would strive to understand the real source of stress.
It’s the middle of winter at 8885 feet in Colorado. A snow storm has blown in and is slamming our ranch with howling winds of 50–60 miles per hour and temps in the single digits. It’s snowing sideways and the conditions are miserable by any standard.I watch my horses standing out there in the storm. They’ve chosen to stand downwind of a stand of trees rather than under their shelter. They stand with their back to the wind, side by side, motionless.The conditions are unpleasant and the horses uncomfortable. But here’s the most important thing I’ve learned from them: they’re uncomfortable, but they’re not suffering.
“How about this one?”
“Ummm… licorice maybe? Kinda earthy. Not sure.”
Here I was, a few weeks out of sinus surgery, hoping to regain my sense of smell, which had gradually dwindled over the last few years until it was completely gone. With it, my sense of taste had left as well. At times, this was an advantage, as I no longer minded dealing with the garbage and the dog poo cleanup. Sometimes it just sucked, as the joy of eating good food has diminished, and some of my favorite smells – the moist autumn leaves under my bike tires, and the sweet aroma of the Russian Olive tree in the springtime – had become merely memories. And at times, it was awkward, since farting in my office while I’m alone didn’t really register with me, but seemed to have a different effect on my clients who might cock their heads a bit as they entered.