I am writing this particular blog late. I’d had one all ready to go, on time… but then the world turned upside down and inside out and suddenly I found the thoughts I’d had a month prior no longer seemed to fit in the middle of this new reality. The more serious things have gotten, the more frivolous anything I had to say seemed to become.
So I decided to re-write it.
I pulled out my laptop, ready to share a couple of tools that have helped me deal with dark times in the past, all prepared to talk about peace, hoping to help others, wanting to write something profound and encouraging.
But before I could begin: I had to have a breakdown.
When we’re in the middle of fear, it’s nearly impossible to even consider possibilities for our future. If we do, that fear guides us to think about and consider only negative possibilities, rather than positive ones, thus feeding itself so it can take over our minds and emotions.
When this all began, the fear and grief and anxiety came together as a trifecta of pain that immobilized me. Though I tried to calm myself, my mind would shoot out in a million different directions and my focus was essentially nonexistent. I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted, yet restless. I was unable to get anything done. At last I found myself simply sitting and crying about it all.
I’m betting there’re a few of you out there that can relate to this.
My outlook tends to be positive, and I see “possibilities” as meaning there are millions of miracles just waiting around the corner for us, we just have to look.
But this time, as the situation went from bad to worse on a global scale, those possibilities all became worst-case scenarios that haunted me.
I knew what was going on, my emotions were running riot and by trying to stop them I was only making it worse.
I was caught in an endless mental cycle of considering only the negative possibilities. The news and many others who were steeped in fear around me were not helping. I had to break away from it all before I could calm down and think rationally. I needed to observe the many different possibilities from a tranquil space so I could determine which ones are true for me, and which are not.
Possibilities, after all, are neutral. They are not positive or negative, but incorporate it all.
When we think of possibilities, we are recognizing that anything can happen, good or bad. And we are creating scenarios in our minds about what those things might be. It is up to us as to whether it is the good or the bad possibilities that we choose to focus upon.
While they can be based on observable facts that lead us to certain conclusions, the reality is, they are still not formed, they have not yet occurred, they are in fact only in our imagination. Hence the word itself… they are only what is POSSIBLE, but may or may not be what is PROBABLE.
So while it is probable things may get very bad, it is also possible they may not. The opposite is also true – it is possible for things to get very bad, but it may be probable they will not. It simply depends on your focus as to whether you see only the negative possibilities, or you also see the potential positive ones.
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Possibilities are daydreams, and it is up to us to decide with what we want to fill those daydreams. And like most daydreams, they are not real until we take action on them.
Once we decide which possibilities we desire, it is so much easier to shape them so they become our present reality. It is up to us to decide whether we want to focus on the positive or negative possibilities.
And I wanted to take action on the ones that will be most helpful and beneficial to me. It was time to put on my Big-Girl Panties and face this head on.
But when we are in the midst of extreme emotions, how do we shift our focus onto the possibilities that are filled with hope? How do we focus on love when we are in the midst of fear?
After the Breakdown: Step One
Well, Step One for me: I needed to give myself permission to feel ALL the feels.
I finally sat down with my emotions, writing them out in my journal, speaking them out loud, doing whatever I needed to do to allow those feelings to pour out of me. As I let the tears come, and called out my anger and anxiety, an unexpected thing happened. I found myself calming down.
It was only after I allowed myself to finally and fully break down that I was able to breathe again. I had to let those emotions go so they could work through me and be released from me. The storm within was calmed.
By emptying out all of that grief, fear, despair and anxiety I led myself into a place of quiet. And it is from that place of quiet I was able to begin to get back into a space of clarity.
With that clarity my perspective began to shift. I finally could see the possibilities for good, even in the middle of all of this.
After the Breakdown: Step Two
This brought me to Step 2: Meditation.
I know this may sound trite, I know this is one of the most common responses lately, I know that for many this sounds way too “New Age-ey” or “Spacey” or “Spiritual” but… for me meditation is one of the key ways to help get my mind and heart calm and in alignment.
The thing is, it’s not like it’s always easy for me to meditate. There are many mornings – or evenings, or afternoons – when I have to “force” myself to do it, and days will go by where I just can’t seem to get to it. It is a lot like other healthy life practices, such as exercise. You know it’s really good for you, you even love doing it at the time, and you feel great afterward – but for some reason, making yourself do it on a consistent basis can be a struggle.
There’s a verse where Paul says; “What I want to do I do not do, and what I hate I do.” This is a human condition that goes back to the first person on the planet. We all have that inner laziness that would rather sit on the couch with the Cheetos than head outside for a walk. Or to allow our minds to run in circles worrying about the future rather than calm it down and force it to focus on the present. I call it my “monkey mind” that likes to chatter and run around causing chaos with my emotions.
But right now while we are for the first time in our lives actually being told it’s not only OK to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos, but we can save the world by doing so, the fact is we are also being given the time to learn how to quiet that monkey mind, especially in the midst of the greatest chaos our generation has had to deal with.
So after releasing my emotions of fear and anxiety, I then sat in meditation allowing the chatter of my monkey mind to slowly die away and a calm to settle into my spirit. From there, the possibilities came…
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…There is the possibility this difficult time is offering us a unique opportunity to make some positive changes on a personal, community, national and global level.
I am not the first to say it, many different sources are speaking about this right now because it’s true. In forcing us to withdraw from the world in order to help and heal ourselves, we are seeing as a direct result that we are also helping and healing our planet. Skies in Los Angeles are some of the cleanest in the world now. The Himalayas can be seen in parts of India for the first time in generations. Dolphins and swans are returning to Venice as the canals clean up. The very vibration of the Earth, a magnetic signal they have been monitoring for some time now, has actually slowed down in direct proportion to human activity slowing down.
We are seeing that it is, in fact, possible to make a positive and lasting difference on our environment, that we are indeed able to reverse some of the damage we’ve done and bring things back into balance. We are being shown it is possible to have a future where we choose to continue these positive changes by choosing new habits and new ways of interacting with one another, our communities, and our world.
We are being given the chance to change for the better.
It is possible that for the first time in the history of the planet that the majority of us could choose to come together and decide on ways to modify our current behaviors so that the environmental healing we are experiencing right now can continue and expand into the future.
It is not only possible, but I see it as probable as I hear more and more people, communities and nations talk about the environment and exhibit a desire to do something to continue the progress being made at this time after we all head back into our new normal when the world opens up again.
This gives me great hope.
Here is another one: this virus has spread fear as fast as it’s been spreading itself around the world. Yet I am seeing and experiencing how true the Bible verse is that says “perfect love casts out fear.” Because though there’s a lot of fear – there’s also an equal if not greater amount of love going around.
…I’m seeing it is possible for love to gain ground over fear and conquer it. And more importantly, replace it with peace.
As most of us have discovered, the distances we’ve had to put between ourselves physically has had the inverse proportional affect of bringing us closer together emotionally.
The number of emails, text messages, phone calls, Facetime calls, Zoom meet-ups, and a variety of other ways to communicate with one another has increased exponentially in all our lives. And the subsequent conversations have, for me anyway, been longer and deeper.
As those of us who are able to take a daily walk around our neighborhoods do so (at a safe social distance and taking care to observe those things that will help keep us all safe as we do it), I am seeing my neighbors come together while remaining apart. We are waving to one another as we cross the street to avoid being to close, saying “Hello!” and “Have a beautiful day!” as we do so.
We are putting out signs in our windows and chalk art on our sidewalks with words of encouragement, love and hope. We are putting up Christmas lights in April and teddy bears in our windows just to cheer one another up and give children something to look for as they ride their bikes and play.
I am experiencing more kindness, compassion, and patience not only between friends and family, but from total strangers as we carry out essential services. I am seeing more and more messages, gifs, memes and posts about love, laughter, beauty, about finding and appreciating the good that is still there in life.
I am seeing a global movement of love as people reach out to encourage and support each other as never before.
I am in awe at how the majority of humanity has come together in concern not just for themselves, but for the weak, elderly, and others around them.
I honestly do not think we’ve ever seen anything like this in the history of humanity, and I’m not talking just about the pandemic. We’ve seen those before as a human race – but this kind of coming together in a global consciousness of caring for each other, no, I’m pretty sure that’s never happened before, definitely not in my lifetime.
And it, also, causes me to have hope.
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…And on the smaller scale, I see the possibility of the person I am becoming because of all of this.
As I sorted through those emotions of fear and anxiety, as I came into that place of meditative calm, a thought flashed through my mind that made me catch my breath.
Who do I want my future self to see when I look back upon this time? And who do I want my future self to be because of it?
I suddenly saw myself in the future looking to me in this moment and saying; “I am what I am today because of how I chose to act then.” And I thought: is that person I am going to be one that I will be proud of? Are they going to be able to look back on my present self and feel pride in how I chose to react and who I chose to be during this time, and how it helped to create them?
I thought of my father, who served in the South Pacific during WWII as a signalman for the Coast Guard. He saw some heavy fighting and lost most of his friends. His life was in direct danger many times. He never spoke about it until the end of his life with me, the memories for him painful – but proud. Because it was in that time of great distress that he said he realized he had a choice.
He looked into his future and saw he wanted to have a family, to have children. And if he did, he wanted us to be proud of his decisions during that time. So he chose to be calm, to be rational, and brave even in the middle of the worst. He chose to hope for his future. He chose to believe in love, even as bullets flew around him.
He believed he’d find my mom, he believed he’d marry and have a family, he believed he’d have a good long life once he made it through the horrors at hand. He believed he needed to behave as if those things that were only possibilities at that moment in time, were, in fact, probabilities. And by doing so he chose to make them his reality.
Now it could have been that he died in the war, and that those possibilities dissolved into nothing. But it wasn’t, and his point to me was that, even had he not made it, by living in that moment as if the possibilities of his future life were real – the beautiful, loving wife, the children, the home, the career – it made it easier for him to survive so that they could happen. And more importantly, it made it so that each day he was alive was filled with meaning, and filled with hope.
So I saw clearly I was – I am – we all are – being given a choice. To focus on the possibilities which will serve us well, or the ones which will not. To decide now who it is we want to be on the other side of all of this. To choose to behave now in a way which will not only make us stronger, but braver, kinder, more aware, more loving, wiser, and more compassionate.
It is time to focus on the positive possibilities until they become positive probabilities, and ultimately make them our future reality.
For where our focus stays, our energy goes. Where our energy goes, our creativity takes place. Where our creativity takes place, our reality is formed.
In this present moment, let’s form a better reality together.
Let’s make our future selves proud.
By JEANETTE DUBOIS
Jeanette is a film & tv editor, writer, director and producer who’s worked on Emmy & Telly Award winning shows, movies, and music videos for a variety of networks. She’s also a trained operatic who mostly sings to her cats now, though sometimes she expands her audience to her family & friends. She loves gardening, good books, good wine, and good conversations, preferably all at the same time.
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