Covid 19 is my Coach during shelter in place. This is my story or what I refer to as my toboggan ride.
Burnout is a phrase I know well. After all, I’m a Learning and Development Coach. Yet, I just didn’t know how burnout I was until the shelter in place mandate was announced in my hometown, San Francisco. My burnout was the result of being the sole care taker for my mom for the last 10 years and then both parents for the past 5 years. My mom lived in Sonoma and my dad lived in San Francisco. Three years ago, I moved them both out of their homes into an Assisted Living in Sonoma. My dad passed away 12/17/19. Yet, I kept going. And, going. I am certain if it wasn’t for my meditation practice, my friends and my New Ventures West coaching colleagues, I would be in a corner rocking myself loudly singing a bad mantra.
I skipped the part of rocking myself while reciting a mantra. Instead on March 16th, I collapsed from exhaustion. Got sick. Not Covid 19, thankfully. I slept non-stop. When I was awake, I was struck by all the loss. Not just the death of my dad. The loss for all us, our way of life. The loss, the grief overwhelmed me.
My initial reaction to Covid 19 as my coach was to ignore the lessons “the coach” was relentlessly whispering in my ear. Plus, I did not view the time at home as an opportunity to learn. So, I turned away from the opportunity, ignored my feelings. Rather than reflect, I binge watched, baked cookies, exchanged hilarious jokes and participated in Zoom happy hours. Didn’t we all?
I began to realize, Covid 19 was providing a container to heal my burn out. I felt something tugging on my heart between the cookie baking and Netflix marathons. After I recovered from my bug, I had more energy. More time. My meditations and nature hikes got longer and I journaled more. All these practices began to ground me while supporting my wellbeing. I got curious about the loss, my grief. Since I wasn’t working, I had time to reflect on loss.
Over the last several months my practices along with slowing down provided an opportunity to reconnect with myself. Heal. When I look over my shoulder and reflect on this last 10 years, I realize, I was burnout due my belief that I needed to put my parents first in order to be a “good daughter”. I forgot that I am goodness, already a good daughter. And, that I need to care for myself in order to take care of my parents.
The experience at home has provided a time to replenish, develop while noticing the magic in life.
Life is magical. Even when life is hard, I dig deep to find life’s magic when challenged.
I have learned with every loss, I find more of myself. If my job or even my dad remained, what happen next couldn’t.
The new space is where the gifts come in, life’s magic. The key is to accept the loss. Otherwise, I miss the lesson, a new lens to view my life’s magic.
Grief is not my favorite teacher. Yet, I have experienced that grief’s pain fosters my growth. If that loss had not occurred in my life, I would not have grown, evolved as I am today. It’s is not easy for me, it is painful.
For me, Covid 19 is a tough Coach. Yet, it allowed me to slow down, embrace my grief, begin to heal and learn. I am committed to my practices to maintain my wellbeing. I am learning how to breathe through my tough moments. To be with my emotions while discovering the magic of life.
Life’s magic is present in my life, it’s in every breath I take, my nature hikes, the loving gestures from my friends & coaching colleagues.
And, now, since my burnout is diminishing, I realize the magic is the love in my mom’s voice, I see it in her eyes through the glass window when I visit.
Attachment My first attachment experience was in my childhood with a yellow blanket, named Blankey. A gift from my Nana for my third birthday. For me to go to sleep, feel good, safe, happy, I needed Blankey, or so I thought. My 4th birthday passed, then my 5th. When I reached the ripe old age of 6, my dad drew a line, “No more Blankley”. My dad thought if he cut my beloved Blankey up into small pieces, my attachment would shrink along with the blanket size. Although, blankey did get smaller, my attachment remained. As Blankey shrunk, I could hardly hold on to it. I would rub it between my thumb and my pointer finger while I sucked my thumb. Pure heaven. Then one day, while my dad was driving down the 101 freeway, mini- Blankey flew out of the car window. I am certain people four states away heard my blood curdling screams.
We’ve all have had attachments. A favorite pair of jeans, a pillow, t-shirt. I imagine someone is still hanging on to a favorite childhood treasure. Why do we require these attachments to feel good, safe or even happy? What if we got curious about why we are attached? Identifying our beliefs, emotions often reveals why we are attached. Then we are able to build capacity, resilience to be compassionate with ourselves, practice what we need for our wellbeing.
Attachment Today When I am attached to something I am unable to be with “what is”, be present, trust or curious about the attachment’s importance. For me, attachment’s bestie is fear. Fear whispers in my ear, “You won’t be okay or comfortable without it”. My thoughts go back and forth as I try to make a decision. My mind spins new scenarios, strategies. It feels like a nightmare marathon tennis match. My thoughts are like a spinning tennis ball. It’s as if fear and attachment relentlessly volley my thoughts and emotions back and forth in search of the best scenario. The perfect self-torture.
Signs of Attachment Initially, I wrestle with my attachment and fear as I attempt to unpack my thoughts, free myself long enough to discover “the why” I am attached and begin to name my values. Three signs that I am attached to a present circumstance is when “I need it” to be comfortable. The second is when my thoughts serve up why I need this to happen, over and over and over. Third, I’m unable to accept I don’t need these attachments to be okay, happy. I have felt the emotional attachment to my job, my mom’s house along with needing things to be a certain way because I believe then I will be happy, more comfortable, safe. No job, house, or situation has the ability to be the source of my comfort, peace or safety forever. Believing that I need a promotion, home or relationship to happy takes me away from being present, my gratitude, ultimately, my inner peace, wisdom and myself.
Values vs Attachment Discovering what I value helps me to understand the difference between my values and attachments. Attachment keeps me in fear’s grasp. Plus, I hang on, tightly to the belief that if I let go of what I am attached to, the outcome is negative. Fear blinds me from seeing what is possible.
Reflecting helps me, name my values. Meaning, my standards of behavior, what is important to me in life. Naming what I value, for example, being truthful and compassionate, meditating, a nature hike. These values, and practices connect me to myself. Whereas attachment pulls me out of myself as my thoughts provide evidence to hold on to “that something” that I believe I need to be comfortable, happy or even safe. I am not free. Attachment doesn’t allow me to explore the possibility of what could be. Sound familiar?
Realization Goggles Realizing what I value, frees me to be curious, begin to unhitch myself from the attachment. The lens I view the world, shifts, is renewed. Which I fondly referred to as “my realization goggles”. When I am unclear about the difference between what I value and what I am attached to I ask myself three questions.
Why do I believe I need this to happy, comfortable or safe?
What beliefs foster fear, stop me from freely living my life filled with love, joy and gratitude?
What practices will support my well-being?
The answers lead me to myself while building capacity and resilience, my wellbeing. It’s not about getting rid of emotional attachments. It’s about learning about them, ourselves and our values. So, get curious about an attachment. Try on your new realization goggles. Freedom comes from within. Enjoy being free.
“Attachment is the strongest block to realization.” Neem Karoli Baba
Who I am: I am a happiness junkie. Being unhappy is not an option. So, if you told me putting on a purple Barney suit (from Barney & Friends) and doing cartwheels while singing “A Christmas Carol” would magically make me happy, I would.
The goal to be happy motivated my research to discover how to sustain my happiness. The research revealed that Meditation provided a sense of well being. I thought, I am in. It appeared that meditation was the perfect solution to provide consistent happiness: No long process. Instant happiness. Boom.