It’s been almost a month now since I started to self-isolate. I go to work and, if I absolutely must, I’ll go to the grocery store. I’m feeling the ache and pain of being alone. The time I would normally spend with others is spent completely isolated from the rest of the world. It’s challenging me to really dig deep within myself to uncover a sweet relationship with who I am at my core.
On top of the mandated isolation, the Universe thought it’d be a good growth opportunity if I decided to leave my eight-year relationship at the same time. So not only do I find myself isolated from my friends and family but my partner no longer lives with me. In a radical decision to be responsible humans, we expedited our uncoupling timeline and he moved out one month ahead of our planned transition.
Between Two Worlds
My time alone has seen me teeter on the edge of old, unhealthy habits and a call to dive deep inside and anchor new ways of being.
Old habits got the best of me for about two weeks around the time the pandemic started in America. Leadership at the hospital decided my cohort of nurses would be the initial frontline staff for the COVID-19 patients, which posed a serious dilemma for my soon-to-be ex-partner, who was now required to work from home. We originally planned for him to move out in one month. And shortly after, he’d go to Michigan to spend a few months living with his elderly parents.
Exposure to me meant a hairy array of hoops he’d have to jump through to either return to the office or get to his parents without posing them a major risk. Fortunately, we had two days to decide our plan of action before I’d return to work and inevitably start caring for these patients. (Yes, a bit of sarcasm on the fortuitous nature of these events.)
The intensity of this decision coupled with the reality of now self-isolating, literally all alone, amidst putting myself in harm’s way each day at work by providing direct care for these patients created an immense amount of emotional and mental turmoil for me. I’m not the least bit surprised that under such great pressure my default coping mechanism became alcohol and TV.
Fortunately, I saw the habits for what they were and I quickly drew myself back and out of those destructive ways. But then I was left in a void.
I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Standing in this middle ground I looked to both sides. On one side I saw drinking, binge-watching TV, scrolling social media, getting lost in news, and fear and uncertainty.
On the other side, I saw… nothing. I hadn’t flushed it out yet. I didn’t quite know what existed there. But I needed to find out because I didn’t want to slide back into the old ways of doing things. I needed something new and different. I could feel that I was ready for it.
What were the healthy alternatives? What was I being called to do? What would nurture my heart and soul? What would activate my highest and best good? What could I do that would utilize this precious time and energy wisely?
I use the word “wisely” very intentionally. My soul sister used this word and I think it’s apt. We’ve been given a beautiful opportunity to consciously choose a new way forward. All of our “normal” routines and distractions have come to a grinding halt. The collective energy is centered in the home with the self. This disruption in energy patterns alone creates the perfect soil for planting, growing, and harvesting brand new and inspired ways of living and being.
The Choice to Be Good, Wise, and Healthy
In my desire to harness the potency of these times, I asked myself these powerful questions, “What are ways I can embody my highest wisdom as I care and nurture myself over the next months? How will I choose to spend my time during quarantine?” I saw a whole array of options come into view.
Here’s what came of it:
- Walks in nature/outside
- Contemplation and journaling
- Energy practices such as space clearing and grid work
- Connecting with soul sisters
- Ritualized offerings (to Mother Nature’s various forms and spirits)
- Bringing conscious awareness to the energy reads I get of a person, place, or thing
- Writing for HDL
- Ceremonial grade baths
I found a common theme after sitting with the energy of this list. What I see are practices that allow for deep openings and receptivity. At the heart of these practices is the act of unplugging from the old and intentionally plugging into the fine filament of a higher perspective that’s beaming through right now. It’s the work of anchoring a new way of being amidst the chaos of our times.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this list. There’s a revolution to be had in deep self-care. Fear, anxiety, doubt, and worry are flooding my nervous system in waves as I face each new day amidst a rapidly changing world.
Old routines and habits are dissolving and in its place remains a field of possibilities. A blank canvas, if you will. How I choose to respond paints the first layer on my new work of art. These intentional and wise choices and practices of conscious self-care absolutely set me up to take advantage of this massive opportunity. By choosing to act with clear intention I can feel a sense of higher purpose and service work permeate my actions. My self-care and wise choice-making serve not only myself but the good of all. In this knowing, I rest deeply.
This clarity came during three delicious days off work. And at the end of three days, I closed my laptop and crawled into bed. I knew in my heart the wisdom of these days of rest would enter my cells and come with me into the new week, except I had a feeling it wouldn’t quite be the same. I seemed to know that something would shift. And these insights would take on a new flavor and dimension as I entered the new week.
The Shortcomings of the Healthy Path
I went back to work on a Sunday. By Monday I felt a distance form between myself and the juicy truths I touched on. I felt myself clawing for the familiarity of old routines – sitting in the front of the TV and lazying the day away – in the absence of this connection.
And it was no wonder because hard emotions had begun to surface as I faced another day in the shifting energy of my environment and routines. No longer can I look forward to the same end of day greetings from my partner. No longer can I passively move from one encounter to another with him, idling the time between. Now I am wholly responsible for my day. Now a new routine is set to emerge in the wake of the dissolution of the old.
On this day, I struggled to re-engage the wisdom energy of the prior week. It took a great effort to make conscious choices that felt truly aligned with the prior week’s truths when all I really wanted to do was bury my head in the couch and forget life.
I thought I could just think about what I conjured the days before and do it and feel good and be happy, but it all felt off. It felt like I was forcing myself to be other than how I was. In actuality, I was completely disregarding how I truly felt in the moment.
By the day’s end, I couldn’t fit myself into the molds of last week any more. The list, although a good one, wasn’t working for me. Or, I wasn’t working for it.
My heart ached too much. It asked for new attention and energy unrealized by the mind. What I needed more than ever was simple nurturing attended to moment by moment; a true, honest look at how I felt and then actions based on my present moment experience, not a pre-prescribed plan for how best to utilize my time devoid of my present state of being.
I think I made a good list of tools to have at my disposal but what I failed to recognize on Monday was that the tools aren’t the starting place. It’s crucial that I look first within. I need to attend to the state of my being by getting a good read for how I truly am. From there, I can make a decision on which tools would be best. And that’s what I failed to do.
Instead, I imagined a day being all “high vibe” and inspired, which went completely against how I truly felt. Sometimes nurturing looks like anchoring high vibe energy and practicing grid work. But sometimes nurturing looks like resting on the couch and watching TV.
I was too caught up in the narrative about making wise use of my time. I put a lot of responsibility and pressure on myself. My mind ran away with this notion of “wise” and “healthy” and had me believing that anything not on my list, or even any unconscious behaviors at all, were a strict no-no. Without even realizing it, I’d locked myself into a shame cycle. All in a matter of days.
I totally believe that making wise use of quarantine time is a good idea. But I really need to let go of any judgments I might have unconsciously formed in the process. If I fall back into old habits or act unconsciously, it doesn’t do me any good to berate myself for it.
Matt Kahn says it best. He says that even in those moments when we are doing the things we’d really rather not be doing any more, that’s when we need to love ourselves more not less.
He also offers that we will slip into old habits and ways of being for as long as we need until we reach a tipping point and roll forward into the next stage and evolution of our being.
I was too quick to clump certain habits into the “unwise and unhealthy” bucket which prevented me from realizing their capacity to be medicine. So when my soul called for something in the “unhealthy” bucket I stopped myself, said no, and grasped for something ill-fitted albeit “healthy,” which created discord rather than harmony.
While I certainly want to make good use of my time, I see that “good,” “wise,” or “healthy” are all judgments. My heart and soul are on another level. What makes something a “wise” use of time is not the task itself but how closely aligned my chosen tool is with my divine spark.
Beyond Good and Bad
My mind so badly wants to differentiate between bad and good. But the reality we are collectively stepping into is beyond this duality. It encompasses life as a spectrum. Nothing is wholly bad or good. It simply is.
The other week when I stood between these two worlds – old, destructive patterns on one side and healthy, new habits on the other – I thought it was either/or. I see now that it’s whatever the fuck I feel called to do when I feel called to do it, knowing full well that conscious attention to the harmony of my energetic body and soul is a clear guide.
Some days I’m going to want to be all spiritual and woo-woo. I’ll do the soulful thing. Some days I want to eat a hamburger, watch TV, and think about my childhood. What I’m committed to isn’t a list of tasks. What I’m committed to is my soul and the harmony of all my bodies – mental, emotional, soul, and spirit. I’m committed to following what feels right for me in any given moment.
It’s mind-bending to take this into consideration because following soul looks different for everybody all the time. Soul can ask me to do disciplined meditation for 10 years. Then one day I’m guided to stop. I don’t meditate for the rest of my life. Others may find that eating hot dogs gives them the boost they need where still others thrive on only water.
What’s clear for me now is my intention. During these challenging times, my intention is to participate in life in a way that revitalizes, rejuvenates, and nourishes me. My intention is to follow the path that helps me most embody my unique soul. I now know that what will help me to realize my intention may not always be what I think it is.
May you make wise use of your quarantine time in whatever way soul guides you.