Posts Tagged ‘how to thrive’

Yesterday I sat outside my house on the side patio. After a while I noticed that two mourning doves had landed in the corner of my yard on the wall surrounding my small decorative pond and fountain. They arrived as if from nature’s chef, an amuse-bouche, free, surprising, desirable. The tiny pond is a cool oasis full of water lilies, duck weed and water Hawthorne and around the edges grow nasturtiums and coreopsis and alyssum. It’s a lovely cool spot covered with a trellis full of passion vines.

One of the doves wandered over to the rocks around the pond to drink and began to splash around. Then leaving the pond, it walked along the bricks at the top of the stucco wall in front of it and sat down beside its mate in the shade of an orange blooming cape honeysuckle. It was a warm day here in San Diego, high 70’s, but there in the shade the doves sat side-by-side and settled into a mid-day repose, a luxuriating sloth, a robust calm, ataraxia, robust tranquility. Their legs disappeared. They sank into the cool bricks and widened. They so settled that when I moved my chair out of the sun, only 25 feet away, they didn’t move a feather to fly.

During the coronavirus pandemic, as we social isolate, for many of us there’s less to do than we are used to. In such a limiting milieu as this, I find myself flitting between uncomfortable feelings. What is it? Boredom? Lethargy? Anxiety? Malnoia, that vague feeling of mental discomfort. Unlike the doves, I don’t settle well in the shade.

Caralyn Collar, a blogger I follow at beautybeyondbones puts it well in saying, “we’re grappling with … restlessness.”

Yup! Nailed it! Caralyn is restless. I’m restless. The world is restless. Our children are restless. My cat is restless. Early the other morning while it was still dark, I stepped out to look at the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter through my telescope. Unbeknownst to me the cat came out with me, at 5 AM! When I went back in, she was locked out.. When we got up we were like, “Where is the cat?” We found her huddled under a bush in the side yard. She was glad to come back in. She was lucky one of the local coyotes that roam our master-planned community didn’t eat her.

We all want to escape, run out the door, get out again. We want to get out to malls, coffee shops, stores, restaurants, breweries, the gym, parks, the beach, church, friend’s homes, work, parties, hangouts — and get food — anything but grocery store food — and hugs.

The restless don’t rest that well. I confess I’m addicted to movement. We all are. We are addicted to motion, ambulation, talking, meeting, driving, projects, errands, shopping! We’ve had a lifetime of consumerism. Sure we can still buy online but buying things on Amazon is getting old! I want to touch stuff! I want to hobnob with the checker.

What to do?

Sitting the other day watching the two doves in the shade under the honeysuckle on the cool bricks, I found myself admiring their equanimity, their composure, their even disposition, their ability to just be there, to rest.

The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit of God. I think we like the Holy Spirit just like we like our consumer culture. We like the Holy Spirit to be in motion, to come to us frenetic, with brio, with verve, with spunk, with clangorous tongues of fire, agentic, shedding gifts, flying lead bird to the next wonder-venture. And while all that is fine and good, my resting doves, by the pond, reminded me that the Holy Spirit is also a Spirit of comfort and of rest, and that our God is a spirit of rest, and invites us to enter his rest.

The doves came and sat with me. Sometimes God comes that way, just to sit with us, in silence, to sit with us in our uncomfortable feelings, to sit with us in our anxiety and to sit with us in our restlessness. He knows we are restless, and he knows the true rest is found in him, in sitting with him, in silence. Seeing that he isn’t all on edge to jump up and fly and fidget and fume and fix, seeing that he knows how to sink his legs and feathers into the everyday-shady-brick-mundane gives us permission to be content, at times, with doing nothing. God our quiet feathered flâneur.

I think I could take lessons from my neighborhood doves! To rest some of the day away with no shame attached — that’s progress. That’s progress in moving away from addictive motion and persistent restlessness. They’ll be time again for all that; perhaps this is the time to get better at resting.

This evening as I take my walk I hear a dove cooing gently, roosted, retired, settled for the night, signaling its intrinsic restful contentment.

At such a time as this we may feel weak and vulnerable. Living in a world pandemic has this affect.

We are helping some by social distancing, but it is a very small part to play. Few of us have a leading role, and even those who do are not masters of the universe. They too must wait; none of us has the power to say, “Stop,” and the virus stops.

And so we wait, and so we are weaker than we want to be. And so we hurt for those who are afraid, for those economically devastated and for those who are sick and for those who have died and for their families.

We may wonder how to experience God in such a time as this, a time when we can’t go to church, a time when our relationship with God is more up to each of us.

I have thoughts. Jesus did not come in power and authority over everything that happen in his time. He healed, but he didn’t heal everything. He influenced, but he didn’t influence everyone. The truth is he allowed himself to come in human form and to be weak and vulnerable like us. His moment of greatest weakness, the one he said he didn’t want, this is what saved us.

Debbie Blue writes, “Our response to smallness, weakness, being out of control, vulnerability, eventual decomposing is usually not very accepting. We don’t usually love what is small and weak and vulnerable in ourselves. Nor do we generally feel that loving toward what is small and weak and vulnerable in other adults. We feel threatened by our finitude and mortality.”

Debbie has us rightly identified here but it is unfortunate that we think like this because in our smallness and in our weakness and in our pain we actually have an opportunity to experience God.

Perhaps we have limited our awareness of God’s presence to big moments of joy in communal worship or big gushes of gratitude in times when things are going our way. But what if God is also known to us in our helplessness and weakness and smallness?

The unvarnished truth is that God in Christ himself became weak so as to enter into our weakness; therefore, we can experience him in our own weakness. This will take some getting used to, this truth that uncomfortable feelings also contain the presence of God.

Debbie Blue writes, “Maybe people wanted a mighty, fancy, elite sort of God. God gave them Jesus, who consorted with the commoners, died with thieves. And still we’ve (sometimes) tried to make him out to be a superhuman.”

Of course Jesus was and is super, truly God, and yet he chose to become human, like us, which in part means powerless, wounded, subject to death.

This is true and provides us with a unique opportunity in this season of weakness to come into connection and solidarity with God and other people through the mystic revelation that weakness is something that God is present in.

This is a time in world history to accept and even embrace our limits, to embrace the spiritual sensation of weakness as a way to experience God and be one with God. Our sensations of weakness, helplessness and smallness are actually doors that open onto the awareness that God is present with us.

How will we know if and when we are really experiencing God in weakness? I’m not completely sure. We will have to try on theses new feelings to know, but not like when we try on new shoes. The idea is not that we have found God, the right God, when we feel good, when it feels like we have a comfy fit with the divine. The idea might be that we will know that we are connecting with God when we notice that we have more compassion and love for weakness in ourselves and others.

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

John 12:24

Jesus said this predicting his death, but even further he was laying out the loss-gain narrative of the universe.

Loss becomes gain. One becomes many. A kind of ongoing death becomes a new kind of ongoing life. The loss-gain narrative in Christ is paralleled in nature.

The acorn enters a dark place of transformation in the soil so a new oak may live. It waits. It waits for a unique trigger-combination of temperature-moisture-light. It waits for the right time. In the scientific sense of the word, the seed doesn’t “die” — but its shell protects, its nutrients feed, its form sacrifices itself for the new embryonic oak it engenders. The seed is used up in this process for the success and survival of the new tree it propagates. Jesus refers to this metaphorically as a type of death, one He would experience.

Jesus was used up to nurture, feed and birth a new, fresh embryonic us. Scripture says at the right time – the kairos— he literally emptied himself — the kenosis — in a real sense into us. He literally poured life into us at Easter in the same way the acorn pours life into the new tree.

And then perhaps the most radical thing of all: He asked us to lose our lives for others as well. To follow the loss-gain model, we like Christ are to protect, feed and nurture others by pouring ourselves into them. This seems particularly relevant to Easter 2020. The world is sheltered in place, waiting, giving up freedoms, mobility, connections, resources in order to save lives. We are currently living Easter! We are letting go of life to give and save lives.

And we are waiting, for what’s next! What’s next?

It is a beginning that will be the end of a waiting, a loss that will birth a gain.

Yesterday was a good day! I gardened, mowed the grass, and changed the oil in the lawnmower, something I haven’t done in ages. I painted a door, and I made dinner. In between I read and wrote a little. I drove our census over to the post office and then took a nice drive through the neighborhood. In the evening I watched TV with my wife. I am at my best, busy!

Today is different. It’s a beautiful day here in sunny California and the sun is shining, but I woke up in pain and haven’t been able to get away from it. It’s a beautiful day but I’m having trouble enjoying it. I’m taking medication and lying down. Life is up, and then life is down.

Yesterday on the phone with a friend we talked about wanting to live in the bubble. I want to live in the middle-class bubble, life safe, life resourced, life on vacation, life fun, life the way I like it, life that I control.

And I have. Many Americans have. We have gotten a good deal of that. But not every day, and not every season. Right now, during the coronavirus isolation, struggling with pain, life is up-and-down for us.

Sometimes the bubble pops. Dysbiosis. What do we do with that? We live it. We live it all. We live what we can control, and we live we can’t control. Welcome to reality! This is pretty much everybody’s reality. We don’t get everything we want. Some people hardly get anything they want.

We are headed into a season where many people are and will experience losses, the loss of loved ones, the loss of health, the loss of finances, the loss of careers, the loss of homes.

I don’t like this. No one does. So what still stands when all around things are lost? What still stands in all the world is full of fear? Despite our difficulties, two things haven’t changed. Two salient callings come to mind today: Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Neither a virus, nor the status of my body changes those two great ethical commandments for me. Discomfort doesn’t change those wisest of priorities.

Question: do we still love when we don’t get what we want? Do we love God? Do we love our neighbor? Do we maintain entente? These questions challenge me. Sometimes I fail in love — for God and my neighbor.

But yesterday my wife shipped my daughter and her husband two masks. My daughter is pregnant. We want her safe. Love.

And yesterday and today I worked on forming an online reading group to better connect with friends as we practice social distancing. Love.

Today so far I am holding my tongue and guarding my heart. It’s hard to hurt. I want to be healed, but I’m working on not being offended when I’m not. I’m not okay with pain, but I am working on not blaming anyone for it. This is life, part of life, and even compromised I am not off the hook to love. That’s hard. That’s love. Love doesn’t insist upon its own way. Love exists outside the bubble of what I want.

Last night at dinner we prayed for everyone who is suffering loss right now. We thanked God for the good things in our lives. Love.

Whether we’re on the mountaintop or in the ditch, in the bubble or watching it pop, the highest calling on our lives hasn’t changed.

Yet love.

And when a flock of bluebills, pitching pondward, tears the dark silk of heaven in one long rending nose-dive, you catch your breath at the sound, but there is nothing to see except stars.”

So writes Aldo Leopold in his A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There, a beautiful 1949 piece of nature writing. Aldo was an iconic woodsman, ecologist and environmentalist.

Reading his poetic lines you can just see him out in the marsh in the dark — waiting early or late there to hear and to wonder. Leopold is our model, our nature guru, our father forester who reminds us the land is sacred and the creatures sacred too. And we should wait on them.

This morning my wife and I sat in the family room looking out at our small backyard pond. We were waiting. We were waiting for the birds to come. We were waiting for some new migrating spring birds to show.

Sometimes seeing and hearing is all about getting in the right place and waiting, waiting for something to pitch pondward toward you, to tear the silk of heaven in front of you. To see you.

And sure enough, pitching pondward, a flash of color, a bright orange and black, a male, hooded Oriole. He landed on the trellis above the pond, all brilliant yellow-orange and deepest black, dropped aflutter to the water, splashed, and then winged back to the fence, rear end fluffy-wet and clean.

The first Oriole of the season! We felt so honored. And then as if that was not enough avian showboating suddenly brown phoebes were hopping on the ground all puffy and fat. And a white crowned sparrow lit on the stucco walland turned to show off his amazing eye stripes. And then a bit later a rare — to our yard — Rüfüs hummingbird darted into our blue plumbago, hovered over the pond and then in a reddish-brown flash — was gone.

When we planted all yard we planted for birds and butterflies. When we made a small pond, we made it for water lilies and water Hawthorne and duckweed — and birds. Doing so we tipped our hats to Claude Monet, Aldo Leopold, Emily Dickinson, Annie Dillard, Jean-Henri Fabre, John Bartram, God and other favorite environmentalists, poets, botanists and painters. 

What to do?

Build a pond set up a blind, or plant flowers, put out seeds and bread crumbs — and wait more.

The wonders are worth the wait.

This morning a hummingbird came to my backyard pond. It hovered in front of my pond fountain — a silver column of water surging into the air about a foot high — and took some sips. Standing on air, sipping sustenance — pure magic.

And the column of water? It’s powered by a pump connected to a solar panel. The sun moves the water up into nicely reachable space for the hummingbird. Sun moving water — pure magic

This morning I saw one of the dark grey and black fence lizards that lives in my backyard run straight down the vertical wall of my chimney to the ground. Running headfirst down a vertical wall — pure magic!

All around us we see things doing what they were made to do, things that we can’t do, but things that we can marvel at and appreciate and enjoy.

And that’s the question: what were you made to do? it may be a thing that the lizard can’t do and the sun can’t do and the hummingbird can’t do. It is most likely something you do easily, without thinking much about it, like breathing or eating.

Think about it. What do you love to do? Do that! Overcome fear, apathy, negativity and do something that you know is in you to do, something that might help someone else, something that might give you meaning, something that you’ve always wanted to do but perhaps been afraid to try.

Capitalization learning involves getting good at something by building on the strengths that we are naturally given

Do what you can capitalize on, what — given your personality and strengths — you feel nudged to do, something with the potential for you to perfect — pure magic!

Just do it.

Drill down, ensoul, innovate.

Today.

For God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

Yesterday I went out to the side patio and waited for the sun to pop out from behind a dark cloud. When it did I noticed several things.

I could feel my arms and shoulders and spirit become all warmish, snugly and radiant from the rays falling on my skin. How cozy; how encouraging.

Exposure to sunlight — while we know too much can be harmful — is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm, focused, easeful. Light therapy! Get out; grab some serotonin.

The sun; the warmth, the brightness — I feel very easiated, calmified and soothed by our hydrogen-helium star. It’s not big compared to other stars, nonetheless it contains 99.8% of the total mass in our solar system. That’s a lot of warmth!

Our sun is almost 110 times the diameter of our earth! Over one million Earth’s could be squashed inside the Sun, and yet for me yesterday‘s rays — an eight-minute-journey from sun to me — were gentle and soft and just the right distance away to give me life, and vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol.

Looking, I noted that the sun fell on in front of me and turned the lawn a gorgeous scintillant, bright green, in contrast to the grass left in the shade by the fence. And the shadow art from the flowers along the walk jumped out and became darker on the brown paved walk.

I sat still, gazing at sun and shadow wonders all around. The silver sheen bush at the edge of the house turned into a thousand tiny mirrors, each small, round leaf reflecting lambent, silver light. Taken together the bush was aglitter, glinting, glistening.

I love light. It’s more than warmth. It’s color, all the colors in the spectrum. This morning we woke to a rainbow out our back sliding glass door. A rainbow — a promise of protection — is formed out of light passing through water. It’s gorgeous — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

When the air is full of water after a rainstorm, the droplets act as prisms creating rainbows, colored in hope, reminding us of God’s love for us. Rainbows are circular in shape because the prisms (raindrops) that created them are spherical.

During this time of social isolation, remember to get outside a bit in safe places, in your yard or patio or for a safe walk, especially when the sun is shining.

Go out and see and feel the warmth, the wondrous, winsome solar wealth, the colors, sparkles, and spectaculars in the light. It’s a reminder that life is still warm and bright and that God has created the universe that still has good and love in it.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you;I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4

God promises his people three things here in Isaiah.

First, he will sustain them to the end of their lives. To sustain is to strengthen or support physically or mentally. And note the logical corollary to this: We will need the most sustaining when we are the weakest.

At one point in my life I lost a precious job and in the interim, before finding another one, I was afraid. I felt emotionally weak, vulnerable. I didn’t like it. I’m not particularly fond of feeling vulnerable. Few of us are. I’ve often played the strongman, the teacher, the leader, the writer but clearly I haven’t always been the strong man.

Secondly, in Isaiah 46 we are told that because God made us and feels intimately connected to us as family, he will carry us. To carry someone is to support and move them from one place to another. Again, this carrying implies a position of weakness: A person only needs to be carried when they cannot carry themselves. It can feel quite undignified to be carried.

I once sprained my ankle playing soccer in Brazil. The soccer field had holes in it. I was wheeled through the airport by my teenage team for the plane ride home in a wheelchair. I felt both privileged and slightly embarrassed. It’s true. Sometimes I find my weakness embarrassing.

Thirdly, in Isaiah, God repeats the first point, that he will sustain and he adds one more thing: He will rescue us. To rescue someone is to save someone from a dangerous or distressing situation that they can’t save themselves from. It is also to keep something from being lost or abandoned by retrieval. Again, dangling from a rescuing helicopter or laying on a gurney is hardly a bragging point for most of us. “I had to be rescued!”

At two points in my life I have been significantly sick, recovering from surgery, dealing with chronic pain. During these times I’ve had to wait on rescue, wait on doctors, wait on appointments, wait on surgeries, wait on a gurney, wait on God. I’m not that good at waiting, particularly when there is a high degree of uncertainty and uncomfortability. 

What can we take from all this? First, that we will at times be weak, embarrassed, at times need to be carried and that sometimes we will not be able to rescue ourselves from loss, deprivation, failure, need.

Let’s be honest. None of us like to be weak, dependent, helpless, sick and needy, and yet sometimes we will be. One of the great steps of maturity in life is to realize and accept our own vulnerability. All are subject to financial, health, material, relational, physical and situational loss and and its attendant emotion — vulnerability. We are realizing this acutely during the coronavirus pandemic. How insecure we are, practically spending the entire families savings on toilet paper!

But it is in such times of personal need that we can discover our humanity that includes our vulnerability — which by the way was always there even when we didn’t know it or denied it. How much we are all alike, strong, yes, and also all sometimes indisputably, intrinsically afraid, dependent and weak.

And here’s the thing; this weakness is most hard on us at the emotional level. The emotional power position is to save; the affectively weak position is to be saved. To be the one who needs to be rescued; we must be okay with being and feeling weak, even embarrassed; we must be okay with waiting until we are sustained and rescued by another; we must be okay with not being the hero, the driver, the solution and we must be okay with letting others shine and do the saving.

Ah, needy, waiting for help to come. The help seems slow. As time passes we wonder, will it come? We may grow angry over our loss of control or we may become sad.

What else can we do?

We can accept reality, accept both our strength and our weakness and we can work on not being so embarrassed by it so that it doesn’t become impedimenta to us that we drag along with us. Note that Betty Ford was praised for raising breast cancer awareness following her 1974 mastectomy. So many women have been helped and encouraged by her model of openness. We help ourselves and others by normalizing sickness and weakness. It is strong to accept that we are weak.

And we can learn to hold on to hope. That means we can trust that God will come through when he decides to come through and not when we tell him to come through.

We can lean into our difficulty and see what it has to teach us as we wait. That too is a form of strength. Waiting and watching can teach us that we are alternately weak and strong, that life is up and down and that God will come through in his own time and way and not ours.

Finally, it has been my experience — and I know many of you have experienced this too — that the promises of God do not always come to us when and how we want. Then we trust. Then we wait. Then we mature into those who are not afraid to be what we sometimes are — the strong-weak. Then we experience latency, a normal stage of life, the state of existing but not yet being developed or manifest.

Weak-waiting —- today it occurs to me that this can be a beautiful form of strong-trusting, and that this can set up a working relationship with God, one that preps us for future times of strength and weakness, one that finds a way to deeply liaise with the God who rescues.

“They’re really going to like this!” said God when he put a paper-thin, white wrapper on a garlic clove to keep it moist and fresh until use. “It’s a perfect bonne bouche!” he added.

I noticed this perfect thin, white wrapper yesterday when I used a garlic press to squish the yummy, savory garlic spice into my pot of steaming white bean soup. The thin paper was left in the bottom of the press. Amazing!

Gifts, wrapped and placed in containers are everywhere.

God loves us. He gift-wrapped so many things for us.

He must have taken delight in how much we would take delight in wrappers and containers and their contents and how much we would benefit.

Our oranges have thick, pungent bright orange rinds, bananas that perfectly peel-able yellow jacket, apples the shiny red edible skin — all these packing many needed essentials.

Fruits are pouches for essential nutrients — potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid).

In times like these, when fear an uncertainty are high, its helpful to notice the small, safe, protective container-gifts that we have been given. They are everywhere.

Yes, this rock we live on is dangerous, but we have wonderful layers and covers and containers and skins to enjoy today and to be thankful for.

Our own skin, the bag we live in, holds in all our complex organic machinery. The average adult has approximately 21 square feet of skin which weighs 9 pounds and contains more than eleven miles of blood vessels. The average person has about 300 million skin cells.

And we have our white blood cells — also called leukocytes or leucocytes — and they are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders. Yea!

Furthermore, our soft clothing keeps us modest and warm. Our homes with walls and roofs keep us warm and dry and safe. Our cars, and buses and trains and planes carry us safely many miles in their metal skins.

Yes, we get sick, but we often live covered, enclosed, encased, protected lives, and for those who don’t or can’t have such protections, the well-world must take great care and bring them inside and close them in and protect them and keep them safe, the homeless, the refugees the immigrants. This is love, to put a coat over another.

There is more. Earth’s atmosphere, its atmospheric stratification, is commonly divided into five layers. Excluding the exosphere, the four primary layers are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere.

These wonderful wrappings enclose our earth, keep in the heat, hold our weather, protect us from the sun. The thin layer of gas called ozone, high up in the atmosphere, filters out ultraviolet radiation.

The Earth’s atmosphere is also good at shielding us from space rocks hurtling towards the planet. Our strong air pressure causes many meteors to break up into small pieces.

The extreme heat generated as the meteoroid passes through the atmosphere causes it to burn up in what we see as streaking flashes of light.

We are protected. Of course, today, as the world is reeling from the execrable coronavirus we may not feel or think of all these protections, but we must to be rational and balance our perspective.

Yes, there is illness. Yes, a large meteor might strike the earth and harm us. Yes, one day the sun will exploded and take out the earth, but yes, yes, yes today we yet experience many wonderful layers of protection surrounding our food, our bodies, our homes, our earth.

“They’re really going to like this — bark, membrane, sheath, dermis, film, carapace, shell, hull, capsule, chamber, package, pocket, packet, pouch!”

Today, steady yourselves, and noticed the protective layers around you — and say to yourself, “I like this.”

Do you have power?

You do. You are not feckless, weak, incompetent. You are savvy, cogent, strong! God did not give you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power! 

Today I received a package from Amazon that I ordered for my daughter. It’s a set of Skullcandy head phones. I took the time to make sure that they worked fine. Doing something for others, that always makes me feel better. You and I have the power to make other people’s lives better.

Buy extra toilet paper if you must. Then give some of it away to your neighbors.

You have power. You have agency. That power is in your body. All the arteries, veins, and capillaries of a human child, stretched end to end, are estimated to wrap around the Earth about 2.5 times (the equivalent of about 60,000 miles). Blood is pulsing through your whole body today nourishing and caring for your cells. Such built-in power is keeping you alive! It is allowing you to move your limbs and do things today. How wonderful!

Today I dust mopped the floors. What a privilege to have a home, to have floors, to clean.

You have power in your mind. The average brain has 86 billion neurons. Today you can remember good things and learn new things. My daughter is making soup. She asked for my recipe. We texted back-and-forth about yummy soup and spices.

Today I’m writing this blog. I’m doing this to give myself advice, and I’m hoping that it helps you, one of my friends, to have a better day. Our lives are now limited but they can be still directional.

Your spirit is powerful. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.” We actually have a built in sense of surviving, lasting, being saved from even death. We are predisposed to anticipate salvation.

Something in you wants to live. Something if you want to live a beautiful life. That was put there by God. Recognize his desire within you. You just made contact with your own spirit. The will to live is physical; it is also spiritual.

It is especially important to realize your power when you don’t feel like your life is beautiful. Use your mind to tell yourself what is true and good for you. For me it is good that others love me and take care of me.

We can’t control all of reality, but we can somewhat control our reactions to it. Maintain your narrative fidelity. Be true to your own story. My story is tied to the earth. I garden. I grow flowers. And grass. It rained today! I love to hear it in the gutters? The grass is greenly grateful.

Today I’m reminding myself that I have enough, that I am enough, that I have done enough and that whatever else there is for me to do is in God’s hands. I’m trusting him for his definition for my level of productivity in the future.

Today many of us are sheltered at home because of the coronavirus. We may feel somewhat helpless and anxious, powerless in our new darker, poorer, diseased, Stygian world.

Anxious questions may arise in our minds. Will we get sick? Will we have enough food? Will those of us who work be able to keep our jobs and pay our bills?

For those of us who suffer illnesses, will we be able to get proper medical care?

Such questions make us feel helpless and powerless because they bring up possible deprivations or losses.

But we have the power to take charge of our thoughts and reactions. We can choose to obsess on what’s wrong, or we can focus on mini-solutions to our questions.

We can go over our financial resources and make an emergency plan, write it down, consider options. What will we do if we are out of work for a month? What will we do if we are out of work for two months? Plans help calm our anxieties. If we aren’t sure of a financial decision we can call someone we trust who is good with finances and ask what they would do. I know someone who did that yesterday and the wise financial step suggested hadn’t been thought about before.

We can eat the food we have today and enjoy it. I just finished a coconut popsicle! I’m drinking a calming tea now. If you need more food, plan a trip to the store when others may not be there in great numbers. There is enough food in the stores. Make wise choices. If you need more medicine order it online.

Today, at home, we have the power to do many things that are important.

We can titrate our exposure to the news. That means we can keep up and stay informed and yet sense when we’re watching too much and just creating more anxiety in ourselves. There’s a balance somewhere.

Today we can rest from striving, from trying to justify our existence by what we do, and we can do something really powerful, and that is to realize that we were worthy of being loved without performing. We can do this by being kind to ourselves today, for example moving between small projects and resting.

I just cooked up a spaghetti squash for dinner. I made a small bean taco for a snack! It was a cheery little taco! With its corn tortilla it tasted kind of like a tamale.

It was a small kindness to myself.

What does it look like to be kind to oneself?

It means making choices that are within our power that nurture our bodies and souls. I’m reading a good book today, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. Lori weaves her own story of going to counseling with the stories of those who come to her for therapy. This book reminds me that our presenting issues are not always are real issues. It helps me to ask what is really going on with me? It helps me to reevaluate my stories and think: Has what I have been telling myself true or not?

We can can do other home things, cleaning, reorganizing, watching positive TV shows, texting friends or talking on the phone to family.

I love you. I want you to feel safe. I want you to love yourself.

What will you do the rest of this day to calm, sooth and nurture yourself and the ones you love?