By Sarah Stokes
Today over some tears at the tail end of my soup and sandwich I told my husband, “I’m confused.”
I was already feeling a little sorry for myself that I was in a kitchen with clutter starting to close in on me. My scheduled and strategic life was melting into a puddle like the uneaten grilled cheese sandwiches I’d just made our kids.
He asked, “What are you confused about?” I said, “I feel like I have a foot in both worlds,” (In an admittedly and very self-aware first-world-problem moment), “…and I don’t know if I’m a kick-butt business executive or if I’m Pioneer Woman.”
He of course replied, “Well, right now I guess you’re both.” I felt defeated and on the verge of a middle-aged tantrum (No, not really, but felt extra dramatic in the moment). I just told him in a moment of definance for our current circumstances, “I don’t want to do both. I just want one at a time.”
After more than a week of major crisis communications planning (we own a marketing consulting agency) and handling some of the toughest business decisions alongside multiple clients, COVID-19 would have been plenty for my brain and my empathetic heart. But as you know, we’re living in an extraordinary time. The potential for mental and emotional strain is endless.
Let’s add a second and third grader home from school, the death of an aunt, concern for immune-comprised parents, a super sad unexpected ending of a friendship, staying healthy myself, remembering to exercise, cooking all the meals, foraging for TP, hoping to find groceries, watching the stock market plummet, worrying about our revenue, launching a huge new product, holding space for friends and family, being worried for all the little kids at home with stressed parents, moving an entire team of staff members to online work, closing our office, staring at zoom all day, thinking ahead to what we’ll need in a month, doing a great leadership training, and keeping the calm presence I want…
I hit an energetic slump on Wednesday and had to put myself in time out. I took all the self-care measures and let my colleagues who are part of the new product launch know that I needed a hot minute to collect myself. The product push had to wait a few days.
I usually bounce back rapidly from a reset. I thought it would have happened by today. But now, I see that self-quarantine is much like having a newborn at home. You get nothing done but feel like you’re doing everything all at once. Nailing Jello to a tree shall we say? I realize that just like on maternity leave, we can only do what we can do.
My preference is to have all the structure I used to have back and I can go on with my day. But this is what it’s like to surrender I guess.
I believe firmly that this Coronacrazy is here to help me evolve.
What is it showing you?
In the midst of my overdoing (see aforementioned ridiculous week) I am cracking open a little more each day. This opening in my shell is letting in even more light. I thought I was already open-hearted, but this dramatic shift in our planet is shifting me.
I’m sharing my feelings freely and letting the tears fall. I’m giving myself permission to say what I need. I’m listening to the call on my soul to step up even more. There are beautiful, helpful, amazing things happening. I am bawling and joy-filled as I feel the pull on my soul to step into more of my purpose: sharing love and light. Feels pretty divine.
And yet it feels like within the hour, there are some seriously human things happening.
This week has shown me what it’s like to be strapped into the seat of a roller coaster you didn’t ask to be on. I am usually pretty level-headed and I can’t remember the last time I felt a pity party coming on. Gratitude is one of my core values and yet I find myself quickly falling out it into fear. I’m pretty good at giving my friends the space to be human, but heaven forbid I need the grace. I push myself hard. I expect myself to move the mountains and not need a break.
No one is looking in my windows shaming me for not being Martha Stewart right now and no CFO is judging my CEO skills. The only shamer and blamer lives inside my own mind. There’s no social distancing from her.
I imagine, much like the light and dark of my emotions, we’re in a time where we can decide what we’re going to do with this new normal. Are we going to become more of who we are meant to be or sink into self-pity? Perhaps we’re learning to explore both our light and dark.
The good news is that while these may be confusing days, we don’t have to be anything more than present. We’re in this together. We’re all rookies. There’s no gold medal and no winner. There is no right way to do this pandemic life. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. There’s only the chance to weed out what is love, what is fear, and who you’re becoming.