As I wash my hands much more frequently than usual and I turn to lotions to soothe their dryness, I remove and replace a treasured heirloom ring from my grandmother, over and over again. Each time I do this, I find myself wondering how she would be handling this crisis if she were alive today, at my age, and experiencing what I’m experiencing.
It’s Saturday, and I have no place to go as together with my husband, I am self-isolating. There is lots to be done here at home as I consider which domestic chores I could accomplish in an effort to distinguish today from the rest of the week, having worked entirely from home. Of course, on the list of chores can be laundry, bathroom and kitchen cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and watering plants. As I begin these, my thoughts effortlessly transport me to a childhood memory and a desire for fresh, comfort food style baking. Since I can’t go out, I’m also choosing to bake, and with that decision made and carried out, the fresh aroma of sweetness wafting from the oven, my thoughts open again to my grandmother. Saturdays were the day she baked, her kitchen smelling amazing; I recall the look of pleasure on her satisfied face when I arrived for my usual Saturday visit.
My grandmother was born in 1922 and survived WWII as a young woman, overcoming many traumatic moments. A few years later and now a mother with young children, she emigrated from Europe to Canada, prevailing many other challenges. Time and again, she tackled and triumphed despite whatever adversity life presented her.
My recollections of my grandmother are of her strength and compassion, her frugal inventiveness with attention to not wasting anything, and her commitment to prayer while continuing to put one step in front of the other to get through whatever needed to be got through.
Today, I especially notice my frequent curiosity about what my grandmother would do in these times and find myself repeating a mantra, an internal loving dialogue of sorts.
A valued and highly respected colleague recently shared an article she wrote about how one can change their self-talk. She explains that “Many people aren’t aware of how important their own repetitive thoughts are, even though they may have heard quotes such as, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’ Book of Proverbs, (King James Version).” How fitting to read today what Kelley T. Woods wrote as my heart and mind, and last night’s dreams, are consumed with the recollection of my grandmother’s commitment and belief in prayer in addition to using the gifts and talents she had. She did not sit idly by waiting for help or saving by another but was active in doing her part in finding and participating in the solution, and helping others, however small her contribution may have seemed.
In one of my online peer groups of over three thousand women from around the globe, a post shared the teachings of Allison Davies, a Registered Music Therapist from Australia who discusses on her YouTube video the power of melodic mantras. “Melodic mantras have a greater impact on neuro-plasticity than spoken or written affirmations as the music leads to dopamine release.” Perhaps this is why I felt so much peace and simultaneous joy as I watched some greatest hits, oldies, and gospel sing-alongs on television last evening.
“You spend the most time with yourself, which is why the tone and content of your internal dialogue is incredibly important to how you feel about yourself,” as Sarah Samuel, a staff writer for Gaia.com, shares before offering ten powerful self-loving mantras. She winds up her article by proposing that, “Finding your perfect mantra can keep you focussed on the positive and spiritually strong.” This suggestion is extra important to note because how we feel quickly can get expressed outwardly and often felt by others.
It’s been a glorious Saturday filled with activities: a clean home, fresh laundry, satisfied plants, good memories, a baked reward, and, well, a little bit of career work accomplished too.
You have your own wonderful recollections of family, friends, or others who have demonstrated spirit of strength, and this is available within your own heart, soul, and mind. Take time to notice and tap into their power and come up with your own mantra, melodic or otherwise.
My oven timer dinging, I’m off to explore the results of my baking effort and then wash and lotion my hands, acknowledging the spirit of strength that I know exists within.