Before there was Thank You Quarantine, there was a busy world. I, like many people, was out and about trying to “do” something with my life but quietly yearning for more impact, meaning and connection. I was newly in love and yet awfully aware that romance wasn’t enough for me when these three words came all at once: Thank You Heartbreak.
What began as a 10 question Q&A series has grown into a podcast with 174 episodes (episode 174 feature’s today’s spotlighted guest, Pamela Savino) and counting, which essentially amounts to 174 hours of conversation with strangers. I got what I was aching for, alright.
The topic of heartbreak has very much become the heartbeat of my days.
To hear the origin story of Thank You Heartbreak, since, without it, there very likely never would have been a Thank You Quarantine, click over to the first installment of this series where I reveal how we got here and introduce you to our first spotlight or catch up on past spotlights.
Otherwise, here’s the CliffsNote version: Thank You Heartbreak celebrates individuals who haven’t just stopped after their heartbreak. Rather than recalling a sob story, aka the universal experience of heartbreak, TYHB is deeply invested in those who choose to shine a light on the silver linings they discovered in the wake of disappointment, in the shadows of uncertainty, and in the waves of grief. And, now, so does Thank You Quarantine.
In this series, everyday people—people just like you and me—answer questions they’re not used to asking themselves from an environment they’re not used to being in and, in the process, discover an upside to the global heartbreak we are all experiencing.
Simple enough and yet self-inquiry is often a daunting undertaking. With this in mind, may we honor the guests who have let us in on their otherwise private revelations and may we remember that this series is for us.
May Thank You Quarantine guide us toward feelings that strip us down and into answers that awaken us.
May we learn about others through the details of their lives and notice ourselves in the universal experience that we share.
And may all of this turn us into connected humans and thankful people.
Now, let’s learn from our 5th guest…
Executive Coach, Founder of LiveAuthentically.Today, & author of SOAR: A Spiritual Journey through Divorce, Transformation and Self-Actualization PAMELA SAVINO Spotlight
1. Weeks into quarantining, with more silence and less distractions, is there something that you feel like you are being called to face? Maybe a feeling about yourself that you can no longer outrun, a fear that has been exacerbated, a dependency that’s been crippling you, a relationship that you realize you’ve been neglecting?
Absolutely! This time in quarantine has made me acutely aware of the importance of my family and the limited time we have together. Having my kids all under one roof again for days, weeks, and potentially months has reminded me of the harsh reality that they won’t live here forever. Straightforward and obvious as that may sound, I don’t always take time to reflect on that truth and soak in their current ages, as I’m playing unpaid Uber driver, shuttling the mom bus from the hockey rink to the gymnastics facility, along with all of the other mom activities required to keep this ship afloat.
This period of quarantining is reminding me of their toddler days in some respects. You know, the chapter when we spent most of our time at home, when I was tethered to the kitchen, and I heard “Mom!” no less than about 1000 times per day. As challenging as that may have been at times, I kept telling myself “I’m gonna miss this.” And I’m reminding myself of the same thing now, because I know I’ll miss this. I already do.
I can already feel how our lives will fill up again with activities, and I am challenging myself to savor every moment of this slice of silence in our lives. I know my kids will never remember the heap of dishes on the counter waiting to be washed, but they’ll always remember that we stayed up late playing trivia games and doing other fun activities as a family.
This little bubble that we’re being forced to live in right now has afforded me the opportunity to cherish the present, knowing that this moment in history is truly a gift that won’t last forever.
2. If you turned this period of quarantining into one long personal development project, where would you most need to breakinward in order to look back and say, “That time benefited me and I emerged healed and stronger in thanks to the pandemic”?
This is such a great question because I believe this entire opportunity is a unique gift. As unprecedented as this scenario of quarantining is, this is a golden opportunity to fine-tune many areas of our lives. While my heart breaks for those who have been directly affected by the coronavirus in any way, shape, or form, I am grateful for the chance to slow down and recenter and refocus my energy and attention by making more conscious choices.
I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what my personal area of focus should be during this time, and I keep coming back to the word connection. I’m being called to use this time to connect with myself and connect with others.
I am especially dedicating time every single day to connect to my divine essence through meditation in nature. It is during this time that any doubts, fears, or uncertainties I may have get washed away by the trust-filled knowingness that the universe is always taking care of me. I ask the universe to help me continue to serve others and be a steward on their journey, in the best way I know how. It always leaves me feeling energized yet calm, as I surrender to the process knowing that all I have to do is show up every day doing my best.
As the busyness of everyday life has been brought down to a low simmer and is devoid of the usual errand-running and other usual daily tasks, I have filled the time with various forms of connections that I normally wouldn’t partake in as often. This has made me realize that I have room to raise the bar for how much time I spend meaningfully connecting with others.
Personally, we have instituted family dinners, which are usually challenging because of various activities, and I am having more phone conversations and video calls with friends and family than I ever have before. These are all activities that I’m excited to carry with me into my post-quarantine life.
Moments of connection, whether it is with ourselves or others, are where the beauty, depth, richness, and meaning of life is found. I believe each interaction is a gift, as it affords us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves through vulnerability and transparency, and provides profound opportunity for growth and transformation.
3. What is the most poignant memory you have of feeling isolated in your life? How did you breakthrough that isolation and eventually reengage with the world?
Wow. My mind was immediately flooded with memories of unequivocally the most challenging life experience I’ve had to date that left me feeling isolated for several months, and I remember it all in exquisite detail like it was yesterday.
One beautiful fall day back in September 2005, life was good. I had just celebrated my 31st birthday with my husband, 1 ½ year old daughter, my parents, and my brother’s family. I was pregnant with our second child, and much of the conversation was centered around the baby. During the celebration, everyone was submitting guesses for the baby’s gender, and a few baby name suggestions were even thrown into the mix. The big day was soon approaching and I could barely even contain the excitement.
During the party, I was trying not to be an alarmist but with each passing hour my sense of worry was mounting, as I had not felt much movement that day. By evening I was convinced something was wrong. Very wrong. I paged my doctor, who ordered us to come in right away to be checked. Shortly after we got to the hospital, we received the grim news that our baby girl had passed away.
The days, weeks, and months that followed were agonizing. Excruciatingly agonizing. I couldn’t even get my head wrapped around how we went from excitedly picking out baby names to sitting in a family room full of sympathy flowers, all in the blink of an eye. My world was shattered in a million little pieces, and at times I was pretty sure I was never going to be able to put it back together.
I was so immersed in my grief that some mornings getting out of bed felt like an insurmountable task. I had a lot of recovering to do… physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I knew it was going to be a long and hard road.
I wanted to hide from the world. In fact, I did. I remember feeling so incredibly alone because I knew of no one else who this had happened to. I was stuck in this never-ending quagmire between wanting to stay home so I didn’t have to face the outside world, and entertaining the thought of stepping out into public to begin taking healthy steps in the healing process.
One day I decided to move out of my comfort zone and shop for Christmas decorations. Just minutes after I started shopping, a lady who looked like she was nine months pregnant started shopping next to me. I barely held it together through the checkout line, and burst into tears the moment I left the store.
For several months, I couldn’t escape from the feeling of isolation. When I was home I felt alone, and when I was around others, some aspect of their life would remind me of the profound loss I was still grieving, and I would again find myself feeling isolated.
Slowly I started to connect with other people who had similar experiences, which was a pivotal moment in my healing. All of a sudden, I realized I wasn’t alone. I connected with other women who had been through similar experiences, and opened up about mine. I talked to individuals and joined a support group, and little by little I started to see glimmers of hope. We formed an unbreakable bond, and they are still close friends of mine, 15 years later.
Through this experience I learned how connecting with others in a vulnerable and transparent way, even in our darkest moments, opens the doorway to an atmosphere of healing. I truly believe this experience can be applicable to what many are going through now. For me, connection was what led to healing and I believe connection can help us in this moment in time as well.
4. As you practice self-isolation and physical and social distancing, what and/or who are you missing most from your “old life?”
Truth be told, this social distancing thing is tough for a full-blown extrovert. I miss seeing all of my friends and family in person, but not being able to see my parents is the hardest part. They live ten minutes away from us and under normal circumstances my kids and I see them often. I have watched many of my friends lose their parents over the last few years, and as a result treat every day I still have them as a tremendous gift. Time is our most valuable asset and something we can never go back and reclaim, and it’s hard knowing this time for quality, in-person visits has been lost. We do video calls with them, but it pales in comparison to seeing them in person.
5. In a perfect world, where life resumes to normal, what would the perfect day look like to you? Who would you see, what would you do, where would you go, how would you act? And would this look and feel any differently than days of the past?
I love this question. It’s perfect for someone who loves to fantasize and dream. I keep joking that Day 1 post-quarantine is going to be one long, fun, action-packed, people-filled day—complete with extra-long hugs! Like that Big Red gum commercial from the 1980’s… laugh a little longer, stay close a little longer….ok, I digress.
Ok, so here it goes: Day-slaying starts at 5:00 a.m. with a workout, green detox juice, breakfast at our favorite cafe, and then a tour of the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago doing drop-in visits at friends and family’s houses, playing bakery delivery service. Forecast for sleep: highly unlikely.
Next day the party is at our house. I’m envisioning a huge open house packed with family and friends (shoulder to shoulder…excuse me, pardon me…love that vibe). As usual, every square inch of our kitchen countertops is covered with food and drink, looking as if I’m running an all-inclusive resort.
Any time we regain something we have lost, we have a newfound appreciation for it, so I am expecting that I will be extra present and cherish the little moments of connection even more than I usually do.
6. What is the upside of solitude and why do we work so hard to avoid it? What question do you have about your life that bubbles to the surface when you’re in solitude? Is there a question you feel like others keep busy in order to avoid having to ask themselves?
Solitude is rich in opportunities to connect with our authentic selves. We work so hard to avoid it because it is much easier for our human minds to remain busy, distracted, and shrouded behind facades than it is to let our guards down and be truly seen by others and ourselves. Connecting to our divinity requires a serious amount of honesty, vulnerability, transparency, and an unwavering commitment to a lifestyle centered around soul work.
The question that bubbles up to the surface for me during moments of solitude is always “How can I touch more lives faster?” My pie in the sky, go big or go home dream would be to impact all 7.6 billion people in this world in a positive way, and every day I brainstorm different platforms to extend my reach.
The question that others try to avoid that I believe cuts straight through to the core of our individual truths is, “How does this make me feel?” Our minds, bodies, and spirits are highly perceptive and adept at communicating to us what resonates with us and what doesn’t. The issue is that allowing ourselves to come to terms with our feelings is a tall order and requires a truckload of courage, and is often met with resistance and fear. We busy ourselves to keep those feelings at arms length. It takes an extraordinary and sustained effort over the long haul to align our lives and lifestyles with our truth.
7. How would you define freedom? When do you feel most free?
Freedom is the willingness to be seen, by yourself and others, without fear of being judged.
I feel the most free when I am showing up as my authentic self, just being me. Not making it my objective to please anyone and not relying on validation from others. Releasing judgement of myself and others keeps me anchored on the truth that we are each on our own respective individual journeys, and have our own lessons to master. This allows me to enjoy the journey and soak up every moment, knowing that each experience has meaning and plays a role in shaping who I am.
8. What are you learning about the importance of self-reliance as well as physical touch?
In my mind, self-reliance goes hand in hand with independence, and when you operate from this state, you reach a dangerously high level of personal power. This is precisely where you become unstoppable, because you learn how to harness the unlimited power that resides within you.
Physical touch is my top love language, and I feel the void immensely during this quarantine. If you reach out to shake hands with me, chances are I’m going to hug you instead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
There’s an unspoken message conveyed through physical touch that says “I care about you. I see you. I’m here for you.”
9. What’s a moment that you’ve really enjoyed since quarantining?
We’ve taken dinner prep to new heights during the quarantine period. Our kitchen often looks like the cross between a music video and a cooking show, as we’re cranking out desserts and pans of pasta while belting out our favorite songs blaring in the background. Wooden spoons double as microphones, spatulas double as air guitars, and my 8-year-old claims her center stage spot, smack-dab in the middle of the kitchen island. And yes we have video footage if you want to see!
I appreciate these impromptu moments because they are a constant reminder that joy can be found in the simplest activities.
10. When the going gets tough, what’s one mantra you’d like to try and live by?
Trust the process. Short, sweet, spiritual, and all-encompassing. This phrase, universal in its application, can be applied to any challenge in life and calls us to honor the divinity within each of us, as we surrender and place our trust in the universe’s infinite knowledge and wisdom.
To connect with PAMELA SAVINO, executive coach, founder of LiveAuthentically.Today, & author of SOAR: A Spiritual Journey through Divorce, Transformation and Self-Actualization, visit her Services, Facebook Group, and Podcast.
Inspired by Pamela’s own reflecting, here are three questions to consider:
1. Pamela draws a parallel between her children’s toddler years and this unexpected period of quarantining. The words that come rushing back are, “I’m going to miss this.” What is something happening in your life today, however small or big, that you realize intuitively you, too, will miss? While you have it, how can you lean more fully into the experience of it? Is there a way of capturing whatever you are cherishing now so you can revisit it, if only in memory, later?
2. Now that everyday life has been paused and punctuated with a new normal, Pamela sees what she was too busy to see before—that is, that there is room in her life to raise the bar for how much time she spends meaningfully connecting with others. Where do you want to raise the bar in your own life? When you are connecting with others, what is one thing you forget about yourself and/or your life?
3. Pamela reflects on what she believes to be our most valuable asset: time. What is one moment you wish you could return to and spend an extra hour in? Why is this moment meaningful?
Now, it’s your turn to reflect.
To work with Chelsea to “break up” with the beliefs and relationships that are no longer serving the highest vision you have for yourself and learn how to Breakupward in the face of loss, disappointment, and heartbreak of any kind, visit her coaching website.