A week or so ago my husband’s niece gave birth to a son in Arizona. Such a joyful event reminds us that new lives keep coming in – into a world shut down or in suspended animation. While most everyone on the globe is experiencing losses, fearing the future, and cautiously attempting to resume some semblance of what was “normal life,” life itself goes on.
As the Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell said a few weeks ago, “None of us has the luxury of choosing our challenges, fate and history provide them for us. What was happening in the larger world when you were born? When your parents and grandparents were born, or when your children were born? The answer to that question sets the stage for many of the experiences people of a particular generation had or will have in the future. Timing and “the times” really matter. When my father was about to graduate from college, the country was not completely out of the depression. The job market for engineers was not good so he took theater classes to get better at selling himself as a sales engineer, which became his career path. When I graduated from high school most young women who went to college entered the fields of nursing, education, or social work, partly because they were the so called, “women’s fields,” and unlike most other fields at the time, open to women applicants.
Timing and the times are affecting graduating high school and college students now, challenging them to let go of the anticipated usual activities of this season of their lives –proms and parties, graduation ceremonies, summer internships and summer jobs. School age children and their families are being challenged to accept the disappointment of cancelled summer camps and family vacations. And people of all generations are scanning a foggy grey horizon filled with uncertainty about the possible paths ahead.
Thirty years ago, when I was denied tenure at the university, after a six-year journey to that end, my husband and I employed two friends to lead us in a day-long exploratory reimaging of our career lives. Now that my first choice had been eliminated, partly by the times, (there were already 5 tenured women on this 36-person faculty. Someone on the committee may have thought that to be more than enough women).
From this experience came a business plan for what became a premier behavioral health care clinic. For the first 5 years of operation, our dream creation flourished, fulfilling us, our employees, our student interns, and our clients. Then, on one specific New Year’s Dayfunding and reimbursement for behavioral health care services changed at the national and local level. Though we continued to operate for 5 more years until an offer to purchase provided rescue, our dream of operating our own business turned into a nightmare. My social work student, returning from her Christmas vacation, felt the effects immediately. “How did this field placement from heaven turn so quickly into the field placement from hell,” she asked. I gave her an “A” for her astute observation.
So what do we do with these challenges that fate and history thrust upon us? Consulting with elders we are reminded that “this too will pass.” Ancient systems such as astrology and numerology offer road maps to understanding the strengths and challenges facing a particular person born in a particular time and place. It helps to recognize that we often don’t get to choose what happens to us, only our reaction to it.
Here are a few tips from my Tough into Triumph Manifesto:
Since we desire to achieve positive outcomes in the face of adversity and navigate our challenges in such a way as to become stronger from having met them – we pledge to cultivate and practice:
– Saying Yes to what cannot be avoided, refusing to accept a predicted undesirable outcome unless we have to:
– While navigating difficult challenges we exercise self-compassion and radical self-care;
– Focusing on each present moment we avoid jumping too far ahead;
– Honoring all our feelings we express them in a safe place, allowing them to change us;
– Remembering that post-traumatic growth is the natural outcome of letting go of our own plans – we surrender to whatever life is asking of us.
If you’d like a printable poster of all the items go to my website and download a copy https://sheilakcollins.com/
Offerings and Events:
InterPlay On-Line – Friday mornings at 10:30 am
ReImagine Life, Love & Loss Festival
Sunday, May 24th 4pm EST/3pm CST/2pm MST/1pm PST
Join us for an hour of playful body wisdom, exformation, and radical self-care tools & techniques taught by two dancing social workers. Learn the five skills of Self-Care – with a deeper dive into one each week through June 14th, 2020.See all of the ReImagine Events & Register here:https://letsreimagine.org/3780/radical-self-care-during-a-pandemic-interplay-1
Radical Self-Care While Physical Distancing
Tuesday, May 26th 11:30am EST/10:30am CST/9:30am MST/8:30am PST
Join two dancing social workers and authors Christine & Sheila for their weekly class for radical self-care and a chance to play with tools and techniques for resilience & well-being.Register here:https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArf-yrqTspGNxgj6P8pBTRqZ5UTaUGvcMU
The Art of Grieving: Toward a Life Well-Lived
May 28th at 4 pm Eastern. Love to have you join us.
Looking for a personal consultation as you navigate this liminal time?
Call me at 817-706-4967 or drop me a line at [email protected]