keep your eyes on your own plate
I’ve been thinking a lot about matriarchs and mothers and the things they’ve taught us.
As I mention on the first few episodes of my podcast, the first response to the pandemic is to follow a lot of the rules Mom had: wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay away from others if you or they might be sick, and clean everything.
And then there’s that recommendation that you “keep your eyes on your own plate” and not worry so much about what others are eating/doing/saying.
[Full disclosure: politics ahead]
That woman from Michigan.
America’s #1 almost-kidnapped victim.
An also-ran for VP candidate.
Whatever we call her, I think most of us can agree that she has had a rough first term: floods and a foiled kidnapping plot and armed militia in the state Capitol building added to a pandemic are not something you imagine when you decide to run for governor. (Although that might change going forward.)
Of course, you’re welcome to disagree with me, but I personally respect and admire her—a lot.
She listens to the science and takes really unpopular actions to protect the residents of the state—whether they voted for her or not, whether they like her or not.
She stands up to bullies—whether they’re storming the building, threatening to impeach her, or withholding PPE because they don’t like her.
She consistently takes the stance that she has a job to do and can’t be distracted by the bad behavior of others.
What I like most about her is that she leads with her feminine energy: she is one of a few female and female-identified politicians I’ve been watching because they are interested in leading with integrity—not smashing the glass ceiling by playing in the (old, White) boys’ sandbox by the boys’ rules.
Is the US ready to elect a woman like Marianne Williamson to lead? Probably not.
And perhaps we are ready for a little more tending and mending female energy in place of the smashing and destroying male energy—and let’s be clear: irrespective of our gender identification, we all have some degree of both of those energies.
This week, Governor Whitmer—along with a number of other governors across the political spectrum—tightened restrictions again.
Pandemic exhaustion. It’s a thing.
It’s probably THE thing that’s making infection and death rates rise so quickly: even those of us who isolate and mask up and distance and wash our hands regularly are becoming immune to the specter of rising numbers. It’s tempting to get lax about the rules.
A few months ago, a friend posted a meme on Facebook to the effect that those of us who are taking restrictions seriously are feeling exhausted because it’s like we’re the ones holding the umbrella while those who aren’t adhering to the rules are dancing under it, nice and dry.
Huh, I thought. As a member of the rule-following club, I don’t feel that way at all.
As I’ve mentioned before—and I recognize that this comes from a place of privilege—the pandemic has been a time of possibilities for me.
And to me, it’s a privilege to take responsibility for protecting others by following the rules and restrictions—whether they choose to take responsibility for my health or not, whether they choose to hold the umbrella or dance under it.
We all fall on a different place on the spectrum of personal rights and responsibilities to others.
And the only thing we can reliably exert control over is our own response to a given situation.
In a sense, you can only “keep your eyes on your own plate”—whether you’re critiquing political processes in other countries (will America ever be able to do that with a straight face again?), decrying the actions of the militia, or feeling frustrated with that person in the grocery store who won’t mask up and distance.
keep your eyes on your own plate
Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday—the one for which more people hit the road over the river and through the woods to get to grandmother’s house.
It feels positively un-American to be told that we really must not do that this year.
My own Thanksgiving table will hold 3 this year—a big difference from the days when we hosted upwards of 10 and my parents regularly hosted approximately 20 guests.
And again, as a health coach, I have to ask: why is this happening for us and not to us? What does this make possible?
Obviously, it means we may not have to cook quite so much.
Perhaps it means we can rethink some other aspects of this holiday?
- Maybe it looks like being truly grateful for the people and things and privileges we do have.
- We could spend that time we won’t be traveling volunteering—helping someone else enjoy a better holiday.
- And we can definitely sleep in on Black Friday.
- Maybe we can be more mindful of the online shopping we’re doing and order gifts from small, independent companies rather than feeding the beast of the large online monopolies.
If you’re really struggling with not gathering with others for Thanksgiving, I offer you this pandemic haiku:
We isolate now
So when we gather again
No one is missing
make the connection
Mom was right: sometimes (always?), it comes down to remembering to “keep your eyes on your own plate”—managing what is in your control and how you can make the world a better place for others while doing that.
If you’re in a position of privilege and looking to make a difference in the world—even if it’s “just” for one person—consider giving the gift of health coaching: I am now organizing the March 2021 cohort of women to receive health coaching in my EAT™ | Your way to health program, and many of them could use a scholarship.
Thank you, and Happy (tiny) Thanksgiving!