pandemic map

what does the pandemic make possible?

In scrolling through my most recent blog posts for a little inspiration for this week, my post about catalysts, catastrophes, and cataclysms from February 27 feels eerily prescient given that early March is when the novel coronavirus pandemic really began to hit large swaths of the US.

In the weeks since I posted that, I have been unable to shake the feeling that I was writing in a microcosmic (is that a word?) way about what is happening in our country on a macrocosmic (again, is that a word?) scale.

it can’t be a surprise

I think (I hope?) that Americans recognize that the fortunes of countries come and go, nations rise and fall—it’s a life cycle as inexorable as that of the moon, and that of America as a world leader is likely in the waning stages.

For those of us paying attention and able to step outside our country—geographically and mentally—the symptoms of disease have clearly been with us for many decades; in fact, some seem to have been with us since the country’s founding. If you doubt that, I highly recommend this piece by David Masciotra, a free-lance writer and author of Against Traffic, posted on Morris Berman’s blog.

I believe (and you’re welcome to disagree with me) that what the pandemic has done is to throw these symptoms into stark relief—a focus so sharp that even our government (and here I’m talking to both sides of the aisle) couldn’t help but notice.

In the space of a month, our legislators threw together relief packages to address issues in the areas of labor, healthcare, and business among others.

I’m left with the sense that, had we been paying closer attention all along, these bills could have been created slowly, painstakingly, and—most importantly—mindfully, thoughtfully over the past decades (centuries?)

It can’t be a surprise that our infrastructure crumbled in the face of this pandemic, or even in the face of the media-driven panic about the virus if you’re of that school.

Is it good that these bills have been created? Absolutely. My point is that they could have been in place by now rather than being created now.

And those of you who know me probably know that yes, I’m in mourning that Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race again. Love him, hate him, or be ambivalent about him: his voice has been pointing out these symptoms—especially inaccessible health care and lack of a living wage for many—since the early days of his political career in the 70s.

But enough about politics. What does this have to do with health coaching?

i know what i should be doing

Something that has become very clear to me as a health coach is that we know exactly what to do if we want to be healthy: make solid food and lifestyle choices over time so that disease (a body-level version of a pandemic) doesn’t take root in our bodies, minds, and spirits.

The majority of people who get on the phone with me for an initial consultation tell me, “I know what I should be doing, I’m just not doing it….” (Yup. There’s that trigger word, should.)

And frankly, about 50% of these people do an initial consultation and don’t go any further because they are still mostly healthy and unwilling to invest in themselves at this point.

Those who do sign on to work with me have often had a health crisis or at least more clearly understand that if they don’t turn things around, they are unquestionably headed there.

And more importantly, they understand that slapping a bandaid on their symptoms is not the answer. We’ll make their symptoms feel better—and we’ll also take a look at the root cause of their symptoms and see what we can do to eliminate or at least mitigate that.

what does this make possible?

Serious health problems are generally preceded by a few warning shots—odd messages from our bodies that something’s not quite right—that we generally dismiss or ignore, mostly because we aren’t asking the deeper questions and/or connecting the dots.

And sometimes, our bodies need to hit us over the head with a 2×4 before we finally pay attention—that’s the health crisis.

I am a big fan of getting my clients out of a victim mentality and asking why something like a health crisis happens for us rather than to us.

Spoiler alert: 99% of the time, the answer is that the crisis is helping us to see that we really do need to lovingly take care of ourselves on a daily basis. (The fun part is figuring out what that actually looks like.)

I recently received an email that asked this question in a different way: what does [this situation] make possible?

Yes, you can expect that to be added to my arsenal of questions clients hate to answer….

And whether we’re talking about your health of the health of our country, I want to share this quote with you and invite you to “stitch a new garment” going forward:

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.

~Sonya Renee Taylor

Can we as a country and as individuals “come back” from a crisis of pandemic proportions?

Perhaps that’s the wrong question to ask.

Maybe a better question is, “How can we become a higher version of ourselves—one that is holistically healthy in and of itself and allows others to be likewise?”

make the connection

Perhaps we can learn to ask some deeper questions:

  • If you have been experiencing some seemingly random but troublesome symptoms, can you ask your body what it’s trying to tell you?
  • If you are already in crisis, can you step away from it long enough to ask what it makes possible? (Yes, I fully understand that sometimes, the answer to that will be, “Not right now!” And if that’s you just now, bookmark this question for another time.)
  • How will we design and create our new garments/practices going forward?

If you want some support in finding the answers before you have a pandemic-proportion health crisis of your own, schedule a free consultation!