I’ve been avoiding the things that scare me.
Living on Kauai for the majority of the coronavirus epidemic, I’ve been in an isolated safe place with barely a sign of disease. I’ve steered clear of most of the media hype, and aside from activist initiatives, voting and supporting causes I believe in, I’ve not been sucked into the spinning media vortex. I haven’t felt “safe” but I’ve certainly felt safer, and know how lucky I am to be in that position.
But the other night, as the full blue moon was soon to rise on Halloween eve in the throws of Mercury Retrograde, I couldn’t hide from a new series of events that caused me to freak out.
On my afternoon beach walk, I ran smack into a glassy-eyed hippie holding a hand-made fishing pole with a large squirming eel dangling on the line. He had pulled it out of the waters where I often swim. The eel’s mouth opened and shut like one of Ursula the Sea Witch’s henchmen as the creature writhed. I quickly reversed course and fled back home, questioning whether I’d even have the courage to swim again.
That evening, with the sky eerily lit by the full moon over the Pacific, I left family movie night in the living room to use the bathroom. Sitting with my bathing suit around my ankles, a large roof rat lept from behind the garbage can and ran across my feet to the other side of the little bathroom. I shut the toilet, jumped on top, and like one of the scenes from a ‘50’s movie, screamed for help. No one heard me because they all had Jurassic Park blasting on the TV. Finally, I hopped off the can, shot out of the bathroom and slammed the door behind me, My heart pounded in my chest.
David promised to get up first thing and put a trap in the bathroom. After 20 minutes of tossing and turning in bed, I drifted off to sleep.
I woke to find that someone had accidentally opened the door to the bathroom and the rat was gone –obviously somewhere else in the house. I had no choice but to grab the vacuum, clean up the droppings, and hope that the rodent had found its way back outside. But before I got to the poop, I first had to suck up one of the large and gushy stinging centipedes that inhabit the island (and sometimes our home). Those things are creepy too.
I eased the vacuum into the bathroom, making sure I cleaned everything in view. Just as the vacuum head hit the corner area by the garbage can, the rat leapt out of the trash and ran straight at me again. I barely had time to step back and slam the door again.
I needed to calm the fuck down.
So I went downstairs to log into a pilates class with my dear friend Elizabeth Larkam. She has a calm voice and a wry sense of humor. I knew she would help me recover my center. But the minute I stepped into the room to unfurl my mat, a huge palm-sized spider was waiting on the floor between me and my session. I had no choice but to use my trusty yoga block to usher that furry six-legged visitor to another life.
Hopefully you are laughing along with me here. I don’t usually get bothered by things like this.
* * *
Most of us are on edge in some way.
Despite the fact that we wear masks and distance and sanitize, there is so much that is unexpected and that we haven’t faced before, and so many eye-opening realities that we have been avoiding for so long.
My usual coping mechanism is to put things in perspective. To compartmentalize. But the stress is so overwhelming that I’m not doing too well. Long-term optimism (“this too shall pass”) feels like an elusive hope with the virus spiking, social dilemmas that remain unresolved, and the prospect of an unresolved election.
So as we ease into this very non-traditional version of Thanksgiving, I’m reframing my avoidance into gratitude:
My parents were here visiting me and despite being well into their 80’s, they are still sharp, curious and active. Our kids are not only safe, but making smart decisions, thriving as adults, and lovingly checking in with us. I have dear friends who I can’t visit in person, but who are a Zoom-call, a phone call or a text away. Their voices and messages get me through. I share Parlay House not only with the best business partner I could imagine, but with 7,000 connected women who lift each other and share their full selves. I have a partner who loves me so much that he’ll get up early and successfully trap my rat.
So as you enter into this next season, where so much will change and so much will remain the same, I suggest that when you feel the need for grounding, that the people you love and the families you have make you feel a little less afraid. Because even in this swirling, turbulent time, we are in it together and stronger when we can share (and laugh through) this crazy moment in our shared history.
Now about that wasp in our living room…
* * *
Do you have secrets for finding joy or humor in the chaos?
Share it Small: Pass along your recipe for laughter to someone who needs it most. I found that telling my friends about my Halloween filled with nature’s “monsters” made us both laugh. That was good medicine. Also, come up with a self-care plan because sometimes laughing isn’t enough.
Share it Big: Did you have a funny disaster? Post it. Shout it. Put it on a t-shirt. Find a way to let strangers know that crazy stuff is happening for you too, and that you’re laughing through it even when your heart is pounding. Elaine Jones, one of my dear friends and role models says, “We have too much privilege to feel discouraged.” So I’m going to laugh my way through it and take action when I can.
Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a break-through, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.