The Afternoon When Quarantine Fatigue Hit and How it’s Challenging Your Identity

Have you reached it? I have. Early afternoon about two weeks ago, I was sitting in my house looking around. I looked at my husband and said, “I just hit quarantine fatigue.”

You can look through my blogs and my Youtube channel and see I’ve been fighting the good fight. But the pandemic has been going on for a long time, and there is no end in sight.

I grew up in a world where self-medicating, and one pill cures are the expectation. Everything has been instantaneous, and I have never been in a situation where I had to be uncomfortable for a long time. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to deal with myself and find solace in being alone with myself.

I had to go into the city this morning. I’ve been in quarantine mode for so long it was uncomfortable being in a city again. It was weird watching people walk by in their clothes. Weren’t clothes one of our most significant, useless consumer items purchased pre-pandemic – stacks and stacks of clothes? And shoes! Everyone had on shoes that expressed who they wanted to be.

I know, because I was a bit excited about getting to go into the city. My love is sweaters, and Europe knows they have the corner on the excellent sweater market. I had purchased the majority of my sweaters from Europe. I love the fact that they are all wool, super well-made, and comfy!

I swooned through my sweaters this morning, almost hyperventilating that I was going to get to wear one of them. It was cold out this morning, so I had some great options. I could go for a layered look wrapped with a jacket or use one of my jacket sweaters with a turtleneck or blow the whole sweater thing and go for one of my jackets layered over a turtleneck. The options were breathtaking.

I mean, that is part of the fatigue, isn’t it? The inability to express yourself to the world. Hey world, look at me! This is who I am!

I even spent time choosing my shoes, waffling back and forth between the perfect match or comfort. Comfort won out, but to be real, it was comfort with style.

I was in the city looking at the diversity of expression. Shoes were winning out, and boots seemed to be the big winner. Expressive boots that had seen little or no wear. Boots with heels, elevated boots, rounded toes with memory foam, boots with laces, boots were all over the place.

People walked and walked, showing off their shoes. Yet, there was confusion. I felt the confusion. I was confused. We were doing what we had always done. However, it didn’t make sense anymore. The masks certainly detracted from the look. And every one of us had a mask on. On the streets, in the parking lots, in the buildings, everyone had a cover on.

It brought back the eerie reality of today. The excitement over finally getting to wear my favorite clothes again out in public dissipated. Once again, I was faced with the critical points of self-discovery this pandemic continues to dump in my lap. This time, it was consumerism.

You know, I’ve wanted to buy another sweater, but this pandemic has me putting the breaks on things. I’m actually asking myself, “Do I need another sweater?” No, I don’t. I have too many sweaters right now. Too many, and there won’t be enough time in my lifetime to wear them all down to nothing.

Most of us are spending time in the grocery store. That is our outing for the week, the month, or whatever. I use to get whatever I wanted and throw it in the grocery cart. Later, when I found I had forgotten to eat it, I threw it away.

I really wanted to get a pastry this morning on my way back from the city. I stopped myself because I have a bundt cake at home and a few pounds of frozen berries I need to make into a fantastic dessert.

Pre-pandemic, I would have bought the pastries and tossed the bundt cake.

How I looked at purchases and the value I placed on purchases changed when I spent a month looking for toilet paper and eight months looking for a can of Lysol.

Everything is regaining value. The value is no longer the empty promises and mass hysteria of pathological consumerism. Instead, I began purchasing the things I needed. Because I wasn’t buying everything, I had time to enjoy the things I did buy.

The separation from people has helped me put my head on again. Much of my consumerism was created by my interaction with the media and others. All that interaction has gone away.

It’s crazy. It’s like that frantic search for validation that focuses on consumerism has had to find a different outlet. Without an outlet, could all the energy be a part of the rampant hostility expressed today?

I’m talking to my friends. It’s incredible how much we use to buy. You may think this lack of purchasing decreased their quality of life. That’s not what is happening. Their life hasn’t become less. It’s actually become more.

My quality of life wasn’t harmed because I didn’t buy that pastry or that sweater. It was hurt when I was purchasing all that stuff. When I was on a tear of consumerism, I wasn’t enjoying what I bought. Because I was spending so much, I felt the need to chase the dollar to have more dollars to spend on stuff I didn’t need.

With winter coming in, it appears we have a long ways to go before this pandemic has found its end. That means the world will give us a lot more time to sit alone with our thoughts. All this time, I’m thinking I will get back to that time when I was seven, laying in the grass watching the monarch butterflies lightly dance through the air. I wasn’t worried about my next purchase. I was just enjoying the here and now.

So, I find myself sitting here on a sunny fall morning, typing this blog, eating my warmed bundt cake topped with butter and a large cup of flower tea. I didn’t do this before the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the house’s goal was to find a respite from the world and a place of peace. It never did because I never had time. I do now partly because I didn’t distract myself on my way home, looking for the perfect pastry. You know, the weirdest thing is the slice of warmed bundt cake topped with butter coupled with a fragrant cup of tea was more perfect than any pastry could have been.

It’s Time to Double Down on Positivity

Last night was a crazy night. Did you all feel it? There is another bloom of negativity rolling through right now. It woke me up in the middle of the night. Clients are saying they feel off or depressed and can’t point to a reason. 

I touched on societal blooms of negative Karma in my Youtube episode “Understanding the Laws of Karma, the first step to finding your true self.”   Sometimes, a society “spontaneously combusts.” Not really, but emotionally creates this harmful bloom that consumes the society and drives it into calamity. 

You know, the energetics had mellowed out for about a month, and then this past week, they started picking up again. Last night, I was just overwhelmed. I hear it from my clients. “I’m feeling depressed.” “I’m on edge.” “I can’t concentrate or focus.” There is this sense of hopelessness that is creeping into people’s lives. 

If you watched my episode on Karma, you already know the only way out of these negative blooms is through self-searching, treating people with respect, and finding your way to stay positive. So, I want to encourage you to double down on positivity. 

For myself, I focus more time on meditation. I self-prepare before going out and interacting with society because I want to try to stay on the right side of positivity. I work on catching myself when I veer off-track and pulling myself back to a collaborative bent. I’m happy I caught myself. That doesn’t always happen.

I’m really focused on me and trying to keep my interactions on a high note. 

Yet, there is a lot of baiting going on in social media and in conversations. 

What does baiting mean when it’s people you know?

Sigh.

I had to put a lot of thought into this and find my own balance. How do I see their story? Isn’t that where the point of compassion and the ability to let go meet up? 

Yup, and I got to say; it almost feels creepy walking in another’s shoes right now. You know why it is creepy? It’s creepy because they are feeling the same things I’m feeling from a different direction. It’s like we are standing on the same compass, just different cardinal directions. I might be on the Eastside, and they are on the Westside. We’re on the same compass, the same planet. We just see the world from different directions. 

When I was in college, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was the crux of what drove action. Sure, the theory has expanded over the years. But, the same baseline needs are still drivers. The need for health, safety, food, shelter, and clothing are all the first steps. 

When I started looking into some of the posts on social media from my friends, sure, they were baiting, but they were also wrapped in fear. I mean, it’s a scary time right now. Small businesses are the crux of the economy, and they are struggling. Large companies are struggling. I was stunned when I read Regal Cinemas closed their doors. 

“The world is shifting under my feet.” I thought to myself and felt that familiar feeling of being unsettled and out of balance. That uncomfortable feeling that has highlighted so much of this year.

I was talking to friends who have had a hard time getting unemployment or finding a job. Fear. “How am I going to pay my mortgage, my rent? How am I going to put food on the table?” “How am I going to home school my kids when I have to go to work?” Fear. I can’t even comprehend their trials because their trials are so overwhelming. We don’t have a society that has a safety net for that. 

Here is the thing, everyone is at risk right now. We are all worried. It becomes a decision on whether you will be part of the problem or part of the solution. 

I’m frightened. I’ve been climbing over some big mountains this year. I know that I can’t afford to waste more of my energy on being baited. Being that I’m so frayed, baiting sneaks up on me. I’ll be minding my own business, staying positive, and one of my friends will say something really baiting. It’s baiting because it ignores the fact that I’m a person hurt, threatens my safety, security, and ability to put food on the table for my family. 

I was in the middle of the fires up here and couldn’t breathe. One of my friends posted an ill-advised political comment on global warming. I had a melt-down. Really???? I posted something along the lines, “We are dying here, losing everything we own, losing our lives, and you want to taunt global warming?” 

I was furious at how insensitive the comment had been. The thing was, she took the comment down. I think we forget people live behind our comments. That act of removing the comment changed my fury to one of admiration and thanks.

I had the opportunity to be on the other side of a similar conversation. I had been trying to get something corrected for a long time. I wasn’t successful and had a snotty note with Customer Service. Customer Service didn’t know I had been trying to get this fixed and thought they were doing something great. Well, she was, and I heard her disappointment with my response. I had the opportunity to lay down my lousy behavior, thank her, and apologize. I took the opportunity to change the world and cleaned up my act. 

No one knows what any one of us has been going through. It has been a tough year. Everyone is on edge. Here is your opportunity to define who you are. Are you going to double down on positivity or bait your “use to be” friends?

A Mid-life Crisis or a Coming of Age Story

“…For I’ve grown a little leaner

Grown a little colder

Grown a little sadder

Grown a little older…”

–         Jerry Herman

This has been a tough year for me and it’s brought me face to face with many things. It’s brought me face to face with things I thought I was too emotionally stable to experience. I guess I was too over-confident. Every time I get too confident, life takes a twist and flips me on my back. 

I was positive I was too stable to experience something as cliché as a mid-life crisis. I thought mid-life crises happen to other people. They happen in middle age when people are in the autumn of their life. They happen to people who didn’t do their bucket list, didn’t experience as much as possible in life, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t….

My dad past away when I graduated high school. And then nothing happened for a very long time. I was in my early 40’s and one day, one of my high school friends stopped facebooking me. And I wondered about that. I queried up his name and read he had died of a heart attack.

Reading about his passing was unsettling. I was still in the context of “living forever” and here was a friend of mine who died. Reading he passed quickly brought death close to me. How do people my age pass away? We didn’t die…. yet.

After that, people I knew started passing more frequently. It started happening every year. Someone I knew passed every year. Then death started stalking my inner circle. My friends and family got cancer, had heart attacks, had strokes.

I was no longer in the context of “living forever”. With each serious illness, with each passing, the reality of life being finite came closer and closer. I stopped looking at the whole of my life in front of me and started seeing that my life was half over. I became aware of the passage of time in a way I never had before.

I changed and stopped living so freely. I stopped gambling so recklessly on stocks, jobs, sports. I purchased life insurance. Bought safe cars. I stopped eventing horses. I started a business. I settled down and got focused.

I started asking questions about life. I wanted to figure out what I needed to do so I wouldn’t ask the question, “Is this all there is?”

And then time rolled me into this year. First, I lost my sister. A month later, I lost my mother. Another month later, I lost the horse that I bred and was my show partner for the last 18 years. So much loss in such a short amount of time. An enormous hole in my life opened where they use to be.

That hole held some new learnings for me. I learned my internal definition of who I am is based on my relationships. It is not based on my job or my activities. It is based on my relationships with others.

The closeness of those relationships created my world. We came together to experience the world without having to apologize for our actions or compromise on things we loved to do.

When my sister, mom, and horse left, the force they applied in my life vanished. They were like a strong wind guiding my sail across an exciting sea, and without them, the wind suddenly stopped. I found myself in the middle of an empty sea in a stalled ship. Losing one of them would have been disorienting yet manageable. But all three of them?

No one was holding me up. Things that we would do together were no longer important. Without them why would they be important?

I didn’t know who I was anymore and found myself asking, “Is this all there is?” “What is the point?”

It drove me to want to seek out the past. I wanted to find them again and the time when we were still all together. And I wanted to go back to where I grew up. I wanted to go back “home”.

I was in the middle of a mid-life crisis.

I think what surprised me the most was a mid-life crisis was created by loss. It could be any significant loss pulling apart a piece of what defines you. The kids going off to college, losing parents, your partner becoming impaired from dementia or stroke or dying, getting a divorce. These losses could have built up over time or happened all at once.

I realized I had been looking at the definition of a mid-life crisis backwards. I was thinking that a mid-life crisis happened and then we became crazy and unpredictable. I didn’t realize the loss came first and when the loss became too much to bear, then our grief sought refuge in a younger you when everything was still possible and the losses hadn’t happened yet. That frantic search for the past was labeled a mid-life crisis.

I was experiencing many of the things that define a mid-life crisis. I started wearing clothes I wore when I was a teenager. Thank-goodness they were still age-appropriate like wool shirts, jeans, and docksiders. I listened to music from high school. I reacquainted myself with my extended family. I picked up hobbies I had when I was younger. I planned trips back “home”. And, I was changing my work experience one more time.   

And here is the thing, a mid-life crisis is about loss. I wasn’t psychologically prepared to face so much loss in such a short time. As I reeled over one loss to another, I wasn’t given time to acknowledge and process the losses.

I guess the last thing I realized about a mid-life crisis is that it isn’t a crisis. A mid-life crisis is a coming of age story. It’s your own coming of age story where you, once again, are given the opportunity to mature. Only this time, you do not have to learn about responsibilities, standing up for yourself, or struggling to find your place.

This time, you get to learn the value of the world around you and how to give back. The world becomes more important than yourself, your jobs, your life, your daily routines. Loss teaches you the value in the world around you each day. 

What have you learned from loss?

Karma Free Zone

I’ve been sharing a little bit about Karma. My efforts focus on individual Karma. Yet, there are other types of Karma, including group Karma. There is a phenomenon that can happen with group Karma. A negative bloom can suddenly appear, which creates a tremendous amount of bad Karma for society.

Of course, reading that caught my attention, and I paused. There wasn’t any information on why the harmful bloom would appear. Just that sometimes, in a society, a toxic bloom can consume the population.  

I just put a vlog out on my Youtube channel on the first law of Karma, “Understanding The Laws of Karma – the First Step to Finding Your True Self.”

The first law is the Great Law and is the law of cause and effect. It is focused on the individual and Karma and not on group Karma.

I’ve been meditating on this for the past week. In all of Chinese Medicine, and Daoism, a rule exists that what is above is below. The rule means the same general principles guide the macrocosm and the microcosm. So, focusing on why negative Karma happens in an individual’s life, should help me better understand why a negative bloom would suddenly occur in a society.

The first thing I realized is that nothing suddenly happens. 

Flowers don’t suddenly bloom. They take the winter to rest, spring to wake up, and summer to consume the nutrients they need to flower. All your effort and their effort suddenly culminates, and one day you go outside, and your roses have bloomed. But it doesn’t stop there. You want to encourage their growth and immediately set about pruning and fertilizing to ensure you get more blooms. 

Or a bucket filling up with rainwater on uneven ground. The bucket doesn’t suddenly tip over. Rain has to accumulate in the bucket until enough rain has accumulated to unbalance the bucket. The event of tipping over seems sudden. It only takes a split second. To get to that point of tipping over required water to fill the bucket until it reached that point of unbalance.

In Chinese Medicine, that change is the taiji symbol of yin and yang. Yin and yang demonstrate the movement of energy in the body, in the world, and in the universe. 

In the body, the goal is to keep the energetics of yin and yang in balance. When the two get out of balance, the body and mind become disturbed, and disease can develop.  

But what happens when things get out of balance? How do you get them back in balance? In Episode 5 of the Immune Boost series “Learn Chinese Medicine Techniques to Protect from the Flu” I give more in-depth examples of this concept of getting out of balance and getting back in balance.

All of this brought me to the realization that nothing suddenly happens. It takes a focused, committed effort to attain any goal. To ace your history test takes study and determination. To get the job you always wanted takes research, determination, experience, and people. To build a better mousetrap takes research, determination, willingness to fail, creativity, experience, and people.

The roses blooming, the bucket tipping over, yin turning to yang is sudden and dramatic. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took focus, commitment, and effort. 

The second thing I begin to realize is it would take the same concerted effort to change the course. In my episode, “Understanding The Laws of Karma – the First Step to Finding Your True Self ,” one of the most annoying things that happen as you age is decades of ignoring your health come back to haunt you. To change your health now takes a real concerted effort, patience, and compassion. You can’t come in with a pressure washer like you could when you were younger. You have to come with a garden hose and sometimes just a bucket and a sponge. 

It’s the same thing with these negative karma blooms that happen in a society. The society didn’t just get here overnight, and to come back out of a negative bloom will take the same focused effort in reverse. Unfortunately, it looks like we get the bucket and sponge approach. But think about it. It always starts with one person; one person with a bucket and a sponge to clean-up a stadium after a game. That one person changes to two, then 100, a thousand, and then bloom and what was to be a daunting and unachievable task of one person cleaning up the stadium suddenly becomes doable and thriving in a matter of hours. 

That’s what I mean when I say the office is a “No Karma Zone.” Sure, there is a lot of negativity out there that appears overwhelming and hopeless. It isn’t. When you come into the office, here is where you can call “Sanctuary!” Like they did in medieval Europe, the office is where you can find Sanctuary, hope, and realize your dreams. 

What I love is it is happening. I was scheduling with one of my clients the other day and suggested we wait longer between appointments. They looked around smiling and then back at me, “You know, I just love coming in here. I feel so good when I’m here.” Another one of my clients gave me the greatest blessing. We were chatting when tears suddenly formed and they shared with me that something they had wanted and thought was no longer possible was possible. 

Sanctuary.

Your opportunity to find protection and hope so you can realize your dreams. With more hope and fulfillment, you’ll pick up the bucket and sponge with me and pay it forward. 

Toxic Positivity isn’t Helpful…Ever. How To Recognize and Eliminate it

I was reading the posts on LinkedIn when the pandemic first happened. They were disturbing in their demand for me to be positive. Everything is going to be o.k., keep a positive outlook. I mean, I agree I need to find some way to pull myself out of the sludge and try to keep a positive outlook. And I’m doing everything I can to stay positive. 

I remember my sister as she was going through the final stages of her breast cancer. My sister had a team of friends and doctors who were supposed to be her team. They were her team, but they were also their own team making decisions on what information my sister could hear.

Her doctor wouldn’t tell her she was dying. Instead, when everything had failed, and the doctor had to remove her from the study, the doctor told my sister she had to sign up for hospice. 

Up to this point, my sister’s doctor was telling her things looked good. They just had to do a little work here or there. Her friends, who were medical professionals, would tell her the same thing. Or, her friends would say to her something like, “You’re going to beat this.” “You got this.” 

It was frustrating to have to watch and listen to this. My sister wanted to make her daughter’s high school graduation. She passed a couple of months before her graduation. She had a slim chance of making it. I think her doctor felt guilty and responsible for my sister’s life and death and drug out one more chemotherapy. 

Her doctor didn’t have the time to find out what my sister wanted. I think if her doctor understood that she just wanted to live a couple more months, she might have presented different options to my sister. 

It’s ridiculous to think a person facing their mortality couldn’t handle the truth about their medical results. The person doesn’t get to take a pass on dying, because it’s too uncomfortable.   

My sister had to figure it out on her own when her body started failing her. When every limb suddenly became too heavy to lift and refused to follow the desires of her mind. And because she wasn’t prepared for it, when her doctor removed her from the study and requested my sister sign up for hospice, my sister felt a deep betrayal.

That is toxic positivity. In the end, poisonous positivity hurts everyone involved in profound ways, from the deep sense of betrayal experienced by my sister to a belief of the person being disloyal, or the feeling the person is duplicitous and lacks empathy.  

Toxic positivity didn’t suddenly pop up with the pandemic. It’s always been here. 

In the late ’90s, when corporate mergers penned together huge profits thru layoffs, workers got retrained in “teamwork,” and things fell through the crack. The buzz phrase then was, “We all need to be a team player.” While working weeks expanded and more work backed up because there weren’t enough people resources, your boss would tell you to be a team player. 

What about when someone passes away? Inevitably, someone will say, “They are in a better place.” I get it. What do you say when someone passes? You want to show sympathy and understanding, but you may be uncomfortable. So, “They are in a better place.” It shows sympathy and terminates the conversation. It’s positive and encourages the grieving party to stay positive.

Or how about when your child has worked really hard to accomplish something and comes in the last place? “You’ll get them next time, sport!” is toxic positivity. It does nothing to help them figure out what they need to change to do things better. It leaves a kid, with no life experience, to try and figure out how to be better next time. 

That is toxic positivity. Positive comments that shut down the conversation on a painful topic. Toxic positivity is behavior, learned behavior. Toxic positivity is not a trigger. 

In Chinese Medicine, every painful topic not expressed and resolved leaves a block in your energetic flow. This block can get bigger and bigger, with repeated exposure to similar situations. To learn more about how your energetics get block check out my blog, “Why do I feel so bad? How To Start Letting Go of the Past and Moving On”

To help release your blocks, check out my program on “Becoming the Spirit” and my blog on “Chinese Medicine, the Heart and How to Avoid Chaos.

Yet, we are talking about toxic positivity and not the effects of toxic positivity on the person. As I said, the thing about toxic positivity is it is a behavior. Most of the time, you can’t see or don’t recognize your behaviors. You can recognize them in someone else and are either attracted or repelled by them. But even knowing this, you can’t usually identify the behavior which your soul is responding to. 

That is where the program, “Understanding the Vortex,” comes in. Each of our chakras is like a vortex into and out of our soul. When you open them up, you start to see your behaviors and patterns. This is not about your triggers, but your learned behaviors and interactions with the world. And what is interesting about behaviors, when you start to recognize them, you can understand some of the conflicts in your world.  

When I think about behaviors versus triggers, behaviors are how others describe you where triggers are how you describe yourself. Many times when I hear people describe me, I get confused because I don’t see that in myself because, for some reason, our behaviors are supper challenging to see. 

Good-luck. If you are participating in toxic positivity, just know acknowledging someone’s emotions isn’t taking responsibility to fix them. Most of the time, people need to be heard. Everyone can fix themselves. Sometimes they need a sounding block.