This Moment – A reflection by: Susan Morgan
Recently in one of our staff message forums the question was posed, How do you find peace in times of stress? Share your suggestions for keeping calm, practicing self-care or finding joy. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s responses – there’s such a wonderful variety of things we all do to sustain ourselves and practice self-care. Living and working in the midst of a global pandemic is challenging each of us in new ways – unprecedented is a word that crops up often. We’re in uncharted territory as we find our way through. How I feel at any given moment ebbs and flows with a range of emotions – fear, hopefulness, irritation, compassion, sadness, calm, despair, and gratitude are major ones.
The other day I was feeling particularly anxious, worried and unsettled. I went out to my garden to look around and see how the plants were doing. I happened to see a ladybug on a sunflower petal! I’ve always loved ladybugs and it brings me a lot of joy when I see them in my desert garden. I watched it for a bit and took pictures of it. When I looked up, I noticed that I felt calm and peaceful, that my breath had deepened and my body had relaxed; my heart felt light. How could there be such a dramatic response after just a few moments looking at a bug in the garden?!
We’re accustomed in hospice – and particularly at Casa where we each work in ways that result in superior care – to making sure we’re holding it all together personally so that we can be there significantly for our patients and their loved ones, and for each other as a team of co-workers. We do this while balancing and juggling all of the things that make up the whole of our lives with family, friends, home, recreation, volunteering, etc. Keeping all of these important components in balance while taking care of our personal needs for health and wellbeing are aspects of what we call Wellness. With the addition of COVID-19, however, rather than keeping in balance, my current image is keeping my head above water! The intensity of what we have to deal with has amped up and affects us across all aspects of our lives. It’s exhausting and I’ve realized that a lot of what I’m feeling is grief. I would venture to say that I’m not the only one, and that we’re likely grieving as a community of people, and probably grieving as humanity itself.
And yet, we will get through this. We don’t know exactly how, but together we do have resilience, inner strength, intelligence, and deep wisdom. The activities and practices that bring each of us peace, calm and joy in the midst of stress are gateways to accessing these intangibles. The activities that some of you mentioned in the Forum such as swimming or walking or listening to music or reading inspiring quotes or connecting with family and friends on FaceTime or any number of other things to do help reduce stress in and of themselves. But they also invite us more deeply into the present moment; it’s there that we have ready access to what we value most, we can be more aware of those values, and act from them. Like the Core Values that have been steady guides for Casa all of these years, we each have guiding values and access to the intangibles that will help carry us through and forward. When we access the present moment in whatever ways that works for each of us, that’s also where we have the best chance of finding things like deep wisdom, or a deep breath with more oxygen to the body and the brain, or enough of a pause for clarity in our next action.
For that moment in time the other day in my garden, doing something as simple as looking at a ladybug, something shifted – not permanently, but enough to remind me of my resilience and inner strength. My grief over this pandemic was held in a much larger context.
The shifts keep shifting, change keeps changing, the virus isn’t going to go away, but again and again we can come back to those things that help each of us find peace, calm and joy in the midst of grief and uncertainty.
May we all be Well.
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