Last week I found myself frequently welling up with tears as I listened to all the people dying from the COVID pandemic. When people told their personal stories of sickness and loss it pulled my heart out of my chest and made me terribly sad.
Despite the sense of community sadness engulfing me, I never reached the point of the “boo-hoo” level of crying. I just spent about three days on the verge of it. I published a few articles here on LinkedIn, and they were picked up by BIZCATALYST 360°. In one article I was being a little ridiculous with my optimism. It was called Go Find Your Rose Colored Glasses. I took the position optimism is a choice. Instead of hunkering down and talking about survival, we should be actively seeking ways to move this unexpected environment into something positive. OK…it was one way to look at the situation.
Then the very next day I found myself on the other side of the optimism spectrum. I was sad, lethargic and felt intensely guilty for thinking it is as simple as changing your personal outlook. I was sad and almost crying most of the time. I wrote Vulnerability – Good or Bad and Dennis picked it up for BIZCATALYST 360° again.
Today’s Outlook is Different
It seems as if I have reached the point where unreasonable optimism and uncontrollable sadness are both behind me. The 1966 song mentioned in the title has been in the background of my brain for several days. I decided to look it up. All I remembered was:
Too many teardrops for one heart to be crying. Too many teardrops for one heart to carry on.
Turns out the song was recorded by a one-hit-wonder garage band called 96 Tears and sung by the Mysterians. The lyrics told the story of someone who was dumped and wanted to get back with his old girlfriend so he could dump her and she would cry. The song was very popular, with its catchy tune and repeated lyrics about too many teardrops. It has hung around in my brain for a long time.
Measured Optimism and Grace
So how does this song relate to how I am feeling these days?
In a single day, I can swing from my normal optimistic outlook to great sadness. When the media talks about the fact things will get worse before they get better, my heart aches for all the people who are afraid. While I feel a bit of anxiety when I must get groceries, I can’t claim to feel fear myself, but it hangs in the air as people rush by and avoid making eye contact.
I bristle with anger when I hear someone say “just my luck” when talking about the fact they anticipate having to personally deal with this mutant virus. I ask WHY???? Why would anyone lay claim to such luck? Don’t they know words have creative ability?
My anger is not a solution for them or me…but I feel it. I sometimes want to slap them upside their head and say “Get a grip!”
I’m very confident I will not get the virus and these are the reasons why:
- I’m careful. Last week I used gloves at the grocery store and Lysol wipes on the cart. I disinfected the things I brought into my home and wash my hands all the time.
- This week, my carefulness is up another notch. I have given into the idea of covering my face. I have some cheap disposable masks (3 of them). Since I don’t know how long I will need to make them last, I am wearing a washable scarf over the paper mask. It’s uncomfortable and looks weird. But I feel it is just being responsible at this point.
- Optimism is my default condition. And, as a professional writer, I know the power of words. While I will admit to times of sadness, I will NEVER make statements about the eventuality of getting the virus. I don’t want it and so I won’t claim it.
- Grace – When I Googled to find a definition fitting my perception of grace, nothing really fit. I am certainly not graceful, by any definition of the word. It seems my perception of grace comes from the Biblical meaning when it talks about the forgiveness (grace) of God. I often talk about giving myself grace. In my mind, it is similar to God’s lack of judgment about our human frailties. I am a big believer in imperfection and even have a blog about it.
Perhaps my use of the word grace is inappropriate. I will still use it. If someone wants to try to correct my error in word usage, I will listen. It simply feels right for the part of me who is comfortable with my human faults. I can’t think of a better time in my history when giving myself grace has been more important than now.
While I am not spending all my time on what I have been trained to do and limiting my effort to “dollar productive activities”, I am moving forward. I’m working with a publisher and memoir author and have several clients with a small amount of work for me to do.
Normally, I would be in a frenzy of marketing activity in the places where I find time away from client work. I need more revenue. I’m doing some of it, but not much. Instead, I am going to have faith in my gut feelings. Yes, I am using a Biblical word for a personal philosophy again. It works for me.
When I get out of my way and listen to the “still small voice” in my gut, I seem to discover the most awesome things. In order to do this, I have to set aside my always in control busyness and listen intently.
This is my goal right now. I will listen.
I won’t listen very much to all the doom, gloom and sad statistics.
I won’t listen very much to all the people offering advice about how to get through this awful time.
I won’t listen to my business head telling me to get moving on marketing campaigns.
Instead, I will listen to my heart (gut feelings) and give myself the grace to “waste time” when it feels right. I will have faith in my guidance system telling me what needs to be done next by me.
I’m done with the guilt, sadness, and opinions about what anyone else should do. I don’t should on myself and I won’t should on them. I will still my brain and be in the moment. I will profit from this change of pace.
“I will listen to my heart (gut feelings) and give myself the grace to “waste time” when it feels right.” Brava, Kate. You’re in good company; we’re all just trying to figure this ‘thing” out.
Jeff, you are so right. We probably need to stop trying to figure things out. When I shared my challenges with a client today, it broke my brain open a little. I was able to move forward on the project after feeling frozen on it when I was “trying” so hard. Thanks for your comment Jeff.
Great post Kate. I am with you I don’t even watch TV. I take long walks and drives with my dogs. I see very little people and all at a distance. My wife and I have long talks about life, love and living.
Thanks Larry. You are very kind with your words. You probably cannot comprehend how much value there is in having a partner to discuss life, love and living. Good for you.
Thank you for this. I love your honest, stay-in-the moment attitude. Yes, our hearts often reveal far more than we realize. I too try to be cautious and positive. I play music when I tire from heading about the conversation around this pandemic. No matter what kind of music, it either uplifts me to get me snapping my fingers moves me internally to the depths of my heart and soul.💖
Darlene, one thing you can always say about me is I am honest. My honesty has gotten me in trouble many times over the years. It is one reason why I failed at being a corporate employee. Good for you finding music to enhance your experience of life. Lean into it. Thanks for your comment.
Thank you, Kate. I stopped feeling guilty for feeling so much gratitude and jubilation for every moment of precious life, for the uncontrollable tears when I had thoughts that I might never see my two adult children again or beloved ones, for the restored calm that continues to re-emerge as I hear the birdsong outside my windows, the fresh air on my face. In the internal world we always get to choose what we focus our attention on…That’s the power of what you’ve shared. The choice is always ours. I cannot get sad enough and bring joy to our world. I continue to ask “What would love do now?” and then I go do that…
What a perfect question. What would love do now? When we apply it to interactions with others, the question is essential. When we apply it to our own self-love, it may even have more power. Thanks for your comment Laura.
Hang in there Kate, as this too shall pass, but I am right there with you. My emotions about this seem to be sopped up with focusing on the Consolation rather than the Desolation of things, even outside the Covid19. Blessings
Thanks Lynn. Since the isolation is part of my daily existence, this has not been as hard on me as many. My introverted, isolationist, hermit personality is not affected much. What is responding to the situation is my empathic nature. I feel the pain, fear and stress of others. This natural empathy shows up when I simply go to the grocery store or listen to the news. My hope is that by sharing my ups and downs it will help those who feel like their emotions are wrong or unfounded.
A wave of emotions, Kate.
The good news is that waves are some of nature’s most beautiful spectacles.
Thanks John. I think waves of emotion are a sign of being human these days.
Thank you Kate! Well, said and very timely for me. I won’t should on myself or others! I like it!
Catherine, I have tried to eliminate the word should from my language for years. Still, from time to time I feel it popping up. Whether it is my self-talk or when I am talking to others, the word should almost never has a positive outcome. I’m still a work in progress.
Oh Kate, I’m sitting right beside you on that roller-coaster of emotions! I have to tell you, I actually laughed out loud when I read, “It seems as if I have reached the point where unreasonable optimism and uncontrollable sadness are both behind me.” I thought, “Sure, sister. For now!” As, if you’re anything like me, every day is a new adventure and, even with all of my strategies, I’m not sure what emotions are lurking around the corner. I like that you’re giving yourself grace and think it’s the perfect word. My mantra for the past several years has been “ease and grace…ease and grace…” and this time in life is certainly putting it to the test. Some moments I see glimmers of it. I cherish it when I do! Hugs to you!
You are so kind Kimberly. I think you and I sit beside each other in a lot of ways. I’m glad we have this connection.