How To Be Here: Adaptability

Have you noticed? Nights are getting longer and cooler. Leaves are starting to change color. Summer got off to a slow start in the PNW, but we’ve been outdoors reveling in it the last couple months. And just as soon as we began to really soak in some consistently gorgeous summer weather, well . . . the seasons just keep a changin’ and summer’s already on the way out. What isn’t on the way out is covid-season. When the pandemic began, those of us in the northern hemisphere could console ourselves; we were heading into spring and summer. That was at least one “bright side.” Now we’re heading into fall and winter. I don’t know about you, but I’m already bracing myself for the dismal prospect of going back into the dormant and dark (and wet!) season.

Back in May I ran across an article that looked at how adaptability may be our most important skill to learn during Covid. Adaptability can be defined as “the ability to be creative and flexible in the face of new situations.” Covid has forced the world into a prolonged state of uncertainty demanding from us relentless adaptation. Adaptation comes easier for some more than others, but the good news is, it is a skill that can be developed. As we move into fall, I’m determined to keep growing in adaptability—to actively flex with what comes and proactively create some “bright sides” this upcoming winter.

Here’s a story from my own experimenting with growing my adaptability muscle (pun intended, as you will see…). Last January, for the first time in my life (six decades!) I began working out twice a week with a personal trainer. I’ve never been athletic or a gym rat, so I went to my first session, gritting my teeth, motivated only by the singular conviction “I want to stay in good physical shape as long as I can!”  I quickly grew to love it—I felt better in every way, the progress was rewarding, and to my complete surprise, I found it downright FUN. I couldn’t wait to go to my next session. I was on a roll…for all of seven weeks, until gyms got closed because of Covid. Now what?

Well, my daughter introduced me to her trainer—two states away—who was practicing some adaptability herself. She had pivoted (apologies if you are sick of the most over-used word in Covid-world) to offering personal training sessions online via video. I was extremely skeptical wondering how this could possibly hold a candle to a live session, with a “real” human being, in a gym filled with tons of equipment I will never have at home. Low and behold . . . AGAIN . . . I made another astonishing discovery. My second trainer is amazing. Nothing escapes her eye. Even through video she notices and talks me through the tiniest corrections in form in the most encouraging way. Bottom line, these online workouts have been even BETTER than going to the gym.

Even without contracting the virus physically, Covid is a serious mental, emotional, spiritual health challenge that takes a cumulative toll. Adaptability is one of your best tools to manage this prolonged season of uncertainty.  As you creatively flex your adaptability muscle you will experience the satisfaction and joy of overcoming some inner hesitation or resistance, accomplishing a long-time goal, finding something new to enjoy – or a new way to enjoy something. Give it a try!

REFLECT:

What life-giving activity have you been missing?
How might you replace it with something new?
How might you go about it in a new way? If you’re drawing a blank, discuss with a friend or family member (after all, that’s how I got the idea I shared!)

Articles cited

Adaptability your most important skill: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/adaptability-coronavirus-skills/2020/05/26/8bd17522-9c4b-11ea-ad09-8da7ec214672_story.html

Surge capacity depleted: https://elemental.medium.com/your-surge-capacity-is-depleted-it-s-why-you-feel-awful-de285d542f4c

Name it. Feel it. Move it.

COVID-19 Liminal Space tip of the week:

“When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. . . . Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling.”1  And your body will continue to produce the feeling, even if you think you’ve successfully buried it. You only buried it alive and it will find a way out.

A few weeks ago we were plunged into a global “liminal space” – that intensely uncomfortable space between an ending (of our normal life as we knew it) and a new beginning (yet to be revealed and we don’t know the timeline).  We are all presently suspended in a “terrible cloud of unknowing” as Richard Rohr calls it.  

We don’t know when we’ll get relief from the circumstances we are stuck in, but we can still experience movement. A small, immediate, opportunity for movement is to simply keep our feelings moving. Don’t resist or suppress the feelings the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting in you, instead consciously name and feel them, as immediately and as often as you can and let them pass through. You will actually feel—in your body—emotional space freed up; you will gain capacity to keep going.  

Exercise: What is your primary fear right now? Put it into words, and share it with someone who will graciously listen without offering advice or attempt to “fix” it. Doing this will rob that fear of much of its power and turn its volume way down.  In your body, you will physically feel a big exhale, and an unexpected peace. I have been doing this daily – I hope you’ll give it a try!

1Full article here: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief
by Scott Berinato

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