Wow. It’s been a pretty crazy two weeks since my last Director’s Report. I won’t go into lengthy details but let’s just say the words of a friend of mine have been ringing in my ears ever since she spoke them a few days ago. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling some tension in the world lately. And I mean next level tension. In my last report I was reflecting on our opportunity to turn the page and emerge from this fog we have all been living in. I think I was naive about what that would look like. Maybe you were, too. Some of the best news of the last week is that we have officially, according to Dr. Fauci, been downgraded from pandemic to endemic.
I was ready to P.A.R.T.Y. at this news. I’m talking Great Gatsby all day long kind of party. We have so much to celebrate at the thought of this spring and summer being vastly different than last year. This time last year we were about to be knocked back again by Delta and then Omicron, remember? Remember how the days of our recent past have been defined by before Covid variant and after Covid variant. It’s been sort of like how I remember the milestones in my life in comparison to when I was pregnant with my children. These moments were so definitive that they stamped a memory on our brains such that every other life event is remembered in comparison to them. Every single thing we do now is qualified with the ‘before times’ and ‘after times’ labels.
I think I believed we would just flip the switch and it would be like none of the last two years ever happened. We would return to socializing, and celebrating, and supporting one another. What I am discovering is that learning to be with one another is a muscle that has atrophied and must be strengthened again. And perhaps this is the hardest part of emerging from the trauma we have all experienced. I tend to move through uncomfortable things quickly. I am very action oriented and “holding space” is not a gift of mine. I am jealous of those who possess this superpower. I was speaking with a friend recently and sharing with her all my hopes and dreams for the future. What seemed like optimism to me seemed overwhelming to her.
She looked at me and said in earnest, “But we aren’t recovered yet”.
This insight stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m ready to rebuild. In fact, I am more than ready to rebuild new things and seek to find better systems and capitalize on this big moment we as women find ourselves in. But how can we do that before we are fully healed from the trauma of the recent past? So, what does recovery look like? I have a few ideas.
- Support. We MUST support one another like never before. Women are great at surveying the landscape and finding what’s missing. We are brilliant task managers. Perhaps without realizing it, we have been perfecting our ability to accomplish goals efficiently. Perhaps we now have higher expectations about being more efficient in prioritizing our time. Relationships are rarely efficient. Tolerance for how another person manages her life requires practice and shared memories. Sometimes you must get into the water with someone before they learn how to swim. When we think about support, we have to put our own expectations on hold for another person’s benefit. This is important work. The way we show up and sponsor one another right now has the potential to change the trajectory for future women. The next time you are tempted to point out something that is not quite efficient or perfect enough, I encourage you to stop and find a way to speak in a supportive way. It’s contagious!
- Listening. I’ve always been what therapists call a “high communicator”. My talents fall into the “persuasion” categories. This means I send a lot of information in one direction. I’m learning that we are all a little off our game in the listening department. Is it possible we have been so focused on Maslow’s lowest hierarchy of needs (physiological and safety) that we haven’t had the extra capacity to do activities that take a long time; that require slow thinking? I used to be better at this but lately I find myself running through my too long to-do list when I am with my friends. I’m not really listening to them. I’m thinking about what happens in the time before and after I am with them. The more I practice listening, the more I am connecting and healing synapses in my brain that have been neglected in isolation. Through that connection, we gain understanding and acceptance for what has been so that we can be healthier for what is to come. I invite you to try repeating back to those in your sphere the things you are hearing them say. You will find that you internalize and metabolize what they are trying to tell you and that you are building trust that has possibly been dormant for the last two years.
- Reflection. The best teachers I have ever had always worked in some time at the end of the lesson to ask, “What did you learn?” They tied concepts back to behaviors from prior lessons or knowledge. When your world moves so fast that you aren’t reflecting on what is going right, you open the door for resentment. At least that is how it plays out for me. There is a lot that has been unfair about what women have been through. Maybe we aren’t even fully aware of it. It is essential that we take the necessary steps to grieve the stress we have been under so that we can avoid projecting it onto our friends and loved ones. A smart woman I know says that where you see ego in a person, you will find that the ego is trying to keep them safe from harm, both real or imagined. If this is you or someone you know, I hope you will spend some time reflecting on what is making her believe she is unsafe. I hope that you—and we—can be a safe place for her to heal. When we reflect, we create space for new creativity. We condense files into their proper size and place in our operating systems, freeing up room for innovation and revelation. This week, find somewhere quiet to spend 30 minutes in reflection. If you fall asleep, that’s okay too. You probably need it. When you emerge, I hope you have a fresh perspective that you are ready to share that will make someone else’s life a little easier.
Maybe none of this applies to you, but I can attest that as we continue to work with women emerging from the pandemic, we are witnessing that you are all healing at different paces. Your worth to our world is beyond measure. We need you healthy and ready to rebuild. What can we do to help?
Let’s Move FORward Together,