I am going to be real here. I am grieving, depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and feel helpless. I have brain fog and alternate from these emotions to being numb. I have several times in the past few weeks lifted my fingers over my laptop keyboard to write, but have felt empty of words. This is a serious sign that I am not doing well, as I am always and ever a wordsmith in the flow of insight and inspiration.
But this morning, as I read the newspaper, I knew I had to just get to it—not just to write to you, my readers, but to process this for myself. Because that is what writing has always done for me. It gets it out and, as I type, I begin to untangle the feelings and jumble of confused thoughts and, if I am lucky, get down to the seeds of understanding, meaning and hope within it all. Because getting to that is the key to our survival as a species—a key to eventually reclaiming our human birthright of peace.
Here is the most recent list of what has impacted my heart so deeply:
In my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, a week ago a UVA student shot 3 of his colleagues—football players—and wounded 2 others. I am a UVA alumna (got my MA and PhD there) and a former faculty member from the College of Arts & Sciences. It hit home and hard.
Then a shooter walked into Club-Q, an LGBTQ venue in Colorado Springs, and killed 5 and injured approximately 18 others.
All this followed upon an intense election in the US where fear and hatred were on ballots all over the country.
The war on Ukraine, so close to my heart, continues.
This is a hard world to live in. There is too much fear, too much anger and too much hatred. The man who shot his friends reached for a gun to resolve their differences. So sad. The man who walked into Club-Q may have been bullied for being gay in his younger years. Putin and his allies have invaded a sovereign nation out of a pull to empire-building.
We are living in a world where guns are proffered as a way to solve our conflicts. Where people do not reach out for help before they reach for a weapon. Where mind of authoritarianism is still alive and well. It is all very sad.
In the face of this, I don’t personally fear for my life, although perhaps I should these days. It’s just not my go-to. Nor given my race, sexual orientation and identity (white, female, heterosexual) I am not as much at risk in my country as those who have more lately been targets. I am also aware that being post-menopausal, I do not have to worry about what could happen if I had an unwanted pregnancy in the face of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
But I fear deeply for others’ lives. As an anti-violence, peace activist and therapist-healer, I don’t care where you stand on politics, religion, culture, abortion, or nationhood. I simply do not want people to be hurt, period. And when they are, my heart bleeds. Too many people are being hurt and too many of them in my country are LGBTQ, Jewish, Black, Brown, Asian, and Muslim.
Now, the truth is that violence has been a pestilence around the world for millennia among people of all races, religions and creeds. I don’t need to itemize once again the wars, slavery and genocides, plus all the intimate abuse and violence in families and communities. In the 20th and 21st centuries alone, there have been and continue to be so many wars and violent conflict, that in the moment here, it makes me weary to think of them.
What is the impact on all of us? When I do healings to help my clients transform wounds and patterns of trauma, more often than not, I end up seeing and sensing generations of harm in one form or another that long predate the present—although sometimes it is just what has transpired in the recent past. That’s enough. It doesn’t have to be ancestral to be noted. When one person is suffering from the reverberating effects of trauma of any kind in their own lives, it is more than enough.
That is what all this does to all of us. We all carry it within us. We see it played out in our families. And certainly right now, it may be even more apparent, on the surface and raw, as it is for me.
So what do I do with all this? What do I do when I hit the skids? This is my template for myself and you:
First, I give myself a break—meaning if I am not up to working, writing or engaging with the world’s problems, I do not push myself.
Rest is necessary.
Second, I acknowledge and feel the feelings. I do not push them away.
Suppression or spiritual bypassing (invoking a spirituality of transcendence as a means to avoid feeling) will not, in the end, work. The more we soften into our emotions, the more we will tap into a deep healing energy, sweetness and love within, through and around us.
Third, I talk to, visit with and have fun with friends and loved ones.
We are social creatures. Company raises our mood and lightens the load.
Fourth, I continue my self-care regimen of yoga and dance.
Exercise gets the endorphins up and grounds us. Movement reminds us that all things are always changing, including the state of the world.
Fifth, I go out into nature. I walk with my dog.
Mother Earth is ambient with love-light and peace no matter what is going on in our lives and around the planet.
Sixth, I sit with my mesa—my medicine bundle of love and peace—to pray and meditate.
Practices of meditation, visualization and ceremony help move heavy energies, emotions and thoughts and enable us to stay connected to the Divine from which there is eternal support and love.
Seventh, I mine the pain to feed my passion to continue to heal, inspire and lead others.
Grief opens us up to our mission to be of service. Service to others brings meaning and fulfillment. By going into action, we step out of helplessness and into love.
Oh yes. And I write. For myself and for you. This is one of the tools of Sacred Activism that I reach for. And I am lucky that I am not living in a war zone and have the time and space to do all of this. Thank you.
Has writing this made me feel better? Yes, it has uplifted me a bit to be with you—to be real with you about what I have been feeling.
This morning, I will do my dance-yoga routine to ground and center. Then I will build up some inner spaciousness in the love-light of my open mesa and as I pray and meditate.
May all beings be free and liberated. May all be healed and whole. May all beings be at peace. Aho. Wado.