4 min read
Repost from earlier blog, 2018.
Crisis. Chaos. Urgency. Demands. Anxiety and fear. Social change.
There's been so much, lately... and while I unapologetically let myself wander into flow-zones and creative bliss and write into inspired mindscapes, I work - daily - in public service. My career has been in the study, tending, and serving of humanity since I was young.
And the two greatest gifts that working in service of others can give - are perspective and empathy.
And I love what it does for my writing, I love the deeper dive it gives me, into humanity. I love the widening lens I have on myself, on my relationships, my life, as I learn more about human behavior. But I've also become better and more adept at crisis management, in times of trouble - and more precisely, communication during crisis.
Energy can rage high during times of crisis, and we've been hit with crisis after crisis, lately. The fear, pain, grief, and tension all come to a head over wrongdoing, inequality, unfairness, crime, acts of hate, personal loss, environmental devastation, petty disagreements, perceived hurt, lasting uncertainty, you name it.
It's so easy to get swept up in the fear - and it can distort the way that we communicate, even when our intentions are good and just. It's easy to react with anger. It's harder to respond with compassion. It's a practice, and a worthy one. Anyone that works in service - at any level - ought to be practiced in responding with awareness, compassion, and a calm-assertive mindset.
Confronting someone from a place of grounded awareness is often uncomfortable. It's tempting to shout and rage and blame, though it comes with regret and a handful of misjudgments and mistakes and even unintended harm, sometimes.
We've all been there, in our personal and working lives - there comes a time when we all must speak up.
Personal situations put us in the center of confrontation so often in our lives: it comes up when we have to share sad news, like an unexpected health crisis or the loss of a loved one. It comes up when there is a betrayal of confidence, or a wicked misunderstanding. It comes up when we grow and want more for ourselves - and we need to voice it. It comes up when we have to speak out against something immoral that we witness.
As we journey through life, opportunities to practice confrontation pop up constantly. The minor ones come and go, easily:
But it's the big ones that shake us and make us uneasy - it's the ones we don't like to think about. The confrontations that may cause change.
In the workplace, it comes up in the form of professional disagreements. When a supervisor must correct staff, or enforce a rule or regulation. When staff must speak up to a supervisor. When changes sweep through an organization, and staff must be re-educated. These are simple bubbles of change that rise up, anywhere.
And these dynamics occur in all sorts of relationships. In romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships, and larger scale relationships, as well. Government officials and the citizens who elect them. Between country leaders and other country leaders. Race, gender, ideology, religion, anything that denotes a kind of belief about oneself, their community, and the greater world engenders an idea of relationship. We are constantly in relationship - with ourselves and with others. We fight often, within ourselves, until we seek peace and find a resolution, and continue on down our path - and so it is outside of us, as well.
Any conversation that might result in an unpleasant emotional state, for one or both parties, can be unsettling. It's just the way of things and feeling nervous before a confrontation is normal. Not wanting to hurt someone's feelings is a normal, healthy reflex. It doesn't make us weak. But the truth must always come out if we want to ensure healthy relationships, on all levels. We must always say what needs to be said - sincerity is paramount, overall. When we swallow it down and over-accomodate others, we internalize and stifle ourselves, which is never healthy in the long run. And when truth must be spoken, those emotional soft spots should be respected, but not allowed to run the conversation.
"Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes..." Maggie Kuhn
When the moment comes to deliver the news or ask the question or raise the issue, a series of things can happen:
But stay with it. Speak the truth, deliver the goods, even if you tremble or turn red. Your body will have a reaction the first time you do it, as the rush of energy pours out, it won't feel good. You might sweat or cry afterward or feel anger or want to withdraw for a while. Sharing truth is vulnerable. But know that truth - most times - is always better on the outside, and that the waves of emotion that rush in for both parties, should subside quickly. Nerves will settle. The anxious feeling doesn't stay long and the liberation of not holding it in anymore will leave room for something new - for some growth, for some forward momentum, for some new inspiration in the relationship.
It's been a long quarantine, here in New York.
100+ days locked down, at home, virtual everything: schooling, working, coping, getting sick and thankfully healing fast. And back to work, in levels and layers, bit by bit. A little here, a little there, and then full-time and being in the center of the community, again.
No summer camp, and switching and maneuvering and juggling and accommodating, accommodating, accommodating. Big themes... flexibility, humility, creativity, gratitude.
There's a steady travel ban on, and if I, say... go see my Mama in Georgia for a week, that means about a month of vacation time. If you're a 9-5 er like me, that's definitely not doable. So you busy yourself, you connect in other ways, you check in. You keep breathing, though you miss people - FAMILY - terribly. You say a prayer of gratitude if they're all okay (they are.)
And then, maybe you get asked to house/dog sit, somewhere close. A different place, up and off the island. Still New York, still "safe." Family. And you breathe... because the chance to spread your wings - just a little - feels like magic.
But traveling with kids during COVID comes with some prep-work:
1. Pack sanitizer for the road, especially those unexpected rest-stop visits. I pack wipes for bathrooms - for germs and in case there's no paper in there. Be smart. Think ahead.
2. Charge up an iPad or something, if you're a single parent. Something to watch, listen to, being in the car for hours can get boring for littles. Boredom can lead to seat-kicking, yelling, and those big, awful, woe-is-me-I'm-bored tears. Bring things. Don't like gadgets? Mad Libs still work. Or picture books, if they're really little. But bring stuff. (Always keep a big Lego stash in your purse or man-bag.) Like any other road trip, basically.
3. Pack extra face masks. Don't leave the house with JUST THE ONE ON HIS/HER FACE. Kids are slippery, they drop things.
4. Load Mommy's playlist. Lay down the law: the driver picks the music. Kiddo can bring headphones and The Wiggles greatest hits, or watch Trolls 2 on the iPad. It's okay. Mommy (or Daddy) needs to focus on the road, and that focus needs the right music or audiobook or podcast, or whatever. Period. DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THEM. THEY ARE CRAFTY. OWN THE SPEAKERS UP FRONT. You can do this. Stay strong. Be the pack leader. Like Cesar says.
5. Snacks. You don't know what you'll find at rest-stops. Pack road snacks. Cut grapes, carrot sticks, berries, pretzels, fruit gummies. Most healthy, some fun treats. I usually hit a place for coffee and breakfast on the road, first. We'll have a few goodies if that stuff runs out.
6. Sunscreen. No-brainer, but sometimes we're so overwhelmed with masks and germs that we forget about the basics. The Sun still burns. Pack the SPF. It's summer.
7. Keep your cool. While on the road, you may encounter the... UNMASKED. Some folks, for whatever reason, will not show the courtesy. If you pass them, understand that they have their reasons. A summer road trip with your kids isn't the time to educate them or spew statistics. Just keep your distance and walk on, I think. Our kids learn from us - don't pick unnecessary fights. Or if you are of the UNMASKED persuasion, I'm sure you have your reasons (though I don't understand them), but keep your distance from those who do practice these safety measures. It's common courtesy. Be cool.
8. Don't be on your phone that much. If you're getting away for a quick long weekend, don't spend that precious time scrolling. Enjoy the new digs, the fresh air, family, the nice slow pace. Share pics, post updates, and put it down. Cherish the time away. Unwind. Connect.
9. Plan activities and food choices. It's nice to have a few structured things planned for the weekend. A local farmstead to hit. Open restaurants. A local ice cream shop. Hiking around a nearby lake. Kayaking, maybe. State Parks usually have some wonderful recreational things to offer for families. You just don't know what'll be open and closed these days. Check it out ahead of time.
10. Grownup activities. Kids will go to bed and you'll have some time at night. Bring stuff just for you: a good book, some journals, your current project, a yoga DVD. Bath bombs. Something just for you. Make that time, even while you're away. You'll thank yourself later. There's no feeling quite like needing a vacation after your vacation. We've all been there. So don't overbook yourself, work in rest-time. Keep it simple. Make it sweet.
I'll see you next week! xoxo