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Words as Medicine

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

I have found myself in terror over this Covid-19 thing. Not because I was worried so much that I might get it, but because selfishly I was freaked out at the loss of income. All my travel and speaking engagements over the next 8 weeks have evaporated. I lost sleep, ate way too much sugar and drank way too much red wine. I received calls, read emails and texts saying, “Sorry we have to cancel.” I am my sole support and for the foreseeable future my income is gone.

I worried about my friends moving about as if nothing was going on. I obsessively watched the news as the numbers ticked upward, the death toll climbing. I recoiled when the man in the detergent aisle touched my arm in thanks after I recommended a particular dryer sheet when he didn’t know which one to choose. I wondered if his touch was about the dryer sheet or just a reason to connect with another human being. A natural grounding response in heightened times of anxiety. In that moment we were all human doings, stocking up on things that are on the checklist, making sure we have what we need, should we have to be home for weeks on end.

I was making myself so anxious that I could barely breathe. I was shutting down to the point that I didn’t even want to respond to calls, texts, emails, anything. I just wanted to tend to my fear. I could feel the darkness begin to surround me.

In my morning reading from “Lessons from the Mat”, I was reminded of the Indigo Girls lyric in their song CloserTo Fine, “The darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable. And the lightness has a call that’s hard to hear”. I was feeding that hunger.

I thought about my friend Keryl McCord, who quotes Valerie Kaur’s powerful question, “What if this is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?” If that is true, what might be trying to be birthed? A world where life is simpler? A world where we work together? A world where there is not the other, only us? But birthing is painful, bloody and hard.

I thought about the podcast episode of All My Relations, I had listened to a few days earlier where 2 Native women (Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keene) talked about a question, “How will you feed the people?” They talked about feeding not only in the way of food, but in the way of our gifts. What gifts can we bring to help in this crisis? What contribution can I make, what contribution can you make? And we all can make a contribution to help in this time.

I felt myself move from terror to curiosity and then to hope. Once curiosity was activated, questions came. Once hope was activated, so was my creativity and I was able to think of ways to be of service.

There might be terror and fear again, but I remember that path to curiosity and to hope and to creativity, I will remind myself to follow the breadcrumbs. I will remind myself to give of my gifts and I encourage you to do the same. And if all that fails, you can remind me. I don’t know what the answer is to my lack of income, yet. But I know hope gets me closer to that answer than fear.

Talking to a coaching client, she encouraged me to share my thoughts with others. Maybe that is one way I can offer something,

It is normal and ok to be scared at times like these. Maybe more than scared. The call is to not let yourself stay there. To not let being scared be the only thing you feel and the only thing you experience.

On a call with Alternate Roots, my friend Nick Slie quoted his mom who said “we have generosity in our DNA.”

We are each other’s medicine. As artists, as makers, as a community, we all have something to “feed the people '' And in offering that, we help each other and ourselves. With deep love I ask, “So, how will YOU feed the people?”

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