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Leaning Into The Pandemic

It is my hope that the following personal perspective may help those who are seeking more light and love during a difficult time.

As I move through this pandemic, I’m reflecting on the many spiritual teachers and mentors who have helped me shape my perspective to find inner peace, regardless of all the chaos that is surrounding me. One of those teachers, whom we are all familiar with, Tony Robbins, has a famous quote that particularly stood out for me during this difficult time. His quote: “Nothing in life has meaning, except the meaning we give it,” made me pause and contemplate what this pandemic is showing us. I’m sharing with you a little bit of my wisdom, and what I have learned throughout my lifetime of studying spirituality and how we are one with the Universe as a whole, not separately, as we believe.

I have been staying at my lake house in New Hampshire. I wanted to be as close to nature as possible during this difficult time. It has helped me connect deeply with myself again, and also zoom out to reflect on the challenging times we are living in. During this time, I have created a new morning ritual as soon as I wake. I practice deep breathing, eyes closed, and I ask myself… “How do I want to feel today?” As I contemplate that question, I can redirect my thoughts and activities based on my answer. I’m controlling my day with intention, and not just reacting to everything that is happening around me. This simple practice works. I have control over my day, and my day unfolds according to how I want to feel. Some days my answer is “organized and focused,” other days it is “energized and joyful,” and other days it is “magical and surreal.” This simple, yet highly effective practice works!

The next thing I do is think about what I am grateful for. Simple things such as my dog Willy, my family, my beautiful home, friends, neighbors, nature, having an internet connection (we lose it a lot here) and access to online Pilates and yoga classes, and, of course, Netflix. Gratitude moves my energy from fear to love. It’s a moment by moment choice. But I have seen my inner self transform from feeling optimistic about my future instead of fearing my future.

Some people may not see the world this way, and that’s okay. I understand we are all evolving the best way we know-how and challenging times is where our personal growth takes place. This challenge that we face today is showing us if we are open to receive a new perspective. It is showing us more about ourselves than we could ever imagine before. How we learn from this is an individual basis. Life lessons depend on if we allow grace in and accept the circumstance for what it is or we resist it and deny our ability to heal and grow. This doesn’t mean either one is right or wrong. And it doesn’t mean we’re happy about what is happening, we’re just realizing that it is our response that determines our future.

Nature reacts effortlessly to the many storms that it endures. When a storm is brewing, the birds and animals all know to take shelter until the storm passes. I witnessed something remarkable the other day when I walked down to the lake. Everything was in complete stillness. From the water to the trees, to the sky. Nothing moved. There wasn’t a bird in the sky and the clouds stood still. And it felt so peaceful. Then I contemplated how nature doesn’t resist the gift of stillness, it thrives in it. And we, as humans, haven’t been able to embrace that simple concept. We’ve been so busy doing, going, reaching, providing, proving, that we forgot about the gift that silence has to offer. That made me realize the stillness we are experiencing at this time on our planet is our greatest teacher.

I came across this quote that came to me during my morning silence when I asked for my day to be “magical.” And I picked up an old book, that was buried in my basement along with other books, yet this one stood out to me. And I opened the page, and this quote stood out:

“It’s as if we’re living on the front lawn of our own home. We’ve been locked out of ourselves for so long that we forget there is a house to live in…. We’ve forgotten what a house is for. We’ve forgotten that there even is a house. We’ve forgotten that there is shelter inside of our own hearts.”

----Krishna Das Bhakti Musician

I know during this collective time of pause, many of you are seeing the many gifts you receive from spending quality time with family, having more quiet time for yourself, cooking more homemade meals, connecting with friends on Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Our children are learning valuable life lessons from staying home and not being at school. For the first time their world isn't revolved around grades, test scores and classrooms. They are spending quality time playing, creating, and spending intimate time with family. This may be the first generation that truly understands why the educational system is crushing their creativity, because of what they experienced going through Covid-19. They will realize missing a semester or two, didn't spiral them down to less than adequate moving forward.

Yes, there are also so many scary challenges that we’re facing like losing a job, not having a financial income, missing close connection with friends, and the unknown. We pray for those who have passed, who are sick, and are thankful for all those who are risking their lives, to save others. I do believe all of us will become closer, and more community minded, less self-absorbed, because of Covid-19.

But loss is a scary thing, and losing your income, or a job, leaves you feeling helpless. But there is always hope and new opportunity when you stay open to opportunity. I want to share with you an abbreviated version of my personal story, of loss and how that impacted my life moving forward.

When my husband Steve and I were first married, we went through a tremendous loss. It was back in the early ’80s and Steve was working in construction sales during a huge building boom, and I had an interior decorating franchise that was thriving. That is when we decided to build our dream home on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Then in the late ’80s, we hit a major recession. Steve lost his job, and I had to close my business. People were filing for bankruptcy and they were not building or decorating their homes. We had zero income coming in and we couldn’t meet our mortgage payments. We lost our dream home. That was a devasting time. We had bill collectors calling us every day. I was so distraught, frightened and ashamed. But I share this story because we managed to walk away and rebuild our future. It took time, energy and focus, but we recovered. And this challenge taught us the gift of resilience and believing that you will do whatever it takes to rebuild your life. That belief was our foundation. You may have heard the quote “One door closes and another door opens”… but it’s the HELL in the hallways that determines what happens next. It’s in the hallway that determines how you land!

It is my hope that you seek humor, inspiration, and light-hearted content as you move through this pandemic. When you live with intention, you are in control of your life. Watch a Ted Talk, cooking videos, funny movies. Take an online course, or work on your creative side to re-direct your focus towards a more positive place. We will all get through this and while we may never be the same person we were before all of this, for some, that may not be a bad thing. Everything that we learn today, is going to serve us tomorrow. Believe in the magic of the Universe, mother nature, mother earth, and your intuition will guide you on the next step in your journey, after all of this over.

God bless and stay well.

Donna Markussen

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