LEMONADE NEWS – ISSUE # 4
When life gives you lemons .... make Lemonade -- a newsletter designed to help you cope well with the Corona virus and life in general
– By Pamela Woodroffe, LICSW, SUDP, MAC, Seattle psychotherapist
Hello again. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I took a ‘time-out” to go within and regroup, meditate, and return with some newer ways of making sense of how things are. I’ve met with teachers, visionaries, therapists, trying to get some perspective. I’ve got a few ideas to share that I hope are empowering, inspiring, and comforting to you.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, I’m offering confidential ‘teletherapy’ sessions to new and former and existing clients. Please feel free to call me at (206) 399-2622; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is www.pamelawoodroffecounseling.com.
Nature’s big picture
It has felt like Mother Nature, fed up with the fires, floods, and greed, admonished us to “Be quiet: Go to your rooms! The results, while challenging, have also been astoundingly beautiful. Air pollution is cut in half, the trees seem to be singing with blooming delight, and birds are venturing closer to our homes. (Just for fun, I joined a UW study that is tracking this). In my north Seattle neighborhood, a doe and 2 fawns were recently sighted taking a stroll!
Reflecting and connecting
We’ve been prompted to go within, reflect, and rediscover our inner strengths. Some of us have discovered the benefits of a ‘media brownout’. We’ve found creative ways to be ‘together and apart’ from our loved ones and friends. We’ve maintained social connections through Zoom parties and online workshops, or sharing yard sitting afternoons (10 feet apart.) Some of us have embraced the merits of not having to commute, and catching up around the house, spending more time with family. The Seattle Freeze has thawed – neighbors are getting to know each other again.
Acknowledging our grief – our loss of routine and ‘normalcy’
I believe it can be helpful to name the stages that we are going through, and the feelings. Basically, we are grieving a loss of normalcy, missing the way things used to be. The simplest routines that used to provide constancy -- from unlocking our homes and bringing the groceries in – have become much more complicated. We don’t have a clear vision of what we are walking toward. The result can be a sense of confusion and defeat.
At first, we were able to meet the challenges, many of us working from home, some caring for kids while teleworking. We bought supplies to sustain us for 2-4 weeks. Then as the one-month stay home recommendation extended to another month, some of us ran out of resilience. We learned of acquaintances affected by the virus, layoffs and economic challenges, all
against a backdrop of political infighting. Some of us had ‘meltdowns’ and tears in our frustration.
Now we’re entering month #3 of social distancing and economic fallout. We’re wondering how long we will be going in and out of restrictions. Most of us are resigned to endure and adapt, and stay apprised. And try to make the best of it.
Some tips to preserve your resilience:
Tip No. 1- Name it and claim it.
Stop for a minute. Let yourself feel whatever emotion is coming up. Acknowledge it. Name it. This often dissipates it.
Practice acknowledgement and acceptance. Take this feeling, and ground yourself in the moment. This is a kind of mindfulness. Take a few deep breaths, open to it, merge with it, and respect it as a reminder of what you value.
Build strength. When have you faced a similar challenge in the past? What was helpful then? Is there a way you can address it differently this time? If you imagine yourself a year from now, what would you look back and wish you had done during this time now?
Take an action step. Maybe you can reach out and ask for advice or help. Perhaps you can help a loved one or neighbor. It’s empowering to break the paralysis!
And remind yourself – right now, good enough is good enough. We’re all in this together.
Tip No. 2 – Making meaning – setting a tentative vision of your future.
Admittedly, none of us knows exactly what the future holds. Are there any improvements in our lives that may be possible? We’ve learned that we can do many of our jobs by telecommuting. We’re seeing the ‘down side’ of an open-air office environment. Maybe we’ll have a future of more job flexibility and less commuting and air pollution. We’ve seen the skills and generosity of our neighbors and friends. Many of us have rediscovered the satisfaction of growing some of our own food, cooking from scratch, spending more time with our loved ones. We’ve become more discerning of reputable news and information sources. More of us are becoming politically involved to be a part of the changes we want to see in the world. What changes might you want to see in your world? What might you want to explore now? Write down a dream or two for your future world; keep a journal during this time.
Tip No. 3 - Embrace gratitude.
Did you observe something sweet today? A neighbor offered to pick up your groceries? Did you learn of communities helping one another? Did you hear a new bird song? Are the flowers blooming with vibrancy such that you’ve never seen before? Write it down, and keep it where you can refer to it when you are feeling low.
Tip No. 4 – Reach out.
A friend commented after she had seen a TV series where a friend just ‘dropped by’ another friend’s house, in emotional distress. Her friend let her in, and they commiserated about what was going on. My friend said, “When did we stop doing that? What were we doing that we were too busy to spend time with people important to us?” Email, call, or facetime a friend or family member each day. Check in, see how they are doing. Let’s all break our isolation.
Tip No. 5 – Take an action step that reinforces your self-sufficiency
One activity that I find helps me bring beauty to the world, appreciate the fresh outdoor air, and create healthy food for my table is gardening. I have a sense of taking control of one corner of the universe by growing my own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In early March I planted the first round of veggies, with a second batch the first week of May. Now, I’m harvesting rhubarb, collard greens, lettuce, pea pods, and spinach. May is a great time to start a practical garden in Seattle. Here is a local resource – Tilth Alliance offers affordable virtual workshops about growing and preserving food, starting at $10 per class, beginning May 20.
Enjoy the sweetness of the times now, while we navigate the challenges. We’re in this together. Stay healthy, safe, and well!
~ Pamela Woodroffe, LICSW, CDP, MAC, Seattle Psychotherapist
If you or someone you know would like confidential teletherapy sessions, please reach out: