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  • Writer's picturepamela woodroffe

When life gives you lemons …. make Lemonade

March 28, 2010. Week Number One of Washington State’s Stay Home Stay Healthy era

An introduction to my Lemonade Newsletter.

So. O.K. We are in the beginning of a new kind of challenge, such that we’ve never experienced before. Feels like everything’s been tossed into the air, and is settling into a new mosaic that is none of our own design. Barricaded in our bunkers, armed with Lysol to gird ourselves against this enemy virus. It’s potentially everywhere, invisible. It’s affecting all areas of our life – from our home hygiene, our loved ones’ safety, our vocations. It’s really hard. I won’t sugar-coat it.

That being said, I’d like to shift us out of shock and lament. And identify and share ways to best cope with the phases of this process as it unfolds. In hindsight we’ll be able to make sense of how we got through it. Right now, we can only focus on the next step. But if things are going to get more intense, let’s shore up now.

Those of you who know me personally, or have read my therapists’ website, know that I believe that we can find redemption and healing from adverse life experiences: by learning from them, finding inner strength, and sharing that with others. That’s basically what I do as a therapist, and why I do it, and why I love it. One of my favorite mottos is: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

That phrase (according to the fount of all wisdom, Wikipedia) was coined by Elbert Hubbard who wrote an obituary in 1915 for actor Marshall Pinckney Wilder, praising his ‘optimistic attitude and achievements in the face of his disabilities’. Yep. I like it.

Each and every one of us has a particular strength to bring forth right now. In Native American philosophy, it’s called ‘Medicine’ – that talent or way that you are known for that sets you apart. It’s about your skills, your particular way of seeing things, what you offer; your healing gift. Or you can think of it as your Superpower. What’s your Medicine or Superpower that you can bring to this situation? Really. Dig down.

The humble aloe plant is mystified that people are hoarding its gel for hand sanitizer.

As a therapist, writer, and farmer/gardener, Nature lover, and community activist, I’ll bring my ability to describe the nebulous, to write, to grow food and herbs, share recipes, to notice the natural world, and advocate for healing. I’ll be sharing what I know with you. And what I learn from you. For free.

Right now we’re all getting lots of information about resources we can access during the Corona virus outbreak. I love that newspapers are moving past the ‘alarm’ phase of news, and providing us with free empowering resources and tips. I advocate accessing regular factual news sources (including the ones listed at the bottom of this newsletter) for that level of information, while reducing your exposure to exploitive internet sources.

In this newsletter, I’d like to share more of the person-to-person ways of creative coping. I’ll be highlighting strategies to strengthen, cope, and build community during this time. I’ll share what people in my circle and community are doing to cope well that I find humorous, heartfelt, practical, and kind. Maybe it will spark an idea that will be helpful for you. Tell me what’s working for you. How are you keeping your sanity and balance? Here are some ideas that have come through so far:

Hygiene habits

Gosh! I didn’t know how many times a day I touch my face. Most be a hundred! That was the hardest habit to break. And what to do when I come in the house from OUTSIDE! Strip off those clothes as if they are O.R. scrubs or a haz-mat suit? I touched my doorknob after that sticky grocery cart handle! My fingertips are suspect?!! It can be paralyzing.

Try deciding just what level of clean you are going to have in your home, and set up a sanitation station at your threshold or entry way. Try rubber-banding an alcohol wipe to your hand and notice - with single-minded concentration - everything you touch for the next 15 minutes, and wipe it down. Really immerse yourself in this without multi-talking. Congratulations! Not only did you commit new hygiene habits to muscle memory, you mastered the art of Mindfulness.

Staying connected while staying home

Virtual meetings and happy hours

It’s been a challenge for me this past couple weeks, shifting from seeing clients face-to-face in my office, to providing TeleHealth sessions from my home. It’s so quiet in my neighborhood, without the background of traffic noise. It’s that kind of loud quiet like after the fireworks are finally over, or in the morning as you wake up to an overnight snowfall. It’s kind of lovely to go within, to slow down, have more contemplative time and less multi-tasking. Still, it’s isolating, so I set about to find ways to change the mix.

I have a couple friends with whom I used to meet for Friday night Nosh’ N Vent when we were going through tough times. We’d bring quality snacks and share outrage about our situations. We’d commiserate and validate. But we made sure we close with a sense of empowerment, some insight, and a strategy or two. Those challenges subsided, but now we live in different states; so we’ve reconvened, but with Facetime. And still, the good snacks. Cocktails, mocktails and shrubs forever! (Shrubs are healthy drinks with vinegar, in future newsletters)

A friend who D.J.’s zydeco and swing dances in Seattle, “Gator Boy” Sean Donovan from Louisiana, had to cancel his Juke Joint gig this month due to social distancing recommendations. So he offered his playlist through a free Spotify link. He’s given permission for me to share it here – some zydeco, rhythm and blues, and waltzes. Feeling cooped up? Play it for a quick mood-lifter. Invite a few friends over (virtually) for some dirty rice, cooking greens, and Zydeco and Cajun music and dancing. Thanks, Sean! Here’s the link:

Here’s how the New York Times suggests how to have upbeat Virtual Happy Hours:

Reach out to neighbors and community

One of my neighbors was inspired by news of Italians sequestered indoors who leaned out their windows to sing, joining in, and echoing down the streets and alleyways. So she went onto the Next Door Neighbors’ blog and asked everyone to come outside that night at 7 pm and sing “Every little thing is gonna be alright” together. And published the words to it, so no excuses.

My next door neighbor rounded up our orders and did a grocery run for us, and left mine on my doorstep, along with a lovely bouquet of cheery tulips! Do you want to know how to make them last longer? Take the end of a paper clip and punch a hole about a fourth of an inch down the stem from the blossom. Between teleworking, we’re having yard prune-a-thons, talking over the fence (six feet apart).

A beloved kindergarten teacher (on Stay Home orders) misses her kids, so, inspired by authors reading books on U-tube offerings, she starts her day filming herself reading from her favorite children’s book, and offers it up to her families on Facebook.

Telecommuting, kids home from school, balancing work and home

Chaos at home?

Some of my friends are finding hidden benefits of having time with their kids, roommates, partners and pets. It’s a relief to not get everyone ready to rush out the door in the mornings. Still, there are multiple needs to manage with everyone trying to stay indoors. What’s helping is to make some structure in the day. Decide with your roommates and family who needs quiet time (to telecommute or provide recharge time for introverts) and who needs outdoor time. How to manage the collective needs and energy? Some are starting with lesson plans for school-aged kids in the morning, when mental energies are best. Outdoor time in afternoons when the weather is most likely to be warmer. Turn everyday life into a nature or science lesson. I love to bird watch. Here’s a great resource that one of my friends sent me for fun and inspiration; Cornell’s All About Birds:

Helping the s/heros and helpers

When I’m in a time crunch, sometimes I order meal delivery from Maven Meals. It’s one of many such delivery services, but what I like is that they are less expensive, locally-sourced, and offer gluten-free and vegan options. My heart goes out to the health providers who are working around the clock, risking their lives, to care for patients. Currently Maven Meals is one service that is delivering meals to our health care s/heroes with the help of your donations.

Maven Meals link:

Need some extra support right now?

If you are currently a client, or have ever been my client, I am offering Telehealth (video and audio) counseling sessions. Please get in touch if you would like some extra support during this time. I’m here for you. I hope you find this newsletter helpful.

Or phone me at 206.399.2622

Disclaimer: I don’t receive any kickbacks from any of the individuals or organizations or companies that I might highlight in this newsletter. I encourage readers to keep on top of information about the hygiene of their food sources and other information, and use best practices for their safety and health as outlined in current updated CDC and Seattle-King County Health department guidelines. Stay safe, stay healthy, and take good care.

(If you would like NOT to receive this newsletter, please notify me.)

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