Yes, (sigh) it’s still January. Yes, (deep sigh) it’s still a time of global pandemic. Yes, each of us is impacted in different ways, depending on our own unique circumstances, yet as I look around, I see and hear so many common signs of weariness of loss. So I just want to ask: how  are you doing? Really?  

I saw a post on FaceBook recently that read: “This is life right now: Nothing is normal and no one is ok. You’re doing great.” Both the honesty and the encouragement of this message touched me. It reminded me of what my dear friend and teaching colleague, artist Wendy Orville, says when in the midst of a creative process: “That’s great! Keep going!” 

When faced with uncertainty, not knowing, stress, loss, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong. Right? It’s often a lot harder, and therefore is a profound part of practice, to see what actually  is right, what’s going well, what, in fact, is great.  

So this month I want to offer a pep-talk of sorts (because we can surely all use one), a reminder that we already have the resources needed to keep going. They are part of our repertoire as human beings, and we can cultivate access to them, on purpose, bringing courage, patience, deep care and resiliency to the challenge of meeting what’s here as it is. 

We forget this all the time, don’t we? Let’s remember then, together, and start with the basics. First off, if you’re reading this right now, then I’m betting that you’re still breathing. This is great  news!! It’s no small thing to be breathing, but we regularly forget the miracle of it, the fact that this breath is the thin thread that keeps us alive. Take a moment. See if you can feel this breath, and this next one, too. Savor, and repeat. 

I’d guess that it’s also highly likely that you got out of bed this morning, or are about to, or  perhaps you didn’t, but might tomorrow. Each time we rise up to face the day, with whatever challenges, disappointments, good, bad or ugly news it might bring, we fan the internal flame  of courage.  

It was my 86-year-old mother who reminded me of this when we spoke yesterday. With the omicron variant still spiking in her Mid-Western town, she is staying very close to home. Not surprisingly, this latest wave of isolation has been difficult. She told me that though she was feeling low when she got up, she had had the thought as she made her bed, “I’m so lucky that  I can still make my bed!” She shared that this awareness, and the sense of gratitude that arose  in its wake, had lightened things somewhat.  

We get up in the morning, and as we can, we make our beds. Small actions, big heart. It turns  out that this, too, is really, really great.  

And then there are the phone calls themselves, the Zoom calls and texts, all the ways we have of connecting that remind us that, even as we slog through lonely times, we’re not alone. Connection is GREAT. 

Have I mentioned laughter? Laughter is so, so great. My sister and brother-in-law recently both got COVID, right in the middle of another health issue that required out-patient surgery for my sister, which then got delayed. I learned that my brother-in-law had wisely sent out an SOS via text to their 3 adult children who live on 2 continents: “Your mom and I really need your support right now. Please send your best jokes, daily.”

(Ok, twist my arm, here are my personal favorites:  

•   What’s the difference between COVID-19 and Romeo and Juliet? One’s the coronavirus,  and the other is a Verona crisis.
•   And: I got an email teaching me how to read maps backwards. Turns out it was just  spam.
•   Last one, I promise: What did the therapist say to the sea sponge after their counseling  session? “Well, you’re clearly much too self-absorbed.”)

Turning toward February, with light returning as the days grow longer, do take good care.  Laugh often. Remember and make good use of the resources you already have and already are —these aspects of being human that we can rediscover and rely on when faced with challenge,  difficulty, loss. 

Mostly, remember: you’re doing great, because you’re still here. Keep going!!