Cope like a dandelion

I imagine a lot of people are feeling kind of like this dandelion right now – stuck between a rock and hard place (or in this case between two slabs of concrete). Life as we knew it has changed into a life of utter uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds fear, and fear is powerful. It can either motivate us to act – sometimes foolishly – or it can paralyze us into inaction and a decline in mental health.

As this Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, I find myself vascillating between fear and calm, between action and inaction, between hope and worry. Everyone has to find their own way to cope with this uncertainty and new way of living a socially distant life. My way includes spending time outdoors, in nature, with the trees, birds, weeds, and wildlife that have proven over and over again to be my best teachers and healers.

Take that dandelion, for example. I literally stumbled upon it today during what I’m beginning to call my “daily walk for sanity”. No, that dandelion can’t get the virus, doesn’t have a 401(k) to worry about or kids to homeschool or a job to lose during an economic downturn. But it does have a lesson for all of us – adapt and carry on. The fact that its seed landed in a crack in a sidewalk didn’t stop it from germinating, sprouting, growing, and blooming, enabling it to produce seeds of its own, provide nectar and pollen for early pollinators, and carry out its biological function in a less than ideal environment.

Easy for the dandelion – it doesn’t feel fear or uncertainty or worry. Right.

But, the lesson is there still. Adapt and carry on. When the fear creeps in or jumps squarely in front of my face, I know this is the time to breathe – long, deep breaths – to go out and stand on the earth, to touch the ground, to hug a tree, to stop and listen to the birds singing their spring songs. All these things help bring me back to the present moment, to the reality that I am here right now, and I am well and I am safe and I am grateful for the life I have and the people who share it with me. Deep breaths and connecting with the Earth ground me and enable me to pull away from fear and look at the bigger picture – the one where I see across space and time, across species and evolution, and know that nothing remains constant, but everything is connected.

We are one of millions of species of interdependent living beings on this planet. We’ve done a lot of damage to other species over the years. Ecosystems and populations go through cycles. Communities depend on both internal and external resources. Energy flows and matter cycles, and life is transformed and transmuted and transient in every way, every day.

This is an opportunity to get creative, to be compassionate, to practice self-care and care for others. Our species will get through this. Our planet will get through this. Life will be different. Expectations will change. Love and hope and connection will strengthen our resolve and power our actions. Adapt and carry on (in your new ways). We’re all in this together. Dandelions and all!

I’ll leave you with a fun challenge (inspired by my participation in My Peak Challenge) that might help you cope and stay healthy through all of this… Every time you wash your hands for the required 20 seconds, you ALSO have to:

  • do 20 pushups or
  • 20 seconds of cardio or
  • a 20-second plank or
  • 20 squats

That ought to help relieve some stress and keep you moving!

Keep smiling, get outside, and breathe!

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