By Christina-Marie Sears
As I approach another trip around the sun, I sometimes experience conflicting emotions. I think part of this conflict actually comes from a good place, wanting to be a wise steward of my time, body, and resources. Living intentionally is a deep commitment to keep to oneself.
Finding and trusting one’s intuition can be a dicey process, especially as we come out of the pandemic. The pandemic is less front and center, now, in significant parts of the USA, but many nations, such as India are in complete chaos as they deal with the next, high contagious Delta variant. July 24th, India reported 78, 839 new cases of COVID disease. While this is significantly down from a viral peak on May 8th, with a shocking 403,405 daily cases, it’s clear that globally, we aren’t free from this horrid virus and its mutations. (https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19, accessed Tuesday July 27, 2021.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all, likely in ways that we can’t even understand yet. I face this, as an immuno-compromised person, and parent, on an almost daily level. On one hand, I can’t wait to “get back to normal,” and be able to travel by plane. I am coaxing my teenage daughter constantly to go back to her martial arts dojo: “it’s safe now and very clean.” Or, asking her to accompany me to the public pools, which have put in elaborate systems for safety and distancing.
Yet, I must recognize that prudence is sensible and no one can really be pushed forward beyond their level of comfort. With this disclaimer, I am acknowledging that this pandemic is a global crisis with on-going economic and health impacts. Vaccinations are progressing, and that is the number one best course for avoiding infection with the coronavirus. Physical and emotional health concerns may develop over time, and even as our country is opening up, we may not understand the stress and trauma responses until we have the benefit of hindsight.
What’s a fun-loving somatically-inclined birthday girl to do?
I seek every day to use my time well and attempt to make a positive difference in the world. That may be completing one small task, such as picking up garbage and litter from my yard, which faces a wonderful, but very well-trafficked city park, or submitting a short story to a literary journal, or taking an extra long walk with my cattle dog, Teddy.
What makes a positive difference in your day? Feel free to share in the comments on this blog post.
Positivity is not only a goal, but also a reward for brain health. Trying to take pleasure in daily life may come easily for some, and not so easily for others. There are so many considerations. According to my current “neuroscience read” What Happened to You: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry, MD and PhD., mood, outlook, and even relational satisfaction can be heavily weighted by experiences from childhood. Perhaps you are person weighted down with worry, health concerns or unsatisfying relationships with others?
Perhaps you are in a relationship with someone who constantly needs cheering, support and encouragement? Perhaps someone in your family or friend circle is dealing with cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disease, or a debilitating brain disease like Parkinson’s? These day-to-day interactions can be weighted down by past trauma, negative coping strategies and the like. Adult chemical dependency and addiction-prone personalities can be traced to an overload of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES.
I discovered ACES in 2012, as I was researching a paper “The Case for Conscious Breathing” that I presented at the East West National Annual Conference at Zion National Park, Utah. A helpful and brief TED talk outlining what ACES are is included in Sources, below.
Long story short, positivity is sometimes not a choice. Positivity is evidence of growth-mindset, and can be practiced as a habit, just as mindfulness can. And mindfulness can improve our level of pleasure in life, which can in turn feed a growth mind-set, resulting in feeling more positive and joyful feelings.
According to “Mama Gena,” Regena Thomashauer, feminist entrepreneur and founder/director of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, “ The key is pleasure.” She notes in her blog, “pleasure has been much maligned, much misunderstood, and much overlooked.” (https://mamagenas.com/how-i-make-magic-happen-2/, accessed Monday July 26, 2021.)
Last week, I created enough time to drive to metro Detroit to take a tap dance class -in person- with expert tap dynamo Denise Caston and 7 other women. The age range was early twenties to early 70’s. The pace was very challenging, and the choreography, set to a swing-jazz song reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald, was fun. Learning technique and this tap number was a zippy and fantastic night out. I have lived in Michigan since 1998, and never made time to do this, even though I have done many other pleasurable things. Somehow, my life tips easily away from pleasure and towards duty. My long-time standing dinner date with a friend had to be moved for this tap dance experience to become a reality. But this was worth it to me, because I was well overdue for a reevaluation of my time and activities. According to Women’s Health advocate and rockstar Christiane Northrup, MD, women are at particular risk of jettisoning pleasure and creative pursuits to serve others’ needs, often risking their own wellness in the process. The doctor cautions: “ Don’t allow your creative pleasure to wither or permit your true self to get lost in the daily grind of living.” (Northrup, p.514.)
Indeed, carving out moments and even hours for creativity, for play, and for pleasure, outside of your other commitments can be a challenge. But with careful planning, and an understanding that your wellness, your life; your experience of life, is worth prioritizing, it can be done.
Sondra adds these images of Christina dancing at our Italy Retreat in 2012.
Burke Harris, Nadine, Dr., A short video from California pediatrician about ACES, and how childhood trauma impacts health throughout a person’s life cycle. https://www.ted.com/speakers/nadine_burke_harris_1, published February 2015, accessed July 27, 2021.
Northrup, Christiane, MD, The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change, Bantam Books, 2012.
Perry, Bruce, MD, PhD, and Winfrey, Oprah, What Happened to You: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, Pan Macmillan UK, 2021.
Thomashauer, Regena, www.mamagenas.com, Website, Blog, Classes. 2021.