Cultivating Resilience In Hard Times 102: Structure, Commitments, And Opportunities

Last updated: November 2020

The iconic Hills Are Alive scene from The Sound of Music has been reborn a thousand times over in memes. Generally, a picture of Maria, arms outstretched, with the Alps behind her is paired with some iteration of "this is me not caring about" cultural touchstones like The Super Bowl, Black Friday, or reality television. I nominate Maria for a mission against nonsense, because the hills are ringing with it.

This is not to say that the COVID-19 pandemic and other disturbing current events don't matter. I'm calling nonsense on speculation, prognostication, doomsday warnings, and social media squabbling about these things. Compared to the boring things that you know you need to be doing, this stuff is as important as how mad Kate Middelton might be at Megan Markel. I don't recall Megan or kate paying my bills, helping me exercise, or get to sleep. Here are a few things to help sustain you through these wild times.

Prioritize your peace and mood as much as possible

This is my third year hand-raising butterflies, but it almost didn't happen. There are no butterflies without caterpillars, and no caterpillars without host plants. Eastern Black Swallowtails rely entirely on members of the carrot family to raise their young. Dill is their absolute favorite food, but they do well enough on appropriate alternatives.

It seemed wrong to use the time, energy, and resources on something so silly. And what if we ended up making extra trips to the store? They use up PPE and raise the risk of exposure to COVID-19. I built up a supply of host plants while running errands before the first caterpillars were spotted. We could've ended up with 20 parsley plants for two people, but we didn't! And my friends keep sending me lots of masks.

Reach out to people who matter

The pandemic finds me recovering from my three years supervising The Dude's dementia care. This time took a hatchet to many personal and professional relationships, without any obvious paths back in from the cold. In my mind, unanswered emails, letters, or missed social engagements stacked up to make a wall, but it wasn't as bad as all that. I've lost some people who didn't understand how poorly I was doing, but that's water under the bridge. This ongoing process of rebuilding those relationships has been deeply satisfying. I'll take it!

Consider if there's something you'd like to change

I'm uncomfortably minimizing this season of anxious precarity and deep grief as some type of writing retreat or glorious path to self-improvement, but some disruptions carry opportunities inside them. These opportunities can't justify what's happened, but they shouldn't go to waste either. Life has a way of building up inertia or momentum, but both can be broken.

What's next?

Are you fed up with something? Maybe it's time to revise and revisit.

Is there somebody you've been meaning to contact?

Have you let something go during the pandemic?

What do you wish you'd known back in February?

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