What is well-being to you in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic?
For me it is constantly, reminding myself of who I am – my spiritual roots. It is also remembering my family roots, including two poems that anchored our family: If and Invictus. All nine kids memorized these poems and had a feeling of empowerment and indestructibility as we read them out loud. These along with my mother’s strong mantra, “We are in this but not of this.” was my mother’s way of placing a protective shield over our minds and bodies as we navigated the gang wars and poverty that were persistent in our North Philadelphia neighborhood in the ’50s and ’60s.
My mother’s other famous phrase was: “If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done.” Her voice would get much louder as she started the final sentence of that phrase: “Be it great or be is small, DO IT WELL OR NOT AT ALL.” Because of my mother’s influence and her high expectations, our household was firmly grounded in standards of excellence. That standard has guided me throughout my professional career.
Yes, these powerful voices are filling my brain frequently now. I also find that I’m often in tears more moments than I’d like because of the virus. I’m concerned about relatives, concerned about the world, and wondering what our future will look like when this plague is finally over. However, when I notice myself drifting into sadness, I claim it for the moment, and then I return to my place of gratitude and lean on my spiritual roots. It is like a calm sound in my ear that says all is well, all is well, all is well with you, with the world and with your soul. This imposed time of self-reflection has given me the space for new insights that I want to share with the world. I’m so happy for this time to remember and internalize everything I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself and others.
This pandemic is teaching me that it’s good to go deep and that knowing who and what brings value into your life is essential to staying appreciative and staying in purpose. However, the power of knowing won’t be fully realized until we decide to be visible to the world and most essentially, ourselves. The visible me is my new choice to celebrate me. Not in a selfish way, but so that I can be a help and even a blessing to others. How about you?
My wish is that everyone could claim a new way to show up – whether at work, at home, or in the grocery store. I’m talking about a new way to love and have compassion for yourself and others. This pandemic won’t last forever. We won’t stay shut in and hidden forever. I want to encourage you all to be ready to be visible and to embrace new positive thoughts and ideas you can share with the world or just say to yourself for your own encouragement. I wish for everyone to have a renewed recognition and appreciation of the people you love and the things, ideas, and activities that are important to you and make your life meaningful.
Below are excerpts from the poem If by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
If you can dream ¬– and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – but not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet Triumph and Disaster
And treat both those imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
…….If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)