Our Pandemic Predicament

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Day Six

Sunday. A day of rest, supposedly.

Perhaps it will be, physically, but I doubt our global anxiety will take a rest.

That said, I am discovering that the quickest way to dial down the volume of our collective concerns is to reach out to others.

This morning I FaceTimed my son and spent almost an hour experiencing their new reality: toddlers at home full-time.

My son and his son, Peyton, built a huge fort this morning using blankets in the den. Peyton took the phone into the fort to show me. I felt like I had ridden a rollercoaster by the time his father reclaimed it from him. Four-year olds are not the best with walking and talking while holding a phone.

We ended our family time with both my grandchildren snuggled on their daddy’s lap, holding the phone so the kids could see me, and I read them two books.

Today I appreciate an opportunity to read my thirty-five year old son a Sunday morning story, something I haven’t done for maybe thirty years.

And because it is a day of rest, and I could use it, and because I’ve written a damn blog a day for seven days in a row now (what was I thinking?!), I’m cutting myself some slack and keeping this one short.

Because the most important thing I could do today has occurred already. I read two stories to two beautiful boys (and one beautiful little girl). How fortunate am I?

I will rest content in that for today.

It is enough.

May you experience enough in your reality today, and rest content in that as well.

Stay safe.

__________________________

Day Five

I think I may have a touch of something akin to survivor’s guilt, for lack of a better way to describe this patina of a feeling clinging to me today.

Because nothing in my daily routine has changed during this time of isolation.

I wake up, head downstairs and make a cup of coffee each morning, then I check e-mails and social media. And then, my day unfolds with coaching clients, or writing, and other projects I have on the go.

I have been living a fairly solitary existence for a few years and am quite content with this lockdown.

I had planned on being inside recording an audio book for this exact two-week period.

I have plenty of food.

I feel fine, except for the cold I caught from my granddaughter a week ago.

I have no debt and have the resources to cover my costs for the next few months.

I have no toddlers or teenagers at home, so my sanity is safe, at least in the short-term.

I can’t be fired or laid off from a job.

My mother and siblings and sons are safe, and thus far, healthy.

But.

I feel for those for whom the statements above are not true. They are scared. The whole world is scared. I can feel it, and I’ll bet you can as well.

I feel as though I should be doing more, doing something to help. And then I remember: I’m doing what I can, by writing and sharing and self-isolating and talking to clients and friends, and by not succumbing to the fear.

I’m concerned for the world and its inhabitants, for family and friends, but not for myself. I’m pretty good, considering. Hence my low-grade guilt fever.

I will get over my guilt: I baked brownies this afternoon to help me with that and am now munching one while watching a movie.

And the world with get through this, too, with or without brownies.

I don’t mean to be flippant. I have weathered several significant challenges, both physical and emotional and, in hindsight, have come to view those trying times as periods of immense personal growth. I discovered new depths of determination and new wells of resilience within myself.

Here’s what I believe: in times of crisis, humans rise to their best. They unite and fight with each other, not against each other, in a common cause.

You just don’t know what you are able to surmount until something you never saw coming upends your life.

Those of my mother’s generation who mobilized and sacrificed during WWII know, “This too shall pass.”

If we all stay inside, it’ll be sooner than later.

I’m already over my guilt.

And I’m grateful for brownies today. How about you?

__________________________

Day Four 

I’m personally in better spirits today. The adrenaline has subsided. I slept well last night.

And I’m seeing all sorts of small human moments that warm my heart and give me hope that humanity will rise from the ashes of this global forest fire with new green sprouts propelled by a realignment of our personal priorities and our collective will to live.

From the Parisians performing on balconies and Italians singing from theirs, to Chinese doctors videoconferencing with eighty doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital to lend their knowledge, we seem to be tightening the emotional bonds between us even as we eliminate the physical ones.

I suggest we all think seriously about this question: what sprouts will emerge from the rubble of this fire? What kind of world do we wish to create?

I asked that question in my Monday Morning Message (at the bottom of my feed here). That was only five days ago, but now seems like weeks.

This is it

Here’s what is sinking in for me: this is it. The turning, the shift, the change, whatever you want to call it, it’s happening. Now. We’re in it.

I referred to a couple of books in an earlier post. I’m now going to share something with you that I suspect, for some of you, could be way too far “out there,” so allow me to put some context around it before I do.

For those who may not know me personally, let me give you the Cliff Notes version of my life that is salient to making my forthcoming share less “out there.”

  • I am the eldest of six siblings and mother to two boys, so the “lead and help” inclination is deeply ingrained.
  • I have had two near-death experiences. The first one I remember: I drowned at just shy of four years old and went… somewhere. I have always believed—correct that: known—we humans are not alone in the Universe.
  • I have been following Tom Kenyon since 2003. And preparing for this time.
  • I have conducted countless EQ and leadership programs and am considered effective and rather wise. (Okay, I chose that word. Let’s back it off to pretty smart and well-read.)

So, here’s my out there recommendation: Go to Tom’s website and read about him first. He’s the real deal when it comes to scientific understanding of the power of tonal (sound) therapy. But that’s not why I follow him.

Many years ago (like twenty-five or so) he had a strange encounter with something he couldn’t explain. Sixteen-foot tall “spheric lights” began appearing and communicating with him; their entire intent was to assist humanity during the coming challenges, to help prepare us for them.

As a scientist and psychotherapist, Tom was bewildered and sceptical. But it kept happening and finally, because the messages and “higher level” information he was receiving (through tones) was so helpful to him personally, and because his wife assured him he wasn’t crazy, he took a risk and began posting it on his site. The response catapulted him to world-wide fame.

These “intelligences” call themselves the Hathors. I’ve been reading the Hathor messages Tom sends out when they appear, since 2003. Some years they only communicate once, some years a few times.

The Hathors usually include sound meditations given to Tom as recommendations to help our bodies and minds and spirits prepare for this time. Simply listening to these recordings that Tom recreates for us with his voice, helps heal people on a cellular level. You do not need to understand or believe that—how it happens, why it happens—in order for listening to it to have a calming, restorative effect. I find myself drawn to certain ones and often will put them on a loop.

Quick story

Once, maybe ten years ago, I was in Singapore, about to start a program the next day. I had jet lag. The person who had brought me in decided we needed to revisit what had already been approved and wanted to re-do major sections of a three-day EQ program. We were up all night. (The client is always right, right?)

I got back to my hotel room at 5:00 am, beyond exhausted. Plugged in my earbuds and the Hathor music. Didn’t fall asleep but rested. Was up at 7:00 and ready to go.

Suspend your disbelief and try this. If ever there was a time when we could use this, now is that time. And I’ve been listening for seventeen years, I’ve just not talked a lot about it, because, well, I’m a corporate trainer, and people would think me crazy—the same concerns as Tom had.

That time has passed. Anything that has helped me get ready for this time, I want to pass along.

I have a feeling there won’t be a whole lot of corporate training happening for a while; if I lose a client over this, who cares?

Back to Tom Kenyon

Tom is in his seventies now and made the decision to begin his retirement last fall, which means no more large, public gatherings. He sent his last Hathor message when he announced that.

If you do have some time on your hands and want to peruse the Hathor archives and download some of the meditations (my personal favourite: A Stream from the Higher Worlds), I’d suggest reading from the bottom up. 2003—2019 [Remember, this is TONAL healing, not “listening to a cheery song.” It might sound weird at first. You’ll come to love it. It’s like every cell in your body screams “YES!”]

One last thing about Tom. I had the privilege of interviewing him when I hosted a radio show back in 2006. At that time he had a five-octave range. After he had shared his hesitation about revealing this info to the world (he wondered if he was crazy) I asked him, why him? Why did the Hathors choose him through which to communicate?

He replied that he thought it had to do with his openness to what he referred to as the Universal Field, and his extraordinary vocal range, coupled with his medical degree and therapy patients. When I asked if he felt special, he chuckled and replied, “Not for a long while I didn’t. It was rather upsetting. But I’ve come to realize it was a blessing. For me and a lot of people.”

So, here’s Tom’s link.  Have fun. Don’t treat this as truth, but rather as one perspective through which to filter the current events  that I’ve found helpful for many years.

I’m not a nurse, and can’t help in that way, and I don’t cook, at least not enough to offer it up as something I’d want to others to eat. But this is something I can do: share some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated in the past thirty years and offer it to anyone who might be drawn to it.

And try to remember this:

You are not alone. Not here on Earth, or in the Universe. There are other beings, other intelligences, gathered round, watching from a distance, and rooting for us (humanity) to pull together and re-member ourselves as a collective.

To switch analogies: It’s the Universal Superbowl and we’re the ones who suited up for the game.

Which makes us brave, and powerful and ready to play—even if it doesn’t feel that way to us right now.

My appreciation today:

I am all set up to begin recording the audio version of Four Fridays. I had a call with a tech savvy guy who cleared up an issue.

Today, I appreciate my ears. Without them, I’d not be recording a thing.

(Of course, the downside is that every so often the damn orange joke in the U.S. gets through, and my ears actually hurt… )

__________________________

Day Three

“Each time history repeats itself the price goes up.” ~ Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

There’s a line from Anne Michael’s stunningly beautiful book, Fugitive Pieces, which I read back in 2004, that has stayed with me ever since:

“Nothing is sudden. Not an explosion—planned, timed, wired carefully—not the burst door. Just as the earth invisibly prepares its cataclysms, so history is the gradual instant.”

We are living the gradual instant on a global level.

First, it whispers from a distance. Then it yells in your ear.

It whimpers and whines before becoming a tantrum.

–    –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

When Trump was elected, I almost lost a friendship over the fact that she voted for him. I am very fond of this woman and have known her for twenty years.

We ended up talking and worked our way through it, and even collaborated on a major project. (She has since changed her mind about Trump’s leadership capabilities but is pleased with the economic results of the past few years.)

I just hung up the phone with her. It was a pleasant conversation up until the end when I made the mistake of observing, “Well, there’s one bright spot in this coronavirus crap; Trump is done.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” and she laughed.

“Biden will beat him,” I said confidently.

“Oh, I can’t vote for Biden,” she retorted. “Biden’s no better.”

I felt like she had just slapped me. “What? What do you mean? Our country needs leadership and comfort.” We are both U.S. citizens, though she lives in the south, which is Trump country.

“You’d vote Trump over Biden?” I was shocked. “After all this? After the way he’s bungled this [coronavirus] thing? I can’t believe that. The man’s a liar! What about character and honesty and substance?”

I was beginning to skid out of control, blindsided by her declaration.

“He’s been good for the economy.” She was calm, rational.

“Not anymore.” I was gobsmacked. And frightened.

“Oh, it’ll bounce back.”

“What?!! Are you kidding? We could be headed for a depression. And, Trump is mentally ill.”

She pushed back and suggested Biden might be, too.

“Seriously? No. No. We’re not going there.” I cut off that detour and veered back. “So, you would choose profits over character? You would still vote for Trump?” My voice had become shrill by this point.

“No,” she said. “I just won’t vote.”

Just. Like. That.

I lost it. Careened off the road and crashed.

“Then you’re part of the problem,” I snapped. “And it’ll be on you if that asshole is re-elected. And the U.S. won’t survive another four years with him at the helm.”

She said something else, but I couldn’t even hear it I was so upset. I had to get off the phone. I felt like I was drowning. “I can’t continue this conversation,” I stammered. “I… I can’t talk to you any longer… ”

And I hung up.

I was shaking.

The fact I had three hours of sleep last night probably didn’t help much. Obviously, the uncertainty of this global crisis and the anxiety it engenders had gotten to me. Talk of Trump and the election put me over the edge. It was not one of my shining moments. I am chagrined. I’m supposed to be better prepared, stronger! Says who? You’re human, for fuck’s sake!

But now that I’ve had time to settle down and reflect, I realize a couple of things.

First, I owe her an apology, I was disrespectful.

And I’m upset with myself, of course, for losing it with her, but the fact that I did has revealed something to me that I had not yet crystallized and now have: This whole mess—the coronavirus, coupled with Trump’s cringe-worthy bungling and the young people’s beach-induced denial—a is not only an ethical issue for me, it is also a moral one.

Our conversation revealed a personal internal fault line: Trump, to me, represents the worst of humanity. Our shadow, speaking in Jungian terms. And this moment, this gradual instant, our earth and humanity are at war.

And the shadow is winning.

So, yeah, I think Biden—or anyone else—would be better than Trump. I don’t care what dirt there might be on him, Trump dirt is worse.

–    –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

I think people will begin making new kinds of choices—where they live, what they do and who they do it with—when the smoke clears. I believe they’ll make more choices for meaning and connection. There will be fractures in the landscape of our lives we can’t begin to imagine until we’re out of shock and awaken to a new normal, whatever that will be. New fissures and chasms will appear everywhere we look.

But we’re nowhere near that yet.

And that’s what frightens me most: that people don’t truly grasp the interconnectedness and interdependence of the world’s political and educational and medical and business systems. (Not to mention the climate crisis!)

Because right now, in this gradual instant, has been whimpering for a while, and we’d better fucking listen.

–    –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

I wrote my friend an e-mail and apologized. Also asked her to reconsider her position about not voting.

To me, that’s like dropping your oar because you don’t like your seat placement.

Fuck it, man, we need to row!

–    –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

Almost forgot. My appreciation today: My eyes. I am so grateful to be able to see!

My publisher and I spoke today and finalized the cover choice for Four Fridays, my forthcoming book. I love it, I love it, I love it! And without my eyes, I’d have not a clue how wonderful it is. (Soon, you’ll see it, too. Bless your eyes.)

And take a look at this: Dolphins have shown up in Venus:

__________________________

Day Two

I spent an inordinate amount of time typing yesterday, most of it on Facebook. I connected with more people on a personal, direct level through DM’s than I have in a year.

This is the upside of the internet. The downside is the seductive lure of the lurid.

I think we can keep informed without fanning the flames of fear. Stay in the present. Guessing and “awfulizing” (as Wayne Dwyer coined it) about the future is fruitless.

Here’s one thing I’ve decided to do: include in this post one thing I appreciate/am grateful for every day, because it helps keep me present. Rule: it must be something happening in the present, not the past or the future.

Today’s appreciation: I have my feet up with my fuzzy, comfort blanket draped over them, laptop open. My fingers work. So does my laptop. So do my legs. I feel very fortunate.

I invite you to join me in this daily exercise. It helps combat anxiety.

I also invite you to read Power versus Force by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. while at home. I’d try to explain its content and power, but it would be an epic fail on my part. Think vibrations, frequencies and the nature of human evolution. Think, how we evolved to where we are and what we can do about. And it’s readable, not daunting.

Because this is the fulcrum through which we must pass, and our choices right now will determine if we move forward or backward.

An analogy

Think of your car. It can drive forward or backward. But not at the same time. It’s an either/or choice.

The trillions of cells that comprise your physical being are like your car.

Each of your cells has a positive and negative pole. Think of it as either “growth-mode” or “protection-mode.” Either/or.

Given that you are an electro-magnetic being, when you feel anxious, especially with imaginary worries, you’ve thrown yourself into reverse. All your cells go into protection mode. ALL of them. All at once.

So, it’s important to choose thoughts that counteract wrecking your car, that is, if you want to stay healthy and sane.

I’m seeing signs of communities, businesses, and individuals reaching out to help their neighbours, colleagues and friends. People helping people, People looking beyond the immediacy of their personal concerns to the longer term concerns of others, of their neighbours, of the planet.

I think the world is starving for substance, thirsty for meaning, and hungry for truth, and we are awakening to what is real.

Change never comes wrapped the way we wish it would.

Plus, the planet…

I saw this last night, a bright spot on the environment horizon, a result of reduced emissions:

Maybe this will actually slow our ultimate demise. With such dramatic and drastic reductions in airline, automobile, bus and train use, we will significantly reduce the insidious poisoning we have inflicted on the planet.

Another bright spot: Donald Trump’s presidency is done. Take some comfort in that. He’s a cripple. This crisis has revealed the con man behind the curtain.

Oh, God, please!!

As long as I’m on a recommendation run, another revealing read is Dr. Candace Pert’s remarkable book, The Molecules of Emotion. She discovered the opiate receptor in 1972 (for which her boss, a man, received a Nobel prize… sigh…) and explains why positive thinking alone isn’t enough to put your car into drive—positive feeling must accompany it. It’s science and stuff—like neurotransmitters and ligands and receptors—but readable.

Does no good to think some random positive thought while you continue to feel fearful. It’s wasted effort.

So, I’m going to find something to feel good about. Every day. Even if it’s only my fingers.

I’ve come to depend on them.

__________________________

Day One

Well, it’s not really day one. Yesterday felt more like day one. Monday. The first day in the work week. The day the world felt different, really different.

But I’m starting the count today, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, and calling it day one because this is an easier way to keep track and I’m too lazy to type out the date each day. I anticipate writing every day. Newest entry will always be at the top.

Here’s the deal: Yesterday I threw it out there via social media that I felt called to offer my reflections regarding the predicament in which we find now ourselves. Enough of you said you’d like to read my thoughts, so I’m posting it daily for the foreseeable future because what else have I got to do? Not a whole hell of a lot. And apparently a bunch of us have more “free time” to connect via the internet.

Free? Ha!

Five days ago I landed a five-figure gig to begin in five days, on Friday, March 20th. Four days ago it cancelled. I’m hoping my program the end of May happens.

Sports events and whole seasons are now cancelled. The grocery store shelves are empty and schools are closed. So are country borders all over the world. They weren’t five days ago.

Five days ago, we thought this thing would be days or weeks. Now it looks like it could be months. They’re saying maybe July or August.

Excuse me one second: *cough* THIS SUCKS!

It fucking sucks.

[Disclaimer: If you have a problem with that sort of language, stop reading. This is NOT my business blog—fuck that right now—and I will be writing from my heart. It sometimes swears.]

Plus, people are dying, and will continue to die, until we act. Let me repeat that: UNTIL WE FUCKING ACT. Which means altering our behaviours and our attitudes. NOW!!! Apologies. my heart sometimes yells, too.

But here’s the thing: covid-19 did not sneak up on us. Oh, no, it did not. If it caught you by surprise, you have not been paying attention and it’s time to wake the fuck up. Seriously.

We saw this coming and hoped it would go away. Pretended it might. Thought it wouldn’t affect us. Not really. Not yet. Not like this!

Businesses will bankrupt. The world’s economy will recoil. It already has. People without jobs. The ripple effect will be mighty and extended.

But.

We will survive. Of course we will. Even if some people you know personally get sick, and others die, we’ll rise again, because that what we do—rise up in times of trial. We rise.

It’s time to think about others. Because if you were that oblivious for TWO MONTHS (again, apologies, but if you didn’t know by the middle of January that this thing was coming at us with a loaded shotgun, then your sorry ass deserves to be quarantined. You didn’t want to pay attention.

Sure, you may feel fine. I do. But I just travelled to the States. I interacted with people—though a very few—for whom I cannot vouch; I don’t know who they interacted with before me. And I drove! No airports. Stopped once each way for gas and wore gloves. Washed my hands in the car afterwards with lysol wipes.

This is completely new behaviour for me. I’ve never given germs or viruses a passing thought. I did, however, this year, for the first time ever, get a flu shot. I’ve reached that age where it matters. I hate that.

I also hate being a country away from my family. Though I’m incredibly grateful to live and work in Canada, my family and many friends live in the States.

Twenty-four hours ago, I literally hugged my sons and grandchildren goodbye as though it might be the last time. Because I just don’t know. And neither do you. Nobody does, not yet. I’m not trying to be melodramatic. I just think it’s important to treat as many interactions as you have as though it might be your last with that particular person. As in, say the things you’d regret not saying if you never saw them again.

So, I’m sitting out the next two weeks, and maybe longer, because who knows? I don’t think it’s possible to put a time line on this thing. There’s been too many people walking around spreading it, oblivious, to have a clue of how long we’ll need to hunker down.

Over many decades—and through dismal demonstrations of ignoring what I’m about to say—I’ve come to believe in the concept of short-term pain for long-term gain. Struggled with that in my younger years, but I’ve grown skilled at delaying gratification. I grew up in a social strata that often opted for the reverse. Pleasure came first. Me, me, me!

Well, now it’s we, we, we.

We are all rowing in the same boat. Doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in the front or the back, doesn’t matter if your daddy has a lot of loot or your spouse holds an important position. Doesn’t matter what degrees you hold or what you own or who you know. We’ve all got to grab an oar and sacrifice our individual wants for the world’s collective needs right now. Individual short-term pain for collective long-term gain.

So, let’s all keep the curve as flat as possible and give our health care providers a fighting chance to deal with the wave that’s coming from the earthquake that’s roiling our planet, our lives, and our future.

It’s up to each of us to determine whether it’s a bothersome, messy high tide under a full moon, or a full on tsunami.

And to keep on rowing.

Because I’ll tell you what, I’d rather row til I drop than drown.

__________________________

Monday,  March 16,  2020

It’s here.

And all we can do at this point is wait it out, use common sense, and follow official health recommendations and protocols to combat the coronavirus.

What amazes me is the apparent surprise its arrival has engendered.

And the ignorance and arrogance it has revealed: bars and beaches crowded, right now, in Florida. Airports have 6-hour waiting lines for customs—they’re packed in spaces like sardines in a can in the U.S.A.

I consider myself an optimist—but not this  time.

Two months ago I was already aware of the growing contagion issue and I considered not flying to Mexico, concerned that international travel might be impacted.

Two. Months. Ago.

But the trip was bought and paid for, so I went, but stayed aware and alert. I flew back to Toronto February 19 and watched the accelerating numbers; I stocked up on food and disinfectant well before the masses.

Three weeks later, I thought long and hard about driving to the States this weekend, having planned this visit with my grandchildren long ago.

On Wednesday evening, I called my son to check on the situation in his neck of the woods in northern Maryland. He had heard of no cases in his county. Day-care was still functioning. Schools were still open.

So, thinking this might indeed be my last visit for a while, I drove to Baltimore on Thursday.

And the world changed overnight.

This thing is no hoax, yet there are those (I know one or two of them) who will believe anything Trump or Fox News tells them. And they think it’ll all “blow over” and that “the media has created this.”

I feel sad for them. And the people they hang out with. I hope they don’t lose someone they love.

I write this on Sunday. I’m driving home in eight hours, back to the land of the sane.

I will be self-isolating upon my return, hunkering down with some projects I’ve put off, and reading some books I’ve been waiting for the right time to tackle—this seems to be it.

To all my U.S. friends, I say this: Please stay safe. I am so, so sorry for your lack of leadership and the countless lives that will be lost due to it. As Trump now knows, you can’t con, bribe, threaten or deny away a virus.

And my prayers and thanks to all the nurses and doctors and hospital staff who walk toward this enemy. You are true heroes.

Humanity will survive, and we will rebuild. But it is up to each of us, individually, to determine what kind of world we will have as a collective in the aftermath.

I hope we choose to create a kinder, more honest environment, one with less hubris and a lot more hope.

Our children and grandchildren deserve it.



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About
Cynthia Barlow

Founder Cynthia Barlow

Facilitator, Author, Coach

Helping businesses build their people

When your people have the skills to communicate more effectively, they can connect more easily and collaborate more productively. Not only on the job, but also in life.

Communication, Connection, and Collaboration—the three “C’s”—are the cornerstones of all successful businesses. They are the result of Emotional Intelligence in action.

More details can be found in my recent best seller with co-author Jennifer Eggers:
Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back

The power of resilience within organizations and can transform an average company into a powerhouse. Yet, even in times of rapid disruptive change, there is no manual for building resilient organizations. This book is that manual.

“If you  want to build more resilience intentionally—personally and professionally—read this book.”
~
Fran Karamousis, Chief  of Research, Gartner

 

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