Dancing with the Overwhelming Paradox of These Times

Fear, Love, Scarcity, Generosity, Uncertainty & Clarity

I like I imagine many of us are gobsmacked by the current global spread of COVID-19, the precarious economy and the stunning STOP of business as usual.

As a nurse, I have long witnessed first-hand the human response to rally, work together and courageously step forward in crisis. The tasks and mundane issues that had been “taking us off track” with one another, evaporate and, we come back to centre as a unit/family and community.

Having coached individuals and systems for over a decade I have also witnessed the absolute pull of resistance to facing the moment with the full senses open; embracing uncertainty and leaping when the pull of the past is so deep and strong, terror fills our choice points. When what we coaches call resistance appears, we can be sure fear is driving our responses. Fear is a natural and at times an intelligent response. And when it leads the way for extended periods of time, it takes a toll.

  • How do we work directly with fear in ways that allow us to lead in a caring, compassionate & courageous manner?
  • As we look out to the grey skies, how might we remember the blue sky shining above?
  • How do we meet the suffering facing so many, as stewards steeped in faith?
  • What am I/We learning about ourselves, each other and the constructs of the world that is fast crumbling?

Models + Frames + Resources

Adopting and experimenting with frames & models to work with during complex change is extremely valuable.

For some, times like these evoke deeper, more spiritual conversations around faith & beliefs. For others, it’s quite comforting to lean into a more scientific approach of evidence, psychology and the natural world’s dance with evolution. I personally subscribe to what I affectionately call the “and” of views. Like a good, robust, nutritious soup, I feel we can benefit from a diversity of ingredients when cooking together.

Sometimes the ingredients are basic, tried and true, like beginning with a solid broth, while also introducing new & varied spices, given the changing palate of our senses.

Regardless of your approach to meeting these times, I wanted to offer some thoughts to contemplate. Some views and various models I have and continue to find helpful to weave into my own soup. To share links to a vast number of resources that have come into my world. May these thoughts and resources support you to re-think the very real moments you’re facing. And, as always, and maybe now more than ever, reach out.

Simplicity

In times of great uncertainty, there seems to be a suave of simplicity that awaits our attention. The KISS principles of life. Like, what values and principles would best serve me to stay grounded, to feel well and to be of mature service?

We need to be able to trust that something as simple as a clear core of values and vision, kept in motion through continuous dialogue, can lead to order

Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

A few principles that have been emerging for me are:

Choose wisely what information & energy grids you’re pluging in to.

Apply discernment.

Stay humble & open.

Take care of yourself and others.

Loss + Grief + Transitions

Many are familiar with the Kübler-Ross model of grief. This has been around for close to fifty years, and is a model drawn from the work presented in the 1969 book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. This is a five-stage frame applied to describe the journey of loss around death and grieving: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

Whether you subscribe to this theory of grief or not, times of chaos do have phases of loss & grief.

I personally find Kübler-Ross’s work to be a helpful frame to name, claim and choose my response to the process and experience of loss. I image these dance steps not in a linear fashion, rather as an invitation to notice in this moment where I’m standing. A complementary adjunct to William Bridge’s foundational work on Transitions. A tried and true reference point (like a solid broth of a nutritious soup) for navigating transitions during times of change. To learn more and or refresh on his model, go here.

Regardless of the model and frames we tap into during these great times of transition, lets honour the real presence of loss and grief with ourselves and each other.

Complex Web of Systemic Change

I was first introduced to the field of complexity science in 2004/2005. When as a leader I was working and researching new ways to support leading change in health care. Margaret J. Wheatley’s book: Leadership & The New Science was (and still is) an incredible invitation to think through the nature of not just change, but also the inherent wisdom of nature as a great teacher. 

In particular, Meg’s work opened a new door for me to consider how else I might view and choose to relate to chaos. 

Chaos is always partnered with order-a concept that contradicts our common definition of chaos-but until we could see it with computers, we saw only turbulence, energy without predictable form.

Chaos is the last state before a system plunges into random behavior where no order exists. Not all systems move into chaos, but if a system becomes unstable, it will move first into a period of oscillation, swinging back and forth between two different states.

After this oscillating stage, the next state is chaos, and it is then that the wild gyrations begin. However, in the realm of chaos, where everything should fall apart, the strange attractor emerges, and we observe order, not chaos. 

Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

My curiosity of the wisdom that systems embody has led me on over a decade odyssey of exploring both ancient wisdom & cutting-edge science.

Bottom line, a view of complexity has freed me from the solely linear view of cause & effect; that there is but one “right” action to take; and cultivated my capacity to discern the “right action for me”, moment to moment.

Inherent in this view of exploring what we’re facing, complexity theory might offer an invitation to get clear; to prune; to get aligned to the core of the situation, and expand our view towards inclusivity and inter-connectedness.

Complexity science is supported by a paradigm that sees the world as a set of interconnected elements whose interaction gives rise to the patterns and phenomena that we observe in the world around us.

https://systemsinnovation.io/complexity-science/

Resources

The following (in no particular order) are but a few resources that have come into my world that I want to share with each of you.

May some or all inspire you to tend with a loving heart to your own choice points of relating to yourself and others.

Self-Retreat

As we each have more space & time to fill, we’d be wise to consider how we’re filling it. Listen….I love a good Netflix marathon, keeping up with the “news”, and then, there is a time to fill my mind, heart and soul with wisdom that nourishes me beyond addressing the challenge de jour.

The following resource is a lovingly crafted suite of resources to support you in creating meaningful self-retreats. Whether for an hour; half day; full day or even longer, this site is a delicious banquet of deeply nourishing conversations and guided meditations to support you.

Thank you, Tara Brach and Friends, for generously sharing with us!
Check it out here.

Building Heart Centered & Empowered Global Communities

The following has been shared by UPLIFT (one of my personal favourite sites for inspiring content): Global Days of Unity Experiment

If you’re curious and open to plugging into a global field of love and having this be one of your conscious choice points of action, check out more here.

This week I had an opportunity to participate with my first Global Intention Experiment with a woman with whom I’ve deep respect for, Lynne McTaggart

Over two thousand of us gathered online, sharing our energy and focused intention coalesced around a goal to decrease the spread of COVID 19. Woo woo? NOT. There is a lot of science that has been demonstrated on the real impact of gathering (yes even virtually) and aligning the powerful force of our focused intention.

If this calls to you, connect with Lynne here so you can stay in the loop when the next gathering will occur.

To learn more about Lynne’s work and the science, consider reading Lynne’s latest book on the Power of Eight.

Resiliency in Times of Great Uncertainty

Sounds True has long been a part of my journey. They have just crafted and shared a free Resilience in Challenging Times Package. Check it out here

Like Sounds True, Hay House has been & continues to be a vast portal for important and cutting-edge work being circulated around the globe. Check out their recent generous offer of free resources here.

Cultivating Healthy Mind

The Center of Healthy Minds out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of many leaders in the field of mindfulness research. Their mission “Cultivate well-being and relieve suffering through a scientific understanding of the mind” is one that deeply resonates for me personally and professionally. Over the past couple of years, they have been leading the way with innovating and disseminating current edge research and practices to help us all navigate the suffering terrain of the mind.

Here are a few of their most recent generous offerings:

As of this week, our friends at Healthy Minds Innovations are offering the Healthy Minds Program App for free to individuals. There is no subscription fee, and there are no requirements.

To learn more about this application, go here.

Resources for Parents & Children

Talking to kids about COVID-19: UW-Madison expert offers tips

Well-Being Toolkit for Children, Educators and Parents

Free Mindful Living Summit

For more information about this summit & to sign up, go here.

Collective Presence

Thomas Hubl is a Global Teacher ripe for the times we’re in. I have been following and engaging with his work for a few years now. He is for me a stunning model of loving presence. He has graciously extended an invitation for all of us to tune in together. His work with trauma, in particular the impact of collective trauma is deeply healing.

If participating in this upcoming event interests you, check out information here.

My hope is that something shared here offers a level of support for wherever you stand today.

Reach out and stay connected virtually:)

And, I invite you to share what is helping you today.

Your voice, experience & presence matters!

What are you learning, experiencing and feeling called to offer that may be of assistance to others?