Finding Hope During this VERY LONG Saturday

Finding Hope During this VERY LONG Saturday

Many of us are finding that we are reaching our limits with the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.  The burden of sheltering in place, physical distancing, homeschooling our children, working (or not being able to work) from home, being separated from loved ones, making continual adjustments to our expectations for how long/how hard/how limiting/how big this ongoing crisis is going to be has become overwhelming and scary.

Social media memes ping-pong from challenging us to learn a new language/instrument/skill to encouraging us to just be glad if we managed to feed ourselves, or anyone else depending on us, that day.  We are bombarded with conflicting messages about when things will return to “normal” and are left wondering if we are entering a “new normal” – one that we don’t like very much.

How long will we have to wear masks and wait on designated red squares at the checkout line and be glared at as though we have leprosy when we pass someone in the grocery aisle and watch people cross the street to distance from us when we go walking in our neighborhood?

I heard an interesting message from author and speaker John Ortberg over the Easter holiday that focused on what he called “Three Day Stories.”  He pointed out that the Bible is full of these:  for example, Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a whale and Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and resurrected on Easter Sunday (Click here to learn more about this topic.) but what caught my attention was his question:  “What about Saturday?”  If Friday is when the trouble starts (think:  Jonah being swallowed by the whale, Jesus being nailed to the cross, the coronavirus spreading through the global population) and Sunday brings redemption (Jonah is delivered from the belly of the whale, Jesus rises from the dead, we develop a vaccine for COVID 19) what happens on “the day in between” Friday and Sunday?

We are currently in a very loooooooong Saturday.  We are in that day in between when the trouble starts and when it gets resolved.  We are in that state of limbo, treading water, stalled, downloading  (that annoying little circle twirling round and round on your computer screen when you are waiting for whatever site you have tried to access to actually appear), completely stuck.  The worst part is that we don’t know how long this “Saturday,” this waiting period, will actually last.

For another one of our blogs about fear, anxiety, and the spinning circle metaphor, during this time, click here.

Any pregnant woman will tell you that every day past her due date feels like an eternity.  We like guaranteed deadlines, delivery dates, and certainty.  This pandemic has thrust us into the darkness and uncertainty of a Saturday of unknown length, and our brains and nervous systems do not like that one bit. Just like the child counting down the days until Christmas, WE DO NOT LIKE TO WAIT.  Amazon Prime amazed and spoiled us with “same-day delivery” until it outdid itself with “Prime Now” which delivered your item within hours!  We have become accustomed to instant gratification and quick results.  Waiting is not something we are used to doing, and we are not very good at it.  It makes us feel helpless, out of control, and powerless.

It is ok not to like where things are in our world right now.  We don’t have to falsely try to cheer ourselves up, or “look on the bright side” or find the silver lining or deep meaning in all of this.  It is ok to feel annoyed, angry, scared, sad, tired, discouraged, upset, and unhappy.  Sometimes life is just hard, not because you are doing something wrong or there is something wrong with you, but because there is something wrong in our world.

Another one of our blogs on this subject:  This Pandemic is Trauma for Us All

However, while you are being honest about your feelings, and accepting them without judgment or self-blame, also make room for those moments when the ordinary can bring you comfort:  the smell of your morning coffee before you take that first sip, the sun peeking through the clouds after a storm, your dog’s wagging tail because you have time to walk him (again!).

When my mother talks about her experience in the concentration camp during WWII, she often mentions the “little things” that helped the time pass during the tedium of waiting for liberation:  finding a piece of string to play cat’s cradle, or some tin foil to fold a boat to sail in a puddle after the rain, or a scrap of paper to write on (she managed to assemble enough of these to keep a diary of sorts).  She remembers these discoveries as small treasures that distracted her from the enormity of losing her home and family and everything familiar about the life she knew before.  “This too shall pass” was the sentiment of the day, and it did pass, as will our crisis.

Another one of our blogs with a little different spin on this idea:  Is Life Great?  This Too Shall Pass

I was reminded of this spark of hope when my Equine Professional, Monique, who works with me in my Equine Assisted Psychotherapy practice, found an abandoned, day-old kitten in some tall grass at the ranch where we conduct sessions.

This little scrap of fur was probably hours old and had little chance of surviving, but we took on the challenge of bottle-feeding it (she has generously taken on the night shift!) and a week later it is still very much alive.  We named the kitten Hope, as she represents the truth that life truly does go on, no matter how dire the circumstances seem to be in the moment.  Although lives and livelihoods will be lost in this tragedy, in our humanity a spark burns that will not be put out.  We are resilient.  We are wired to survive and thrive.  We will overcome this challenge together.  Saturday can’t last forever.  This too shall pass.  And we will still be standing, together, when it does.  (Join with us for the Building Your Resilience series: multiple online opportunities for profound self-care)

Waiting with you for Saturday to pass, and finding Hope in the meantime.

We Need So Much More than Words

We Need So Much More than Words

By Kate Naylor and Bettina Shultz-Jobe


In times of great grief, anxiety, stress, or fear why does it seem like words are unnecessary or even hurtful? We are verbal creatures, we have a great love for language.  Just take a look at the astonishing collection of great written works we have accumulated – literature, poetry, lyrics, storytelling, and more. Words have given us new ideas, new frontiers, and abilities we never could have achieved before.  


And yet, there are significant moments in our lives when words are insufficient, even counterproductive.  Why is that?


Although we are a highly verbal species, we are not only a verbal species.  We are an embodied species as well.  We need so much more than words in order to truly feel seen by others, in order to truly be seen by our own selves.  Our minds are an incredible gift, and yet they would be nothing without our bodies. Our minds know things, because of our bodies. The two together are what make us human.  


So how do we care for our whole selves during this pandemic, a time of collective trauma?  


As Larry McDaniel, an NL certification student and executive director and founder of Coyote Hill in Missouri, so beautifully states – words can only do so much, and then there is everything else.


Our brains and bodies begin forming in the womb, cells divide in an extraordinary choreographed dance that transforms these cells into a tiny body.  This tiny body continues the dance of expansion and contraction – flexion and extension – reaching out and pulling in – in order to continue the development so needed for life outside the warm waters of their mother’s womb.  What does this tiny body experience as it grows?  The rhythmic whoosh of flowing blood and water, the bump bump bump of a heartbeat, the changes in gravity that come with the movement of the world around them as they are suspended in liquid.  This is passive sensory input – sounds and sensations that a tiny body does not produce for themself, but receives freely.  This is the foundation of brain and body development we all experience in some form – for some it is rhythmic, calm and nurturing, for others it is not, and still others it is something in between.  But no matter what kind of womb experience, it is where we all begin.


Built upon this foundation are the movements this tiny body produces as they grow and stretch in the womb, and after in the world.  These movements continue to develop the brain.  Being held, pushing up, holding oneself, reaching out, grasping an object, and coming back to self again are all a part of our development – each one of us having individual experiences along the way.  Built upon these movements are the relationships and meanings and memories that are created as this tiny body becomes a relational body as well.  Who loves us? Who doesn’t? What does love and caring feel like? Is the world safe?  We ask these questions and grow from the answers. 


This development all begins in the womb, and continues after birth and on into a child’s life.  This is how it is for all of us. Only lastly, do the words and thoughts come, when we are babies and young children, and on into adulthood.


The question of why words may not be sufficient during this time is important, and also clear once you understand where we come from.  Words are insufficient because we are so much more than words.  We are built, piece by piece, moment by moment, into the people we are today by our environment, our bodies, our relationships, our memories…as well as our thoughts and words.


So what can we do?  As Larry says, we need music, and nature, and laughter and love – we need not just words but the other rhythms our whole selves are craving as well.  In a more scientific sense, we need passive regulation from rhythm in our environment – music, nature (the sights, sounds, smells, and textures), sleep, food and drink, the warmth of other living beings, and a home environment that feels as predictable and soothing as possible (whether that be through routines, rituals, fabrics, light, sounds, smells, or all of the above).  We need regulation for our sensory-motor (sensorimotor) circuits – we need to move in response to that passive sensory input we are receiving all the time. We need to sway to the wind in the trees.  We need to dance to the songs that stir something within us.  We need to cuddle into a soft blanket and withdraw from textures we dislike.  We need to walk, run, and use our balance.  Quite simply, our bodies need regular movement throughout the day to feel well – indoors or out, stimulating and soothing both.  We need limbic stimulation and regulation through relationships and connection – with those in our home, with those we see through a video, with those we can hear on the phone.  Being seen and heard, feeling loved and cared for, and doing the same for others…is necessary.


Words are beautiful and inspiring, AND we need so much more than words to feel human.


This is why Natural Lifemanship seeks to support YOU – our students, members, and anyone else who wants to join our amazing community – with rhythm and relationship during this time.  It is our desire to support you in the most primitive of ways because our developmental foundations are all the same – our bodies, minds, and souls need rhythm, movement, and relationship to heal and grow.


Join us on FB live every Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CDT to build resilience as we connect across the globe through rhythm and movement. 

Join us in small groups to build resilience through meditation.

Check out the most recent ways we are offering personal (and professional) support to YOU!

Sign up for our email list to receive weekly updates about available support during these difficult and uncertain times.  NL is releasing new offerings each week! Feel free to tell us what you need – we are listening!