I’ve been feeling very stretched. I imagine we all have been feeling that way. Just this morning, I burst into tears. I was in the car at the end of our driveway, slower than normal to take the right turn into the street toward my morning sanctuary walk at the Lullwater Preserve, not far from home. An oncoming jogger, intent to not slow down his run, signaled impatiently for me to get my car out of his path. As I turned, the tears flowed, my heart hurt by his impatient gesture. In days past, I would have reprimanded myself for being silly to take a gesture like that personally. Today, I let the tears be. It felt like a small act of honoring my humanity. I felt better. It was an act of nourishment.
The more I feel stretched, the more support I feel I need. I have been waking up in the mornings at times with a heavy feeling of anxiety and shame. I feel the shame in the pit of my stomach. I search in my rational mind to make sense or find a story, a source of why I feel this way. It eludes me. It’s an existential hole that wants attention. What would it be like to just sit with the feeling of shame? I dare not. Instead, I busy myself with the to-do list of the day. Busyness (and sometimes business) is my favorite way of getting away from uncomfortable emotions. There is that added bonus of productivity and those little bursts of dopamine when I check something off the to-do list. Could this be an act of nourishment or just an act of coping?
Early morning is when I feel most open to the whispers of intuition and deeper knowing. Many mornings this week I have asked my intuition, “what’s next?” expecting a brilliant thought for the next to-do. And what I get is “Rest. Nourish. Go Inside”. This, of course, is a tall order for someone like me who is in perpetual motion to try to save the world, or at least avoid uncomfortable emotions. Plus, I complain, I’ve been inside (referring to our socially-distanced state for the last four months). “Not really,” says intuition, “there’s a deeper inside.”
I share all of this in a valiant attempt to listen to the whisper. Writing is nourishing. Sharing vulnerably brings up shame but is strangely nourishing too. It’s like exhaling a story that is inside of you that you can’t hold anymore. Or letting tears flow. You simply let go. You surrender. You make friends with what is. It feels nourishing.
As I write, the faint sounds of a small indoor fountain that I got last week nourish me and help the words bubble out. I watch the bright red cardinals on the bird feeder outside. I’m nourished by them. I notice the mutant squirrel who insists on eating at the bird feeder despite my attempts at getting the “hot cayenne pepper” bird feed. It is supposed to be squirrel-proof. I notice my frustration at yet another thing I can’t control. As I stay with this feeling, it shifts. I sink into acceptance of this one thing that I can’t control. I take inventory of all that I’m trying to control that I actually have no control over. I chuckle and then cry. The tears and the chuckle, they both feel nourishing. Going deeper inside, I find a warm friend. This feels nourishing.
What is nourishing you these days?
Henn Thank you for writing this honest heartfelt blog. I can understand your feelings of anxiety and at times a feeling of being lost. I am a nurse leader in NY and never in my 37 years of nursing have I felt so helpless and anxious for both our patients and my staff. Your article validated my feelings of loss of control and understanding who I am.
Thank you for this emotional post. Thank you for making me feel human again.
JoAnn – Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, we are human and have all these emotions. I used to think emotions were “inconvenient” and got in the way of productivity at work. My mindfulness practice has helped me feel the emotions and know that they are a beautiful and necessary part of being alive and part of our common humanity. This gives rise to a feeling of belonging that is nourishing. I hope you find nourishment. And thank you for your service at the front lines.
Hi Henna–Really liked this essay. The question at the end–what’s nourishing us–made me realize that the answer for me is “not much” and maybe that’s why I’m feeling so out of sorts. Zoom “get-togethers” or baking sourdough bread only gets one so far. Even my morning workout and walks aren’t rejuvenating. I’ve been thinking about taking up meditation again…perhaps it’s my intuition calling. I’ll be shopping for indoor fountains today. Take care, Kathleen
Hi Kathleen –
Thank you for joining our conversation. Nourishment is so individual isn’t it? I’m glad you’re letting the question of “what nourishes” stay with you. Yes, listen to your intuition (BTW, my mindfulness course on LinkedIn has been made free on LinkedIn Learning, and it’s been taken by 350,000 people so far so check that out). So good to hear from you!
And also, check out this latest podcast interview with Tami Simon: https://transformleaders.tv/tami-simon/