I’ve been learning to love walking in rainstorms.
Recently, the lake near my house flooded over all the nearby paths as the winter rain poured abundantly down day after day. The ducks have been very happy.
And I too, somehow have found satisfaction through some of the worst storms this year. As the clock struck midnight on New Years eve, and many people cheered quietly in their homes, I found myself walking in the rain, reflecting on the many gifts that storms have to offer us.
Just as there is vitality and life-giving abundance in the rain, some of the greatest challenges come with the sweetest gems. This year provided all of us a global trial by fire (including some literal fire for good measure). There is great temptation to “close the door” of 2020 behind us and simply move on – but how much better off would we be if we took a moment to integrate, to allow ourselves to have been changed, to truly absorb the multitude of lessons provided to us?
Personally, I learned that it’s okay to be cold and wet. That momentary discomforts are not the end of the world. I can actually withstand the awkwardness of physical distancing, the heartache of loneliness, the agitation of being confronted by uncomfortable truths. Just as my body will acclimatize to standing in a downpour of rain, my mind and heart can also adapt to changing social conditions. For me, the key here – both in rain and in a pandemic – is to remain calm, connected, and present. Breathe into my belly, reawaken to the life force that connects us all.
“The key here – both in rain and in a pandemic – is to remain calm, connected, and present.”
2020 also gave me a huge lesson in radical self care. This ain’t the essential oil bubble bath kind of self care (although I’ll never turn down a good bath). This is the deep sh*t. This is really honestly knowing what my total being needs in every moment in order to be my most alive and vibrant self… and then having the compassion, creativity, and dedication required to give that to myself. Compassion is about deeply loving oneself and others, and understanding that they are two sides of the same coin. Creativity is about working within limited circumstances and resources and making unexpected connections to expand the range of possibility. Dedication is the fierce and loving commitment to making it happen.
As someone who loves being around people, the loss of gatherings and social/physical contact nearly drove me mad with grief and frustration. If I hadn’t learned to cultivate compassion for myself, I would have continued to spiral down a very dark hole. Creativity also became essential – how could I offer myself the connection needed given the limiting circumstances? Dedication kept me picking myself back up every time I was tempted to give up.
Radical self care looks different for everyone. For some, it’s maintaining connection to spirit or focusing on one’s health. For others it’s about working towards professional, personal, and collective goals or immersing oneself in the creative arts. The kicker here is that self care is never truly done alone. Sure, I may take that online fitness class all by myself, but the teacher and their long lineage of teachings comes from somewhere. I may go out to the woods for a walk, but I am fulfilled by the many plants and animals of the forest who are with me on that walk. Everything we do, and everything we know, is in relation to others. So much so, that as I devote myself to self care, and the more radical this care is, the more the lines between self, others, and nature blurs and my fierce dedication to care extends to all beings.
I was standing on a bridge overlooking a view, considering turning back home when the wind picked up and the rain started to pour sideways. It was dark and past midnight. Instead of running for shelter, as I might have in the past, I just took a deep breath. Even in a rainstorm, it feels good to be alive, to be in process, to be in relation, to be ever learning.
What other lessons has the last year offered you? I would love to hear your reflections in the comments below.
Want to dedicate yourself to further learning and integration? Registration for our 2021 programs is now open: hollyhock.ca/programs
Not ready to register? Commit to your self care with Hollyhock Self Care Credits: hollyhock.ca/hollyhock-credit