Dare to Dream

dream text on green leaves

Photo by Karyme França on Pexels.com

“What dream would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?”  This was my answer to that question when I was asked it over 20 years ago:

“I’d want to feel as I had taught a class where everyone had gotten something out of it.  I’d want to do the same for counseling-that my clients had really heard me and began taking steps to improve their lives.  I might like to do some stand-up comedy-making people happy through my own tragedies with a twist-at least then I might feel they were worth living through.  Perhaps pursuing acting for the same reasons.  I would like to take part in building a center for healing, picking out the colors, textures, classes, people, food-creating a public healing sanctuary (PHS).”

I found this handwritten in a stack of papers I am going through in working (again) on my next writing project.

I had to just take a step back and realize that I had in fact accomplished all those desires, including pursuing 2 years of acting study and a brief stint with stand-up comedy (although I’m tempted to take a jab at it again and see what happens).

I do believe in writing down what your intentions/goals/ideas are in order to have those concepts be held somewhere in physical space (on the piece of paper in this instance).  It also makes those intentions more ‘real’ by writing them down and also beginning to hold you accountable to them.

So I encourage you to answer that first question, do some writing on it for 5 minutes and then put it out on your desk, in your kitchen, etc. where you can see it as you move forward through this next week and month.  Be prepared to be surprised!

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst

Keeping sane keeping compartments

91Gph1pFN4L._AC_SX466_We are living in an extraordinary time.  Even if the pandemic is not in your city (yet) you are affected by it in some way.

I’ve found as a counselor working with my clients, that even in the best of circumstances, underlying conditions like anxiety and depression are difficult to manage.

Add in an extra external stress and it can be the tipping point.

I’ve been advising clients to manage their stress as best as they can and to think of self-care practices they can do each day that will be sustainable during this time of dramatic change.

I think one practice might be compartmentalizing.  It can be a useful short-term strategy to navigate the tide of anxiety.

I emphasize short-term strategy because at some point, when the crisis subsides, one can begin to properly process more deeply the effects and feelings of the prolonged stress.

There also may be periods within the crisis where one can process as well.

So how do you begin to compartmentalize this experience?  I like to think of it like a filing system that you can imagine in your mind.

Start with the first folder: “Coronavirus Epidemic”.  Just putting it into a folder usually feels a bit better, something is now there that can ‘hold’ it for the moment.

Maybe underneath it you start to build sub-folders  like ‘Stats of cases’ ‘Local government actions’ ‘Department of Health advice’ as well as more personal sub-folders like ‘How does this effect me?’ ‘How does this effect my family?’ ‘How does this effect work?’ ‘How does this effect travel?’.

Then sub-folders underneath those sub-folders to spell out more options like the following:

Coronavirus Epidemic—How does it effect me?—I am healthy—I maintain my health—i.e. exercise, eat well, sleep well, maintain social networks.

But then you get to that last one, ‘social networks’ to help maintain health and then you start to deal with a government suggesting social distancing and abstaining from gatherings.  But this doesn’t have to feel like a wall.

I encourage you to create another folder, entitled something like ‘Creative solutions’.  So when you end up reaching an obstacle in your filing system, you can put ideas into this folder that may lead to solutions.

I recommend to all my clients to utilize both social media and online support groups and meetups for additional social support.  For those on a path of sobriety, you can find an extensive list of online 12 step support groups: https://www.12step.org/social/online-meetings/

Meetup is offering some of it’s groups online also.  If you know of others, please leave comments and share.

Keep calm and stay informed.

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst and photo credit

Another perspective

I’ve been watching Dr. Campbell over the last week and found his perspective very enlightening and helpful in making sense of how the virus has been playing out in the US and the world at large.

I want to introduce you to him if you haven’t met before:

Hello Everyone, My name is John Campbell and I am a retired Nurse Teacher and A and E nurse based in England. I also do some teaching in Asia and Africa when time permits. These videos are to help students to learn the background to all forms of health care. My PhD focused on the development of open learning resources for nurses nationally and internationally.

LinkedIn profile, https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dr-john-campbell-5256223b

What’s Next?

whats-next240x400With northern Italy now putting 16 million of their people in quarantine the US and more specifically, Seattle, where I live, is asking ‘what’s next?’.

Since starting an online Coronavirus support group/healing circle last week, residents of King County have been joining me and sharing their own personal experiences.  It’s been helpful to hear we aren’t alone in how our communities are responding to the crisis.

Coming together like this does help in reducing the sense of being isolated at a time when we will be encountering more restrictions of social interaction and gatherings in the weeks to come.

Our leaders in government have only offered recommendations rather than mandatory measures, but today there has been hinting that these initiatives will be coming to pass.

If you take a moment and do a little self-educating of how this virus has spread infects it’s hosts and you’ll see that in order to help defeat it’s spread, containment, including quarantine, is imperative.

Is it too late for that in Seattle?  It remains to be seen.  This next week we will hear about more cases and more deaths.

As several people in our online virtual groups have mentioned, just dealing with the daily news reports is anxiety producing.

So I talked about my last blog of being proactive rather than reactive.  If we are aware of how a virus spreads, and also that cases and deaths will continue, when we hear reports about it, we will be less surprised and shocked.

Also, if we can continue to monitor ourselves, taking care of our health, getting enough sleep, boosting our immunity with vitamins, fresh fruits and fresh air, we really are doing as much as we possibly can.

I recommend following the advice from the Department of Health to avoid large groups of people, especially inside buildings or when close together at events.  I feel that whether you have health complications or are healthy it is probably a good idea for everyone at this time.  You can be a carrier for the virus and not even know it.

This weekend I went out to the nearby mountains as well as to a museum in town.

I observed plenty of fellow Seattlites and Washingtonians taking time to be outside as the weather became a bit sunnier today.  I saw them out at the farmers markets and on the nearby ski slopes.  I noticed only a dozen or so people within the Asian Art museum itself, but many were walking around the grounds outside.   It seemed to met people kept their distances from each other (the 6 feet recommended?).  It wasn’t awkward, but it was apparent.

Perhaps if and when measures are enacted to limit indoor gatherings, the outdoors will become our sanctuary and haven as it is already for so many of us.

Keep calm and stay informed.

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst

Photo Credit

The small town returns

tmg-article_default_mobileFinishing out this first week of living at the center of this epidemic, it was apparent to me how many details of living in a metropolitan area had dramatically changed.

When I added up the several tens of thousands of employees of all the major tech companies in Seattle that had been requested by their employers to work from home, I calculated that probably over 150,000 people were most definitely not on the road ways, on the sidewalks or in the stores.  That’s the population of a small town.

I’ve read some articles calling Seattle a ‘ghost town’ but that’s not accurate.  What I see driving and walking around Seattle reminds me of what it looked like when I moved here back in 1999.  You only had a little traffic during rush hours, but otherwise, you got around the city pretty efficiently.

Back then, there was still a ‘small town’ aspect to the city.

That aspect seems to have returned.  There seems to be several small towns existing right now:  Virtual and In-person

The virtual small town of Seattle are those 150K+ people working from home.  Many of those who work in technology are no stranger to doing their work virtually, it’s a familiar place.  Not just workers but students are now also part of this, as several universities also switched all their classes from in-person to online.

The in-person small town of Seattle are all those people that continue to work in retail, public transit, or services like the health care systems still functioning that don’t have the option or don’t want to go virtual.

Those that are still meeting in-person are continuing to  interact with each other, but with modifications like the yoga teachers I know who continues to hold smaller public classes (taking away shared props and mats) or the therapists who still meet with their clients in office, stocked full of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

I went out to the shopping mall for an hour just to see what that was like on a Friday night.  I found it sparse, but not empty.  Going through Sears, my partner Richard and I nearly had the store to ourselves.  I counted 8 people (including the clerks).  A few shoppers were wearing face masks.  I was happy to see people doing the ordinary browsing and shopping.  I’m happy people are still living their lives despite the extraordinary circumstances of this epidemic.

Each day, we are all making decisions whether to be more restrictive in our interactions and gatherings, how much or if we chose to wash our hands and whether or not we should start to prepare for this as our way of being for the rest of the month.

Tonight I’m left with the thought that despite the adversity of the week, life carries on.  Thank goodness for that.  We’ll need that strength and determination in the weeks ahead.

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst

Photo credit

Just the messenger

Speedy-Delivery-e1472106532704My clients and students have been getting the message this week and especially today that I’m now working remotely, offering circles and workshops by webinar, sessions by phone or Skype.

I can’t ethically put them or the public at risk when the public health division of your city and county issues the statement: “If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.”  “Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with people with COVID-19 and help minimize absenteeism due to illness.”  See the full announcement here.

And yet if you look on the local community calendar listings, groups are still meeting, events still occurring.  Most of the schools are still open and people are going to work.

But driving around today just to get out of the house and take a walk, the streets are definitely more quiet.  There is caution and hesitation in the air.  The city feels ‘on hold’.

Pulling back from the daily rhythm of life is hard, but as a community, we are being asked to do this.  We aren’t being told to…yet.

The governmental leaders in enacting states of medical emergency, all have the power in one degree or another to cancel events and gatherings.

My preference would be to have the choice to opt-out rather than have it dictated to me.  It’s something I ‘am in control’ of in a situation that is very much out of control.

I realize that my ability to work from home is a privilege that not everyone has, but I am exercising that privilege for the greatest good of public health and to protect myself, my clients, students and larger community and world.

It’s my hope that this action along with the many tens of thousands (more?) of others who can work from home are all helping to contribute to slowing the transmission.

Because, the transportation hub that is Seattle has not ceased.  Planes still come in and out (except for the limitations imposed by the Feds), trains, ships, cars and buses are all still running, still taking people, infected or not all over the world.  If those channels were to have limitations imposed upon them, further disruptions will occur, of course.

We’re not there yet.  Our leaders, I feel, have been keeping our community informed every day, and now twice a day.  Each successive day since last week we’ve gotten updates and progressively more encouragement to withdraw and set limits on our social activities.

This is all still the ‘new normal’.  Many people I’ve spoken to seem to be in some early stage of grief about it:  Either flat out denial that this is really something to be worried about, that it’s being blown out of proportion by the media or they are angry that it’s intruding on their lives and disrupting the ‘flow’.

Some people are paying attention and making adjustments, but this is really just the beginning.

People who live elsewhere and have 1 or 2 COVID-19 cases in their community, I encourage you to look at how Seattle is handling the crisis.  It will probably serve as a model as more cases occur where you are.

It remains to be seen just how this develops and evolves, and I feel it’s always best in times of crisis to do only what you are really able to do.  Limit having to make too many decisions if you can and help out if you feel called to do so.

In my work as a community leader, I feel it important to serve as a connector for individuals to resources and information that may be helpful to make the most informed decisions.

Creating the (now) bi-weekly online healing circle/meditations, switching my classes to webinar and sessions to remote have all been blessings in disguise.  I’m still able to maintain connection and groundedness  with my community and to the people I serve despite how fast everything is rapidly changing.  It’s a touch point.  I’m grateful for the technology that exists today to permit this to occur.

I foresee the importance of maintaining this connection as we are either asked voluntarily or are required to make changes to limit social interactions.

People are social and usually do not fare well in isolation.

In future blog I hope to explore this last point.

In the meantime, keep calm and stay informed.

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst

Photo credit

Calm in the storm

IMG_20200220_133021246Tonight the Reiki Fellowship connected around the shared experience that is the ‘new normal’ in the Seattle area.

We talked about ways to maintain good health, including exercising at home or going for walks/runs/biking vs. going to the very public gym.  We commiserated over the mob mentality at Costco and other stores and how public transit, despite best efforts, didn’t seem like a great idea.

I have lead in-person healing circles for many decades, but this was my first online version.  It felt rich and supportive to connect to others who have meditative and healing practices to help ground and center despite times of crisis and uncertainty.  Connecting in this way is the key to prevent feeling isolated in such times.

Below is the meditation I wrote and read followed by sending healing energy to the health care and frontline workers, patients, families, friends, loved ones, co-workers and all those effected in our area.

We also sent healing energy out in the future into the next day and days ahead as more is revealed.

We’ll be back online next week, 3/11 7:30-8:30pm.  If you care to join, please do so here.  Password 010470

Calming Meditation (read to  the music of Shamanic Dream)

Take this time to center yourself and receive the calming benefits of working with your breath.

Inhale deeply and exhale all the way down and through your body to the tips of your toes.

Now, let’s do that again.  Deep inhale and then exhale all the way through.

Feel the strength of that breath.  It is always with you and supports you in all that you do.  Day in and day out.

The changes of the world happen around you and yet here, in this moment is your breath.  Even and flowing.  Feel it now.

Your are sustained and held by the breath.  Give yourself permission to receive this time to be refreshed, rejuvenated and restored in the abundance of ki now flowing through your system.

Ki, prana, chi flows through the breath.  As we take this journey, we receive the benefit of this healing energy through every molecule of our being.

So, let’s get comfortable and settle in as we imagine ourselves taking a walk on a beautiful sunny spring day, like today through a wooded park.

The air has a slight chill to it, but the sun makes your skin feel warm and your body relaxed.  As you approach the trees lining the edge of the park you feel yourself take a deeper breath and feel the support of mother nature all around you.

As you walk onto the earthen path,   you feel the forest ground underneath your feet and you enjoy the sounds of birds chirping in the distance.  Inhale the serenity you are starting to invite into all of your being.

In gratitude, you take a moment and pause,  perhaps envisioning yourself opening your arms all the way and taking a deep inhale as you enjoy the comfort of being.

You feel all the thoughts and worries you had melt away and in it’s place is the calm, cool quiet of this shaded wood.

As you continue to walk through the park you notice distant sounds of the city, passing cars, maybe even a lawn mower.  But you are not disturbed.  You are part of this city and it is part of you.  You find yourself acclimating to the background noise.

Take another deep breath, return to the sensation of being in the forest.  You feel the connection to both nature and to the community you are part of.  In this moment, you are healthy, well and grounded and can even take a deep breath further into your own sense of well being.

Through each breath, you bring healing ki into your cells and the systems of your body:  cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, nervous, lymph, reproductive and endocrine.

Each system responds by shining a different color with each breath you take.  Notice the various colors and textures with each breath.

Spend a few moments here inhaling healing ki into each system and notice what you notice.  Honor the pause here and be grateful for the effortless functioning of your body.

Now, in the next inhalation, take a full body scan from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and notice how you feel now within body and mind.

What’s different, what’s new, what’s still taking it’s time.

From this place you are now at, feel the centerdness within you and how present you are in the moment.

Remember this place when you need to feel the support and abundance of the healing energy all around you.  Take a few moments and inhale deeply.

Now, when you are ready, begin the process of returning back through the woods along the path.

When you reach the edge and are ready to return back from where you started, give thanks for taking this time.

You are healthy and well and full of light and the refreshing natural energy.

Give yourself time coming back at your own pace.  Perhaps first feeling your feet on the ground and your body in the chair you are seated in.

Next, take each arm and rub the tops of your arms and legs and slowly, slowly, come back to this space now.

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst (includes photo)

 

 

 

 

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