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How to Mindfully Handle the Politics of our Stories

“I woke up this morning, after a night of restless sleep, with these words in my head. The place we […]
By
Wendy Jones
December 6, 2020

“I woke up this morning, after a night of restless sleep, with these words in my head. The place we have arrived this holiday season, with restaurants closed, small businesses fighting to keep their doors open, and with no hope of kids going back to school in January is not ok. It’s not ok to waste a year of education on Zoom. It’s not ok for leaders to tell people they have to stay home and then jet off in private planes or dine in the fanciest restaurants. It’s not ok to have random temperature checks be a sign of safety but not let people who healthy lifestyles play recreational sports in open air and live their lives. It’s not ok for the Saints to get fined and lose a draft pick for celebrating their win in the locker room with no masks on when they just played and entire game together with no masks. It’s not ok to keep college students off campuses and away from high level, in person education when they have virtually no risk of dying from COVID. It’s not ok to cut the sports that have been an integral part of building their discipline to this point of their young life.  It’s not ok to give small businesses guidelines, have them invest large amounts of money to keep people “safe” only to shut them down again. It’s not ok for people not to be able to make their own choices about what is too risky for them and their family. We can wear masks, we can social distance, but we need to be able to assess our own risk and make our own choices and let the our own sense of civic duty and compassion inform those decisions. Yes, that sounds like the great unknown, but that’s what life is, every day is a calculated risk, and every human has their own barometer on that. We’ve we’ve been living together for millennia, through droughts, plagues, and natural disasters. The problem is the culture of fear that has been created is turning people against each other rather than instilling a sense of community.

Back in March when this all started, they warned of the hospitals filling up, they brought in the hospital ship down by Long Beach and marked its arrival with a big ominous freeway sign that said there was no access to it, it handled some non-Covid patients, but then where did it go? The last article I can find on it was in August. Cases are rising, but more people are being tested. It’s not ok to just give numbers of positive test cases and not talk about survival rates - under 70 99.6%, over 70 96.4%.

What is keeping me up at night is that I want to live in a place where actions matter and leadership follows the same rules that they make for the people.  We are drowning in a sea of unintended consequences from mental health issues, domestic violence, and so many other unhealthy choices because people are forced away from the lives they have worked for that no government program is going to help save. I’m ready for government to stop trying to just keep me alive and instead let me live.” - My Instagram post from 12/3

I made this post for two reasons: I felt like it needed to be said, and, I was feeling energetically and creatively blocked from holding it all in.

It’s not like me to lament any state of affairs and not be mindful of providing some thought on solutions. But I had obviously far exhausted the appetite for words for most anyone in an Instagram post. So as I hit post, I promised my newly liberated self (man it felt good to get that off my chest) that I would spend some time thinking about ways that we can do better.

We have to move and breathe to release our stories into the world. A month or two back, I wrote a blog on mindful politics because I’ve spent a lot of time learning about how our nervous systems create our reactions to the world. I never knew the activated state that my marriage, the near death experience of my youngest, and so many other stories from my life had me living in day to day. I didn’t understand why, after a lifetime of engaging in political thought and writing letters to the editor, that I had to literally turn off the TV and bough out of the conversation and, until I discovered the breath to movement of yoga, and then learned more about breathing to manage stress, I couldn’t reengage.  As out of control as 2020 has felt, I am grateful that I have a breath and mindfulness practice that will bring me back to the present moment and help me feel safe in my own body. It occurs to me that the more sympathetically activated we get, with all that feels out of our control these days, the more difficult it is for us to listen and relate to each other, and the quicker we are to react and compare.  So, with everything out of our control, the first thing we can do to heal our wounds as a nation starts with ourselves and our own routines. What are you doing to deactivate, learn to respond instead of react, and become a better listener?  Think about it because there is individual and collective healing in your answer. When we’ve lost faith in our leaders, we have to have the skills, confidence, and common sense to come back to ourselves, build connection one conversation at a time, and let that connection radiate from there. That means being able to dialogue with people who have completely different experiences and opinions than our own, and we have to do the work to seek those out. When we find them, we need to assess our state, and settle in to be receptive to the experience.

We do not need to know everything to say something. To be empowered as a nation, we have to empower ourselves.  Life long learning is a key to longevity and I always have my nose in a book, newspaper, or my ears on a new podcast. But something that I have corrected in myself recently is the notion that to say anything in a public space, I needed to know everything...about everything. This idea really hit home listening to this conversation on Finding Mastery. I highly recommend that you listen to the whole thing, but the idea that brought tears to my eyes and made me go deeper was the idea leveraged by NYT best selling author, Shea Serrano (around minute 16) that all of our issues and stories, exist at the same time, in this national narrative.  I have often felt that it wasn’t my turn to speak, because I know that there are things worse than my own experience. I understand deeper, because of this conversation, that my feelings are ones of political imposter syndrome.  If I speak out on the struggles of small business, single motherhood, or autism because those are true to my story, it doesn’t take space away from other vitally important discussions like race or global warming.  It’s abundance mindset meets the political world and we need more understanding on that. It’s incumbent on us to speak our truth, and then listen and let others speak theirs.  Connection is going to be found one by one, group by group, and community by community…don’t shut anyone out, don’t be afraid of their story. Just find calm, settle in, and listen. Maybe if we could all start doing this, we could get Washington and state governments to follow our lead.

Lastly, find gratitude. As I have felt my activation rise over the past week, I take 12-20 minutes and create my own gratitude meditation, but maybe you just want to start with two, that’s ok;) Mine starts with the faces of each of my four kids, then the roof over my head and the floor under my feet, my coffee maker and refrigerator full of food. I envision every good thing in my life, one by one.  It stabilizes and calms my monkey mind and when I open my eyes, I am unstuck.  I’ve said it so many times before, gratitude is a game changer.  

When you spend a lot of time trying to be liked by others you end up losing yourself.  Your story is unique and deserves to be told.  It plays into your relationships, how you carry yourself in the world, and influences the very fabric of our nation. For us to thrive as Americans it is imperative that we cultivate our best intention, inform ourselves by taking in a diversity of stories and opinions, and last but not least, find the courage to speak about our own.  I, for one, am here to listen.  Because these stories inform not just our own consciousness, but that of the next generation, and there is nothing that I want to do more right by, or have more hope for, as we look to close out this challenging year.

No matter what you think about the thousands of different issues that affect our every day lives, these lyrics hit the nail on the head. If it triggers something in you, breathe and sit with it for a minute, and then listen to the podcast that I mentioned above, or this short video that I made on Friday;) There are no sides, there are only stories, and the better we understand all of them, the better off as a world we will be.

With love and optimism,

Wendy 

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About the author:
Wendy Jones is a mother of four, lifelong athlete, writer, and optimism & resilience coach and speaker. Through 20 years of parenting and relationship struggles, she believes that vulnerability and our willingness to share our stories is a way to heal ourselves

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