I realize that not everyone sees COVID-19 as a giant opportunity for growth. I also realize that there are a lot of humans out there who just want to get through it–survive it–as quickly as they can. And while I’ll certainly be grateful just to get through the whole mess, too, I see this crisis from a much different perspective. Let’s get through it, sure, but let’s also come out better on the other side.
And after twenty-six days of lockdown here in Connecticut, I’m wondering if we’re either doing okay enough spiritually/emotionally to endure further lessons, or…just the opposite. It’s possible that we’re even failing, or at the very least not living up to our potential. And to prod us along (in her not-so-subtle way), maybe Mother Nature figured that we needed some additional troubles tossed in our path. You know, just one or two more obstacles to navigate–say, a whirling funnel of meteorological destruction–in case we weren’t already occupied enough.
Of course, I prefer to imagine the first option. The one that says we’re doing so fabulously that we’re reaching new tiers, and consequently, new lessons. Moving forward. Learning from our mistakes. Growing and breaking old habits that were in dire need of breaking. That’s the positive part of me, taking the reins as it so gallantly likes to do.
But then that part is quickly usurped by the reality of my current news fast, taken to preserve my sanity (and optimism). A fast made necessary after being continually bombarded by bold headlines that seem to delight in the fact that some individuals appear to be doing anything but reaching new tiers of understanding, or making any discernible forward progress. Who, on most days, seem to excel at directing us (or at least our gaze) backwards. And in those moments, when the frustration increases exponentially, the hope that we’ve already learned from this starts to quickly ebb.
The Hard Way
Consequently (and for only a minute), I’m forced to take off my rose-colored glasses and look at the human race more objectively. Are we so obtuse that we can only learn through pain and suffering? And does it have to be this way? Must we be violently and repeatedly knocked down before changes are willingly made?
Looking back over my own life, I hate to admit it, but this has often been the case for me. And it makes me wonder if far too many of us have inherited some kind of genetic defect passed down through the eons. A mutation that signals to our brains (or our hearts?): Let’s not waste time with a gentle approach; we can only learn the hard(est) way. If this is evolution, it makes me wonder if maybe we’re heading in the wrong direction. And if that’s the case, then what’s the fastest way to turn things around?
Because it just seems like a pandemic should be enough. Enough of an incentive for growth without having to throw in tornadoes, severe weather, demolished homes, and more deaths on top of everything else. I mean, people in the south (on Easter Sunday, for crying out loud) were forced to retreat from cyclones–together, while at the same time, apart–making a valiant attempt to adhere to the rules of social distancing in a situation that demanded otherwise. Seems a little bit like adding insult to injury, you know?
She Was a Lovely Tree
And sadly, even with all of my non-stop thinking and doing and talking of change, I wasn’t above needing an extra push on top of the corona punch, either. Sure, it was a much less violent push than a cyclone, but it still had to happen before I could commit to a decision that I’ve been dragging my feet on for months. I was content (enough) to keep on diligently ignoring it for as long as I could, even though I knew it was hurting me. Even though I knew the change would be good for me.
Gratefully, I was spared the tornadoes, but the wind still made an awesome show of things here. First, by toppling a tree in our backyard before then tearing up the road to split another neatly in half. The first caused no damage (except that she was a lovely tree), whereas the second made more of an impact as it crashed down on our power lines, effectively leaving us without electricity for the next fifteen hours.
And as I let myself be hypnotized by the pouring rains and the howling winds, I couldn’t help but wonder…what’s coming next?
Why Are We Surprised?
I don’t believe in accidents or coincidence. And I definitely don’t believe in luck or chance. But what I do believe in is karma; not only on an individual level, but also on a collective one. What this whole crisis means to me is that some degree of debt is due. And I think it’s crazy to blame God for the happenings in our world when I feel like all we have to do is take a quick (and honest) look around to find the real culprits.
As a general rule, humans live with no thought to tomorrow, and yet we’re surprised when the consequences of our actions finally catch up with us. Who can we point the finger at? Who can we we punish? Because somehow it never seems to be our fault. Pretty weird, actually, how there’s consistently someone else to blame.
While on the one hand this pandemic is shocking, on the other, it doesn’t surprise me at all; in fact, I think that something large scale was inevitable. We do a lot of bad things. All the time. Do we think that there will never be a price to pay? Or are we just hoping that future generations will be the ones to bear the brunt of our greed and utter disregard?
And the other day, listening to the winds roar, I marveled at how big this all had to get before it was big enough to get (and hold) our attention. As if rampant death and disease aren’t hard enough, let’s throw in complete social isolation to make things a little bit more overwhelming. And then on top of that, how about we reduce, or even eliminate, your income. Indefinitely. Still feeling okay? What if we toss in 60+ tornadoes? Maybe a flash flood or two? Are you listening yet? And slowly, one by one, our safety nets are disappearing.
Until we’re left with what?
As another month of lockdown stretches before us, what more will I–will we all–be given the opportunity to understand? How many more times do we need to be shown that we’re not running the show here? How many more disasters before we learn to play nice, cooperate, and compromise? Can we un-create some of our bad choices? Can we stop stomping around like bullies and walk more gently? More kindly? More humbly? Do we really need continued lessons before we learn to respect Mother Nature and live in harmony with her?
(Sorry, that was a lot of questions. Let me just slip my rosy glasses back on before I continue…)
But truthfully, I’m tired of being obtuse and learning the hard way; I’m even more tired of repeating the same lessons over and over again. I’ve decided I don’t need to find out the “until what” part; I’m ready to make changes now. So when that pine tree snapped the other day and plunged us into darkness, I figured more of those nifty little growing opportunities were headed my way. I was right, but this change is surprisingly hard, and I’m going to second-guess myself right up until this is published. It’s why I needed those hurricane force winds; sometimes a push is a much-needed blessing when it comes to making a difficult change.
So Many Holes
But before I launch into that most recent change of mine, I’m going to spin you an analogy. Initially, this metaphor started off with how I was a leaky bucket, but not only did that not quite fit, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, either. I mean, who wants to be a useless leaky bucket? It was kind of dumb, so I searched around until I came up with something better. (Bear with me, because this one probably sounds kind of dumb, too.) Which I did: I’m a watering can. Which is way more useful than a broken bucket. (I hope.)
So I’m a watering can, right? And each night as I sleep, I’m slowly filled with water (which translates to: my energy reserves are restored), and by the time I wake up each morning, I’m recharged and ready to tackle the day. I immediately get to the business of watering, but there are a lot of little plants that need me, and I’m generally occupied right up until I climb back into bed again that night. If I’m careful about what I choose to water, I’ll have enough to get me through the day. Easily. But sometimes I lose track, and waste precious droplets without really meaning to. Let’s face it, there are a lot of distractions in the world, and the water flows easily (sometimes too easily) through each of those little holes.
Flowers or Weeds?
One hole releases energy to my husband, another to each of my girls. There’s the hole that dumps incredible amounts of energy into this blog. One hole gives directly to God. Another to Guru. Another to Jesus. One flows to family and another to friends. One hole manages this house. A hole (or two) flows to cooking. Lately, one little hole has been devoting excessive amounts of water to perfecting a dang mascara recipe. Another hole (which appears to be nearly clogged) dribbles out into this business of mine. One hole leaks out into Instagram. So much energy, so many holes.
You get what I’m saying, right? Because everyone has holes–we’re all like little watering cans. And however your life is arranged, your energy is pouring out into multiple outlets and watering a variety of plants. Some look like flowers, others are just seeds or tiny sprouts; a few suspiciously resemble weeds, while others are towering trees. Some of these seeds we willingly plant and tend, but sometimes they’re more of an invasive species. Like a bittersweet vine that just steadily, sometimes unknowingly, takes over and drains our water supply.
And with all of these little holes leaking energy everywhere, by the end of the day my can is pretty empty. Too empty, I realized, to allow anything to really flourish. I mean, sure, I (usually) get all of the watering done, but it seems to be only enough to keep most things alive. My water is spread so thin that a lot of things aren’t really thriving.
Which leads me to the awareness that something must have gone wrong. Have I sprung a leak? Is my water bad? Am I a defective watering can? Or just a really bad gardener? What was the wind trying to tell me?
You’ve got too many holes. (She literally screamed this. Because I’m obtuse.)
Never Been my Forte
If you follow me on Instagram, then you’re well aware that social media has never been my forte. The fact that I’ve managed to stay there for over two years now is really nothing short of a miracle. And while it seems that a lot of people appear to enjoy the constant movement, I’m not one of them. Instead of finding it exhilarating or exciting, I find it relentless. And exhausting. The energy suck is so strong that there are some days that it leaves me feeling like my watering can is virtually empty–and it’s only 10:00 in the morning. No wonder my other plants can’t grow; I’ve only got dregs left to give them. And they don’t want dregs. They want water.
Understanding how it so thoroughly drains me, I’ve tried on several occasions to take my leave. Around this time last year I said my goodbyes (for the first time); I even wrote about it here. But then things didn’t go quite the way that I thought they would and my fond(ish) farewell didn’t really end up as much more than a temporary goodbye. More of a see you later. In like, an hour.
But for the love of my Instagram family, I tried to make it work, I really did. Until I burnt out (again) and tried to leave (again). And unexpectedly found myself stuck in the same pattern on repeat: Try, fail, be convinced to stay. Try, fail, be convinced to stay. I think this happened at least three times, if I remember correctly (they all kind of blur together), but it may have been more. The real question is: Why isn’t everyone sick of me yet? Why aren’t they begging me to leave already? I sound like a broken record, for crying out loud, and I’m even tired of listening to myself.
I know that to a lot of people Instagram probably seems like a small and insignificant hole. But personally, I’ve found that it demands excessive amounts of my energy because there is always, always something happening. A story reaction, a like, a comment, a message. There is always something to respond to or acknowledge, and each time I do that, it takes water away from the plant I was already trying to tend (often this blog; sometimes my husband; once in a while my lunch). So instead of a nice long drink, all that my pretty little flowers get are tiny sips. As evidenced by all of the “mostly finished” projects languishing in my life, it’s enough of a sip to sustain, but not enough to grow. Or really bloom.
And maybe that’s good enough for some, but not for me. I prefer to walk away from projects, relationships, or even meals knowing that even if it wasn’t done to perfection (and maybe even miserably “failed”), at least I know I did the best I could. And doing the best I could leaves no room for regret, which I try and reserve absolutely no water for.
In many ways, this Instagram journey has been great for me. These past two years have taught me a lot, toughened me considerably, and helped me to identify and overcome parts of my personality that I don’t like. Some of them were parts that I didn’t even know were there. I could go on about this forever, actually, but as I said, broken record. I’ve done this farewell thing too many times. And mainly I wrote this all down here for one very special person that I assume reads each and every post I write. (I’m talking to you, JG. I love you.)
Under the Cover of Night
But I’ve learned my lesson, there is no “saying goodbye” on Instagram. The only way to leave is silently, under the cover of night. Preferably during a power outage when the stars shine brighter and the silence is more profound. I keep treating my Instagram problems like they’re something I need to overcome, but maybe I’ve been looking at things all wrong. Maybe it’s not so much about winning as it is about releasing. I think maybe I’ve been holding on, resisting change, when it’s really just time to let it go and move on.
So in order to utilize my water more effectively, I’m deactivating my Instagram account. While on the one hand, this is incredibly easy, on the other hand, it’s not. Because there are people involved. People who I love and who have shown me endless support. And there’s this twinge, this apprehension of whether or not I’m even doing the right thing. To honor that, I’ve decided not to completely delete the account, simply allow it to sleep. And if somewhere down the line my water supply miraculously multiplies, then I can slip back in. Unnoticed. And we can all just pretend like I never left at all.
The power came back on around 5:00 the next morning, only about fifteen hours after we’d lost it–truly, it was an obstacle so small as to be almost nonexistent. And yet, it was still somehow big enough to get my attention. (Does this maybe mean I’m learning? One can only hope…) The night had been restless; the damp humidity made it uncomfortable and hard to sleep. The snoring of my husband made it even harder. But as the birds sang, and the now cool and dry breeze blew in from the cracked window, I felt an unexpected burst of joy. Simplify. Simplify.
And then simplify some more.
That Ever Was
Maybe all I really want is to be a superb watering can, you know? I’d much rather have just a handful of beautiful, healthy, and thriving flowers instead of a whole garden full of leggy weeds. I want to do the things that I chose to do really, really well. So maybe I don’t accomplish “great” things in my life, but what I do accomplish will be done with a whole heart and with full attention. And no regrets. And perhaps on my tombstone it will read: Here lies the most efficient watering can that ever was.
So right now I’m figuring out which plants need tending and where my water will flow. I knew stepping into 2020 that this year was going to be an important one for me, and despite the chaos in the world right now, I still feel the same. Even more the same, actually. It feels like a pivotal time, maybe even a critical one, because I know I can live this life better and more fully; I’m sure of it. And 2020 is graciously showing me how.
Are you listening yet?
You bet I am (says the watering can who wanted to be a bucket). And now if you’d only be a dear and hit the Publish button for me, that would be really, really great. Because I’m not sure I can; I’m having trouble seeing it through these lovely rose-tinted glasses…
Have a beautiful weekend, my friends. Love & many blessings ~ Melinda
- 1¼ cups oat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup creamed corn (see below)
- ½ cup chia egg (or flax egg. See below)
- 1 cup corn kernels
- ½ cup plant-based milk
- 1 teaspoon brown rice flour
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (melted)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or a dash of stevia)
1. Add the corn kernels and milk to a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the sweetener, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Add the flour and oil to a small skillet; stir continually over medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble and slightly thicken.
3. Pour the flour/oil mixture into the corn kernels and milk. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until thickened and creamy. (This will thicken even more if left to sit for an additional several minutes. Keep covered but removed from the heat.)
1. Add the flour, baking powder, coriander, cumin, and salt to a mixing bowl; stir well.
2. Add the creamed corn, chia egg, and water to the dry ingredients; mix thoroughly.
3. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, and using a ¼ cup, pour the batter into the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the underside is golden. Turn over, flatten with a spatula, and cook until the other side is golden and the cake is cooked through. Serve hot and crispy.
Grind 2 tablespoons of chia seed in a small coffee grinder. Add the ground seeds to a small bowl and pour in 1 cup of water; whisk immediately. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes or until the seeds have thickened nicely into a gel. ¼ cup of chia egg is equal to 1 egg. Store all leftovers in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Grinding 1¼ cups of rolled oats will equal the same amount of oat flour. A small coffee grinder does the trick beautifully!