23 Nov The Gift of Uncertainty
November has always had a lot of energy around it.
November seems to represent a time of transition. I love the changing leaves as they gradually fall surrendering to the earth and to winter. It’s a time for reflecting on lessons learned, accomplishments, and shortcomings. I was born in November so it also represents a fresh start and anticipating the next season and next chapter of life.
While I look forward to November, it also comes with some trepidation and uncertainty, and this year seems more so. I’ve completed my 25-year consulting and coaching career with Landmark Worldwide. I’ve left the familiarity of my employer-provided health insurance and am uncertain about how to navigate Medicare. This week I turned 66 so thoughts about “retirement planning” creep in.
Then, on top of all the usual “November stuff,” my mind always looks back to nine years ago. On November 10th, 2011, at the height of my consulting and coaching career, I was diagnosed with advanced, stage four cancer. Even though I gratefully recovered, beginning around the 9th of November every year, I automatically wonder about my health – more uncertainty creeps in.
This year we had the pandemic shutdown and the uncertainty of what it would take for all of us to get through this, as well as what it would take to get back to work and to reopen Shakti with all the changes.
There’s also been a tumultuous and seemingly unending election cycle, the continuing impact of the pandemic, and having people we know get sick or die from Covid. Some days life seems so uncertain it’s like the rug has been pulled out from under us, doesn’t it? I talk to lots of business owners in my consulting and coaching work and I’m not the only one feeling uncertain. Small businesses are struggling and 30% of salons have closed their doors permanently. This year feels more uncertain than ever.
This year’s November transition feels really different. This November I feel more uncertain about life than I can recall ever feeling. There seems to be so much more disruption than in any November I remember. I haven’t ever been a fan of uncertainty. I’m a planner. I don’t like surprises and I organize my life and my plans to at least have a pretty good idea of what lies ahead. The world seems to have changed so much in the last year, many of my plans turned out to be useless. There are so many things changing and changing quickly, there really isn’t a lot of time to stop and plan. I find myself just reacting, which is never fun for me. It brings in fear. To escape the barrage of change and the reacting, worrying, or anxiety about all the uncertainty, I was finding myself watching too many hours of news or one too many glasses of wine as my way of dealing with life seeming so uncertain. In other words, one more time catching myself not being present and just “waiting to get through this.”
Uncertainty Leads to Creativity
Last Sunday, as I realized how uncertain life, the world, and the future seemed, I decided that in spite of all of it, hunkering down, waiting it out, and holding on until life feels safe again was not an enlivening plan. I paused and sat down on the edge of my bed. I noticed on my nightstand my bottle of Aveda Chakra 2 – Nourished. I picked it up and sprayed. I took a few deep breaths and sat just reflecting. I remembered that blockages of the Chakra 2 energy center impact creativity and considered that maybe my creativity was blocked.
I sat and meditated for a few minutes. I then realized (or more accurately, remembered) that despite all the planning and organizing I do to bring certainty to my life, what is actually so is that LIFE IS ALWAYS UNCERTAIN. It always has been and always will be. We really don’t have any way of knowing what is truly coming next. Then, I recalled a lesson learned after facing the uncertainty of my cancer diagnosis — “No matter what was happening, I need a plan to follow, if for no other reason other than to be present and enjoy life just as I have created it — to practice enjoying life on life’s terms and own what I create.” This awareness leaves me free to accept and create the opportunities I have. I also know I’m at my best when I’m creating. I can create uncertainty as an opportunity for something new – to welcome it and accept it as a gift.
Getting In Action
After my brief pause, I got in action.
I read an article about the energy centers of the body (chakras) by a yoga teacher I follow, and I began to put together my self-care plan:
- Riding my bike indoors
- No wine or sugar, and
- Great, home-cooked healthy food
I ordered a training mount for riding my bike for riding inside, a new yoga mat, and began pulling out books I’ve been meaning to read. I remembered there was a brand-new set of beautiful sheets in the closet that I bought on sale last winter that I was “saving” (for what I have no idea). I washed them and put them on my bed. Then, I saw how ratty my 6-year-old comforter looked against the crisp, new white sheets and ordered a new one (which I found for 50% off). I cleaned the rest of my bedroom and bathroom. The new comforter arrived the next day and I put it on my bed. Now, I feel like a welcomed guest in my own home.
I like having a plan. I like sticking to a schedule. In a world of uncertainty, the one thing I can be certain about is I have a say about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and when. It’s grounding and creative. Being uncertain can bring newness and anticipation, not just fear. This realization and a new set of actions are how I continue to practice and how “the gift is in the present” and the possibility of accepting uncertainty as a gift.
What can you create to nurture yourself in this seemingly uncertain and chaotic time?
As Thanksgiving approaches, all of us at Shakti want you to know how grateful we are for your support of our small, local business and for the relationships we have with each one of you. The Shakti Team and I wish you a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.