It is Coronavirus Quarantine 2020. Have you been overwhelmed by the social media posts coming your way? I have been bombarded. Anytime I look at my smart phone, turn on my laptop or read a book on my kindle, I have another social media post that informs me how to make my life more worthwhile. I have posts from spiritual gurus, educational professionals, financial experts, life coaches, nutritional consultants, political figures, and emotional support specialists. I have been advised to meditate at least five minutes a day (or maybe it is 15 minutes). Write in my gratitude journal. Take daily walks. Tithe. Pray. Contribute to someone’s campaign. Serve others. Eat more vegetables, less meat, less carbs. Give up all sugar, soda and carbs. Agggghhhh!
I am tired of it all. None of these people know me. But their emails, messages and blogs address me as if we have been best buddies. The irony, of course, is that I am writing this blog as if I know you. I do not. That is the point. I do not know you. You know you. You know what’s going on with you. You know what causes you pain, and you know what brings you joy. You may be unwilling to examine yourself, but inside, you have an inkling of what is going on with you.
When I worked for Save the Children, I had a boss who said, “The answers are in the room.” She was right. We worked with some of the poorest communities and whenever we all got together, the answers were in the room. The socio-economic status of the various individuals had nothing to do with the ability to listen, check within, and make quality, well thought-out and sensible suggestions. Some of the wisest people I have ever interacted with lacked formal education. Likewise, some of the most educated people I know have lost the compass on wisdom.
Since December, I have been meeting with a group of women in a beta group, 12 in 12. We meet via Zoom twice monthly. Our experiences range. Our purpose is to dream big, look forward, create a passion-filled project that will benefit more than ourselves and support each other as we work towards the completion of the project. Over 12 months, we have committed to confront our monsters (a.k.a. the shadows), embrace them and recognize that “it ain’t over, yet!”
The women in our group have enough battle scars to create a new game of Life. We have climbed high mountains and crawled through deep valleys. Today, we face one of our biggest challenges. We have aged! We aren’t young whipper snappers anymore. So, our greatest hurdle is still before us. We must traverse the pathway that our fore mothers traveled but we must do it in the age of a 24/7, social media driven, image-conscience society. We are learning to do so by learning to love ourselves where we are right now – wrinkles, scars, shadows and all.
As we navigate the road before us, we are guided by two perfectly normal, amazingly wise and eminently skilled facilitators. They are forcing us to look inside and find the answers within.
I have begun to sit in silence. I listen to sounds that I normally do not hear. I see what my eyes once skipped over. I am tuning inward remembering the answers are in the room and the room is inside of me. I do not know what will emerge. I am releasing and allowing the questions and answers to flow – quietly, gently, without an agenda. I do not know if my next hurdle will be writing a paranormal book about the amazing sex life of aliens over the age of 60 who live among us, developing podcasts that bring together the rightest of the right wing and leftist of the left wing reminding us that we are all valuable, interdependent, and painfully flawed, becoming a spiritual life coach for some new age religion tied to every known religion of humanity including atheists, or documenting the journey of a piss ant. I just know that the answer is in the room and the room is within me.
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La-Verna Fountain is president of Meaningful Communications Matter, a consulting and training firm specializing in communications. Retired from Columbia University in 2018 where she served as Vice President for Strategic Communications and Construction Business Initiatives, La-Verna continues to teach with the University’s School of Professional Studies. She is the author of two books, The Alphabets of Life: A Simple Guide to Simply Living and The Gold Coins: A Supernatural Adventure Inspired by True Events (published under the pen name, Sa’lia Friend). You can reach her at La-Verna@MeaningfulCommunicationsMatter.com