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Spirit Lifter for June 23, 2020
Be Kind to My Friend

Dear Ones – My dear friend Melinda often ends our texting conversations by saying, “Be kind to my friend!” I love that. It’s a great reminder to me to keep my needs on the menu of choices for how I spend my time and attention. And it’s a reminder I need more than ever!

Most of us have experienced quite an array of losses due to the pandemic. We’ve had losses large and small – changes in our work, our relationships, our social lives… Loss of jobs or income, loss of our sense of security or our feeling of “rightness” in the world, losses of celebrations or anticipated travel, deaths of loved ones, and so much more. And due to the isolation needed to prevent spreading the virus, many of us are “locked in” with ourselves (and with the people closest to us). We thus find ourselves face-to-face with our “shadow;” the unprocessed hurt and anger and grief and guilt we human beings push to the side in the hustle and rush of daily living. Combine these with the excitement and power of the Black Lives Matter/racial justice movement and, for those of us who are white, our ever-deepening understanding of the oppression Black people face and our complicity in maintaining systems of racial injustice. And combine that with heightened stress levels and decision fatigue that come as we “re-open” our lives – or not... 

We’re swimming in a stew of raw emotions and decisions and learning and actions all the time. It’s stressful for body, mind and spirit! And it’s not going to end any time soon.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some of us feel things are easing up. I'm glad for that. 

But for the rest of us, I have some useful thoughts to share: strategies that can help us be kind to ourselves.  
Dr. Lucy Hone is a director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience. She’s helped organizations from elementary schools to the US Military with well-being initiatives that have created meaningful change. Recently, when I was poking around on YouTube, I ran across a TEDx talk she gave about resilience in the wake of traumatic loss. (Access the video at the red button below.)

Dr. Hone said that there are three main strategies resilient people employ, and that these underlie all of her work. She said that there are simple things you can do to MAKE yourself better when times are tough. I was intrigued. Dr. Hone doesn’t say it, but I find that the strategies contain a spiritual signature as well as a psychological one.

Strategy #1 – Resilient people understand that “Sh*t Happens” in life.  Suffering comes to all of us. We’re all going to feel abandoned by god and everybody else at times. Dr. Hone says this understanding resilient people have helps them not feel discriminated against by the Universe when they are suffering. (And that's useful, because the Universe is an awfully big opponent to fight against…).
Strategy #2 – Resilient people are able to realistically appraise a situation and then choose carefully where they will direct and focus their attention. For example, they choose to focus on the things they *can* change, not on the ones they cannot. They choose to shift their attention towards what’s good in their lives, instead of focusing on the negative.  Dr. Hone suggests that we practice listing three good things that have happened to us – and do it every day.  She says she and her family have a big poster saying, “Accept the Good” as a reminder for this practice.
Strategy #3 – There’s a question resilient people ask themselves:  “Is what I am doing helping me or harming me?” It’s a question we can apply to many situations, like over-working, having the extra glass of wine, making the phone call we’ve been dreading, or settling down for more "screen time." Dr. Hone remarks that this question interrupts the habitual and puts us back in the driver’s seat of our lives. I think it's a question from the soul that restores our power to choose.

Simple strategies, but so powerful when practiced consistently. Soul-sustaining, because they require tuning in to our deeper self, which always longs for meaningful engagement in our lives, and always works for greater healing and wholeness.

I’m going to spend my July with these: “The Universe is NOT out to get me!” “Accept the Good" and, “Is this helping me or harming me?” 

I hope you’ll join me. And even if you don’t, please be kind to my friend!

With love - The Rev. Suzelle Lynch
Joys & Concerns
The result of our recent Joys & Concerns opinion survey revealed that we are grateful to keep up with this tradition of sharing, even though it's not during our Sunday morning online services. 

Here are this week's Joys & Concerns, shared with from UU Church West Members and Friends.

A Joy from Pat Kashmerick: Our oldest grandson married a wonderful woman on Saturday, June 20 in Minnesota. We are so thrilled that even with the pandemic we can attend the downsized wedding. Hopefully the rescheduled reception can take place late in August.

A Joy from Sarah and David Stokes: Our healthy baby granddaughter was born on June 17th. Her name is Sikhona Rose. Our son Jay and his wife Angie are resting and enjoying that new beautiful little one. We are hoping to visit them in July, and we are thankful for video calling!

To share a Joy or Concern in the June 30 Spirit Lifter, please click the red button below.
Come  as  you   are  - leave inspired!