In the last few years, so many of us feel that we have been unable to surf the chaos in life and the world.

We have lost so much — our dreams, our plans and loved ones — and as 2022 gets into gear, the waves of chaos have not stopped. Some of us have lost jobs and work for most of us has changed considerably.

With rampant misinformation, social unrest, tension within families and mid-term elections this year, it feels like there is no end in sight. Therefore, we asked the MMSNorCal Collective coaches to share tips and practices they use to surf chaos in their lives and the world in this three-part series of articles.

Dealing with Loss and Fear

Some of us have had to deal with days and days all alone and most of us have missed celebrations and we have missed being with loved ones. Some of us have fallen out with, and lost relationships with family and friends as different people reacted with fear and had different risk tolerances to COVID.

During this time, our community of coaches dealt with fearful family members who refused to meet with other family members, faced travel restrictions that kept fathers from seeing their sons for over two years, and at the height of pandemic, daughters risked travel to be at the side of their dying mother.

Just as we were getting ready to put COVID-19 behind us, here we go again with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, spiking gas prices, tornadoes, snow storms, travel delays, power outages, stock market swings, political turmoil, the list goes on and on.

And, with each unexpected setback, waves of fear wash over us again and again and languishing as been identified as the dominant emotion of 2021.

Step 1. Accept We Live in Uncertain Times

“When I think of acceptance,” says Coach Brandi Richard Thompson, “I think of the ability to embrace the totality of your experience, good and bad. During the past couple of years, I have seen clients and colleagues experience distress in ways they haven’t before.”

Coach Brandi adds, “As someone who has experienced trauma, the pandemic was similar to so many other times that I felt helpless, alone, and unsure of what to do next. The distress of those traumatic situations in my life made me want to push the experience away, hide from it or stuff it.”

Embrace Negative and Positive Emotions

Coach Brandi says that she has learned that it was far better to embrace her negative and positive emotions and this shift in thinking helped her to process them more fully.

Accepting her circumstances allowed her to express her emotions, and feel all the feels associated with the pain of the trauma as well as the pleasure of the new things she learned through the experience and even the blessings that materialized.

Acceptance of the bad actually made room for Coach Brandi to experience the good that was happening at the same time. And whether you see it right now or not, there is always good right there with the bad.

Accept all that comes to you as an opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself.

Coach Brandi Richard Thompson

“Life is unpredictable,” adds Coach Michelle Hayden-Marsan. “I find that resisting the undesired things that come into my life brings me my greatest challenge: anxiety, aggravation and disequilibrium. Accepting what comes my way, regardless of whether I like it or not presents an opportunity to let go of things that are out of my control. Being able to do that brings me peace and unexpected opportunities.”

What if Acceptance is Not Easy for You

Acceptance isn’t coming easy for Coach Charles Vivier either! 

Coach Charles says: “I have had to learn to focus on how fortunate I am that my daily life except for traveling wasn’t changing so much. I had to dig deeper, identifying my feelings, discovering their significance, defining what was important and reframing my purpose. Acknowledging and celebrating my progress and anything and everything contributing to my wellness. Learning what surrender really means has been one of my biggest lessons.”

Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig notes that there is a saying – the only certainty that exists in life is change. And, she adds, “When we can fully step into the flow of life, and accept that it is constantly moving and changing, we live with more ease and less resistance. Becoming comfortable in the uncomfortableness of uncertainty, creates space and opportunity for flexibility, growth and renewal.”

“When life feels unclear, uncertain or stuck, take the opportunity to focus on the present moment and raise your awareness. Awareness then acts as a lighthouse, shining on the path forward, allowing our lives to unfold as we respond to the present moment. Allowing ourselves to be fully in the present is a calming and grounding acceptance.”

Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig

Step 2. Nurture Your Body and Cultivate Routines

use dance to nurture yourself

Coach Muriel Murphy focuses on exercising regularly, eating healthy and nutritious foods, listening to music, meditating, stretching and attending to her body’s needs daily.

She also values connecting with loved ones and strangers with a smile on her face and listening to them with her heart centered attention, which can be difficult for many of us when we are agitated and upset with the world around us.

According to Coach Muriel, “slowing down and not rushing from one thing to the next, allows me the space to sense and feel my groundedness and be present with each task I am attempting to complete.”

Dancing is another way for her to release any negative stressors that may be holding in her body.

And, lastly Coach Muriel suggests dancing like nobody’s watching!

Consider a Challenge

“I have been struggling to find a way to have my outside match my inside, meaning having my outside body match my inside spirit,” says Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier. “My inside is clear, joyful, calm, purpose driven, grateful and healthy but on the outside I have been injured, overweight, tired and often sick. This year I decided to really give it a go and give my body a reset and put a stake in the ground and make a pledge I will not just talk about it, or wish that things were different, I would actually MAKE things different. SO, I took on the 75 Hard Challenge. No alcohol, drink a gallon of water, go on a diet program, and workout twice a day for 45 mins for 75 days…oh, and no cheating or you have to start over.”

Coach Lindsey, like many of us, had preconceived ideas about what my body could or could not do, so she took the Challenge to push back on her old belief system. She is amazed at how strong she is, how her body is showing her that it can rise to the occasion, even after all of her past injuries.

She finds that giving herself the space and time to put her health on the top of her to-do list has been empowering and provides some measure to be able to surf chaos in life and the world.

Show Yourself Love and Grace

Coach Brandi says “I nurture myself by showing myself the same love and grace that I show to those I love the most. I stop working when I am tired, set boundaries that support my health, and give up the need to control everything.”

nurture yourself with love

“I have a sense of control when I take time to be in tune with myself”, says Coach Michelle. “When we take time to listen to what our mind/body connection is telling us in the form of emotional and physical feelings, we can take time to respond. If I am feeling down or my body has some aches or pains, I ask myself, what is this? What is this trying to tell me? What do I want to do now? And perhaps my response is simply taking a moment to pause, catch my breath, or make a cup of tea.”

Coach Michelle finds that sometimes simply acknowledging the feelings can make her feel better.

The only thing we have control of is ourselves and our chosen response which is key to be able to surf chaos in life and the world with grace and control.

Consider Reviving a Hobby or a Passion

Some suggestions offered by Coach Sarah E. Spencer include engaging in a hobby you love. She says, “I have always loved crafts from childhood, and I seek yin energy almost every day. Currently this includes hand applique quilting, easily done while watching favorite TV shows, as well as planning future quilt projects.” (If you are looking to build a creative practice, check out this excellent read on our blog: Intrinsic Benefits of a Creative Practice.)

Coach Sarah also suggests building a routine that can help ground you, for example:

  • A daily morning routine that could include a short meditation session, perhaps lighting a candle, drinking a hot beverage. She likes to read a printed newspaper; you could read a printed book or journal for a few mins before planning your day.
  • A walk at lunch time, even for 10 – 15 mins around the block can center you.
  • An afternoon break for tea and a pause away from work could refresh you.

Continue reading the next two articles in this series: Seven Steps to Surf Chaos in the World and Your Life (Part 2) and Seven Steps to Surf Chaos in Your Life and the World (Part 3).

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