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A Pause That Refreshes

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

In the time of the pandemic, what are we finding out about ourselves? What are the lessons we’ve learned?

My name is David Erskine and Dr. Kathleen Allen of Kathleen Allen and Associates asked me to write a guest blog from my home, just ten minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. As you may be aware, seven Bay Area counties were the first in the country to shelter in place on March 15th – aptly The Ides of March.

As I write this on May 16th we are at Day 63 with the goal to flatten the curve, support front line health workers and keep ourselves and families healthy. According to the medical professionals in Northern California, based on data and science this has been accomplished.

Let me break it down by weeks to summarize some of the lessons learned – perhaps my musings here will touch something for you and your own personal experiences.

Week 1

I found and embraced new routines while maintaining a daily run and yoga session, which calmed my mind and body.

Week 2

With constant news and updates it was time to select 1-2 sources of information and build those into my weekly schedule. The weekly Town Hall for Northern California provided information from county doctors, provided updates on the numbers, hospital capacity and details on the plan to flatten the curve. The question and answer time was particularly helpful, and the entire Town Hall was reassuring to the extent that we were all in this together.

Week 3

“Pause and Reset” were the guiding themes as we began to find a way forward and learned how to manage in this new world. We shifted to a focus on the most essential things like family, health, and gratitude.

Week 4

We began visualizing flattening the curve and understanding that we all were making a difference in lightening the load for the true heroes: doctors, nurses and hospital workers, as well as increase hospital and care capacity.

Week 5

I thought of ways to give back and help others, and made calls to check on those in need. I began noticing how nature was thriving and the smells and sounds became more powerful (and the coyotes bolder).

Week 6

I identified key lessons learned including being more present and less wrapped up in the future, more gratitude and less “poor me stuck inside,” more love and less dislike, more kindness and less fear. Finally, I tackled letting go of old grievances, summing up this “shelter in place.”

Week 7

My new routine is locked in and I’m seeing the amazement of nature continuing to come alive. I’m noticing cooperation and collaboration among and within all of us as it became required to wear a mask when outside or buying groceries. The amazing thing was that everyone seemed to understand that this sacrifice of sheltering in place was for the greater good of us all.

To summarize, the world has changed forever and the air has never been cleaner. Our heroes on the front lines will live in our hearts and minds forever. Our collective will to help others is a sight to behold as Nature holds our hands and leads us forward with an invitation to join her. The question remains what each of us will choose… for me, count me in with gratitude and love!

Kathleen Allen is author of  Leading from the Roots, Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World.

David Erskine is a world traveler, poet, actor, PR director at Traveling Boy and former Boston taxi driver.

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