Our kitchen is my center of gravity. Changing it seemed like a bad idea even though Don repeatedly said it needed updating. Then the refrigerator failed. I could no longer deny it was time. Cabinets disappeared. Sink and appliances were carted off to new homes. Anticipation bubbled. Excitement gave way to impatience as every room became part of the change. The microwave moved to the living room, refrigerator the dining room and the china cabinet landed in the family room. My morning mediation was cluttered. Microwave cooking and protein bars filled my menu. My eating became erratic. My usually sound sleep gave way to restlessness.
This tiny displacement pales in comparison to the world’s refugees. Their heart wrenching images flash before me when I consider the true meaning of displacement. They walk out of bombed cities caring toddlers and infants. They will not return to their homes because for many of them it no longer exists. My shift is temporary and in the service of something better. I chose this situation along with Don’s insistence and the reality of a broken refrigerator. This is a first world challenge.
As a young therapist, concerned about a client, I always found comfort in cleaning my kitchen. Even to this day a clean kitchen counter and floor settles me. My kitchen is where I feed stomachs and souls. It is a sacred place. Now our unrecognizable kitchen has become an outward and visible symbol of an inner sense of uncertainty.
Since the presidential election our world is unsettled. I’ve felt unsettled. Breaking news appears daily, sometimes several times a day. “Unprecedented” regularly appears in news stories. The term “Postelection Anxiety” has begun to appear in magazine articles. Mental health professionals have offered an official name: Post-Election Stress Disorder. A condition appearing in both Republicans and Democrats. I cannot recall a time in communal life when the importance of staying centered amid uncertainty has been more demanding
Spiritual practices are tested in times like these. They are designed for finding balance amid uncertainty. Always the underlying questions are; What action can I take? How do I respond with respect to the highest good for others and myself? And most importantly, How do I find balance?
Stress and anxiety were common presenting problems in my psychotherapy practice. The first step was always to return to the moment. Imagined frightening futures lead to rumination and inactivity. Decreasing anxiety does not deny the situation of concern. It increases clarity as we form an action plan. Part of stress, a big part, is a sense of no control. Taking action helps. Participating in the Women’s March in Mexico was inspiring. Calling representatives is empowering.
Balance must come from within, yet when inner balance is lost there are places that awaken it. For me, Mother Nature is that place. My garden, the night sky or walking in Morton Arboretum are harmony havens. Yoga Among Friends, Sacred Women’s Circles and my kitchen are all places where I find peace.
Soon dishes will be placed back in cabinets. Pans and trays will find new resting places. Women will gather before our circles and sip tea before we dive into sacred sharing. Our family will gather for seasonal celebrations. We will make new memories. I’ll find my familiar spot in front of my sink. My hands will return to soft soapy water. Silence will become quiet again. In a world that is bereft of harmony I will do my part to find it first in me.