Rescripting ‘this’ Story
Posted on July 30, 2020
by Karen Toews
Covid-19’s upheaval is trying to sabotage my story.
I want a script with intimate gatherings around my table, traveling, hiking with friends on a trail, elbow-jostling and close-up conversations. This happy-buzz story where people like me thrive, has been traded out for isolation, restriction, loss – and for some, illness and great grief.
Collectively? Living from a position of vibrancy since March has been a tough call. This shifting ground is exhausting and unsettling: resilience is tested, deflated and somehow restored – all to be repeated. Living out a messy story we didn’t choose to write, we feel like calling it a bad story.
To make sense of it, I am determined to stay involved in the script. This is still my life, I am owning it.
Again, I appreciate many suffer burdens bigger than mine. Yet bearing witness to my story, I’m sharing four things that are helping me rebound closer to living with vibrancy.
Flowing with the way I’m wired:
- as a #7 Enneagram personality type, Enthusiast, I naturally lean towards the positive side, fighting back with an innate drive to reframe the painful parts of my story to make it more palatable, i.e. I live in a country with medical, financial, and stable leadership resources. I’m not in a crowded refugee camp – neither are those I love. (I am learning this re-framing can annoy other people so sometimes have to keep it to myself!)
- investing attention to the shadows – those challenging traits I could work on. For me, I chase after new stimulation and activity rather than sit in the moment through something uncomfortable, some kind of pain. My recent 14-day self-isolation period after being out of province was a real test in slowing down, calming down, being present. It does not come natural but I want to work on it.
Activity, moving in nature: my primal need:
- Being in nature grounds me physically and spiritually; having access to the woods beyond our back door is a sanity-saver; it was especially so when public trails and beaches were off-limits. Developing some understanding in discovering this sacred path are: Gary Thomas’s Sacred Pathways and Reforesting Faith by Matthew Sleeth, MD.
Inspiration on the page:
- Have You Seen Luis Velez I listened to this novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde (this isn’t an affiliate plug but I do love Scribd for audio). I seldom read novels but weeks later I’m still reflecting on this story of kindness, connection and hope.
- The Wisdom of the Body: a Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women is a new book waiting on my desk: prompted by kolbe time’s conversation with author Christine Valters Paintner: a Benedictine oblate, spiritual director, poet and teacher. Initial chapter titles Veriditas: Claiming New Body Stories and Breath: The Gateway to the Body suggest appear to be pointing me towards my intenion to ‘slow down’ !
Real life inspirational stories:
- I met Christine in 2001, through kindred passions for running and adventures to push our physical boundaries. We recently re-connected after a gap more than 10 years; I was shocked to hear Christine is now a stroke survivor . Over tea in her back yard, she shared her story: processing through the denial of stroke, the life-changing physical and emotional challenges, finding her present view for moving ahead. “I can’t live in a cage and in a holding pattern, waiting for all the stars to align…my identity is based on the decisions I make each day, my actions, my attitude…” In 2018 Christine published 7 Jars of Hot Pickled Peppers – journaling her unexpected, unwelcome path. In the near future I’m sharing more of Christine’s story for her long-term commitment to living life full. It is sure to motivate us all.
- Heidi is a new friend in the neighbourhood. Some of her interesting life story: she and her husband Russ have worked as teachers in different countries; they’re explorers, sailors, fun-loving, AirBnB operators – where they serve guests (and lucky friends like my husband and I ) the most amazing Pirate Pizzas; offer river sailing tours on Tillicum. Heidi’s ‘normal’ life was broad-sided by a vehicle accident a couple years ago, leaving nerve damage and on-going challenges that cramp her ambitious style and activity. Yet. She’s the one who calls “do you want to meet me in 20 minutes at Beck Lake for a swim?” Heidi inspires me for choosing a story with energy.
- I have three older brothers. They are in the small select group of men I fiercely love. Wayne is my middle brother. Generous, hard worker, gentle, quiet-spoken like our Dad, devoted to his family, knows what he thinks – and is suffering through the rigorous, painful journey of cancer and its cocktail of treatments. We live in different provinces; considering a trip to see him this summer in his vulnerable condition was a cautious decision determined after family conversations, prayer and trusting my gut on this one. Thankfully it was right. I felt it was all right: together-time with all my siblings; with Wayne at his home, the farmstead where we grew up; nobody got sick with the virus; so much love for each other and for life.
This is my evolving vibrant living script. Leaning into loving and offering mercy, recognizing and pivoting from judgement. It’s praying, believing in God’s love and goodness in the story. Picking myself up after I fail and keep living – this is my life.
Vibrant living may feel beyond reach for your present emotional and mental bandwidth. We aren’t all wired the same. My hope is that in what we can’t change, we will find space to rest. Can we try together?
With love for your peace and well-being,
Hi Karen, I’m a little late to read this but so grateful I did. I resonate with your statement “fighting back with an innate drive to reframe the painful parts of my story to make it more palatable” and the weariness over the last 10 months since bearing witness to Philippe’s unwelcomed death. This Fall is another painful period as we relive memories of last Fall with onset of his rapid decline and the impact on Rebecca and family.
Thank you Ruth for reading and commenting. What a difficult year for Rebecca and family – we are grateful for you and Paul’s loving support for them even as you bare your own pain in the loss.