“Go to your room.” What Mother Nature Needs You to Think About Now.

“That’s enough, children! Go to your rooms. And before you come out, I want you to think about what you’ve done to get here. Reflect on the consequences of your actions, and think about what you need to change to get along with each other. Is this really how you want to be?”

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the USA. And recently as I’ve reflected on our current circumstances, it’s all started to feel like it did when I was a child and things got a bit wild and I just wasn’t listening to my Mother. I’ve been having the sense that, as a mother disciplines her child, Mother Nature is requiring us to stop, get still and take responsibility for ourselves.

How to love your Mother

While we’ve been sitting in our rooms, our impact has been felt around the globe….

In our individual presence…

In our collective absence…

Ready or not, here we come.

But now, after a few long weeks, we’re all getting antsy. We’ve had enough of ourselves. “When can we get back to life as we knew it?” We want our Normal back.

And it’s understandable. Parents are wondering how they’ll pay their mortgage or feed their kids. Here in the US, 20 million people have lost their jobs. Companies with household names are collapsing. And around the world more than 270,000 people have lost their lives. Massive stimulus packages for individuals and businesses can’t begin to rebuild from these ashes.

Still, the world is starting to reopen, in many places even before peaks have been reached. While some of us voluntarily continue to isolate ourselves; others are pushing ahead.

Have we learned our lesson?

Whether you decide to “open up” and come out of your room now… or wait until it feels safer to go back out there, your life will certainly look different going forward, and you’ll need to find a new definition for Normal.

If you’re reading this, you’re one of the fortunate ones. If you come through this time unchanged, then you’’ll have wasted the gift so many others have lost. Don’t miss the rare opportunity of this devastating time.

I started this whole process asking myself, “What do you want to have achieved when you come out the other side of this?” But as time has passed, I’ve realized maybe it’s not about achievement. Maybe about a real reset of how we show up in our own lives and in the world. So here are six questions I know my Mother would have asked me on my wild days. Maybe Mother Nature is asking us all.

I invite you to set aside a half hour this weekend to spend time with “your Mother”… to reflect on these questions and record what comes up.  Close the door. Get comfortable. Set a timer if you need to. Close your eyes. Breathe. Reflect. Record.

Six questions Mother Nature needs you to think about now:

  1. What have I done? Only when you really step back from your have-to life, and the tyranny of the urgent, can you get a clear view of your life. What impact do your actions have? Taking stock of the way you’ve lived. Yourself (health), your family, your community, your world. How did you get here? What choices have you made along the way that took you off track? Where did your fear shut you down? How did you act out that fear on others?
  2. What is my Normal? Normal is defined as what’s typical or usual, what we’ve been taught to conform to. I define it differently, but for now what matters is how you define it for yourself. What are you missing? Craving even? What do you long for? Does it really look like going back to what you had before? Or is this void in fact an opportunity to create something new? What might that be?
  3. What matters most to me? Once you’ve been able to see the choices you’ve made and how those choices created what you’ve called normal, what rides up on that wave is what you’ve lost (or never had). As you begin to let yourself feel what doesn’t feel right or what’s missing, you begin to uncover the real treasure of you… long buried in the well-packed soil of your comfort zone. So what really matters to you? People. Profits. Purpose. Principles. Power. Take a piece of paper, make your list and rank the things on it.
  4. What do I really need? Let’s be honest. Abraham Maslow breaks our needs down into a hierarchy: physiological needs (food and water), safety needs (shelter and security), the need to belong (friends and family), esteem (a sense of accomplishment), and self-actualization (creativity or fulfilling your potential)l. If you’re reading this post, you have a phone or computer with access to the Internet. But you may well be hungry. So think about what the basics are for you… what are the building blocks of sustainability for you now?
  5. What can I still give? Here’s the tricky part. It’s easy to get so focused on making sure your needs are met, and very easy to get caught in an insatiable loop of “more” that you can actually never get around to sharing what you have. And without the giving part of the flow, the flow will stop. Giving may be simply smiling eyes (above a mask-covered smile) or making six feet of space on the sidewalk for an elder. It might be calling someone you know is alone. Or it might be donating time to your local food bank. Think about what you have that you can share even in this diminished time.
  6. Why am I here? We’re all going to die, and we do not control the moment. Now is the time to ask yourself all these questions. And then to ask yourself not for your new normal, but for your purpose. Why are you here? And how will you choose to live now?

On the other side

Today, people around the globe (at least the ones who have enough food to eat) are asking: “What will it look like when we come out the other side of this?” Each of us will decide that for ourselves. 

And now we’re beginning to create it.

Through the lens of the Wheel of Creativity, Normal is the status quo – what we’re used to. It’s comfortable, predictable, stable and controlled. But it’s static. We live there for a while – in our comfort zones – until something happens. Your partner files for divorce, you lose your job, your business fails, or maybe there’s even a global pandemic. That event (it might also be internal) destabilizes the whole thing and it puts you into movement… through a cycle of change and away from your Normal.

The other side of that cycle is Chaos. It is unpredictable, unknown, uncontrolled, uncomfortable. And it’s where we are now. What we find comfortable is actually what’s holding us back, keeping us from creating something new. Human beings are crisis oriented: we will stay in the status quo indefinitely unless something disrupts it for us. But if we stagnate, we die. Chaos precedes growth. It is the birthplace of everything new.

For most of us, this time of shutdown is unprecedented in our lifetimes. But it is not the first. In 1918, my grandmother was struck down with the Spanish flu. She contracted influenzal encephalitis and (with three small children around her) became so ill she had to learn to walk again. Today again we’re all vulnerable. Now that literally any of us could get sick and lose our life, we each have an opportunity we may never have again. 

What the world looks like on the other side of this will be the result of what you look like on the other side of it. And what you look like then will be based on who you are now, how you’re living today. Every day you are either building new muscles and new habits, or strengthening the old muscles, habits and ways of doing things that got you here in the first place.

You have power to do things differently… if you reflect before you act. What will you do with it?

If you can see a new Normal for yourself on the other side of this, use my free Wheel of Creativity QuickStart to identify and diarize your very next steps.