The New Normal - Building Endurance Through Vulnerability

Written by Shelley Devine

Right about now if you're like me cabin fever has set in and you're thinking enough already.... never mind COVID 19! I want to break loose!!  
I don't know about you but I'm feeling the loss of being FREE to  just GO & do something, anything outside my home. I'm longing for a  fun game to play with friends or our traditional spring time bootcamp  games like shark tank or dodge ball, and all the shits and giggles we  have! I feel like my life, at least the freedom to go and do what I  want, is under attack because of conditions beyond my control.    

Not being able to get back to a normal routine or the way things use to be is down right unreal and lonely!!

I mean who could have imagined we had to give up meeting for  bootcamp or going to the gym. We had to give up time spent with loved  ones or friends. We were told to work from home, wash our hands, and wear face masks! We were asked to stay away from each other & wait in lines 6 feet apart to get into a grocery store and not to hoard toilet paper! And Now schools are closed for the rest of the year....unimaginable!!     
The simple freedom of grabbing a coffee at Starbucks or getting dinner at your favorite  restaurant is no longer "the luxury" it was... AND if that's not enough,  how or when we actually come out of this period of social distancing is  completely unknown & uncertain.  
There are too many variables that need to happen before we  get back to any sort of physical interaction. Blessed be the people who  are on the forefront of solving that task!  
So yah I'm feeling this! On the upside people have been amazing though and its made me think....   

With this lack of freedom to physically connect, isn't it interesting just how much we rely on one another for our own well being and just how vulnerable we all are equally?

This reminds me of a time years ago when testing for my brown belt in Small Circle Jujitsu.  During my initial attempt I sustained a bad injury to my knee thus  carried off the mat. I was so frustrated & annoyed that I was unable to continue.
The second time I tested proved to be even more challenging because  I was afraid I would get hurt again. After I completed all the test  sheet criteria to earn my brown belt I didn't know that I was going to  have to face a variety of attacks from every student in the dojo.   
As they lined up to test my skills as a martial artist, some grabbed weapons  that included knives, machetes, clubs, and hand  guns! AND the biggest, toughest, highest ranking guys were at the front of the line AND it was a LONG line!  
I was smaller and I considered myself  weaker than most everyone in that line... My thoughts raced "Holy Shit, ...what am I gonna do?" Even  though I prepared for this my heart was pounding in my chest  anticipating what was about to happen. I felt completely vulnerable,  with anxiety & panic setting in, worried about getting hurt or worse  failing the test again!! 

In that moment, I wondered what am I doing here and why would I put myself through this?... The attacks were milliseconds from happening, the pressure was on instantaneously my focus shifted from the mental muck going on inside my head  to my breath. My racing mind slowed down to a complete calm, much like the  weather before a storm.  You hear about athletes getting into the zone...I know now that was what happened. 


 In a flash I was equipped with a committed mindset birthed out of my complete vulnerability. I  had to take control of myself, my emotions, my fears by focusing on ONLY  what was directly in front of me. I couldn't worry about anything after  that, it all came down to my response to the first attack.   

The first guy rushed me with 95% full force swinging a club...The  intensity & impact of a guy over 6 feet tall trying to tackle or hit  you is super scary but all my anxiety over that vanished. Instead, as  he swung the club to hit me, I blocked the club with one hand and went  low and grabbed his family jewels with the other holding on as he  dropped to his knees. I disarmed his weapon...I could feel the entire  class shudder! I caught a quick glance of approval from a professional  MMA fighter and felt immediately confident and reassured. (funny how we  need that from one another)  I proceeded to disarm, takedown, and escape what seemed an endless barrage of attack after attack.  
Every attack appeared to me to be in slow motion,  and with less ferocity as my focus grew more and more intent. I had no  idea when it would I just kept going one after the other  sometimes two attackers at the same time. Finally the head instructor  called for a halt that ceased the onslaught.  At the end of it, I  remember feeling like I could barely stand, completely exhausted trying  to catch my breath, while reorienting myself to the room.  It was like something other than myself worked through me, through my  fears and elevated my ability to get through each attack that could have  with out it, left me re-injured. 

Upon receiving my brown belt  the head instructor told the entire class that they usually only give a student testing for their brown belt  five to ten attacks to escape from at the end of their test...He  wanted  me to know that I exceeded that far beyond his expectations and  commended me by saying that it was no small feat, that it was a  test of physical strength, endurance and mental fortitude having defended over 30 attacks.
To say the least I felt really honored to be held in such regard  because I had no idea I was capable of such a task! Especially because I  felt so completely vulnerable even with all my preparation and  training.  
On a side bar, I do want to mention that this is in no way  a comparison to what our health care providers are currently test was one afternoon... not days, weeks, nor going into  months of a crisis.  
Although this pandemic is completely different I can't help but  feel that this virus is attacking me again. Only it's  exposing my vulnerabilities (my weaknesses and insecurities) by testing  my beliefs on what I perceive to be normal. And not just me...It's  hitting us ALL in every area of our lives! Kinda like when we played dodge ball in bootcamp...the only difference is unlike getting hit with a  ball this virus can't be seen, its microscopic.   
Yet, it's affecting our health & fitness, our mental well  being, our emotions, our character, our relationships, our social life,  our spirituality, our parenting, our finances, & our career!
We're literally having the shit kicked out of us!!  
That mind muck I had preceding those 30 attacks found me asking  some of the same questions today only it went from "what am I doing  here?" to "how did we get here?" and from "why would I put myself through this?" to "why would we put ourselves through this global epidemic?" and "Holy shit! What are we gonna do?" 
I think the answer may be found in what we perceived normal to be.  The overall quality of our life as we know it is changing day to day and  what "Normal" means...well lets just say, we will not be moving forward  with the same freedoms or the simple luxuries  we had before, not  without some major shifts in that department....
We have to learn new ways to get out ahead of this predicament or dodge it all together.

This quote from Brene Brown really struck me and hopefully it will you as well.    
"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our  pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed  inequity, exhaustion, depletion extraction, disconnection, confusion,   rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends.   We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that  fits all of humanity and nature."
I can definitely relate to everything she stated. Can you?...Its actually sobering, Just like my brown belt test, this pandemic has put our backs up against the wall. It's forcing us on an individual basis & a societal basis to focus intently on the conditions surrounding our lives. We learn as we go and only together can we minimize the degrees of pain it's causing in our quality of life.  What  I didn't realize then, but what I do now, is that we are not  alone in  this. There is something greater at hand working through each  and  everyone of us.  

Strangely I'm starting to feel like my old normal was not exactly right, at least not deep inside. I'm asking  greater questions on what the "new normal" will be individually and collectively. I feel as though  this quarantine is re-building my capacity to endure   time alone, reconnect with my truer nature that is relaxed, calm,   peaceful and to reshape my life by letting go of things past....

Sure,  I've been bored and I've been unmotivated & uninspired at times and  longing to connect with friends and family but I feel like my current  work is more subtle. I feel like I'm doing an internal house cleaning.  I've been letting go  of negative habits, and beliefs that I'm no longer  aligned with, to hopefully come out of this quarantine with a fresh new  perspective on what a normal routine for me will be.
Although certain freedoms have been taken away,  I believe we are creators and we have  the power of our minds to heal  ourselves and our planet...especially  if we focus intently on that outcome. We can also be assured that there  is a force that will carry us through as it did when I thought "Holy  Shit...what am I gonna do?" and had no idea how I would accomplish more  than I thought myself capable. When we feel vulnerable we can tap into  that force to gain inner strength and know that even though our journey   together will be one of will build our character and  make us stronger as we  evolve into better versions of ourselves for one  another and the planet as a whole, COVID 19 or not!!

Moving Forward: When you are quiet and alone in your thoughts...what questions are you asking? What positive changes do you feel will come from this in your life?  I challenge you to look at each area of your life and ask what needs to  improve. Ask "If I'm feeling depleted, exhausted, fearful, angry,   disconnected or missing out, what needs to change in my life to create greater happiness and joy?"
 I  just wanted to share some thoughts I've been having before we go into  the next month of  quarantine and virtual bootcamp to help keep us steady and focused on a   brighter future. 

Keep Evolving!! 



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