Got Anxiety? (It’s Not You)

The heart-racing-sweaty-brow unpleasant-sensations are byproducts that aren’t you!

There’s this organ that can wreak havoc on our body and spirit — if we permit it. It’s a clever organ with the best of good intentions, like a toddler who decides to surprise their parents with a “homemade breakfast.” You know that kitchen is going to look like a disaster area when that two-year old is finished making your special meal.

So, what’s this organ that behaves like a toddler? The brain.

The brain does everything to protect you if it senses the slightest danger. Sometimes, as in the case of a fire or a robbery, it does exactly what it’s meant to do, acting quickly on our behalf — no different than that thoughtful toddler who brings home a necklace for you out of Fruit-loops’ cereal. Beautiful intention and outcome align.

But sometimes, our well-meaning brain works against us, offering up a mess of what-if scenarios we don’t need. Anxiety creeps in, all of the cortisol activity from our fight-or-flight manifesting in anything from panic attacks to irrational fears.

When anxiety takes the driver’s seat, we can’t seem to steer our way out of fear. Reason seems miles away.

What can we do when anxiety is driving our lives?

Here are three powerful tools to put YOU back into the driver’s seat and dispel anxiety:

1. Depersonalize anxiety: When your well-meaning toddler made you breakfast, they left several cracked and sticky eggshells all over the kitchen floor, syrup spilling at the edge of the counter, and caked flour stuck on the fridge door. The room is amess! But do you get mad at that toddler? Of course not.

Your well-meaning brain is only doing what it knows how to do. You can give that overworking-well-intentioned organ a heartfelt thank you and not take the mess of thoughts they create personally.

2. Objectify anxiety: We tend to see anxiety as a part of us, but it is nothing more than emotion passing through us. When the weather is stormy with skies the color of slate, we don’t say “Oh no, I must have done something terrible.” We know that the state of weather is not a reflection of us.

Our anxiety is no different from the weather. Anxiety is an emotion that is no different than any other emotion. When we see it as something separate from us, passing through us, we remember that we are whole and happen to experience this particular emotion that is not us.

3. Welcome anxiety: I know, I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but it works! When we lean into the very thing we fear, the fear dissipates. We are no longer fighting what feels like an uphill battle. Our brains want to fight something to help us; when we surrender to those unpleasant feelings, they ironically, pass through us that much faster.

As the late French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Anxiety, like everything else in life, is moving through you. Anxiety is an experience created by our active, well-meaning brains. But we are not our brains. We are spiritual beings. When we observe without attaching, we can enjoy the ride even more.

The Most Important Bank Account

The most important bank account has nothing to do with your 401K.

            It’s not the number of stocks or annuities in your retirement portfolio, nor the percent of interest accruing in your money market account. It isn’t the bonus received or expected from work or the amount of dollars in your checking and savings.

            The most important bank account isn’t measured in cryptocurrency, gold, or one’s investment in semi-conductors. Those values, like everything else fiscally measured, will rise and fall. Just peruse renowned investor’s Ray Dalio’s recent books, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail to discover the cyclical nature of economic abundance and poverty.

            After our most basic needs are met—thank you Maslow (air, water, food, shelter, sleep), our spiritual bank accounts require our attention.

            Only we humans possess an affinity to avoid pain and discomfort. We flee from hurt, instead of looking at it directly. We hide behind schedules or alcohol, or addiction to numb our pain.

            Avoiding the pain, denying what we are feeling creates two potential outcomes over time:

  1. Mountain-out-of-a-molehill behavior 
  2. Illness in the body and mind

Author and speaker, Brene Brown (Atlas of the Heart), refers to this tendency to be triggered over something seemingly insignificant as “chandeliering.” 

We see this triggered behavior all over the world and in our own backyards: 

-the “Karen” ready to attack someone for having a different opinion

-the road rage against a total stranger on the highway

-the friend who starts cursing up a storm when their iPad won’t charge

In all of these examples, the anger lashing out is not about what appears to be the source of their anger. The anger is a symptom of an inner pain that is going unaddressed.

The anger is misplaced, unexamined pain and a symptom of a depleted spiritual bank account.

Then there is the manifestation of pain in our body:

-the back pain that worsens in traffic

-the chest pain that “comes out of nowhere”

-the panic attacks 

-the frequent malaise

Brene Brown refers to our tendency to swallow our pain, pushing it down, so it can’t see the light of day as “stockpiling.” These are the folks who say everything is fine, like a spiritual Unikitty (Lego movie) when things are feeling far from fine.

If we are in denial like a super-charged positive Unikitty, ignoring our wounds, they will fester. And if we aren’t “chandeliering,” we are likely to “stockpile” our negative emotion until they show up in our bodies.

It’s human nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But there’s a real danger in denial, in running from our negative emotion or swallowing it and swimming like a duck through life—graceful on the surface but fighting for our lives below.

Unexamined and untended to pain that remains hidden will fester, affecting either others (when we lash out) or our own bodies negatively.

When we take time to look our wounds directly in the eye, something wonderful happens: the wound itself begins to heal.

Our spiritual bank accounts fill when we honor our journey and respect the emotions we experience along the way. Emotions, like the weather, change; it’s only when we deny their existence or demand that certain ones stay that our bank account falters.

What Wealth Feels Like

Wealth is more a state of mind than a bank statement.

            I drove a Range Rover—the high end with all of the bells and whistles. I lived in a Mediterranean style “home” just shy of 6,000 square feet. I had a second home—a 3- bedroom condo off the water with a balcony. Financially, I wanted for nothing. My net worth put me in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest.

            I was miserable.

            According to Merriam-Webster, the first two definitions of wealth pertain to abundance in value, resources, and supply.

            So why was I miserable?

Despite having the “value, resources, and supply” in fiscal abundance, I was living an impoverished life in other aspects. A friend recently referred to my life before as “a canary trapped in a gilded cage.”

The abundance of dollars in the bank is neither good nor bad. It is our relationship with our “value, resources, and supply,” that determines a genuine sense of wealth. After all, there are those with millions in the bank who use money to control and manipulate others or who hide behind the “stuff” that money can buy yet remain miserable.

I didn’t begin to experience wealth until I left my figurative gilded cage.  True wealth is not measured by dollar signs; true wealth is the feeling of ease and pleasure.

Think of the late billionaire, Jean Paul Getty (portrayed by the late Christopher Plummer in the film, All the Money in The World) whose 16-year-old grandson, John Paul Getty III was kidnapped and held for ransom. The wealthy grandfather refused to pay ransom to rescue his grandson, and in the end, the grandfather dies alone in a 72-room mansion, alone with his German shepherds.

Wealth is more a state of mind than a bank statement. 

Since I flew out of my figurative bird cage, my bank account looks very different. I paid a fiscal price for my spiritual wealth, and I would do it all over again.

Wealth is knowing time and choices are yours. 

Think about those days when, for whatever reason, you hadn’t eaten all day. Maybe you were stuck on a delayed flight; maybe it was a religious fast—regardless, how amazing did that first bite of food taste? The feeling, the sheer pleasure experienced in abundantly enjoying that morsel was an experience of wealth.

Regardless of the number in your bank account now, you always have the option to choose wealth, to experience a sense of abundance and ease.

Ease, freedom, fun—this is what we all want to experience.

I wish each of you dear readers, great wealth.

What They Don’t Tell You About Childbirth

Doctors and well-meaning friends inform about the not-so-fun effects of childbirth, yet somehow leave this one out…

Postpartum depression. Weight gain. Tender breasts. There’s a whole gamut of physical and psychological changes a woman experiences upon giving birth. One area I see unrepresented: back issues.

A woman’s pelvic bones shift to prepare for the growing fetus. That alone is 9 months’ work of alignment changes! Ever wonder why women often experience urinary incontinence post childbirth? It’s often due to the misalignment of those pelvic bones during the perinatal period.

Pain is another effect of that pelvic misalignment; since our bodies are like a Rue Goldberg machine, an off-kilter pelvis can easily throw our spine out of whack. 

Growing up, I remember childbearing women complain about their swollen ankles (edema), larger shoe sizes, and even their hair falling out post birth. 

By the time I was pregnant with my first child, I thought I knew all there was to know about the underbelly of pregnancy and childbirth: everything from the fluctuating hormones to the fluctuating weight; the heartburn to the headaches; the breast tenderness to the clogged nipples.

I attended the birthing classes, took the requisite prenatal vitamins, and heeded my obstetrician’s advice.

But no one warned me of the bigger picture that was whispering to me each day from the start of my pregnancy: back pain.

“I have back pain,” I told my doctor. I was a few months into my first pregnancy.

“Yes, that’s to be expected.” He suggested going for walks and moving a tennis ball on my lower back.

Some days in the pregnancy, the back pain was so bad, I only found relief on all fours.

Our pain may start out as a whisper, but if you don’t heed its warning, it will only grow louder.

Fast forward, that oldest child is almost 19 years old today. The whispers that began when he was in utero are now loud and clear: an MRI revealed I have a herniated disc and 3 bone spurs.  The pain in my lower back had screamed loud enough for me to cancel a work meeting last minute, my back spasming like labor pains.

Immobile, I listened to what my body had been trying to tell me all along. The back had literally been tapping me to get some TLC for decades.

I want better for you.

Whether you are reading this as an expectant mom or someone suffering with the whispers of back pain, I share with you what I wish someone had told me: pregnancy alters our pelvic and spinal structure. If you are experiencing pain now that comes and goes, please don’t ignore it or push past it like I did. Your body is trying to help you NOW. The earlier you address the pain, the more mobility you will experience in the future.

A happy body is one that is heeded.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799872/

Did You Just Cancel Yourself?

When we lack compassion for ourselves, we are dismissing and cancelling our very experience.

The 21st century has brought us a world of “cancel culture” where one wrong phrase or action could land you on a figurative island of ostracism. Cancel culture is “political correctness on steroids.” American culture has morphed from a gentle parent to mind one’s manners to a shame-inducing zealot of morality. And no one is immune from getting “cancelled.” Heck, as I’m writing this now, there’s a good chance that someone is silently seething in their seat from these words on their screen.

When did we get so sensitive? When did we go from speaking up to shaming? When did we go from making a mistake to paying for it for the rest of our lives?

There’s an old Twilight Zone episode that comes to mind: Rod Serling’s The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. We often hear, “history repeats itself,” and the 1960’s sci-fi episode is proof of this aphorism. Without giving the episode away, the story involves neighbors in a “quiet, suburban town” who suddenly lose electricity, sans explanation. When one neighbor’s car starts on its own, the other neighbors begin “canceling” him. Before long, with other lights in the neighborhood going on and off sporadically, neighbors begin to turn on neighbors. The late and great Serling was using sci-fi as a vehicle to highlight the onslaught of fear of communism.

Fear itself is the all terrain great vehicle for cancel culture: the unspoken “what if” that is temporarily flattened when attacking another. It’s temporary because, again, the next person to be canceled could be you.

However, there’s another side of cancel culture that goes unaddressed: canceling ourselves. Rejecting what we think and how we feel. The other day, I spoke with a friend who was upset with something her fiancé did. 

“Do you think I have a right to be upset?”

Wow. It doesn’t matter what her fiancé did or didn’t do; what stood out to me was her unconscious decision to question her very emotion. She went on:

“I think I’m just going to stay quiet. Things are good between us. I don’t want to upset that.”

Double wow. Instead of allowing herself to feel the negative emotion—not bathe in it, mind you—just feel it, she shoved it down, away—no different than the way we cancel culture each other. There’s a famous quote by Rumi that comes to mind:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

The field, I believe Rumi was referring to, is Compassion. When we have compassion for ourselves and others, we are able to make mistakes and learn from them. We are able to grow and forgive ourselves and others. We are able to see that we are all in this life together and canceling one of us is canceling all of us.

Source: Author D. Eric Schansberg https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2021/03/29/cancel-culture-america-political-correctness/6991235002/

Our Brain’s Mad Lib

Ironically, knowing our brains’ tendency to focus on the negative is the key to a happier life.

            He was cute—really cute. A mop of dark hair with the sweetest brown eyes. For weeks, my friend talked about her new coworker, the one who asked if she wanted to meet after work sometime.

            The date was set for a Friday on a Tuesday. From Tuesday on, *Samantha could barely sleep or eat. 

            “I’m so nervous. What do I wear? What if he only meant for us to get together as friends? What do I say? What if he changes his mind and isn’t attracted to me?”

            The day finally arrived. I assumed I wouldn’t hear from Samantha until later that night. But Samantha called me before the sun even set.

            “You okay?”

            “Yeah,” Samantha said. Her voice made me think of tires losing air. “I’m not attracted to him.”

            Say what??

            “He’s not much of a conversationalist. I tried to engage him. He was so boring.”

            “Back it up sister, you thought he was so cute. What happened?”

            “He took off his mask.”

            Well then.

            We may not be in Samantha’s shoes, but we have certainly all experienced what psychologists refer to as negative bias. Our brains receive external information and literally wire the positive and negative input into different hemispheres.

            “Negative emotions generally involve more thinking…information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events—and use stronger words to describe them-than happy ones.” (Stanford Professor, Clifford Nass)

            So, while Samantha was thrilled that the cute guy at her office asked her on a date, her brain was flooded with its Mad Libs’ tendency to fill-in-the-blank what ifs with worst case scenarios. Her brain’s negative bias created a rush of worrisome thoughts that manifested in difficulty sleeping and a loss of appetite.

            I had my own negative bias: when Samantha called me when she was meant to be on the date, my brain did its own Mad Libs negative bias: Did “cute guy” stand her up? Did he do something inappropriate? Is she in danger?

            The idea that Samantha just might have decided to end the date early didn’t occur to my brain. 

            But what about how “really cute” Samantha’s coworker was? There’s negative bias there, too. Afterall, a good portion of her worry stemmed from a fear that “really cute” guy wouldn’t find her attractive. So, her brain took the meager view one third of a man’s face and made him a Greek god, out of her league, aesthetically “above” her. 

            It’s important to realize that it was Samantha’s brain creating the Mad Libs in the genre of a horror movie. It’s also important to remember the brain is an organ—no different than the lungs or kidneys. The brain has specific functions just as our bodies’ other organs, but it need not define us.

            So, knowing our brain is wired toward the mental gymnastics of negative bias, what can we do? The Buddhist monk, Henepola Gunarantana suggests a compassionate reckoning of sorts with yourself:

            “Somewhere in this process [self-analysis], you will come face-to-face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking gibbering madhouse on wheels, barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way, and you just never noticed. You are also no crazier than everybody else around you. The real difference is that you have confronted the situation they have not.”

            Becoming mindful, cultivating self-awareness—including our brain’s hardwired tendency to focus on the negative, is actually the key to mental freedom. The challenge isn’t our negative thoughts; the challenge is remembering that we can choose not to believe them; the challenge is remembering we are not our thoughts.

            Source: https://skillpath.com/blog/positive-fight-natural-tendency-focus-negative

Are the Walls Closing In? Consider Joining Us: May 22nd at 1PM

When the Walls Are Closing In: A Game-Changing Workshop for Stressed Teens and Tweens

Prior to COVID-19’s emergence, teens and tweens were already articulating an increase in stress. Suicidal thoughts or other suicide-related outcomes increased by 47% from 2008 to 2017—three years before our current hybrid world of distance learning and increased dependence on technology. Almost 80% of American high school or college students reported “educational disruptions due to COVID-19.” A full 80% of these students admitted to suffering from increased stress due to these disruptions.

In the past decade of teaching English to adolescents, I feel and see the concerning statistics firsthand. I do not need to study statistics to know that our teenagers stress levels are increasing. In the past month alone, students have reached out to inform me that they are:

  • lacking motivation
  • depressed
  • anxious
  • “shutting down”

At least twice a week, I will receive emails late at night, apologizing for how they feel, asking if they could have an extension on an assignment, requesting to meet during Office Hours regarding a personal problem that’s weighing on them. A couple have reached out to share their thoughts of suicide with me. 

The statistics, however, help to confirm what I’m witnessing firsthand:

  • 70% of teens in the US have named depression or anxiety as a major problem among their peers
  • 75% of high school students and 50% of middle school students described themselves as “often or always feeling stressed by schoolwork.”
  • Teen stress is perceived as higher than their adult counterparts: On a ten-point scale, where normal values for adults are 3.8, American teens rated their stress rate at an average score of 5.8

Something must change. Our teens are hungry for a change. This Saturday, May 22nd, Gena Davis, a certified yoga and meditation teacher and I will be offering a 1-hour workshop for adolescents to experience a powerful opportunity to shift their perspective through writing, yoga, and meditation. The workshop is designed to empower and increase a sense of inner peace that students can take with them.

The title of the course is inspired by a 6th grader who recently expressed to me, “I just feel like the walls are closing in.” A heartfelt thank you to this brave student. Because of you, our workshop was born.

While the workshop is geared to teens and tweens, if you are looking for a shift in perspective, I encourage you to attend the event this Saturday, May 22nd. Click on the link below for details, and I hope to see you there!

https://tinyurl.com/4innerpeace

Source: http://www.guide2research.com/research/student-stress-statistics

The Momentum of Stress

What can we do when the negative momentum we’ve talked ourselves into feels like a train we’re doomed to ride forever?

*Lia is a 6th grader who takes her academics seriously. She will turn in her work for assignments days before they are due, sending emails to her teachers to confirm that she did what was asked of her correctly. Lia has yet to earn less than an A in all her classes. She is personable, astute, and kind.

Unfortunately, there’s an invisible but real force taking over Lia’s life: anxiety. She has trouble sleeping, finds herself breaking down in tears over things that before wouldn’t have bothered her, and describes herself as unable to “stop the worrying” that haunts her throughout the day.

 Lia is not alone. Several of the middle school students I have the gift of working with are manifesting signs of anxiety and depression in the almost ubiquitous cloak we know too well: stress. And while there’s good and bad stress, our perception of those stressors makes a world of difference.

Lia met with me last week after class and talked about her inability to “stop the worrying.” 

Lia referred to herself as someone who “struggles with anxiety.” Her self-diagnosis alone powerfully affects her perceptions. So, the world around her offers up opportunities to worry, thus creating more domino-like effect, stress-inducing scenarios for her. Lia’s belief in her self-diagnosis has created a momentum of anxiety that feeds on itself like a rat snake.

The same domino effect of negative self-talk can manifest in depression. When we are regularly telling ourselves it’s hopeless, things never work out for me, or a slew of other fatalistic misconceptions, the Universe mirrors back to us “proof” that our belief was correct.

So, what can we do when the negative momentum we’ve talked ourselves into feels like a train we’re doomed to ride forever?

Think of a spinning top. What happens when gravity starts to take over? It finally teeters to a stop. When anxiety or depression hit a high point, know that it too will pass. You cannot remain in the high anxiety or low depression forever.

Typically, we wake up with a fresh start, a new day for a new momentum. Baby steps.

Lia asked, “How do I stop my thoughts?”

“Get out ahead of them, before the momentum starts on that train to worry. Do one thing that pleases you today. Write three things you are grateful for each morning you wake up and each night before you go to bed. Listen to music you like.”

Whether a teenager or a grownup, we all experience stress. Yet while stress is unavoidable, building momentum in the direction of peace is in our control. Stress is a continuum, and our self-talk determines whether we take a harrowing ride on an uncontrollable track or experience an adventurous journey.

Lia has altered her label since we spoke last week. She is no longer someone who “struggles with anxiety” but now refers to herself as “conscientious and capable.” And that altered shift in her perception is the foundation for a rewarding momentum.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the person.

The Wallis Simpson Dish

The Duchess of Windsor offers a cautionary tale to pay attention to our whys, so we can change our patterns and experience different results

The other night, I took pleasure in watching the 2011 Netflix W.E. It’s a romantic historical drama, directed by Madonna, that sheds a different light on the famous love story between King Edward VII and the American socialite, Wallis Simpson. 

King Edward is known as the intrepid man who gave up the monarchy in order to marry the twice-divorced woman he loved.

Sounds romantic, yes?

History paints a picture of a man who wooed someone tirelessly, who sacrificed his royal status in order to be in the company of the woman he adored.

Madonna’s portrayal of that history offers an entirely different perspective: Wallis Simpson’s.

According to both the historical film, W.E. and historian Anne Sebba, (That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor), Wallis never wanted to leave her second husband and marry King Edward. She was content to be the King’s mistress. She neither wanted King Edward to upend the British monarchy nor be the cause of it.

What fascinated me about this story is the why behind Wallis’s actions, the why behind her choices. Why did Wallis agree to marry someone she was content to be mistress to? Why did she want to be a mistress in the first place?

Unearthing the why of our actions is the bedrock of change.

Wallis’s father died a mere five months after she was born. Subsequently, her childhood involved watching her mother’s dependence on the Warfield’s (Wallis’s paternal side of the family) fortune. The purse strings were manipulated by a controlling uncle.

As an outsider, the why behind Wallis’ actions grows clearer as we look at those early years: Wallis grew up dependent on men for money. It is what she knew. It is no wonder then, that she used her quick wit and independent nature to attract affluent men with power.

Yet if we look closer, there is a paradox in each of her romantic relationships:

Husband #1: Earl Winfield Spencer Jr., a US Navy aviator. Externally, the aviator held a position of power and respect. Behind closed doors, Spencer Jr was an abusive alcoholic.

Husband #2: Ernest Simpson, described as an ironically “dependable” man who asks for Wallis’ hand in marriage while he is still married to another. Wallis, most interested in security, agreed.

Husband #3: King Edward VII is described by a staff member (Hon. John Aird) on vacation with the King and Wallis, “the prince…lost all confidence in himself and follows W around like a dog.” Again, there is this need for power and stability—both of which the King fulfills due to status and their seemingly co-dependent relationship.

A trove of affectionate, candid letters between Wallis and her second husband exist between 1936-1937. In these secret letters, both Wallis and Simpson refer to King Edward condescendingly as “Peter Pan.” 

An excerpt from one of Wallis’ letters to Simpson stands out:

“I don’t understand myself, which is the cause of all the misery. Give me courage. I’m so lonely.”

Wallis wrote the above just days before King Edward VII abdicated the throne, for her. She was living with a man who adored her and yet she felt “so lonely.”

Chances are, you are not an American socialite nor married to British royalty. However, its’ likely there are patterns in your personal relationships. Wallis offers a cautionary tale to pay attention to our whys, so we can change our patterns and experience different results.

Wallis was a paradox: her independent spirit that men found attractive is what they wanted to possess. Her hunger for financial security and power caused her to sacrifice emotional freedom.

When we place our financial or spiritual well-being onto another, we are limiting and serving a detrimental dish to ourselves and others.

Feeding Your Inner Child

Me at about 4 years old. Gotta love the Donny Osmond cut;-)

Most of us are familiar with Throw Back Thursday (TBT) pictures that populate our Facebook and Instagram feeds. For a spell in cyberspace, we share a piece of our physical selves before moving on to emoji-respond or perhaps comment on someone else’s photo from the past.

But do we consider the person in that picture? Do we contemplate the perceptions and notions of the person residing in that young body?

The little girl in the photo here is me at four years old. It’s summer in the Catskill Mountains of New York. It’s before I knew about things like stereotypes, “traditional” roles and the expectations of others. It was before I knew fear and each day was a glorious discovery.  

Although that little girl didn’t have the words to use then, I can distinctly recall feeling empowered holding that heavy bat in my hands. An anticipatory eagerness dwelled inside of me each time a ball was sent my way. I didn’t want to stop playing.

Shortly after this picture was taken, I heard phrases from adults and kids just a hair older than me (though back then, the age difference felt monumental) that altered my perception of that little girl and her bat:

“You throw like a girl.”

“You can’t play that.”

“You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“You’re too delicate.”

“Baseball isn’t for you—it’s a boys’ sport.”

It was the 70’s and gender roles were still fairly traditional and inflexible. 

I invite you to pour a cup of tea and “interview” you from the past, before the world filled you with memes and ideas that no longer serve you. There is a power that comes from returning to the past with fresh eyes: a shift in our perceptions. This shift has the potential to nourish our soul.

COVID-19 is a horrific virus that plagues all of us; it does, however, offer us the gift of time to reflect and question what is feeding us and what we might prefer to be ingesting.