NWWB Notes: Helpful Thoughts for Navigating The Current Life Challenges We Are Facing

Hi Gals,

I’m offering you some thoughts today that veer away from the traditional Northwest Women in Boating concerns. We are all waking to, what seems like, a rapidly changing world. Continued news stories about the Coronavirus, just grow more depressing.   

In most of our lives as boaters, the word navigate takes on a water-related meaning. There are, though, other things we must navigate that just don’t come with nifty electronics or good classes on how to do it.  

My work for many years involved helping people navigate life-threatening illnesses. Not from a medical perspective, but by teaching a way of managing fear and the stress responses of their bodies that accelerated those fears. So, if I may, I’d like to share some thoughts with you in the face of current situation.  

In normal times, our lives get going on a role, they sort of fall into an automatic pattern of activities. The general pattern evolves; then, our brains anticipate and build onto that framework as we add new things. We generally feel in control, that pattern gives us an inner sense of order.        

Ever wonder why even positive changes like a marriage or moving into a new home are high on the stress scale? The general pattern of our brain activity is disrupted; we are not on automatic anymore and we feel less a sense of inner order. Things like this disease making changes in what we’ve come to depend on, further disrupts our inner sense of order. And some of those changes are not even chosen, but forced on us, a rare situation in modern American lives. It’s something we are unused to. Then, in this case, add the chemicals of fear to the mix of an already disrupted inner order. This may result in a constant low lying concern for some or a feeling of almost terror for others.  

There are a lot of neurologically explainable reasons why some people get hit harder than others when the disruption of inner order occurs and why the chemicals of fear are felt more intensely by some. It doesn’t matter, though, how people are responding is how they are responding. Judging them removes you further from being a calming force in their lives and increases your own feeling of inner disorder or chaos. Sitting in a state of judgement is not a healthy way for us to restore our own inner order. And that is a priority right now.  

What to do, what to do? We are boaters, untying the lines and going out, I guarantee you, will take your mind to a different place and exercise your body lessening physical stress. If taking the boat out isn’t in the cards, hanging out onboard, a place that makes you feel good, and doing those crazy little organizational things needed is an idea. For some of you it might be a good time to mess around with the engine, maybe just crawling around the engine room checking it out or lifting the hatch and looking it over even if, yet, you’re not sure what you’re looking at, lol. Our boats can be interesting, even pleasant distractions in the face of the current situation.  

When you cannot be on the boat, I’d like to offer some other ideas to help in these challenging times. Begin by attempting to spend some time focusing your mind; concentrating.  If you practice yoga, tai chi or enjoy jumping around in your living room to Beach Body workouts, this is the time to spend some time doing that.   

If you enjoy Sudoku, or crossword puzzles or, yes, you can admit it, even jig saw puzzles, force yourself to find some time to sit and put your brain to work on a very order-creating activity. Two things are happening to make you feel better, first, your brain is experiencing a familiar pattern and second you are being forced to concentrate. These activities move your brain away from the overwhelmed “thinking” left hemisphere and into the creative, big picture thinking, right hemisphere.

For years, my husband and I taught a formal mental training routine called, NeuroTherapy Training, to help people emotionally navigate life-threatening illnesses. If you have learned and regularly practice a formal “concentrating or mental training” routine you’ll be handling things better. If you’ve learned a method of concentration and shifting your brain away from the easily overwhelmed left hemisphere, but have stopped practicing it, this is the time to reintroduce it into your daily activities. We’ve got to help our brains by calming the chemicals of fear and quieting the chaotic overwhelmed left hemisphere.  

Here’s another idea for calming us physically and emotionally – take a glorious hot bath. Dig out those fizzy bath balls, light a candle or two and make your favorite tea to have within reach. Part of what is accelerating your discomfort is physical stress. Relax those muscles in that warm water and some of the feeling of inner chaos will mechanically diminish. And, the aromatherapy of your favorite bath accoutrements and familiar scent of the soothing tea will both help bring a feeling of order back to your brain.  

If you’re drawn to watching sporting events, turn on that game, grab a snack, hunker down on the couch and get into the strategy of what’s happening on the field, court or course. You’re turning off that chaotic left hemisphere and engaging the strategic right hemisphere. And the tasty snacks make you feel good, too.  

Those of you with an artistic bent, dig out some paints and make a personal hand painted card to send or give to someone you care about (Or make several hand painted cards, this may last awhile).   

If you love to sew, turn on that machine, dig into that fabric stash and work on something for the boat or make a throw pillow or a cat toy or something else simple and fun, and possibly something that you can use to brighten someone else’s day.   

It’s the same with you who find pleasure in the art of cooking. Go stand in your kitchen, (do the dishes if they are in the sink, that will help restore your inner sense of order, lol) then get creative, call up your favorite recipe and start organizing the ingredients needed, the activity is like putting together that jig saw puzzle. Or maybe just dig out that cake mix that has been languishing in the back of your pantry and make it. Let yourself and your family indulge, cutting off chunks and eating it without frosting. Or get carried away and make that Teddy Bear cake you’ve been planning to try ever since you bought that pan at the yard sale. Art and the art of cooking force our brains away from the chaotic, worried left hemisphere and focus our minds. They also produce things that can be shared with others not doing as well as you may be with the disruption of our lives increasing the feelings of inner chaos.  

Whatever you do, add something that calms the fear chemicals in your brain and helps you restore that inner sense of order. And, if you can, reach out to someone in a positive way, even if only by phone or internet, who may not be handling things as well as you are. Offer them conversation, or if they are near, one of your fizzy bath balls, that cat toy, a hand painted card or maybe sit down with them over a cup of your favorite tea and discuss boating or something else that makes both of you feel good.  

Sending good wishes,  

Marilyn Michael – co-director Northwest Women in Boating  

(Vivian Strolis, along with Penny Pascall, is heading into the 3rd month of a 4-month around the world cruise on a cruise ship and recently took a glass-bottomed boat tour in Rarotonga.)
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1 Response to NWWB Notes: Helpful Thoughts for Navigating The Current Life Challenges We Are Facing

  1. fsw@torchlake.com says:

    You are a gem Marilyn! Thank you so much. Personally I am not having fear, etc….around this thing but I know many are. I feel blessed to be a part of a community that regularly faces their fears and sails right through them.

    Take care,


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