Anxiety is a thing. Gratitude is a must

All Woman

I have been so unsettled all week that this is my sixth attempt at writing this week's article. So much is happening around me.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases, upcoming general election and the related campaign activities, the postponement of schools reopening, the threat of floods associated with hurricane conditions elsewhere in the region, potential hurricanes as we enter the peak of the season, frequency of tremors/earthquakes, loss of income — have felt overwhelming for me.

We have all been plugging away despite the setbacks associated with the pandemic. We developed coping strategies in March and pivoted on social media platforms while being socially distanced from each other. But it is August, and somehow it has begun to feel burdensome.

Lately, I have been thinking about my grandmother, how she sailed through adversities singing her favourite hymns. I find myself singing “when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll…it is well, it is well with my soul”. These hymns take me to a place of calm, a place of peace.

And I stay there.

We are in challenging times. In these times of adversities, it is important for us to feed on whatever it is that grounds us. It is a time to be silent, to pause and assess the situation, drown out the noise of the world, and focus on what gives you peace.

Where do you go when you need to find peace?

All of us — single, coupled, grouped, male or female — have had to adjust to the new way of being. Whether it is a quiet moment in your garden, a walk in the park, or enjoying the company of loved ones, we must find peace in these disquieting times.

Rather than spend time worrying about what is to come, why not spend that time giving thanks for what is. In the book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote, “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way”. How we respond to the current situation is certainly a choice. We can choose to bemoan the things we no longer have, or we can give thanks for the opportunity for renewal. Ask yourself, “What have I learnt from this experience, how has this experience helped me to become more resilient, what can I do to help others?”

A friend gifted me a journal and a beautiful pen for my birthday and said, “Just write”. I have started writing in it; it is my very first gratitude journal. I have heard people talk about the benefits of a gratitude journal and have been observing my colleague and friend Michael Sean Harris, who shared that he has been keeping one for nine years. It reminds him that there is always something to be grateful for and starting his day with an entry is a daily opportunity to reset.

I get it.

Writing down the things I am grateful for has completely shifted my mood.

I am grateful that I live next door to a 'sound man' who plays great music. I am grateful that I get to spend so much more time with my children. I am grateful that the rain has stopped the long drought and cooled the place down a bit. I am grateful that the earthquakes bring with them no damage. I am grateful I have another month to figure out “back-to-school”. I am grateful that I get to spend so much time alone and learning how to enjoy my own company. I am grateful for the ability to breathe, to think, to be. What are you grateful for?

Coleen Antoinette is an Arts Educator and lover of culture and people. She is currently the Director of Marketing & Communications at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. You may share your thoughts or own experiences with her at coleenantoinette@gmail.com.

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