Emerging and Re-orienting

Dec 21, 2022

By Joy Lujan

This month, in our Real Connections Newsletter, our team asks:

How are you hanging on? What is emerging for you and for your team or organization? What are you climbing out of?  Wherever you are, and however you are, you’ve made it this far! What are the reasons you have endured and what are the techniques you used to get here, to this moment?

As we collectively begin to emerge from the aftermath and continued reverberations of a global pandemic trying to figure out what the new normal will be for us, so many of us are facing the moment sputtering and spitting, disoriented, confused, in some ways damaged and weakened, and our senses and skills atrophied from disuse. We are just trying to make sense of things and figure out what to do next.

I would be lying if I said the pandemic didn’t shake me directly. Besides feeling the weight of the profound human and economic toll, I felt the impacts personally. I got sick with COVID and felt the physical impacts for many months, I experienced a significant personal loss in 2020, and my work came to a screeching halt as groups stopped working, training got cancelled, and new projects were indefinitely postponed.

Things felt difficult, scary, and uncertain for a long while.

And then, things came back. Fast. Suddenly, everything started moving again. Clients are working again, groups need help, projects are moving forward, RFPs are proliferating nearly as fast as the weeds in my garden, things are getting scheduled, and people are newly infused with an urgency and determination to look at things more deeply, to understand implications and interconnections and to be more intentional about working within the context of the social realities we live in.  And like the things in my garden, I have to figure out what to weed out and what to nurture, tend to, and cultivate.

Emerging into possibility after facing scarcity reminds me of going to the grocery store late one night when my boys were little. We were all tired and hungry and dinner that night ended up being some combination of frozen chicken nuggets, a bag of chips, and maybe some Nutella straight from the jar (one of my favorite comfort food moves).  We made choices that satiated in the moment, but weren’t ultimately sustainable.

Although the  uncertainty of abundant possibility is different from the uncertainty of scarcity, it still has some of the same hallmarks: stress, not knowing which way to turn or what to do next, feeling uncentered, and not feeling confident about direction. We crave direction as individuals and as teams and we need tools for navigating uncertainty. Here are 4 ways I have personally been navigating uncertainty:

Look Within
It is a frequent source of frustration for me that there is no external map to show us where to go in our lives.  I remember reading that gecko hatchlings have an electromagnetic field that looks like a fully-formed adult gecko. Before it ever develops arms and toes, the electromagnetic aura already knows what it will become. The imprint is already there for it to grow into, just as within the acorn lies all of the information needed for growing into an oak. These images from nature are things I can meditate upon as I make time for stillness, get quiet, and look within to FEEL what it is I am meant to grow into.



Extract the Lessons
When I encounter moments in my life that make me look back and say, “WTF was THAT about?!” it has been helpful to think of the perspective that life happens for us, not to us. The difficulty we experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. The skills we have to develop and apply in times of difficulty can become forged-in-the-fire tools we apply with great effect for the rest of our journey. The fact that I am good at picking up on energy in a group – subtle movement, tone of voice, body language that indicates a shift in energy or emotion – is the kind of hard-earned skill that emerges from life’s challenges. I didn’t choose the challenge, but I am grateful for the gifts that emerged from it.

Lean In to Team
I’m grateful to have colleagues and teammates who are also my great friends and deep sources of wisdom, comfort, and support. We hold each other up and we make each other better. We choose and keep choosing each other because we are positive forces in each other’s lives. If we were having a negative impact on one another, we would need to work together to transform our dynamics or we would need to choose different people to have in our lives.

Find the Wisdom
Recently, I was listening to a podcast that introduced me to the Poet Warrior, Joy Harjo. I was amazed that her words said things that my heart felt but had never had language for and even more amazed that I could be today-years-old and have never heard of her before! I now think of her as a wise guide in whom I can find sparks of wisdom when I’m uncertain about my path.  Similarly, in the last few months, I started re-listening to a book I’d first started more than a year ago. As I listened to the book that day (interestingly, as I was pulling weeds in my garden) the author, Elena Aguilar, was speaking my language and her words inspired a vision of my own personal gecko aura. She gives me a sense of what I want to grow into.  Where do you find wisdom? Share your own sources of wisdom in the comments section.

As the Connected Realities team enters our own internal strategic planning process this fall with our new team configuration (stay tuned for more on this in our August Newsletter!) and current societal realities… we will be looking within, extracting gifts, finding wisdom, and strengthening our working relationships to help us choose a path that satiates, sustains, and employs our individual and collective passions and talents in the service of supporting the work our clients are doing in the world. We will collaboratively determine the specific destiny we’ll be growing into – the shape of our oak tree. I can’t wait!

With warm wishes for your journey.