Leadership in times of crisis and uncertainty.

A piece I wrote for Religica.com

Leadership is a tightrope to walk at this time in history. As a leader in any profession or industry, one must look out and look up to God as to the way forward given that the answers to many of the questions and decisions we are faced with are nebulous. No person on this planet has lived through a pandemic coupled with the political and religious upheaval we are facing, a situation that feels very Biblical in nature and worldwide in scope. With the internet, we can see and communicate with people all over the world in real-time. Nostradamus predicted this would be the age of the antichrist and from the inside of our quarantined lives looking out into the world at large from our television sets and smartphones, we can see that the world is going through massive change — on the precipice of both enlightenment and disaster.

Most do not recognize that we’re at such a critical tipping point because the changes we are experiencing have been spurred by grief over the loss of our lives as we knew them — and for many, the loss of loved ones. Normalcy is now non-existent. A New Normal is in the making, being molded and formed from each and every decision made, from the individual level all the way up to national and global levels. No person can claim to have not been affected by this monumental worldwide event. even if a person’s world has not changed much, the world around them has.

Grief is a life-altering, mind-blowing, game-changing experience; it hits and shakes a person at the very core of their being. I experienced this personally, and as I worked with a team to build out an international grief support organization, I saw how similar the circumstances and impact were for others going through the exact same experience. These series of individual experiences are now amplified out into the human experience and we are seeing from a societal perspective how grief affects humanity as a whole. Without knowing it, everyone is now awakened to the experience of grief even if they do not yet recognize it as so.

These times will make or break a person in a leadership position because true trailblazing is necessary to guide your family, community, organization, or business through the transition to the New Normal. Every human being is unique. We come to the table with different views and different values, and the striking differences in opinion are leading to complete breakdowns in relationships among families, co-workers, communities, and even nations. This was the reason I used the tight rope analogy earlier.

If you’re a leader in an organization, now is the time to define your organization’s culture and how you will keep the peace within the turbulence of stressful emotions and ensure the forward movement of your mission. In this time of strife, gas-lighting, and angst, a polarization is happening, and ideologies are becoming clear grounds for the breakdown of relationships both in a personal and public way. The very platforms that host humanity’s communications are taking sides and redefining their objectives, leaving millions of people disenfranchised and others believing in storyline narratives. Trust is truly broken in many ways.

How does a leader navigate through such circumstances — ones that threaten our very existence on this planet? You stake your claim. You decide what you believe, and you build around those principles, while still maintaining an openness to others. A new definition of life is upon us because collectively we are no longer naive. What you know and understand has changed. This is normal in the grief process. To deny this is the new reality is to get pulled down in the undertow in waters of grief and chaos. This is the time to Let Go and Let God or the Divine help you see the way forward because the path forward is a maze. Go back to the core principles and morals of your faith system and work from there, even if it seems impossible.

Life is about our connection to each other. Do you want to be surrounded by only those who think the same as you? Then make that declarative statement and do not hide your intentions. Do you want to be open to others with differing thoughts with compassion and understanding, then build out that concept within your network of connections and declare it so. Now more than ever, it is important to be transparent about your goals, mission, and actions so that others know your intentions. Trust has been broken from a macro-human standpoint as we stand mired in a time of misinformation when lies are often told as truth for the benefit of a few and the detriment of many.

Every human that comes into this world has their heart on display for God (or the Divine being of their faith) to see, so there is no hiding intent or deeds. Those that have sewn discord, chaos, and evil will be exposed to the Light. Those whose hearts are true and live a just life will be rewarded. Each of us must decide which path through this maze we will take. Those who hold positions of leadership need to be especially thoughtful in our decisions as many are relying on you to guide them forward into this new life.

I personally have returned to reading more in-depth about the teachings of Jesus. I am re-reading his stories and the parables he taught his disciples and followers during a time of great turmoil when the Romans had invaded the Holy Land, causing much strife and warring among differing cultures. To me, it seems we are living in the time of Jesus now, and just as before, it is up to us — using our faith and moral systems as a guide and Lighthouse — to navigate these waters and find our way to safer shores.

The following passage from Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV) has been a guiding force for me during this time of crisis:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.

This is the foundation and the rock that I am building my house on for all the rest of my days here on earth.

What is your foundation?
Where are you leading from?

– Amen

You can find my article and many others at http://www.Religica.com

Holly C. Barker is the founder and president at Grief Resource Network, LLC and Grief Anonymous, an international online grief support organization and owner of the Launching Pad on Route 66 in Wilmington. http://www.Geminigiant.com

For Better or For Worse

Its been a tough couple of days for me.  I don’t know why.  Lots of triggers and sometimes not so good memories.  Sometimes during the grief process not all of our memories are golden and cherished.  Old wounds.  Problems that never seemed to get resolved.  No marriage is perfect on a daily basis and I have never spoken of this here on my blog for the main reason of honor, love, and respect.

But with doing this I must also be truthful to myself and to bring to light a key process of grief and recovery many go through that isn’t spoken about often. But in doing so I must also state that tonight while going through the memories and the current situation I find myself in I was looking for some songs and I just heard out of my head in a gentle soft voice ‘Send her my love”. Jordon sent me a song.  The song’s title didn’t ring a bell to me and then when I saw it, I still didn’t know the lyrics until I played it.  It stopped me dead in my tracks with tears pouring down my cheeks.  All the words are real and of my collective experience with him and very much what he would say to me now…

What I will say about all of this is in the recesses of our personal lives and through the windows into our homes, we fight life’s battles with our families.  We seek to heal our own lives with those we are closest to.  Those most intimate connections we have bare the brunt of our externally impacted lives and we put trust into those we call family to help us through.  Our loved ones take the full force often times of weakest points of the challenging aspects of our personalities.  It’s in these relationships that we often grow and enrich our souls the most but often times its also cause of the most pain.  Jordon was that energy for me and I was for him.  When I feel anger or resentment or sadness thinking back at things that could have been different or better I remember the fact that he and I were there going through all that we did for a reason~ to be the mirrors to look into that we needed in order to heal and learn and love and to become better people.

I love you so much, Jordon.

For Better or For Worse.

Till death we parted.

And for ever more.

Simple Rules to Live By For A Complicated Life

Let’s face it, life can be very complicated and painful at times. The simple sharing of pure complicated emotion through art, dance, music, writing, and poetry is cathartic and allows in healing. People are innately interested in and gravitate towards raw, unfiltered truth about life and anything less is…..less.

Some love is worth fighting for.  Some love is not.  Hold the love you fight for and bless the love you let go of. The wisdom is to live the difference and to know and accept that it’s all love in the end.

Its okay to cry.  I do all the time.  It’s a gift given to us by God through our eyes to release all that we feel and see that hurts us. Tears are the salty purification process of the soul.

Sometimes the best thing to do when life is complicated and hard is to swing from that chandelier!  Doing what feels good is good for the soul, even if its temporary.

The singing, music, artistry and dancing in these videos is so powerful and moving and is so reflective of my personal grief experience and thus is healing.  To see and hear this is to know that I am not alone in this human experience of grief.

IMG_0668

IMG_0993

Grief Survival 101- Walking the Tightrope of Internal and External Expectations

IMG_1426

  
You have found your footing on this rope. It is what you have been given to stand on. The rope is harsh against your feet and it doesn’t feel good. But the rope is sturdy and it fits your feet. God planned it this way~ he wouldn’t give you a rope that was impossible to walk on. You are looking out ahead of you to see the big picture of your life. On each side of the rope lies a different view. Your job is to navigate this rope, to reach the other side. You’ve been given a balancing stick to help you balance your steps as you are moving forward. The stick is your guide, your conscience, you faith. When you lean too far right, the stick dips to the left helping you to balance as you move above the abyss below you. You are ready and you take your first step in this new life of yours.

The vast spaces to your left and your right are the expectations you put on yourself and of the expectations that others have of you. You are being watched. You are conscious of your new life and the other side’s expectations of you and how they see this situation you are in high up on this tightrope. Both, through this process of grief and loss, will pull at you and bring you off balance. Expectations, outside of simple, fundamental truths, are external and internal forces of energy that rely on a future value that doesn’t exist. How can you or anyone have an expectation of how to feel, how to act, how to grieve. When we focus on these influential spaces we pull our eyes, mind, and feet away to give energy to a space of expectation. This space will disrupt you and pull you left or right and away from your center, your true self. Too much focus on either side and you will fall. The tightrope is your gift from God. Your stick is the conscience mind he gave you to balance. Your feet keep you in the physical. Your eyes are the communicators and connectors to your body to help you focus on the big picture. Look up and out and you will find your truth. Look down and you will lose it.

As you are walking this tightrope, you will come across negative energies of expectation both from others and from yourself. Outward remarks from others will say things to you to make you second-guess your steps. Your ear will hear them and your body will intrinsically bend in that direction pulling you out of balance. You might second-guess your decisions, as you don’t have that living, breathing soul next to you anymore helping you navigate. Two trusting souls leaning on each other find a more steady balance and you are now without that other half. You must learn to steady yourself as you are on your own now and your decisions are yours. Be careful as you can pull yourself over from insecurity and doubt and loose your footing on the rope.

This is life. This is the test, this tightrope. The key to walking the tightrope is inner balance, courage, forward focus, and movement towards what you feel is good and right for you without the interference from outside energy. As you practice this centered focus you will gain strength and balance. You will become more assured of your space, your footsteps, and your mind. Your faith will grow and you will move with grace and sure-footedness on this tightrope. You will block out the negativity and the balance-altering pull of opinion and diversion. You will be able to see it for what it is. You will see the concern, the doubt, the good and bad intentions from others, and personal views that do not serve you. Above you is the Light shining down on you to guide the way. Follow this Light as it beams into your heart exposing the truth that you are good and deserving and whole. It will pull you forwards helping to balance you and settle you. It will soothe your feet so you don’t feel the harshness of the rope. We are not given the view of the end of the rope for the light shines too brightly and it is not ours to know. But when we do reach the end, we ourselves will become the light we have followed and join in the connection and the only pull we will feel is LOVE.

Grief

IMG_0209Grief

 

Through this process that has occurred in my life due to the death of Jordon I have gained a hard-earned understanding that is very difficult to put in to words, but it needs to get out, to be expressed. We are limited here on earth by our 5 senses and our minds in our communication to each other and our ability to sense emotions and to feel and relate. There are concepts and words and expressions, colours, and emotions that we just can’t reach with our human understanding. They range from the elation of ascension into heaven all the way to the deepest despair and mass loss. We live our lives in the middle until something big happens. Why shouldn’t we? Grief brings us to the edge of what is known and gives you a glimpse into the farther truth if you allow yourself to look and absorb and remember. Grief is the 10 out of 10 on the emotion scale, and at some point we will all go through it. It is a valuable life lesson and a purification process. It can stop you in your tracks or launch you. Accept this process when it does happen. Absorb it. Ask for understanding and open your mind to forward-thinking thoughts. Act “as if” so you can see yourself going through your day. Do what you can to not get stuck. Reach out to people. Show love back. Accept help from others. Be grateful.

Grocery Store Shopping with My Friend

Our loved ones who pass over speak to us through signs if we are open and believe and if we take the time to notice. The connection of enduring love truly does exist.

Grocery shopping has become as sticking point for me, especially the first week after Jordon died. It is the things that never occur to us that pose the biggest challenge sometimes. Shopping for food is one for me. The reason is Jordon and I were always in the kitchen together. We loved to cook, make up recipes, and invite friends over for smoked BBQ. Jordon would often get up during a summer weekend at 5:30 am and start smoking whatever was for dinner that night. There would be baked beans, slaw, cheap buns,and some unbelievably good smoked “something” many weekends. We would also take trips together and focus the vacation on the best restaurants to try. We would order a “tasting menu”, stay for three hours and a bottle of wine and make it memorable.

It is quite difficult walking through a grocery store these days. What do I buy now? It is a forced- physical separation decision and it’s taking some getting used to. I mainly stick to Jackson, my son and what makes him happy and healthy- and that’s a good energy directive in my book. The first shop was the worst. I was hit by the emotion as soon as the sliding doors opened, unaware of the daunting task that was so easy and often mundane before. I sort-of wandered around in a daze feeling the void and just picking up stuff and putting it back trying to decide if I was wanting it for me  because I couldn’t buy for my husband anymore. I think Jordon was with me that day, watching, hurting for me, making a game plan for my next visit. He was always a planner….

The next visit to the grocery store was the following week. I knew better how to function but was still dreading the task. As soon as the sliding doors opened a song started, loudly, above the noise of the customers as it was 5:00 pm and people were shopping on their way home from work. It sounded as if she were singing the words into my ears.  I never heard music played in this grocery store that I shopped at regularly before or for the rest of the year.  I am sure it was Jordon.

I shopped in peace that day knowing that everything was going to be okay…

-A ThousandYears-