10 Ways To Navigate Planet Earth With As Much Grace As Humanly F*cking Possible
One woman’s prescription for sanity in chaotic times
I n the fall of 2019 I was laid off from my job. I had completely fallen off the rails and started wearing sweatpants to work. I am not talking about cool, hot girl yoga pants. I am talking about big, often dirty, sweats that were not a look. What they were was a desperate cry for help. I could barely wash my hair. I frequently threw dishes away because they sat in my sink so long they felt like a health hazard.
I was drowning in an endless sea of chronic nerve pain, depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which had long plagued me but got super triggered by the things that happened in the years leading up to 2019. I had been in two car accidents in the course of five weeks in 2016, had back surgery in 2018, and was a generally spectacular mess. I should have quit my job but was stubborn and scared, afraid of what would happen without the income. But, in the end, getting let go was the best thing that ever happened to me, even though I freaked out when it happened. It was time for a big shift.
My life has been a lot of the above. My dad passed away abruptly right before I turned three. We slowly became estranged from both sides of my family. I had money stolen from me as a kid. I’ve been homeless and poor. I’ve nearly drowned, twice. Those two car accidents were the third and fourth in a series that happened between 2004 and 2016.
I know that even when things are a mess, perhaps especially then, that our trauma is our gold
I do not say any of this to complain or paint myself as the most tragic victim. I lay it out because I know that even when things are a mess, perhaps especially then, that our trauma is our gold. Even when my 3D life felt like a disaster train bound for no glory, I have always been rich with spiritual blessings. I talked to my guides from the time I was a baby, channeled light language young, and could always talk to animals.
And do not get me wrong, trauma is traumatic. I do not mean to minimize or make light of how heavy and hard poverty, chronic illness, and other adversities are to live through and perhaps claw your way out of. My grandmother used to say “growing old was not for the faint of heart,” and I would always think, being a human, period, is not for the faint of heart. But adversity and trauma present opportunities to show us how strong we are, and what we are capable of. Even when the world is in chaos, when nothing makes any sense, and everything seems untenable, there is always a way to tap into the divine and stay grounded.
Here are some of the things I do to stay afloat when everything around me feels like utter garbage:
1) Hang out with the birds. I feel like a bit of a broken record because if you know me you have heard me say it a million times—feed the birds. The birds are a connection between the earth and the sky, and I think between our brains and our hearts. Whether you buy yourself a bird feeder or go to a park and throw some seeds, there is something magical about the way these creatures move. They can make you feel better just by tuning into their song. In fact, get more in touch with the animal kingdom as a whole. We were born to steward the earth and tapping into nature’s frequency will help you feel better about being here. Spend more time outdoors. Go on long walks without your phone and listen to the sounds of the real world. Maybe you take it a step further and volunteer once a week at your local animal shelter or become a puppy or kitten foster parent. Animals are portals of love and will help bring a level of calm, peace, and joy into your life that nothing else will.
2) Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or a plant. Go on a trip to your local botanical garden, if there is one near you. A lot of towns have a public garden of some sort. In my experience, they are always uplifting, especially during the winter months. Years ago I saw a Mayan Elder speak. A few people had brought him bouquets, before he started he thanked everyone who had brought him flowers. He said flowers are one of the most heartfelt, restorative gifts we can give each other. Flowers are beautiful in every way—their fragrance, their color, their form. They remind me of poetry come to life. While you are at it with all this romancing of you, why not read some poetry to yourself. Mary Oliver is very uplifting and always warms my heart.
It is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in the broken world.” – Mary Oliver
3) Find a spiritual practice. I have said prayers since I was a kid and learned how to meditate in high school. I was never a fan of church even though I was always talking to God. To be honest, it made me crazy because I could see that we do not need anyone else to translate divinity. I actually think this is a big part of what we are being pushed towards in the past few years—a reclamation of our own sacred connection to source. Maybe you love the idea of meditation but it’s just not for you. Maybe church is really nourishing for your soul. Maybe you need to take walks to get into that state of flow, or go for long runs, dance, or head into the woods and scream. There are a lot of ways to find that space, and it might take some experimentation. It is less important that it look a certain way than that you just do something to keep your channel clear. Don’t worry if what you land on doesn’t look like what your friend, sister, or mentor is doing. Your heart alone knows what will work for you.
4) Be kind to people. I generally assume people are doing the best they can. I have what the Irish call the gift of gab. When you start talking to people and hear stories about what people are or have gone through, you remember life is hard. Our ability to keep moving is remarkable. The stuff we live through and experience on Earth is not easy. When we make judgements or assume stuff about people we miss out on a lot of beauty. And inspiration. When you find out what people have endured I think it makes it easier to keep going because you feel inspired—and you remember that you are not in this alone.
5) Exercise. I know, I know this is such basic advice, but when you are hard up this is no easy task. When I was debilitated by chronic pain I gained a lot of weight and was really out of touch with my body. Someone gave me a small set of hand weights at the beginning of 2020 and I was like a before photo for some kind of radical transformation process. My nerve pain was so bad that I used to drop cups and could barely hold my purse. Lifting a 3lb weight was a lot. But I would do a few reps and then stop, then do a few more the next day. Eventually I was able to level up to 5lb, then 8lb hand weights. If the me of 2020 who could barely comb my hair could see the me of today she would be stunned. Do what you can, build on your momentum, and do not give up. Do not let your current lot in life shame you into quitting. One minute of movement is better than no movement. Dance, do yoga, go swimming, lift those weights. Join a gym if that works for you or simply walk around your neighborhood. Moving will help you clear your mind and emotions, and make it easier to feel embodied and grounded. Thank your body for supporting you and ask it to show you what will strengthen and light you up!
6) Pick up trash. When you go to the park or walk around your neighborhood, do something to make it more beautiful. Again, we are meant to be steward of the earth. I usually bring a small bag with me when I go into the woods or to the beach because the way people litter makes me crazy. Do something about it. Make the world a more beautiful place through your actions. And watch those actions make you more beautiful, too.
7) Organize a food drive or spend some time volunteering at your local food bank. During 2020 and 2021, neighbors of mine circulated paper bags with a letter saying if I left a donation they’d come by and donate the stuff to our local food bank. Food is awesome to donate and most food banks are always happy to accept toiletries, diapers, and pet food, which are always in demand when times are tough. When you have enough or more than enough it is important to be thankful for the bounty and give something back.
8) Sign up for a plot at your local community garden. Growing things will benefit your mental and physical health. When I graduated from college I did Americorps and co-ran a garden club with the kids. What an absolute joy it was to see the fruits and vegetables of our labor, and eat them. Especially with shortages, inflation, and general world chaos on the rise, this is also a practical move. Learning to grow our own food is smart for whatever weird future is to come.
9) Be kind to yourself. Even though I just laid out lots of ways to help ourselves by helping the world overall, it is also important specifically to treat yourself kindly and have strong boundaries. Empaths, starseeds, and lightworkers can take on too much of the world’s pain because we can see and feel how hard it is for people. Make sure before you try and help others that your own house is in order, as much as possible. This is also why finding that solid, consistent spiritual practice is key. It helps clear us of the energy we take on from the collective, which can really weigh on a delicate heart.
10) Ask for help when you need it. Why is this the hardest thing in the entire world to do?! We are told that needing help is a personal failure and it is simply not true. Someone might not be able to help you but the more you make your needs clear, the more the world will show up for you. And do not get caught up in specifics. Maybe you asked for x and got y. Sometimes things look different than we imagined but we usually get what we most need. And don’t forget about your spiritual guides. Pray for guidance and them to help you when things are rough. I call the advice that comes through ‘the whispers of our hearts.’ Listen to the whispers. The more you take action on them, the easier things become. It won’t be perfect because we are human but it does get easier. Breaking patterns of intergenerational and personal trauma, showing up for yourself, and letting others show up for you, is a journey. Do a little or a lot everyday and by the end of 2022, you might not even recognize yourself because you’ve blossomed so bright!
Andrea Donnelly is a spiritual mentor, healer, cheerleader for humanity, and aspiring daytime talk show host who’s been perfecting the art of calming down and riding the wave since day one. She recovered from chronic pain using her unique healing modality that was born from a lifetime of metaphysical study. Learn more at wearehere2remember.com.