Because pandemic, in my coaching calls, everything is different. I’ve been coaching since 2007. I’ve had one particular client since 2008, off and on. It’s been an incredible 12 year relationship and it’s been an honor to work with such a talented individual through so many passages in her life.
After Covid-19 reared up, the treadmill of the world ground to a halt. The tone of our coaching conversations definitively changed. At first it felt very odd: planning is pretty much out if it’s outside of a 24 hour window, and it’s challenging to vision much when all our hard work to bring things about is suddenly yielding something so unrecognizable and not often welcome. And then it began to shift.
The way I was initially trained as a coach, everything was set up around a goal and a vision.
After determining these, I help my client to charter a path to achieve that goal. There was a kind of go gettem' vibe to the whole thing. In the past five or so years, I’ve avoided the word "goal", in my coaching practice, unless a client is very goal focused already. I’ve avoided the word goal because it’s interlaced with pressure, pushing or force. The idea of *getting* and *attaining* was fun for a bit, but then became easily pretty painful. Lately that goal-oriented, ambition-driven approach feels like a record playing at the wrong speed.
Right now, this appears to be a time to yield, give, show up with funny hair in your real life situation, to rest and to receive.
The sessions remain a space for opening to what’s already here, and for listening to what somehow we already know and even remember, about the life that is coming into view up ahead. Our job is to listen inwardly, and to open to what’s there.
My clients and I have been asking each other and ourselves: What does a business plan look like right now? How might you create one on the new earth? What does a work day look like?
Time itself feels altered. I hear people share about forgetting what day it is, and I’m astonished when it’s the end of a day or the start of a new one, or that it’s been three months since this halt began.
The guidance is still there but with a different access point and quality. It’s in the walks and the clouds passing overhead. It’s in those quiet words that spill out that are the truth, after a bunch of tears or challenging words. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night.
I also notice a strong impulse to serve and to help coming out of us humans. I find it’s important to listen in to the tone of that impulse. Is it guilt? Is it a kind of free floating anxiety? If so, it has been proving very important to ground, to rest and to care for what’s immediately asking for attention, very locally, before going out to try and *do* anything.
From what I can make out so far, this is a huge ship that’s being turned around, and right now all of the furniture is being rearranged while we’re still trying to use it. It’s going to take time. Or, to use another metaphor, a nicely arranged set of blocks has been thrown up into the air, and it hasn’t landed, and we don’t know what kind of configuration or chaos will be left when it does.
And then there’s the grief. We have lost a lot. Our way of socializing, even a smile in the grocery aisle is gone. Hugs. Sitting out in public near others. A sense of civic normalcy. Libraries. Routines. Privacy. Touch. Trust in our governing bodies. Many deaths have come and many forms of security we thought of as normal, have gone.
So, how do we do this?
Just the way we are doing this.
Bumpily, awkwardly, smoothly every couple of days for a little while, and then something else entirely. What’s in front of you? What feels right? That’s the next thing. That’s the next small, local, and perfect thing.
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.