Growth without gratitude is cancer.
During moments like this in our human history, how do we find the strength to focus on the emotion of gratitude. Our entire civilization, all of us have been so intricately affected by the novel coronavirus and more times than not, in a negative manner. But, at this time of year, over the holiday of Thanksgiving, I am finding myself meditating hard on this emotion, and how to keep it present in my mind as I continue to navigate this virus as a mother, CEO, and human.
In a strange way, I feel slightly thankful for COVID. Stick with me here, because this is not to diminish the huge impact and loss of lives our communities have faced, but when acknowledging that when I can go inward I have found new growth. Through trials and tribulations, I have found the best way to keep an even head, and to help put one foot in front of the other, you have to find the positive in so much negative.
The biggest positive note I can attribute to Coronavirus is that it has forced me to slow down. If you know me personally, you might laugh, knowing that the only thing that could make me take a pause is something as large as a worldwide health pandemic. I have always been a huge go-getter, ambitious, trailblazing entrepreneur. You don’t get to that level by going slow. But when COVID hit, and I was suddenly working from home, alongside helping school my daughters, I had no choice. And what I found from this halt was that I had an opportunity to reassess many aspects of the FiftyFlowers business, and myself.
When it came to FiftyFlowers, my c-suite and I took this opportunity to look at each department and notice their individual strengths, and where improvements could be made. Certain teams were encouraged to take time to learn new tools like SEO, or some attended workshops on how COVID was affecting business. We found that if we also took more time for brainstorming meetings, sometimes with people from outside the department, we could all work together to solve a problem or complication we were facing. Pulling from outside the department is another large takeaway I would encourage you all to try. It’s amazing how your team can excel if you give them the freedom to pursue a passion within the company.
For me personally, my body, mind, and spirit needed to be told to slow down. One of the greatest feelings I can give myself is putting on a beautiful pair of high heels. Looking down at my feet in these gorgeous designer items is a confidence and a mood booster. But at the beginning of the year, I was repairing an injury from a long marathon I ran a few months before. I could no longer even think about putting anything but tennis shoes on. So when the lockdowns began, and I had more time to focus on myself, I took that opportunity to explore various forms of self-improvement. Externally, our hands and feet are a very important part of our whole body’s ecosystem, and since my feet were off, it began affecting other parts of how my body moved. Through lite yoga, and hiking, I have been able to regain my body to its former strength. Another aspect of self-care that got me through those first stressful months of lockdown was pursuing quiet meditation. If you run your own business you can relate to the high stresses, and I saw some serious balance come to my mind after I started my meditation routine.
This reminds me of a story from my early twenties when I was first living in Ecuador. I llived in a small village outside of Quito, and my apartment did not have a laundry facility, and I needed to take a bus into Quito to do my laundry. I had arrived, finished washing all my clothes, a task I did roughly every two weeks or as long as I could stretch it, and I was trying to head back home on the bus. You should know that the road between these two places was a mountainous trek, which at many points, you could look out your window and see the tires about 2 inches away from a very, very long drop. As I was trying to head home, there had been a really bad bus wreck, and there were no busses leaving for hours. I remember being tired, recovering from a serious stomach illness, young, and still fairly new to this country, and I sat down on the steps of the bus station and began to cry. Several people walked past me, unconcerned, but one man stopped to console me. He had an appearance that resembled some of the farmers I had seen around my village and was missing quite a few of his teeth. I was excited when he spoke English to me, and I felt some of that warmth from a homeland that I was missing in that gesture. He took the next 20 minutes or so to ask me what I was doing in Ecuador, what my degree in college was in, and then different aspects of economy and money, which has always been a favorite topic of mine. My emotions had calmed, and this random kind stranger was able to guide me back to my center, my core mission of joining the Peace Corps and coming to South America. To use my knowledge to help others learn and become prosperous. He also reminded me how lucky I was to not be on the bus that had crashed. I looked away for a moment to wipe the last tears off my face and when I turned back, he was gone. Poof! I scanned the area around me and didn’t see any trace of him anywhere, and to this day I am convinced he was in fact my guardian angel, coming to visit. I smiled to myself and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
So when I find myself in these hard moments, which during 2020, they are far more frequent, I turn to this quote from a very wise woman, Oprah. She says “I’ve found that the best thing to do is ask myself a simple question: What is this here to teach me?” I look at the problem in front of me, in this case, COVID slowing down flower production and events being canceled, and ask, “what can I learn from this?” I listened to my body when I was staying safe at home and said “how can I heal my body?” And I think back to one of the most influential moments in my life, and think, “how can I find the gratitude from this?” With every challenge, there is a lesson, and that lesson will make you stronger. It will help you see your weaknesses and give you an opportunity to rework them. And I can tell you for certain, that if you root yourself in gratitude, you’ll find yourself on the right path.