Updated: May 23
For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to circles. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and a soccer player among other things. And, now I am a Coach. The huddle is a quintessential ingredient to every practice and game.
In the huddle we stand with our shoulders together and our cleats digging into the ground beneath the grass. We bow our heads forward to touch each other in the center. We listen closely as the coach whispers out her game plan. Then the whisper quickly grows to a crescendo of chanting, "Run and charge and beat them to the ball! Score those goals and win them all!" Each phrase gets louder and louder until we let out a cacophony of screams and laughter as we run out onto the field charged with adrenaline pumping through our veins. Our fans on the sidelines are lined up together in their lawn-chairs joining us with cheers and wild applause.
Nothing can replace the sound of the echoing human delight and applause as the sound travels from the mouths of the fans across the field to reach our ears.
I didn't realize it at the time but looking back I can clearly see; those huddles were sacred. It was a time where we were connected with the same desires and a passion to play. During those huddles we whispered and told stories. We eyeballed our coach to determine his mood and then, reminded each other to play our best for fear of his wrath. Every circle is sacred whether it be a team huddle in the locker room, a gathering amongst friends, or the circle we form around the departed to say our goodbyes.
Four years ago, I created Born Wonderful, originally known as Wonder Women Unite, to re-create the essence of togetherness that I felt on the field and nothing can replace that kind of physical togetherness. For now, I can no longer hold these intimate circles because they have not only been deemed inessential but the latest Executive Order says we must remain six feet apart.
Today I am on day one millionth and two of the stay at home order...or is it like 70 or something? I have lost count and during this quarantine I have felt an overwhelming amount of fear based on the actual reality that it is against the law to gather in person. Team huddles are in danger. And, the truth is, physical human connection was already in danger before we heard about COVID-19. With more and more businesses going all online, small Mom and Pop shops needing to close their doors because they could not compete with Amazon, people spending hours on Facebook and Instagram (myself included) and business owners realizing rent is too high when an online business has zero overhead; we were already headed into an online virtual reality but the stay at home order made it happen overnight.
As for me, I know how to work online and I can because I have been running an online business for years but where I get my joy is when I make a connection online and then, bring that person offline. As we gather, I ask everyone to turn off their phones and unplug from their digital lives to experience the wonders of the outdoor universe. Life behind a screen is 2-dimensional not three. And life in a circle is multidimensional. I can still easily offer my Health Coaching online but nothing will ever be as good as being together in person.
While we are being sold hashtags from the CDC that say #separatetogether and #safeathome it doesn't feel safe to me to realize how terrified people are of catching COVID-19 that they will agree to stay home for as long as it takes to find a vaccine. I am respectful of those that truly are in danger of dying and who need to be home and at the same time, I can feel the ground slipping from beneath our feet. We are on a very slippery slope where people might stay so long that they no longer want to gather together in person for fear of catching a virus that's been here all along; it's only recently begun to spread but make no doubt about it all 360,000 viruses have been surrounding us, living inside of us and they are all waiting to either take us down or force us to adapt.
I hear politicians encouraging us to use Zoom and other online media platforms for our businesses saying words like, "Get used to it. This is the new normal." I even heard Andrew Cuomo say the state will start granting marriage licenses remotely as lockdown measures continue to be enforced. He said, “You can do it by Zoom." I am sorry but getting married by zoom is not something I can get jazzed up about. But hey to each his own. If that's your thing so be it.
In this new world that we are being told is the new normal hugs have been deemed dangerous and breathing outside on a trail without a mask is thought to be deadly to others. One of my favorite practices to share in our circles is the practice of healing hands. I guide people to rub their hands together to create a loving field of heat and then place them gently on another woman's shoulder who they just met as a way of saying, "I have got your back." I loved standing as a witness to each person removing their masks so we could discover what was beneath the surface of job titles and busyness. Online touch is not touch at all but rather an illusion of closeness and while for some this is enough for me it leaves me feeling empty.
Human touch, the curve of a smile, and the sparkling of an eye that lights up when you enter the room is the most healing aid on the planet. We know this is true from "science." The overwhelming amount of scientific research shows us that hugs lower blood pressure, boosts your immune system, and helps your body fight off infection. In fact touch therapy was finally making rounds in hospitals as a way towards emotional wellness. If you are lucky enough to have people with you at home you can get all of that touch medicine but for many they are dying alone in nursing homes without having had the opportunity for a final goodbyes and no matter what people like Cuomo say, Zoom is not the same as sitting next to your beloved and holding their hand as they pass to another world beyond our human comprehension. I am also not sure how I can legally continue to host gatherings considering the closeness that is a vital ingredient to everything that I believe in. The fact is I don't want to gather together in a space where we must spread out so far in fear of a virus traveling through the air as if that's the only thing in life that could kill us. The only space I want to be in is the one that tears down these fears of the unknown where we come to terms with the reality of life and live fully in the present moment; the only place where we can heal.
I hope in the coming months as businesses begin to open and restrictions are lifted, that you will settle deep into your heart space and be the beacon of light that the world needs. From that space, connect in the best way that you can whether that is safe at home if that's where you need to be or back out in the world if that's what you choose. I respect your rights to choose what is best for your family. And as mother, I believe no one knows what is best for my kids other than me! Sending You Huge Waves Of Light, Hopes For Physical Hugs and Courage as we face the storms that are an inevitable part of human existence. Love Alway, Erin DiMaggio
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