It’s week four of the coronavirus pandemic quarantine in the Bay Area. To keep my mental health in check, I walk the trails by my house daily and have noticed a shift. People move to the side of the street instead of playing chicken for sidewalk space. Where there once were slight nods of recognition are now smiles and a wave hello. On the trails, we walk at a distance. When we pass one another we acknowledge each other before facing the other direction. Some wear masks. Some don’t. Others exclaim how great it is to see another human being.
Here in the Bay Area we’ve been on lockdown since March 17, 2020. Since then I’ve noticed a change in people. Some have become hyper vigilant, ready to pounce over the slightest perceived offense. Others are going about their days, making the best with what we’re left with. Then there are those that don’t know what to feel, as the illusion of control crumbles down around them.
All any of us can do is our small part in keeping ourselves healthy and be conscientious of others. The coronavirus is out of our hands from that point.
According to pandemic psychology, the hoarding mentality is a pretty common means of control. It’s not hard to see why. Many of us function in fear that the other shoe will drop at any moment, that we’ll get hurt some how some way, and in order to avoid a catastrophe we’ll hold tight to anything that can provide relief, even toilet paper.
When the masses start panicking it creates a domino effect. Chances are, if you’re surrounded by people who panic, you’re likely to panic too. But buying into fear doesn’t make the situation better. Getting mad at others for keeping their cool won’t make the situation easier to deal with. Yes, the threat is very real, and in order to get through the coronavirus pandemic we must take precautions.
There’s another side to the quarantine that many do not see. With most distractions removed, we are given the opportunity to take a true inventory of our lives and the way we’ve been living day to day. Many of us just go through the motions, believing we have no choice in how to live this thing called life. Staying busy and keeping our calendars at the point of boiling over is a great way to avoid digging deep into our needs and addressing issues that feel out of our control.
By closing the world, we’ve been handed an opportunity for change.
We’ve learned to appreciate what we have by the removal of the in-person experience. While it’s fun and healthy to treat yourself, it’s common practice to displace discomfort with shopping, alcohol, overeating, and general American consumerism.
We practice the art of buying more, but the current circumstance begs the question “for what?”
With nowhere to go and nothing to do, the only option is to face ourselves. We are left with a choice of whether to continue drowning ourselves out, or face the person you have become.
Who are you?
Do you like who you are?
Do you like what you do?
Do you like how you feel?
We’re being forced to slow down.
America is a country that prides itself on workaholism. We race from one thing to the next, barely stopping to breathe, consumed with entertainment, survival, comfort, and for some, luxuries. We’ve worked hard to get where we are. Now there’s some time to enjoy it. Yes, the coronavirus is threatening our physical and financial health. No doubt that these are troubling times.
Conversely, we can still fulfill our duties to society while enjoying the time off. You are allowed to be grateful for friends, family, health, a roof over your head, or clean water even when there is suffering.
Many of us get so caught up in work, we forget why we work so hard in the first place. Allow yourself to enjoy the extra time to cultivate relationships with others and yourself. Isn’t that why we fight for our lives?
Depression is a major mental health concern surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Psychologists predict there will be long-term mental health effects due to financial inequality, as well as have adverse effects on children who are in the midst of a world trauma. Staying calm and remembering why life is precious will collectively shrink the stress level, and allow us to be there for our most vulnerable. Just because we can’t physically be together doesn’t mean we can’t be there for each other.
We’ve been presented a chance to change the course of our lives. Whether it’s in career, home, or self, there’s ample time to reevaluate where we’re headed. I know it can be difficult to think that losing your job can have a silver lining, but repeating the mantra “everything is working for my highest good” will help even if you don’t necessarily believe it.
Mantras move you in directions that benefit you until one day you realize you were right the entire time! What we focus on multiplies, whether positive or negative. We make decisions everyday which we’d like more of.
We’re being given a chance to reactivate our creativity. With so much time on our hands, many of us are getting to those projects we felt there wasn’t time for previously. Even if you’re not in the mood to be productive, practicing self care in any way is good for the soul.
Be good to yourself.
Revitalize yourself with candle lit baths, home cooked dinners, journaling, family time, and whatever makes you feel good. Getting back to our core selves will indefinitely boost creative energy in the short and long term, as well as keep us mentally stable!
This is by far not an easy process for anyone. We’re all going through a period of uncertainty leading into the unknown. The only form of control we have is over our own mental health and how we’ll use the time that’s been handed to us. Will we evolve within ourselves, and in turn, as a society?
In all its complicated simplicity, the coronavirus pandemic has sent a message that we might not understand until it’s viewed in hindsight, and there’s a high probability we won’t have this time again. I hope you decide to use yours wisely.
A few years ago, the concept of self care was foreign to me. Work was all consuming. If I wasn’t working, I felt guilty. If I felt tired, I would simply push myself through the uncomfortableness. The only time I allowed myself to rest was when I passed out. And eventually I crashed, hard, in the form of a nervous breakdown. Some of us are just so stubborn that the Universe intervenes and forces us to listen. That’s me. I’m some of us.
The message was loud and clear: Self care actually keeps your batteries charged. Imagine driving your car without stopping for gas, or bringing it in for an oil change or a tune up. Those time outs for repair are what keep the car running. Without it, you’ll find yourself broken down on the side of the road. Our bodies work the same way. Whether it’s your muscles or your brain, we need time to recoup the energy we’ve exerted out into the world. Self care is how we keep going.
“There is one thing that must be understood: self care is about you, not anyone else.”
It doesn’t surprise me that I’m not the only one who had trouble understanding the concept of self care. Society demands so much from us. School, work, partnership, children, and family are priorities in most people’s lives. Sometimes those priorities become overwhelming and it’s easy to forget about ourselves. These are the times we must stop and think: What good am I if I run myself into the ground?
Self care comes in many forms. But there is one thing that must be understood: self care is about you, not anyone else. Self care is not doing something someone else wants to do. Self care is not putting your needs aside to take care of someone else. Self care is about your needs.
Self care is saying no to someone else when you already have plans for yourself. If you’ve started running a bath, and your partner or child calls for you to do something, you have the right to say no. You have the right to take that hour to just be without interruption. Unless there’s fire, flood or blood, there’s no need for you to stop what you’re doing. It can wait.
Same goes for plans. It’s true that some occasions call for you to suck it up and go, especially if it’s important to a loved one. But there is a line to be drawn. There is no reason to put yourself in a bad predicament for someone else’s enjoyment. Bad predicaments can be financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If you don’t have money, don’t go. If you have work tomorrow and missing it would severely hurt your financial situation, don’t go. There is a measure of guilt, but at the end of the day, you’ll feel good about making the choice that was right for you.
“There is no reason to put yourself in a bad predicament for someone else’s enjoyment.”
Which brings me to my next point. Don’t wait around for someone to do things with. Trust me, I know it’s frustrating to always be alone. But it’s even more aggravating when you sit around wasting precious time you could’ve been using to do the things that you love. Whether that’s hiking, seeing a movie, eating out, or going to a museum or gym, it’s important that you don’t neglect yourself just because no one else in your life is interested in the same activities.
Take time for yourself while making your priorities a priority. This means getting your work done when it’s supposed to be done and not waiting until the last minute which results in a half ass product, or no product at all. Many people love to self sabotage with procrastination. All this does is continue a cycle of shame and guilt that keeps you locked in a cage of self hate.
You might lie to yourself and claim that trip or that date was necessary, but when it detracts from the goals you set for yourself all it becomes is a distraction. Putting in work to reach your goals builds self esteem and confidence. Neglecting responsibilities only drags you into despair.
“We are responsible for the choices we make.”
There are two polar opposites: those who give themselves too much, and those who deny themselves of everything. Neither one of these choices are healthy. An excess of anything is unhealthy. Someone or something is always on the hurt end of the stick. Whether it’s your credit, your parent’s retirement fund, or your goals, excessiveness will catch up eventually. Spending money on trips, clothes, and other experiences are nice and provide us with a sense security and well roundedness. Yet when it’s done to such excess that it negatively affects our day to day lives, the fun and niceties have become a problem.
On the other hand, making yourself a martyr and denying yourself any pleasures is just as bad and is no doubt hurting you. Making yourself a martyr breeds resentment. Eventually, this resentment is directed toward your kids, your spouse, or whoever it is you feel you have to deny yourself for. At the end of the day though, it’s more than likely no one asked you to forgo every little luxury. We are responsible for the choices we make. The key is to find a healthy balance.
Maybe you can’t afford much, but if none of your clothes fit, is it really going to break the bank to spend less than $50 on a pair of pants at Target or a thrift store? Giving ourselves what we need, be it a pair of pants, higher education, or a spa day, it necessary for our ultimate fulfillment so we can be our best selves for the ones we love.
“Whether it’s saying yes to more things, or saying no, it all starts with acknowledging what you need.”
So do yourself a favor, and take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Know that no one is perfect and we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We are here to learn, not have it all figured out. There’s a great deal of self control that comes with self care. Wherever you fall on the self-care spectrum, know that you have the power to balance it out and bring stability into your life.
Whether it’s saying yes to more things, or saying no, it all starts with acknowledging what you need. Be honest with yourself about what you really want, then take that first step. Once you do, you’ll be empowered to do it again, and again, and again. Next thing you know, self care becomes second nature.
Listen to your thoughts. Take a moment to feel the sensations in your body. Our minds and body tell us when something doesn’t feel right, when it’s time to relax, and when we must make a decision that is better for us in the long run. Follow your gut feeling; don’t ignore them. The sooner you start taking care of yourself, the quicker you’ll restore yourself to sanity.
Over the past few years, the market for healing crystals has grown exponentially. It seems you can’t step foot into a flea market or street fair without a slew of tables offering a variety of gemstones in all shapes and sizes. The crystal craze has become mainstream, replacing crucifixes and pictures of Jesus with natural formations found beneath the earth’s crust. Currently, the hashtag “crystals” has over 11 million posts. “Crystalsforsale” has over 500 thousand. With all these retailers online and in person, how do consumers know who to buy from?
People buy healing crystals to surround themselves with positive vibrations. Unfortunately, the method in which many crystals are mined is so unethical that it’s hard to believe they can carry any healing abilities. Crystals are supposed to magnify intentions. But what kind of karma is carried in gemstones that are unearthed by exploitation?
Most, if not all, crystal lovers have positive intentions, yet we unintentionally contribute to unethical mining tactics. Internationally, environmental destruction is a key concern. Land degradation and contamination of resources continue to worry environmentalists and must be addressed by regulated mining companies. Deforestation, erosion, soil contamination, groundwater, and air pollution make it so areas can become uninhabitable for animals and humans alike.
While small scale crystal mines do exist in the United States, many healing crystals are the byproduct of metal mining. Some of the largest copper mines are in the spotlight for damages to water and wildlife. Thankfully, these mines must adhere to regulation and restorative practices.
For some mines, like the Berkeley Pit in Montana, the area is so decimated there is nothing left but toxicity. Without restorative practices to reduce the carbon footprint left by mining, this particular pit remained a health hazard to all life forms for 37 years. Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency forced a clean up. That’s more than can be said for the rest of the world.
Between Thailand and Bangladesh sits an area in Southeast Asia called Myanmar. Formally known as Burma, Myanmar is the number one producer of jade, a highly sought after source in China and in the United States wellness industry. It also fuels a civil war between the Burmese military and Kachin guerrillas. The jade has been attributed to the “blood diamonds” of Africa and is responsible for environmental disaster and social unrest.
In Myanmar, children as young as 7 years old work in extremely dangerous conditions for pennies on the dollar. They toil next to drug addicts who get narcotics from the swirling cesspool of corruption that ties back to government warfare. People die from disease, avalanches, addiction, and violence daily. The fight for dominion over jade, a resource responsible for almost half of Myanmar’s economy, has left a trail of devastation for the Burmese people. For a healing crystal that is supposed to support harmony and good luck, the jade out of Myanmar only fuels pain and suffering.
Another area under the microscope is Madagascar. Here, child labor accounts for too many of the low-cost crystals on the U.S. market. According to The Guardian, “the US Department of Labor and the International Labour Organization estimate that about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s mines.” And these areas are a severe health hazard. Some mines are so tight it’s hard to breathe; others are a rockslide waiting to happen. Boys dig for hours, days, weeks, with curved backs and cramped hands to find crystal compensation that equates to a cup of rice. And where do all these back-breaking, lung impaling crystals go? They are exported around the world. Many of which wind up at the Tucson gem show in Arizona.
The Tucson gem show is a well-known event in the crystal community. Unfortunately, it does not discriminate or ask questions, so many sellers don’t realize this is a breeding ground for international corruption. Since healing crystals have become a billion dollar industry, traders from all over the world fly into Arizona to sell their crystals to unsuspecting retailers across the United States. Middle-men from China where jade is smuggled in from Myanmar sell the beautiful green crystals tainted with corruption; traders from the mines of Madagascar carry in quartz energy smeared with slave labor. And since many mines overseas are unregulated, there is no way to track who or where the crystals originated. Even the regulated metal mines where crystals become a byproduct, a happy accident stumbled upon while they pump pollution into the earth, are sold here at rock bottom prices to please the masses.
In this way, we contribute to the very actions we are against. That is why it’s so important to know the origin of the crystals you purchase. The point is clean, clear energy. The vibration a crystal emits is only as good as its source.
High vibration is at the forefront of my mind when purchasing crystals for the shop. If I want customers to benefit from the magic of healing crystals, then the quality and energy must be present, not just the best price point. Sure, I could find cheaper, duller colored crystals, but at whose expense? Crystal sales shouldn’t be about the money. It should be about healing.
That is why all of the fouram’s healing crystals are ethically sourced out of Brazil where the government upholds very strict mining regulations. Mines must be registered. They are inspected throughout the year to ensure safe working conditions and are required to pass a comprehensive environmental plan to maintain legal status. The environmental plan also includes a extensive land restoration arrangement after the mine becomes obsolete. These practices vastly reduce the carbon footprint left from mining the land, eliminating the chances of toxic pollution like we’ve seen in Montana’s Berkeley Pit.
The miners are paid the government salary amount at minimum. In addition, they have health benefits! Employee health and safety come first, which ensures high standards and high vibratory energy in the earth’s gift of healing crystals.
Furthermore, crystals for sale in Brazil and exported out of the country must have complete documentation. This includes the certificate of origin for the specific mine, and a fiscal paper trail showing each time the material was purchased and subsequently resold. These standard practices greatly reduce the amount of black market crystals sold within and outside of the country.
People are too quick to believe that money solves all problems. The sentiment is that if more money would come in, then everything would be fine. Everything. There would be no more fighting, the bills would be paid, worries would cease to exist and life would be grand. This dogma has often backfired, leaving people railing against the current of life wondering why fortune (and sometimes fame) isn’t enough. Money is power, and with power comes great responsibility. How you choose to use money reveals if your ego is in charge, or you are.
More money, more problems— it’s no lie. The more you make, the more people enter your life in ways that could bear fruit, or end with a knife in your back. The sad truth is that naiveté will often leave you bleeding on the ground. Money has the ability to throw all the rules of civility out the window. It creates an egocentric landscape where everyone is out for themselves, where comradery only counts when life in on an upswing, and many people you called friends are now frenemies. Whether there was “team” or not doesn’t matter. Any successful business person has a story or two about horrible partnerships. Money is food for the ego. And if you’re not careful, it can land you in a trap of your own nightmare, or someone else’s.
Feeding the ego can become an addiction. Whether it’s shopping, gambling, alcohol, or drugs, there’s always another hit to be had. The endless spending is a physical manifestation of filling a void. What void depends on the individual. But there’s a void present nonetheless. The fleeting moment of happiness when buying something new, or having another drink, or taking another hit wears off fast. The emptiness expands quicker than your wallet empties. And when you have more money, it flies out faster to get something else to distract you from what’s really going on. It’s futile.
This is how the seemingly rich lose everything, even their lives. I’ve often heard people flabbergasted at how so and so lost their ass when they had “so much money!” Money isn’t infinite. And if you’re constantly spending it feeding your ego, the ego grows strong. Doesn’t matter how many hours you put in, the ego will outrun you. You’ll be left choking on dust, trudging along with heavier baggage on your shoulders.
Money has the ability to create an insatiable ego. No matter how much there is, it’s never enough. Another pair of shoes, another bag, more decor, a newer car, another bump, another round, a bigger party, a bigger house: the list is endless. It seems the more you have, the less satisfied you become. There’s so much unhappiness permeating the homes of the rich. This is why you can find the best drugs in the biggest mansions.
The money makes them feel they have nothing left to learn. They hide behind the ego. What else is there if you can buy anything you want, even the judge and the jury.
No amount of money, or drugs, or material possessions will heal trauma. The more you try, the more pain you perpetuate into your current life. Families break apart. Relationships that could’ve been lifelong, whether love, platonic, or business, get destroyed by feeding the ego. The debt becomes overwhelming, and some people end up with nothing and no one.
Money won’t fix trauma. Doesn’t matter if you were born into money, or acquired it on your own, it won’t mend a single thing. Problems are just exacerbated with an influx of cash. The only way to heal is to do the inner work. To face to demons from your past, grieve the losses, and start building the solid foundation of your true identity is the only way to find stability in who you are, with or without money. Otherwise, you remain corruptible. And if there’s one sure thing about money, it’s that it will corrupt the corruptible.
Everyone has some amount of trauma. Whether you decide to live with it and the involuntary actions that stem from the pain is a personal choice. But know this— money won’t fix it, it will just make it worse. We see it everyday on television, in the homes of our friends, even in our own. You are no exception. We can choose to live in the light of truth, to face our past with courage and honesty, and heal the wounds that would otherwise overcome us. Then nothing could stand in the way of our growth. Standing strong in our identity makes it harder for the ego to rule. This space is where we are free to focus on creating the dreams for our future. Prosperity flourishes there.
Healing crystal recommendations:
Gold Pyrite (Fool’s Gold): Aids in overcoming feelings of inadequacy and boosts confidence; helps to see the truth behind the facade.
Mahogany Obsidian: A stone of growth and soul healing; brings flaws and negative energies to the surface in order to dispel them.
Cinnabar (Dragon’s Blood): The super abundance stone; aids in selling, aligns energy center, and releases blockages to prosperity.
troub“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven,” says Satan in Paradise Lost as he tries to make the best of his banishment. And that’s the devil for you. Doesn’t matter what you believe in, evil is human nature’s fundamental flaw. Most people are able to keep it at bay, mostly because they’ve been exposed to more good than bad. Life blesses some people that way. Others know nothing but pain and struggle. Fear and anxiety. It becomes so common it’s a normal way of life. The only way, so it seems. For the troubled and tormented, there was never a paradise to lose.
It’s basic psychology that how you grow to perceive the world lies solely in the environment you’re born into. It’s luck of the draw really. Some call is fate. Others call it karma. Why we come into this world with the reality we’re faced with has been a topic of research since the dawn of conscious thought. Some people are perfectly happy with next to nothing while others are drowning in the misery of their own materialism and lack of self love. The less fortunate seem to have endless suffering. Being planted in a garden of manure with little to no sunshine leaves a small chance for growth.
One of my students said it best when she told me “these kids have nothing to live for.” Unfortunately for troubled some, this statement is true. Living in poverty, violence, disappointment, anxiety, and hardened sadness has the ability to turn anyone, no matter how good their intentions may be. There is no self care. It’s hard to find the light when you’re buried under the burning barrel of a gun. It seems like the only option is to play in the fire.
Regardless of the circumstance, everyone is given a choice of which road to take. We either go down the road of the same pain we grew up with because it’s familiar, or we take our chances on the unknown in hopes of a better life. This sounds like an easy enough choice, but it’s harder than it sounds. The latter is scarier because it’s more work, less familiar, and the outcome is unknown. We prefer to stick to what we know, even if what we know we know isn’t right, or even what we really want.
For some people living for themselves apparently isn’t enough. Somewhere down the line, the troubled were taught that they weren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough. Somewhere down the line the troubled were taught there was only one way, this path of pain, and that paradise was exiled for them from the very beginning. It’s too hard to believe, then, when someone tries to lead you to light. Learning isn’t very difficult, but unlearning is a task only the strong will take on.
And if they refuse, then that is their path to take and choice to make. Unfortunately the ones who need the most love are the same people you should stay away from. This is where the word “toxic” comes in. People will play their pain onto everyone, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into the vortex and dragged down to their personal hell. How deep this goes depends on the person. How far you’re willing to stray from your own truth and value is tested. We’re all on a journey of choice and consequence. Do your best to stay on your own path.
It’s true that you can’t change anyone, you can only change yourself. There are some real angels in the world who will try and lead the inflicted to light, but ultimately the acceptance of guidance can only be granted by the person to whom it’s offered. If a person wants to suffer, then suffering it is. As time goes by, the offers and chances dwindle like a candle burns through wax. And then only darkness ensues.
So choose the path of the light, no matter how dim it may seem. Dark tunnels lead to a brighter endings. We may not know what’s outside, but we definitely know what is in— darkness. And is that really something you want to live with forever? The choice is yours.
“Are you an only child?” Every time I’m asked this question there’s always a feeling of dread that I’ve exposed some negative trait about myself. In my early years, I probably did do something that was selfish or bratty. I was oblivious to how I was perceived, but thinking only of my comfort and convenience was all I ever knew. Through no fault of my own, I am an only child.
As I got older I learned how to interact in close relationships through my friends who looked passed the “only child syndrome” straight into the heart of who I was. These friends became the siblings I never had, my truest, most loyal confidants. We fought, we cried, we got over it, and moved on. I grew as a person because of these friendships.
It bothers me when people perceive only child-dom as a bad thing. Sure, we’re not used to sharing, and most of us are accustomed to getting what we want. But does our initial brattiness make us bad people? Absolutely not. In fact, there are some very positive traits of only children that are harder to find in people with siblings.
1. We are fiercely independent.
Why? Because we have to be. Outside of our parents spoiling us, we’ve had to figure out how to navigate through life with our own brains. We didn’t have older siblings to watch and mimic, we didn’t have any sibling to help us do anything. It’s just me, myself, and I. This made us into adults who can figure things out alone. It made us incredibly resourceful, which leads us to:
Being an only child may have been lonely growing up, but it made us much more creative in the long run. We learned to entertain ourselves with our imagination. We learned how to problem solve alone. And our likes and dislikes? There was no copying a brother or sister because that person didn’t exist. So the things we like and do are really all about our secure sense of self.
3. We are loyal friends.
What happens when an only child finds a person to develop a strong bond with? That friend has the ability to grow into a pseudo- sister or brother. Since we don’t have siblings, our friends become our family. We cherish these relationships, especially because they don’t exist at home.
Studies have repeatedly shown that only children spend more time around adults, developing faster cognitively and emotionally, since their sense of self is clearly defined and not in competition with siblings. Only children don’t have to “fit” into any family dynamic, and are therefore able to develop themselves more fully. We set the bar of achievement, no one else. What can be more empowering than that?
I can tell you, there are some people I know who grew up with siblings who are far worse for wear than I ever was. They become frantic when something goes wrong, they vie for attention to the point of desperation, and can’t seem to stand on their own two feet to save their life. From an only child’s point of view, that behavior is weird.
So the next time you come across an only child, don’t assume the worst. We learn how to share, we learn how to admit wrongdoings, we grow, and we cherish your friendship.