How the pandemic changed me

Following what feels most alive took me from Chef to Coach

Early in the pandemic both my son and I were sick with symptoms of Covid, before it was possible to procure a test. My symptoms came on progressively just as the country was shutting down and every day brought more panic, more uncertainty (little did we know just how much more 2020 had to offer us way back in March!). It was hard. And overwhelming. And I found that I really only had enough energy to attend to the small invisible circle that hovered just outside of arms reach. If it fell within arms length I could address it, otherwise: sorry. I had very little to give to my relationships and returned messages and maintained contact only when I had a tiny burst of something extra. During the weeks it took to recover I began to incorporate a radical approach of only doing something if it brought me pleasure.

Force became the enemy.

Slow, the only option.

At the same time I was moved by what I thought I observed occurring in the world: greater authenticity, greater acceptance of people being exactly where they were and open and vulnerable about the way they experienced life, as well as a more profound sense of community and connection. All my favorite stuff.

I discovered quickly that my 2020 goals and plans would have to change, I wouldn’t be offering more cooking classes in my home any time soon and being a private chef (for people who mostly had compromised immune systems) didn’t seem responsible or wise. Everything came to a grinding halt. Something else came to a halt as I recovered from my illness and the world descended into greater chaos: my emotions. I’m a person who feels things deeply, always quite logical and pragmatic but also deeply connected to the ebb and flow of my emotional life and accustomed to feeling many things throughout the course of a single day. I dance with emotions and observe their movement within my being. During this time I frustratingly found that I largely felt…nothing.

Occasionally I might detect a whisper of irritation, a hint of overwhelm but not much else. Mostly I felt muffled. Wrapped in cotton wool so everything was soft and hazy. I started to notice increasing frustration. Why wasn’t I feeling more?? One day I had a simple but astonishing reflection. I took a moment to analyze the sensation of feeling muffled and became curious about it. I wondered to myself about what sorts of things get wrapped in many layers of padding and quickly an answer came to mind: the most precious things. The most fragile and vulnerable and delicate things get treated with tremendous care, wrapped in layers and layers to keep them safe and protected. Underneath all those layers of cotton wool was a raw and vulnerable self, needing the utmost care and tenderness. I was immediately overcome with wonder as I reflected on the perfectly loving way my body and mind had protected me from what at the time had felt like too much. I marveled and then I celebrated. “I am a GENIUS! My body is a GENIUS! I knew exactly the right thing to do for myself! That’s amazing. Incredible!” I crowed. I sat in awe and celebration for a few minutes and grabbed my phone to send an exultant message to friends with my revelation.

And a few minutes later I noticed something else: in that simple act of curiosity, followed by approval of my state of being and then celebration, the swaddling that had been there for weeks and weeks came undone and I could feel. I felt joy, delight, wonder. I felt like myself again.

This moment and others that I stretched into over the following many months gave me all kinds of amazing gifts in that wild circus of a year. The holistic health coaching I had been offering previously to limited numbers of people expanded into holistic coaching that had more to do with emotional health and cultivating a deep connection with one’s body as a key to developing an internal guidance system. The extra tenderness and acceptance I showed myself in my process of recovering translated to the care I gave my clients and the approval I showered on them for being precisely where they were. It’s extraordinary what happens when you just love people.

I realized that time is limited and we must respond to the insistent pull of desire. Desire and listening to the insistent nudges of Spirit led me to create a beautiful new course: The Sensuality of Food. At the end of summer 2020 I piloted this new idea (based on my own philosophy which I developed over many years about the regulating influence of sensory awareness, and the delights that are available to us through all of our senses in our experience of food). It was glorious. Every week I was so excited to share my acute observations with my fellow Pleasure Detectives and I delighted in watching their greater expansion into mindfulness and connection with their bodies. It was a timely offering in a year of serious overwhelm. I continued that course into 2021 with much delight.

After five weeks together of exploring our sensory world through the food we eat and prepare I had some specific requests for continued support. Could I coach them around putting a connection to their body as the central focus of their life in order to use that information for direction and as a guide to how they they might live in general ? (Yes, I could). Could I coach them through reconnecting with sensuality and pleasure in a way that would unravel some sexual shame so they could live a life that felt more balanced and complete? (Yes, I could do that too)

An unexpected gift that year of isolation was the freedom to transcend borders. It brings me such joy to work with clients in South Africa, in Canada, Hawaii, the UK. And the form my coaching was taking seemed to be around prioritizing the care of one’s emotional ecosystem through some key tools:

  • allowing your body to tell you what you need emotionally and physically
  • using pleasure as a path to self discovery and mindfulness
  • leading with desire
  • how to lean into emotionally challenging situations and find them enjoyable

It had changed my life and now I was getting to share what I had learned from my own messy experimentation with others.

These elements are in all of my workshops to one degree or another, but if you would like to go deeper 1:1 coaching is a rich opportunity to dive in. Check out my private coaching packages or schedule a discovery call with me so we can find out if we’re a good fit.