Showing Up in the Time of COVID-19

Mar 29, 2020

When life presents challenges we get to decide how we are going to be within it — will we constrict or expand? Succumb or become?


Spring is a time of great vulnerability. As delicate flowers gently test the waters and pop through winter’s soil, as buds appear upon branches…will they survive? Will they succumb to a frost or an unexpected snow? Despite it all, they continue to show up, to try, to awaken, to bloom.

Living in this region Mother Nature reminds us of our own fragility, but also of the flip side to that — reflecting our incredible resiliency. And boy have we all gotten a taste of that lately.

And it got real. Just two weeks ago, in response to this global pandemic, we were ordered to cease all table service. The enormity of this descended upon me like a tidal wave sucking me into its clutches. My head spun: How can I make this work? How can I stay afloat? How can I keep my team employed? How can I keep my doors open for my community?

I had to show up like never before. I had to navigate unchartered territory. I had to dig deep within and walk through my fear...and walk through it again and again as new circumstances arose.

I had no idea what the outcome would be, but I knew one thing — I wasn’t going to be pulled out to sea without a good fight.

But survival has many faces and it’s OK to see them (and be them) all.  Here are a few of mine (you may identify with some of these within your own experience of this pandemic):

Savior: I’m going to save my employees. I will sacrifice everything I possibly can to make sure they are OK.

Coordinator: I will strategize and execute plans, cover all bases and ‘what ifs’.

Captain: I will steer the ship, make the tough calls, ride the waves, give the orders, keep us all afloat. Failure is not an option.

Faithful Servant: I will get down on my knees, surrender in prayer, let go of control, trust and lead in faith. I will hand over my fear.

As we walk through life we wear many masks. Sometimes we are the savior, sometimes the faithful servant, sometimes a complete vulnerable mess — it’s OK to acknowledge it all, the myriad aspects of who we are at any given moment. We are complex. We are many things — and that’s what also makes us glorious. Even on the days we want to hide from the world beneath our covers.

There’s no denying that this experience is stirring the great pot of emotions — and from it we will witness both the best and the worst or our behavior; from the beautiful community work to the alienation and blame. Survival is a trigger. I’m observing  much in myself and others. In many ways, it’s bringing about great clarity for me — almost as if there is no more space for the ‘bs’. I am noticing myself becoming more aware of my boundaries; what I will stand for and not. I won’t be guilted into anything. I’m communicating more clearly.

Each day is an opportunity for a do-over, a new way to show up.

Show up like the flowers in spring. Bring your resiliency and your guts. Bring your passion and your love to all that you encounter. Bring your fear so someone else is allowed to show up for you. This café is my creation, my home, my heart, my medicine, my identity, my pride and my joy. I wasn’t walking away and closing her doors without first trying to make it work. If that outcome was inevitable, then so be it. But I knew I needed it, my staff needed it and my community needed it. And it was worth the try.

We didn’t need a crisis to do the right thing in terms of protocols — but we certainly have upped our game. Even our pens for signing bills are in sanitizer. Prepping and planning soothes me and always has. Staying in action and feeling like I am doing something — being a part of the solution instead of the panic, helps me stay calm.

I was advised to put the chairs of the café up on top of the tables, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I filled the café with flowers…beautiful daffodils and tulips. Each morning I arrive, turn on the lights, put on the music, greet my flowers, breathe in the yummy smells of food wafting from the kitchen and await my customers (even if they are only stopping outside for curbside pick-up). I hold that moment in my soul in deep gratitude.

Notice the things around you, breathe them in and hold onto them. They feed you.

Why do I fill the restaurant with flowers? Because there is still beauty to be found in any circumstance. Because I am supporting a fellow local business (my florist). Because even though my customers can only see in the window or pop in for a moment to pick up their food — I want them to see and feel something that makes them feel loved, appreciated and calm. It is my hug.

At the end of each day, like the trailblazing flowers of a new season — we don’t know what circumstances we will be met with. We can’t plan for all outcomes, but we can nurture ourselves enough so that we can show up.

I’m showing up to feed others. God knows we need nourishing, organic, ‘real’ food now more than ever. I’m showing up to stay connected. I’m showing up to do my part and to count the small victories. Each day that I can post, “We are OPEN” on social media…I give myself a gold star. So for the time being, we are here serving up our Garden Café goodness for take-out only.

For now, dear community, be safe, be healthy, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Nurture yourself. Be kind, be patient and keep the faith that this too shall pass. And when we emerge out onto the other side of this, we will be so grateful to be together. I look forward to that day, the day that we can embrace one another again.

I’ve got a big HUG reserved for each of you. Stay strong and wash your hands!

 — Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Café Woodstock


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