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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

The Mirror

Mother / Daughter at the Local Food Pantry

We didn’t plan it, but we found ourselves here. This could be true of any moment, in any day, at any point in time. For us, now, this is quite different. I do have an advantage because, as many of you know, I am a hermitess.

I have coined the phrase and, by choice, live by this code. This means that I rarely see people, although this year, I vowed to get out and become more involved in the community. Who would have thought that the universe had another plan?


I’m in the woods. I could be classified as a mystical woman who talks to plants and animals, makes plant medicine, and plays music every night. I write, paint, and create in whatever medium is present and working best at the time. So, while hunkering down is uncomfortable for some, unimaginable for others, and disorienting for many, that part of life, for me, has remained unchanged.


I understand. Just because I am that woman in the woods does not mean that I have not been impacted by this change in our world. No one can avoid it or be isolated from the whole—the new cycle that we are inhabiting. 

As I discussed in earlier pieces, there is fear and uncertainty. I realize that with so many systems and patterns disrupted, there is shock and a level of trauma. What do we do with it? For me, I must allow the fluctuating energies to ebb and flow as they will. When I’m aware of people or situations emitting too much fear and anxiety, when it threatens to hijack my well-being, I have learned how to turn it off. 

I do not reject those who reach out, not at all, but I do what I can to turn it around. I acknowledge the concerns that one might have, but I also make suggestions about the importance of paying attention to where we are in a given moment. It’s like a checkpoint. You ask yourself, am I breathing; am I feeling okay; is the outdoor environment as it should be; am I safe right now? 

And if you can answer yes to those questions, you have taken away from the fear that stands at the threshold, and you can make a healthy transition. Each time you do this, you are gaining strength.


Of course, there are many concerns. Where will this lead? How will I get there? And then we begin to think of others and how they are affected. When I start to go down that road, and I do, I’m a mother, I stop myself. At some point, it is in our best interest to trust that if we take the proper steps in self-care, compassion, and prevention, we’re good.

I recommend turning off the news. At least limit it to once, or if you have to, twice a day. After watching, check in with your overall state. Was the experience filled with hope and optimism? OR are you more frightened and depressed? Did your vibe just sink so low that you have to look up to see bottom?


It’s best to be informed, but not saturated, with too much data. Instead, take this time to explore what you may not have had time to do in the past. Read a book, handwrite a letter, bake a cake (from scratch), do a puzzle (for me, I’m an anti-puzzle girl). 


It’s hard when the world shifts radically into the realm of the unknown. But, this is only because we are conditioned to rely on our daily patterns and rituals. Now is the time to prove to yourself that you have what it takes to endure.


A good example is our ancestors. Reflect. I’m talking way back to the hunter-gatherer days. We don’t have to forage yet, which again, is something that I do, so I’m not freaking out about that. Our ancestors lived in caves and were aligned with cycles and seasons. They often migrated with various creatures. The stars were their guide. 

How spoiled we have gotten! If they could see you with your fancy gadgets, instant global connections, they’d think that they were dreaming or had eaten something with psychotropic properties.


So, dear friends, it is in our wiring to survive. Face it, nothing will ever be the same. Is that good? Or bad? When I do see bits and pieces of the mainstream media, it is so packed with information regarding this pandemic, that I have not heard of any shootings.

Did violence just happen to stop?

Are random serial shooters practicing social distancing?

What about the wars?

Are we at peace now?

Do borders still matter?

Does a pandemic need a passport?

What is God up to?


I try to practice grace and mindfulness when transitioning from one moment to the next. Unearth the lesson. Find the gift. This is precisely what emerged when I faced another unplanned scenario, when I held up the mirror.

A few days prior, my daughter texted me about the closing of her workplace. We had a brief exchange, and all I could do was give her space to figure it out, and if she required support from me, be there. 


The following day, my Mamma Bear instincts nudged me to call her. She was visibly shaken when she answered. It was apparent when I asked if she was okay, and she answered, “I’m scared.”


Naturally, I took the time to comfort her. To reinforce that she would be alright and that if she needed me in any way, I was here for her. She always knows that, but not only was it good for her to hear, but I had an unusual need to say it. 


I offered more words of reassurance and then I realized that after losing her job (like millions of others), she was eligible to go to the local food pantry, where I’m a volunteer. This is what the program is about. 


A week ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that along with other volunteers at the food pantry, I would be filling out an order for my daughter. She prides herself on working hard and being independent. And, when I say that she has been around the block a few times, I am not exaggerating. She chose to travel the country and busk on countless city streets, playing her banjo and claiming, “This Land is Her Land.” 


She has been off the road for some time now and worked very hard. None of us expected that suddenly, without warning, that she and a multitude of hardworking Americans would lose their jobs.


I have encouraged her to take this time to write more songs, upload her originals on various internet platforms, and be the ultimate creative that she is. 

I asked her to remember who she is, my Anna Lion (a name that she called herself when she was a little girl). I wanted her to summon that roar that is rooted in her bones.


While helping to load boxes into the back of her car, I acknowledged how remarkable and unpredictable life is. How can we ever know what to expect? I vow to honor what presents itself. I am one who will do what is necessary to bring light to otherwise dark places.


We are here now, undergoing a massive transformation, an up-leveling.

Love is the answer.


Please check your sources to find your local food pantries. There is food available and meant for those who would otherwise go without. Our food pantry serves Tamworth and Sandwich, NH residents. It is located at St Andrews Church 678 Whittier Road Tamworth, NH Hours: Tuesdays and Fridays - 10:00 - 12:00 Wednesday Evenings - 5:00 - 7:00


Jun 01, 2020

Thank you, Kevin.


May 31, 2020

very well written, applicable and compassionate.


May 31, 2020

very well written, applicable and compassionate.

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