Zoom Pandemic Parlor

A message from Aleia: Our latest program is “Zoom Pandemic Parlor” (ZPP for short). You are welcome to join in an upcoming ZPP, if you agree with the intention, guidelines, and process (scroll down for those details). Another new program is our Private Pandemic Parlor, offering one on one healing time.

OVERVIEW ~~~~~ Here in Arizona, we are experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases/deaths daily. The Navajo Nation and all people of color across the USA have been dis-proportionally affected by the virus. Recent events (George Floyd’s murder, police brutality, massive protests, etc.) have rocked our world and placed a sharp lens on the racial inequality in our nation. In our Pandemic Parlors, folks are sharing a myriad of thoughts and feelings about how to respond to and be in this time.

These conversations leave me feeling that we are a world in crisis and opportunity. It is not just about the pandemic; it never was. This may be a time of transformation, innovation and rising; it is also a time of outrage, grief and stumbling. Some say this is a global existential crisis; others say we are rising to a new level of connection and compassion. We appear to be living in a paradox, reflecting on the best and worst of times.

In this time of isolation, social distancing and the loss of ‘normal life,’ we have designed and are hosting this activity to provide a place to give and receive stories, compassion, empathy, and kindness. We do this without trying to lead participants to any conclusion, philosophy, product, or course of action related to the pandemic or its consequences. We feel it is helpful to hear how people in the United States and other parts of the world are experiencing and innovating response to this event. Talking about it with presence, heart, and focus may help to contribute something useful and healing to the universal, collective experience we are all having.

INSPIRATION ~~~~~ The inspiration for this program is in keeping with our mission statement “to provide resources and education for living well and dying with dignity.” Our organization’s objectives include offering grief support and practical tips for conscious transitions. We are inspired by Death Café, an international social franchise that has given way to thousands of safe conversations about the often-taboo topic (death). Further Shore has hosted many Death Café’s, and we feel that the pandemic, while not a taboo topic, is giving rise to social, cultural, healthcare, and economic upheavals that bear mindful discussion. But sometimes those conversations feel a bit taboo or unsafe.

FEAR AND GRIEF ~~~~~ The book, Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers reminds us that calling out our concerns, worries, and fears can be a powerful step to healing and finding peace. Because the corona virus is novel (new), and has changed our daily lives in big and small ways, we have been in a sort of collective state of shock for months. We are grieving. Patrons have expressed roller coaster emotions, feelings of helplessness to take meaningful actions for self-care, or to make practical contributions toward a better world. Because our social activities are so extremely limited, we have been unable to gather with friends over coffee or dinner to explore our personal or global hopes and fears. We have been unable to gather for birthdays, weddings, funerals, reunions, conferences and the like. This is taking a toll on individuals, families, and communities.

Our emotional and practical response to the number of people who are marginalized because of race or gender; who are hungry, on the front lines, out of work, physically vulnerable, falling ill, or dying alone presents an individual and universal grieving that deserves our attention and reflection. However, grief can be paralyzing. One of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s defined stages of grief is “denial” which has a root in fear. With the Kubler-Ross family’s permission, author, David Kessler has added a 6th stage of grief as “meaning.” Joining a Pandemic Parlor offers the opportunity to feel the fear but do it anyway; and to explore with others doing the same. ZPP guidelines and process (noted below) are designed to help patrons co-create safe space and shared empathy. It is our hope that these conversations will help us all to find meaningful ways to mindfully be in these times, with more compassion, coping strategies, and intact boundaries.

INTENTION ~~~~~ The intention of this 1.5 hour meeting is to join in our shared humanity to talk about the pandemic and relative topics as they relate to our daily lives; to connect in order to explore our similarities and differences, strategies and needs in order to live our lives more fully now, during, and in an ongoing way as we experience this unique global event.

GUIDELINES

1. Webster’s definition of “Parlor”: a room for the reception or entertainment of visitors in one’s home. Meetings will take place in your own home ‘parlors’ on Zoom. Obviously, you must bring your own beverage of choice. It is also recommended that you have tasty cake, cookies, chocolate or another sweet nearby to balance a conversation that may have some serious edges.

2. Please speak in “I” statements; expressing what is happening and true for self. Listen carefully. Reflect kindly. Practice respect. Agree to disagree if that situation arises. Share from the heart.

3. Topics are not provided by the facilitator. This is a place to express information about how the pandemic is affecting your personal and/or professional life; to share thoughts and feelings that are arising from the situation and to give and receive empathy about your experiences. Patrons are encouraged to come prepared with topics that are relevant to their lives.

4. Thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, strategies about the pandemic and its ramifications are welcome, including hopes or concerns about personal mortality or that of loved ones, global changes or challenges for the environment, economy, cultures and so on.

5. During the meeting: no judging, proselytizing, campaigning, or cajoling others to agree with your viewpoint. We acknowledge that local, medical, state, federal, tribal, and global governing bodies; and in some cases, religious laws are playing a part in our new reality. These factors may shape the way we are responding to the pandemic emotionally and/or speak to how we are now living life, staying safe, communicating, earning a living and so on. Please express viewpoints in a civil, respectful manner.

6. Together we recognize that the meeting is not to replace counseling or grief support, and we acknowledge that many facets of grief may be in play during the meeting. We provide support as we are able given the technology does not allow for physical comfort/touching. It is recommended to have your own tissues nearby. ZPPs held to date have seen both laughter and tears.

7. No donation is requested or required, however, Further Shore is paying for the monthly Zoom service and if patrons want to make a donation to support this and other programs, it can be done via PayPal at the website www.furthershore.org/donate/paypal

PROCESS NOTES

1. Reservations may be made by calling the office (928-525-2910) or on the Further Shore FaceBook Events page. If the reservation is made on FB, it will not be confirmed unless you follow all 3 steps: 1) click on “Going” 2) click on “Reserve a Spot” 3) answer 3 short questions. These events are on a first come, first serve basis. A wait list will form if the event is fully booked.

2. Once confirmed, patrons will be invited to the Zoom Meeting via an email link the day before the meeting.

a. Invitations will be for Arizona time (Mountain Standard Time which is the same as Pacific Time from March-November). For those living out of state (or country), please be aware of timing.

b. Patrons will also receive a confirmation email with notes about how to prepare for the Parlor

3. Aleia O’Reilly is the meeting facilitator. The meeting is for not more than 5 people in total (Aleia, plus 2-4 others)

4. Confidentially please. The meeting will not be recorded or shared outside of the group. Patrons are asked to respect everyone’s confidence and not share any comments (other than your own) in community or on social media.

5. To honor everyone’s time constraints, the meeting will begin and end on time. If you have to leave the meeting because of technical problems, feel free to rejoin (I will keep an eye on the waiting room and if you are successful in rejoining will admit you).

6. The meeting will begin with a one-minute Metta practice and a reminder of guidelines

7. There will be a “talking circle” format so as not to all be talking at once

8. There will be time at the end of the meeting to express final thoughts, gratitude

9. Further Shore does not share email addresses with other agencies or the public.