Listen: Margie Warrell chats to Katrina Roe
Uncertainty is never comfortable — but with pandemic lockdowns putting us all in a strange global holding pattern, that’s life right now.
For Australian writer Margie Warrell, author of books with titles like You’ve Got This, Brave, and Find Your Courage, it has been a a forced opportunity to practice her own mantras. When her husband contracted coronavirus, Margie had to dig deeper than ever into her faith, and into the principles she’s learnt over many years, to get through the turmoil with some sense of peace.
Speaking to Katrina Roe on Hope Mornings from Singapore where the nation is still in lockdown, Margie said it has been a very tough time for her personally — especially during an excruciatingly long quarantine period.
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“My husband had been in the United States and flew back in — and within 24 hours had fever, cough and sore throat,” Margie recalled. “He tested positive for coronavirus and they hospitalised him that day.
“They also did an x-ray and they thought he had a lung infection, and put an IV in his arm and put him on antibiotics. I felt pretty overwhelmed. He’s a pretty fit guy, but it made me feel really anxious. We’re a long way from the rest of the family, I don’t have all my kids with me at the moment. It was a really tough few days.
“At day six or so, his fever broke and he turned a corner, and they decided it wasn’t a lung infection. So at that point I felt like I could breathe again. He was in hospital for eight days.”
A Month Stuck in Quarantine
The next few weeks consisted of waiting in isolation: “Everyone is kept in a quarantine facility until you test negative, and that took a lot longer than we thought it would — so he ended up being away for 30 days,” Margie said.
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Asked how she dealt with the isolation and uncertainty, Margie said she drew on what she teaches others.
“I really had to put into practice some of the things I’ve learnt in the last few years, which is be really intentional in just how do I choose to be in the day, versus letting my circumstances decide how I’m going to be — and just to embrace the discomfort of it, and trust that in the long run it’s all going to work out,” she said.
“While we were anxiously waiting for him to test negative for COVID-19 we just had to surrender so much of our attachment to the timeline. And I kept thinking of Dr Anthony Fauci in the United States who said, ‘We don’t set the timeline, the virus sets the timeline’.
“And to me that boils down to life…My son said to me one time, ‘if you want to walk with God, you’ve got to walk at God’s pace’, and I was like ‘God’s pace is too slow for me, can it hurry up? I’m impatient!’”
“To exercise you have to have a mask on at all times except if you’re doing vigorous exercise. They don’t even want families going out together.”
Right now, Singaporeans are in the middle of two months of extreme social distancing, which the government is calling a ‘circuit breaker’. Margie describes it as “a nicer name than lockdown”.
“We’re really not supposed to go out unless it is for something essential; they want everyone working from home,” said Margie. “To exercise you have to have a mask on at all times except if you’re doing vigorous exercise. They don’t even want families going out together.
“So there’s no mixing. It’s relatively hardcore.”
7 Practical Steps to Keeping Calm
To get through a time of uncertainty like the present, Margie uses and recommends a number of different strategies, including:
1 – Connect to God
“Not everybody subscribes to the idea of God, but I do, so for me it’s practicing what allows me to connect to that, knowing that it’s all going to be okay, there’s a greater power at force here, a greater plan in place.”
2 – Write in a Journal
“I write in my journal. That’s a practice I’ve had for many years. I ask, ‘God what do you want me to know’, and often it’s something along the lines of ‘You’ve got this and it’s all going to be okay’.”
3 – Listen to Music
“I listen to music that lifts me up, and that feeds my spirit.”
4 – Get Back to Nature
“I get out in nature when I can, and that feeds my spirit too.”
5 – Choose Faith Over Fear
“[This is about] just choosing and re-choosing to walk that path of faith over fear, and to ground myself in what I know is true — which is, that I have everything it takes to meet each moment as it arises, and not to get pulled into fear-casting those worst-case scenarios.”
6 – Pray With Someone
“I connect with people who also affirm my faith. During the two-week quarantine my son Lachlan — he’s in New York — got on the phone every day, and we’d say a prayer and hand it over to God. And sometimes I’d struggle to surrender, and so I’d surrender the fact that I had a hard time surrendering!”
7 – Anchor Yourself to the Present Moment
“Come back into the moment, breathe, and practice mindfulness.”
Instead of Fearing the Future, Trust That You Will Be Okay
In Margie’s most recent book, You’ve Got This – The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself, she writes a lot about the importance of trusting in our capacity to handle life’s challenges.
“So much of our stress and anxiety comes from the assessment we make about our ability to deal with the future; what we think the future might hold — ‘How will I deal with it if I lose my job?’, ‘How will I deal with it if this bad thing happens?’,” Margie said.
“Those things don’t always happen, but we imagine what might happen, and we scare ourselves. But even in the moment, when something is happening, for example when Andrew was in hospital, and having children I can’t reach right now, and I can’t get to my parents right now — if we focus on all of these bad things it can cause enormous stress.
“When we trust ourselves…it alleviates enormous amounts of stress, and you go ‘You know what, I’ll just deal with it, I’ll figure it out, it’s going to be okay’.”
“Trusting ourselves is about looking inward for the security and the certainty that we can’t find otherwise — and trusting in our innate capacity as humans to rise to whatever life unfolds, and whatever life requires of us.
“When we trust ourselves, and when we have faith that we are going to be able to deal with whatever happens, it alleviates enormous amounts of stress, and you go ‘You know what, I’ll just deal with it, I’ll figure it out, it’s going to be okay’.
“It’s really liberating. Instead of being all wound up, we go, ‘I can deal with this’, and we breathe into whatever emotions come up, and we be compassionate with ourselves, and we lean into the power that we have to solve and rise above the problem.”
Find out more about Margie and her books at Margiewarrell.com.