Are we broken?

This year has been tough. Understatement, right?

I won’t waste time listing all the things that have changed or disappeared altogether so far in 2020, because you know them as well as I do.

Lately, I feel like I’m floating in an undetermined space. I feel tired. My energy levels are so low some days that I don’t even recognize myself.

To keep me tethered and energized, I have been taking online courses. Lots of them. They have helped.

My current online learning pursuit is a writing group. Last week, the leader, Carlyn Bland, gave us this quote on which to reflect and write:

“In order to have something new, something old has to be broken, and if you’re too heavily focused on the old, you’re going to get stuck” –Joseph Campbell

Are we broken? There are days the world looks that way.

Is it a bad thing to be broken? Apparently not (if it helps us get unstuck).

What caused the break?

The Pandemic…the hammer to “the old”


COVID-19 and the requisite quarantines and social distancing has been the sledgehammer to my year, and probably yours as well.

And as much as I can lament and mourn over what I have lost, my brokenness has resulted in some notable gains.

First, quarantine allowed me to channel my energies into writing and distributing Captain Corona and the 19 COVID Warriors, which has resulted in an email distribution list whose size exceeds the list of productivity followers for whom I’ve been writing articles for 10 years.

Note: my early pandemic energy boost was probably surge capacity, which is now depleted.

Secondly, the absence of travel for speaking engagements has forced me to focus on improving my marketing, website, and business processes.

Perhaps I am being remade in 2020 into something new. Perhaps I needed to be broken down to let go of the old.

As Leonard Cohen writes “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

However, despite the assurances of the sages, I cannot summon positive feelings about being broken. It makes me feel anxious and hopeless.

I need hope right now. I need an alternative to describing myself as broken.

Shraddha…faith in what comes next


I participated in an online meditation group with Dr. Susan Lamb. She used Sanskrit Yoga Sutras (aphorisms) to help guide our meditations. It was very powerful.

In her course, I learned the Sanskrit word, shraddha. The official definition is “faith, commitment, the joy of practice in the certainty of fulfillment.”

The deeper meaning of shraddha is a radical trust in the perfect unfolding of our lives. Life is a powerful force, and the “Great Mind” (for me, God) knows where we’re heading.

Shraddha is faith and joy that our lives are unfolding just as they should. Shraddha represents our commitment to use every circumstance to the complete unfolding of our lives. The good and the bad things that happen to us equally contribute to this perfect unfolding.

Perhaps “broken” is not the word to inspire us right now.

I prefer to think of us and our world as…unfolding.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Seana Turner

    I have definitely found this time challenging. On the one hand, my needs are met, I am healthy, my husband has suddenly been around instead of traveling 24/7, and I got to spend a couple of weeks with my children this summer. On the other, I find it difficult to plan the future. Normally I love this process. Planning calms me down and makes me happy. I’d like to plan vacations and get togethers, and I just can’t. That has knocked me off my base a bit. As someone who follows Jesus, I’ve decided this is actually good for me, to remember that I’m not really in control anyway, and there is great value in letting go a bit and taking each day as it comes. Not easy, though.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      I love your attitude, Seana. There are lots of blessings in these strange days.

  2. Linda Samuels

    Just the other day, I was having this conversation with one of my friends. We barely recognize ourselves. Motivation to accomplish, do, and achieve has been uneven since the pandemic began. While I have managed to move forward in certain ways, prioritize self-care, and pivot my business, at times, I feel like I’m walking through molasses. Or perhaps it’s more like being on a rollercoaster—so many ups and downs. There have been so many challenges, and just as many causes for celebration.

    You mentioned, “surge capacity.” I read an article on that recently. I loved a quote from it, which was, How do you adjust to an ever-changing situation where the ‘new normal’ is indefinite uncertainty?” That is a powerful question. Not that I have the answer, but each day I practice gratitude, kindness to self and others, and flexibility. Meditation, yoga, walks in nature, and conversations with loved ones are essential too. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. I am certain of uncertainty. And it’s from that place that I wake each day and do the best that I can.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Ahh…”walking through molasses”…perfect description. Keep up your excellent self-care rituals. Mine have been life savers.

  3. Melanie

    I find solace in being busy too. My second daughter was born in April this year and although it was a strange and scary time to have a baby, it’s almost been business as usual since we would be home anyway. I’m kind of dreading having to step outside my bubble. I appreciate this post, thank you!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Congrats on your baby! There is no better thing on which to focus your efforts right now. I hope you are getting some rest as well.

  4. Janet Barclay

    Thank you, great food for thought. I’ve saved the article about surge capacity to read later.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      I am fascinated by the concept of surge capacity as well. I think I could use a little more adrenaline these days.

    • Janet Barclay

      Melissa, I’ve just read the article you linked to about surge capacity and wanted to thank you again for including it in your post. I found it enlightening and reassuring.

  5. Carolyn Brackett

    I think about the quote “we’re all in this together” and wonder what exactly does that mean? I haven’t agreed 100%. That is, until I read your article. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings to help me understand we’re surely not alone in our ever changing world. God is our Refuge!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thank you, Carolyn. Despite what we show as our best social media selves, I think we are all tired right now.

  6. Wade Herring

    Melissa, thanks for sharing and for your insights. I try to remind myself to be present and to otherwise, let it go. Easier said than done.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      I have been repeating the Serenity Prayer to my car windshield at regular intervals, especially the part about “courage to know the difference.”

  7. Julie Bestry

    You never cease to amaze me with your storehouses of insight and your vast inventories of hope. I’ve been feeling more crumpled than broken, so perhaps instead of unfolding, I’m being “smoothed out?”

    Here’s to not being stuck, and to whatever comes next!


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