Today marks 2 weeks since we’ve been social distancing in my house, which has meant pretty much only going out for essentials, a run, walk the dog and throw the ball for him. On that first weekend, we met one friend at the park to play and went out for hot chocolate after. I felt bad about that. Since then it has been virtual playdates for my only child, an 8 year old boy, and daily negotiations about getting on this screen or that. Or getting off. Most parents are putting no limits on screen time. And I can’t deny that sounds divine.
These are strange and difficult times. Unprecedented they say. I say, as I sit staring out the window wondering what I should be doing right now. Like most of us, I can’t go to my job and I have a young child at home. How do we not have ALL of our lessons be 20/20 in hindsight alone? I listened to some short talk by one of my mentors, Caroline Myss. Perhaps some of you have heard of her. She’s recorded a short video everyday this week to help us keep connected and to give some insight into the significance of our time during COVID-19. She offered her listeners a word yesterday that touched me to the core: Endurance. That is what we she believes will get us through this time. I couldn’t agree more.
I have some experience with that from running ultramarathons and I’d like to offer you some tools I used for getting through a 100 miles or a 24 hour race that might help you through the next few weeks. We could be social distancing for a long time and while I don’t judge you for doing what you need to get through these times, I ask you be kind to yourself, that you be aware of your choices to be sure they are truly nourishing you. I plead you to heed this call, this opportunity to slow down, get quiet and truly, deeply listen to your body, mind and soul. Let it tell you what it needs.
As a society we are not used to slowing down. We have filled up our days with commuting to work, work itself, meetings over lunch, workouts after work or happy hour or dinner with friends, picking kids up from school, taking them to practice or music lessons, making meals for dinner and the next day, helping with homework, getting the kids to bed, finishing work, and being too tired for much more than changing clothes, brushing teeth and lying down for sleep after a little mindless TV. Our entire day we are tethered to our phone or computer and those that reach us through them. I don’t need to dissect our culture and the value or lack thereof the many activities and tasks in our day. I will say that I’m hearing a lot of people taking a look, asking themselves what matters, taking stock. Literally like, what’s in my pantry as well as metaphorically, what reserves do I have inside of me to deal with this shift in our reality? How well was this or that working for me before COVID19? We’re seeing pictures or videos surfacing of celebrities inside their homes showing their roots, gray or otherwise, seeing news anchors’ wrinkles and hearing the poor audio quality of their guests or contributors as they stream from home. This is real folks! Whether conscious or not, we – mind, body and soul, are being informed that things are not what they used to be and likely never will be again. Not only are we talking to each other and asking ourselves, what did I do all day before COVID19, our subconscious is taking in all that’s different, processing it, trying to make sense of it, getting a little antsy because that’s not how things are supposed to be.
We have an opportunity. I can not deny there is a part of lockdown that I like. Don’t ever think I wish for illness or death or the loss of a loved one or a whole community on anyone. Nor do I welcome the shutdown of our economy that will take months if not years from which to recover. I sobbed while watching the videos circulating around of health care workers and volunteers working 15-30 hour shifts, risking and in too many cases losing their own lives to take care of ours. I see the elderly alone behind the windows waving, trying to touch their spouses of 50 years, their children and grandchildren, scared and confused, families standing by as their loved ones face dying alone. It’s devastating.
I’m scared. I’m no germaphobe in normal times. I’m responsible, not gross, but I don’t worry. I think it’s good for my kid to get dirty, to build up his immune system, not sanitize everything. These days I’m singing the ABC song to the point of cracks in my hands. Because I’m scared. My partner’s parents are in their late 80’s. If either of them gets this, neither of them will make it. He’s missing his Easter visit to see them and is frightened for his father who was ALREADY afraid he’ll die alone. My partner himself has exercise induced asthma, is 49 and reminds me daily the biggest population to get hit with this in the US are men in his age bracket. My best friend, 50 years old has 5 autoimmune diseases and has had pneumonia 3 times in the last 3 years. She needs chloraquine to keep her symptoms and illnesses at bay. And if she happens to get COVID-19, I’d be afraid she wouldn’t be able to fight it off. My sister in law, niece, and at least 4 friends from my son’s school are nurses or doctors. We ALL know someone directly affected by this virus.
My son likes to be informed and is privy to the news when I talk with my partner about it or we’re watching the news. I don’t try to hide it yet I get concerned how this may be affecting him. Keeping things from him just makes him more anxious. He sees the number of cases and the death toll on the CNN screen while I listen to the latest news. We talk and I check in with him several times daily. At a certain point we all need to take a break from the news and live our simple lives. We need to protect and guide our children through this as best we can. Parents, you know how much/little and in what manner to explain to your children why we’re staying home and not having playdates or why we can’t take our spring break vacation. We’re healthy and together and I’m grateful. We have a house, food, clothing and I’m not afraid of losing any of it anytime soon. I know this will pass eventually so I try to make the most of our time in isolation day by day. While I wonder what things will be like after. I said I would give you some tools and instead you’ve listened to the state of the Johnson house. I bet mine is a whole lot like yours, change the characters’ identity and age and you have most households in the US if not the world right now. The WORLD.
There are a lot of unanswered questions on so many levels. I don’t know when we will have answers to many of them, if ever. In the meanwhile, let us take this opportunity to get to know ourselves better, take this quiet time to listen, take this slow time to look for longer, go a little deeper. What is important is to not let any of it be a reason to turn on yourself, to get down on yourself. The point is this. As you know more about yourself, which is a lifelong journey, you will identify what you want to strengthen in yourself. You will know better your likes and dislikes, what you need, what you want, why you don’t have it and what you can to do create the life, body, mind and being you strive to have.
As we go through this time we are likely discovering things we thought we needed but don’t – things we spend time and money on that aren’t necessarily serving us. Taking stock. What about normal might you want to leave behind? Certain things may be obvious, others you may not discover until you do get back to life as it was. No doubt this is a time to practice finding the calm, still, silent place inside. That is where the lessons are, that is where the eternal love is, where our strength lies, where the parts become the whole. That is with you all the time no matter how fast and loud things are around you. THAT is YOU!
Keep a gratitude list – on paper or in your mind. As the big and loud things fall away, the beauty in simplicity is revealed. The lockdown leaves open places of business that provide only those things considered essential. Now, what is ESSENTIAL for YOU?
Find a community to engage with, to check in with daily while you navigate your days and continue to make progress on your goals. Sole to Soul Fitness Community on Facebook is a great place to get encouragement or to share it. Not only are we all in this pandemic together, we are all on life’s journey together. We all have something to offer. You can’t keep it unless you give it away.
Stay Home. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected.
Much love and gratitude!