July 29, 2020

July In The Time of Corona—Part 1: Reflections & The Need To Hit Reset

My. What a time. Although I’m prone to the over-use of adjectives, none of them seem sufficient right now. The phrase I keep hearing is “quarantine fatigue.” So understated. Fatigue works. I look out at faces and hear the voices during the many zoom calls. Everyone is definitely tired. But over “quarantine”? No, that’s too simple. Who would have thought that, at the end of July 2020, we would find ourselves here?

…Where people are worried about their livelihoods. 
…Where leaders are worried about their people, and their businesses.
…Where parents are worried about their children.
…Where we’re all worried about our elders, and all those who are especially vulnerable. 
…Where we all worry about runny noses, and what it might mean—for us, for our loved ones, for anyone we’ve been within six feet of.
…Where we are worried about the impact of this on all those less privileged. 
…Where—I think regardless of your political leanings—we are all worried about the state of our country.

But what else do I see?

…I see people who are incredibly strong, and resilient. Who are exhausted but are still moving forward and caring for each other. 
…I see people who feel deep love for their families, for their friends, for the people around them. 
…I see people who feel deep love for their country—were it not for that, we wouldn’t be so concerned.
…I see people who feel deep love for their fellow humans—and feel huge motivation to fix the societal inequities we face and are just beginning to understand.

Which brings me to what I wanted to write about: The need to hit “reset.” 

I find this a little hilarious, but I took three days off this week to be alone. What? I’ve been alone for almost six months, haven’t I? But this time I intentionally chose to be alone, to care for myself. To refill myself a bit. To reset.  

And I realized that there was a time when I felt a bit similarly. It was about five years ago. My husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was on the journey of being his caregiver. And I took three days off to go to a meditation workshop to figure out how to cope. It was an amazing experience. I knew that I was obviously grieving, afraid, etc., etc. (remind you of this crazy time?). But during the workshop I also realized that I was afraid that I would lose myself—my being, if you will—during his illness. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I loved him with all my heart. I would have done anything for him. But I knew that many caregivers lose themselves. Many caregivers develop serious illnesses while caring for their loved ones. (It’s true, there’s data.) 

That seemed like a bad idea. And avoidable. We all have “secret weapons.” Well, one of mine is that I am a planner. So, I planned. 

And here’s the bizarre and interesting thing—there are real some similarities between that time and right now: 

  • The timeframe is indeterminate. 

  • The outcome is unclear (well, at least his path was unclear).

  • I had zero control.

  • It was not a happy time. Meaning my normal positivity was challenged—being “happy” 100% of the time didn’t just sound unrealistic, it sounded darn right stupid. Hello, my husband has Alzheimer’s, and I’m happy???

Sound at all familiar?

So what did I do? I decided I needed to reset myself and develop a plan. And the plan looks remarkably similar to the one I developed five-ish years ago.  

The plan will follow next week…but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Focus less on being happy all the time, and search/create for moments of joy. And don’t feel guilty when you find them. 

  • Laugh. I have been feeling guilty about making jokes on Zoom calls—these are *SERIOUS* times. Enough. Laughter is good. Even giggling. I have spent most of my life not “giggling” (too girly) but now have a male friend who is proud that he giggles. I love that. 

  • Be you. I’m proudly—but respectfully, I hope—being me. I’m expressing my opinion more—I have masks that express my political opinions. It makes me happy, and I’m proud to be wearing my heart on my sleeve. Or face. 

  • Don’t focus on a future date when this will be “over.” There’s evidence that soldiers were more likely to survive concentration camps if they believed they would make it but didn’t allow themselves to be disappointed when “Christmas” or “their wife’s birthday” passed by. 

  • Tell people you love them. Why not? I do, and life’s short. (Of course, show some discretion.)  

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