Please settle in – this is a long one. So many words since I’ve cooped up at home 😉
So here we are. At home for an extended stay. How on earth did we get here? There is no need to answer that one – it was rhetorical.
I must tell you it feels good to be writing out loud again. This is the first contemplation I have written since May 14, 2014. I’ve been just a little bit busy becoming a family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and momma. Author/Blogger – got put on the back burner for a while. It’s been quite a ride – can you say rollercoaster?! We have a lot of catching up to do but we will save that for another day when there aren’t such pressing matters.
These words have been welling up in me (as they have a habit of doing) for the last week or so. I’ve got so many different paths I could take with this post but I want it to be relevant and speak to our hearts.
I definitely do not want it to become a rant – I don’t know about you but I sure to do have a bunch to rant about right now. If you know me, you know that I have a strong value for truth telling and I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kinda girl. I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut when I perceive injustices. But let’s save that for another day, too.
A month ago, who would have thought? HOW are YOU doing with all this? Do you have the words for it? Let me throw some out. See how they fit:
Overwhelmed. In over your head. Anxious. Angry. Tired. In disbelief. Confused. Content. Feral. Grief-stricken. Relaxed. Contemplative. Tearful. Stir crazy. Numb. Divided. Lonely. Distracted. Upset. Sad. Introvert happy. Extrovert withdrawn. Numb. Rested. Scared. Hopeful?
I’ll take one of all the above. It’s crazy how many emotions one can experience in a day. When sitting in your own cauldron of emotion – please know that you are not alone. These emotions are normal. I might even call them gifts since they give us insight into how we feel and what actions are important for us to take. These are unprecedented times with lots of uncertainty.
I know that there are probably at least 3 camps people are living in during this global pandemic. There is the camp that believes this global pandemic is serious business and they are in it for the long haul – ready to do what’s needed to prevent illness and death. On the other side of the river there is a camp that believes this must be all made up and cannot understand why there is so much panic. They ask daily – why can’t I buy toilet paper? Then, there are probably a bunch of camps somewhere in the middle. I don’t think I need to tell you where I’ve set up camp. If you’ve read my facebook posts, you know exactly what my camp looks like.
Regardless of which camp you reside – I think my message tonight will resonate. At least I hope so.
The term social distancing is as new to me as Coronavirus Disease 19 (Covid-19) is to the world. I teach infection control to my nursing students daily but there’s so much to learn about public health. I might have learned about social distancing in school but it must not of stuck. Someone called it “spacious solidarity” the other day. I like that. It says, “I’m on board – I am going to keep some space in between us because I care about you and I stand in solidarity with our community.” Regardless of what we call IT – IT is HARD. It’s like snowmageddon* but with power. So that should make it easier…NOPE, not really.
*Side note – last February we had a snow storm (termed snowmageddon) that put Central Oregon out of business for a while. We were without power for days, some people for weeks. It knocked down a forest of trees along with our spirits. Pacific Northwesterners aren’t used to snow like New Englanders. People have been talking about snowmageddon ever since until this global pandemic became our “something” to talk about.
There are so many reasons it is challenging. I know I don’t have to tell you. You know. You are living it. Shoot – I saw a meme the other day that said something to the effect – I take back all I said about 2019. I know so many of my dear friends who have been through so much in the last year. Then we had to go and add on a global pandemic for good measure as if life wasn’t hard enough. Oh my.
So many reasons to be anxious – let us count the ways. Work redefined. Out of work. WFH – no that’s not an expletive. I looked it up. It means working from home. Too much work. Work on the frontlines. Essential work. Hazardous work. Working with “coworkers” aka toddlers. Panic seemingly all around us. Are they open? Closed for how long? Home alone. Home with all these bandits? Businesses closing almost every day. How will our small businesses survive? How will they pay their bills? Groceries – do we have enough? Empty shelves like a Category 5 hurricane is scheduled for the entire United States. How long will it be like this? Childcare. School? Should we send them? Oh, it’s cancelled, too. Home with the kids – for how long? I’m a momma not a homeschool teacher – I teach nursing students. Will I get Covid-19? Where did that cough come from? What if Brad gets it? What happens if we become like Italy? Who has the right information? Who are the experts I can trust? Can I believe what they are saying? Can you? Will you please? Did I wash my hands well enough? Have you seen what’s happening in NYC? Where’s all the personal protective equipment for those on the frontline? How do we tell the littles and the teen-agers – sorry you can’t play with your friends? Why are we so divided? Why is no one listening? Who’s over-reacting? Why do we have to keep telling our parents (yes, you know who you are) to stay home. My mom has actually started giving me daily updates on whether her car has left her garage or not. She must think I’ve got cameras positioned on her driveway. Ooh – that’s a good idea – I’ll get my techie sister on that task right away. I digress – sorry. The reasons this is hard are endless. I’m sure I’ve missed some. Both Alex and Nick will ask me a question about something and my answer will be no. Today, they started saying, “We know. We know. The coronavirus.” Nicko has told me in no uncertain terms multiple times that he does not have the coronavirus and neither does Vander. “So can we please play?”
If you are still reading, I’m finally getting to the reason for this post. I promise I won’t leave us hanging in this anxiety provoking – fearful space. I want more for us during these unprecedented times. I got an email from NPR today titled, “The New Normal.” I’m not sure I’m ready for this. But here we are. Will you join me in wanting more for us? I have an invitation.
We are where we are. We are all hoping for the best possible outcome. We don’t want any one we know and love to become sick but it’s happening. We are praying. We are willingly or unwillingly putting space between us. We are hoping. We are believing for miracles.
You know me I’m all about perspective. I’ve been thinking that maybe one way to get walk through all the anxiety and discontent is to make a slight shift in the way we think about this spectrum of spacious solidarity. It might help a little bit. Let’s let go of the stuck at home mental image. Let’s replace it.
Let’s live in the spacious place of “being home”.
What does being home mean to you? I’m not asking for the perfect answer. I’m not even asking you to be real about what your home life is like – because I know for some of us it’s not a safe place. If we were sitting face to face, I would gently ask – when you envision the best of what “being home” means – what does it look like for you?
For me “being home” means breathing room. It means stepping away from the rush of it all. It means care-free. Letting go of the right now. Saying goodbye to the “have-to’s”. It means cozy warm blankets and clean sheets. It means letting go of appearances or worrying about what others think. It means love is sitting around our table – finding out what our days felt like and talking about what’s really important. It means connection. It means memories made. Being home means contentment. It’s like the memory I have sitting in my grandmomma’s lap as she holds me dear and whispers love over me circa age 6.
So, let’s adopt a “be home” state of mind. Let’s live in the spaciousness of that feeling of “being home.” Let’s bask in the love. Let’s let down our guards and just be. Let’s be present. Let’s relish the moments of safety and security. Let’s know there is shelter from the storms that rage outside. Let peace reside within our minds and hearts. Being home is good for the soul.
For all my nurse friends and healthcare colleagues – I know you don’t have many hours at home these days. I know that when you are home – you are worried about what you might have brought home with you. For all of you in essential positions on the front lines (you know who you are) —-> I know the struggle is real. I will be praying that when you walk through your door – you are able to sense the peace and security of being home. I pray that you can hug on those you love dearly and say I love you one hundred times a hundred. Just be home.
Here are a few more tips that might help see us through this mess…
- Think about “being home” as a way to show love and solidarity as a community.
- Jen Hatmaker encourages us to cover everything and everyone with buckets of grace. Let’s live on the assumption that everyone is doing their best (even if they aren’t).
- Let’s think of this time as a Sabbath. Rest for our soul. Meditate. Be still. Be present. Be on the lookout for the sacred. There are sacred moments and sacred ground to be found even in the midst of storms, especially in the midst of storms, especially when we are on the frontlines.
- We were made for connection. Find ways to connect with each other virtually. I’m thankful for technology right now. I know some of us are home alone and content with that…I know some of us are feeling lonely. Let’s reach out. Ask for virtual hugs. Zoom. It’s fun and you can make it silly. One of my BFFs and I zoomed from our virtual beaches last night. Check in on those you love. Make at least one phone call a day. Heck make two if you have the time. Write letters. Send notes. Have your little ones draw pictures of love. It really helps those like my 98 year old step-grandmother quarantined in her retirement village in Florida to receive love from the “outside.”
- Find ways to take care of yourself. Make routines if that helps. Let go of the things that bind you. Be intentional about your time – don’t get caught up mindlessly scrolling. Release. Share the gifts you’ve been given. Savor yummy, healthy food. Bake some cookies. Do what makes you feel your best. Light a candle. Enjoy a good meme. Read out loud. Sit with a cup of tea. Stare out the window for 5 minutes. Take a walk or a hike. Get out in nature. Watch some animal videos. And don’t forget to laugh. My New Favorite
- Make dreams. Be hopeful. Better yourself. Listen to podcasts and Ted talks. I recommend Brene Brown and 10 inspirational Ted talks.
- Listen to live music. Dance. Once upon a time I lived in San Francisco. I loved walking the streets at night and peering in the windows all lit up as I passed by. I often think about writing a novel that starts from this vantage point. I’m a voyeur of sorts but I think there is so much to be noticed about that person in the window and the life they live. These Covid-19 times have given us an unintended gift. A window into each other’s home. This past week I have enjoyed being invited into their living spaces. Check out your favorite music artist. See what they are up to. I’ve sat with Andrew Lloyd Webber and listened to him play “All I ask”. Mary Chapin Carpenter invited me into her kitchen and I got to meet her labrador retriever. Garth and Tricia’s home studio was cool and I loved Chris Martin’s bashful self as he played some familiar tunes. It felt like an honor and it was super fun to notice all that there was to notice. It felt good to experience them “being home” with their guard down and their down to earth feels. It connected us – it made me feel safe. It felt good.
- Take lots of deep breaths. It helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. It distracts you from your worries and tells your muscles to relax.
- Color. Be creative. It opens up up your mind for possibility and helps you release stress.
- As Mr. Roger’s momma taught him, look for the helpers. They are everywhere.
Thank you for indulging me dear ones. I hope all of you are well and staying healthy. Keep your loved ones close. Say I love you.
Psalm 66:9-12 The Message (MSG)
Didn’t he set us on the road to life?
Didn’t he keep us out of the ditch?
He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires,
Brought us into hardscrabble country,
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place.
Some resources (Just in case)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday
Do you have questions about the Corona Virus 19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html