Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The New Normal

Yesterday I did something I've probably never done. I've taken naps before; sometimes on days when exhaustion sets in from overworking, and these virus laden days certainly. But when our alarm went off at five a.m., and Jim left a little before six, I went back to bed for four hours! I couldn't believe I'd slept that long.

Unfortunately that wrought havoc on my nighttime schedule. I tossed and turned for the longest time at bedtime. I had aches and pains that kept me up, thoughts that decided to sneak into my mind, and songs that played on their endless soundtrack of craziness.

I'd like to tell you I'm used to our new normal but there's a part of me that wants to fight it with everything within. I want to whip the old face mask off, shake some hands, hug some folks, and gather with large masses of people. It's the nonconformist in me. However good girl wins for now, and I obey being diligent, washing hands, wearing my gear, and sanitizing everything in sight.

I've been writing more than usual, and that is a good thing. I never would have had this much time otherwise. The writer's block that closed the creative center of my brain for the last three years is finally gone and I'm back in the saddle so to speak.

What other things do I do? I've been cooking better meals and baking more. I watch movies I wouldn't have had time for. I exercise a little each day, or try to get outdoors in the fresh air as much as possible. I crochet, clean closets, look through memorabilia and otherwise think deep thoughts. Some of this hasn't been too bad I guess.

Bird songs are clearer, flowering trees are prettier, the air is cleaner; appreciation for nature is sacred right now.

I hope that you are getting used to your new normal, but let's not love it, let's just like it a little. Because time will pass, jobs will return, business as usual, and we may lose a bit of the newfound joy and passion we discovered on this journey.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Quarantine with Peace

I have to admit I had a little panic attack the other day when I heard we have to self-quarantine until April 30th now. I can't do that, I thought. I won't do it. But I will.

By no means am I taking this lightly. It is sad seeing the case numbers and the lives lost. It is equally sad seeing people being laid off or losing their jobs entirely. I am fortunate to be able to go into work one or two days a week (alone) at my dental office to call patients and open the mail, etc.

What's bothering me so much though is all the negativity. News, social media, friends, and armchair quarterbacks alike. I think we all need, more than ever, healthy does of what's good, positive, and uplifting.

Mr. Rogers had once said, "Look for the helpers, when things are scary." (Not in those exact words.) I find that if we do LOOK, they are all around. I see people stepping up for good in so many communities. Though they are practicing social distancing, they are thinking of creative ways to show how much they care, or offer hope, a daily scripture, or a smile. Isn't that the best way to get through a crisis?

At the time of my life that was the most difficult and saddest, my mother's dementia and subsequent loss of my father and then mother nine months later, I found a lot of good all around me. There were the helpers at that time: friends who brought food, stayed by my side, ran errands, wrote messages of cheer, or called to see what they could do.

There were moments of laughter between my brother and I. It became a time to remember some of the crazy antics our parents had done through the years. Mom always said to remember her and laugh. I never thought it could be possible, but it was.

When I was younger, I used to think that the death of my parents would push me over the brink of sanity. And though it was horrible to go through, there was peace that filled my heart. It filled it so much that it overflowed to others. I remember at the funeral home, as people approached me, I sensed a holy presence (the Spirit) all around me. I was able to talk with others and give them the comfort they sought so hard to give to me. I lived and breathed that peace.

Is it possible to keep peace around us like a shield when all of this is going on in the world? The answer is yes. Sure we can find pockets of peace in the day, when the sun is shining on our face, birds are singing sweetly, we are lost in a great book, or doing something we truly enjoy. But that real inner peace is something else entirely.

I remember where I was when complete brokenness enveloped me in its gloomy embrace. I sat in the window well of Heritage Valley Hospital. The doctors and nurses weren't holding out much hope any longer for Dad. My brother and I used to will him to live with everything inside us. I used to think if I could keep breathing for him, he will keep breathing for us. As I watched my father on life support, however, I realized those precious breaths were for naught this time.

In that window of the hospital, I broke and said, "God, your will be done." The words were said with meaning and the knowledge that I'd just let my father go. However I was letting him go completely into God's care and loving arms right then. With my heart breaking, I was able to find courage and peace to say goodbye to my father. It was that courage and peace that stayed with me through his death, funeral, caring for Mom, and her death. It may have wavered a bit, but never left my side.

May you find that true inner peace and the courageous warrior you can be as we go through this pandemic together. Ask for it. God will answer.