It seems as though I am always pondering when writing these blogs. I guess that’s what blogging is about; I am new to the sport!
But, I am not new to changing or stressful times. The last blog I wrote ended with my salutation:
To self-caring and comfort through challenging times,
That also seems pertinent for these strange, sad, crazy-making times.
We have never lived through a pandemic like we are currently enduring. The last one was in 1918 and unless you are 102 years old, my previous statement is accurate. We don’t know this way of living.
To walk around avoiding each other and seeing not smiles and facial expressions, but other masked humans causes angst. Unfortunately, masks in our culture are rare for public health purposes, so they evoke a sinister mindset. Yet now we don them with socially responsible pride and proceed to shop, walk, socialize with friends and family with our faces suitably covered. It is the new normal, they say. But it does not feel like any kind of normal as we are separated from each other.
How does this human distancing affect our psyche? Different strokes for different folks, no doubt. I will share some of mine and invite you to write me with some of yours so I can include those reactions in the next blog, something like COVID-19 REACTIONS, Part Two.
I feel resistant to wearing a mask. That’s the truth. I live in Western Massachusetts and those of you who have visited know that it can get hot and humid in the summer, quite like New Orleans weather. I have had my share of hot, muggy weather by living in New Orleans for nearly 40 years off and on. I was surprised that the New England summers rival NOLA oppressive heat, but they do – only not for as long.
Getting back to the mask wearing … I don’t mind the idea and I believe in the science of doing so, but it makes it harder for me to catch full breaths while walking with my Golden, Joey, who is full of hair and doesn’t have to wear a mask, but huffs and puffs anyway. I endure it. It’s the right thing to do – like many things these days, including learning Zoom to offer my training seminars! And not being able to see my wonderful adult kids in person very often and then only once they are tested because, as they remind me relentlessly, “Mom, you are in the target population and we cannot bring COVID to you.” Right guys, but I sure as hell miss seeing and hugging you. We endure, but we are affected adversely. We need to be comforting to ourselves and each other more than ever.
I keep telling myself (and some days I listen better than other days) that “This too shall pass” and I know it will. Hope that works for some of you as well.
I focus on what is inspiring and comforting to me during these trying times: reading, chatting with friends on the good old telephone, and keeping up with the news, which is often better than most fiction! Being in my beautiful, old (1868) home and knowing that my privilege is not shared by all – it would be sweeter if it were.
The good news in all this is that I am learning to value the quiet times. That may come easily to some of you, but I tend to be a pretty active, verbal, socializing sort of person and this forced home retreat has been tough at times. Yet I find that as with most lessons in life – if one chooses that perspective – this one is a hard one but a lesson worth learning for me. I am now looking forward to the quiet mornings on my screened porch, drinking coffee, reading, listening to and observing the birds and squirrels and, of course, sharing that time with my animals, cats and dogs.
One of my cats, Wolfie, has helped me learn to sit quietly; he collapsed inside my door around noon on July 13th with the lower part of his body having been hit or “squashed” in some unknown way. He has been in an out of ICU at the Massachusetts Vet Teaching Hospital (Tufts) for most of the last month, with two surgeries that removed much of his damaged urethra and formed new elimination points,… and then, after all that, he was hardly eating, so most recently had to have a feeding tube inserted, which scared me quite a bit; I doubted my ability to care so intensely for him. But my family urged me on to keep hope for him and I did. He came home a week ago and, since then, I have been learning how to be a veterinary nurse/caregiver (tube feeding of a home-mixed slurry via his feeding tube every 6 to 8 hours). I have learned to sit quietly and enjoy his slow but sure recovery as he snuggles next to me on the screened porch while I read, work, telephone friends and family, and just think. Necessity through COVID restrictions and Wolfie’s near death has helped me slow down, sit with my feelings… sound familiar? How many times have you suggested that to a client? Or had that suggestion offered to you?
Mulling, musing, quietly breathing in the day and recalling love even when those loved ones may not be physically close… .
Quiet repose does not deliver the same zing I get when engaging in a project with others due to my extroverted nature. I am doing a bit of that, too, as I lead my neighborhood association in fundraising for a large sign for the neighborhood public elementary school where a number of us on the Board serve as Walking School Bus “Drivers”, meaning we meet a group of kids from close by who are not eligible for school board transport and have the pleasure of walking the kiddos half a mile to school in the mornings – that is, when school is occurring. Or spending time collaborating with a colleague to offer his case example in the recent Beyond Ethics Zoom seminar.
But the quiet times are healing. And we sure need that right now as our country continues to spin into chaos that is claiming so many lives of our neighbors, clients, and friends.
I hope with all my heart that you have not suffered the loss of anyone dear to you, but the statistics increasingly foreshadow that you have or will. I am so sorry for all who have lost their loved ones – that pain alone is hard to manage, especially as some are not able to be with their loved ones for their passing. And, also sorrowful is the grief of our country as many come forward to protect our friends of color around the nation from horrid treatment at the hands of some of those who are charged with protecting us all.
Extremely hard times right now.
Here is my wish for all of you to be safe, healthy and find some solace in the quiet times available to you.
In sorrow and joy,