This is the third blog I’ve started writing about the Covid-19 situation. Things are changing so quickly these days that both of those seem somewhat outdated already.
The first one I wrote on Thursday, not even a week ago, between therapy clients who were all talking about their fears about the virus. That blog was about our mass anxiety and how to find a place between panic and denial—a place of wisdom.
The next blog I wrote was on Saturday, as I sat in a hotel room in Portland, having packed up my son’s dorm room, loaded the car in the snow, and debating where it would be safe for us to go eat. That blog was about patience and flexibility, which are both normally challenging for me, but which I was feeling in spades over the weekend.
The last few days have been more of a struggle. On Monday, I went to my office planning to see clients this week and help them cope with all this. I was and am worried about my anxious clients completely losing their minds. I am worried about my depressed clients feeling more lonely and hopeless than ever. So I was looking forward to doing my work this week. Except that by Monday afternoon, it became clear that I would not be able to do that in the way I like to do it—sitting in a room with another person. Yesterday, I was wrestling to learn about HIPPA compliant video services for on-line therapy. Those of you who know me know how much I HATE that! Technology…grr!!
But then I read my unpublished post about patience and flexibility, which began with me sharing that I find it helpful to look at challenging situations and try to see the learning and growth potential in them. On Saturday, I observed that our plans these days must be fluid. Information is coming at us so fast, that we must be willing to shift and change plans easily and without attachment to the previous one. On Saturday, I had some blessed acceptance about that because it really felt like all we can do.
However, I woke this morning feeling frustrated and discouraged, a bit of a whiny toddler moment, not wanting things to be as they are. I stayed there for an hour or so, but then I made myself do the things that almost always help me feel better. I went for a walk, even though the weather is gloomy and cold. I came home and did my stress-relief yoga DVD. I showered and got dressed in regular clothes and put on some makeup and did my hair. And I do feel better, back to myself. Not that I love this situation, obviously, but I am back to my place of more mindful acceptance.
I need a routine. I need exercise. I need to find purpose every day. I will eventually start writing again, as things settle down and preparations are in place. I have a million books on my shelves to read. I have tons of games to play and puzzles to complete. Parts of this scenario are wonderful—having all my boys home (two already and one on his way), time to do all the aforementioned activities that I love. But there’s the fog of uncertainty that pervades—what will my business look like when all this is over? Will my clients be okay? Will they participate in on-line therapy and will it be helpful? How will five adults—my family—who haven’t lived together in six years get along, being homebound with each other for potentially a very long time? There are no answers to those questions at this point, so I am going to try to stop asking them. I am going to try and get back to that place of wisdom between learning and planning when I can and accepting what is unknowable.
Damn! It’s the serenity prayer all over again! Everything seems to always circle back to that for me. Always my learning edge. (Well, that and technology!)
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
My hope is for this blog to start a conversation about how you are adjusting to our new lifestyles. What will you be doing to stay busy? How will you find purpose and meaning in the next few weeks or months? How will you not only stay sane but enjoy your life while this is all going on?
I hope to hear from you, as it is going to be important for us to all find ways to stay connected as we socially distance. Hmmm…that feels like it might be next week’s blog…
Esther Gulli says
Thanks for this, Holly! It’s just what I needed!
I always enjoy your blogs, but to be honest I’ve been so busy sometimes I just don’t have time to read them, but I had time tonight to read every word and really enjoyed and appreciate your honesty. This is such a new thing – that at my work, we are literally “flying the plane while building it” and taking it day to day. I worked today at the Mobile Hygiene Unit – Clean Start – it serves the homeless giving them a place to shower and do their laundry. We practiced safe social distancing (for the most part)- but at least I was outside the entire time. The homeless that came were so great and they all were informed about the virus (and we put information in their food and hygiene to-go bags). I’ve been wanting to volunteer there for the past few months that its been open – but “I’ve always been so busy”. But today, I was working at home, so I asked my boss if I could go there instead of staring at my computer and checking my voicemail, she said yes, definitely. I’ve been struggling with working at home and was happy to have some human contact (OK, its been two days, so I’m being dramatic!). Yesterday, I bought Chutes and Ladders for Mason and I to play- and I’m enjoying almost watching Emmy walk – she is sooo close!! Maybe I’ll be around to see those first steps instead of running out doing my million things “I need to do”. It is a good time to take a deep breath and think about what is important to us. I have to keep remembering the silver lining. I look forward to reading more from you!!
I am obviously feeling for those who are more directly affected, but our crew is just enjoying our time together!! As the little things arise, we are just trying to laugh them off and appreciate the perspective on it for us. Elizas swim season and musical won’t happen, but that’s okay! It sort of reminds me how much weight we put to things that are all really just extras anyway. We eat every meal together, are talking philosophy and reading poems, we are taking walks and making crafts. We are sleeping a lot and playing with the goats and just taking each day at a time! I love the way we are all forcing to focus on the little things. There are certainly drawbacks, inconveniences, and fears…but I haven’t been overwhelmed or anxious because the big stuff is out of my hands at this point!!
Thanks for the topic!! Wish we were all quarantined together!!
Peter Cowan says
Your Mom and I have not been less than 6 ft. From any other person in the last week. However, it seems to me that we have become closer to each other than ever before. We are both high risk and the possibility of imminent death looms large in our lives. Over the past month we have stockpiled food and toilet paper, etc. we are somewhat self sufficient. We can walk on the property and drive to the rail trail. Yet the emotional ties are the ones that mean the most to us.
It’s good to know that the LaBareras and Drieselars and 3 Watts are ok.. My Norwegian family is well also. This is a great comfort to us.
Keep blogging Holly.
Love you all,,
I still don’t know what my plan can be. That’s what causes me so much anxiety! Today my 15-year old cleaned out her locker at school as we prepare to “homeschool” for the rest of her freshman year. All schools here are going online for the rest of the semester, including my 2 college students. Only one is moving home & we go next week to clean out her dorm room. She was home on spring break when all of this started & hasn’t been able to return until next week. Our college Junior is staying in his apartment even though his classes will be online. I don’t know how his many labs will be done online. They are all very upset about how their lives are being disrupted. My youngest had been rehearsing for her 1st lead role in the high school spring play, which has been cancelled. Her show choir was going to perform at Disney World next week over our spring break. She was looking forward to her 1st state vocal contests & Forensics tournaments. Her yearly dance recital will likely be cancelled because they can’t even practice dance for the next several weeks. I know this is small beans in comparison to people being infected with this nasty virus. We cannot visit our elderly mothers who each live in nursing homes due to this. We really hope they understand why we aren’t visiting like usual. I also worry about the people who fall through the cracks in getting any financial assistance due to work shut downs. However, I’m dealing with a lot of tears & frustration. I have to say I have broken down a few times myself. I’m sure we will all figure things out. But, right now there is so much unknown. Thanks for this discussion, Holly!
Holly LaBarbera says
That is all so, so hard, Katie! So much disappointment and missed opportunities. I think you do have to feel it, acknowledge that those are valid feelings, cry a bit (or more than a bit), before you can journey on. We are all in this together, even if it will be from our own, individual houses, distant in space but not in love and support!