I think we know now, more than ever, that our time in this life is limited and tomorrow is not guaranteed. I think we also have a new appreciation for the things we have taken for granted like going to concerts and seeing movies.I know many people are itching to get out of the house and have fun. I also know that without many options of fun things to do, it is tempting to stay inside and stream movies all day. But when we have some extra time given to us, it is a gift we shouldn’t take lightly.
I have been fortunate enough to have Fridays off during the month of August. I was both excited and sad about this, excited to have time off from work but sad that during a pandemic I couldn’t do all the things I would like to do. (I know some people have traveled to beaches where they can practice social distancing while also vacationing, but I personally haven’t felt comfortable with sleeping somewhere like a motel where other people are staying because of the possibility of spreading coronavirus.)
I wasn’t sure what to do with my days off, but I knew that I didn’t want to waste them. So each Friday in August I picked a different park within 30 minutes driving distance to explore and take pictures. I am not a photographer, but it is a fun hobby to take pictures that costs little to nothing (depending on what you are wanting to invest in.) Not only was it healing and peaceful to spend some time by myself in nature, it was wonderful to be out of my house and seeing people (at a distance.) And I got some good exercise. I saw frogs, turtles, geese, great blue herons, and sasquatch! (Well, a large cut-out of sasquatch leaning on some trees.) I was also amazed to see how much natural beauty was within a short drive of my home!
If you find yourself with some time on your hands, I highly suggest taking 2 or 3 hours and exploring the outdoors near you. How well do you know the area you live in? You might be surprised at what you discover!
Whatever we find ourselves doing in this pandemic, let’s make good use of our time. It is fleeting, and even a year as terrible as this one shouldn’t be wasted. Just make sure you are responsibly taking precautions to protect yourself and others!
(These are not my personal photos, I plan on uploading and editng my own pictures soon!)
Anyone else realizing their flight response is on high alert?
I think mine turned on a couple years ago, and I have yet to completely turn it off. And now in a pandemic, I think there might be a good number of us who feel this way. With our flight response, when there is an imminent threat that can’t be fought off, we want to run away from it and get to safety as soon as possible. With Covid-19, we don’t have a natural immunity to this particular virus strain, and there is no guarantee that the virus is mild or survivable. For many, yes, it will end up being okay; but for many others who were seemingly in good health, they ended up in the hospital or dying. And this pandemic is far from over, so this flight response that many of us may be feeling might stay in place for a while.
This is challenging enough on its own. But we still face every day stresses. A rough day at work. A miscommunication between friends. A burnt dinner. These are common issues that we are more than capable with dealing with, but these problems feel amplified when our flight responses is clicked on. Our daily inconveniences feel like major disasters that are a threat to our well-being, so we might be inclined to shut down and withdraw as a way of fleeing to safety.
There are times when it is completely appropriate to withdraw and take some time to collect yourself. But if our flight response is triggered throughout the day, we often don’t have the luxury to hide and practice self-care. It is good to develop some coping mechanisms to help us check out for just a moment and then get back to the day. One that I use often is box breathing, which is when you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold for four counts. This helps you regain some control over your thoughts and your muscles (especially if you are prone to panic attacks.) Grounding yourself by putting your hand over your heart and speaking affirmations to yourself can help focus your mind. Make sure you’re eating and drinking when you need to. Here you can find some other suggestions for anyone who struggles with anxiety: https://adaa.org/tips
I know it feels like the world is ending, and this makes our daily stresses feel like uncontrollable chaos. It’s rough. But when we break a dish or if the dog chews up a shoe or we forget to take the trash up to the curb, it is not a threat or a disaster. Get your breath, do what you need to fight off that flight response.
I hope everyone enjoyed the poetry series I posted over the last few weeks. I will do more in the future. This week I am back to blogging and sharing my personal thoughts.
I think it’s hitting now that we are in July that “normal” isn’t coming back any time soon. And even when the worst of this passes and medicine catches up to help us, “normal” won’t be what it once was.
Oddly, I feel very open and welcoming of this. Of course, my hope is that we as a society progress when it comes to matters of race, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, healthcare, and income equality. I believe that this pandemic is showing us that there has been an illness infecting and rotting us to the very core when it comes to how we have been “functioning” as a society. So I am open to whatever positive change comes from the exposure of our collapsing economy and social inequality.
But my personal upheaval began back in 2018 when my career and faith began being challenged. I have been unsettled and transitioning for almost 2 years now, so this pandemic probably hasn’t thrown my life out of whack like it has for millions (billions?) of others. I have had a head start on being accustomed to uncertainty, sudden change, suffering, and being lost.
That being said, I believe that this weird time when many of us are cancelling plans and staying home more has actually led to an inner quietness to settle inside of me.
I have been scared, nervous, and exhausted by the pandemic. I want to sing in choir, go to plays and concerts, travel, go to the beach, go to cities, visit museums, go to church, go eat at restaurants, and even go to the grocery store. I am sick of this, I am scared of this.
But I have had time to mourn the suffering I experienced from my more recent traumas. I have had time to write and create art from that pain. I have had time to be someone who has been seeking and searching spiritually. I have had time to transform and grow in ways I may not have if I hadn’t had this time. Being used to uncertainty has helped me make use of this weird, scary experience because the rug had already been pulled out from under me before the pandemic could do it.
I am finally cultivating some peace. I am finally healing. I am finally moving forward. Something inside me has finally shifted to a place where I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthier than I have been in 2 years. And for that I am grateful.
Let us remain cautious and wary. This illness is terrifying. Let us take care of others. Please wear a mask. Protect your family and your community. Be good to others. Do no harm. Maybe if we all have a shift within ourselves personally, we can have a greater shift in the world around us.
I know, this year is pretty awful. I have found myself wanting to hit fast forward to maybe a better life in 2021. For me, personally, life has been kind of rough since late 2018. Maybe you’re like me and you’re wondering, “Is it always going to be this hard? Is life just a struggle to keep your head above the water?”
I am hoping that help comes soon for those who are struggling financially or suffering with illness.
But for the other hard things that we are experiencing, we can learn and we can be better. It is our privilege that makes us want to avert our eyes until the storm passes. It is time, past time, that we use our privilege to lift others up and dismantle the evils of inequality embedded in our society.
Who do you want to be a year from now? What do we want our nation to look like? What do we want the world to look like? We have an opportunity to change it all, if we want to.
When it comes to quarantine, we can really grasp onto ideas of work-life balance, self-care, our work culture, our educational system, our economic system, climate change, and how all of the ways we have been functioning in the world have been hurting us. We can take this moment to fix our broken systems and mold how the future will look for us.
When it comes to the protests against racism, we have an opportunity to take a long look in the mirror and work on being better, loving, and justice seeking people. We have an opportunity to open our hearts to other people in a way that is truly about love, sacrifice, equality, and peacemaking. What we have been doing hasn’t been working. It has been killing. We have the tools to change it all.
Don’t wish away the year; this is a moment in time that requires our attention, and we cannot pass it up. All the time we have is precious. Instead, take this pivotal moment in a pandemic, in a time of protest for racial equality, in an election year, in an economic recession, to learn, grow, and act. If we latch onto the movement that’s happening right in front of us we may look back a year from now and be proud of how we used the opportunity that we were given.