It’s been a month since my last blog post and a lot of you have been reaching out to me asking when you’d hear from me again***. I sat down to write last week and my heart wasn’t in it. Frankly, I’ve been trying to deal with my anger and frustration. It’s been upsetting to me to see people out there carrying on as if the virus doesn’t exist while I’m over here taking every precaution. I find myself feeling like a kindergartener and wanting to tattle on my fellow schoolmates who aren’t listening to the teacher. “Mrs. Coyle!!!! Karen is hugging her Mom and you told me I can’t hug my Mom!!!!” I’ve had to take lots of deep breaths and remind myself that I am not the Covid-19 police. All I can do is stay in my lane, protect myself and help to “flatten the curve” and what not. So here I am, staying home, getting my groceries delivered, not going out into the world and feeling grateful as hell to live in a happy home surrounded by all of the things that we could ever need.
Speaking of having everything we need, am I the only one who’s now thinking about all of the things that we don’t really need but would really love to have? My list as of lately has included a hammock (I’m still very committed to this one), a pool, every single planter known to man, expanding my yard to be a full grown farm, painting the shutters, putting in a new front walkway, and replacing the floors in the entire house. It’s an expensive list but we’ve got the time for some serious nesting. Now I just need sponsorship for my visions!
Besides dealing with my anger and my ever-growing list of home improvements, I have been spending a lot of time being extraordinarily grateful and very present. I’ve also gone straight to elderly status over the past couple of months. We spent quite a bit of time following a Scarlet Tanager around our yard the other day, watching it flit from branch to branch and being in total awe of it’s beauty. I don’t think I’ve ever been a bird watcher until now. In fact, I thought the bird was a cardinal for quite a while until we saw it’s black wings. I also like to do what I call my daily “walk-about”, where I walk around our yard seeing what’s grown from the night before and oooh’ing and ahhh’ing over the tulips, budding rose bush and sprouting seedlings in the garden. I mean, have you ever really spent time looking into the center of a tulip? It’s pure magic. My other activities include laughing hysterically at my pups, laughing hysterically with my husband who is still tolerating my daily nonsense and is doing a great job checking me when I think it’s a good idea to build a greenhouse or wanting to buy every plant on the planet. Honestly, I’ve been treasuring this time. Sure, I miss some people and I really wish I could give hugs to my family but I have really been enjoying time without obligations and requirements of my time.
My personal hygiene isn’t what it once was but I honestly give way less F’s than I did a couple of months ago. Sweatpants and messy buns and I have become such close friends and I don’t really know how we’ll be able to be separated after all of this.
So the next time you see me out in the world (which seems like it might be years at this rate), I’ll be the one in sweatpants and a messy bun holding a tulip and as many plants in my arms as I can, trying to figure out how to have a normal conversation and missing the birds in my yard.
***this detail has been added for dramatic flare and to boost my self confidence.
So the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Well here’s (one of) mine. Social media and the news have been messing things up for me lately. I have become so consumed with both that I’ve noticed it’s started to have a very negative effect on my mental health. I’ve also been using it as a coping strategy to numb certain feelings while simultaneously working myself into a rage. Rather than sit with my feelings, I’ve been glued to my phone. Instead of diving into my fear and anxiety and sifting through it, I read news articles that create more fear and anxiety. So I’ll just be over treating myself like a child and limiting my screen time and creating rules and boundaries about how I consume.
I had a complete meltdown last week. I’m talking yelling, sobbing, boogers flying, curse words spewing meltdown. You see, I have an “underlying health condition”. We don’t need to get into specifics because honestly it’s not important and I don’t believe in what I call “feeding the beast” which gives my disease more attention than it deserves. This is a topic for another day but I instead choose to focus on my good health and good looks. Haha! Just kidding! But seriously, the more attention I give it, the more I feel it and that just doesn’t work for me. So until last week I hadn’t seen my condition mentioned in any articles about COVID-19 that would bring me alarm and I was hopeful that since my immune system overreacts that this would actually be a benefit for me. Silver lining to an auto-immune disease? Sure, I’ll take it!
Well guess what? If you search enough, you will eventually find what you’re looking for. So sure enough, I scroll through an article and I see my condition listed. SON OF A! Coupled with the fact that it was the day after Easter and I was so frightened by the amount of photos I saw of people not social distancing for the holiday and I was beside myself. I felt like people had given up. That they were no longer caring for themselves and their neighbors and were putting everyone at risk. Did I wish to be sharing a meal with my family for Easter? You betcha! Do I want a giant hug from my nieces right now? Absolutely. But I’m not going to because I care deeply about myself and my community and staying apart is what we need to do. So anyway, that’s when the boogers started flying. When it all amounted to too much. When I started to feel that people not following the rules were putting my health at risk. Because to me it’s simple. I stay at home for you and you stay at home for me.
And then there’s the posts I’ve been seeing about separatism online. It might seem like funny, cute things you’re sharing but maybe you can ask yourself if it’s creating more divide between us when we need togetherness more than ever. I’ve seen a few posts recently from moms with young kids. One insinuating that people without children are just casually sitting home learning new hobbies and one that asks those of us without kids to check on those who do. And yes, I will check in on you because I can’t imagine how hard it is to be without your network of support and to be caring for your family 24 hours a day without a break. But you know what? I’ll also be checking in on my friends without children and maybe those of us who wish we were safe at home with little ones but aren’t blessed with them. And I’ll check in on my friends who live alone cause that must be a whole different kind of struggle. And I’ll make sure my friends who are unemployed, struggling small business owners, people with underlying health issues, those who are pregnant, friends who are worrying about how they’ll pay their mortgage or about the future of their careers, people who are struggling with learning new technology or working from home. I’ll check in with you all because you know what? This shit is hard. It’s hard for all of us so let’s think twice before we add more separation. And let’s think about our privilege here. It’s a privilege to have children, it’s a blessing to have a home full of food and warmth. What a gift to have family and friends to miss and that you’re longing to hold. There are lots of people out there without any of that. And there are healthcare workers sleeping in their garages or not coming home for fear of infecting their families. There are people getting paid minimum wage and putting their health on the line every.single.day. So what is my point if you’re still reading? That there is no one who is untouched by this so the best we can do is to support each other in any way that we can. Let’s reach out, let’s check in, let’s speak, post and make our decisions out of love. And yes, it is an act of love for you to STAY SAFE AT HOME.
When all this quarantine business started, I felt paralyzed. I didn’t know where to go or how to process my feelings so I just sat with it. Let’s be honest, a lot of the time I still feel that way. In recent days, I’ve realized that movement has been key for me. I move and I feel better, it’s as simple as that. So I decided to venture out and offer some virtual barre classes. I asked for $10 donations from folks if they could spare it. I told them not to pay if they or someone in their household is under or unemployed right now due to this godforsaken virus. I figured it was a nice opportunity for me to move my body, make a few extra bucks and connect to the incredible people in my world.
And then the payments started rolling in...one for $30, $25, $60, $15. So many members of my beautiful community contributed not just to me but to help support those around us who can’t swing the extra money for a class right now. It might not seem like a big gesture but to me, it’s everything. And then there was a sweet surprise left on our doorstep a couple of days ago. Some lovely humans from AG Fitness (where I’ve only worked for a few months by the way) all got together to send us instructors a gift card to Laney and Lu...one of my absolute favorite spots. I am still absolutely blown away. I don’t know if I can accurately describe how full my heart is.
A couple of weeks ago, like so many of us, my world got turned upside down when the businesses I work for and love were forced to close their doors. I myself am my own little small business as a fitness instructor and I immediately started worrying about the future, finances, and what might become of the industry that I’ve dedicated so much of my life and energy to. And just when I began to worry, you all showed up. Without saying a word, you reminded me that I have your support. With a small gesture, a click of a button, you gave me back my motivation. With your kindness, I know that we’ll all get through this together. So thank you.
In a time where we’re afraid of being too close to each other, I feel in some ways closer than ever to you all. Our love and kindness knows no bounds. Let’s remember that even in the darkest times, we can still support our friends and neighbors.
So let’s think now more than ever about where our money is going. Before we spend our cash at a big grocery chain, maybe we consider buying from the local farmer who is busting their hump right now to get fresh food to you. Or think about your favorite massage therapist or hair stylist and grab a gift card for yourself or a friend to use when we can get back out in the world. If you want takeout, let’s rally round those mom and pop places like Laney and Lu. When all of this is over, we want our favorite spots and small businesses to open their doors and welcome us back in. Trust me that Target and Walmart will still be standing at the end of this but how about all of those other people in your community who are completely adjusting their business models to continue to support us? Let’s wrap them up and show them how much we admire them and need them in our world.
So thank you for supporting me. I can only hope to repay it in the ways that I know how (mainly through cheesy jokes and funny faces). Love you, friends.
If you had told me I’d be titling a piece of my writing “Corona Diaries” years ago, I would’ve thought it would have been the tale of a summer night spent with light beer and limes. Perhaps it would’ve been a day on the sand with good friends laughing and sharing stories. But alas, it’s just me cleansing my soul because a virus has swept the world, leaving us all to second guess all that we ever knew.
I haven’t felt inspired to do anything until I started typing today. Sharing my feelings on social media feels small to me, laughing about it or trying to “stay positive” is absolutely infuriating. So I am left with myself, riding the waves of my feelings from one moment to the next. I find myself wavering between gratitude for quiet and stillness and absolutely debilitating fear. When I’m in the moment, I can settle myself but as soon as my brain starts going towards thoughts of the future, I start to freak. What will happen to my family? What if someone I love needs help but I can’t get to them because of exposure risks? What if the businesses I love and work for never reopen? What if the world as we know it never looks the same again? Well, I hope the world doesn’t go back to the way it was. I hope that at the end of this we find that our “old ways” weren’t working for us. I hope we never take our time together for granted again. I hope we all stay slowed. I hope when we hug our loved ones again, we remember that our connections are truly the only thing that matters.
So I’m not focused on politics or running workshops or coming up with new sequences for my virtual classes. I’m focused on checking in with the people that I love. I’m focused on checking in with myself. I’m snuggling my husband and my pups harder than I ever have and breathing in the fresh air outside with more gratitude than I’ve ever felt. I’ve been talking to the trees and rocks more. I’ve been asking my Dad up above (or all around or wherever he is) for his help. I’ve been looking for signs. I’ve shed a lot of tears and I know there will be many, many more. I’ve been burning sage like it’s my job. I’m not worried about money (there’s a first for everything). I’m worried about living. So each night as I try to fall asleep, I will keep my mantra of “we are safe and healthy” going. I will not be staying positive so please don’t try to come at me with that right now. I know we’re all coping in our own ways but for me, I need to be sad and frustrated and so full of love I can barely stand it. It’s where I’m at and I won’t deny myself of it.
I’ll continue to clean the shit out of my already clean house so that I feel some semblance of control. I’ll get on my mat most days because it’s familiar and makes me feel like me and I’ll be graceful with myself when I don’t want to. I’ll keep daydreaming of warmer days when I can get back out into my garden and feel the soil between my fingers. I’ll listen to the trees talk and admire the buds on my rose bush and remind myself that life continues and that nature is still there to guide us. I’ll keep kissing my husband and making up random songs about the irony of wiping down lysol wipes with a lysol wipe and being absolutely astonished that this is the new norm. I’ll laugh when I feel like it and not be quick to wipe my tears away. Now is the time for feeling.
So reach out to me and I’ll reach back. None of us are immune to this. I need you and you need me. Let’s be great friends through this. I love you.