This is a long awaited follow-up to my post about my crummy experience back in September with a new neurologist. I like to phrase things as “long awaited” to make it seem like people have actually been standing by with bated breath. Maybe you have! Or maybe you’re reading this because you’re bored and looking for some entertainment while eating your lunch or sitting in a waiting room while you get an oil change. Either way, I’m going to break it down for you.
If you’re new to the scene, feel free to check out my previous post to catch up. To summarize, I had a doctor look at my MRI scans from seven years ago and tell me that he expected to see my Multiple Sclerosis deteriorate by now to the point of me losing my function to walk. This man who had never met me and didn’t know jack about me sauntered into a room and told me in the first minute of my appointment that he was surprised that I could still walk. It still absolutely infuriates me. I’d like to start a petition for a semester or two in medical school to be spent on lessons of compassion.
Needless to say, I broke up with this doctor immediately. I took my updated MRI scans to a much more loving soul and met with her for the second time this week to review everything. For the record, I have some new lesions in my brain and spinal column since my last scans seven years ago (to be expected) but more importantly, some of them have healed and/or gone away completely. She really wanted to focus on the new spots and I really wanted to spend more time reviewing the fact that I’m a damn miracle but whatever.
Ya know, she seems like a wonderful person but I don’t plan on seeing her very often and I flat out told her that. Why do you ask? Because it’s depressing. It’s depressing to go and sit in a waiting room surrounded by disabled people who share your same disease like a reminder of what could unfold. It’s depressing to have to do a gait test where they time how long it takes you to walk from one end of the hallway to the other to test whether or not your ability to walk is slowing down. It’s depressing to use a bathroom with a pull cord that you can use in case you need help when you’re on the toilet. And it’s sure as hell depressing to have a doctor rattle off for you the 1,000 miserable, life altering things that might happen to you if you don’t take the disease modifying drugs that they suggest.
Here’s the thing- I walked down the hallway in 5 seconds. I don’t think that qualifies me for the Olympics or anything but it’s a damn good strut. I can get on and off the toilet just fine. I don’t have those 1,000 miserable, life altering things happening to me and I sure don’t want you filling my head with those terrible ideas. I am not burying my head in the sand. I sure as heck know what this disease can do and it’s not pretty but I refuse to give up control of my life. What kind of sick care system do we have where practitioners fill your head with every awful thing that could happen to you if you don’t follow their advice? I’ve been living in this body for 37 years. This body can do incredible, magical things. Have you seen me floss? Ok I don’t know how to do the floss but I’ve tried! Seriously though, I am strong and I am thriving and not because I’ve let my head be filled with the thoughts and ideals of their worst case scenarios.
Listen, folks, the real expert here is you. The only one who knows what’s healing and what’s hurting you is you. I absolutely believe in modern medicine and have the utmost respect for medical professionals but at the end of the day, your thoughts matter and how you approach your wellness matters greatly. The placebo effect works for a reason, right? Have you heard of the nocebo effect? The idea is that if you’re given a pill and told of it’s negative side effects that it’s enough to bring on those as real life symptoms. In other words, what the doctor says can have an extremely powerful effect on people. Words matter.
My choice is to continue to seek my own healing through diet, movement, alternative therapies, happiness, joy, friendship, love, meditation and on and on. I will see the doctor when it’s called for and I will kindly remind them that my approach is one to be respected because after all, I am a freaking miracle.
Some days I feel like I’ve hit my “pandemic stride”. I feel grateful for this space to be with myself and am past the point of the sheer horror and overwhelm that I had a year ago. Socializing looks very different to me these days but I’ve got some lovely friends who will meet me even on the coldest of days to take walks in the woods and talk about life. I’m happy teaching virtually and seeing all of the beautiful faces pop on my screen each day and I feel strange comfort in talking to myself for 45 minutes, just hoping that the folks at home are nodding along or laughing at my cheesy jokes.
And then there are days when I wonder if I’m just numb. That perhaps if I really sat with it, I would come to understand that I am protecting myself from the massive amount of anxiety that exists in the world. I’ve uttered the words “I don’t know” more times than I can count over this past year. I don’t know how to plan for the future. I don’t know how to safely live in this pandemic world. I don’t know what risks are necessary. I don’t know how I would be if I got Covid or how my auto-immune disease would respond if I did. I don’t know how long I can go without just running out of the house and hugging anyone I come in contact with. I just don’t fucking know. I honestly envy the conspiracy theorists and virus deniers sometimes because it sure as heck does sound like a nicer place to live sometimes but alas, my brain would never allow that to be a possibility.
Since I’ve just spent the last two paragraphs letting my anxiety spill out on the page for you, let’s dive a little deeper into that. You see, I’ve got what some might call high functioning anxiety. I’m going to call it sneaky anxiety because to be honest, it’s so sneaky that I didn’t even know I had it until recently. I mean, I’m well aware of my behaviors and all that but I just chalked it up to being a worrier and an overthinker. Because my anxiety doesn’t present itself in ways that I was used to hearing about, I removed myself from that category. But turns out, lying in bed and not falling asleep because you’re replaying a conversation over and over again in your mind and wishing you had said about a million things differently definitely constitutes as anxious behavior.
Now before I get too ahead of myself, I want to say that this confession here is more of an opportunity for me to empty out, to put it on the page so that I can start to unpack it. This is one of the ways I cope. I never like to live based on definitions or labels because I feel like that can be really suffocating. That being said, I also feel like it’s really easy to look at other people and not see this stuff so as per usual, I’m letting you into my world so you can see that we are in fact, all just flawed humans. As a yoga teacher, I feel like I could represent myself like a zen Buddha and have you all thinking that stress and worry just melt away because I practice yoga and meditation but truth be told, those practices just keep me from totally losing my shit.
So what to do in a pandemic when anxieties are high and you are already an anxious person? Well I don’t know. That’s the theme, remember? What I do know that brings me calm is my morning ritual, therapy, walks in the woods, movement, snuggling my dogs and trying to take it one day at a time. It’s all cliche but it’s true. I don’t know when we’ll be out of this crazy time but what I can do is look forward to spring because spring is certain. Then I can plant a garden (and hope that something actually grows in it this year!). I can sit outside with friends, I can put my hammock back up and I can continue not to know but not know with sunshine.
I’ve been seeing a lot of messaging lately basically saying “Peace Out 2020, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”. Boy, do I understand. I don’t think there’s a single soul out there that hasn’t been deeply touched by what has taken place this year. This gut-wrenching, heartbreaking year.
Personally, I have watched the career that I’ve spent many years building get whisked away overnight. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve spent more time this year with my thoughts than ever before and trust me, that’s not always pretty. I have danced this year with sadness and overwhelm in a way that I never have and it scared the hell out of me. I have worried myself sick over my own health and the health of those that I love. I have missed people and connection like I never knew possible. I have longed for hugs and coffee dates. I have grieved the community that I used to get every single day just by stepping into a yoga studio or running into a friend.
All of that and yet, I am still hesitant to just wish this year away. You see, this year was the suckiest of suck and also the most beautiful of them all. I have learned to sit with myself and not busy my feelings away. I have had time to think about those that I miss most and who I want to prioritize time with in the future. I have learned to pivot in my career and have found that connection with others even over muted Zoom classes. I’ve taken more long walks with friends than ever before and have been blessed to find solace among the trees with these beautiful humans. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my husband than ever before. I’ve spent more time resting. I’ve also spent more time scrolling and snacking too but let’s not be judgey.
I know this year has looked different for all of us. I have some friends who have never been more overwhelmed in their lives and then there are some that are overwhelmed by not being overwhelmed. My heart aches for those who are putting their health on the line every single day just by showing up at work or who are pouring every ounce of energy into teaching a classroom full of students in a whole new way or those who are scared of losing everything they have.
Damn. There are so many lessons in this year. Let’s not rush that away. Let’s take the time to be with it. And while we’re at it, let’s remember that January 1, 2021 is another day in this beautiful life. Things will not magically change because the calendar does. Let’s be patient. Let’s keep missing one another. Let’s keep each other safe. My hope for 2021 is that we start thinking of the collective instead of the individual but hey, I’m a dreamer.
Thank you for being here with me this year, reading my words, maybe popping in for a class or 20 and supporting me as I navigate launching a small business during a pandemic while trying not to completely lose my mind. I value you and I appreciate you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Let’s talk about grief. More specifically, let’s talk about death. I know you don’t want to talk about it and frankly, neither do I but it’s something that happens to every single being and yet, we spend so little time discussing it. It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that life is just one cycle of loss and love. I spent some time being really fucking sad about that. Like how can we keep putting ourselves through this? How do we carry on knowing that there will be more pain and more goodbyes? I sat with the sadness and then reminded myself that it’s so necessary for if we don’t experience this side of life then how will we ever fully appreciate all of the beauty and goodness? The beautiful rainbows when we’ve asked for a sign from our loved ones passed, smiles exchanged with someone who knows your soul, the smell of freshly cut sage from the garden, a child’s giggle. This is what gets us through our grief. The knowing that this beauty exists, the knowing that the grief comes from a place of such deep love.
We’ve come face to face with grief in our home in recent weeks. During a time when we are supposed to be giving thanks and finding gratitude, we were sopping messes. I know I don’t have to tell you that this pandemic has taken so much and we are collectively grieving. Grieving our lives as we knew them “before”, grieving loved ones, grieving loss of careers or time alone, grieving the busyness that kept us blissfully unaware of the unhealed parts of ourselves.
I find myself yearning to talk about grief and not quite sure how to do that. I’m lucky enough to have some special people around me that I can do that with but there are plenty of awkward moments too. For example, when I logged in last week to teach a virtual yoga class and the first person who joined in asked how my Thanksgiving was. Poor thing said it with such enthusiasm, obviously expecting me to talk about pumpkin pie and instead I blurted out that my father in law had died the day before so we hadn’t exactly been feeling celebratory. My instant reaction after telling her was regret. I should’ve just stayed quiet and told her my holiday was fine. And then I thought...why do I wish I had lied? My go-to emotion is often guilt so there’s that (I’m working on it) but besides that, I realized that it’s also taboo in our society to speak of things that aren’t positive. And I’m here to say fuck that. We NEED to talk about these things. We need to heal together. We are all so deeply and beautifully wounded. Why can’t we share that together instead of pretending that everything is pumpkin pie?
I find myself naturally drawn to people who are trying to heal. People with a story, those who acknowledge their shadow side or at least are aware of it’s existence. I don’t have the energy for surface or pretend and if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that life is too damn short to waste it pretending. It’s also taught me that we desperately need one another.
Speaking of needing each other, I’d like to touch upon what to do when someone you know is grieving. Now I know there isn’t a manual out there for this and other people’s traumas can often bring out our own but please, please reach out to your friends or family when they are hurting. If you think of them, let them know. If you’re worried about them, pick up the phone. Send a card. Cook them a meal. Whatever is in your capacity in the moment, go for it. We too often assume that the other person needs space or maybe that they’re surrounded by enough but please don’t assume. There are so many ways to communicate these days- text, call, reach out on social media, send some snail mail, carrier pigeon, etc. And once you reach out to them, that’s when you give them the space to respond.
I remember when my father passed away, I was so overwhelmed with making decisions on final arrangements and getting his many, messy affairs in order that the last thing I could handle was calling people back. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the sentiment of them calling but it just felt like another responsibility and I was so bogged down already. When my cousin called and left me a message, I remember her saying “please don’t feel like you need to call me back but I wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you.” Twelve years later and I still remember the relief that I felt when I heard those words. And guess what? She was the first person I called back.
Death and grief are sticky and they’re complicated and it’s easier to focus on sunshine and rainbows sometimes and I get that but it’s just so important that we talk about these things. We’ve so appreciated every single gesture, no matter how big or small that has been made over the past couple of weeks. Knowing there are people out there who support you means everything and in a time when we are lonely and grief stricken, let’s remember to keep checking in with each other.
Let’s talk about fear. Ah that wonderful emotion that dictates most of our decisions but we very rarely acknowledge. Fear is interesting because even when we convince ourselves it’s not there, it sneaks in from the shadows at the most unsuspecting moment. This is what happened to me this week after a visit with a new doctor.
I’ve touched upon this in other blog posts but just to summarize, my body has Multiple Sclerosis. If you’re unfamiliar with the disease, my immune system can go into attack mode and destroys the myelin sheath of nerve cells in the brain and spinal column which disrupts communication between the brain and the body. The symptoms vary person to person and moment to moment but can include vision loss, fatigue, impaired coordination and function loss. I have relapsing-remitting MS which means that I have “flare-ups” and then go into remission. These flare-ups come and go at unsuspecting times and sometimes I have years without a full blown episode and sometimes they come more frequently.
I have been feeling great in my body for several years which is why some people in my life have never even heard me mention MS in conversation. I really try not to identify as someone with this horrible disease because I don’t want it to be all consuming and I have learned that the more I focus on it, the more it focuses on me if you feel me. But as I mentioned before, I’ve been struggling with some exaserbations for a few months now which led me to find a new neurologist.
I thought we’d have a nice introductory visit and he’d take a look at me and see how well and able I am and that would be that. Maybe he’d order an MRI since it has been years since they’ve peeked into my brain. What I was not expecting from my visit was what felt like a punch to the gut. You see this well-meaning doctor walked into the room and in his thick Russian accent told me that he fully expected to see me in a wheelchair after looking at my charts and brain scans. I don’t know how (or why for that matter) I didn’t melt into a puddle of tears because that’s exactly what I wanted to do. He told me that based on my prior MRI’s that he would’ve thought the disease would’ve progressed by now to the point where I would’ve lost my ability to walk. Holy shit. WHAT?!? My former neurologist never said I was heading in this direction and I certainly never think this way about myself.
But there it was. The fear that lingers beneath the surface. The knowing that I have a disease that could impair my entire life. That with one new lesion on my spine, I could lose my ability to move my body. My body that I love. My strong, beautiful legs. The legs that have carried me across stages and shuffled their way into yoga studios. My legs that so effortlessly now float into 3 legged dog or support me in warrior 2. It’s my livelihood and my grounding to move this amazing body of mine. I won’t be told by someone I’ve just met that I SHOULD be in a wheelchair. I call bullshit.
So I got in the car and called my husband and fucking lost it. I cried the entire 30 minutes home. I could barely get the words out to tell him what that doctor expected to see when he met me. The fear. There it is. The fear is real.
But you see, my husband offered the most beautiful perspective and thank god I was in a space to truly hear it. He rejoiced when I told him what the doctor said. He told me I had defied the odds and that whatever I’ve been doing over the last 5 or 6 years since my last MRI must be working because not only am I NOT in a wheelchair but I’m a damn warrior. OK he didn’t use those exact words but you catch my drift.
And you know what? He’s right. I’ve done things my own way since the last time they took pictures of my brain. I haven’t subscribed to the doctor’s way of treating my disease and instead have taken a holistic approach. I am certainly never going to rule out needing to go a more traditional route and would never judge anyone who does but for now, I am going to celebrate how strong I am and my plan is to keep proving this doctor and the fear wrong. He doesn’t know me and as a wise friend pointed out, he should’ve been asking me what I’ve done over the past few years to treat myself because clearly it’s working.
I’m going to go in the next couple of weeks to get an updated MRI and I can’t help but think that I’m going to be pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can be the one who sees some reversal in this terrible disease. Maybe I can keep defying odds. Maybe the teacher can become the student. What I know for sure is that I’m going to keep doing things my way.
So here’s the thing. I find myself increasingly tired of the highlight reels. I crave deep connection with others and we only find that by being truly vulnerable and showing each other our humanness. It’s lovely to see everyone’s pictures on social media of fun with friends and moments of pure bliss with our loved ones but I want to know what makes you feel. I want to talk about frustrations and faltering. I want us to truly honor each other’s journeys and not just the outcomes. Let’s open up about our hardships. Maybe that’s dark but so be it. I’m here for the realness.
In that vain, I’d like to talk about my body with you all because it occurred to me that as a fitness professional (it feels douchey to call myself that by the way), that perhaps it can come across like there aren’t physical challenges for me too. Let’s start with the fact that I’m not a fitness buff. Ha! That’s weird, right? I don’t go on ten mile jogs on the weekends or take spin classes for fun. I wish I had the energy for that quite frankly. Becoming a fitness instructor happened naturally since movement has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up spending most of my time in a dance studio and later on that organically morphed into barre and yoga. Moving my body has always been medicine for me. It’s an absolute requirement for me to feel mentally stable-ish. But when I’m not moving, I’m just a human who really enjoys lounging and eating all the foods and I’m also someone who needs to be super vigilant of how I spend the little amount of energy I have.
You see, my body has Multiple Sclerosis. I recently learned to word in that way because it’s such a better narrative than to say that I have it. Because of that, I have to consider the spoon theory on a daily basis. What’s the spoon theory? Read more about that here if you desire but the idea is that I start each day with an allotted number of spoons and each daily activity requires me to cash in spoons. Some days I start off with a boatload of spoons and I feel great and some days I start off with just a few. I’m working every day to not live like someone who has this disease but it’s been front and center recently with the fear of Covid lingering. On top of that, I’ve been fighting a relapse that has been unrelenting since the start of the year that includes cute symptoms like temporary paralysis. I’m not sharing this information with you to get sympathy or even to draw attention to it but rather to show you that I’m human. Some days I teach a class and after I feel like I could conquer the world like I do today and some days I teach a class and I have to allow time for rest.
I’m actively working on becoming one with my dis-ease and honestly feel tremendously grateful for it sometimes. Other times I want to punch it directly in the throat. You see, MS has taught me a ton about caring for myself. It’s taught me to slow down and be kind to my body. It’s also taught me to create major boundaries because stress is a huge trigger for trouble and I have to set limits for myself. That’s damn hard. I want to do all the things. My heart wants to climb mountains and dance until the sun comes up but my body sometimes has other plans. So I listen, I get quiet with myself and I do what I can handle. And on days when I do more than I can handle, I try to tune into the subtle and not so subtle signs that my body sends me to knock it off.
Again, I share this with you because it’s easy to look at other people and wish we had some of what they have. I find myself watching TV and wondering what certain people do to have those levels of energy. I’m jealous of energy. But for all I know, the director yells cut and that actor has to take a nap because they’ve used up their spoons for the day.
So let’s talk about these things. Not for pity or to wallow but to remind each other that we are all imperfectly perfect. We all struggle with loving our bodies even though they are so remarkable and squeezeable. Let’s celebrate our soft tummies because maybe it means we’ve finally given ourselves permission to rest and our strong hearts because it means we’ve seen some shit. Let’s not take those days when we rise with extra spoons for granted and let’s be patient with ourselves when there’s only one spoon in the drawer.
I have a hand-me-down mentality. When I was a child, I got a lot of my clothes from my older cousins. The big bags would be sent home with us after a family gathering and I’d be all excited to open them up and see what surprises waited for me. We didn’t have much money growing up and my parents are practical people so it was either hand-me-downs or the most stylish of KMart layaway items. My Mom and I always joke how torturous layaway was because you’d get all excited “shopping” only to have them take away your purchases and store them in the back room until you were all paid up. It was kind of confusing as a kid but I’ll tell you what, once that pink slip was all paid up, it was like shopping all over again because chances are, you’d forgotten what you had bought. Fast forward and I still think like someone receiving hand-me-downs. In fact, I just had this realization that most of my clothes in my wardrobe are STILL not mine originally. Luckily, I have fashionable friends who have passed things down to me but what the heck?!? Why am I still acting like a broke girl? I don’t even fit in some of those clothes and a lot of them aren’t my style to begin with. What is my style? I don’t know. That’s something to figure out another day. These days it’s anything that’s comfortable. I just want to live without a constant wedgie or underwire of any sort.
Anyway, I was trying to fall asleep last night and it all hit me. I am just sitting around waiting for people to give me their leftovers. This is unacceptable. We can apply this same thinking to other areas of my life. It’s not just my wardrobe, it’s my career, it’s the way I approach finances. I have been thinking for a long time about this deficit mentality but I didn’t go back into my time machine far enough to understand where it comes from.
I have turned into an adult who knows I have the skill set, drive and passion to make it on my own and yet, I keep spinning my wheels waiting for someone to hand me the power.
“You had the power all along, my dear.” -Glinda
Totally, Glinda, totally. I have the power. So instead of sitting here waiting for my next bag of hand-me-downs, I am going to buy my own damn pants. Ok this isn’t really about pants but maybe you’re catching my drift. It’s time for me to step out on my own. So I’m going to do what I should’ve been doing all along. I’m going to take a step forward into building my business. I’m going to put out the content that I’ve been holding back for a long time now. I’m going to step into my power.
So what does this mean? It means I’m going to be offering a membership to my classes and online offerings and continue to work with the wellness community that has started to band together with me over the past few months. I’m also going to offer more services doing something that I love which is working more with fellow movement educators, providing mentoring and continuing education. I’m also going to trust myself enough to know that this has been building inside of me for a long time. I don’t need someone else to pass it along to me. I’ve got this.
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.