“Life has got all those twists and turns. You’ve got to hold on tight and off you go.” – Nicole Kidman
When I wrote the previous blog post, we were at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Now we have been dealing with it for a while, with no end in sight. Some of us have lost a loved one. Some have lost their income and worry about paying bills. Some people are working but anxious, trying not to catch the virus. Others are lonely or sick.
None of us have dealt with anything like this. We can’t control what happens next and that makes us fearful. We are afraid to shop for groceries. We can’t hug our loved ones—now the way to show love is to stay away from people. At times we feel shock, anger, and depression. No matter how the pandemic is affecting you, be gentle with yourself. When we feel unsafe, stressed, and sad, we cannot be at our best.
Each of us is coping with this global crisis in different ways. Some people are doers, throwing themselves into projects. That has not been me. When the pandemic began, I felt like a zombie. One afternoon, I listened to a motivational speaker who I admire. She essentially said, “You need to keep going! Do, do, do!” I wasn’t feeling it.
I sat on the couch, feeling a little depressed. I wondered what was wrong with me? I had stopped training for a half-marathon that was scheduled for April 19 and rescheduled to June. The long training runs with other women had been canceled, and I think it won’t be safe to run the race in June. What about bathrooms and the crowded conditions at the start and end of the race?
But sitting there, my reasons for not running the race seemed like excuses. Why hadn’t I kept training so I could run the distance on my own? I could have used my own bathroom if I ran near my house. But I hadn’t been doing long runs, and it was too late to restart the training.
My husband asked if I wanted to go for a run, and we went to a forest preserve. A running friend, Amy, ran past from the other direction. Her cheery “Hey, Sue!” lifted my mood, and the good weather and pretty scenery helped as well.
At some point, we start to accept the pandemic and its impact on our lives. We start to think about what is in our control. How can we take better care of ourselves? How can we help others? What do we want our lives to be like when this is over? If we reflect on these questions and on lessons we’ve learned, this challenging time can make us stronger and lead to growth. I offer you my thoughts on what I’ve learned in the hope that you’ll reflect on your experiences also.
- Good self-care is essential so we can cope better with the challenges caused by the pandemic. It also sets a good example for our loved ones.
- I knew that life is short, but the pandemic has emphasized that. There is no guarantee that we and all our loved ones will get through this. It is a reminder to value each day and live accordingly.
- Normal life was precious. Someday we’ll again go to concerts, parties, and restaurants. I miss traveling, seeing loved ones, and going to church. I miss my ministry as church librarian. I won’t take these things for granted again.
- I’ve cut back on the amount of time I spend on social media. For awhile, I was constantly checking Facebook. Social media can be inflammatory, and I was often upset and caught up in dramas. Then a friend posted on her page, “Stop the fear. Stop the hate.” I realized she’s right, and I’m not engaging as much with drama.
- Still, I’m grateful for modern technology. We can see each other using tools like Zoom.
- Keep putting one foot in front of the other. I wasn’t functioning well when the pandemic began, but baby steps helped. One step was to write out a basic schedule each day.
- I signed up for a “30 risks in 30 days” challenge. These steps helped me move forward. For example, with my daughter’s help, I arranged a “Ladies’ Night In” Zoom event. I also ran a virtual 5K race alone wearing a race bib.
- I’ve posted the Women Making Strides mission by my computer where I can see it. It reminds me of how I want to be.
- Because I want to be a woman making strides, I try to make healthy choices. I continue to run, but I read that after running long distances, our bodies get depleted and are susceptible to catching the coronavirus. I’m more confident now about my decision not to train for the half-marathon this year.
- I’ve been running or walking every day, keeping to social distance guidelines. Being out in nature and having a change of scenery lifts my mood. Staying fit helps lung capacity and general health, which I hope would help me fight the virus if I catch it.
- When it’s hardest to overcome resistance and run, that’s when I need it the most. So many times I didn’t want to run, but once I got going, I was glad I did.
- One day I decided to have fun running four miles. I did intervals of five minutes running, one minute walking. I took a photo of a great egret by a creek, and I listened to good songs, singing along with my favorites. Before I knew it, I had run 5.5 miles. I can apply that lesson of making routine activities fun into other areas of my life.
- On a similar note, I’ve been watching “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix. The contestants handle challenges in different ways. Some are stressed, others laugh and joke even when they are not doing well. Some let criticism bounce off them, others seem upset and defensive. The way we approach challenges and accept feedback can make a big difference in our lives. I’m often stressed in challenging situations, but I’d rather be able to put it in perspective and be lighthearted. I can work toward having that trait. A step to begin is to watch more funny and uplifting shows to keep my mood positive.
- I struggle with anxiety, so I look for comfort. Fleece jackets, homemade treats, and a cup of tea are all soothing.
- While I don’t understand how God could let this pandemic happen, I find comfort from attending church services online. I am inspired by the faith of the apostles and stories such as the conversion of St. Paul. We can turn to God in our distress and renew our faith.
- Good food nourishes us, both food for our body and food for our mind and spirit. I’ve benefited from watching “The Lemonade Sessions: Tools to Support You in These Uncertain Times” by Pathways Seminars. Replays are at https://www.youtube.com/user/PathwaysSeminars.
- In Illinois, we are sheltered in place until the end of May. But I think it won’t be safe to go back to our normal lives for a long time. How can we make the best of this new normal? Our daughter Mel, who is living with us for a few months, reminded us that May 5 is Cinco de Mayo. She suggested we eat Mexican food that night and drink Margaritas. We will keep trying to make the best of our situation, for example by relaxing around a crackling fire in our fire pit.
Take care of yourself and safeguard those around you. Let us know how you’re doing.
What have you experienced during the pandemic? What have you learned? How do you want your life to be different when the pandemic is over?