I buzzed my hair off. I allowed candy back into my home - chocolates of course. My fish got names like Jeffrey (may he rest in peace), Harry and Eleanor. And I've learned to look nice from the waist up for Zoom meetings. (Living alone through this is tough, but does have it's perks.) I've lost count of how many weeks we've been living under the Safer at Home Order.
Back in February I was watching the news everyday, wanting to know what was happening in China. In March I wanted to watch the news to be aware of how COVID-19 was spreading to Italy, the Middle East and finally here. In April I wanted to watch the daily reports by our governor and our mayor because I had to know the numbers of deaths and sick. By early May I was so full of anxiety and fear that chocolate seemed like a good lunch and dinner and I carried a hand towel like Linus carries his blanket because I would burst into tears at least once a day.
I miss serving the people of my parish with my coworkers, deacons and priests. I miss enjoying a dinner out with a friend that lasts for hours because the food and conversation are so good. I miss going for a long bike ride on PCH, then cooling off in the beautiful ocean and relaxing my muscles on the warm sand. I miss time with my brothers and their families. I'm afraid my little nephew and niece won't even remember their Tia Laura. I'm sad people at the grocery store seem to think I have cooties and look down when I smile (behind my mask) and say "Hi!" I am tired of feeling like I'm doing something wrong when I empty a roll of toilet paper!
This week I pushed up my proverbial sleeves and became my own coach. I am an athlete, maybe an older one who doesn't do all she used to, but still an athlete. I hit the COVID-19 wall. I know what to do when I hit the wall in a marathon or triathlon or when I'm climbing up and down a mountain. The same practices apply to the COVID-19 wall, right?
Why am I filling my mind with the news daily? Why do I think it's helpful? It feeds my fear and anxiety. That slams me against the wall. This week when the feeling of fear or anxiety comes up in me I stop what ever I'm doing, take a deep breath and say (out loud because I live alone) "Fear, anxiety, you do not serve me. You are not welcome here."
When I feel like I'm in a trash compactor instead of my beautiful apartment I stop, take a deep breath and say, "COVID-19, you will not take this place I call my sanctuary away from me."
Why do I keep thinking about all that I can't do right now? That causes me to slam into the wall. I can let people know how much I miss them. As I do I'm surprised to find their faces come to my mind and I'm smiling. I can ask a friend to pack a picnic meal, meet me at a park and sit 6 feet apart as we enjoy some good conversation. (I can't tell you how much that blesses me after months of being alone!) I can get up earlier a couple of days a week to do a long bike ride around town, enjoying the quiet streets as the sun rises.
As my own coach I'm telling myself to refocus my mind and take care of my body.
For me, the connection of my body, mind and spirit has been clear and important in my life. As I refocus my mind and care for my body (including replacing chocolate lunches and dinners with fruits and veggies), I am refocusing my spirit as well.
I have continued to pray Morning Prayer and read the daily Mass readings everyday and added Evening Prayer since I'm home, but found that as I prayed my thoughts would be full of doubt. I hit a wall of hopelessness, that long dark tunnel with no light at the end.
We are in the most joyous Liturgical Season, the 50 days of the Easter Season. Hope is a main theme, the hope Jesus' resurrection gives us. I decided to look at COVID-19 through the lens of Easter. God loved me so much that He sent Jesus to come and save me. Jesus did that by teaching me all about God and His love for me and showing me how to live in that love. Then He suffered and died for me so that my sins can be forgiven and so that I can live eternally in His love in Heaven. Hope, new life, joy - I am an Alleluia person! Through the lens of Easter, COVID-19 looks like a dark tunnel with light at the end. I am not in it alone. There are tough moments, but there are also moments of joy. It is not hopeless.
I don't know how much longer we will be living under Safer at Home, when we can go back to work, when churches will reopen or when we can gather with family and friends. But that won't be what I focus on anymore.
I do know that I need to fill my mind with things that will serve me. I know that I need to care for my body.
And I know that I need to look at this COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of Easter, or the truth that is Jesus.
I need to train in these things daily just like I would train in running for a marathon, swimming, biking and running for a tri and long hilly hikes to climb mountains.
Then, when I hit the wall, I'll be ready mentally, physically and spiritually to get around it and keep moving forward. I believe! PLEASE CLICK HERE.