Love in the time of COVID

I may already be suffering from a wee tequila head which has put my mood a few tics south of my usually charming self when my mother calls. “I just went to the store to pick up toilet paper and they were out.” she told me with a touch of humor and incredulity. This took a second to register. She laughed and went on to say that my father had called and asked her to pick some up, and the shelves were bare. What? Wait, what? We’re not in a major urban area. No one expected this little corner pocket town in the mountains to suffer from the coronapanic that is apparently spreading across our nation in seemingly direct proportion to the cases of COVID sufferers in each state. We laughed about it for a minute and decided that TP was probably the last thing on our minds if it came to that, she can always river wipe… yet this is our current reality. Priorities people. We hung up and I headed out to grab some milk on my way home. You already know where this is going.

Photo: Day of the Living Dead

It’s 3:00, not a busy time to shop, but the store was packed. Maybe early spring break shoppers? Mostly unfortunate because I try to get there before the crowds. I strolled down Produce grabbing arugula, basil, some garlic. Just what I need for the night. I got my milk, the shelves were plenty full. I see a sale of my favorite KIND bars, bought a few dozen. Grabbed eggs and out of morbid curiosity strolled down the toilet paper aisle. Empty. Are you kidding? It really was. Cleaning products are bare minimum, flu medicine down, tissues down. Forget about hand sanitizer. I walked over to self checkout and got so caught up eavesdropping on the cashiers talking about the store imposing limits on how many you can buy the next day when the shipment comes in that I forgot my damn eggs. People really have gone mad. Are we preparing for the zombie apocalypse? You’ll be germ free, but you’re gonna get hungry.

The reality is that whether it’s the media or our fellow humans, we’ve created our own nightmare. Do you hear that? We are doing this to ourselves. I understand it’s fairly easy to not get a twinge of panic when you hear other people are panicking. There’s probably some scientific phenomena that occurs in this situation. Panic breeds more panic, but let’s look at this for a minute. We all know the facts. You can’t possibly not know the facts at this point. We all have the map of the slow spread of doom permanently etched on our brains. It’s only killing those that would be hit hardest by the flu as well. You can have it weeks before you know you even have it so wash your hands- a lot. (Buy some lotion to counter the horrible dried hands that are happening here) Don’t touch your face. Social distancing, etc. So why the hell are people hoarding toilet paper? That’s insane. We’re hearing this everyday and not just because of our current “leader”, things have become like some loopy version of Upside-down Day. We’re living in an alternate universe.

So, as yet one more writer’s plea for sanity, let’s all take a deep breath. Really. It’s going to be OK. Remember that thing about love thy neighbor? Well, if you can’t muster love, for the love of all things good, have a sense of humanity. Be a decent human being. Do your best to not get caught up in this tidal wave of mass hysteria. Be reasonable. You will likely be inconvenienced, but not forever. Personally, I have coffee, wine and KIND bars. I’m set and will be happy to share my toilet paper if need be, and should a zombie actually show up at your door, feel free to comment below and tell me, I told you so.

Taking Stock

What does that mean? To take stock of something? According to my often used Mac dictionary app, the phrase means “to review or make an overall assessment of a particular situation, typically as a prelude to making a decision.” We often, perhaps more often than we realize, find ourselves at turning points in our lives. These can be the major, smack you over the head obvious ones, or the opposite— sneaky little micro adjustments we make without realizing we’re doing it. Those small moments can be as pivotal to your world as those that club you over the head. 

Here we are, on the cusp of a new year, a new decade and many are making their resolutions for this year to come. I ask you to do one better. I ask you to take a few quiet moments and take stock of your past year. Look at the majors that occurred, some will make you smile while others will make you grimace. What effect did these have in your world? How did it alter your course?  Look deeper at the little micro adjustments you might have made along the way. Can you recognize those little curves in your path and the ensuing change in course direction? Maybe you met a new friend through a friend that introduced you to an exercise class you now go to all the time! Maybe you injured your foot and no longer exercise like you did. What are the many cause and effects of your year. Those are the perhaps not so little pivotal changes that you didn’t seek, but happened to you anyway. Now what does that all look like to you? How does that make you feel, says the inner therapist? What happened that you are proud of? What goals did you stay the course with? Where did you drop the ball? How did you surprise yourself? Now look ahead, take a deep breath and look at what you want in this next year, knowing that there will be micro cause and effects along the way. How will you stay on your course to what you want?

Go deeper and look at what might be holding you back from realizing these small and large goals. What’s the drag bag that’s keeping you from getting there? For me, taking stock partly means looking at what negative feelings hold me back, and cutting the line and letting it go. Too easily we can revel in those hurt feelings and injustices to our being. It’s our little soap box we stand on and ultimately whine from. Can you let that go? Many can’t and I believe that might be the one singular thing that keeps us from making progress in our lives. We get too attached to the soapbox, because it’s easier to complain and blame than it is to deal with it. If you deal with it, or better yet, if you can find your way to forgiveness of the situation or action, you’ll have released a huge pile of B.S. you’ve unwittingly been carrying around, and make room for all sorts of fabulous things to happen to you.

This sounds really good to me. Bring it.

As I take stock of 2019, there is much to be grateful for. There were many wonderful moments, too many to count. I did much of what I wanted, but I know I can always do more. I can be more, and by being more to myself I inherently become more to those closest to me. I can challenge myself more often. I can be kinder. I can be more loving. I can find the beauty in my world daily. I can also recognize when I’m doing too much. I can forgive and make precious room for fabulous things to fill me up.

This will look different to you than it does to me. We all have our stuff, and we all have our dreams, hopes, and goals. While you’re celebrating the New Year, I challenge you to take stock of this past year, and turn some of that chaos into order. Let go of your hurts, and find a way to forgive. Forgive those that hurt you, not because you seek their forgiveness, but because it will lighten your emotional load. Forgive yourself if you haven’t met your personal expectations, it’s OK. Do all of this for yourself so you can find a deeper belief in yourself. Look forward to the micro and major changes you seek in your life, and if you want them bad enough find ways to make it happen. You don’t have to do this, you get to do this. It doesn’t all have to happen at once, change takes time. Be patient and remind yourself daily of what it is you seek and why. Show the universe you are committed to your future by setting these new habits into place, and above all love yourself for being the amazing person you are. 

Cheers to a fantastic year for all!