Whenever I find myself feeling righteous for some reason life humbles me, reminding me that in so many ways we’re all in this together. I had staved off Coronavirus since February 2020. I felt proud of my record. When Omicron came on the scene I started wearing masks indoors and out. I felt mostly protected from the virus and the cold. All was well. That ended a couple of weeks ago when I contracted the virus and was put out for days.
I don’t know why they call them mild cases. True, I was fortunate enough to stay at home, but it sure kicked my butt. I haven’t remembered being that sick for years. It felt like the worst flu I ever had and then some. Luckily, I’m on the mend. I knew I was getting better when I had the wherewithal to start complaining.
Funny how feeling ill softens my edges. And at the first sign of feeling physically better I leaned towards pessimism. As much as I loathed being under the weather, I think the simplicity of life while healing will serve me well now that I am well.
Rest Up. We easily neglect down time. The rest is what keeps us going.
Leave small notes of affirmations in drawers, on the mirror, or anywhere else in your home. You can write post-its saying things like, “You’re Awesome” or “Be Curious” or anything that has meaning for you.
Try making a new soup. Simple if you have no time or challenging if you want to expand your repertoire.
Small kindnesses have huge impacts. This week I hadn’t felt well, and the comments, texts, calls, messages, and extra care have been particularly meaningful. Larry, my husband, asked me if he could help take care of me, if I would let him. The truth is I usually don’t let him help me. I can be stubbornly independent, even at my own expense. So, I “let” him. Every query to see if there was anything he could do was welcomed. He made trips to the pharmacy to find the right over-the-counter remedies. He cooked or ordered dinner. We chatted casually. Something we don’t often have a chance to do.
In the past I’d get defensive as if he were accusing me of not being able to do something myself. And sometimes his accusations were spot on. Nonetheless I’d get defensive as if that truth wasn’t already fully clear.
Friends and family have been kind. Interdependence can soften us, as it has me this past week, leaving me more grateful and treasuring those I love even more. Gifts can come in odd shapes. Being vulnerable has allowed me to take in those gifts.
I am feeling better day by day. And I plan to remember this week so I can accept help when offered in the future. The kindness of others deepens us and makes us stronger in a positively vulnerable way.
Clean out apps. We always have apps that we thought were a good idea, but that we either never use, or they no longer serve us. It’s okay to delete those.
Give yourself a news free day. See if it lightens your stress load.
Ask for help. Even if you could go it alone, it may save time and forge a connection when done with or by another.
I keep deluding myself into thinking I know the best formula for getting through these difficult times. I meditate twice daily. I make sure I don’t make plans more than once a week, except in special circumstances. I go for daily walks. I work. I try to make easy dinner a few times a week. I like doing all these things. While I’m doing them, I feel perfectly fine. But in other moments I am short-tempered. I am impatient. I long for more assistance. I understand how fortunate I am to have supportive people in my life. But we all need extra scaffolding, and since most of us are depleted, we have less inner resources from which to give.
When I get heated, lash out, or feel deflated, I know I am far from being balanced. I was never athletic, and I could barely do a cartwheel in gym class, but throughout school I felt comfortable on the balance beam. Not skilled, but able to stay upright. Now at a more advanced age, I feel at ease with balance stances on my yoga mat. But feeling steadied after a full day of work and a few minutes facing my to-do lists is not an available option these days. I am off-balance.
For months on end during the pandemic I was keen on regaining whatever balance I had before. That wasn’t working so I tried to find a new balance. Perhaps for some that’s a possibility, but I can only speak for myself, and I was nowhere near anything I could call balanced, beam or no beam. Now I’m not quite embracing the collective destabilizing forces, but I am doing what I can to live in it.
Yes, walking helps. True, carving out alone time makes a difference. Saying no when I don’t have the wherewithal. And saying yes when opening myself up to something out of my routine gives me renewed joy. All simple, but not always easy. I am grateful for laughter and art as balms in this uncertain storm. It allows me to come back to myself. A place in which I can be kind to myself and others, understanding most of us are a bit wobbly as we try to regain our footing.
Have a private Karaoke. Turn up a song and sing along loudly, releasing your inner artistic spirit.
Get a small plant while practicing loving discipline. Choose a commitment level by picking out a plant you can easily care for.
Read a short story. It gives you a sense of accomplishment without a long-term reading commitment.
I made plans months ago to get away this past week. I was heading to a conference that was cancelled last January. Looking forward to warm weather and outdoor dining, Omicron thwarted our quasi-vacation. Instead, I am in my apartment lamenting my unrealized trip.
Most of us have had to reroute our former intentions. The only traveling I did this week was mostly by foot. Though I did take one jaunt by ferry to Astoria Park to enjoy the opposite view of the East River. Not quite the coastline I had pictured, but the one closest to home.
I’m hearing about Covid fatigue left, right, and center. Without recovering from the initial stall of all that we knew to be our lives, we are plodding through the ever expanding unknown. Here and there we enjoy bright spots. But just as quickly we are easily agitated by small disturbances. At least that describes my experience.
I’m still making tentative travel plans, ever hopeful for shifts in the health of our world. I may have missed the boat, or rather, plane, this time, but I’m not giving up on future travel. For now, I have books to take me to new places.
Clean out old emails. If you’re anything like me, unless it’s junk, I keep some emails just in case. This weekend, I’m purging old emails. I invite you to join me.
Take the time to unsubscribe from unwanted solicitations. If that’s too much, start with one a day.
Have a plan B. If and when plans shift, you have something else you can enjoy in the meantime.
Welcome to 2022. There are a lot of surprises in store. I’ll be surprised along-side you. I’m calling it the “New Abnormal” due to the fact that it’s been abnormal for awhile. A new normal doesn’t resonate with me since there have been too many tectonic shifts these last couple of years. Although this new abnormal is, well, new, I am no stranger to abnormal.
When I was 9 years old I secretly played with Barbies. Under our ping pong table in the basement, I created a world that entertained me for hours. I quickly came to understand that my third-grade classmates were not still playing with their Barbie dolls. At least no one admitted to it. They had moved on to more sophisticated toys like the Zig Zag sewing machine or the totally cool walkie-talkies. But I relished my alone time away from my three siblings to do as I pleased, inventing new roles that my small dolls could inhabit. Even later when I was to learn that Barbie was no friend to feminists, I silently appreciated those precious years when they provided me with a gateway to my creative mind.
As much as I loved those solo hours under the table, on Sundays my Grandpop, Sam, would play ping pong with me, my Barbies far from underneath the table in the appropriate cases tucked into the basement closet. My Grandpop was quite athletic. When he played ping pong, he played to win. I only learned the game by trying to keep up. He usually won. But he never gloated. He was a humble man, who taught me the importance of doing a good job for oneself.
At school I was relentlessly teased for my frizzy hair, my hand-me-down wardrobe, or my socially awkward demeanor. To certain kids at Stafford School, I was abnormal. It felt like an unwanted burden as a tween. As an adult, especially in this time of Coronavirus, I have come to understand that having had a tough beginning was the introduction I needed to get through difficult times.
As we enter 2022, we all have a sense of what it takes when the unexpected comes. We’ve had plenty of practice these last 22 months. Abnormal times require abnormal qualities. I may have been unpopular playing with my Barbies, but being able to entertain myself for long periods of time in my own company has served me well. Plus enjoying the company and sportsmanship of my Grandpop has given me an ease with quiet focus. Let’s rejoice in what’s distinct from others. Celebrating our inner abnormalities may just get us through this new year.
Laugh a little. Watch a Betty White clip on YouTube or elsewhere.
Clean out something simple as a signal for a fresh beginning. It can be a drawer, a pencil holder, a room, your refrigerator or freezer, your oven or a closet. Throw out what doesn’t serve you anymore. If you can recycle it or repurpose it, great.
In what ways have you known yourself to veer from the crowd? If it’s something that gives you pleasure and it doesn’t harm you or anyone else, allow yourself the grace to appreciate and enjoy your “inner abnormal.”