Finding Peace During the Pandemic

Global pandemicState of Emergency.  Corona virus.

These are words that have rattled our sense of well-being and fed our fears.

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I’ve watched as the unseen enemy creeps closer. First it was overseas, then the virus arrived in the U.S. and spread to my state. Now we have the first confirmed cases in my rural county.

Even if you or someone you know doesn’t have COVID-19, I’m sure you could list multiple ways your world is different now.  I know I can.

The first wave of impact hit me at the college where I work. We’ve been scrambling to move classes to online learning, cancel multiple events/travel, and mobilize staff to transition to working from home.

Then the effect became even more personal. The community theatre production I was looking forward to participating in was cancelled. My 401(k) began to tank as the stock market plunged. My church moved its services to Facebook Live broadcasts, and my hairdresser suspended her operations.

But perhaps nothing provided greater evidence that life has changed than when I made a trip to Walmart two weeks ago. The gaping shelves and people nervously foraging for staples was like a scene from an apocalyptic movie. Even the behemoth Amazon, who I could always rely on to deliver whatever I wanted in two days can’t keep items in stock.

white toilet paper rolls on tote bag

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And of course, there’s the infamous toilet paper shortage. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to ration TP—but I’ve learned that I can get the job done with just three squares. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited as when a box containing toilet paper arrived on my front porch.

Obviously, the things I’ve experienced can mostly be described as inconveniences in comparison to what people who have lost income or are fighting the disease are going through, but the stress all of us are feeling is real.

In times like this we often feel powerless, so I’d like to suggest seven things you can do to help increase your level of peace and help others in the midst of the crisis. Continue reading

Ambushed by aging

retail-store-metal-mirror-and-footrest2[1]It happened in front of one of those unforgiving, full-length mirrors.

I had stepped into mom’s adjoining dressing room so we could show one another the clothes we were trying on.  Instinctively, I reached out to smooth the white blouse on my mother’s slightly stooped back.

I was in my thirties, and she was in her seventies.  We stood side-by-side, looking at our reflections.  I think that’s when it hit her . . . hard.

At home I noticed a tear trailing down her cheek.  Alarmed, I asked her what was wrong.  Continue reading

Recovering from sudden disaster

Not every storm has a name, like Harvey, Irma, or Maria.

Mine arrived without radar predictions or an evacuation warning.

An urgent voice on the other end of the phone said, “your house is on fire—you’d better get over here, NOW!”

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A few minutes later I found myself standing across the street from my home, watching helplessly as voracious flames consumed the roof.

The firefighters valiantly fought the blaze, preventing it from completely destroying the structure. But what remained was damaged severely by heat, smoke and water.

Ash Gateway fire June 2006 police 338

For the first time in my life, I was confronted with sudden disaster, devastation, and displacement.

There’s been a lot of that going around lately. Perhaps like me, you’ve felt heart-sick over the string of calamities the past few weeks . . . hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes.

How do we recover when a major storm sweeps through our lives?

Continue reading

Valentine’s Day: survival and sensitivity tips

Like most holidays, Valentine’s Day can be fun for some people and painful for others.   If you’re in the midst of a budding romance or deeply in love with your soulmate of 30 years, it can be a sweet time of celebration.  But if your Valentine has never shown up, your marriage is strained, or you have lost your spouse to divorce or death, the day is a vivid reminder of what you’re missing.

If you’re in the latter category, here are a few pointers for surviving Valentine’s Day.  (You folks who are love-struck, don’t tune out, because some “sensitivity” tips for you will follow.)

Continue reading

Why I’m thankful for my limitations

A wave of melancholy washed over me the day of the holiday concert.   I was sad because I wouldn’t be singing with the local choral ensemble.group_5121

It’s not because the group didn’t want me.

This past fall I was honored to receive an invitation to join the choir, and began attending rehearsals.  My soul was immediately enlivened by the process of learning and making music again.

But I was simultaneously confronted with an old nemesis—my relentless battle with chronic fatigue.

The two-hour Sunday evening rehearsals were intense, with no breaks.  During each practice my body began to crash at about the half-way mark, leaving me hanging on by my fingernails for the duration.  Worse yet, I paid for it dearly for several days afterwards, struggling to function at work because of the resulting exhaustion, headaches, and dizzy spells.

Though I hated to do it, I knew I had to withdraw from the group. My health limitations had gained the upper hand once again.

Perhaps you know the feeling, even though your situation is different.  We all experience limitations of some sort—physical, mental, financial, educational, and emotional, to name a few.

It’s natural to feel frustrated or sad like I did when obstacles keep us from something we want.

But what if we could transform our view of the things that limit us (especially the things we cannot change) to a positive perspective?

th265r7k9f Continue reading