Gratitude Friday

1. Signs of Spring. The birds are returning and things are starting to bloom and turn green. It’s a nice reminder that the earth goes on without us and that things are always changing, coming back around, starting again. Winter happens, but so does Spring, and even when things are bad there is also joy.

2. Good food is still being made and eaten. Feeding ourselves as well as we can and enjoying what we are eating is suddenly the biggest of luxuries, the most essential self-care.

3. Texting and video conferencing. It is always hard to be separated from people you love, but that’s especially true right now. I’m so grateful that my mom has a smartphone now and we can text whenever we want, that I can check in with her more regularly, that it doesn’t have to be something important or interesting enough to warrant an email or phone call.

4. “Yard time.” This is what Eric and I have been calling it when it’s nice enough to sit outside, soak up the sunshine and fresh air, which we try to do for some hours of the day when we can. It snowed yesterday, so at one point we just stood at the sliding glass door, looking outside, as it was too cold to go out. The forecast for the next few days is sunny and climbing to the 70s, so there will be yard time again soon.

5. Normal things in an abnormal time. “Before” when we were away from each other, we’d text selfies to each other, just to check in and say “hi.” We are still doing it, even though we are both home. The other day, Eric was in the backyard and I was inside on the couch, and we sent each other selfies, to remind ourselves we are still here.

5. Time alone. As much as I love my dogs and my person, I still need time alone. Ever since I retired from my job at CSU in May, I spend part of almost every afternoon in my bedroom in the dark. My nervous system was/is fried and needs the time to reset, restore, rest. This ritual has become even more important recently.

6. Morning walks. Getting outside, moving around in the world with my favorites.

7. My tiny family. I am so grateful we are together, safe and healthy. I’m also so glad that as much as we love each other, we also like each other’s company. It’s an added bonus that when you have to be around someone ALL THE TIME, you mostly enjoy it.

Bonus joy: curbside grocery pick-up, a big salad, apples, a glass of clean cold water, good TV (Unorthodox on Netflix was so good, and all of the seasons of House Hunters on Hulu are saving me when I can’t handle anything more serious), good podcasts, good music, good books, meditating and writing in the morning, cuddling with the dogs, naps, having lots of pajamas so I can put a clean pair on every once in awhile, being able to take yoga classes with Jamie and Aramati on Zoom, doing HIIT workouts with Eric, Eric being able to work from home, clean sheets, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep.

 

Scenes from a Pandemic

In the days leading up to the “shelter in place” order, I went to the grocery store four days in a row. Initially, it wasn’t yet clear what was going to happen, how this would actually go. It was still in that moment where many people weren’t really paying attention, or if they were they maybe thought the rumors of anything like a mass quarantine was just people overreacting, that it wouldn’t actually come to that. The virus was still “somewhere else” and it didn’t seem like something we had to worry about yet, if at all. Maybe it wouldn’t end up being so bad.

The first few visits I made to the store were relatively normal, just regular trips to be sure we had what we needed for the next week or so. On the third one, I decided maybe I should think about what we might need if we got sick and were at home for even longer. I bought a few packs of toilet paper, not to hoard but because I’m always leaving that until there is only one roll left and that didn’t seem like a good idea. Eric even teased me about it, since I normally don’t buy more than one pack and it was still in that moment where panic hadn’t set in, the reality of what was coming, and it still felt like something we could joke about. I also bought things like chicken noodle soup and a few extra packages of yeast and some cold medicine, all “just in case.”

By the fourth trip, the store was packed and people were panic buying. Not only was there no toilet paper; tissues, paper towels, and napkins were almost gone. There were no disinfectants or wipes. Everyone’s carts were overflowing and even though every checkstand was open, the wait was at least 45 minutes. Still, much of the conversation in line was that people were overreacting and we were all standing so close to each other. Since that day, Eric has made another two quick trips for staples like bread, fresh vegetables and fruit. He said he tried to hold his breath and stay far away from the other shoppers, that his lungs felt like they were burning just thinking of what he might be walking into. That’s how much things changed in just a few days.

Our next trip to the grocery store was to pick up groceries, shopped by someone else so we wouldn’t have to go in. Things were getting pretty dire in terms of fresh produce at home, so we placed our order, deciding that was safer than shopping ourselves. We added to it over the course of a few days as we thought of more things, arrived at the store three days later and sat in our car while they loaded our groceries in the back and filled us in on the substitutions they’d had to make, the things that weren’t available. Once home with our haul, we felt rich, safe and content for a bit. I’m not gonna lie, going out where people were, exposing myself, taking the risk, no matter how small, left me a bit shaky. We got home and I felt like my whole body was vibrating. 

Before

After

I’ve seen posts, memes about people doing a lot of snacking while stuck at home. All I wanted for days was a big salad, usually would eat half for lunch, share with Eric, and eat the rest with dinner. The day we got our groceries, Eric took a few bites of the salad I made and I ate the rest, all of it. That night for dinner, we made roasted sweet potato salad with spinach, green onion, cilantro, and roasted pepitas, and taco beans (corn, black beans, garbanzo beans, cilantro, green onion, mayo, and taco seasoning and a few other things I’m forgetting).

Along with that giant salad, my lunch that day was a cheddar and smoked gouda grilled cheese with gala apple slices. As a disordered eater (I practiced three different types from the time I was 14), not being able to go to the grocery store and access the abundance normally available in addition to a global pandemic and my own ongoing burnout makes eating a bit tricky, feeding myself a bit complicated. That said, I have so much privilege, am so lucky, always but especially now.

My kitchen table is typically overflowing with the stuff of our daily life, the dumping ground for all the things we use daily, acts as a second makeshift office for Eric from time to time when he would do work from home. This space used to be full up with evidence of our life as we were living it. It doesn’t look the same now. First, I put my gym bags and swim gear away when the gym closed, put my water bottle on a shelf. Then the reusable grocery bags were stored away. Today it was my winter coat and snow boots put away in the closet, because spring is here. My messenger bag with all the things I might need when I go out sits on a chair, an essential suddenly rendered unnecessary.

Most of my effort right now is focused on holding two seemingly opposite things as simultaneously true. My day to day routine, other than no gym and no group yoga, is essentially the same as before. Dogs are walked, laundry is done, bills are paid, food is made, showers are taken, books are read, words are written. I meditate and take naps and watch TV and sit out in the backyard in the sun. At times, it all seems completely normal. And yet, it’s also completely different and most likely won’t ever be the same.

There is a lot of effort and rest required to hold both of those things as simultaneously true. And it’s strange because even though this feels so different than anything I’ve ever experienced before (because it is), it’s so exactly like what we all are doing all the time — simultaneously living our lives AND hurtling towards our end. We are simply more aware of it now, it is closer in, harder to deny or escape, and we are all experiencing this reality simultaneously and together but also (necessarily) apart.

What life is, always, is so clear and present now. As such, it’s both an opportunity to wake up AND a chance to be so so so gentle and kind and loving, with ourselves and each other. It’s okay to slow down, to lower the bar, to rest. Life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal, and that’s never been more true than now. Keep your heart open, and please don’t give up. Be safe and stay well, kind and gentle reader. I’ll be over here trying to do the same.

Something Good

1. Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle. “Revisiting an ode to the heart by one of our best-loved writers.” This is a short but utterly beautiful essay.

2. Paul Jarvis’s most recent Sunday Dispatch, in which he shares “some of the things I’ve been doing to assuage the anxiety and boredom (how these two things can exist at the same time baffles me sometimes).”

3. Is everything going to be okay? from Seth Godin.

4. Let’s Use This Time to Teach the World the Greatness of Introversion. In related news, Introverts Can Hate Right Now, Too, and It’s Okay to Just Exist Right Now, which says, “Read this carefully: It’s okay to just exist right now, and make it to the next day, and then the next.”

5. Journaling during the pandemic, for yourself and the historians.

6. Six Year Old Sings I Wish You Love. (video)

7. Marvelous and melancholy things The Oatmeal has learned about creativity.

8. Keep Going: How To Be Creative For The Long-Term With Austin Kleon. (podcast)

9. That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.

10. “I live a hope despite my knowing better.” What else can we do? from Renegade Mothering. “I know these things pass. I know we get through them. I just want slivers of light in my brain to keep me going, to keep me from blowing up my life. I want to not make this worse. I want to maybe help somebody. I want to not miss time with my family. I want to not scream at them. I want to face the shit inside myself instead of run from it. I want to write to my friends on that blog I created.”

11. The Importance of Meditation in Crazy Times on Zen Habits.

12. The Tonight Show: At Home Edition. “In these very special editions of the show, Jimmy Fallon takes The Tonight Show to his home and highlights a different charity every night that you can donate to and help those in need.” In related news, John Krasinski Shares Some Good News, Invites Steve Carell To Lift Up People’s Spirits, “Sick of all the sad news in the media, John Krasinski decided to change the narrative by creating a Youtube channel called ‘Some Good News.’ The new show is dedicated to heartwarming, inspiring, and uplifting stories from around the world.”

13. 24 Substitutions for Common Ingredients You Might Be Looking for Right Now.

14. Fearing Shortages, People Are Planting More Vegetable Gardens.

15. 20 Black Yoga Teachers with Online Classes in 2020.

16. You Don’t Need to Sanitize Your Groceries.

17. Dr. Fauci Answers Trevor’s Questions About Coronavirus | The Daily Social Distancing Show. (video)

18. I had no immune system for months after my bone marrow transplant. Here’s how I avoided viral illness, and how you can, too. It’s easier than you think. In other COVID-19 news, Trump Wants to ‘Reopen America.’ Here’s What Happens if We Do. on The New York Times, and People Are Using More Wipes Because Of Coronavirus, Clogging Sewers, and CPAP Machines Were Seen As Ventilator Alternatives, But Could Spread COVID-19.

Gratitude Friday

1. You, kind and gentle reader. I wish I could give every single one of you a hug right now, sit down together with a cup of tea and ask you how you are doing, cook you a meal, go for a walk. Since I can’t, this will have to do, and this is such a blessing. May you be safe, may you be well, may you find some ease, and my you be happy.

2. Technology. I know that it gets us in trouble sometimes, fails us in some ways, presents us with new complications, can be frustrating, but I can’t even imagine what this moment in time would be like if I didn’t have such easy access to information, news, music, podcasts, TV, movies, books, video conferencing, YouTube workouts, recipes, online shopping (especially for groceries), virtual therapy, online hangouts with friends, email, texting with the people I love, this blog, Facebook and Instagram. And that doesn’t even include technologies like indoor plumbing, water treatment, electricity, etc.

3. Practice. Even on a regular day when there’s no immediate threat of any kind, I depend on practice to survive, to stay sane, and that is only more true now.

4. Daily workouts with Eric. This was us after our workout today, sweaty and happy, (I swear, Eric has pants on). We are both so much happier when we move, and without the gym and yoga studio, we’ve had to get creative. The schedule I’m trying right now is every other day, I walk dogs with Eric and we do yoga together, and on the opposite days, we do a HIIT workout from YouTube (we’ve been enjoying Body Coach TV) and I do some yoga on my own. It really helps with my state of mind. And to be clear, that’s just me, what I need, and in no way is intended to imply that anyone else has to use this time to move in any sort of way that doesn’t make them feel good, calm and safe. You do you!

5. Morning walks. I’m going more often now, and it feels so good to get outside. I’m grateful we are used to walking early, before anyone else is really out. With the time change, it’s still pretty dark, with the sun only starting to rise as we are on our way back home.

6. My tiny family. I am so so so lucky that I love them so much, that they are my favorite way to spend my time, that everyone so far is safe and well and happy.

Bonus joy: fresh fruits and vegetables which seem so precious right now, sitting out on the patio in the sun, the sound of the birds in the morning, our irises and tulips and daffodils starting to come up, everything getting green, the people I know who’ve been sick getting better, hanging out with Chloe’ and Mikalina, texting with my brother and mom, pick up groceries (we wanted to try delivery but that service is overwhelmed), buying seeds for our garden (we are planting ALL THE THINGS this year), clean water, how well Sam did at his physical therapy appointment without me (they came out and got him out of the car, physical distancing from the humans to keep the vets and techs safe, doubly important to me because they not only take care of my dogs but they are my yoga students and I love them so much, want them all to be safe and well), that I live in a state where our leadership is being so careful, finally having a year where we’ll get a refund on our taxes (all due to the electric car we bought, the refund for which will pay off our other car), sunshine, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, napping with Sam, Ringo getting the zoomies in the backyard, a kitchen counter love note from Eric even though neither one of us are leaving the house much right now, all the plants that Eric had to bring home from his office, (I’d wanted more plants, just not like this).

Something Good

From our walk

1. Wisdom from Dr. Lindsay Jernigan: “Try this perspective shift: instead of seeing ‘social distancing’ and travel bans as panic, try seeing them as acts of mass cooperation intended to protect the collective whole. This plan is not about individuals going into hiding. It’s a global deep breath … an agreement between humans around the planet to be still.”

2. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön: “The next time you go out in the world, you might try this practice: directing your attention to people — in their cars, on the sidewalk, talking on their cell phones — just wish for them all to be happy and well. Without knowing anything about them, they can become very real, by regarding each of them personally and rejoicing in the comforts and pleasures that come their way. Each of us has this soft spot: a capacity for love and tenderness.”

3. The Ghost Of Normalcy Lingering Past Its Time from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds. Also from Chuck, It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay.

4. Good stuff from Lion’s Roar: Take a Mindful Approach to Coronavirus, and How to Do Metta, and Living in This Strange Moment Together.

5. Take Heart, World. “Viruses are contagious. So is hope.” A blog collecting hopeful stories during the global pandemic.

6. The World We Once Lived in Has Vanished on The New York Times “Even if we manage to defeat the coronavirus, that world will not return.”

7. Is “Ob*sity” a Risk Factor For Coronavirus (COVID-19)? from Dances with Fat.

8. The conversation, “A short manifesto about the future of online interaction” from Seth Godin.

9. Poetry as Consolation with Holly Wren Spaulding. “Over many years of teaching and personal practice, I have collected poems, exercises, and creative actions that can help us feel calmer, more grounded, and even joyful during challenging and uncertain times. I want to share these tools with you. Join me this spring, for a series of interactive virtual workshops where we will gather as a community to experience the remarkable benefits of writing and being read to, talking and learning, creation and transformation, all from the convenience and safety of home.”

10. Coronavirus Sanity Guide (FREE) from Ten Percent Happier.

11. April Love 2020 with Susannah Conway. “Unexpected and unusual things are happening in our world right now and the majority of us are holed up at home to help protect others, so I’m really happy to be able to share some April Love with you! This is a very gentle photo challenge to help bring creative mindfulness to our days. Not only is this the ‘home edition’ — you should be able to photograph something at home every day — but I’ve also added some extra prompts so we can start on Monday 23rd March. Yes!”

12. 4 Mindfulness Practices That We Need Right Now from Zen Habits.

13. Exquisite Corps (42 choreographers, 1 dance). “A dance-film: 42 American contemporary choreographers link together on a chain love letter to dance.”

14. What I Learned as an Introvert From My First 5 Days in Lockdown.

15. Coronavirus News: Coronavirus Can Be Stopped Only by Harsh Steps, Experts Say on The New York Times, and Chicago Doctor’s Blunt Speech About COVID-19 Hits Home Across the Country; Read Her Full Speech, and Scientists warn we may need to live with social distancing for a year or more, and Is It Safe To Go To The Grocery Store During The Coronavirus Outbreak?, and Empty Grocery Shelves Are Alarming, But They’re Not Permanent, and It’s Time To Get Serious About Social Distancing. Here’s How.

16. With Live Sports Gone, Announcer Offers Play by Play of the Everyday on The New York Times. “Nick Heath narrates his videos of people doing mundane things, like crossing the street, with the verve and dramatic flair of competitive sports.”

17. A Little Prayer (new ukulele song by Danielle Ate the Sandwich), (video). “Inspired by hearing about a friend who lost a pet, and wanting to give comfort and positivity to all those who are going through loss and grief.”

18. Simple Food Swaps For When You Run Out Of Ingredients.

19. These zoos and aquariums are live-streaming animals for people to enjoy during coronavirus isolation.

20. Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, Min Jin Lee and Others on the Books That Bring Them Comfort on The New York Times.

21. 30 Problems Of A Sloth Hilariously Illustrated By Japanese Artist Keigo.

22. “Quarantine Diaries:” People Share Hilarious Struggles About Losing Social Contact.

23. 5 Tiny Desk Concerts To Calm Your Mind.

24. Kitty O’Meara, Author of “And the People Stayed Home,” Opens Up About Writing That Viral Poem.

25. Good stuff from Great Big Story: This Dog Raises Baby Cheetahs (and Wallabies and Ocelots) and Japan’s Museum of Rocks With Faces.

26. there’s room for all of your feelings.

27. This American Life: Alone Together. “This week, as the staff creates the episode from their apartments and houses, with our host in quarantine, in this moment when everyone’s reaching out to the people they love, we put together a collection of family stories, with some timely stuff at the top.”

28. This Atlanta Man Is Creating Mobile Hand-Washing Stations For The Local Homeless Community.

29. ‘One Day at a Time’ Season 4 Trailer: Alvarez Family Gets Candid About Sex, Dating and Family.

30. Body Trust Summit: Desiree Adaway and Ericka Hines, (video). “What it Means to Get Free:
Divesting from diet culture & dominant systems, Blackness and the impact of liberatory work, and Love as a form of divestment.”

31. Heart Wide Open. (video) “A simple chant in the style of Sweet Honey in the Rock, came to me during this morning’s walk.”

Gratitude Friday

1. Spring. For us here in Colorado, the first day of spring meant a snow storm. The day before, however, was sunny and warm-ish, so I sat out on the patio soaking it in, knowing what was coming.

My shirt says “all this is temporary” — which is the good news and the bad.

2. Good food. Resources are limited at the store because people are still panic buying, but Eric made English Muffin Bread and I have jam my aunt sent me and I was thinking how lucky we are that we know how to cook our own food because I suspect there are a lot of people out there right now struggling because they don’t know how to cook.

3. If I have to be on lockdown, I’m sure glad it’s with this guy. Seriously, I know there are many people right now who are alone or stuck in a situation with a difficult person or complicated relationship, and I’m so lucky that the person I’m “stuck” with is the person I prefer spending all my time with anyway. He struggled a little yesterday trying to get a situation set up at home that would allow him to work the way he’s used to, but he figured it out.

Eric trying to use my laptop and not having much success. Ringo of course was in heaven.

4. Practice. Especially now, this has been the anchor I’ve needed. I posted on Instagram this morning that I was thinking I should apologize, for my stillness, for my quiet, for my distance. I’ll be helpful, have something to offer at some point, but right now I’m still trying to process my own shock, confusion, and fear. And yet, that IS an offering, isn’t it? Me, over here making my best effort to be sane, to cultivate wisdom and compassion, doing so out of love – for me, for you, for all of it.

5. My tiny family. The dogs love that we are both home more often now. They have, however, yet to work out how to get enough napping done during the day with us here as a distraction. I am super grateful that for now they are healthy and well, and I hope we can all stay that way for a bit longer.

Bonus joy: that even with a global pandemic we can still go outside and walk around in the world, living in a state that is taking this very seriously and taking appropriate precautions, the way the earth is showing us it can heal itself if we just slow down, my mom finally getting a smartphone (even though she hasn’t figured out how to text yet, she will, and then we’ll be texting!), texting with my brother and neighbor, the internet which allows me to watch TV and hang out with friends and stay informed and in general not feel so isolated, my health, seeing one of my yoga students yesterday even if it was from a distance and only for a moment, grocery store workers and everyone else responsible for us having access to food and toilet paper, all the healthcare workers and first responders risking their own health to care for us, good books, good podcasts, good TV, TV and movies on demand, a working fridge, clean water, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep.

 

Three Truths and One Wish

I got a new shirt

1. Truth: Things have gotten really weird. It’s not like things were calm and collected before the global pandemic, so maybe it’s more accurate to say that things are weirder, have reached a whole new level of weird. Here where I live, those who can are working remotely, all schools have moved classes online, yoga studios are offering exclusively online classes or closing altogether, the gyms are closed, all restaurants have moved to delivery or take out only or have closed indefinitely, the libraries are closed, therapists are shifting sessions online, my yoga class I teach is suspended until further notice, grocery stores have restricted their hours to give employees more time to stock shelves and clean and hopefully rest. I worry about those who are losing work and have no buffer to support them during this time, and try to help where I can, (like paying for my upcoming haircut appointment even though I’m going to cancel it or donating to the local food bank). I am actually so glad that I live somewhere that is being so careful, but oh how I’m going to miss my yoga class, and the pool and sauna, and the places that inevitably have to close down for good and teachers that have to consider other professions because they can’t survive the sustained loss of income.

2. Truth: I’ve been preparing for this for the past nine months, the staying isolated at home and the social distancing. I retired in May, and since then I’ve been dealing with a deep burnout. This and my privilege means that for me, beyond the gym closing and my yoga class not happening and not being able to go wherever I want when I want or see friends in person and my husband being home more and an increased anxiety about our health and that of those we love, not much has changed for me in terms of my day to day life. It does add a level of guilt to the process, as it seems like the theme of the day is to do lots of deep cleaning and home improvement, or to create content and opportunities, offering support for those who aren’t going out, and I just don’t have the energy.

3. Truth: I’m concerned, even scared, but my routines are helping me stay grounded. My husband has been making short trips to his office on his empty campus to do some of his work (as an online teaching “expert,” he’s been giving lots of support to those now having to move their courses online), and I spend that time meditating, writing, doing yoga, keeping up with what’s going on in the world, reading books, watching TV, listening to podcasts, cooking, napping with the dogs, doing chores around the house — pretty normal days, not too much unlike before things went off the rails.

One wish: May we be happy, may we be healthy, may we be safe, and may we live with ease. May we come out of this crisis more connected, recommitted to the values of a culture of care, and reminded of the importance of collectively cultivating our inherent wisdom and compassion.