Yesterday marked six months since my children came home from school for the last time. Six months since my husband went into the office. Six months stuck at home except for essential errands. Six months of hand sanitizer and face masks and social distancing, of canceled birthday celebrations and postponed family gatherings.
This Saturday will mark six months since California’s governor ordered us to shelter in place to help stem the tide of rising covid-19 infections, six months since my birthday. What a surreal and unexpected birthday evening that was, sitting down to turn on Jeopardy and instead finding Newsom’s face on the news. I remember feeling a bit surprised, having known the order would come eventually but thinking we had at least another few days or maybe a week.
I’ve had so many helpless moments since then, and will probably… no, will certainly… continue to have many more. As an organizer and planner, who often has trouble deviating from an existing plan (let alone living each day without one), living in this perpetual unknown has been especially disconcerting. And please don’t misinterpret… I am so incredibly grateful for all the good we’ve had over these last six months (which is so much, a lot more than many). But my rational, logical brain is not very practiced at living in the unknown and so exercising my “go with the flow” muscle daily has grown tiring. Each day I wonder, “Why am I so tired?” and then I remember… oh, yeah, pandemic.
If anything, these last six months have helped me realize how any lack of helplessness before was really just an illusion. On any given “normal” day, there are more things I am helpless over than those of which I am in control. And one of the only things that helps the helplessness is gratitude. Gratitude practices have long been a part of most indigenous cultures, and modern science has given us a lot of evidence regarding the benefits to not just our mood or outlook but for our actual brain chemistry and physiology as well. Time in nature helps, as does nurturing a sense of connection with community (all principles I remember from Hari’s “Lost Connections” book).
Helping Where I Can
I know these practices are beneficial, yet it’s been hard to remember to do them these last couple of weeks (with raging wildfires along the west coast that further exacerbate racial disparities, hitting hardest the Latinx communities with the fewest resources). Writing this post and remembering all the things for which I am grateful helps, and there is so much that brings me the warmth of gratitude! Reaching out and helping where I can is also good (see below for links to things you can do).
So today, I will mix up a blend of calming and lung-restoring herbs to mail to a friend in Oregon. And I will spend time in gratitude for all that fills my proverbial cup. As the week goes on, in preparation for my Autumnal Equinox Meditation class (this Saturday 9/19 at 10:15am, click link for details), I will spend some time in mindful reflection each day, remembering all that I am capable of, all that I am appreciative of.
Help for Southern Oregon Fire Victims
Fire Relief Fund for 3 Talent and Phoenix Families: www.gofundme.com/f/fire-relief-fund-for-3-talent-and-phoenix-families
Rogue Valley Relief Fund: www.mrgfoundation.org/rogue-valley-relief-fund1/
Ashland Food Bank: https://ashlandefb.org/
Rogue Valley Recovers: roguevalley.recovers.org/
Access Food Bank: accesshelps.org/donate
United Way Fire Fund: unitedwayofjacksoncounty.org/give
Rogue Credit Union’s Southern Oregon Fire Relief Fund: roguecu.org/community/donate
Herbal Respiratory Support
Herbs for Wildfire Smoke: https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbs-for-wildfire-smoke.html
Steam your home: https://www.facebook.com/arctosschool/posts/3619345011433084
Eat warming spices: https://www.facebook.com/arctosschool/posts/3626039197430332