Greetings, friends –
Ah, today’s note begins with another humble apology! My ambitions had led me to pre-schedule several emails to you all. My reality interfered. Thus the second mistaken send to you all! So sorry, y’all. Had it been yesterday, I could have called it an April Fools note. Oh well, timing is everything 🙂 and I’m a big believer of making metaphoric lemonade out of life’s lemons.
Perhaps today’s email themes are Humility, Vulnerability and Surrender? (BTW – I have found it rather amusing that I receive more feedback about the mistakes than about the actual messages with content!)
How are you doing today?
We are “soldiering on”, not without incident. Last Friday, I woke with a fever, stomach upset and body aches. Given my high-risk status (type 1 diabetes and autoimmune arthritis, taking an immuno-suppressing medication) – can you guess how I was feeling and what I was thinking? Yup. My brain by-passed the logical prefrontal cortex function and went immediately to fear-driven brainstem: “I probably have COVID-19”. Don’t we all go too often to fear these days?
I had a lot of work to do that morning (from my home office of course) but spent the afternoon and evening in uncharacteristic stillness, curled up on the couch with the cats, watching back-to-back past episodes of Fixer Upper and sipping homemade broth. I felt vulnerable, I felt worried, I felt discouraged. All my hard work, following very strictly all the public health recommendations with isolating, hand washing, wiping surfaces etc, practicing immune support with healthy eating, sleep, meditation, gratitude, handfuls of supplements… and I still got sick. Worried I’d infect Jeff, my daughters, our pets. Scared for what that would mean….Humble in that – with all my resources, education, knowledge, access, support – I didn’t really have power over the multitudes of reasons my body could fall victim to an illness. Surrender.
I went to bed early on Friday, exhausted and uncertain. Practiced gratitude and self compassion, connection with everyone worldwide who is sick, who loves someone who is sick, who worries about becoming sick. I still felt sad and discouraged, but my practices over the years have trained my brain to settle down. I slept deeply, restoratively, for over 9 hours.
Saturday, I woke at 5 am to our neighbor’s rooster crowing. My temperature was normal, and I felt fantastic. Did I dodge a bullet? Who really knows. But wow, did I feel amazing and so glad to be alive. I spent 3 hours Saturday morning disinfecting everything yet again. Feeling the proverbial “new lease on life.”
Several days later, Monday evening, my eldest came home from feeding our friends’ farm animals, and she looked punky. You parents know what I mean. I just knew she was “off.” I asked if we could take her temperature, she allowed, and my heart sank when the thermometer read 37.9 C (100.2 F). She was coughing, had body aches, sore throat and fatigue. I sent her off to bed immediately, we vigorously and thoroughly re-cleaned all our surfaces, did her laundry, and I reached out to my ex-husband and asked him to allow her to quarantine at his home to keep high-risk me safe. He agreed it was best, and within 30 minutes, I “sent her packing” (or so it felt) to increase the odds that both she and I would be safe.
This was an excruciating moment for me as a mother. For over 17 years, her health and safety has been one of my highest priorities. Any honest parent knows we are imperfect in our quest for balancing the protecting and allowing aspects of raising our kids – but in this pandemic era, I felt I had been following all the guidelines and doing everything “right.” How could this be happening? Where did I go wrong? And was it really right to send her away? It felt a million times more scary than when I felt ill 4 days before. Then I felt guilty – had I exposed her to something, which was merely mild and fleeting for me, but which already seemed so much more symptomatic for her? We don’t know everything yet about this novel virus (part of the fear factor and danger), but we do know that with most viruses and bacterial infections, we are contagious before we are symptomatic. UGH.
Have you ever been in this kind of a conundrum? Doing “the right thing” that is so deeply counter to a larger part of your self? My logical mind (again, hard to access in moments of stress) told me indeed, Grace would be safe and well cared for by her loving and capable father, and we can keep her sisters and ourselves safe here, etc etc. This would be ideal isolation for all parties given our circumstances.
My heart-mind, my mother-bear, my servant-self – all this wiring in me was screaming, “No, I have to be the one to tend her now. I have to keep her close, keep her under my watchful eye. Children ARE dying from this now (I had just read about an infant dying in the midwest, upending the belief that children are not affected but mere vectors). Grace does have a rather challenged immune system. And she has been more out in the world over the past several weeks than I have been. SHE NEEDS ME.”
What do we do when we are in a battle with ourselves like this?
Surrender to the facts, to the higher and greater truth, the “fierce compassion,” the tough love. Thankfully, with Jeff’s strong, calm, directive help, I chose the logical mind and was able to speak rationally yet lovingly (through tears) with Grace about the need to do this, about my heartbreak in not being able to care for her (enter minor “shame-swirl” about my own illness being a crappy thing for my girls to deal with…breathe deeply, channel Brene Brown….), and about my confidence that her body would rally and she would be fine. Assured her we are just being extra cautious in these surreal times. My friend Carrie – who had been with Grace just hours earlier at the farm – offered true empathy for my difficult feelings when I let her know about Grace’s fever. That empathy sure helped me from spiraling into despair. Thirty minutes after she left, we invited Grace to FaceTime with me and Lara while we watched The Voice (another great distraction in this era). We could stay connected, with safe spacing. We would be ok.
This story, lucky for us, has a happy ending. Like mine, Grace’s fever ran it’s course in less than 24 hours. She was off for a run with her dog Wednesday afternoon, chipper and lively as ever. Unscathed. Unbothered. Safe. Alive.
Many of our fellow humans are not so fortunate. I’m deeply aware of this reality. Each day the headlines announce we are getting further into the illness, the loss, the economic disasters, the health care drain. The “dialetcic” is something I’ve been practicing more than ever right now. What is that, you may ask? Simply put, it is when we hold two seemingly opposite beliefs at the same time. I shared this in Mindful Monday this past week – please tune in for a 15 min guided practice if you’d like. Example in this time: I feel deep sadness, grief, and worry for all the suffering of so many. And I feel deep gratitude for the momentary health of all those I love deeply. I feel constricted and frustrated about so many aspects of this. And I feel the spaciousness, peace, patience and presence that comes with the slow-down and simplicity of these days spent at home with my family close.
So while this was NOT the email I had planned to send to you all today, this is the email that was called forth. Surrendering to what is, vs. what we want to be. Practicing humility in this vulnerable time of deep uncertainty.
Next one will include a recipe, a poem, some functional health tips and creativity guidelines. And now I have un-scheduled all future emails, knowing that life is too unpredictable these days to hold tightly to many (most) of our well-laid plans. 😉
Thanks for being with me in my own vulnerability, humility, and imperfection. May we remember how connected we all are. And may we continue to offer support, love, compassion and patience to each other and ourselves.
Greetings, friends –