This whole week, I was on a one week, recover from the Pandemic, find my creative spark, wrestle with decisions that have been put on the backburner, and try to find my center now vacation. I am deeply grateful to have simply survived the pandemic.
I work with adults with disabilities as an art programming coordinator. During the holidays I worked with them in their group homes rather than at the day program studio. Without going into great detail, I was at one point working in full personal protective equipment. It was scary. I was very worried about the consumers and my co-workers. All of us were under a lot of stress and were fairly isolated from the friends and family that usually would have helped keep our spirits up. Some of us did not get to be with family for the holidays. At the time we did not know a vaccine would soon be available. I lost my Aunt during this period who was in a nursing home with dementia. I was able to go to her and be with her at the end. The last person I did that with was my dad almost 5 years ago. She was the sweetest Aunt. Losing her after not being able to visit her for months was the hardest thing of all.
Then, after the holidays, I was working with two women on an educational Facebook page that would help people learn what it means to be antiracist called Courageous Conversations. It is a heavy topic and we wrestled with not only what to share, but how to share, so that our message would be received. The election happened. January 6th happened. Derek Chauvin’s trial happened. I could feel the stress deep in my bones.
As I was trying to create some things for upcoming art shows with consumers, my body started not working right. I had a lot of body pain. At the same time, I had stomach discomfort. Everything I ate made me feel nauseous. Stress and a bad diet can cause this. I had a terrible diet from reducing my shopping trips during the pandemic and my stress level was definitely high. I changed my diet to an anti-inflammatory protocol and saw a doctor. I make blueberry smoothies with chia seeds to start most mornings now. My doctor prescribed an anti-depressant/ anti-anxiety med that helps with joint pain as well. The combination of the medicine and a better diet has helped a great deal. It took over a month for me to really feel better. When I felt better, I even ran a couple of miles without any pain whatsoever. I think I am on the mend, physically.
I have needed a lot of sleep this vacation. The husband of the Aunt I lost this winter, passed this week. He also had dementia and wanted to be with his wife. Even though it is a mercy in many ways, as my uncle was suffering, I feel sad for my cousins losing both parents within months. I have allowed myself to paint, listen to music, daydream watching the sun go down, waste time chasing my dog around while she has the zoomies, eat the foods that I love that were not necessarily part of my anti-inflammatory food groups, and processed, and felt, and cried a little. I had a couple of funny dates. We’ll save those stories for another time. I have tried to do what I have always coached others to do. I have tried to give myself a break so I can come back with greater energy to serve others.
I was talking to a dear friend this morning about how things are not perfect but this is the hard, I am choosing. This hard, that I am choosing, is one of great privilege. I have a job, a home, good health, a country that is safe from the devastation of war. The world is still beautiful. There will always be hard things. This season was a challenging one for me and for the whole world.
These lyrics in The Eye written by Tim Hanseroth and sung with Brandi Carlyle really spoke to me today “You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you are standing in the eye.” We were all right in the middle of it and some of us are still dealing with after effects. We don’t know if it is all over yet. Some of us are just exhausted. It makes sense.
How can you take a moment to dance in the eye? Maybe you might have to keep moving with the storm, or maybe as you dance, the storm will subside. Maybe it’s about to get a lot better. If you are reading this, along with me, you survived. That’s something great in itself. Know that it may take some of us longer to heal from everything than others. Hold on a little longer. Be patient with yourselves. Be good to yourselves. Try to be good to others as well. It has been a different kind of hard for everyone.