How are you doing?

I learned the hard way how universally panicked we are regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. I was standing in line at the grocery store recently, the standard six feet away or more from the next customer, when I felt a hot flash coming on. Reflexively, I began fanning my face. What happened next mimicked Moses’s parting of the Red Sea.

“Don’t worry. It’s just menopause,” I reassured my line neighbors. “I’m fine…We’re fine. But they didn’t seem to think so.

Turns out, it’s a bad time to be menopausal.

It’s equally a tricky time to be Asian with a cold, I hear. My Lao coworker sneezed at Walgreens. More pandemonium. “But I’m not even Chinese,” he joked later.

I know that COVID-19 is no joking matter, but as in any other crisis, we need to find glimmers of humor, hope, and humanity.

Everything is off kilter now. Chaos abounds. And while I wanted to sleep constantly after work for the first few days of our city’s lockdown last week and eat constantly during the waking hours, it didn’t last long. I’m fortunate to be considered a first responder at work, so now my job has and will continue to morph as the community’s needs change.  I’m among a few others in the office that takes the temperature of employees first coming to work. And I seriously appreciate that for now, I can continue to work and have a sense of purpose.

My dear friend Poppy, a main character in my memoir, is on lockdown in northern Italy for some weeks now with her two sons. She has no balcony to sing from, but told me this week. “We have splendid days…I go outside every five days or so to the supermarket and that’s all.”

 

Splendid days. And she wasn’t being sarcastic. Poppy is one of the most gracious people I know.

While there are so many things out of our control, it’s helped me to maximize the few things that are. Here’s what’s helped me so far:

  • Increasing my steps or indoor exercise. There’s nothing that reduces my anxiety more than getting a walk outside when possible. But streaming a workout online or even walking in place at home with the radio on is much better than nothing.
  • Decreasing my clutter. Last weekend, I got frustrated while looking at my walls with too many framed pictures and closets brimming with old photo albums and who-knows-what- else and got to work. I’d filled every nook and cranny with old memorabilia, leaving no space for making new memories. I heard radio personality John Tesh talk about how a pared-down life leads to less overwhelm, and a University of Minnesota study attributes less clutter to making healthier eating choices.
  • Balancing the need for news about COVID updates with energizing music, books, and podcasts. My favorite message came from Hal Elrod’s podcast (cue to minute 28).
  • Taking the bits of money here and there that I can’t spend on movies, restaurant meals, or coffee out and buying gift certificates to them or making little donations to non-profits who keep the community afloat. It doesn’t take much to reinvest in the future, and it feels good.
  • Learning to do more online. I now know how to have a teleconference on my iPhone. Does everyone else but me already do that? And I’ve been invited to a Messenger coffee date this next Wednesday with friends from grade school. There are so many nifty ways we can be in community from home now.

Like others, I have trips that won’t happen, a surgery delayed, and potential financial insecurity ahead. And in my city, there’s been some looting of small businesses. But it doesn’t compare to the many who are stepping up to offer help in ways that they can.

I do look forward to this being behind us, not simply because it’s unpleasant, but because I think we may come through it stronger, hopefully more unified globally, and more solid in who we are.

My hours at work have increased throughout this time, and I may be quieter on social media and in my writing life for a bit. But I still love to hear from you, and am grateful to have this community. It means a lot.

If your friends are bored at home, please let them know they can read my memoir’s e-book for .99 on Kindle, or on Audible for free with a free trial.

Stay safe and thank you always for stopping by.

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