And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Well, holy cow, this is a challenge. Writing a moment of happiness when our entire world has been turned upside down. Kids at home, people staying home from work, closings here, there and everywhere.
So sure. A moment of happiness. Hmmm.
I admit that I’ve spent a large amount of time this week thinking about how awful this all is. Perseverating. Obsessing. Checking the news several times during the day. Watching the numbers. Taking my temperature. Taking Michael’s and Olivia’s temperatures. Coughing and wondering why I was coughing. Sneezing and wondering why I was sneezing. Worrying about family that have customer service jobs and are still out there, working in grocery stores and retail stores, surrounded by panicked people. Who might be coughing and sneezing. And, selfishly, worrying about myself. I’m in the “high risk” category. I have hypertension and asthma.
I told someone I felt a bit like that old carnival game, the shooting galleries, where a row of metal cut-outs streams across a booth and you use a pellet gun or something to shoot at them. I felt like one of those cut-outs, just waiting to be shot.
Well, anyway, it’s not been a great week. I don’t imagine it’s been a great week for anyone, really.
But I found myself in conversation with a student this morning. She’s a coaching client, and she’s local, so typically when we meet, we’re sitting across from each other at my classroom table. I have a lot of fun with this particular client – she’s writing a whacky and wonderful book and she’s whacky and wonderful. We laugh a lot. But this morning, I was looking at her on my computer screen as we Skyped. And she was looking back at me.
We talked some about all the things we can’t do right now, and for an undetermined amount of time. Go to a restaurant. Go to the movies. Go anywhere, locally or otherwise. In Wisconsin, it’s still cold – I just received a weather alert that it’s about to snow. Going out to take a walk is a challenge, and for me, until the weather gets into the upper 40’s, it’s an impossibility. Breathing cold air throws me into an asthma attack. As we talked, I could feel us both deflating, this wonderful whacky student and me. Which was so wrong. We don’t deflate. We laugh.
And then I mentioned that we would still be getting our Thursday Sundaes tonight. Culvers, like many restaurants, is closed for dine-in, but they’re still open for drive-thru. And I saw my student light up. “Sundaes!” she said. “We can still get sundaes!”
I get the feeling I’m not going to be the only one sitting in the drive-thru tonight, ordering frozen custard.
Warming up to my subject, I told my student how, for over a year, I felt bad about having Oral Allergy Syndrome and focused only on the things I could no longer eat. Fresh fruit. Fresh vegetables. Nuts. Seeds. And as a result, I ate horribly unhealthy stuff. But then I began to turn it around. “I started to focus on what I CAN eat,” I said. “Cooked fruits. Cooked vegetables.” With that, everything changed. I began to eat better. I joined a gym (which I now can’t go to, but more on that in a sec). Since January 4th, I’ve lost 18 pounds. It’s slow, but that’s okay.
“Maybe,” I said, “that’s the case here too. Maybe we need to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t.” And we began to list them.
Order take-out or delivery (and help restaurants which are struggling now).
Go for a walk (when it’s warm). Visit state parks. Stand and marvel at Lake Michigan.
Watch television shows you used to love, and television shows you’ve never seen before on streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.
Talk to family on Skype.
Pore over old photo albums.
Order a set of free weights and a little stair-stepper to work out at home. (There’s my missing gym.) Shriek with delight when your gym offers a daily Facebook Live free 20-minute workout.
“Go get sundaes!” my wonderful whacky student cheered.
Go get sundaes.
And as much as we can, look at each other on Skype or FaceTime or Facebook Messenger, or hear each other on the phone (call, don’t text), or stand six feet away from each other and say, over and over, “It’s going to be fine. We’re okay.”
Somebody said that to me this week, in my only face-to-face no-screen-between interaction outside of Michael and Olivia and my son Andy. This person sat across from me and said, “You’re going to be fine.” And I said, “Thank you. I needed to hear that.”
So let’s keep saying it.
Because that helps. Despite. Anyway.