I’ve been isolating at home for somewhere around two months, and that’s as close as I get to a count. I don’t actually care. Time is a construct, and I don’t usually like to mark milestones by how many times the earth has spun in a circle. I’m in a comfortable place of ambivalence about how much longer this lasts, and it was really hard for me to get here, so I’m going to enjoy it.
I’ve been working hard, and took a planned week of at the end of April. One of my better decisions, and a good pushback against scarcity thinking. “You should only take time off when you can go somewhere and really enjoy it.” Nah. I stayed home the whole week and still enjoyed it, and I really needed it. I was supposed to have traveled on what was set up to be an amazing cross-country trip, but I didn’t go, and I was fine with it. I did do a lot of walking. I didn’t do as much yoga. I slept a lot. I listened to a lot of books. I did a lot of nothing. I experienced a lot of anxiety. It was a good week.
I was back at work this week, and my resting heart rate has shot back up 7 beats a minute. I use my resting heart rate to track how I’m doing, and over the years have been able to see frequent connections between PTSD symptoms and my resting heart rate. When it shoots back up, it’s not the biggest deal, but it does signal that I’m not resting as well, or that I’m not able to put stress aside for rest, or that I am bothered by something I haven’t yet identified. I’ve walked about 3oo miles since the start of April, and that has helped a lot, but I’m still walking and it’s still trending back up, so I’m blaming work!
There’s so much to grieve about right now, and far beyond the direct effects of COVID-19. If you are a trauma survivor, the grief that comes with what is happening to people right now can take you down, or take you out. It’s too much, and I’ve struggled a lot with being overwhelmed. I don’t have a lot of memory about the last two months. Not that much has been memorable, but I know when my memory gaps are due to trauma, I have that many of them. So it’s been hard for me and hard on me, and it’s taken some time for me to get grounded. Hence the necessary week off.
I’m now ok. Words I didn’t see myself able to say (maybe ever?). I’m still home and will maybe go back to work toward the end of this month, but that’s not bothering me so much as I know I need to be ready for it. We’re talking about the logistics of what I can take for lunch that can just be brought in my purse and doesn’t require me to touch the food (pb&j for months, yay), how to stay hydrated and not destroy the environment further with a ton of plastic bottles, etc. I’m a planner, y’all. And I want to limit virus transmission and protect my family. I don’t see my friends right now so that’s fine.
I’m not gardening and cooking up a storm. I am bookmarking recipes I think are interesting and learning a lot about taking care of the plants I have as well as sound strategies for organic gardening when I’m ready to expand beyond my small crop of herbs and citrus trees. I tried sourdough years ago and it’s hard to get flour around here at the moment and I’m eating simply (THERE IS NOT ENOUGH PIZZA IN MY LIFE I’VE HAD IT ONLY TWICE OK MAYBE THREE TIMES BUT ONE OF THOSE DOESN’T COUNT). I’m not going crazy with the exercise and pushing myself beyond my limits, but I am walking a lot and started using my foam roller and am doing some yoga, and it’s pushed me to the edge of my limit a few times. My feet are frequently sore with my min. 5 miles a day (usually more) and I’ll need new running shoes soon (I walk. I do not run. Ever.).
I’m paying down debt rather than buying things I don’t need. I listened to a book by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, who talked a lot about the need to reduce consumerism and disposability or just eliminate them as economic drivers. I’m on board with that. At the same time, I’m looking at my next two pairs of running shoes and I just spent quite a bit on skincare, so that seems a little at odds, but I think a lot of his points are good and I think they’ll stay with me as I continue to evolve. I listened to his book at the same time I’m watching classes by Ron Finley on gardening and Thomas Keller on cooking, and the philosophies are all lining up along do with less, but higher quality, and know what you’re doing. I know I need new shoes soon or I will be in a lot of pain. 600 miles on shoes is a lot, no matter how well they’re made.
I’m way too old to be just now starting skincare, but here I am. When I had strep FOR OVER A MONTH I threw away my makeup in my process of decontaminating my house so that I would hopefully not get it again, and I wear an expensive makeup so I delayed re-buying it. Then I found Hyram on Youtube, and fell down a skincare rabbit hole, and spent the money on skincare instead. I’ll get the makeup eventually, but now that I have so much information on skincare, and I’ve been wrecking my face for years (oops!), I decided that was a better activity to pursue. Even when I do go back to work I’ll need to wear a mask, so makeup seems unnecessary. Sunscreen, however, especially now that it’s basically summer and I am out walking a lot, is non-negotiable, and I really need a moisturizer.
It’s been a time of grief and taking good care of myself, which was made possible by the hard work I’ve been doing for years. That’s not terribly encouraging, but then again it is. I didn’t know that I could. I didn’t know that I could make positive steps toward the life I want while the world burns, and I didn’t know that maybe the best thing I can do is to just be kind, make wise choices, and rest when I get tired, but push a little harder when the blisters start to form. Grow the garden slowly, learn and gather strength while I don’t need it, and LEARN. Not overexpose myself to the dumpster fire, but learn from people who have been working hard for years to develop their craft and who lead the kind of tiny revolutions that can save lives as well as souls.