Shelter in Place. Stay at Home Order. Whatever you call it, many of us are quarantined now to our homes. Here in Ohio, everything "non-essential" has been shut down. Just one week ago we were out to dinner and trying to decide whether or not we should still go on our spring break. We opted to stay home, wisely. Since that time we have been at home, trying to make sense out of the new normal we are facing right now.
This is hard for so many. My "hard" is more of an inconvenience mixed with the anxieties perpetuated by the "what ifs" that keep me up at night. But for so many, this is a time of incredible hardship.
Love ones are sick and have died.
Jobs have been lost.
Children have lost their safe place to go during the day.
Families are wondering how they will get by if this extends much longer.
Students are trying to finish school, yet many districts are poor and the students don't have access to online schooling.
Our elder population are being quarantined, often alone with no family to be able to come visit.
Healthcare workers are running on fumes.
Our leaders are weighed down with the immense responsibility of trying to make the best decisions with the information they have today.
Retirement investments are tanking.
These are the definite struggles, and so many more.
Then there are the worries that keep me up at night, as I'm sure they do you.
What about my friend who has cancer? Will she be okay?
What about my sweet Yiya who is 92 and lives by herself. I don't want to infect her. But what if she gets ill? Will she be alone?
And my aunts and uncles and parents that are older?
Will my kids get through this online high school and college okay?
And of course (she said jokingly) will my marriage survive this work at home thing?
But in the midst of it all, I am learning to count my blessings. And friends, there are so many. What I took for granted, I am now praising God for. Here are a few:
Watching my children "entertain" themselves in ways that they haven't in years. My kids are older, 16,20 & 22. And I have seen them have so much fun together. They have put together puzzles, painted, played video games, baked, built zip lines (that don't work....yet), read, played games and we have had a lot of family movies and chill time.
My husband is able to work from home. So many of you do not have this and I know it is a great hardship. And with that, trying to find ways that we can help others. This blessing is not to be wasted.
A home. Seriously, I will catch myself complaining about the number of times I have to clean up my kitchen. What? You have shelter, food and a family to share it with.
Nature. One of the things I try to do every day, regardless of the weather (and Ohio weather is very fickle folks), is go outside for a walk. We have walking paths by my home and I am out on them daily breathing in the fresh air and admiring God's creation.
My faith. It is the foundation of my peace and how I live my life and it is bringing me so much comfort right now.
Pets. My pets are such a source of joy for my family. They are certainly spoiled, but the amount of cuddling and love they show us has definitely lifted everyone's spirits.
Government. I have been so impressed with how Governor DeWine and Dr Amy Acton have conducted themselves and lead us through this time. They are making difficult choices that the rest of us don't have to make.
Healthcare workers and first responders. They are on the front lines. I don't even comprehend what they are walking through and I probably never will. But I do know that they are giving up so much to care for those of us who are in the poorest of health.
Friends and family and technology. I love having my family gathered around me. It's a bit much at times, but being alone would make this time so much harder. And technology has enabled me to be in contact with friends and family that I don't live with. Zoom. Facebook. Facetime. Phone calls. They have all given me comfort in this difficult time.
I'm not naive. I understand the hardship and the hurt that this is having on our world right now. But I am not without hope and I truly am grateful for so much. We will get through this and we will come out the other side with a greater appreciation of so many things.
In the meantime, what are you grateful for today?
Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating.
Do you remember being on a road trip using a map system and either by choice or by accident, you defied the directions you were given and suddenly that voice would come over your car stereo or GPS system.... "Recalculating". Sometimes the directions would recalculate going in the direction you chose and sometimes it would tell you to turn around. There were times that I appreciated it and was glad to have the direction and other times, when I knew I was going the way I wanted, I would get frustrated. Whether or not I was in the mood to hear the voice telling me where to go, I did appreciate that I had a guide for my trip.
So here I am, on this life trip, and I am desperately seeking direction. Oh how I wish I could plug in a few pieces of information and be given a map for my life. I've been frustrated lately. I want to do something more. But what? Work full time? Go back to school? Volunteer more? Write? I have a restlessness in my soul. I am praying. I am seeking counsel from friends and family. I am waiting. I am praying some more.
If my mind were a car I would have been pulled over for erratic driving! I would be constantly switching directions. The more information I seem to take in, the more confused I seem to become. And then something happens, I get stuck. I can't pick a destination so I go nowhere.
Think about that for a moment. We have a choice to move, yet because we are unsure, uncertain, we go nowhere. In the context of my travel life, I can't imagine if because I didn't know exactly how the trips I went on would end, I just chose to stay home. I would have missed out on meeting my relatives in Ikaria, Greece, stepping into the home my Yiayia's family lived in and a trip of a lifetime with 20 of my big fat Greek family members. I would have never seen the Colosseum in Italy, experienced the amazing food, wine and people of Tuscany and understood why seeing "The David" in person leaves you in awe. And most recently, SCUBA diving! I was nervous and intimidated at the thought of getting certified. With the pushing of my husband I did it. We were able to see the most beautiful fish, coral and sea creatures in the Bahamas because I said "yes". And, we did something together that we both enjoyed.
What is it for me? Fear. I want to know that outcome. What if I choose work and I don't like it? What if it's too stressful for my family? What if I go back to school and it's too much? I'm almost 50, is it fiscally responsible? What if I try writing and no one reads? What if I fail? What if I change my mind?
But what if I do nothing at all? Then, I will surely remain "stuck" and this life will move on without me. God is pressing upon me the importance of taking action. Just do. If I head in the wrong direction, His voice will tell me to "recalculate". It won't have been for nothing. I will have seen and learned some new things along the way. And then, I can set out on a new destination and see what awaits.
What if this journey is meant to be enjoyed and not feared? What if what awaits me is more than I imagined. What if.