Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet, Mommy. I heard that a lot when the kids were young and didn’t possess a good concept of time and distance. Now I am saying it… are we there yet, are we near the end of the pandemic? I’m growing weary of not being able to do some of my favorite things especially now that colder weather in Michigan is making outdoor activities difficult for me. The cold makes my arthritis and fibromyalgia worse. I miss eating breakfast out and meeting friends for ice cream (outdoors). It is becoming more difficult to be with friends and family for outdoor picnics with restaurant take-outs. And I’m especially weary of constantly thinking about safety when I leave the house.

The pandemic is real and I understood that smart people should be afraid of the corona virus, not immobilizing fear but fear that is respectful of something that is very dangerous – potentially deadly. I have to be smart and vigilant to keep me and the people I love safe, and even keep the people I don’t know safe because it is the right thing to do. I remembered what Mr. Stott, my high school civic teacher taught us, “my rights end where your rights begin.” I understood what he was saying and it has been a guiding principle throughout my life.

I have learned how to be cautious and safe by wearing a mask in public, keeping social distance, avoiding public gatherings, avoiding close contact with others when indoors and keep it short, washing hands often, and being careful of objects that can carry the virus. I have found this exhausting and constantly being on guard or isolated is leading to pandemic fatigue. I need something more to get me through this pandemic that may be with us for another year, and according to some experts it won’t be the last pandemic.

A week ago I went into the hospital for a scan of my lower spine. In my discharge envelop was a card with information about managing pain without opioids put out by Michigan-OPEN.org. I learned all the tricks of managing pain without opioids as I was getting control of fibromyalgia, having knees replaced, and dealing with occasional back pain caused by post-menopausal bone loss. And I still use techniques I learned as I prepared for childbirth. I’ve got a whole bag full of tricks for dealing with physical pain but not as many for dealing with the emotional pain and frustration of pandemic fatigue.

A few days after my CT scan I read the card. On the back were instructions on how to use “positive daily reflection” as a way to manage pain and anxiety and I liked what I was reading. Every evening they suggest identifying those activities or things that brought joy to the day; write them down with brief comments about why they were important; fold the papers and put them in a jar to draw from when there are really difficult days. The joyful events are useful if remembered and contemplated so that we can recreate in our brains the positive feelings they elicited when first experienced. It basically is recording all those little happy places that we can return to when we aren’t so happy.

I don’t think I will find me a jar, instead I will record them in one of my many journal/notebooks stored in places around the house. And every few days I just might pick one to share and write about on my blog – and maybe you would like to join me in sharing your happy places. Maybe we can virtually invite people to do things with us to make up for those things we have loss because of the pandemic.

Not This Year’s Apples

10/13/2020 Pandemic Happy Place

A Trip to the Fruit Farm and Applesauce

We (including our daughter) had a big-time hankering for an apple cider doughnut from Flavor Fruit Farm, about 15 miles south of where we live. Really-big-hankering, like lets get in the car and go hankering. It was a beautiful drive down a winding country road with fall colors everywhere we looked. When Sharon and I went by last week-end the huge parking lot was completely full, to overflow. On this Tuesday the lot only had one car and a Dawn Foods semi delivering doughnut mix. As we were putting on our masks a man approached saying “We’re closed – on Monday and Tuesday.” No doughnut, no apples, no pictures of apples growing on trees. We were so disappointed we almost cried, we pouted, and went to another farm market on the way home. A market without doughnuts.

There we bought apples. I was immediately drawn to the tart Spy apple that makes the very best apple pie and Jonathan apples that are also somewhat tart and a very bright red. They are both old apples, the ones we picked a bushel of when we took the kids to apple orchards. Finding theses two apples, in crates sitting side-by-side took me straight to my happy place. On the way home we shared memories of going to the apple orchards 50 years ago and we laughed. We had that same feeling of comfort and joy knowing there were apples in the back of the car.

As soon as I got home I made four pints of apple sauce as a start of making a store for the winter. They were so beautiful when I pulled the pints from the boiling water bath. I was pure joy listening for the four pops telling me that all had sealed.

This post was prompted, in part, by this week’s Lens Artist Challenge: Communication. I am hoping that communicating my joy experiences will help me with my pandemic fatigue and that my communication will prompt you to communicate with us where you find your happy places.