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August 30, 2021

Setting Priorities in Times of Uncertainty.

Last December, I wrote a piece for Elephant Journal called “A Reminder for all of Us: Every Single Moment Matters.”

In it, I waxed philosophical about the long and winding road and how I got to where I am from my point of origin and many of the treasures I scooped up and then scattered back out along the way.

The holiday season was upon us and I reveled in the sweet delights with our immediate family, since we were still in the depths of the pandemic that I was hopeful would recede by now. My precious grandson who had been born 11 months earlier (the best thing that happened to our family in 2020 was his arrival on the planet) was immersed in the bright lights, food, family, and presents that surrounded him. He drank them all in with his senses on full blast alert. It was a joy to experience it through his eyes.

Eight months later, the scorching heat here in Pennsylvania has replaced the ice and snow and frigid temps. Eight months later, the pandemic is still in full swing party mode as the original spiky “submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism,” has invited a nasty crew of riotous guests to the shindig. Taking an anthropormorphic spin, I envision it rubbing its dirty Delta variant hands as it smacks its cavernous maw, thinking about the fresh meat it will ingest.

My family, most of my friends, and I have been fully vaccinated. Dean is not yet eligible, so we are being extremely cautious for his sake as well. There are some in my circles who have not taken the leap and I pray for their safety and well-being.

Some are convinced it is a government plot. Some believe that they only need to keep their immune systems and attitude boosted and that will protect them. Nothing I say will convince them otherwise.

I still wear a mask in public and cringe when I see others who don’t. I have no clue whether they go barefaced because they are fully vaxxed or because no one can tell them what to do.

In my region, school districts are exploring the mask mandate policies and it has gotten vicious. A high alert is on for today since armed militia groups have a local cell plan to show up at a school board meeting to intimidate those who will speak out in favor of protecting staff and students with mandatory masks. I will not be there, but I send angels to stand by for protection of those who do show up.

In the midst of this, I had a wake-up call of an emergency hospital visit for respiratory distress that led to an o2 level of 82, a four-day inpatient stay, and a diagnosis of COPD. When I lay on the gurney, gasping for air, grasping for life, I had the thought of what it might be like for those with COVID-19, wondering if there would be no vertical exit from the building. (I tested negative.)

While there, I spoke with several staff members who were pro-mask and pro-vaxx. They said they wished people who were opposed could see what they saw. The unit I was on had housed COVID-19 patients earlier in the year. The numbers in my area are far better than they were when the year ended. I also thanked my lucky stars that a bed was available for me, since in other parts of the country, even seriously ill folks had to be shipped elsewhere since their local hospitals couldn’t accommodate them.

I returned to work on Monday after a week off to rest and recuperate. Mostly in silence, which is challenging for this consummate communicator, I napped, wrote, binged two Netflix series, “Atypical” and “The Chair,” worked out as I could, basked in the sun on my deck, and had short visits with friends and neighbors. I sparingly watched the news since, although I know I can’t totally avoid being in the know, it isn’t the healthiest way to spend my time.

I focused on what I am grateful for: family, friends, a job that I can do from home for now, as a therapist doing telehealth until the insurance companies tell us otherwise. I am thankful that my body is resilient and I have bounced back beautifully and am breathing freely.

It is so easy to get snagged and hornswoggled by world events and sometimes it does feel like too heavy a burden to bear and I have needed to relinquish my self-imposed responsibility for what I call “savior behavior,” by which I feel a need to kiss all the boo boos and make them better. I wish I knew how my mother had the ability to do that, at least for scraped knees and sad hearts in my childhood. It’s as an adult to take on the wounds of the world. Learning to take in the love and blessings that surround me.

A week or so prior to going into the hospital, I was asked to record a video for the website Love What Matters.

“Love What Matters exists to spread real stories by real people far and wide, to celebrate the love, kindness and compassion they represent—while reminding us that these things do not happen by default, they’re a daily choice.

The moments we amplify on our platforms are also meant to serve as a balance to the kinds of things we see and hear about in the news every day.

These stories are bigger than any one of us, yet they represent every one of us. Our vulnerabilities. Our pain. Weaknesses. Successes. Beauty. Flaws. Generosity. And, of course, our hopes and dreams about who we aspire to be.”

Mine was about Hugmobsters Armed With Love and as I was speaking, sucking on a cough drop to avoid hacking my lungs out, it occurred to me that if I don’t do anything more grand than hug people, it will have been enough.

My priorities are family, friends, work, health, my spiritual connections, and doing what I can each day, within my human capacity, to make a difference in the world. What are yours?

I have no clue what the world will look like by the time the next holiday season rolls around. My intense prayer is that it brings with it healing and peace, sanity and safety.

~

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