I Did Not Expect To Break In This Way

empty bed

The last few months of the beforetime were a wild ride. Some things turned out very badly, while others shifted promisingly in my favor. Overall it was starting to feel I was on an upswing. Business was looking good, family was doing ok, I was getting into some good self-care routines for the first time in a while. I was even rediscovering old hobbies while starting to imagine and explore exciting new futures. I was getting reacquainted with myself in ways I suspect many in my cohort—middle-aged divorced woman entrepreneurs approaching the empty nest—can well-relate to.

When I saw the COVID-19 storm on the horizon, the pending quarantine and recession and global grief, I expected most of that to break. But I expected myself to face it the way I usually face gathering storms.

While I don’t see myself as some kind of super-survivor, I have, as our editor puts it, “lived a life” and I have weathered storms. It has been my style to face them head on. Sometimes calmly, sometimes with great vigor. But always very busy and very driven.

Two weeks ago I would have predicted the end of March to be a time of bustle and hustle for me. Finances to figure out, a business to pivot, a family to protect. Cooking, gardening, piano playing, and knitting. New forms of community engagement. I would forget to sleep, I would fire on all cylinders, and possibly burn myself out with everything that needed to be done.

After all, that is how I approached motherhood, my wedding, my divorce, much of my career, the founding of my business, some significantly large house-and-garden projects, and every other turning point of life so far.

But that was not how the last of March has gone. Yes I did kick off one new side project. I’ve kept up with my very small remaining client demands. I’ve started the process of navigating the new world of small-business-owner-in-crisis mode, including one loan forbearance and one grant application, with more to come. I made two outstanding batches of chicken soup, although I look guiltily as some of the other fresh food I laid-in starts to wilt in the fridge.

But I did not forget to sleep. In fact I have never napped so much in my life. I have forgotten to eat and to go for walks and to talk to other people. I have done very little knitting or piano-playing or studying of Portuguese. I have spent too much time on Twitter. I have sometimes sat quietly for hours, doing absolutely nothing.

Many people have been good about reminding us that this is a time it is ok for many of us to pause, and I would like to affirm that this is true. My brain has been busily buzzing in constant-crisis mode for most of my life. But this is not my own crisis, this is a crisis of the world.

We don’t know what the new normal holds or when we will get back to it. We don’t know who will emerge with life, health, fortune, dreams and love intact. But the entire planet has never before centered on such a shared pivot of direction. We can be kind to ourselves, just as we must be kind to each other. We can take a breath and take a beat.

The universal nature of this situation is what makes this possible. If you are not yet in financially-dire straights, you need not scramble for scarce resources against those who need them more urgently. If you are not a healthcare worker, you can stay home. If you are healthy, you can stay that way. If you get sick, you can rest. There will be help and love and forgiveness waiting for you, when it is your turn to be the one in motion.

I am feeling my productivity start to stir, and I expect April will take a different tone if my health holds. All of that pivoting and strategizing and reassessing will need to happen eventually. And I will get to it. And play piano too.

But right now… just for right now… I think I’ll take another nap.

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