Letting the Pages Turn. Because I Get To, I Don't Have To.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The emotional ups and downs of this time are crazy, aren't they? On the one hand, I've learned how much I freaking love staying away from people. Seriously, we should all be glad I love animals too much to be a serial killer, because according to all the true crime shows, I've got all the other hallmarks. I thought maybe I was doing okay because I still had John at home but now I'm all on my own at my parents' house (they're in Florida) while he's at the firehouse and nope, still doing fine. I text people (only 4 with any regularity), call my parents every couple of days, and did one facetime happy hour with two friends. And it's been more than enough human interaction for me. Don't judge.

On the other hand, there's still been things to grieve. We're not leaving for our Florida vacation tomorrow, as intended. A silly thing to grieve, but it's still there. Canceled some fun plans with friends in May because it's pretty unlikely that anything will be normal by then. Again, silly, but real. We also have traditions surrounding March Madness and Easter and draft day and the Derby that just aren't going to happen. And there's an underlying anxious feeling over John and my dad's health. John because he's in the line of fire and has what I like to call 'the immune system of a carnival goldfish.' And my dad because he's 80 and has other health issues. He's been good about staying inside but they want to come back here to Chicago at some point, so I worry about them traveling (next month or later).

The anxiousness isn't going to go away, not with so many unknowns still out there. I have ways to not dwell on that so much (but not ignore it either.) But the sadness over cancelled plans and traditions is something to emotionally work through, rather than just digging my heels in and insisting it'll be 'back to normal soon.' There will be good things and many more bad things to come out of this, but life will not be the same when this is over. It will not be 'back to normal soon.'

And I'm letting that page turn.


It's dark right now. We know there will be a light again but right now, all there is is pushing through more darkness. When we reach the other side of darkness, we discover not only what we're capable of but also what's truly important. This is the time that we have no choice but to remove the unnecessary and gain the wisdom of what our souls actually need. I needed to mourn some of the things we lost and some of the things that will never be the same again. There will be new things to mourn every day. But then I need to let the page turn, not living in the fear and sadness of it, and envision what the next chapters will hold.

Of course, it's damn hard to envision right now. Thinking next year, 3 years, 5 years into the future? The word 'plan' doesn't exist; it has no meaning anymore. Which means life currently has to be lived fully present. It's as simple and difficult as that. We think living just for the 24 hours in front of us makes perfect sense but everyone lives partially in the future. Since that's not an option, I'm taking this chapter, this page, exactly one day at a time. True simple and slow living, where home is the only certainty. Which sounds exactly like my ideal life, or at least the one I'm working towards. The organized planner in me still struggles.

So in order to celebrate even the simplest daily tasks, to encourage myself to stay fully present within each and every day, I like to remind myself that I get to, I don't have to.

I get to stay home, I don't have to. Well... okay, fair, right now we all have to. But that's not how I choose to see it. I'm still choosing 'get to' - what a joy/privilege to have not only one safe home to stay at, but two. With my parents in Florida, I'm able to stay at their house so I can distance from John. 9 out of 60 firefighters/paramedics at his firehouse have tested positive for the virus and now that he's back there at work, it's highly likely that he will be infected soon, if he isn't already. So we have two houses with backyards to enjoy without fear that we can't pay the related bills. If that isn't a privilege right now, I don't know what is. (That said, all feelings are valid so if you're in a similar situation and feel panicked and isolated, that is nothing to be ashamed of either.)

I get to be a homemaker, I don't have to. I don't have to go back to work. The freedom in that sentence cannot be understated.

I get to walk the dogs, I don't have to.

I get to sit and read a book for two hours, I don't have to.

I get to make a slow, delicious cup of coffee in the morning, I don't have to.

I get to make real food from scratch, I don't have to. 

I get to line dry clothes outside in the sunshine, I don't have to.

I get to hand wash dishes, I don't have to. No really, I don't - I have a dishwasher. But there's just something soothing about washing them by hand and always having everything clean, while staring out the window at the wildlife outside enjoying spring.

I don't just do these things anymore, I enjoy them. An important distinction lately. I'm commited to erring on the side of contentment, gratitude, and positivity. Which I assure you is rare for me. So at the moment I have an abundance of 'things will be different but okay' attitude, so if you're having a hard day and need to borrow some, I'm here for you.