Roses, Spring, and Forced Change

Today is the first day of spring – it’s a little earlier than usual. In fact, it’s the earliest it’s been in more than a century! Two weeks ago, I would have thought that I’d write about blooming azaleas and garden plans; maybe a restful meditation on self-care spent in the sunshine at a sidewalk cafe.

Then again, two weeks days ago, my biggest worry was getting my midterm grades submitted on time.

Refreshments at the local spa – the week before everything changed.

It’s so hard to fathom the sudden changes – when I look at my calendar from last week, I see a week that was filled with lovely, restorative plans to recharge from several tumultuous weeks of overwork and multiple deadlines. I had planned to spend my college’s spring break as a “staycation” and had made appointments to have a wide variety of “treat” experiences in and around my little hometown – the site is “Splendor in the STICKS,” after all!  I celebrated finishing my five-year course of drug therapy following a cancer diagnosis in 2014 with French pastry, an hour or two in the lounge of the Ritz-Carlton hotel (yes, very fancy and excellent customer service, just as you’d expect), and some fantastic people watching in Charlotte. I went to a fantastic yoga class. I had an acupuncture treatment to help my stress level and overall well-being following a tendinitis flare-up. I had an incredible spa day involving a professional facial, massage, and mani-pedi. I had a long-overdue girls’ day with a good friend involving a visit to a salt room and a long, lazy lunch followed by some casual browsing. The image at the top of this post is from a quaint store in Hendersonville that two friends and I explored, enjoying an excellent brunch and some dedicated browsing.

In the midst of all of this, the novel coronavirus disrupted life across the globe and the catastrophic fallout – in human terms as well as financial terms – will not be accurately calculated for months.

How are there roses here? How can I continue to work towards my goal of living my values authentically in the whirlwind that is this illness marching steadily through our communities, resulting in social distancing and forced closures of businesses and schools?

Decadent, but therapeutic these days!

We’re all being forced to slow down and interestingly, people are rising – magnificently – to the challenge. Actors and authors are reading storybooks to children, artists are streaming activities, musicians are having concerts. Museums have created free virtual tours, zoos and aquariums are featuring “critter cams,” and there are so many free options for books, opera, and theatre that it’s hard to know where to start! People are socializing virtually – watching movies together, even having cocktail parties (featuring – what else? – “quarantinis”!).  We have to look after each other during this time. We’re seeing, in ways that cannot be denied, the inter-connectedness of our lives. Please, PLEASE do not forget – for it will be easy to do during this strange, unprecedented time – the importance of looking after yourself so that you can look after others. Eat good food. Drink plenty of water. Go outside and stretch your legs in the warming weather. Far from regretting the week I spent taking care of myself before everything came down like thunderbolts from Olympus, I am convinced it gave me the breathing space I needed to rise to these challenges as so much of my work and my life transforms.

We’ll beat this thing. We might even learn a lesson or two about slowing down the merry-go-round as we move through this bizarre new normal in which the canals of Venice are clearing up enough to allow dolphins to swim through the city.

Dolphins. In Venice. (NOTE: Turns out I fell for news I wanted to hear. There are dolphins, but they’re in Sardinia, still in Italy, but hundreds of miles from Venice. But the canals are getting clearer with the absence of so much traffic.)

So yes – roses.

Be safe. Help each other.

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