Not a Pause

Posted April 2020

It’s taken me over a month to be able to sit in front of a computer and write.
We are right in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic crisis and I have such strong feelings about it.
I couldn’t bring myself to quieten my thoughts and focus on anything for more than a few minutes.
I couldn’t think about travel because it would make me cry for the first time in my life.
I was/am angry, sad, depressed, frustrated, nervous, stressed, lost, concerned, anxious, confused…

I wrote a blog post last year about the Unknown* that I never published because I felt like I was being too open and too vulnerable. Warning: this post will be that and then some. I realize now that one of the reasons this whole situation hit me as hard as it did is because I don’t deal well with the Unknown. It’s been a big struggle for me ever since I started working in the aviation world because you never know when you’ll go, where, for how long, with whom, etc. And I was just starting to find tools to deal with it… and then the biggest UNKNOWN SITUATION HAPPENED. We have no idea how long this crisis will last and what the repercussions will be other than job loss, debt, sickness and death for some. I have been trying to use a lot of those same tools I use in my work life to deal with the anxiety that comes with COVID19, some seem to work better than others: not thinking about the future (the unknown) seems to work the best. That and workouts and wine. I try to take it one day at a time and be grateful for the little daily wins such as sunshine, handmade cappuccinos from my dad, birds singing and a good workout.

Words that I never want to hear pronounced after this is over: furlough, pandemic, quarantine, mask, gloves, social distancing, shelter in place, Trudeau, Legault, COVID19, Corona, N95, hand sanitizer, zoom, Trump, stay at home, ventilator.

Now let me explain the title of this blog post and let me get something off my chest: this situation we are in IS NOT A PAUSE for me. This is a clear and very abrupt drop to the bottom of a ravine that will eventually lead to a slow climb. It’s very similar to an unexpected break up. It starts with a big slap in the face (emotionally not physically), then comes shock, denial, pools of tears and then slowly you start putting yourself back together, get stronger and eventually start dating again. I know the cycle all too well. It infuriates me to hear ‘don’t worry, this is just a pause’. I hate to break it to you buddy but it’s NOT a pause. We won’t just turn the page and start where we left off. 6.6 MILLION AMERICANS filed for unemployment, as of April 9th, and I can’t imagine it being a majority that were furloughed. Please be grateful if you are still receiving a salary, be grateful for work, be grateful for health insurance. I understand that you may be working harder than normal, longer hours, reduced help… but you still have a chance to keep up with your pre-COVID lifestyle when all of this gets back to ‘normal’. I strongly believe that seeing how companies react to this crisis and how they manage lay offs and furloughs will speak immensely to the company’s values and reveal its true face. Most of us will be on the hunt for work for months after we start the climb, fighting for a mediocre job that will probably pay 50% less than the job we previously had. We need to be grateful for the things we DO have. I have health, safety and nature.

And if you are a single man or woman living alone in your apartment in a big city, my heart goes out to you. I went through 2 weeks of that before I flew back to my parents house in Quebec. I underestimated how hard it would be to NOT be allowed to roam freely. I am an independent woman, and I really enjoy my solo time. I’d recently observed that the older I get, the more of an introvert I am becoming. Because of my Flight attendant job, I also got very used to being a solo traveler and enjoyed it. But there is a big difference between choosing to be alone at home and being imposed to stay in with no outside contact. It’s hard…

NOT being able to sip on a cappuccino at your favorite coffee shop and have the vibe of strangers chatting and hustling on their projects around you. 
NOT being able to grab a drink at the local bar with your friends. 
NOT being able to workout with your fitfam. 
NOT having anyone to give you a hug because you are struggling. 
NOT being able to get a kiss from a new dating prospect. 

Being locked inside a small apartment, no matter how cozy and homie it is, gets very lonely and depressing very quickly. You start feeling like a caged animal. If you are in a relationship, or you live with a friend, or you’re a parent, please hug your significant others, roommate, kid, and let them know how much you care about them… even if at times you would like to strangulate them. Don’t forget about your single friends out there too. They need you now more than ever. And to my solo riders, reach out to your friends with kids who are drowning under working remotely, cooking, taking care of kids, laundry, entertaining, cleaning and everything else. We NEED to be there for each other. These are trying times for everyone: they will tell you a lot about who your close friends are, who’s checking in with you even if their life is busy and chaotic. One last selfish suggestion: we all have that friend that is always smiling and positive- Facetime him/her. You need some of that contagious energy, and she/he’ll probably be very happy to hear from you. There is no reason for isolation other than the physical part of it. We feel human connection through seeing a friendly face on a screen- it’s not the same as in person, I know, but for now it will have to do. I’m still trying to convince myself of that. Being back in Quebec and not being able to see, hug and spend time with my grand-parents, my sister and brother and my friends has been very hard. I am usually running around, excited to see everyone and catch up on all the news. I really hope I’ll be able to do all of that before I head back to California. It would break my heart not to be able to do so. My heart already broke into a million pieces when I had to call my grand-parents from the parking lot of their retirement home so they could come to the window and we could see each other. That was one of the most painful experiences yet. I am grateful for long distance and long lasting friendships, the internet and Facetime.

Another very hard thing for me to accept about this pandemic was the idea that my personal love life was going to be put on pause. And yes I am using the word PAUSE because nothing is or will happen while we’re all confined to our homes. I truly believe it will be a different world out there once we are all allowed to leave our houses again. I wonder if we will jump right back into the online dating game? (For the record, I’m also very open to meeting someone naturally.) I am trying to remain optimistic and think that maybe men will have had to live solo for a few weeks/months and they will realize that they DO want a steady girlfriend, hence making dating more honest and open for those of us who are looking for partners. Or it could also go the other way and all the lonely men will be on the hunt more than ever and tell you whatever they have to to lure you in for a short term thing… 
I have a vivid image of what I want and this COVID situation is putting my love life and family folder project at the back of the drawer for now, and that hurts… but I am grateful I have healthy parents, brother and sister that love me indefinitely.

In the spirit of wanting to finish this post on a positive note, I am truly grateful for being able to spend time in nature. I came back to my parents house, in Quebec, reluctantly. 

I did NOT want to leave my California beach apartment. 
I did NOT want to come back to the Quebec weather.
I did NOT want to move back and stay in my parents basement for an undetermined amount of time. 

But what 

I DO appreciate immensely is being able to sit in the backyard, when the sun is out, and listen to the birds sing, watch the squirrels run around with stuff in their mouths, smell the damp natural spring perfume and  feel the cool breeze on my face.
I DO love my slow coffee dates with mother nature, a book in hand and the sun on my face. 
I DO love the fact that I can run freely in the woods, without having to worry about social distancing. 
I DO love not wearing any make up and living in leggings and hoodies.
I DO like the fact that I don’t need to have my phone on me 24/7 (when you are a Corporate Flight Attendant, it’s attached to your hip).
I DO cherish spending time with my parents, even if it’s somewhat sprinkled with stressful discussions about the pandemic.
I DO enjoy my evening dinners with my parents although the way they eat is different than mine: more pasta, potatoes, rice and less avocados, berries, oranges, etc. (California is so amazing in that sense, you get fresh produce all year long at similar prices) 
I DO appreciate all the spare time I am getting to do things like coloring mandalas, reading books, cooking, playing the cello, running, when I know some people cannot.
I DO feel lucky to have had the option to come back to my parents house to stay safe and healthy.

Another interesting observation I made during this confinement period: I have not been bored. I haven’t been out for more than a month and have been quarantined for (almost) 2 full rounds of 14 days but I have NOT been bored. My days go by so quickly. I don’t allow myself to watch any TV before 7-8pm and shut the TV off by 10:30pm. I keep myself busy in so many different ways: I read, draw, write, workout, yoga, meditate, Facetime, volunteer online english lessons, help my parents with landscaping, walk, bake, practice the cello, clean, organize and so much more. If you’re bored at home, maybe take up a new hobby? Or do something you love that you never have time to do? Work on those house projects you never got around to? Take an online class? Learn a new language? Volunteer online? I am grateful for being able to keep myself busy.

On one of my recent runs through the childhood village I was raised in, Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, I was reminded of my Patriotes rebellious roots on my dad’s side of the family (If you are unaware of the Patriotes rebellion, read more here.) I stood in front of the memorial for a few minutes and just took it in. I got emotional. It then led me to think about my Irish side of the family (my mom’s), and how they also were fighters and survivors. Then and there, somewhere between kilometer 8 and 9 of my run, I decided I was not going to let COVID19 bring me down any longer. I will find a way. I always do. ‘Same me, new mood’ as Rachel Hollis made me scream in my basement a few days later, on the spin bike, while watching her Made for More documentary.

I was going to end this post with that last sentence above, but then I remembered I’d written a blog post about how strong I am, in September 2018 (read here). I went back and read it and it was a good reminder, from me to me, of how strong I can be. The last sentence of the blog post read: Yes, I can accomplish (almost) anything I set my mind to… I deleted (almost).

Yes, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to…

Pause for a minute and read it again because it applies to you too.

Yes, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to…

 

*(I will probably publish the Unknown post in the upcoming weeks, because it is very fitting with the current situation we are all in. It’s interesting to me that, when I wrote it, there was no sign of this global pandemic leading us deeper and deeper into a vortex of Unknown).

Related post: I am Strong.

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