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COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down: personally, professionally, economically, spiritually and socially. We are all scrambling to adapt to an epidemic that has brought us to 'Shelter in Place". All we can hold onto, if we are lucky, is a roof over our heads and roommates. Some of us have neither.

A new hashtag is #alonetogether

I am overwhelmed with so much unfamiliar that I can no longer focus my attention on what I can do that might help me forward. I need to be still. (Ugh) Navigating uncharted territory is exhausting work. It is a 24/7 endeavor, our lives depend on it, no joke. Some of my friends are able to stay home and truly pause, they are retired. Others can work from home, now there's a full boat, especially for the teachers with families, what is it called? Tele-teaching? We are told school will NOT resume this year. There is lots going on!!!! And here's the truth, we are doing it, all of us, figuring this out and keeping everyone safe. One of my favorite posts on Facebook from a pal: "Day 10 of 'Shelter in Place' and it's like VEGAS in our house: We're losing money by the minute, cocktails are acceptable at any hour, and nobody knows what time/day it is!" Isn't that the truth? Last Sunday my son wanted to bet his entire allowance it was Wednesday, he thought I had lost my mind.

Today is Friday, but I checked my calendar at least 4x because I really wasn't sure.

Last month I told a friend I was so disappointed in our education system, my kids are bored and seemingly uninterested. If only I could remove them from this institutionalized academia and give them an inspiring dose of learning in the real world. Unbelievable, three weeks later Coronavirus hits home and so do my kids!!!!! More surreal of an environment and not necessarily what I was shooting for ;-/ Not even sure this can be considered a real world but it is our present state. And we are eating three meals a day TOGETHER. Wow!!!!

I am choosing now to focus on some of the awesome that has shown up over the last 10 days. Hmmm, where to start?

My son has raised most his grades to A's, still tackling English, but overall a HUGE improvement. He is now savvy with online classes, Zoom mtgs with friends and boys' groups, Google Hangouts, and his old standby: cell phone. All in all, my son is thriving both academically and 'gamingly' from his chair behind his desk. (Yikes!)

My daughter has lost her phone privileges due to her fabulous attitude. However, she too is connecting via Zoom with her Scout Troop and her girls group. She has also figured out how to audio chat with friends through her computer, just like a phone. She is so talented! Her grades? Still a work in progress. It is her path, not mine ;-/ She also has a broken arm, been in a cast for 5 weeks already, busted it on our first day of snowboarding during ski week. She has successfully stripped the interior of all its stuffing/padding in her attempt to unload itch and dead skin. Both gross and resourceful. (Who ever heard of doing that?)

Ocean gets the credit for the photo on this post. Her creativity at work. She called to me one day while I was cooking yet another meal (UGH): "Mom, the toilet is smoking!" I made her repeat herself in my brimming irritation as I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. The what is WHAT? Immediately considering who I could call for repairs, with despair. And as I sniffed my way closer, there I was, standing in person before creative genius. A sculpture comprised of everyday familiar. I LAUGHED with pride and delight. Left it in place as long as I could, maybe a few days. Took a snapshot and posted it on social media, duh! Two days ago she baked her first cake.

We held a family meeting at China Camp (before it closed). Mom sat in her kayak, while the rest of us hung on the beach. My sister joined with her eldest in tow. We were together, finally, it had felt like SO LONG. Kids were skipping rocks, all of us in our pods (6 ft apart) as we shared thoughts, concerns and visions for our future, letting the water carry our voices to and fro. It felt so good. The trees, the rocks and the bay held us, helped us feel more connected in these strange times. My sister introduced me to the term 'COVIDcloud', something about every person's germ circumference, to support our 'social distancing'. I might have that wrong, but nonetheless it has me thinking.

My brother joined us for dinner one night, a surprise visit. He brought food and cheer. We were thrilled with the attention. Cards were dealt and we learned Texas Holdem'. My brother explained that cards are only fun when there is real money to win. So allowance got paid out two days early and the pot became substantial. Me winning was a surprise indeed and I will absolutely play again! We discussed conspiracy theories, talked about drugs, laughed hard, listened to hard rock while playing air guitar, we initiated a dance party and tried to go all night. He left at 10pm.

I took my son with me to work on Wednesday to see if he could assist, with anything. This gave his uncle the opportunity to execute a driving lesson on the barren streets of San Francisco. Foot firm on the brake at a stoplight, a Black&White pulled up alongside this 13 year old behind the wheel, cop rolled down his window and hollered: "Wanna race?"

I am expanding my technology toolbox everyday. Virtual meetings are happening. I used Google Hangouts for a piano lesson, we ended up doing more yoga than playing just to help calm my nerves. Because I am so busy now, what feels like 12 hour days, I can listen to books while I drive, instead of sitting down to read. When I find time to quiet, I prefer to meditate, or at least attempt it. Concentration is less steady, as my pinball emotions can easily throw me off course. And I am learning new things everyday!

Vespa, our fourlegger, is so happy to have us around all day long. I am surprised her tail is still attached as it is wagging endlessly. She is getting walked multiple times per day and she barely has anytime to sleep, her world too has been turned upside down, for the better.

I am reading legislation every day, applying for financial assistance on multiple fronts wherever I can get it. I have written, phoned and met in person (6 ft apart) with every company/representative that makes my life happen: garbage, water, telephone, PGE, banks, and insurance in my effort to grow connection and ask for help. 80% of my requests have been granted/confirmed. Did someone say Vegas? This brings to mind the pitfalls of assumption. Just because the walls may be crumbling all around does not mean that help is, necessarily, on the way. Step in, reach out, make yourself known to everyone in your circles. When we are all struggling, it is easy to get lost. Stand up and make yourself heard. This is what my mom taught me: Communicate clearly and maintain hope through action.

I am a member of a Wisdom Circle, a 6 month relationship that could last longer. I registered for a 10 month course to improve myself and get certified in helping others, professionally. In the midst of all the chaos I can hold strong to a personal vision and propel myself forward. Even when I can feel a strong pull to go backward. I know I am attached to what was, that's why everything I am doing is both exciting and terrifying.

Conversations with everyone are more involved. There is less bull being passed around, we are looking each other in the eye and listening with heart. We are being more human in many ways. Could it be a common enemy? Probably. Or maybe it is because we need to connect deeply. Soul feeding relations. Yes, that's it!

Practices to maintain calm, these are growing. Feeding into the fear is too easy and far from rewarding. NATURE helps. Here we are in Spring 2020 and my garden is thriving. The birds are singing and the trees are budding. I have space to appreciate. There are moments of quiet stillness where I can feel the breath of NATURE all around. She is always here, available. Her grounding presence is so necessary. Miraculous really. I feel lucky to be alive today.

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