Yesterday was a milestone in what has been such a strange period; the last day of classes for UAB’s ill fated spring semester. I’m not quite sure how to process it. On one hand I feel celebratory relief to be done with the frustrations of having been thrust unprepared into online teaching, coupled with deep gratitude that I still have a job when many are struggling. On the other hand, I worry for my students, and, honestly, myself, as we go from the isolation and confusion of the discombobulated semester into a summer filled with even more isolation and uncertainty.
I also admit that aside from missing my students and the ability to make music together with colleagues, I will miss the structure and comfort of routine that the weekly scheduled lessons brought to me in this amorphous time. I still have administrative duties to work on over the summer and practicing to do, but I am a worker bee, thriving on being busy and productive. I never function well without structure, finding that I often get lost in my thoughts and lose track of large swaths of time.
The key for now will be to create a new daily schedule and adhere to it the best I can amidst the worry and fear of these listless months. I have always been an early riser and have continued my habits of early to bed, early to get going on the day. I exercise first thing, taking my precious Marley for a long walk/run to get my mind and body awake. I keep to my intermittent fasting schedule to try to prevent backsliding on the progress I’ve made with weight loss (forty pounds down so far), and am trying my best to make healthy choices food-wise and not fall down the rabbit hole of stress eating…always a challenge for me.
I have several projects I’ve been working on, cleaning out closets and cupboards, organizing, deep-cleaning, endless yard work (aka, yard therapy). Dan and I are so much alike, and even though he’s been retired for three years now, he still has his to-do list of projects ready to go every day. I want to accomplish worthwhile things during what is a gift of time, but it is so easy for me to retreat into my own world when confronted with the worry of what will or what might be our future. So much uncertainty is wrapped into every day now, and I cower from the evening news and anything else that spikes my anxiety. Order has always brought calm to the chaos for me.
I’m going to follow what I’ve encouraged my students to do, using a colorful planner to sketch out my days, knowing that life will happen and things will change, and that’s okay. At least having the scaffolding of some sort of normalcy will give me an anchor to hold onto as we all do our best to move forward toward whatever life this virus will leave us with. Perhaps a new beginning of something wonderful?
Again and again I remind myself to be grateful during this time. Dan survived eight horrible days in the hospital with complications from his appendectomy and COVID-19. This man who is my heart is alive and healing well. I have a loving and safe home, a wonderful close circle of friends and family, animals that bring us joy and laughter. I have a career I love that I hope and pray will return full force in the not too distant future.
Yes, there are many real things to worry about right now, but all we can do is focus on the things we have some semblance of control over. Stay safe, stay positive, stay loving, stay compassionate. Hopefully if we all do that, we will reach the other side better and wiser together.