Seclusion and the 5 Things That I Have Found That I Could Not Live Without

I haven’t posted any photos or written on my blog for quite a while. Why? Because life is very busy. Not the busy that we seem to glorify in this society, but the busy life of living in a full house – a house with a 6 month old baby and her 27 and 28 year old parents, a 17 year old who is a senior in high school but home/online schooled and myself who works full time and my husband who is an airline captain. Let’s not forget about the animals; a dog with a liver shunt, two rescued cats and a third grandcat, a bearded dragon who has “cerebral palsy”, three goats, 7 hens, a hive of honeybees and a horse that is boarded about 10 minutes away.  Soon, the perennial gardens will start to come up and many annual flowers will need to be planted as well as the vegetable gardens. Yes, that’s the kind of full and busy life we live, and that’s why I don’t find the time to prioritize writing in my blog. Then came the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Now, times have changed for the hopefully, short, foreseeable future.

I have two autoimmune disorders. My husband is still flying and exposed to the outside world and my daughter is a pediatric ICU nurse. A few days ago her ICU was named one of the units that would be taking COVID-19 patients in her hospital. For those reasons and after discussions with multiple people who are as knowledgeable as can be about this virus, we made the difficult decision to move me into isolation. Today is Day 2. I decided that I would take this opportunity to write in my blog about this experience, especially so that someday, my granddaughter, Lylah, can read about what was going on in her first year of life.  I believe that this will define her generational cohort, much like post 9-11 defined my 17 year old’s (gen Z), ironic since Lylah was born on 9-11.

In the 48 hours that I have been here, I have learned that there are 5 things that I could not live without: first, my phone that is keeping me connected to the outside world (there is no TV here), second – the Marco Polo App that is enabling me to see and talk to my family and friends, third and forth – Pandora and my Bose, because the silence is deafening, and last, but not least, my dog to keep me company.

I noticed on my drive here, there were 5 couples taking walks together, on a road that I drive on almost every day. I can say that I have never seen couples taking walks on that road. A silver lining to this social distancing and staying at home.

Yesterday:

  • I saw my oldest post on social media. She had given it up for Lent, so I asked her about it. She said that she’s now given up her mother for Lent, so she thought Jesus would be okay if she took back social media. I’m sure that Jesus understands.
  • It was warm. I texted the woman who owns the house and asked if she minded that I clean up her gardens. Some daffodils were coming up through the old leaves of the hostas. She was happy to let me garden, so I spent a few hours outside with the dog, cleaning up gardens and getting some sunshine and fresh air. I figure that is good for physical AND mental health.
  • I found lots of signs of spring coming.
  • I organized the books that I brought with me. Books that I chose for such a time as this. I also brought my bible and bible journaling devotionals and supplies so that I could spend time in the Word everyday and tap into my creative side as well.
  • I brought prayer books and my breviary and plan to start routinely praying the Divine Office, I think the world could use more prayer.

Today:

  • I found out that I forgot to bring Q-tips and that the shower curtain blows in and touches me. I realized how spoiled I am.
  • I decided to walk the dog and go off the beaten path to avoid the noise of 18 wheelers (we must be on some sort of a country trucking route), and I found chickens, goats, sheep, a lake and pussy willows blooming – another sure sign of spring.

My word of the year is NOURISH. I am going to take this time to nourish my mind, body, soul (which really means my relationship with my Lord and Savior) and relationship with others and myself. I’m eating healthy, walking, and I spent time on skin care today after my shower. I believe that I will be learning a lot over the next 8 ish weeks. I hope that you come along with me on this journey and learn with me. I will say that being alone and not in my own home at night is the most difficult, so hopefully, this blog will keep my mind off of it.

Oh, and I already made a mistake. I forgot to change the date on day 2.

It's not really social distancing…

Today was day 3 of seclusion. I can’t figure out what word is best for that- isolation, self quarantine? I think seclusion sounds best. However, today when it was warm enough to sit outside more than 6 feet from everyone in my family, I drove 1.5 hours home to visit and pick up some things that I had forgotten or realized I needed. When I first arrived my husband was sitting on the porch swing and the dog ran up to greet him. Then my youngest, Savannah came out to see me. She sat on the porch railing and we both decided that it was so strange and awkward NOT to be able to hug each other, especially when you want to! I don’t think we should call it social distancing, because in reality, today was a very social day but with physical distancing. I stayed more than 6 feet away from everyone, but we talked and laughed and tried to solve the problems of the world and they laughed at me and my conspiracy theories. It reminded me of a bunch of people from Pittsburgh sitting in their driveways with open garages and lawn chairs and chitchatting. Then I took a walk with my husband and grandbaby and walked around my gardens looking for signs of spring. So, in reality it was a very social day even if it was odd to practice physical distancing, which I think I will call it from now on.

On my way home, I noticed a sign that was put up in town in a few places, it was surreal.

My favorite part? “Together, we will overcome.”

I started my day with online Mass. I was thinking about the fact that during wars, and even in years past when there were plagues when the world had much less medicine, if any – church was never closed. Throughout history, the church has been a place that we can go, especially for help in the dark times, so, this is so very unreal to me.

This is what at home, online church looks like.

Driving back to my temporary home was strange, knowing there was a travel ban beginning at 8 pm and wondering what the rest of the week will look like and what else we are going to see that is unprecedented.

Yule Log Cake

My husband and daughter were watching a cooking show and someone was making a Yule log cake. They decided they wanted to try and spent a few days researching, watching videos and looking at examples and trying to find the perfect recipe. I’m pretty sure they settled on a recipe by Martha Stewart. Well, when they put their minds to something it sure does work! However, I think it’s only a decoration even though I tasted the cake, filling and icing before it was assembled and it’s as delicious as it is gorgeous!

Bible Journaling Pages

One way that I love to use to study and memorize scripture is through “Bible journaling”. There are three different learning styles: Auditory, Visual and Tactile. I know I am not a great auditory learner as I am frequently distracted when I’m supposed to be listening. I don’t believe I’m a tactile learner. I however am a great visual learner and can even remember the words on a page and a page number! I think this is why getting older is so annoying – because my vision is no longer 20/20 and I get eye fatigue. Bible journaling is the perfect way for me to study and memorize scripture. These are my steps…I first pray to The Holy Spirit for understanding – then I read it, contemplate it, pray over it, then make a visual representation of it and voila! It sticks better in my brain. My word of the year is GRACE. This is my “grace” page.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.” Ghandi

Oh how proud I am. To watch your child grow and find her passion is a most amazing experience. While Jordan is in Africa helping and caring for the children as much as she can – it certainly doesn’t look like she’s out of her comfort zone but rather right where she’s meant to be. I’m sure that she’s tired and maybe hungry and probably would love a hot shower, but seeing the pure joy on her face shows me that throughout the years as she talked about wanting to do this work, it was written on her heart. She is spreading the light of Jesus from within her to those she is serving and the result is pure joy.

When you must let them fly…

As mothers/parents, we make it our mission to keep our children safe and healthy and we hope they grow up and remember all of the things that we taught them. We also hope and pray that they grow up to be amazing people that want to do good in the world and make a difference. When my daughter was 5, on the way to school in the morning we would pass a McDonald’s and there was frequently a homeless man sitting outside enjoying the ocean breeze. One day when we drove past, she said “I want to do that when I grow up.” I though in my head, “oh, wonderful, she wants to be homeless at the beach.” I asked her what she meant and she said “I want to take care of people who don’t have a home or are sick and need help.”  Yes, I felt guilty for my initial thought. It wasn’t easy raising that child; she was stubborn – oh, wait! we are supposed to call it “strong willed”, so as not to be negative. Well, stubborn or strong willed, it’s not easy raising a child and keeping them safe when they have that personality trait. She and I butted heads often, and I am not ashamed to admit, when I say butted heads, I mean screaming matches that were like none other; just ask my best friend who lives in Australia how many phone calls were spent de-briefing and trying to convince me that I wasn’t the worst mother in the world. I had a job that showed me on a daily basis what suffering there is in the world and what amazing blessings there are too. When my daughter would complain about something minuscule and say “it was a tragedy”, I admit had a hard time dealing with that and would frequently remind her that it wasn’t a tragedy when you had a bad hair day. I would say things like “a tragedy is when someone comes into the office for an ultrasound and finds out that their baby due in two weeks no longer has a heartbeat or has a terminal birth defect.” Yep! Mother of the year strikes again! So, at age 10, or 12, whether she understood at the time or not, she learned about perspective. I know she understands it now. I know that because she went off to college to study cultural anthropology so that she could go around the world and help less fortunate people who needed help. Then when she graduated from college, by divine intervention, we ended up involved with a refugee family whose newborn ended up in the hospital for 10 days in the pediatric intensive care unit. The birth of a baby led to the birth of a passion. She worked hard and went back to school to become a nurse. Now, she spends 4 days of 12 hour night shifts taking care of very sick children and being the best patient advocate she can be. I now understand where God was leading her when he gave her that strong will. Recently, I’ve discovered even more about that strong will. She called me up to tell me that she is going to Africa on a medical mission to bring healthcare to children in a refugee camp in Uganda. I can’t tell you how that stresses me out (look back at the title of this post). This year, she graduated from college, moved 1000 miles away, had to buy a new car and is continuing her education and getting married and smack dab in the middle of all of that, she is called to go to Africa and take care of more children than she takes care of already. I can no longer keep her safe. I can pray that she remembers the things she’s learned along the way and that God will be with her on her journey. I do know that she has grown up to be an amazing person who will go out of her comfort zone to go out into the world and make a difference. We could use all of the prayers we can get. She is going with an organization called MedHope Africa. We would greatly appreciate prayers for her and her team. Updates will be coming as I hear from the team leader. She leaves on March 10th.