It’s been two weeks since my last post as a blogger; that’s a big gap between writings for me. It’s been a strange time. It is for everyone here in NZ and around the entire globe. The covid lockdown has left me in a mental fog and, at the same time, opened my eyes. I’m finding that the lack of stimulation from others in the world outside my family unit is stifling my creativity yet forcing me to think deeper and longer. I’m inspired to write by new conversations or activities; there has been little of that. Despite this, I have been amazingly fortunate to be with all 3 of our girls. Many of us cling to our birth or chosen families. And some have been torn apart. I’ve found the stillness and time to bond on a deeper level than ever with mine. We have watched movies, grabbed coffees, lounged around, celebrated, studied, laughed, cried, walked, and ran. We’ve been fortunate to hash out and begin healing lifelong issues that the chaos of the world’s continual stimulation masks. Forced to face the head-on problems that may have pulled us apart in the future, we have grown together.
Stillness forces us to look at ourselves with nowhere to run or hide. It allows us to check-in and acknowledge ourselves, run a physical, emotional, and mental diagnostic. I have been in a prolonged state of stillness on this visit to my home away from home between NZ and the US. A handful of scattered socially distanced outdoor encounters with those I love leave me feeling thankful and emotional. And though our interactions have been limited and short, the energy of being in their presence has been much needed. Just seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those outside our bubble offers rejuvenation and an opportunity to share and plug into someone else’s world and connect to their physical presence. I have had baking left at my doorstep by my ever-kind Airbnb hosts. And even the gift of an unexpected warm croissant, sourdough loaf, or pineapple cake gives me pause for gratitude and joy.
Stillness is healthy; yes, we need it to heal, understand, listen and grow. I would be kidding myself, though, if I said stillness was all I needed. Stillness is a portion of our existence. The same as socialization, touch, exercise, nourishment, and shelter, all of these are equally necessary for fulfillment, joy, and peace. At the moment, our world is complicated, and obtaining all things needed to feel whole and human is not easy to come by without restrictions or anxiety over what we lack. Humans need humans to survive and thrive. We bounce off of each other’s energy, take what we need, and pass it along. Everyone keeps saying, “when we go back to normal…” I don’t even fully remember normal, and to our youth, this is normal. We can view it as good or bad, yet it simply IS.
I have found solace in not dwelling on what was or what will be, how great things were, and how much better they’re going to be. I wrestle with the arms of our new reality, and I’m pinned to the mat. I try to tap out, surrender and give up; I think a lot of us have. I give in to my downtime and consider my next move into the unknown, trying to make choices that will allow me to hit the bullseye of a moving target. And while I’m aiming, I focus, draw in a deep breath, and find that right now, the living is in this single minute, hour, and day.
Today is my new normal. I sit still and silent and check-in with myself. I acknowledge my feelings. I am still here; I’m alive, loved, healthy, fed, sheltered, and safe. And that should be enough.
After five weeks in level 4 lockdown, we have finally moved to level 3! We still have to stay in our homes going out to exercise and shop for essentials. But we can expand our bubble to close family or friends, keeping it “small and exclusive.” It’s incredible how a tiny bit of progress gives me fulfillment. The highlight of this level is that we can now order contact-free items for pickup and order from Uber Eats. Sushi! I want Asahi Sushi! I craved it at home in America, and I’ve craved it all lockdown. Oh, and Flying Rickshaw INDIAN, yummmm! There’s excitement and mixed emotions among the girls. They can return to work and are essential for contactless pickups of items at their place of business. I think they will be happy to have some breathing room and a change of scenery.
In my little universe today, we’ve proudly launched a CAREGIVERS webpage I have built for the Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds. I filmed testimonials and wrote content for this, created the social media accounts and all content and edits of photos. I spent my time in NZ isolation learning to develop this digital piece to deliver on my promise as a volunteer to contribute to this fantastic and vital cause. CCHM is a community response to mental illness and substance abuse. This page is a crucial resource spot for caregivers who need support as much, if not more at times, than those who are ill. I have first-hand experience here because I suffer from an acute panic disorder and depression, I have since my early 20’s. And though I have loving support from my husband and daughters, I often feel they need someone who can support them. My issues can be draining and, at times, scary. The CAREGIVER page we launched gives tips and schedules for support groups of all kinds! I am so proud to be a part of this and happy that the board has allowed me to participate. I needed this win.
There is peace and calm in the flat as Molly, and I bond over cookie baking, and the laidback quiet life of Covid lockdown continues on another level. There isn’t too much to report, no house fires, breakdowns, or medical issues. I’m getting ready to leave for my daily walk under the long white clouds. It’s drizzling, and I’m happy to have another day with our girls and another day in NZ.
It’s over! 31 days in a row of trying to blog something meaningful, with depth and heart that isn’t just fluff and stuff. Only you can be the judge of how I did on capturing your attention. I know I did my best. It was tiring trying to keep up with a 31-day blog challenge. My husband got a little frustrated at times that my nose was in my iPhone notes or computer every day, and he made several comments about how obsessed I had become. But hey, as I told him, “blog challenge or no blog challenge, I have found my rhythm, so get used to it; I’ll often be writing and for long hours sometimes.” I missed 6 out of the 31 days; that’s not too bad. I didn’t write on the days where I honestly had nothing to say. I gained about 100 new followers on my @jerisbraindump Facebook page alone. Thank you to all who have followed and are engaging with sharing and comments on my stories. I have gained 54 new WordPress.com community followers and about 100 more between Instagram and Twitter. I enjoyed reading the stories of fellow bloggers in this challenge, and I’m sure we will all keep an eye on each other from this point on. I think the story I loved sharing the most was “Mother”. It contains memories close to my heart, and I had a chance to bear my vulnerability. You all shared and commented and showed support as fellow parents, and again I thank you. I will continue to blog while working on my memoir. I haven’t forgotten, at one point, someone asked when I would post me singing; here you go (find the link at the end of this blog). I enjoyed having a blog family. Keep in touch.
NOTE: I don’t own any of the writes to the music I’m singing. I used to sing this song for my girls when they were little. I just recorded it on my phone with an app for you all recently. Enjoy! Part of Your World (from The Little Mermaid) https://www.smule.com/sing-recording/1826154647_3755224429
Hey God. How’s it going? That’s a loaded question. You’re probably pulling your hair out these days between COVID 19, Global Warming, racial and identity issues, mass shootings, and politics. All though some of that stuff is the same old same old. I don’t know how you do it; I really have trouble wrapping my head around all of it at once. Like, who’s idea was it to have snow in Texas this winter? Sorry, yours, totally your call, of course. I get it you probably have heaps on your mind and a lot to unload; I’m here if you need an ear. Man! (Or woman, not sure), you’ve got to be frustrated with us. If you do decide you want to talk, please send me a word or come to me in a dream though, I’m not sure if I can handle something on a grandiose scale at the moment. Yeah, if you want to send me a sign, can you hold back on the stigmata, trial through fire, and natural disasters for just a tick? Have you noticed the communication between you and me has been chaotic and sporadic lately? Me too; I have to apologize for my part in that. So again, I’m open whenever you can fit me in for a face-to-face. Oooo no, maybe not a face-to-face that would take a great deal of arranging on my part, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I mean, what would I wear? You know that’s not something I usually worry about, but I’ve gotten used to dressing for this Covid lifestyle, which is basically not getting dressed at all. I’m sure you saw that I’ve just cut my bangs/fringe in the middle of the night, so I’m not presentable enough for such a committed undertaking with THE GREAT I AM. I would also have to take a leave of absence from my family, and just like traveling to NZ from the US, I’ll have to mask and shield my face for a perpetually long trip, and that may be more than I can bear at the moment. Anyway, let’s just schedule an impromptu conversation if you don’t mind?
So yes, our communication has been strained. I’ve been saying my prayers regularly and daily like now I’m talking to you, so that’s promising. I’ve just felt like we’ve been growing apart. I know you reach out to me, and believe me, I am uber thankful that you took the time to send that yellow and black butterfly that kept following me around the other day while I was gardening. Those little reminders that you’re there mean a lot to me. And I’m sure we can PrayerTime, and I can pick up your book and read it any time of day, all day long, but something is missing.
I know, I know, I asked you how you are, and now I’m making it all about me, typical. I have to get this off my chest, though, if you don’t mind me going first. Just gently and painlessly stop me when you’ve heard enough. I want to say this separation anxiety has come on and has been getting stronger since the start of COVID; because we’ve been blaming everything else on that, but it started well before COVID. I’m sure you remember when you gave me that job as the admin to the pastor and middle school youth leader at a local church. Right? Anyway, truth be told, that place scarred me. I mean brutally wounded my faith. Not my faith in you; nothing could ever do that. I may get pissed off at you at times or frustrated because you keep giving me what I need in your time, not when I wish for it (as if your some genie in a bottle passing out ponies, Porsches, and worry-free lives), but besides that, we’re tight! On my soul, you’re stuck with me for eternity, I hope (maybe I shouldn’t say on my soul I’m sure its totally inappropriate to say that to you because if you even detect a hint of deceit in this story, you can take it, can I get an Amen?!).
Don’t get me wrong, you did the right thing by placing me at the church (I know I don’t have to tell you right from wrong), and I’m thankful for the experience and lessons I took from being in that space for three years. But geez, my faith in people was almost shattered. People I thought were good faithful ones with a holy mission really let me down. I asked to work in that very environment, and you answered my prayer (thank you). I know I don’t always hear you with a discerning ear, but I’m sure you’ve told me repeatedly not to put my faith in man but in you alone, and I did work hard to abide by that. I genuinely believe that given the benefit of the doubt, most fellow humans have redeeming qualities. I knew going into that job that churches embrace broken people (I’m one myself), and let’s face it, if you are sick, you go to a hospital for a cure; and if you are broken, you go to a church for healing. I totally understood what I was working with, but I was out of my depth; even a few church leaders kept telling me they thought we were under spiritual warfare. I didn’t believe in that kind of religious hocus pocus, but after what I witnessed, I wonder. Your book warns that the dark one will use the most unsuspecting people to do his bidding, and you could see him at work there. I felt like a scout leader among a crowd of kids who were working feverishly to earn their seven deadly sin badges. The gossip, judging, and manipulation were mind-boggling. Hey, you know better than anybody that I am far from perfect and on that journey of self-discovery, and we both know that no one gets it right 100% of the time.
I faithfully tried to serve you and my community; you probably hear that from everyone because it’s all relative to an individual’s understanding of faith, right? And ex-church admins that I’ve met over the years have all had similar stories saying they’ve come out of their roles with a few spiritual and social wounds, so I shouldn’t feel too terrible. Now, this is where you and I start to become distanced from each other. I know you are a forgiving God, and so we too are supposed to forgive others. It’s hard, though, because I’m human. Those people we put our trust in to lead us faithfully, pastors, priests, church boards, and bishops, high profile faithful and broken people, supporting other faithful and broken people can annihilate a whole congregation of believers with their actions and words when left unchecked. It has become abundantly clear to me that politics and religion are not a good combination; however, at the heart of any faith organization, those two elements are the very lifeblood that keeps it running. One can’t exist without the other. I had to leave your house, though, because (again not because of you) because I don’t understand why with all of the true believers that did have good intentions in that church, your sacred temple felt so out of control and appeared to be one big bipolar cluster flock? There were so many people praying for the church’s mission and for you to swoop in and save us, all of us. Maybe it’s because anything you put in our human hands is bound to get screwed up; just look at what we’re doing to your planet, and oh my God, (yes, you) look what we did to your son. I have had a lot to reconcile since I left my job at the church, and I know you are still walking beside me, always inspiring me. I’m not sure how to deal with my lack of desire to attend a brick-and-mortar church or get too close to a congregation of people again. I’m sure there are plenty of your followers that feel this way. I’ve got my bible and my constant conversation with you, and for now, that’s all I think I need. You will be the judge of that, though.
Anyway, I know this is a long letter, please be patient with me. You know Zoe, our 15 yr old daughter; well, It seems you’ve been working on her heart because we haven’t been to church since Christmas, and we had also skipped Easter Sunday. She literally asked us if we would take her to church this weekend, out of the blue, while I was typing this letter to you! I don’t know why I am even slightly amazed at that. I’m trying to listen to what you want for my family and me with my ears, eyes, and gut. I’m trying to be faithful to you and serve (probably not enough; it’s been hard to connect during COVID) while being broken, hurt, and still gun shy. I know you know my heart; you made it. I know you hear my prayers, even if I am not sure what to pray, and don’t pray out loud. I know that your door is always open to me, and likewise, you are always welcome in my home. I am evolving, learning, praying, watching, and hoping this uneasy feeling I have been feeling about us growing apart will subside. But at the moment, I can’t go back to church; I hope you’ll forgive me. So, like I said when I started this letter to you, I’m waiting for a time when we can reconnect, and you’ll send me a word on how we should do that. I’m hoping that you and your good book are enough until you lead me to a place where I will meet like-minded people (yes, I know, like me, they will be broken. But maybe we can be that way together in a healthy way). Just let me know when you’re ready to talk; I’ll keep an ear out for you. And since you’re everywhere (not just in a church) and know all things, I know you will find me and pray you will reassure me that this strange new path I’m exploring is ok.
We spent ten days in our home in COVID quarantine. Our 15 yr old tested positive for Covid. She had been sick off and on for about two weeks with a sore throat, slight trouble breathing when she was running, fever, and on Thursday before we went into lockdown, she had a massive migraine. She kept telling me she didn’t feel well, and I told her it was probably everything but COVID. Im not sure why I couldn’t put two and two together. I pulled her out of school and prayed she had not passed it on to anyone else. We made a quick life adjustment to lock down as a family. She went back to online schooling, and hubby set to work from home and got a lot done. I did little projects (as you do), cleaning out closets, cleaning off bookshelves, and doing my usual tidying, cooking, and enjoying shopping online for food. Whenever the boredom got to be too much, Zoë and Paul would grab the Razor scooter and ride around the house in a blaze of speed from one room to the other. We have had time to catch up with people on the phone or FaceTime. Our two oldest girls keep calling us from their haven overseas, saying, “you guys have to get out of there; it’s a mess” Yes, it’s a mess, but to me, it’s home and where their Dad makes the money that keeps us running smoothly.
My husband is a New Zealander, A Kiwi. And I grew up in Florida. We have sent our two oldest daughters to live there to go to university and be with extended family. New Zealand is an excellent example of a community that comes together to get things done. They have the system of fighting COVID down pat. I’m so thankful the girls (Sabrina and Molly) are there safe and able to live everyday lives, except the odd lockdown for 3 to 7 days if Covid does pop up in a household. For the most part, New Zealand is fully open, and stress levels are low. The girls are in their second year of University and working part-time jobs. Our oldest is modeling, and they are both going out with friends, thriving and living normal college girl lives. Best of all, people in NZ are getting close to each other and making happy memories together. They have a quality of life that is fulfilling. God knows when we will get back to that here in America without it being interrupted. Some people here are anxious and angry over the entire aspect of Covid. It will be nice to strive for and have inner peace without the fear of “The Rona” looming someday.
All of us are dying to get back to living our everyday lives. Covid has messed everybody up. From not working a regular job to hugging people, socializing, traveling, going to parties, having people for dinner, and celebrating holidays, it’s been insane. The lack of activity and connectedness is causing us to forget how life used to be. We’ve been doing this for a year, and we wonder when it’s going to end. Covid is no hoax, and the harsh and terrible reality is that at this point, over 525,000 people have died. There isn’t a person alive who has a conscience or heart that can diminish that tragic fact without showing disrespect for the dead and those who loved them.
We see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Covid vaccine has been rolled out for everyone over the age of 16 in Florida!!! Yaaaaa hoooo!! We have movement in a positive direction! If more people are vaccinated, and we all follow CDC guidelines for reducing the spread of the virus by simply wearing our new favorite accessory, the face mask, we will decrease the chances of variants developing. Several studies say variants can render the vaccines ineffective. We are working towards life becoming normal again; it will be sometime before we lose face protection, touch each other and get cozy the way we used to.
While in quarantine, I looked at some of the research talking about children born during Covid and how they may be emotionally detached. They’re saying that school-aged children who have not been attending school physically and are online learning are going to become “the lost generation.” That sounds so sad to me. I think of the song American Pie and the prophetic lyric that says, “…oh, and there we were all in one place a generation lost in space”. Our young won’t know how to connect like we used to connect pre-Covid, be as expressive, and maybe Covid kids won’t be as emotional. Is the world becoming a colder place? What if we’re turning into one big nonfeeling AI (artificial intelligence) society and the popular kids are Siri, Alexa and Google!?
At the end of our ten-day quarantine, Paul and I got Covid tested. We arrived at the medical center, gave them our phone number, and then we went back and sat in our car and waited for an hour and a half. During that time, they called us on my cell and did a telephone check-in; it was all pretty interesting, well organized, and touch-free.
On the morning we drove to the testing center, I panicked that we had to get tested at all. I said, “I’d rather get Covid than get one of those long plastic swabs stuck up my nose and into my brain.” Zoe and Paul laughed and tried to tell me that it tickled, and at one point, Zoe said, “it actually feels pretty good.” Suspiciously I replied, “oh ok, right”! The wait was silent and, for me, unbearable. We sat there looking at our phones to pass the time. Then mine rang, and I jumped a little bit.
We checked in, and a nurse took our vitals. Another nurse was peeling the plastic wrapper of a swab. As he came near me, I blurted out, “I’m so nervous, I think I’m gonna throw up”! He didn’t even flinch. Nobody assured me that it would be okay or that it wouldn’t hurt. They just smiled at me awkwardly, leaving me feeling more uneasy. I visualized myself lying on the table being probed by aliens in a dark room, floating somewhere out in the unknown universe. Was I going to walk out of there with my brain still intact? I pictured it being stabbed like a marshmallow and pulled out through my nostril. When I saw our 15 yr old get her Covid test ten days before, they didn’t use the long swab you see on TV. They used a fat short one that went up your nose just a little bit. I hoped to get that test! Zoë made getting it look so easy.
Low and behold, the short fat swab was what I got too; I was elated!! I was happy I was going to get to keep my brain. As the nurses walked out of the room, I said, “Oh, thank you, God! I’d been praying for that test”. They looked at me like I was crazy if they only knew.
Paul and I were taken to another room to wait for the results. I started thinking about the whole procedure and how it felt. I looked at Paul and whispered, “does it sound weird that I think that felt really good“? “I mean, it actually felt nice.” TMI disclaimer: I’m one of those people that will take a piece of toilet paper and wind it up really, really long and thin, then clean the inside of their nose till it “shines like the top of the Chrysler building.” Yeah, I’m that person you hung out with in school who would ask you ten times a day, “is there anything in my nose, in my teeth, or on the back of my pants”!!
When I was little, I watched police shows, and they would always tell their informants to “keep your ear to the ground and keep your nose clean” that was cop talk. Seeing that my television partially raised me, I used to think it was essential to keep your nose clean. It was doing the right thing. Hence my delight over the thorough nasal scrub. I felt like the nurse administering my Covid test was doing me a favor. I left there relieved, happy, and clean as a whistle. Our tests came back negative; we were clear to leave quarantine. All and all, the time went by pretty fast once the days started running Into one another. But we were disease-free. Ahhhhhh, I and my household could breathe easy, in more ways than one.