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Quarantine Tantrum

I love brave people. I love it when people take a risk - take a leap - and jump into their destiny.

I love the dream chasers.

I love envisioning the future. I love the 10,000 foot view that allows one to ask “What if?” and “Why not?” And I love the process of mapping out the how - the steps to get “there”.

I love saying yes to possibilities, to invitations, to opportunities. I hate to admit it, but I love being busy. I love activity. I love doing.

So one can imagine how much fun I was to be around during the quarantine. Quarantine didn’t provide much space for the things I love.

Quarantine felt like a big fat “NO” when I love “YES” so much! Quarantine felt a lot like being bossed around and reined in, and I didn’t care for it.

But there I was, Tuesday, March 17, getting told that my life was “too risky.” Being with friends was suddenly “reckless.” Keeping my business open was now “greedy.” Just like that, my calendar cleared.

I wanted to be grateful. I wanted to relish the pause. I wanted to be like those ladies who started crafting and cooking and organizing. I wanted to be a patient and engaging teacher for my daughters. I wanted to make the best of it.

But I didn’t. I was mainly just mad. And grumpy. And stressed.

I looked at my business finances and realized I had to furlough most of the staff. I was failing people who relied on me for their income; people who were rock stars at their jobs before those jobs were deemed too dangerous.

Days were spent calling banks and vendors and asking if I could wait to pay my bills. It was humbling. I applied for every program available to stay afloat; to have a business to which I could return, and invite my employees to return. I read articles and attended webinars to learn about CARES and EIDL and PPP and EFMLA and what unemployment would look like to my relectly-furloughed staff.

With no set end in place, planning was futile.

I couldn’t avoid the yuck. I couldn’t escape the yuck with a step-by-step process to move forward. I couldn’t count down the days to the date things would return to normal because no one knew when that date might be.

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. I cycled through the grief stages weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly.

I discovered I was even worse at grief than I was at teaching second grade. I had avoided grief by avoiding a pause, by avoiding stillness, by avoiding all of the feels.

Activities and checklists and plans can allow one to bypass a pause, to prevent stillness, to avoid the pain of feeling one’s feelings. But when the activities are cancelled, the checklists are useless, and the plans are uncertain, it’s difficult to avoid things that are, well...difficult.

The acceptance stage of grief flitted in and out, in fits and starts, but at some point I realized that my next bold step was to let go.

To accept meetings over Zoom and coffee dates in parking lots. To tell my staff that while I very much wanted to guarantee their security, I simply could not. To allow my husband to take over the homeschooling. To consciously decide that my day would not rise and fall based on decisions made by the SBA regarding my grant and loan applications.

As I allowed acceptance of the situation to take root, I began, in spite of myself, to see the benefits of a long pause, of relinquishing the illusion of control.

I learned to stop and listen to God. I (mostly) stopped bringing my agenda into our time together.

I learned flexibility.

I learned that some things on my to-do list didn’t actually need to be done after all.

I learned a few new card games.

I wouldn’t say I mastered the art of being still, but I didn’t die, and I did learn a few things.

Perhaps the next time stillness is in order, I will resist less. Perhaps I’ll acquiesce when my next bold step is simply to be still and listen and learn.

Written by Somer Lyons

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