In Times Like These

I have been reading, talking through text (social distancing) and processing much of what is happening in the world lately with all its brought into our lives globally. Several conversations have been about different aspects of all that is going on worldwide. In the earlier days of things getting real in my world (Boquete, Panama,) I was thankful that no matter the inconvenience, the priority was keeping people safe and healthy. I still am very grateful for the measures to protect us here.

At first, when lock-down (not quarantine) measures were implemented here, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was feeling, but knew it was different with not being sure what day it is, or my body not following usual patterns of when to sleep or eat. I felt scattered. Then it hit me. I was disoriented. Humans are used to patterns, and we like schedules or lists. We got used to our new routine here finally. We’ve only been living in a different country than the one I was born in for a little less than 2 years. The last couple of weeks have been altered and confusing because it wasn’t the pattern I’ve come to know and feel comfortable with in my daily life here. When I first landed in Panama, I battled disorientation a lot for months. Then I found my new normal here and adjusted relatively well.

Then the next phase came from recommended to required lock-down and social distancing, which means even more changes to the usual that I had become accustomed to. In this stage, curfews were put in place and messages from the government were frequent on what may come if things got worse. Why haven’t I mastered Spanish by now!?

This last stage was quarantine, meaning set times we are permitted to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or doctor. Only the essential things are allowed in the 2 hours each person is legally allowed out and about. I’ve seen/heard many fussing, trying to find a loophole to get out more, or how to ignore these new rules. I’m not fussing or ignoring, but most days I also want to walk into town and be with my friends. However, more than being out and with friends, I want to be safe, protect others, and live through this moment in our world history.

After getting past the initial disorientation (I’m still struggling with when to eat and sleep,) I realized there were so many other things making this so much harder to deal with for me. As I watch the world battle for its life at this moment, especially the USA, I have felt fear, depression, sadness, anger, heartache, and grief.  I’m feeling everything all at once. I genuinely hate it when that happens! But here we are, none the less.

I have lots of family and great friends in the United States. With the way things are going there, I fear I won’t have as many when this is over. I do believe it will be over. All things have a season. Those who are lost before it is over will leave a large hole in the heart of families across the world. This global killer doesn’t care about your country, skin color, education, finances, religion, or political affiliations. With this virus, we are all suddenly equal in one way, yet not many have the same opportunity to isolate safely and fight back medically.

For us to get past each day is what I now understand are layers of:

  • Disorientation (not many alive today have been through this particular set of circumstances)
  • Grief (so much loss and still inhumanity among some of the living)
  • Depression (will this ever end and when it does it will be worse, not better)
  • Anxiety (my family is getting sick, I can’t be there no matter what happens)

I’m trying to stay busy, find things to laugh and enjoy, and just breathe.

I’ve begun to notice things I hadn’t paid much mind to before this new normal happened. Last night, the power went out for a bit. It was very dark and tranquil outside.  We live directly off the main highway into town, so when we are outside, we hear and see traffic regularly. I stepped off my back patio and there seemed to be more stars shining than I’ve ever seen before. Because it was so still and dark, they all glowed! It was amazing! Today, on my walk to the local convenience store about 6 blocks away during my allotted hours out, it was so quiet that I heard every different bird as I walked. I listened to the light breeze blowing in my ear. I didn’t hear traffic and lots of noise from every direction, just nature and people chatting in their homes from a distance. It was very calming.

My days now include lots of check-in texts and videos for laughter or encouragement from so many people. We indeed are all in this together, globally. So my goal is to keep moving, thinking, laughing, loving, learning, and hoping for all we will be on the other side of this. None of us need to focus any harder on how challenging, heartbreaking, and terrifying this all is as we go through it. But, if you find yourself unable to reset the eyes of your heart and mind to the positives, reach out, call someone, text someone, you are not alone, we are not alone, I am not alone. I’m beyond blessed to know and say that, and hope you are too.

And now it’s time to go listen to Disney songs while I make dinner. They literally cheer me up! Try it some time!

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