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Let's find joy in ordinary life, even now.

As an influencer, my typical posts are encouraging, inspiring, optimistic updates but we all have our moments and yesterday...I broke down. I went to pick up a prescription for my cat and the reality of this "new norm," hit me like a ton of bricks. When I arrived at the vet, I was instructed to call and pay over the phone and then they would bring the medicine and his food out to my car. **For the record-I think this is incredibly smart and an example of limiting exposure amongst everyone.** It just happened to follow the news that schools in our state have decided to close for the remainder of the school year. As a single Mom juggling many things at this time and then knowing I need to homeschool my 4 school age kiddos for the remainder of the school year, I'll be honest, I was a bit (actually extremely) overwhelmed. I pulled into the driveway, turned the car off, just sat and cried. As in REALLY cried...the floodgates opened. Literally.

So many thoughts, feelings, emotions and concerns all hitting at once. I

can honestly say, I felt so much better afterwards. I try not to cry in front of my kids, not because I think crying shows weakness but I just don't want them to worry. Reality is...this is a frightening time. We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries shutting down. We are all watching the headlines and wondering, “What is going to happen next?” This is something we never thought we'd be experiencing in this lifetime. We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how bad things might get but it's not a time to panic.

As we all take measures to protect our physical health, we also need to protect our emotional health. Of course, it’s normal to feel anxiety right now but it's important to find healthy mechanisms to let them go. Some anxiety is productive—it’s what motivates us to wash our hands and sing a song for 20 seconds as well as be prudent in regards to distancing ourselves from others. If we weren’t reasonably worried, none of us would be taking these measures, and the virus would spread even more. But unproductive anxiety can make our mind spin in all kinds of frightening directions. A daily update makes sense. But bingeing on up-to-the-minute news is like stress eating—it’s bloating our minds with unhealthy food that will make us feel sick.

During my "moment," yesterday, I remembered another time in my life where I came to the same realization. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I let it consume my mind and let me tell you...that's no way to live. We need to push past the uncertainty of what might happen and be ever so present right now. Enjoy a dance party with your kids, belt out a song in the shower, call or face-time family members who are not with you and remember, this too shall pass.

I was talking with a friend yesterday and we were amazed at how busy life was a month ago. It seemed like just yesterday, I was trying to stay above water while juggling all the kids academics, activities, sports as well as my own job. Then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed. Perhaps use this time to embrace the change and how we're forced to "slow down" as well as appreciate the things we didn't have time for a month ago.

We have a unique opportunity to embrace the ordinary—to play board games, cook meals together, watch entire TV seasons, read books, take walks, do puzzles, get those art supplies out, catch up with people we “meant to call” weeks or months ago and make one another laugh—precisely because our busy routines have been disrupted. Let's not focus strictly on the negative and try to find the good in what is in front of you today.

All of this ordinariness connects us at a time when we need connection the most. We’re calling people and talking vs texting, giving them our full attention when we ask, “how are you?” because we genuinely care. We’re taking walks with a friend or family members, noticing little things like the flowers blooming on the trees or hearing the sounds of the birds chirping. We’re publicly reaching out on social media to recommend books, movies, podcasts, soothing playlists, and museums we can visit virtually while we’re separate but oh-so-together in our fear. Communities are coming together to help others, support local small businesses and lift each other up. In this world that has had trouble practicing civility lately, we are experiencing a much-needed resurgence of kindness and that in itself at least brings my heart peace during this time.

I hope through my own vulnerability, others will pay as much attention to protecting our emotional health as we do have been doing to stay physically healthy. A virus can invade our bodies, but we get to decide whether we let it invade our minds. As for now, deep breaths, we'll get through this.


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