I have some dear, amazing friends who inspire me, but now are, understandably, venting :
“I don’t want to learn new things. This sucks.”
“I don’t want to feel guilty about eating chips and cookies all day or drinking, or sleeping all day or not exercising . If it makes me feel better, and helps me get through a day, I’m going to do it.”
“People are dying. People are sick. I can’t be with my family and friends. People are losing their jobs, their savings. Everything I wanted to do this summer has been cancelled. I’m not going to try to be happy about this and make the best of this.”
“I have a full house of kids. I don’t have one minute of peace. Who has time to find themselves, or learn a new skill. What BS!”
I think we can all agree, it’s a terrible time. We are all doing the best we can to cope and sometimes that’s a minute by minute thing. We get angry and sad or grieve or deny. Who can’t relate to all of those sentiments? I can.
I definitely have my moments too.
So how can I be talking about how to “have a good day”?
Maybe it’s because I’ve survived so many of my own personal health and emotional crisis. Maybe it’s because I spent 40 years as a reporter observing humans at their absolute best and at their absolute worst in times of disaster: 9/11, the mass shootings of children in Sandy Hook, hurricanes, floods, Ebola, the bombing in Atlanta during the Olympics. I’ve seen a lot.
My 63 years of life experience makes me very certain of this:
1) This is not our “new normal”. We are all going through something bad, something terrifying, something challenging together. In challenging times, there are opportunities to help each other through them and learn just what we are made of. We learn who we are when the you-know-what hits the fan
Most of us will survive and come out on the other side of this.
2) And this is the important one: even in crisis, when so much feels out of our control, we still have choices, we get to choose how we live this day.
This hour, this day, is all we have.
Even when things are “normal”, that’s the truth, but most of us don’t acknowledge that or live like that.
What do we get to choose? We can choose to learn exactly what our body and mind need to have as good a day as we can in these particular circumstances.
We can choose exercise so our body produces endorphins to deal with stress.
We can choose foods that will support good health and our immune system.
We can choose to protect our head from too much negative, overwhelming information or violent programming or things that raise more anxiety and fear.
We can choose to engage in play and learning so we have a more optimistic perspective.
We can choose to create new routines to support better sleep and habits to get us through the day.
We can choose if we are going to get stuck, or if we are going to take control and try new things; dare ourselves to survive the best way we can.
Believe me. I know through experience. I have done it all badly before. I’ve made bad decisions, abused my body and soul during my life; and know it’s just not sustainable. It doesn’t work.
It’s a miracle I’ve survived everything I have, cancer twice and plenty of other life threatening stuff. I’m missing lots of body parts. Sometimes I can’t believe I survived it. I’ve gotten it wrong so many times.
Eventually, I just finally learned what my mind and body need to have a good day, and I try to protect that.
I try to do that because the alternative just feels crappy.
So I share what I know. If it helps, I’m glad. If it feels Pollyanna-ish to you, I understand. I’ve been there too.
If you’ve lost your job, if you’ve lost a loved one, there is little solace for that in the moment . We grieve our losses deeply and that is when perhaps the only choice is to breathe, literally put one foot in front of the other and allow others to support us through this time.
But for those of us who are healthy, for those of us who are working at home and even those of you heroically working on the front lines of this pandemic, we are making choices about how we will survive, minute by minute, hour by hour, for better or for worse.
We can choose better.
I dare to choose better. What I wish for you is that you find your way too. Dare to find out what it takes for you, in this time and space, for your mind and body to have a good day. As good a day as you can.
Because this day, is what we have. This day, we get to choose.