We have all seen a movie or three where the main character is in prison, usually solitary confinement, and the character decides s/he will not be broken. Instead of going mad, the person makes a conscious decision to come through their situation smarter and stronger. Ever notice how the character starts to feel better as soon as the decision is made? Our brains are amazing and that kind of thinking works in real life too.
Kentucky, along with several other states has mandated social distancing. Every non essential business is closed. Schools, Day Cares, Retailers, (other than essential business, such as grocery, gas and pharmacy and medical) are all closed. Churches, gyms and salons, all closed. It is tough and also a little scary. Some of us are starting to feel like prisoners in our own homes and yet we have a choice. We can focus on the negative and suffer decreased mental health and vitality or we can set our mind to come through this smarter and stronger.
I am seeing kindness at a higher level coming from my neighbors and in my community. When I take my dog out for a run more people are smiling and waving. I see oodles of people out walking, running or cycling with their families or on their own. A good friend and I have been for some walks, I take one side of the street and she takes the other. Most homes have a stuffed bear or two posted in a window so that parents can take kids out on a “bear hunt” (the grown-ups are enjoying it too). These little bits of positivity that we can share are helping us get through the days.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is giving the state a daily update at 5:00 each evening. He starts each update the same way. He reminds us, “We will get through this and we will get through it together.” He isn’t sugar coating anything when he tells us the number of new cases of covid-19 and if there have been any deaths in the past 24 hours. He tells us what we as individuals and families need to do, not just for our own sake, but for the health of everyone. I admire the way he gives it to us straight but doesn’t try to control us with fear. When he doesn’t know an answer, he admits it. I trust him and I haven’t trusted a politician in a very long time.
One of the things I miss is going to the gym to work out on my non-running days. My cardio machine of choice is the Stair Master where I typically impose my own version of torture for 30 minutes intervals. I was trying to think of an alternative exercise I could do with no equipment and with social distancing. The light bulb came on and I headed over to the high school football field that is a few miles away. Usually the area is open and no one minds if people go run a few laps on the track. My plan was to use the steps of the stands as me make-shift Stair Climber. It was locked up as tight as a drum (as we Kentuckian’s like to say). I was discouraged for a minute but then decided I could go to the football field a few miles away that belongs to the other local school district. The result was the same, I , along with everyone else, is currently locked out.
By then I was on a quest to find some stairs, I knew there had to be a solution. I drove a mile or two over to a local park thinking that while the bleachers there wouldn’t have as many steps, it would be better than none. The gates were closed and locked. Being the stubborn person that I am, I didn’t give up.
I thought of another possibility even though it was a long shot. I had only been to that particular place (which I won’t name here) a couple of times and wasn’t sure about finding any bleachers there. I arrived and found a few people walking around the designated walking path. I was pleased to see all were social distancing, but I was again disappointed to see that there were no bleachers.
Then I spotted the most simple thing and it was the bright spot in an already good day. At the back of the building there is a set of stairs. Twenty-three steps that led to a door with no handle on the outside. It was an emergency exit and it was perfect for what I needed. After going up and down for five minutes I started praying for different people. Quick , concise prayers, each one starting as I traveled up the stairs and each concluded before I reached the bottom. I did this for twenty minutes before I checked my watch again. I decided I could do five more minutes and I did. I finished with legs that felt like jello and a sense of accomplishment.
I can’t do everything the same way I did a few weeks ago but I can find new ways to be good to myself and encourage others. This old dog is learning new tricks.
That was on Thursday, not everyday will be as good. I had a really down day on Monday and I may have some more days that are rough, some will likely even be terrible, but I have decided that Governor Beshear is spot on. “We will get through this and we will get through it together.