May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on (yoga prayer)
Life in California Lockdown
My husband Dan is lovingly encouraging me to get my March blog out. So here I am, on the last day of March writing under the gun, uncertain whether anything will flow from my fingertips, although a few ideas have been floating in my head, with one leading the pack. I can share with you that I’ve been focused these days on what is in my power to do versus what I am powerless over, and one of the things I’m doing is trying to get a daily dose of vital sunlight. All it takes is 15-20 minutes and you’ve got your healthy, essential dose of vitamin D and the mood enhancing compounds that help circadian rhythms and restful sleep. (More on the science below)
I was in a particularly emotional and vulnerable state one day when friend Virginia B sent an encouraging text. She was experiencing anxiety herself and sleepless nights and so we exchanged supportive texts. When I received her text, I was getting ready to go out into the backyard to get my dose of sunlight when all of a sudden the song “Don’t Let the Sun Catch you Crying” came over the TV music channel that I was listening to.
Husband Dan and I getting a dose of desert sunshine:
New Life, New Hope
I was doing the best I could and trying to do things that offered hope and enhanced well being. I had to laugh at the timing of the song and I took it to heart (no time for crying!), but when I saw my newborn grandson over video chat, instead of in person, the floodgates opened.
In a separate incident, when speaking to daughter-in-law Jennifer over the phone about my two year old grandson’s grasp of words and phrases, including I love you, memories came flooding in of her husband at 20 months (my oldest son Ian) telling me for the first time, I love you. I couldn’t help it; tears flowed. The moment is still vivid 38 years later… me sitting in a recliner, Ian sitting on my lap, holding me in a hug, patting me on the back and speaking a toddler gibberish that I finally translated as “I love you.”
Here’s two year old Maverick saying “I Love You” via a tight hug to Papa Dan, and his father, Ian whom I remember saying his first “I Love You” as if it were yesterday:
The Science of Crying
Why do we feel better after a cry? The science says that tears contain a number of stress hormones which reduce the levels of these chemicals in the body. So go ahead and have a good cry! And here is why. If you happen to do some crying outside, I’m sure the sun will be more than understanding and in fact encourage it. It’s good for us.
Strengthening the Immune System:
Outdoor exercise, sunlight, fresh air, connections with family and others are vital to my well being; so, if in a moment of panic and fear, I’m afraid those are going to be taken away and I’m acting or speaking a bit out of balance, I’ve asked friends and family to extend understanding.
I’m told I am a gallivanter; if true, it’s for the sake of sanity:
There’s a lot of good science with respect to the benefits of limited exposure to sun light. I know I’ve been prone to depression if I can’t see blue skies or the sun. When natural sunlight hits the skin, the body’s production of Vitamin D is triggered and mood booster hormone serotonin is also released. Most of us already know about the importance of sunlight, but it’s so important and vital to our health that it bears mentioning again and again. Link here.
On average, there are 269 sunny days per year in Palm Desert, so no wonder it’s a retirement mecca (minus the blistering summers!).
Figuring out what’s in my power:
Staying focused on what is in my power to do: each day is centered around a discipline and routine that helps me stay sane. A two mile morning walk, facing in the sun’s direction whenever possible, serves as a mood adjuster and beneficial start to the day. While walking, I inwardly count my blessings: I’m out in fresh air, the sun is shining, and I have two good legs to walk on. I greet everyone I pass with a wave and a smile. I come home and have a healthy breakfast. I’m keeping it simple.
Since I recently moved my northern California household down to our desert retirement home, I have boxes and cartons to go through. I focus on unpacking only one each day and that is enough. What’s the rush? I’m on lockdown. In the afternoon, if the spring winds are not gusting, my husband and I take a five mile bike ride through the closed golf courses here in Sun City. This is an unexpected blessing to be sure.
Importance of fellowship:
Hankering for some fellowship, I wrote a friend, Sharon E, asking her if she would like to walk through the golf course with me and she replied yes! We walked holes 1-9 of our main golf course, and basked under the sun, breathed in the spring air, and imbibed all the verdant lushness surrounding us. It felt so good afterwards as if I’d had a good cry 😂In addition to missing my family and kin, it was also friendships I was missing and I told Sharon that I needed my heart-to-heart connections and without them I felt rudderless. Of course I’m not surprised to see many friends walking two by two through the golf courses in our community.
People are finding ways to avoid isolation, and Zoom meet ups have become lifelines for many. I’ve participated in Zoom yoga, ukulele, meditation and Alanon meetings and I don’t know where I would be without them. I’m the type of person who can not abide isolation or loneliness, and personally feel that stress, isolation, depression, and loneliness are damaging to the immune system. I call them the silent killers. No one said life was going to be easy, but this quote from my daily reader put the current stressful climate in perspective for me: When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. (Courage to Change, March 23)
The silver lining to technology:
By far, the most important lifeline to emotional and mental well being for me right now is to engage in video chats with my children and grandchildren, and I’m connecting with far flung friends as well – Suzette in Boston (who just went through lung surgery, God bless her), and Molly who is in Paris under a far stricter lockdown than folks in California. My daughter, husband and three children made their move to Texas under stressed and harried circumstances, and video chats with them mitigate the pangs of separation.
Missing my daughter and family – remembering good times:
I’ve had to let some things go by the wayside temporarily such as reading my favorite blogs; I just don’t have the energy. Any energy I have is being used to connect with the dearest people in my life. My ninth grandchild was born March 22 and I can’t wait to meet him. He is the first grandchild that I have not seen hours after his/her birth. This causes so many emotions to arise and I get all choked up.
This too shall pass
I heard a quote last night from a meditation teacher – “Faith is the bird that sings in the dark to the dawn.” How beautiful! Simple, to the point, like my life has become, but with hope for the light of dawn.
So many unknowns; my family contemplates the future that now includes a new baby for one and a new home state for another:
One day this too shall pass and in the meantime, I’m sure the sun will bear witness to gushing rivers of tears until we, humanity, emerge from this dark tunnel, but still the song rings in my ear:
Don’t let the sun catch you crying, the night’s the time for all your tears
Your heart may be broken tonight but tomorrow in the morning light, don’t let the Sun catch you crying
Anyone remember the 1964 song by Gerry and the Pacemakers? Well, here you go.
Do you have a focus that is your lifeline right now? I’d love to hear about it.
May you always have health and the love and comfort of family and friends, and of course, may you always have the wind at your back.
Love and Blessings,