I began writing this post on Day 14 of lockdown in Valencia, Spain. I wasn’t sure where to start, or even the goal of where I wanted to finish. I wanted a way to share our lockdown experience, but have been struggling to find the words. I am not really sure if there is a message I want to convey, or if this is more of a record for me. A memory, of sorts. There are definitely things I do not want to forget about this time. And other images and stories that I wish I never saw, read, or experienced.
Here is what is currently going on in our little world.
- The country is on full lockdown. Only essential workers are able to leave the house. Since we live in the city, both drivers and pedestrians are being stopped to confirm why they are out.
- You are allowed to leave the house to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, or to walk your dog. Many of my friends have been stopped on the street and questioned when they have been on their way to the market. The market limits the number of people allowed inside at a time, so you plan ahead to wait at least 45 minutes in a line outside, standing one to two meters behind the person in front of you. There are panes of glass or plastic separating the workers at checkout, from the customers, and hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit.
- It has been said that dogs have more rights than children at the moment. I have not seen a child outdoors for over two weeks. I am quite impressed by how many people are obeying the rules. Dog owners are able to take their dog out of the house, but must stay within 100 meters from home. All parks, including dog parks, have been closed. We carry our ID with our home address as well as our dog’s ID to prove ownership. In an out. 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
- Speaking of walking outside. It has become a dehumanizing, depressing experience. There are days it makes me too anxious and sad to even do it and I forgo those ten minutes of freedom and ask my husband to do it instead. Everything and everyone is a “threat”.
- Spain is the most friendly place I have ever lived. Normally, when a person walks into a doctor’s office or a cafe, they greet everyone in the room with a “buenas!”. You greet your friends, and people you have just met, with two kisses. You hold hands with your friends down the street and kids play freely at the park, while the parents enjoy a coffee together. But today? No one makes eye contact. You slide to the other side of the sidewalk and hold your breath if you are forced to pass by another human being. No one speaks to one another, or even smiles. Our faces are covered. Our hands are shaking. People’s eyes have changed. Constantly looking down at the ground. Shame? Fear? Separation.
It has been an interesting personal journey. The first few days were filled with high levels of anxiety, confusion, a bit of panic and a lot of sadness. I remember calling my mom in tears, the day before we decided to quarantine ourselves as a family. My heart was breaking for Italy. For the world. Doctors were needing to make choices as to who lives and who dies. And everyone is dying alone. WTF. It is a scenario that I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams. Or rather, nightmares. And here we are today, witnessing this nightmare in countries all around the world. My heart is still breaking. And I feel completely helpless. I find it strange though, how this bad news has become part of our new normal. These days, I do my best to limit my exposure to the news and social media. I simply cannot take it all in.
Helplessness has been a common feeling in isolation. Not to be confused with hopelessness. It is challenging for me to recognize that the way that I can help the most is to stay at home. It feels like an inactive stance, but I recognize its power and I am willing to do it for as long as it takes. After all, we are not stuck at home, we are safe at home.
Helpless. When someone we love is unwell, sad, or anxious, our natural response is to be there for them. Physically. With a hug, a homecooked meal, an intimate talk or cuddling up on the couch with ice cream and Netflix. It feels so unnatural to go through this type of global trauma separately from those we love. I decided to fight this helpless feeling by returning to the idea of “bloom where you are planted“. This is a time for me to bloom as an individual. To plant seeds of love within my little family unit. To be a light for my community. The ability to continue to offer yoga to my community has been my saving grace. It allows me to feel connected, to share the gift of hope and healing with others. To continue to grow and bloom, even in darkness. Hopelessness has not been invited into our home.
Hope. A feeling of desire, expectation or trust. Or, in my case, all of the above. I am holding onto hope and faith for a happier, healthier future. I hope that this experience is a collective awakening for the world. A push for gratutitude for the little things we had taken for granted. A step away from the level of busyness and rush we seem to feel compelled to maintain and nurture. An appreciation for nature. A recognition of how little we actually need to be truly happy. After almost three weeks of isolation and lockdown, I have become extremely selective with my time. I spend most of my time playing with Luca or speaking, virtually, with my family. I suddenly have time for yoga every day, which solidifies that fact that I was simply not making it a priority in the past. All of the extra distractions of “normal life” have been removed. All of the social expectations we have put on ourselves, have been taken away from us. We have been gifted white space in our calendars. Time. And now, we get to spend that time reflecting and choosing how we will move forward and fill that space in the future. I have hope for the choice we will make.
Nature. I am writing this section with tears in my eyes. And it is surprising to me that this has become one of my emotional triggers. I have always loved nature. Especially the sunshine and the beach. I could spend all day laying on the beach with the sun on my skin. In recent years, I have begun to crave time in the mountains. Its the silence that my soul needs. The escape. When the ability to walk barefoot on the earth… or dig your toes into hot sand… or bathe in sea water… or stare at the horizon… or watch the sunset, has been stripped from you, it is heartbreaking. Soul crushing. My husband asked me the other day, what I wanted to do when all of this was over. Without hesitation, “go to the beach”, I said. My soul is not craving social interaction, or for my business to thrive, or to go for a night out in the city. My heart is aching to be reconnected to Mother Earth. To breathe endless fresh air and to feel alive with the vibration of the earth beneath my feet. And sunshine. Ahhhh, sunshine!
Lucky for us, we found this small little oasis on the rooftop of our building. Although it is technically off limits, as it is considered a space that could potentially be used for gathering, we find it worth it to hide next to the wall and soak in the sun for a few minutes a day. We even had a picnic over the weekend! And yes, pajamas all day, every day.
After about two weeks of social distancing, the pressure to be productive really started to set in. I saw many of my friends homeschooling their preschool aged children. Honestly? I had not even considered this. I realized that a book I started months ago, lay untouched next to my bedside. I had barely spoken with anyone except for my family. I had not even been catching up on sleep. What exactly was I doing with my time? I tried to incorporate a bit more structure and educational activities in our day, but soon let that go too.
I think we are forgetting the immensity of the situation. The immense emotions we are processing day in and day out. The grief, the sorrow, the anxiety, the hope, the faith, the love. All of it. We need to continue to create space for it all.
I feel most productive when I allow myself to truly experience the moment. There are days where I begin my day with yoga, practice writing with Luca, prepare amazing meals, snuggle on the couch, call my sister and then, out of nowhere, I walk into my bedroom and collapse on the bed. The emotion of it all takes over. All at once. I take a few minutes to filter through what I am feeling and choose one emotion to process. I turn my focus towards truly feeling it. Allowing myself to feel sorrow for those who have lost their lives. Or grief for those who have lost someone they loved without getting to say goodbye and who are now, grieving alone. I process that sorrow. I sit with the grief. And then, I choose gratitude. I count my blessings. I give thanks for my health and safety and the health and safety of my friends and family. In my opinion, there is not much space (or need) for productivity at this time. So, if you have been struggling to be a stay-at-home parent, while juggling your full time job, and similtaneously processing the devastation of this pandemic… give yourself some grace. You do not need to do it all and be everything, all at once. You are doing a great job. Hang in there.
All in all, I don’t hate this lockdown. Honestly, I kind of like parts of it. And I know some of you feel the same way, but it feels weird to admit. Wrapping up almost three weeks of social isolation, I almost feel nervous for it to end. What will the world look like when we are all allowed to go outside again? Will I even want to? I imagine I will continue to feel afraid, and on edge, for quite awhile. How will Luca adapt? We are all so attached at the moment, there will definitely be an adjustment period to let him go… Will I be able to maintain my priorities or will the pressures of “regular life” take over again? For the moment, I am going to enjoy my safe little bubble as I stare out the window and imagine a beautiful future for us all. A future full of laughter, hugs, discovering our beautiful world and most of all, love.
Sending you big hugs and prayers for your health and safety.