This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other. - Brené Brown
When everything escalated with the global crisis brought by COVID-19 in my personal life, it was exactly a month ago. I feel that there were neither time to think nor space to re-evaluate decisions that have been made. All I knew was this sentence: you are leaving Jakarta and your husband is staying. The next thing I know is just ‘going with the flow.’ For the past four weeks or so, I was moving along to the direction of the wind. It started with my daughter’s school in Jakarta switching to online learning, workload still is churning, and our household can still order food and groceries delivered. An impromptu swim party with cake and ice cream celebrating our daughter’s 9th birthday became the final marker between “before the evacuations” and “after the evacuations”. Little do we know that this will be the last chance for our neighborhood kids’ laughter filling our pool area at our residence.
Arriving back to the states
It was a tearful temporary goodbye and intense bear hugs when we rode our taxi going to the airport at break of dawn to head back to the states for my daughter and I. As hard as we wanted to keep the family together in Jakarta, the government has made the final decision for us. My daughter, Elise and I were able to join a few other families (we know from our community) on two legs of our journey. The trip was somber and the airports were like ghost towns. We were wearing facial masks and very thoroughly wiping down every inch of surface we come in contact within the airplane ride.
The mild weather of California has been a nice respite. A dose of sunshine, clean air and fresh water from the faucet were very welcoming.
Self -development courses, fitness classes, kids activities and many other things to occupy us during quarantine (all offered virtually) abound
While toilet paper became scarce, as well as personal protective equipment for health care workers – it seems to me that attention-getting TV shows such as the Tiger King, virtual museum tours and concerts, drawing classes, and other activities to keep us all busy and supposedly sane are sweeping the social media pages. Even at workplaces, tips on how to telework, and many other activities that are now labelled as “the new normal” are filling up our work and personal e-mail inboxes. I feel suffocated. I feel overstimulated. I even began to question my self if I am being lazy!
I would not state that I have experienced is far more traumatic than others. In fact, this global pandemic affected all people across nations, socio-economic status, and industries. Is it our nature during this time and age to still focus on productivity, being the best home learning parent to our children, Avant Garde home chef dishing out delectable dishes, and the super remote worker bee? At first, I thought, yes, I am going to be super productive at my work (remote), take advantage of those virtual fitness classes, webinars, and read a gazillion books!
Out of this noise, I found peace and extended grace to myself. I have a daughter who, just like me has undergone a major transition. We are not on a regular homeschool curriculum, we are on crisis home learning mode. The first two weeks of being back stateside, our bodies were coping from the jet lag, the stress it absorbed and continue to absorb being quarantined, hearing the news of COVID-19 cases, and grocery items we have to wait for 3 weeks before it could be delivered. My husband is still in Jakarta. I even started noticing friends and other family members who have reached out to check on things – this global crisis brought out the real connections we have in life. Looks like my holiday e-mail distribution list just became shorter. When I was able to regroup myself even partially, I started hosting Happy Hour Fridays with close friends and it is wonderful!
REAL CONNECTIONS is what matters during this pandemic. I am trying to connect with my daughter so that this experience becomes memorable for her and I would want to be her role model of truly hitting the “pause” button. Afterall, this is only a once in a lifetime experience to be had. I trust that she is not behind with her academics. We will go with what we can manager and enjoy each day being mindful and present rather than thinking too much of what will tomorrow bring.
Social Media Group Forums
When I was culling resources for home schooling, fitness classes, recipes, resiliency tips – I admit that the social media forum groups are immensely helpful! But they cause me anxiety in the process. From the stimulus checks being distributed by the federal government, a spouse worrying about his US visa interview schedule when embassies are limiting office hours, losing jobs, job interviews, and many others. I know these things are relevant to each person’s priorities -- I get it. My solution, if I could not control the situation, I let go. I was being helpful at first by putting my $0.02 in the conversation…then I feel emotional attachments to responses and feedback…for now I am going to channel my responses through my writing here on my personal blog. Somewhere down the road…I know that this is a good outlet for me in practicing self-expression and mindfulness during this time.
I surrender myself in the pursuit of self-care, the call of my Muse, and to what fills me with JOY.