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Finding My Elixir for Calm during a Pandemic

We have been social distancing in our home for 3 weeks now. Groceries arrive through the online service Instacart and are supplemented periodically when necessary by only one of us….and it is not me. I have not ventured out of my home except to walk my dog.

I would like to believe that by doing so I have kept my home free of infectious and contagious disease.

What has remained infectious in my home is my husband’s laughter. He always sees the funny side of most things in life. Corona is the exception. Our conversations regarding this pandemic are sober and sad. It is why we try to focus away from the fear and panic we all feel.

We are both working from home now. He is holed away in an upstairs office with the door closed while I am working from a kitchen table. We see each other for a lunch break and then break away from it all by 5:00 pm.

But every day I can hear him on the phone – mainly with his work partner – and I am given a reprieve from the horror we are all in when his laughter fills the air. They have been partners for thirty years and know each other well. They work in the financial advising industry; not exactly a laughing matter these days. Another layer to the pandemic for those with investments and 401k plans.

I always find myself smiling and chuckling when I hear the laughter resonating from upstairs. I know it is the usual banter that happens when they are together in their office space…. keeping life as it was before the you know what hit the fan. It is as powerful and soothing as meditation or that walk I take.

Right now, we have the luxury of having our health and the health of all of our loved ones intact. I understand we would not have this infectious laughter in our home if one of our loved ones or acquaintances were sick or had passed.

In this moment, I appreciate the laughter. It is my best escape. The laughter is what is keeping me sane. It’s my elixir. It is the best medicine I can find to fight against this virus from my privileged safety and isolation. I know our health care workers do not have that luxury.

I have other sources of great comfort and what I put under the category of silver linings -although that may seem like a trite description. I simply do not know what else to call the things that have made me stop and be grateful.

Over the course of the past two weeks, I have encountered on two separate occasions a neighbor willing to help without being asked. On a social distancing walk, I passed my neighborhood friends playing outside on their driveway with their children. We asked one another if there was enough food and how everyone was managing. I expressed how I wished I had a freezer so I could stock up on frozen vegetables etc., “We have an extra dorm sized freezer we aren’t using. Would you like it?” Two hours later, it was delivered to my front yard.

New neighbors were out walking another day when our paths crossed, albeit 12 feet away. She is newly pregnant, and I haven’t seen them to congratulate. Again, we were discussing everyone’s health and safety and having enough food in our homes to last a few weeks.

I mentioned that I don’t leave the house and that hubby is responsible for any grocery shopping in a store but that I am still nervous with him going out of the house. They asked if we could use some gloves. We have been unable to find any, so I gratefully accepted their offer. An hour later, I had a package sitting at my front door.

This is what we mean by #alonetogether.

Speaking of bringing the relief of humor into your life during a crisis, today I finally took some time to check Massachusetts’ own John Krasinski YouTube videos for his news report on SGN…Some Good News. It is impossible to watch his videos without smiling if not belly laughing. Check it out. youtu.be/F5pgG1M_h_U

I would be amiss if I didn’t give a plug to the best feel good show I have ever experienced. Schitt’s Creek just wrapped up their sixth and final season. As a biased Canadian, I think it is a show that covers topics of family, friendship, and love in a heartwarming and brilliant way that makes me proud. It makes Corona disappear for a few blessed hours. www.netflix.com/title/80036165. I intend to re watch all six seasons for the 4th time during this confinement.

There are many feel good stories online. You will find them easily if you know how to google. And if you like to laugh and find it a good stress reliever, you will have a plethora of social media stories and videos that will fit the bill.

I spend time each day connecting usually via email to friends/family. I concentrate on sending what I like to think of as “kind mail” to at least two people and then rotate through the list every day. It isn’t everyone’s ‘thing’ but it proves very therapeutic for me. I don’t need to get replies. It is my own gift to myself.

I have also ramped up cooking now that I have a good supply of groceries in my house and nowhere to go. My daughter is a food blogger and recipe developer and I am closing the 600-mile distance between us by cooking ALL her recipes. It gives me a sense of connection and helps lessen the anxiety.

Comfort foods really do impart comfort. I can testify to these healthy and easy recipes that are delicious.

Healthy Clam Chowder soup, using cauliflower at thebespokebites.com/easy-clam-chowder-low-carb/ or a low carb satisfying Burrito Bowl at thebespokebites.com/easy-low-carb-burrito-bowls/ or for a sweet ending,  thebespokebites.com/keto-orange-olive-oil-cake/ and one of my favorites, thebespokebites.com/keto-peanut-butter-blondies/

If you want to try a low carb and delicious cauliflower ‘mac’ and cheese dish, check it out. www.goodmorningamerica.com/food/story/keto-friendly-comfort-food-recipes-taste-texture-favorites-69332808

I ended up with a half a gallon of cream and seven large heads of garlic. This is what happens when you sometimes must hand control over to a stranger shopping for your food. I did not order this quantity of either product but that’s okay. I also have three giant heads of cauliflower so I am busy finding ways to combine all three.

Another task I took to in the kitchen was getting out my sprouting jar. It is easy to sprout seeds and it is pleasurable to watch something grow that you can eat in a few days and is exposed to only your hands. You can find sprouting jars, lids, and seeds online through Amazon.

For the present, these things are beneficial during an uncharted time. You will have your own safety nets. Find your elixir for dealing with this crisis, for staying sane and keeping hope at the forefront. If you can safely reach out to anyone you know having a difficult time, especially a vulnerable elder, please spread the hope and support and a healthy dose of laughter.

*Both the Lawrence and Danvers Information Services/Age Information departments are available to assist our consumers, all professionals, and our community partner agencies during this Coronavirus crisis. Our dedicated staff is working remotely but nothing changes in the ways they can help.

*To reach our Information Services Department in Danvers:  please call 978-750-4540; email info@nselder.org or make a web referral via our website at nselder.org/contact-us/referral-form/.

*To reach our Age Information Department in Lawrence:  please call 978-683-7747 or email info@esmv.org

 

Author Info
Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne’s background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. “I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you’ll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services’ audience.”