Florida. 4pm on a Sunday.
We do not speak of Quarantine like we do not speak of fight club.
We call it “The Q” as if it were an exclusive members only club where the drinks are poured early and strong. We all having matching “Q” outfits. It’s called spandex. Our hair is coiffed and styled by dry shampoo. Our socks don’t match.
At first, “The Q” was everything I had wanted. Down time. Home time. More time. However, an hour into it, I would have traded my car, my home and my earthly belongings for anything in aisle 4 of TJMaxx.
The loss of my normal outlets has caused me to be introspective in a way I am not comfortable with. I am an extrovert. I gain energy and strength through interactions with others. I don’t do ‘alone’ well. I don’t do down-time well. I don’t do isolation well. And now I find myself in Florida – far away from my big high-heeled DC life and my big DC clients and all the bells and balls that comes with it – to care for and protect my bedridden father and my mother who, while healthy, is at 85 years old half a crayon from a full box and when happy hour begins, starts throwing out the rest of the crayons at warp speed.
Add an 8 year old and my home based career and you’ve got a recipe for a total and utter
Today is day 51.
I keep reading about people finding their inner joy, their inner calm, learning to bake or knit or pave the driveway. People are learning arial trapeze… knitting their dog’s fur into afghans….. declawing armadillos…. whatever.
A few months ago, while getting ready for two big events: a fashion show and a retirement party – both of which were cancelled – I signed up for a twelve week HIIT (high intensity interval training) regime online. (HeatherRobertson.com if you’re a masochist like me.) I finished in ten weeks. (I’m a bit of an overachiever.)
Looking for something new to occupy my mind and time, I decided to give yoga a shot.
Back up. I don’t do “down-time.” I rarely watch tv. I never watch movies. I don’t enjoy sitting by the dock of the bay for days discussing the reproductive life of a firefly.
I have things to do.
Five minutes into my first mindfulness breathing yoga routine, I was less focused on my nostrils and instead on my lack of toenail polish and who Brad Pitt was currently dating.
I hated it.
Then an ad popped up for someone I had followed years before. Her name is Adrian – I don’t know her but she’s quirky and free on Youtube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8sC_bhpCYQ) More importantly, she had a series I could follow so I signed up.
The first video was “Yoga for a Broken Heart.”
And so we began.
Fifteen minutes into it, I was in some downward facing pigeon position with my knee in my chin and my foot halfway up my ass and I was balling my eyes out.
Apparently I had a Giant Broken Heart.
I was feeling all the things I stay so busy to avoid feeling.
I don’t want to feel things. I don’t want to feel my father’s brokenness as he runs his last lap in life. I don’t want to feel my mother’s brokenness as she struggles to let him go after 65 years. I don’t want to feel my daughter’s sadness as she plays alone on the living room floor. I don’t want to feel my physical hunger from my eating disorder. I don’t want to feel my aching hips from lifting my 6’2″ 190 lb father. I don’t want to feel the absolute soul crushing pain of my broken heart from a long distance relationship with no end in sight. The pain from loneliness, disappointment, broken dreams, broken promises, broken everything.
As I tried to distinguish the liquid running down my nose (was it sweat? was it tears? was it blood? IS THAT BLOOD? am I supposed to see my right ankle over my left thigh in this position?), I tried to breath through the physical and emotional pain.
Ten seconds later I said screw it and went for a run.
The ocean was the most perfect shade of sea foam green. The sun was starting to set by now – “magic hour” as my photographers tell me – and it was beautiful. I forgot about my big broken heart and just let it go.
This is where I tell you that where you are is ok – that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle – that the sun will rise tomorrow – that it’s all going to be ok.
This isn’t that post. First, God doesn’t throw cars or cancer at us just to see which we can dodge. We have to deal with all KINDS of things that are beyond our comprehension or reach. Bad things DO happen to good people – all the time. All The Time.
Sometimes, we just have to put our big girl panties on and grow up. Sometimes, we have to cry or yell or run or find whatever self care things we need to get through the day.
My father, a long since retired minister, would make struggling and suffering cadets memorize Romans 5:4 which says this:
“…also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE.”
We’re going to come out of this with so much freakin character.
And we can all use a little more HOPE.
I can’t tell you it’s all going to be ok tomorrow. Here’s what I do know: First, in times of adversity, we see leaders emerge. Innovators. Game changers. World changers. Is that you? Is it me?
Second, if we persevere long enough, hope will come.
My father used to preach a sermon leading up to graduation week. It was about peaks and valleys and mountain tops. We live in the valley. It’s where we work and grow. We “lift our eyes to the mountains” and hiking up those mountains, as laborious and exhausting as the climb is, provides incredible highs and breathtaking vistas. The mountain top is where we celebrate life’s great victories: graduations, engagements, weddings, promotions, retirements, reunions – all the joy that makes the climb and struggle worth it. But what happens when we get there and the mountain top is closed? When the party is canceled? We keep climbing. Like a long cross country road trip, even though the central plains are pretty flat, we know the mountains are coming. If we keep driving, if we persevere through the valley a little longer, if we climb a little higher, we will reach a new summit, a new mountain top – and the view will make it all worth it.
The mountain top will come. I promise. And more importantly, that’s God’s promise to us.
May your yoga pants be your flying carpet and your scrunchy be your superhero cape as you climb.
May the sun rise brighter and warmer tomorrow as YOU rise.
And run to win.