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What We Not Fidna Do Coming Out of This Pandemic

If we’re doing something with our lives that’s not in concert with our spirits, there couldn’t be a better time to gain clarity and pivot.

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Nicole Miles
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Around the time the COVID-19 news began to intensify, I saw a steals-and-deals-type segment on a morning TV show. A popular bra that retails for around $50 was on sale for half that. I intended to buy three or four but forgot about it until the following day when the offer had already expired.

For about a week I kicked myself for missing out. By that time, though, much of the nation was mostly quarantined, and I was only bothering with a bra periodically when I went out for groceries. Then I realized the missed opportunity was the universe saying, “Chile, hold on to that money.”

Unfortunately, the bra will make a comeback soon enough as social distancing restrictions continue to ease, necessitating “the girls” appear more upstanding. But as I speak to friends and family, we agree that some other things are getting canceled.

Running round to be running round

As the COVID-19 cases continued to escalate, many of us have been content to sit it out. But that cabin fever is real. We hunger for the old days of being able to ping pong, doing what we please. But by getting still, I realized how much of my life was filled with frenetic “chasing” energy that doesn’t serve me. One friend agreed that the stay-at-home orders have given her the gift of time with friends. “I’ve been talking on the phone more in the last eight weeks than I have in the last eight years,” she says. One day a buddy from college drove down, sat in the backyard at a safe distance and we caught up, wearing our masks, neither of us having anywhere else we needed to be.

“Nice for What”

Drake’s video for his song, “Nice For What,” with cameos by Misty Copeland, Issa Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross, among others, addresses all the crap women have been putting up with that led to the #MeToo movement. But beyond sexual harassment, there’s so much mollycoddling we do; so much worrying excessively about other people’s feelings, while failing to speak up when someone trespasses across our boundaries.

One friend was quarantining with her 80-something-year-old father at his home, where she agreed to stay to help out and keep an eye on him. “After three weeks,” she says, “I realized that every time I went to the grocery store, or to pick up prescriptions, he was out there ripping and running.” He tried to get back before she did, but she caught on to what was happening and told him, “I cannot love your life more than you do.” She moved back home to tend to her own garden, which is bursting with chamomile, collard and mustard greens, purple cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pinto beans and much more. The bounty reduces her trips to the grocery store and makes her less reliant on the nation’s burdened food system.

I got a beef with that

One Facebook friend started a conversation thread about conditions at our country’s meatpacking plants, which lack adequate COVID-19 testing. Many of the workers have been forced to stay on the job “to serve the public.” In our online conversation, we expressed everything from concern to horror. I wrote “chopping vegetables,” as I’d already been inching more towards vegetarianism. (Not sure why, but in recent days, I’ve felt like animals have been trying to reach through the space-time continuum to say, “Get off me already.”)

I caught up with a friend who first got me into intermittent fasting to talking about his vegetarian journey. He eats an Ayurvedic diet, which includes whole or minimally processed foods and mindful eating rituals. He turned me on to Ottolenghi’s Instagram page, and to looking for online demos to get me more inspired as I cut out the buffalo wings and spareribs and move into a meatless culinary adventure.

When I think of home

Cocooning on the couch has made many of us more crafty. A friend regularly posts new knitted scarves she’s whipped up, along with a lemon icebox cake her mom used to make. Another one bought a sewing machine and began repurposing vacuum cleaner bags into masks. I’m redoing my backyard, having the ground repaved and creating overhead shade. Time at home has become less a pit stop to shower and relaunch ourselves back into the world, and more a place to restore and recover. Even small acts like sweeping, mopping, cleaning and refreshing have become a means of self-care. While I’ve been sitting around in my pj’s, one friend has ordered special loungewear, “so I can flow in my space, and not be buttoned up like I am at work.”

Time check

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” the poet Mary Oliver asked in her poem “The Summer Day.” As I write this, there are more than a quarter-million people who’ve left the planet in recent months, many of whom assumed there’d be more time. But this period reminds us to incorporate our dreams into today.

One friend, who has been a teacher for much of his career, is looking beyond that role to find one that’s more authentic to who he is now. He’s been toying with the idea of writing a spiritual biography for some time and, as a cancer survivor, is as aware as any one of us that you can be well today and sick tomorrow. The urgency of these times helped me finally finish a book I’ve been working on for more than a decade, and now I’m exploring relocating to a city I’ve always loved. If we’re doing something with our lives that’s not in concert with our spirits, there couldn’t be a better time to pivot, gain clarity and set off on a new adventure.

I remember Oprah once saying that things don’t happen to you, they happen for you. As we look at the unimaginable things now happening to us, let’s also begin to explore with wonder and willingness what might also be happening for us.