6 April 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

 

Dear Diary,

The note posted next to my desk asks me two questions: “How do I feel?” and “What might I do right now to feel more peaceful?”

The regular reminder to pay attention to myself, to work on positive self-regulation, to meet my needs like I rush around trying to meet my family’s needs is unbelievably helpful. My answers are as wide and broad as the day is long. (And some of the days are REALLY LONG, Diary.)

I might need in any given moment to suspend my incessant Facebook scrolling, to go for a walk, or to stick a pillow behind my back. 

I might need to read a book, snuggle a dog, or take a shower.

But I’ve found one thing I need more often than the rest. Whether I feel tired, restless, uncertain, or scared, there’s one thing I turn to again and again to feel more peaceful.

And I kind of wish it was more profound and deep. Like GOD. Or REGULAR MORNING DEVOTIONS. Or a DISCIPLINED SCHEDULE.

But… most often, I just need a drink.

I’m doing SO MUCH DRINKING in quarantine, Diary. ALL the drinking.

It’s probably not the kind you’d expect, though.

It’s not boozy drinking. Oh, I’ve had a beer with dinner a couple times. The occasional glass of wine from one of the Fancy Bottles I was Saving for a Special Occasion; I figure it doesn’t get more special than a global pandemic. But nothing more than that and definitely not every night. Not because I’m opposed to a drink every night; just because I don’t feel like drinking that way right now, and I’m trying to pay very close attention to what I need instead of just operating on muscle memory and habit. 

But drinking as in consuming fluids? Liquids running down my gullet? 

I’m drinking all the time. Constantly. Every minute of every day.

Coffee with cream in the morning — one small diner mug, freshly ground beans, brewed dark and strong in the French Press to start the day.

Caffeinated tea the rest of the morning. Greens are my latest love. Chai Green. Moroccan Mint. Plain green tea bags. Each with a small spoonful of honey and a splash of milk. 

Decaf for the afternoons and evenings that are cold and rainy. Spice Dragon, mostly, or lower brow teas like Lipton’s Soothe Your Tummy with ginger, peppermint, and fennel… or, before bed, Stress Therapy with camomile, cinnamon, and lavender.

I go nowhere lately without a cup of something comforting along for the ride. One hand is always full, managing the liquid intake. The other hand is free to scroll or cook or write or manage humans.

It’s a habit I’m embracing, this constant drinking. It’s centering. Grounding. The feel of the warm mug. The scent wafting from it. The flavor on the back of my tongue. Like meditation or prayer. A reminder I matter. That my body and brain deserve comfort and care.

Today, I added drinking vinegars to my beverage repertoire. 

I’d never heard of such a thing before last summer when I saw it on a bar menu. And, honestly, it sounded terrible. When I see vinegar, I think salad dressing, not drinking a glass of it. But I like trying new things, so I ordered it, and — surprise! — I loved it.

Drinking vinegar is an infusion of vinegar (obviously), sugar, and fruit or herbs… or both. Added to club soda, it resembles a fizzy lemonade, but lighter. Brighter. Just a little sweet and a little tangy. 

Of course, you can add liquor to it — vodka or gin are great go-tos. But you don’t have to. It’s lovely on its own. 

So I made some, and it was easy.

 

I swiped rosemary from a neighbor’s garden (left on her porch — no humans were seen or touched in the exchanging of goods), and I harvested lemon balm on my daily walk.

I used fruit from my now every-other-week trip to the grocery store.

And, using a 1:1:1 ratio of vinegar:sugar:plants, I assembled three types. Left to right: Strawberry Rosemary Balsamic drinking vinegar, Raspberry Lemon Balm Champagne drinking vinegar, and Strawberry Raspberry Apple Cider drinking vinegar. The only special ingredient I bought at the store was the champagne vinegar… found at our discount grocery store for the win.

I strained and taste-tested this afternoon, and YUM. My kids hated it. I love it. It’s refreshing and pretty and perfect for the warm, sunny days we have ahead, and I don’t have to share ANY AT ALL.

It’s a quarantine win, Diary. 

Cheers,

 

 

 

P.S. Our Fairy Message Mother has an important question for us, friends:

How are you really?

It’s time to check in.

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
7 comments
  1. Today I am feeling sad. Although I am still going to work, today I feel particularly isolated. I have lived by myself for many years now, (divorce 18 years ago, my daughter died 10 years ago and my son has been in prison for 2 1/2 years) so I am familiar with isolation. I have been dreaming about all of them recently, somehow taking myself back to a time that was safe and routine. Well, nothing is routine now is it? I am a nurse, and I work in a clinic whose hours have been cut back so that I am only working there a couple days a week. Recently, I have started working at a Covid testing sight, testing people who think they have been exposed or who are experiencing symptoms. I don’t say this because I want people to think that I am doing “some brave thing”. I say it because it is affecting me so deeply. I see these people come in who are so scared and anxious, people who can’t go to jobs they might have or people with no jobs to which to go. People who are petrified that they may have Covid and wonder if they, or their loved ones will be adding to the death rate. It has given me a much different perspective on isolation for myself. I am deeply grateful to still have my health, still have my job, and yes, my isolation. I feel sad because my heart aches for our world.

  2. I feel like this is a safe space for this. And my husband is working and the kids are all elsewhere in the house, probably not doing their schoolwork. So here goes…

    How I Really Am: I am tired. I am tired physically and emotionally and mentally and spiritually. Some of it is new in the last month and some of it has been there since long before the coronavirus started turning our world upside down. I am tired of cleaning, and tired of not cleaning enough. I am tired of worrying, and tired of worrying that I am not worrying enough. I am tired from getting eleventy million emails from the school district and the teachers and the college, and also grateful that they are staying on top of things and reaching out. I am tired of trying to find the balance between encouraging my kids to stay on top of things (especially the boy-child, who was already lax about completing homework on time) and not stressing all of us out by constantly harping about getting work done.

    I am tired of being called heroic for going to work. (I work in a grocery store.) I am grateful that I am still able to work, and that the store I work for is doing what it can for its employees in all of this. But I am no hero. I am working to make sure that when I am at work, I am polite and kind and upbeat and understanding – because that is always how I try to do my job – but even that is tiring. I am tired of hearing about toilet paper and the lack thereof. I am tired of doing soul-searching every time I sneeze or cough or feel the slightest bit out of breath. Not particularly out of my concern for my own health, but because if I do get sick I need to make sure I pull myself from work immediately.

    I’m sure I had other things I am tired of. But now my husband is home. And the office, where I am writing this, is right inside the front door, between the living room and the kitchen, with no door to shut myself off. Which means I had to pause my typing when he came in. So now I am annoyed that I had to stop the release of expressing all the things that are making me tired.

    Anyway. One of my cousins says our family motto is “I’m fine.” So, I’m fine. And I am tired.

    1. waving!
      I’m fine/tired too.
      But I’ve been tired most of my life, so I suppose that is my motto and I shouldn’t talk about it too much.
      And I suppose I’ve been fine most of my life as well.
      Hug to you, but also waving – all the time.

  3. Your fairy messenger inspired us to paint rocks and leave them along the local bike path. As we walked back to the car many had already been taken home, nuggets of inspiration I hope.

    I too am drinking. Mostly coffee. So much coffee. I think I’ve gained five pounds from coffee creamer. Also wine at dinner nightly.

  4. Umm….. worried, but okay. Maybe needing a tooth pulled. Seven weeks from my due date and wondering what birth in the severest part of the pandemic will look like. Suffering a few financial hits but nothing outrageous and nowhere near as bad as I’ve dealt with in the past.

    On the good front, pleased with the admittedly terrible paint job in the bedroom (never painted before, and we let the kids help. One decided to paint all the door knobs. I yelled because we’d already said no, but secretly, who cares?). I like the colors. I’m happy about the new baby, even if I’m totally not ready. I’m happy about my husband’s new, essential, non-hospital-janitor, electrical union job that pays a lot better and has actual career advancement opportunities, not the imaginary ones the hospital lied about…. I was pretty worried about having a baby before he got it, but the future looks much, much rosier now.

    1. Yay for the good things!– and sending you good vibes for your worries.

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