I’m an old elementary school teacher and principal, having started every day of my career with what we in the business call “Calendar Time.” Each morning, I would gather my students around my rocking chair (during my teaching years) or around the PA system in the office (during my principal-ing years) to talk about the day of the week, the date, the weather, and special events that were upcoming in our school or community.
During that calendar time, we celebrated birthdays and special days (“Today is National Ice Cream Day”), we talked about the weather and the school menu and even gave a book talk on occasion. While these “Calendar” activities may seem pretty, well…elementary…I can tell you, that this training has served me well during the quarantine period of COVID19.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Mack and I have been separated by half a globe during this pandemic. He went on back to Seoul, South Korea after a trip to the States in January, with a plan for me to join him after visiting with the grand kids and delivering an encore Jane Long performance for the Daughters of the Texas Republic. Of course, we all know what has happened in these past weeks.
Unable to safely fly back to Seoul, I am quarantine-ing alone, as is Mack. I’ll report that, I’m not garnering a lot of sympathy from friends and family around the world. Being in our comfortable beach house with plenty of food and electricity and internet, I’ll admit that I’m not suffering much. A daily constitutional through the neighborhood and a late afternoon walk to sit and read on the beach have done much to keep me sane (though there are those who might question that “sane” status). I know how fortunate I am. But, you know…alone is still alone.
Every morning, I wake up at 5:30 and feel of my head to make sure that I don’t have fever (ok, for the first few days, I felt my cheek, pillow-side down, alarmed at the heat generated from having my head on the pillow). As soon as I deduct that I am indeed, at 98.6, not coughing, and not experiencing chest pain, I thank the Good Lord for another day. Before I raise my head from that heat-inducing pillow, I go through my list of gratitudes…my health, Mack’s health, the kids, the grands…a roof over my head and a refrigerator full of goodies.
Then, I try to remember what day of the week it is.
This is where my years in teacher training come in handy. I visualize the poster mounted on the bulletin board behind the rocking chair in my old classroom and try to remember which square I filled in yesterday. I mentally mark the little blank with today’s date, then turn to look out the window to see what the weather might be. Though it is still dark at 5:30, I can see if it’s a windy day or a rainy day. I reach for my cell phone to check the temperature, and psychically choose a paper doll wearing either a bathing suit or a sweater or a rain slicker to place on my virtual calendar. Just like when I did it with Kindergarteners.
Then, I climb out of bed, singing Dolly Parton’s 9-5…”I tumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of ambition…” Well, that’s as far as I get. Though I have a list of hopes and dreams for myself during this time of quarantine, I don’t often get through the list. Some days, just getting up is a victory. And, I’ve decided that is ok.
I’m a goal-oriented person. Always have been. I started out, back on March 17, when I self-quarantined, with a list of things that I wanted to accomplish during this unfortunate time alone. In conjunction with that list, I developed an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of my accomplishments. It had columns headed by such activities as Bible Study, House organizing, Exercise, Sewing projects, Writing, Academic reading, Recreational reading, Create, Meditate…well, you get the idea. I seriously can’t even find the document on my computer…wonder what I filed it under?
Such quarantine gems as, “If I’m going to cocoon, I’d better come out a butterfly,” or “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment,” (Oprah) and “We are building muscle memory for who we want to be when this is over,” (Brene Brown) are inspiring. Sadly, it appears that I will come out of quarantine as a calendarian. My only ongoing accomplishment seems to be knowing the day of the week…usually.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”