BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
When I saw my primary care physician for my annual visit late last year, he asked how I was doing. I mean…of course, he asked how I was doing. But to me, it’s a meaningless question unless you answer it honestly. It’s a limited question unless you answer it in a more existential way. I opted to do both, beginning with the latter. How was I doing?
“Well, let’s see…I am
Concerned about my husband’s chronic health issues;
Weary with being stuck at home;
Tired of wearing a mask;
Sad about a chronically-ill co-worker I deeply admire;
Missing my family back home and my close friends elsewhere;
Troubled by the divisiveness in my country.”
“That will do.”
“Are you depressed?”
Hitching a ride on the perfect segue, I went on to explain, albeit briefly, that I was deeply grateful for the many lessons of 2020, an unforgettable year. He smiled behind his mask, understood that I was in a good place, and moved on to the more practical questions about my health. As it should be, I thought.
My many lessons occupy a virtual “gratitude board,” the one that lives in my heart, fueling my spirit and keeping my joy alive, especially when I take a hit. While the litany of 2020 losses can’t and shouldn’t be minimized, when it comes to inspiring gratitude, last year was the bomb!
I learned or relearned that:
A neighborhood is an eco-system of connection that benefits by my simple gestures and actions;
When a neighbor passes, we can honor their memory and keep them alive in our hearts by telling their story.
Smiling eyes and a simple “How are you doing today?” speaks volumes to that person behind the register.
Septic systems may fail and trees may topple, but helping hands and generous hearts will be there for me.
Desperate times call for desperate measures (ice cream and potato chips anyone?), but I don’t need to stay there….
I have not one, but TWO neighbors who will text me, “I HAVE COFFEE,” when my power goes out.
A cheap bottle of bubbly and a chunk of brie is all it takes to create a pop-up party.
Canines are and will always be the ultimate icebreaker.
Technology is my friend when it means bridging the gap between here and there and seeing my peeps back home.
From sunrise to sunset and everything in between, I belong to nature.
Mint should never, ever be planted in a garden. Grab a pot!
With a strong dose of patience, book club conversation can withstand the quirkiness of Zoom.
Humming and singing to one’s self on an early morning walk sets the tone for my day.
Yoga can be moved from the Y to a friend’s house without missing a beat.
The bathroom cleaning can wait, no, really it can. If my Arizona BFF can Facetime me now, that’s where I should be.
I am strong.
I am vulnerable.
I am kind.
Pandemic be damned! I am who I have always been and letting my quirky little light shine is always the best response.
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