Friday Dispatch: March Again
How are you recalibrating?
Friday greetings, dear reader.
So, my sister and I signed up to run a 10K this spring.
Three years ago, I went grocery shopping.
Bear with me, as these things are related.
* * * * *
Getting groceries might sound inconsequential. But that particular grocery shopping trip would be the last in-person for well over a year. I remember walking through Whole Foods, strangely wide-eyed, wondering what this thing was. Was it floating between me and the other shoppers in the store, right that very moment?
Within a day or two of this, everything closed down.
Taking walks with my 13-year-old son through town. The only other time we'd experienced such empty streets and quiet was Christmas. Maybe Thanksgiving. He and the neighbor kids had driveway picnics with separate blankets.
Both kids catapulted into isolation.
Everyone adjusted to Zoom classes, all of us in different rooms on our computers. Words like "social distancing" became part of our everyday lexicon. We pored over the news, watching the numbers rise and rise. My work, already virtual, continued, laced with a newfound sense of urgency and even purpose. We needed connection. Creativity. Community.
I started writing these dispatches, numbering the days.
A scratchy throat propelled me to gather up all of my passwords into a spreadsheet. You know, in case I died.
We were very low-risk, in terms of exposure. But the fear, the not knowing – how long will this last? How bad will it be?
I began taking long early morning walks.
These morphed into runs, my usual two miles stretching into three, then four, amazing myself at five. I began adding a mile on Sundays, until by summer I ran a half-marathon on the first of August to kick off a month of not working.
There was no bib, no fanfare, no strangers cheering me on with Dixie cups of Gatorade, and no finish line to cross in tired triumph; just me and my AirPods and an app tracking the miles, cows on the Hampshire College campus farm, and a mighty sense of accomplishment.
I did that.
* * * * *
To be honest, the two years after that blur together.
Somewhere in there my knee protested all the running without proper stretching or accompanying strength training. I went to PT, reverted to walking, then surrendered to some relatively sedentary seasons.
All the while, everything kept changing; the world picked back up its unreasonable pace, vaccines led to boosters and boosters to backlash and arguments over whether the pandemic was over or not and variant after variant until we stopped bothering to remember their names. Long Covid continues to irrevocably alter the lives of untold numbers of people.
One kid graduated from community college. We sat on her bed wiping tears the night before moving her into a dorm at her first-choice school, where we'd screamed with joy upon reading the admissions email welcoming her to the class of 2024.
The other kid absorbed the pressure of linking two households, podded by virtue of co-parenting, and turned to hand-washing and long bike rides as coping mechanisms.
Thousands of other moments colored these three years.
I still haven't had Covid, nor have my spouse or kids. I only recently began selectively unmasking indoors for the occasional coffee date or meal out. We are doing our best to navigate the between.
* * * * *
Yesterday – March 9, 2023 – 590 people died of Covid in the US.
* * * * *
It's March again.
Tuesday morning, I ran three miles. I was surprised to average an 11-minute mile. My sister texted, "Did my first training- 9 minutes!" I wrote back, "You did that!" This, our shorthand for, well, everything.
Three years ago, we were about to tumble into a time when "unprecedented" became the word du jour, when everything felt raw and surreal, when a soaring desire for collective care on a monumental scale (we're all in this together) banged up against the inequities and polarities that have always underscored American life (the haves and the have nots, the scientists, the conspiracists).
* * * * *
Now: A new spring. A new beginning. Running again.
This time not because it's my only chance to safely leave the house but because it clears my head, which is as crowded as ever with questions and thoughts, and because it brings me back into my body, the body I have worked so hard to protect, the body that does so much so uncomplainingly for me, every single day.
In the heyday of my pandemic runs, I fantasized about doing a marathon somewhere beautiful – Hawai'i, say, or San Diego, or France.
Now, I don't feel so ambitious, but today, as I met the lull of two miles only to step into the momentum of a third, I remembered how good it feels to move, how good it feels to find that steady footfall, that singular focus, that breath, that heartbeat.
Alive, alive, alive.
I may not yet be able to see the possibilities of where this aliveness will take me. But, God willing, I am here for the finding out.
Three years in, how are you recalibrating your writing + life as the world spins madly on?
How might you benefit from having a coach who will hold space for your process –or help you figure out what your process even is?
Your being matters. Your words matter. Your time here matters. Your voice matters.
Shabbat Shalom and love,
p.s. I met with a prospective client this week who found me through LinkedIn. She basically wants a cheerleader and someone to help her stay accountable to her self-appointed writing goals, and she said she contacted me because she liked my holistic, even spiritual approach. We had such a lovely conversation and she's going to get back to me today. While obviously there is wee bit more to coaching than pom-poms, in some ways that is at the heart of my work. And I love it. (If only I could do a cartwheel.) Learn more on my website.
Reading: The dehumanizing effect of dominant culture by Shay Stewart-Bouley
“Know Yourself, Free Yourself” Starts Next Week!
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“Here’s an artifact from an invaluable coaching session with Jena Schwartz that started out about writing and ended up being about living. I am grateful, centered, and energized.” ~ Jill Resnick
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