Saturday, May 15, 2021

Pandemic Silver Linings

I've known challenges from an early age. At 5 years old I contracted paralytic polio in one of the last epidemics in the United States. Seeing what is happening with COVID, I now believe I was one of the 'breakthrough' cases since I had received 5 vaccines and there was no indication mine was one of the 'bad batches' that happened from a lack of quality control in 1959. I endured years of abuse at the hands of family members from the age of 8 until my father ended his life at the age of 17. Those challenges turned out to be the greatest gifts in my life informing the woman I am today.

At the age of 53, the gift of polio kept on giving as I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards. I experienced a joyous journey of transformation after the diagnosis.

The lessons learned and wisdom garnered throughout those challenges held me in good stead during the COVID pandemic. We looked beyond fear and grief to find the silver linings; the treasures of the experience that will stay with us moving forward in our lives.

Since gyms were closed, we couldn't swim or use cardio equipment. We went outside for runs and walks. There was only one day that the weather prevented us from getting outside. We knew how vital it was to exercise and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine regardless of the weather. Running or walking 3-4 times/week with extra mini walks in between around the neighborhood built strength. Rather than breathing in air with the smell of chlorine, we breathed in fresh air and took into our hearts and souls the change over of the seasons.

Tom worked from home and not having a commute, albeit a short one, gave us time to be together, prepare wonderful meals or do take out enjoying leisurely meals together. Breakfast was unhurried and we were able to do early morning or noon time runs together.

I missed having treatments with my chiropractor who took an extended maternity leave during COVID, but I was able to tap into my body's tremendous capacity to heal from the late effects of polio and trauma connecting to the Divine in deeper ways. I savored that first treatment with her with intense gratitude.

Our meditation practice strengthened in depth and frequency.

We have a deep appreciation for our home and our yard. For the first time, we planted a flower garden. Every time I looked at that little plot of ground, it was a reminder of hope and faith. What excitement I felt as the little sprouts poked through the once frozen earth


 and then bloomed into magnificent tulips.

We planted our tomato seedlings and marigolds in the raised bed we built last year:

We had an incredible harvest last year that we shared with neighbors with masks and social distancing. We developed a greater sense of community in our neighborhood sharing in the somber mood of last year to find ways to uplift each other while keeping apart. This year that connection remains and is transformed into joy and hugs.

We were all challenged to allow our true selves shine through beyond clothes, makeup and hair styles. We were called upon to use humor and ingenuity when it came to our hair. We had many wonderful belly laughs as we attempted to style each other's hair. What an incredible treat to go to the salon after 14 months; an experience I will never again take for granted!

If it weren't for the pandemic, I am not sure how motivated we all would have been to get out the vote as we did. Whatever your politics may be, the truth is our democracy was threatened and incompetence at the highest levels of government were exposed by the pandemic. The power of the vote and 'we the people' was a silver lining that shined through the shroud of darkness hovering over our nation.

As time goes on, I am sure other silver linings of the pandemic will become apparent to me and to us as a global community.  

These past 14 months have tested our mettle while offering gifts and treasures that will forever be a part of the tapestry of our lives.

Here's to healing, hope and infinite possibilities of a transformed world.

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters May 20 and 21st, May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

"Hope is a Garden:Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" along with all of my books to inspire and uplift you is available on Amazon.

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