Yesterday (4-20-20), after calling my doctor with flu-like symptoms, I was given an appointment time and told to go to the drive-through COVID-19 testing center outside Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. Following instructions, I sat in the back seat behind my husband Curt while he drove. We were greeted by a police officer who verified my appointment with waiting medical staff, and then we followed the cone-marked drive to the testing site. The test itself is unpleasant, but quick and painless. We will have results in 4 to 7 days.
On the way home we talked about our strategy for doing what we can to protect Curt, who is currently healthy. Our living space is now divided in half, so Curt is at one end and I am at the other. It’s separate togetherness. We each have a bed and a bathroom, and Curt is now “King of the Kitchen,” which he enjoys. It had been 12 days since I had been out to pick up groceries and a prescription, wearing mask and gloves, and since then we are home full time. Our groceries are now being delivered.
I have read numerous heart-wrenching COVID-19 stories, featuring the difficult decisions doctors must make concerning who gets to use lifesaving equipment. In the middle of this, the word hope came to mind. We need hope no matter what form a crisis takes. I’m anticipating I have no more than the average flu, but if that’s not the case, where do I look to find hope?
Hope is found in our faith in a Higher Power. There is so much out of our control right now that knowing that there is a Higher Power gives me comfort and hope. Keeping ourselves spiritually healthy helps us stay positive, when it is so easy to drown in negative news reports. If we remove our focus from what we can’t control to what is in our control, we improve our mental, spiritual, and physical health. The biggest thing we can control is our attitude. Virginia Satir writes, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope is what makes the difference.” Combining our faith in a Higher Power, with following all the protective health guidelines we are being given right now, fosters hope and hopeful outcomes. Whatever happens, I will embrace it knowing that this is happening for me, not to me.
Hope is found in gratitude. When we take time to look at all the loving relationships, meaningful work, shelter, food, and that package of toilet paper a neighbor sent, we build hope. When we acknowledge the beauty outside our windows, a thriving indoor plant, or the pleasure of comfort food, we lift our spirits. This is the time for a gratitude journal, so we each clarify at least three things we are thankful for every day. When we show appreciation for the kindnesses that are a part of each day, even if we have to look hard to find them, hope thrives. And more shows up to be grateful for, creating an even larger reservoir of hope.
Hope is found in learning from past difficulties. John Maxwell writes, “Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional.” If we can incorporate lessons learned from the past into hope for our present challenge, we strengthen our ability to meet a crisis with courage and compassion. Mistakes can be some of our best teachers because they clarify what we will do differently the next time we problem-solve. Past learned wisdom is an available and valued resource for building hope.
Hope is found in kindness, and that starts with being kind with ourselves. Sometimes we forget to give ourselves credit for what we have done well. This isn’t being conceited – this is being honest in our recognition of accomplishments large and small. It also means we go to bed early when we’re tired, say no to activities we know are not right for us, cry when we need to cry, and ask for help when we’re overwhelmed. Kindness to others is a spirit booster. Right now, when we can’t be together physically, we can reach out with a text, email, Instagram, or tweet. We can make a phone call or do Facetime or Zoom. Sometimes it’s the little kindnesses that mean the most, but whether large or small, they always enhance hope.
So, while I wait for my test results, I will continue to have faith in my Higher Power, practice gratitude, remember lessons learned, and be kind to myself and others (especially my husband who is taking care of me right now!). Hope really isn’t hard to find – it’s everywhere if we are willing to look.
Until Next Time – Sylvia