Today is Wednesday, March 18th, and this Saturday, March 21st, is my 66th birthday. For six months I have been planning that my book release would be on my birthday, and it will be. But suddenly it’s not the most important thing in the world to me. My age group is the bull’s eye of the corona virus and so many people are mired in fear. I am, too. That’s why Hunker Down is my new dance. My biggest worry is my dog. Who would take care of my dog if I got sick? I need to keep my head screwed on straight and make good decisions.
It takes some effort to keep my brain from overdosing on catastrophe. Here are some of my Hunker Down dance moves. First stand up straight, put your shoulders back, outstretch one arm and turn off the news. The most important thing right now is what’s happening in your own mind. Sit in silence for some long minutes and walk yourself through your life. Witness yourself. Appreciate your strengths. You are strong. Now put one thought in front of the other and dance through your brain. Wink at your intelligence. Squeeze hands with your emotions. Smile at your nervous system. You are smart. Now do the two-step with your risks. What could go wrong today? What could go wrong in a week? What could go wrong in a month? Make a list of preparations for what could go wrong. Write it down. Focus on the list. Hopefully, mental clarity and prioritizing your options will give you a sense of being in control to the extent that you can be.
Today is my tenth day of self-quarantine and skipping happy hour is flattening my curves. I dream of sitting at a crowded bar, inhaling the respiratory droplets of strangers as I sip a rye Manhattan and read fiction on my phone because it’s a slow news day. In reality, my car is filled with extra bags of dog food, I have a bar of soap in my purse, and I bought a five-pound bag of brown rice. Three weeks ago I went on a tour of a bakery with a group of 20 women friends. No one was wearing face masks or social distancing. Fast forward and we are all living in a different world.
Like the Hokey Pokey, Hunker Down is a dance you do by yourself. To avoid injury declutter your space, clean your surfaces and don’t slip into negativity. Then if you’re still freaked out about losing control of your life, dance on over to your screen, crank up Youtube, and shimmy along with Debbie Doo’s “The Hokey Pokey Song with Actions.” Seriously. The Hokey Pokey is brain therapy. It will cleanse your mind of worry. By halfway through the dance you should be singing along. You cannot imagine how good you will feel. The anxiety of the 24-hour news cycle will be erased, your muscles and bones will thank you, and you will have a fresh perspective on this massive dumpster fire.
Hunker Down is my new dance because it builds my resilience. I want to stay strong, smart and safe. Writing is my knitting. I also need to stay busy. My memoir is called “How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life (or Couples Therapy with a Dead Man).” On Saturday it will be available in all the usual places. This is also the week of the vernal equinox and the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Let’s find new ways to celebrate these precious days.
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