Podcast: Sharing About My Family’s Experience with Covid with Lisa Renee of GingerMysteries

This past year has been an experience of trauma upon trauma on our individual and collective levels. I believe that talking about it – sharing our stories, sharing our fears, sharing our experiences will pave the way to our individual and collective healing.
Lisa Renee of GingerMysteries invited me on her podcast, Transcending the Ordinary, where she has been chatting with guests about their experiences with the pandemic. I’d love to invite you to listen in as Lisa and I chat about my family’s experience with Covid. I also share about the guilt and shame I’ve felt around not being able to emotionally cope, despite the fact that my family came through the illness well.
Wherever you are in this period that we’re going through, support is available and love abounds.

Transcending the Ordinary Podcast: My Family's Experience with Covid

by Lisa Renee and Amber Diehm Heuer

The Dream Where I Left My Shoes On the Plane

I shared recently about the difficult things I’ve been moving through, and received such kind, gentle, supportive messages from so many readers. Thank you. Wow… every single one gave me pause and made me feel truly heard, received, and cared for.

Moving through this time and experience reminds me of our horse pasture when I was young… when the snow melted in the spring, treading down to the barn in knee-high rubber boots, trying not to have your boot sucked right off your foot by the mud. In some ways it is really slow-going, sticky, messy, and feels like I have to be incredibly mindful of my footing, but I know to my core that healing is happening within. While it’s tough, it’s a hopeful and positive kind of tough. I’m so grateful.

Last night I had a dream. It was one of those travel dreams where you’re completely unprepared. Have you ever had that dream before? In this one, I didn’t have enough packed, I didn’t know where I was going, had never been there before, I probably didn’t have a ticket or my passport, and I was traveling alone. Then as I walked out of the arrivals security gate and into the airport, I realized I’d forgotten my shoes on the plane! There was no way to get them back. It was startling, and then I heard a younger girl, who also just arrived in, crying to her grandparents that she had forgotten her shoes on the plane. My ears perked up. Her grandpa said to her something like, “It’s okay, dear. That’s why they make shoe stores!” There happened to be a shoe store in the airport, and he was going to take her there. I was so grateful to have overheard that nugget of wisdom, and though it wasn’t ideal since I’d have to break in a new pair of shoes during a trip, it was exactly what was needed at that time to handle the situation at hand.

Later in the dream, I arrived at my resort. It was the most popular resort in the area and had capacity for more people than anywhere else. The line to check in was really long, but I got into line and stood to wait. The line was so slow that the person in front of me and I fell asleep as we waited. As we did, she sort of leaned backward into me and I sort of leaned forward into her and we were supporting each other in standing as we leaned into each other and dozed. I woke (in the dream) feeling embarrassed, but realizing that she had fallen asleep on me too, and so I just closed my eyes to doze a little longer since I didn’t want to wake her anyway. 

When I awoke this morning and thought about the dream, I had some negative self-talk. “I’m so unprepared,” “I don’t know where I’m going,” “I can’t seem to take care of myself,” etc. (Do you ever say these things to yourself too?)

But as I began to write my Mornings Pages (a daily ritual from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron) and process the symbolism, it hit me that the dream was not about me being inept. It was actually really heart-warming. It was my March Essence Card!

Fellow Travelers card from "Sacred Traveler Oracle Cards" by Denise Linn

From “Sacred Traveler Oracle Cards” by Denise Linn

The dream was reminding me that, even when I don’t know where I’m going and even when troubles come up, I’m not alone. There are countless souls helping to guide me along, like the wise shoe-store-knowing grandpa. And there are countless souls there to offer me support, like the sleepy gal in the line. And you all with your beautiful messages. Even when I go through something alone, I do it with a universe full of fellow travelers. Seen. Unseen. We all do. 

After I wrote out my dream in my Morning Pages and wrote out my reflection on this, I decided to think through and write out who all had guided and supported me in the last week or so. I wrote about:

? My Reiki Master-Teacher, Kathleen McLean, who texted me with a “warm fuzzy,” and I really felt it.
? My hubby who talked me through worries I have about going into public spaces, even though we have covid antibodies right now.
? Mia Countryman, a colleague and friend, who was a gentle and gracious accountability buddy with me last week.
? Two of my longest-time best friends, Karen and Susan, who got me out of my house and into the sunshine for a walk yesterday.
? The books How to Break Up with Your Phone and The Artist’s Way, both of which I’ve been sponging up lately and utilizing as very helpful tools during this healing time.
? My therapist, Maggie Conrad, who uses vocabulary that helps me frame my experiences and provides me with useful resources like this article: “30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts“.
? My mom, sister, and nephew, who got me laughing so much in our family video chat last night. They then had me do a little skit that I used to do when I was a kid, which made them laugh so hard too.
? Sweet personal messages from Sheila, Carlyn, Kathleen, Connie, Monica, Heidi, and Dinae. Thank you!
? My son, who, even at age 8, is always ready with great conversation, and always up for an adventure, even if it’s just a walk around the block. We’ve done that almost every day lately. And who tells me, “I love you,” at least 30 times a day. It’s like the research that shows that speaking kind words to plants helps them grow – these loving words make me feel like a little daisy soaking it up like sunshine and stretching her little leaves and petals open wide.

I’d like to share with you soon a very simple technique I’ve been working with this week for anxiety as it pops up. I see possibilities for it also being useful for physical pain, grief, anger, even things like focus / attention /distraction issues. Would this be helpful for you? Reply back and let me know.

Until then, I send you so much gratitude for being my Fellow Traveler as we navigate this messy, wonderful, sacred journey together. Keep your eyes, ears, and hearts open because ​​​​​​support is all around you!

What Trying to Get Back on Track Looks Like

I thought I’d share a personal note today. It might be an unpleasant read, but, I remind myself that this is just a middle part. Not the end of the story – just somewhere in the middle.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you see and hear around you things that mirror what you’re going through?

This week I binge-watched Firefly Lane on Netflix. It’s a 10-episode series about two best friends, and it spans their friendship from high school to their 40s. Yesterday I watched an episode where one of the characters gets real and raw with her talk show audience and tells them, “I’m not okay.” 

Today I watched the recording of this week’s episode of Nancy Drew. One of the characters on that show recently went through a traumatic experience. On this episode her boyfriend invites her to honesty when he asks her, “Are you okay?” She pauses, then responds, “The truth is that no, I’m not okay.” 

The truth is that I haven’t been very okay either. For awhile.

The period of the pandemic has been tough, and that’s when it really started for me. It definitely changed life for us in ways that have been unhealthy and unbalanced, but I’ve found many blessings in this time and have gotten through it pretty well.

Then a month ago, my husband, Brent, got covid. Right away he isolated himself downstairs in the basement, closed off from my son, our pets, and me. During the first few days of his illness, it felt like something literally, physically switched (on? off?) in my body. It felt aggressive and protective. It made me move, move, move. It was a constant drill of cleaning, preparing meals, vitamins and supplements, washing hands, getting him the things he needed to get through the next 10 days alone, updating our family and friends on his and our conditions, writing down symptoms, keeping up with all of the chores, and all of the caretaking. Plus I had a UTI. Hell. I noticed by Day 3 that I had a dull ache in the middle of my chest. I knew it was the emotions, the stress, but I didn’t have room for them then.  

Six days after my husband developed symptoms and quarantined himself, my son, Stone, developed a fever, headache, dizziness. Now the 2 most precious people in the world to me were both sick with a virus that has killed half a million people here in the U.S. Something switched in me again. This time it made me quiet. I softened. I gave in. I sank into acceptance and observation. I was doing all I could, giving every ounce of me, and yet the virus had still moved in. All I could do was keep taking care of all of us and wait it out.

Here’s a not-very-enlightened perspective I have: Waiting sucks. 

Thankfully, Stone bounced right back and was back to normal within a couple of days. And oh, so thankfully, Brent improved as well and was back to work after his 10 days of quarantine.

During that time, however, that ache in my chest stayed and that stress and the emotions quickly inflated. The terror, the racing thoughts, the lack of sleep, all of the unknowns, the constant caretaking and thinking 2 steps ahead in order to keep up, plus my own physical health issues… it all created an inner hurricane and I began having emotional breakdowns. Even though my boys had improved, I felt like I was sinking. Crashing. Down, down.

I spent 20 full days in quarantine. (14 days after Stone developed symptoms, which was 6 days after Brent had developed symptoms.) I never developed the common covid symptoms, but I was still left with a mess inside.

At some point during it all, I made a couple of small decisions. I don’t know when or what order things happened, because it is all just a jumbled blur. 

1. I decided to take myself through my own integrative wellness coaching process that I learned years ago, which simultaneously works on all 4 aspects of self: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.
2. I decided to start reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Through filling out the questions on my coaching intake form I uncovered useful nuggets of insights to help me decide where I needed to start in healing and finding a grip on life again.

Through answering questions in The Artist’s Way and dedicating myself to the practice of writing Morning Pages, I uncovered even more insight. I found myself being really honest with myself, “speaking” honestly to myself about myself. I uncovered some parts of me that wanted to stay unseen. 

You know that phrase that says something like, “After the breakdown comes the breakthrough”?

Well, I’m not to the breakthrough yet. I’m still in the break-down part. My stomach has been in pain ever since our covid ordeal – ulcer? Effects of the antibiotics I had been on? Reflux? Lingering fear? I am itching all throughout my body. Literally. All of my body itches. And I am still in an emotional puddle. 

But I’m working at it. Not just saying I’m working at it, but truly working at it.

? I’m writing Morning Pages every day and being honest with myself in the process. (I’m on week 4 of The Artist’s Way!) 
? I’m (almost always) sticking to morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime routines because they are really helpful and effective for me.
? I’m exercising every other day, at levels and in ways that are right for me, not that I think I should be at.
? I’m eating so many fruits and vegetables and so much less sugar.
? I made a family chore/contribution chart and it’s working!
? I’m getting work done – this week I finished updating everything for “Invite Subscribers to Your Email List by Creating an Opt-In Offer” so it’s available on my website now.
? I’m spending real quality time with Stone. Even though we’re together 24/7, we weren’t really connecting with each other very often. We grew crystals together from a crystal growing kit. We had a great snowball fight. We played the Pokemon card game and both enjoyed it and would like to add more packs to the deck. We played Beatles Rock Band together, just the 2 of us (usually it’s all 3 of us). We also traced his hand for the handprint growth chart we keep on the living room wall. We watched the Mars Rover landing together. And I’m trying to be a better listener when he tells me about his progress on his favorite space shuttle building game or what’s happening now in the book he’s been reading, “Warriors: Into the Wild“.
? I’m praying, Journeying, doing self-Reiki, and channeling. Asking for help and signs and healing. 
? I’m going to bed earlier. (Last night it was 8 pm.)
? I’m employing my health team. Getting an antibody test to see if I have covid antibodies (which will help with some of those unknowns), a check-up with my GP for my stomach and the itches, and mental health counseling session through Covid Recovery Iowa.

I think this is what trying to get back on track looks like. It feels messy, uncomfortable, and hard. It pushes me where I need to be pushed, and gently backs off where I need some slack. I think this is what my road to recovering looks like at this moment. 

It’s funny… as I look through my list of what I’m doing to get back on track, I notice that these are things that mark a normal, healthy, balanced life. One that IS on track. Huh.

Well, looky there!

I feel a little better just having written that. Having seen that. Having shared it with you.

I wish you well.