It’s about that time again, for my seasonal life update, but this year’s Spring update is not quite how I envisioned it to be. In fact, it has even been delayed quite a bit because every time I’d sit down to write, I’d receive new and unexpected information that would completely shift the direction in which I thought I was heading. With this Coronavirus pandemic taking over our normal lives, it seems as if this is the only relevant topic to talk about right now. And although I completely understand the severity and seriousness, I might be one of the few who is not entirely consumed by this. In fact, I rarely ever have intense emotional reactions to anything that is outside of my control, and this is no exception. Nevertheless, I have still had my fair share of changes, so just be warned that this is one very lengthy life update.
The aspect of my life which has been impacted most significantly is my nursing career. I know, I know- I should smile and be grateful I still have a job and roof over my head. To be honest, there is a LOT more than just that that I have to be grateful for. But as a human being, everyone deserves to catch a break, and sometimes I just can’t seem to catch one. At this point, the Integrative Medicine Center where I work has been shut down until further notice, as they are transitioning it to become the main COVID-19 testing site. As for the staff, including myself, we are being reassigned to other roles at odd hours just taking whatever we can get to accumulate our required 40 hours/week.
As you can imagine, this news came as quite a shock. After great effort from my end, I was finally told that I’d at least be getting a permanent reassignment during daylight hours for the next 4 weeks, and for that I was grateful. However, while I was assigned to see patients in our clinic on the final day, I received an email stating that I was dropped from the permanent reassignment for not showing up for my last minute add-on shift that I was never informed of. So now, I basically have to scramble to find any last minute available shifts in unknown locations with no guarantee until the day of.
This act of injustice is just one example of how chaotic and stressful the entire situation has been at work, and the unfortunate part is that there are hundreds of other employees who are going through similar situations. What makes it even worse is knowing that the patients are the ones who are going through the toughest times, still dealing with cancer treatments and all related side effects while all of this is going on around us…and most of the services at our clinic are not even available to fulfill their holistic health needs at this time.
I understand that there are many people who are not directly affected by this, but I only wish they’d understand that every single employee and every single patient at every single hospital IS. The more these people continue to gather at the houses of their family and friends and selfishly treat this as somewhat of a quarantine party, the worse it becomes for hospitals, the more people suffer or die, and the longer this whole thing lasts. If this happens to be relatable for you or anyone you know, I humbly request and urgently advise you to please stay home so this can pass sooner rather than later.
The other aspect of my life which has been most greatly effected is my relationships and social life, which I am sure that others can most closely relate to. Not having much family or my close friends living nearby, I often count on the sense of community I feel from my work family, volunteer peers, and few friends I go out with here in Houston. With these sources now unavailable, all non-essential businesses being closed, and the social distancing restrictions placed in most cities around the world, the sense of community continues to decrease as quickly as the death tolls continue to rise.
Despite all of this, I found the positive in knowing how fortunate I was to have a community within my faith, and to have my mother only a short drive away. But even these did not come without its own set of challenges. Around the world, I’ve witnessed so many people turning against each other, acting out of fear, ignorance, or a sad combination of both. So when a few members of my religious community came up with creative ways to come together and pray virtually, I felt it was a beautiful idea that gave hope to many others including myself. In fact, this was the first year that the entire Ismaili community of the United States celebrated Navroz (Persian New Year’s Day) virtually online at the same time.
But the strong pushback we received from the older and more closed-minded generation was shocking and hurtful. Every single day, I encountered numerous leaders preaching how sinful it was to create prayers virtually, and to be honest it initially made me very upset. But every human being is entitled to their own opinion, and I am so thankful for the freedom to agree to disagree. Until the God of the Universe Himself comes down and says otherwise, I believe that everyone should be free to pray in whatever way brings them joy, as long it does not harm or impede the rights of others. Whether you prefer to pray alone silently, or out loud with family and friends, or on a recording with strangers via telephone or internet, any form of prayers with good intentions is more than alright in my book.
“There is no division between faith and life. Faith is something that we live through.”
As for my mother, she has been there for me through it all, and is always there to understand me and support me as I hope to always do for her. But now, this kind and intelligent woman with a heart of gold and faith that is always stronger than fear, is both and angel and a hero, as she has volunteered to assist with the COVID crisis in Louisiana- in a city with an elderly population that has the most rapidly growing Coronavirus cases in the country. The number of cases around the world has now exceeded 1 million, with the U.S. having the highest number of cases in the world. I worry for her safety and pray for her speedy return as she sets out to serve as a soldier of healthcare during this time of crisis.
It may seem that after all of the problems within my career and relationships, and the general state of chaos around the world, (and losing one of the greatest NBA players of all time- #RIPKobe), that there is not much good to be found.
“…but when the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.”
And praise be to God there is, in fact, SO much good to be found.
- The best thing that has come out of this whole situation for me, is my strength of faith that continues to grow even after I feel like it couldn’t possibly grow further. I have been through much, much worse, and worrying about what is out of my control has never benefited me in the slightest, so I have learned that after doing my part, it is best to let go and let God. Literally having no idea what the next day has in store for me has been the perfect opportunity to practice taking life one day at a time, trusting that the Universe will take me exactly where I am meant to be. The peace I continue to feel in each moment overpowers any negativity life could ever bring my way.
- My mental, emotional and physical health is at an all-time high. With so much that is outside of my control, I have prioritized placing my efforts into what I can, which is my thoughts and my actions. I have continued to spend 30 minutes each morning in meditation, prayer, mind/emotions, gratitude, journaling and organizing my day. I have also been much more aware of the foods with which I am choosing to nourish my body and not skipping my workouts because I know the direct impact my physical health has on my overall mood and life outlook. Taking this time to optimize my mind, body and soul has given me the energy and optimism to boldly face and resolve the many challenges I continue to face daily.
- No amount of words can do justice to how grateful I am to be surrounded by the physical love of my mother and best friend, and virtual support of my extended family and friends during this time. To know that I am never alone allows me to overflow with love that I can then spread to my community, patients and even strangers who seem to have gotten lost in the chaos of the world and perhaps forgotten that our true essence remains the same. It has also touched my heart deeply to see so many volunteers helping out in these times, and people coming together to sing on their balconies which never fails to remind me that love always wins.
- As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post, I truly am thankful to still (somewhat) have a job and roof over my head. In fact, I couldn’t even begin to count the physical abundance of blessings that have been bestowed upon me when so many others around the world could only dream of a small part of what I have. Along with these material blessings, I continue to have freedom, opportunity, education and hope, just a few of the most underrated luxuries one can ever experience during their lifetime, and I never want to take these for granted.
- Having little to do outside of my home other than work, I have had a little more time than usual to focus on my long-term career and lifestyle goals as well as hobbies I struggled to make adequate time for. In fact, with my nurse role coming to a halt until further notice, I found a newfound appreciation for my career and have adjusted my long-term goals to always include nursing at least part-time and focus only part-time on my mindfulness therapy and spiritual coaching business. When I am not busy with Spirit Life, I am still doing what I love, which is volunteering virtually at the early childhood education home program, spreading hope instead of germs at Trades of Hope, catching up on my reading list and even finally learning to play the guitar I’ve had for too many years to admit!
Here are just a few of the pictures of life this year before quarantine…sweet moments of love and faith which I am thankful to have experienced and hopeful to one day be able to experience again someday soon.