wasn't allowed to stock up on toilet paper, eggs, frozen pizza, hand sanitizer and NC-95 masks, personal comfort items during a pandemic, as they were sold out. How did everyone else know to stock up on these items before I got to them?
I wasn't allowed to communicate with others face-to-face. Even my own family put up barriers to communication. My friends, my neighbors and my stores were also in on the shut out.
All I had left was Me, and My Self: my Higher Self, and my lower self. Luckily, I knew how to find my Higher Self. Throughout the lock down I connected to my Higher Self, and stayed there as often as I could, and as best as I could. It was, and continues to be, quite a challenge.
Oh yes, negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors bubbled up, furiously at first, as I felt vulnerable, at risk, abandoned, shunned. I rebelled and resisted as best I could. I wanted to stay powerful. But eventually, with effort and the passage of time, I accepted that 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. I was in for a prolonged bout of Higer Self calisthenics.
I can tell you that at this moment in the pandemic, I'm pretty buff. And so are most of my family, friends, and store-keepers (maybe not their stores, though).
If you like to think difficult things through, here's a helpful framework, based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. It's what I did, and went through, for the past seven months. In the past I've had loved ones pass away and was very grateful for this framework. My comfortable, habitual and frantic life before covid also passed away. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.
If you like to write/journal, do that. Years from now you can look back on your thoughts and your writings and see how you've changed, hopefully for the better.
1. Shock and denial.
How can the world be so changed, so hazardous, so suddenly? It's just a cold virus! I experienced multiple pandemics in my career and in my personal life. Never has one been so 'creepy', for lack of a better word.
2. Pain and guilt.
I hate not being around anyone I care deeply about. Luckily, my husband doesn't shun me. He still spends his enitre day on his computer, and talking to all his friends. Unluckily he won't change his routine to accommodate my neediness.
3. Anger and bargaining.
I still can't believe the craziness and abject fear this pandemic has caused worldwide. I truly feel, as a seasoned healthcare professional, that the dangers of this pandemic have been overblown. New studies coming out regularly reassure me that the virus activity, and its deadliness, have long peaked. Why don't the masses get it? I'll keep trying to reassure my friends and family that it's ok. Unfortunately, they won't, or can't listen. If only I had more credibility with my friends and family, Maybe I'll send them all the articles and studies I'm reading that confirm my confidence. Well, that didn't work either.
The strategy of the world is to make this cold virus into a monster plague, like the pandemic flu of 1918-19 that killed at least 50 million people worldwide, especially young healthy people. That's not the case with this pandemic. But no one will listen. It's armageddon, the end times. I think they really want to believe this. Wow.
5. The upward turn.
We're all looking forward to a vaccine. That will turn the entire world around. I know that because this is a cold virus, it mutates pretty significantly, so a vaccine won't be as effective as people want it to be. But at least they'll be less anxiety-ridden. Thanks to human ingenuity, multiple excellent and reliable pharmaceutical companies in competition, with government approval, an effective vaccine is around the corner. Halleluyah!!
6. Reconstruction and working through.
Boy was this ever a noxious year. Disease. Isolation. Toilet paper and egg shortages. Plus a heat wave (116 in my neighborhood). Plus record fires. Smoky days. Santa Ana winds. I think I'll just sit and meditate on the hike I took in Kings Canyon National Park in Northern California years and years ago. Oh, but that's when my partner and I got engulfed in black clouds of mosquitoes, and the river was so deep and fast that when we crossed it I almost lost my balance and fell in (I didn't). I'm empowered, because I survived that hike. What a beautiful feeling. I knew it, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. I'm buff.
7. Acceptance and hope.
Now that the world's economies are in shambles, people are still bubbled down, a few in 'pods', with hope for a new albeit very different future on the horizon. God help the next generation of youngsters, including my two grandchildren. At least they'll think this whole new world is just 'the way it is' and get on with their lives as if nothing bad happened. And guess what, they may be right!
A friend went through these stages, and developed an ulcer before turning upward. Before the pandemic, and the shut down, Larry was a teacher's aide in a chemistry lab, after graduating the year before with a degree in chemistry from UCLA. He was homeschooled in a high achieving home, with three equally high achieving siblings. His parents are upstanding members of their community, and the whole family is very smart, confident, and socially conscious. Larry had never had a real setback in his path forward. He was making an excellent salary, loved his students and they loved and respected him. While working he was also getting his PhD in Chemistry. All was well until it suddenly wasn't.
Larry was left without a class, without students, online-only studies, increasing bills, and two roommates that he wasn't particularly interested in or even able to communicate with much. He got depressed. He started getting migraines. He took pain meds, including Tylenol and ibuprofen. He got a pet rat for company. But the migraines continued, and then he got severe acid reflux. He went to a local doctor who told him it's 'just stress'. She didn't order any tests, and did most of her consulting over the phone. Larry got worse. At this point, his sister consulted with her good friend, a nurse. The friend suggested that Larry might be suffering from gastritis (stomach irritation) or even an ulcer. After a lengthy wait for an evaluation, it turned out to be an ulcer. Larry was put on the appropriate medication and improved physically. He went online and found numerous articles on 'stress can cause ulcers' and a few that said it didn't. He finally decided to meditate on this divergence. In his meditations he cleared his mind, let go of the voices that denied the obvious, including his initial family doctor, and unfortunately, his know-it-all mother, who insisted he had celiac diseae/gluten allergy. In connecting to his Higher Self, he saw his body as sad and lonely. In his mind's eye he embraced and hugged his body. He visualized his Higher Self, gently reminding him to be a kind and loving caregiver. He reached out to his family, especially his sister, who fussed over him, annoyingly, but actually helped a lot with her incessant affirmations.
He reached out to his roommates, who as it turned out were kind of sad and lonely too. He went out as often as possible to his favorite natural spots, parks and outdoor places, reminding him of his upbringing in natural settings.
Gradually, with continuous gently nudges from his Higher Self, his anti-acid medication, his low acid diet, and his loving sister, his symptoms abated. Hi pet rat got occasional treats, and got into the habit of snuggling on his neck. That helped, too.
Larry now accepts his imperfect body, and cares for it with greater insight. He hopes some day to get back to the lab with students who love and respect him. But for now, he's made friends with his roommates, and teaches chemistry lab creatively with digital students, who love and appreciate him.
He's on the mend now, with a new appreciation for his stressed body, mind and spirit.
One of my favorite benefits of creative writing is that it serves as a way of organizing aspects of the author’s personality. When starting a new project, one of the first things I do is decide what thoughts or feelings to channel. Recently I tapped into my childish side while writing a novella, and directed my anxieties into a few short stories. Mystic Rampage is my first full-length novel, and the title might suggest it was driven by anger. It actually represents my curiosity. That’s how this book developed from a purely fantasy story into an urban fantasy/science fiction mix. It started with a cast of characters developing supernatural powers but disagreeing on how to use them because I find how characters use their abilities more interesting than the capabilities themselves. However, I couldn’t keep it limited to that concept. I also enjoy principles of chemistry and physics, so I had to weave some of those concepts into the chapters as well. I found I couldn’t resist alluding to notions of faith at various points throughout the story, so I suppose some of my interests extend to religion as well. Granted, there is still a lot of fighting throughout the book, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as curiosity can be dangerous (it killed the cat, after all). Now the novel is public and hopefully some readers will share my fascinations.
Today we are hosting a review by Dale Travous on Mona Balogh's book "How to Stay Out of My Emergency Room" as part of an Online Book Tour. You can enter to win a copy of the book below the review.
Over the course of twenty-seven years treating patients in emergency rooms, Dr. Mona Balogh observed a tendency - from diabetes to addiction - for some people to chronically use ERs to address their disease when lifestyle changes could help their condition immensely.
How to Stay Out of My Emergency Room addresses a panoply of bad habits and addictions through captivating stories of Dr. Balogh’s interactions with patients who repeatedly returned to her emergency room due to their tendency to avoid making lifestyle changes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mona Balogh is a retired emergency physician who received her medical degree at Southwestern Medical School. After she completed her residency in emergency medicine at Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, Dr. Balogh worked in emergency rooms throughout Los Angeles. She also provided free healthcare to underserved populations in Los Angeles, and in Baja, California, with the Flying Samaritans.
Dr. Balogh discovered her passion for alternative medicine at an addiction medicine seminar, where she learned to combine evidence-based Western philosophies with Eastern therapies. Since then, Dr. Balogh has studied traditional Chinese medicine, herbal and homeopathic therapies, and acupuncture. She lives with her husband, Endre, in Chatsworth, California.
REVIEW BY DALE TRAVOUS
Dr. Balogh has created a book that elevates above (and goes beyond) many other books that promote achieving better health and wellbeing. Through several first hand accounts of widely differing chronic conditions that repeatedly lands one in the emergency room, she has presented us with a single underlying cause: the 'all' of one's being has been rendered out-of-balance.
She transitions smoothly, aided by excellent illustrations, into a workable solution laid out with logical elegance. Essentially she's informing us that whatever the underlying cause of un-wellbeing, there is a simple, workable solution that is free of cost and available to everyone.
Being a visually oriented person, I responded quite favorably to the many illustrations in symbolic and graphical form that punctuated the text. I feel that most readers would benefit by keeping her book handy as a reference. I plan to elaborate on this by making copies of the pictures to have them on hand as a visual reminder.
I believe this book could greatly benefit many as an easily understandable guide to achieving well-being.
Born out of his poet’s soul and a real talent for written communication, Articles of Faith is so much more than a well-constructed legacy for his deeply-loved family. It is excellent reading for all who are called into vocation only to discover that Church must never be confused with our God of love. Especially with Ted’s potent mix of HIV/AIDS activist, gay and divorcee. I was particularly touched and encouraged to learn that we share the battle to live the lessons we teach. Not least, Ted and his ex-wife Kaye’s story of mutual love, respect and dignity is a beacon for the many good Christian couples caught in the same web woven with the threads of human sexuality denied.
—The Reverend Loraine Tulleken, priest, journalist, author
Cape Town, South Africa
"Mathew Geyer's recent release, Atlantic View, displays his gifts for storytelling with a world view — while maintaining his West Coast sensibility. He deftly weaves a tale that spans decades — from World War II through the Obama years — with great visceral appeal. Sometimes you feel like you're sharing barstools with a soldier during the war, hoisting a pint in a country pub in Dorsett. Other times you're ensconced with the protagonist enjoying his morning coffee in Sausalito . . . Ultimately, this is a book about relationships that can be sticky at times, but ultimately satisfying — just like all of ours. I recommend Atlantic Viewif you're looking for a satisfying read that makes you think a little and reflect on your family's history — and how it becomes your history, too.” Richard Polsky, author of I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon)
Review by Crystal J Casavant Otto
Fantasy Thriller is the best way to describe Hugh Fritz’s Made to be Broken and the thrill lies in the fantasy to say the least! I’ve read plenty of books that are predictable and this is NOT one of them. I wasn’t sure what direction this tale would go in and it is clear that Hugh Fritz is a seasoned reader and talented first time author. As his imagination runs wild in his writing, my mind was simultaneously running wild. I physically did not want to put the book down because I was engrossed in the storyline and the unknown future happenings!
Including a genie in the storyline combined the best of my childhood with the reality of being an adult. As the mother of toddlers, I laughed a little harder than I should have when Darren tried discussing boundaries with a genie. The interactions between characters were humorous and imaginative. I’m happy that Made to be Broken is the first book of the Mystic Rampage Series because Fritz’s writing is enjoyable and makes for a quick read. I look forward to his future writings and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great story!
About the Author:
Hugh Fritz is a fan of monsters, mad scientists, sorcerers, and anything that involves being with incredible powers beating each other senseless. After years of writing research papers, he decided it was time to give reality a rest and let his imagination run wild. This is his first book, and it has been an illuminating experience making the transition from reader to author.
He was born in Chicago where he spent most of his life until moving to the Southwest in 2015. He finds inspiration bouncing ideas off other novelists in a critique group, but hours of television and finding the right songs to put him in the writing mood play an important role as well. He has no plans to end the Genies' adventures here, so be on the lookout for more magical mischief in the next book of the Mystic Rampage series.
Find him online:
Author's Website: http://www.hughfritz.com/
Review by Crystal Otto
Welcome to Maravilla is an enjoyable read filled with suspense and humor. What I appreciated most about the book is the well written, believable, dialogue between characters. The banter kept things interesting. The character development of Jake Epstein in particular was very well done by the author, R. Douglas Clark. This science fiction tale was interwoven with reality and I found myself drawn to the history of the tiny hamlet of Maravilla wondering about the redrawing of the Rio Grande and Carson County lines. I quickly became immersed in the story and found the characters to be relatable and the storyline enjoyable.
The level of detail in Welcome to Maravilla was just right for my liking. For example: I didn’t need to know the color of the curtains in the caretaker’s cottage and instead the author gave me just the information that was necessary telling me simply how many rooms there were. I dislike when authors use so many minute details I forget the storyline and get caught up in the red polka dot curtains and antique lamps… R. Douglas Clark gave me the details and information I needed without taking away from the storyline.
This is the first book I’ve read by R. Douglas Clark and I enjoyed his writing style. I’ve also never visited Maravilla, New Mexico but after reading Welcome to Maravilla, it is very clear that this is a special place the author is knowledgeable about and cares about deeply.
Review by Crystal Otto
Banged-Up Heart is a great memoir for the non-memoir-loving reader. This story unfolds beautifully through the lovely narration. I knew the ending before listening to this audio version, but even so I enjoyed each and every word. The narration and voice clarity added even more emotion to this already emotional and inspirational story. So why would I recommend Banged-Up Heart? Why would I give it 5 stars?
Let me ask you this. Did you know Custer's Last Stand ended? Or better yet, have you ever visited Arlington Cemetery and looked at one of the really large ornate stones? Right there you have examples of knowing how something began and how something ended - but were you satisfied with that? Didn't you want to know more? After all, life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey. We all have a starting point and an ending point whether we've gotten there yet, or not...it's the circle of life. What we do with the time in the middle is what leaves it's mark on others.
Shirley Melis's Banged-Up Heart is no different. She hasn't yet reached her ending point, and I hope there will be more books between now and then, but as far as how she managed to dance through love and loss, it's truly remarkable. It's not how I would have handled things, but if it were, then there wouldn't be a story to tell. Listening to everything unfold on audible really gave the story new depth and made me feel closer to Melis. That's what's fun about listening to a memoir that reads like a novel - you get to experience things through the eyes and hearts of others. Melis's ability to forge ahead and dance is remarkable and quite admirable. Whether you've had a Joe in your life or a John - or you've experienced love once or many times, you'll want to pick up a copy of Banged-Up Heart. Even if you've never been in love, this book will help you believe in love. It's beautifully written, honest, laughable at points, well edited, and a bit unconventional, yet it's a book you'll devour and that will stick in your heart long after you've listened to the final chapter.
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