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Two Shots In...

I waited in line again and now I’m finally two Pfizer shots in, now what?

I have been an advocate for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. I work for the federal government, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and in many ways I have been a part of the promotion of the science behind emergency use authorization and distribution of both therapeutics and vaccines.

I do believe in the short-term scientific solution that gets the public up to 97% protected against the virus and for the safe re-opening of our communities and reengaging in public activities, but I’m still not quite ready.

I’m not ready to plunge headfirst back into what I was doing before March 2020, because some of what had become an exhausting and loathsome routine was likely to be more detrimental to my health and wellbeing than COVID-19. How was I doing so much, but getting so little done, and so tired all the dang time?

Let’s see, there is the long commute from Northern Virginia to Rockville, Maryland to work - either burning up money using the EZ-Pass lanes, as much as $30+ one way on a really bad day or creeping through hours of winding gridlock on I-95, listening to pre-sets on XM-radio; or the organized, but chaotic commute using the VRE train that required a drive to the VRE parking lot, a lively stroll to the actual train, a nearly 45 minute train commute with, daily, the same stoic faces, a literal trot to transfer to the Metro train at Union Station, another pensive ride, packed full with people, and the smell of fresh marijuana, stale fried foods, and perfume thick enough to gag, all the way out to Rockville; not making or taking the time to prepare and eat healthy meals; wedging in prayer and meditation behind the wheel of my car or slipping in a half-arsed prayer in those few moments that existed between turning off my car motor and walking to my office and trying to feel proud and accomplished because, “I’m getting so much done with the time that I have”.

Nonsense! I was using grocery delivery services long before the pandemic. I would order my groceries online, while sitting in traffic with hundreds of others, and make a bet that I could make it home before my groceries were delivered. That would at least keep me from having to make an extra stop after sitting for nearly two hours in traffic, before being able to kick off my shoes and tuck in for the evening. And then the weekend… what weekend? And the guilt of feeling so tired and not wanting to go through the holy ritual, that I’ve known since childhood, of getting ready and going to church.

Truth be told quarantining, social distancing, working from home, and streaming Sunday service freed up a lot of time and space. It provided me with freedom to rethink some things, measure the results of doing things differently, create some space between me and situations, me and people that as an introvert I needed to slow down, back up, or completely dismiss.

The country is falling over itself to open up before summer. We all still need to be mindful about our social behavior. I don’t care if you mock me for wearing my mask in close spaces. There is still no need to stand so close to me, and please do wash your hands – frequently. I can’t get enough lotion on these hands. Before you jump head first back into what was “normal” for you, at the same pace, with the same intensity, and with the same people, I encourage you to do a little inventory of what new things are working for you. Are you cooking more? Have you allowed yourself to sit with your own thoughts more? Have you gotten to know new things about yourself?

Have you grown to like yourself more? Have you tried a different-low maintenance, or natural hair style and like it? Have you developed an exercise routine that works for you? Have you found time to take better care of your skin, your teeth, your diet? Do you sometimes secretly like working over Zoom or Microsoft Teams over meeting in person? Do you feel at ease since you haven’t had to be with, meet up with, or have conversations with certain people? There is nothing wrong with that. Have you met God again? Have you allowed yourself to take up a new interest, hobby, learned a new skill? Are you reading more, finding time to really listen to music, have you been really taking care of yourself? Have you set new goals? Are you enjoying new routines? Have you taken advantage of online learning? Have you used this time to find the words to say to someone that you couldn’t before? The pandemic wasn’t going to last forever – it just felt like it would. Now is the time to make some permanent readjustments for good. What will you do? Who have you become?

Hi, how are you? My name is still Cheryl Thompson. The new me will be happy to meet the new you.

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