Thoughts, reflections, update.

In terms of being and staying at home due to COVID-19, I have to say it’s a great time to an introvert. While I do miss doing things in person, namely my supplemental instruction sessions and my anatomy & physiology class, being alone or just hanging out with my spouse feels good and natural to me. I have far fewer times of just needing space and downtime because, well, I have a lot.

That being said, I do miss seeing friends and family, too. I am sad that I didn’t get to see my longest-term friend (who lives across town) before all this. I disappointed that I didn’t get to go to Albuquerque for spring break (which is now!) to see my dad and friends. And so it goes. I see some video calls in my future.

As far as sensory processing issues go, as always, it’s mixed. On one hand, there’s less external stimulation. Life is generally quieter, there are fewer places to go, etc. On the other hand, all the change and upending of my routines has been challenging for my nervous system. This was especially true in the week where everything changed from in-person to online, where I couldn’t anticipate what would change next from day to day and I often felt overwhelmed and overstimulated. Days often feel long, like several days are packed into one; and at the same time, it’s amazing to me to realize it’s been three weeks since my classes went remote (it feels like both a short and long time). Now that I’m on spring break, I’m letting down somewhat, too, which has led to more exhaustion and emotional release.

Here’s a great article on how emergency remote learning is not the same as planned online learning. The current switch to remote learning takes classes that were in-person to virtual and was incredibly abrupt. I, for example, am taking a biology class with a lab. While the professors are doing the best they can, the lab especially translates less well to an online format because it completely changes the hands-on element. I’m now watching videos of a professor pointing out structures on anatomical models and projecting histology slides. He’s doing a great job and making it as entertaining as possible, and it’s really not the same at all. Plus, some of the more experimental parts of lab have to be taken out altogether because his time to film these demonstrations is limited and it’s much different to watch an experiment than actually perform it. Still, I’m glad to still be getting to learn as much of the material as I can.

As I said, I’m leading my supplemental instruction (SI) sessions online. Here’s some more information about supplemental instruction in case you’re curious. As an SI leader, I sit in on a class I’ve taken before (and done well in) and then create activities based on the material. This semester, I’m doing Anatomy & Physiology I; last semester I did Introduction to Life Sciences. I’m more of a peer support activity leader than a tutor; I ask far more questions than I answer. It’s much, much different to conduct sessions online. In person, I’m able to respond to students’ nonverbal cues or see when they’ve completed an activity. Online, I have no such ability to do that. On the live conference platform, there’s still the ability for students to draw out processes and mark on the presentation, but it’s not the same as handing a student a marker and having them draw or write something on the board. On the plus side, I’ve getting to learn new software and have regular meetings with other SI leaders and coordinators, and that’s been nice.

Some things I am grateful for:

  • That I completed a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) program and have a wonderful therapist. I have an arsenal of coping skills that come in handy when working with fear, anxiety, or lack of acceptance. Acceptance is often a challenge for me, but practicing it now comes in handy. I can think things like: “I don’t want things to be like this,” and there’s not much else to do about it (unless I want to expend a bunch of energy) except accept what’s happening.
  • That I have a wonderful spouse that I adore and I’m incredibly compatible with and that we enjoy both spending time together and doing our separate activities quietly around each other. I’m especially grateful that he’s working from home now.
  • Getting to see music concerts online for free or inexpensively! Some have been on Facebook; others have been on another platform. The Shut In & Sing festival has a great assortment of folk and Americana singer-songwriters and groups. Many of these musicians don’t come and perform in Las Vegas, so it’s been wonderful to see and hear them. Also, here’s a link to NPR’s running list (that’s regularly updated!) to online music shows of many genres.
  • Doing more Nia. As a Nia teacher, I get NiaTV as part of my annual membership package, but it’s now doing 30 days free for anyone if you want to get a sampling of Nia while you’re stuck at home. It has full-hour active workouts as well as shorter ones and some Moving to Heal routines that are either standing or in a chair. I find doing Nia incredibly calming and invigorating at the same time. For me, Nia is as much a tool (or perhaps more so) to regulate my nervous system as it is to stay physically active. Doing Nia daily during this time has definitely helped soothe my anxiety. I’ve also been taking a few virtual classes with Nia teachers around the country, and that’s been a great way to both dance and feel connected.
  • The hummingbird that is currently nesting on the plant hook on our porch. I don’t know if it’s the same bird as last year (I’d have to know her specific markings for that). It’s nice to have this visitor, this sweet reminder of spring. The nest has been there since we moved in nearly two years ago, so she mainly made a few additions and changes and settled right in.

So things for me right now are mixed. Definitely some highlights and some upheaval as well. I don’t really expect anything different, though; life as I (and we) know it has been upended. I’m doing my best to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, and take each moment as it comes.

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