That was my prayer before I went to bed on April 7, 2020.  There are two things to note here: 1) I am many things, but an overdramatic, hypochondriac, I am not and 2) I don’t normally pray.  But on that dreary April day, I struggled.  My chest was tight, my body ached, my breath short, and I just didn’t feel like myself.  All I kept thinking was, is this the Coronavirus, or is this my anxiety screwing with me?

That morbid thought: “Dear God, please let me wake up tomorrow” stuck with me as I was lying in bed beside my 8-year-old son, waiting for him to drift off into a deep sleep. As his eyes grew heavier, so did my breathing – and that’s when I began to craft a text.  As I typed the words that you will read below, I felt borderline crazy.  I even erased and rewrote it about 3-4 times.  I truly considered not sending it, as I didn’t want to freak out the recipient, but I was really worried about my health…and for my 8-year-old son that lied sleeping beside me.

I obviously did wake up (Thank you, God).  I immediately texted the recipient, telling her that I was ok.  I lied in bed feeling torn between whether what I experienced was a bad panic attack or was I truly infected with the deadly virus. Ironically, they both share some of the same symptoms (shortness of breath, tightness of chest, upset stomach, feeling weak, and fear of dying).  I was never tested for Coronavirus, but looking back, I believe I may have had it, as well as the anxiety that goes along with it.

If you have gotten to this point in my blog, you might be asking yourself, why would a healthy, 48-year-old woman be so consumed by the fear of losing her life to Covid-19?   Well, that’s easy – we have seen that this virus does not discriminate, and I, unfortunately, experienced that firsthand, as it took away one of my tribe members.  Two days prior to my bedtime plea with God, I found out my friend Alyssa (who i mention in the text above) passed from the virus.  A young, single mom, who had all the symptoms, fought through the pain and discomfort, began to feel better – and soon thereafter was no longer with us.  It shook me to the core (still does).

Alyssa and I belonged to the same tribe: single moms, doing this parenting thing all on our own.  In this tribe, it is unfathomable to think about our kids navigating this life without us. No matter what life throws our way, we just forge ahead, for our kids, because we have no other choice.  We are all they got.  But as strong, and resilient as these tribe members are, this virus is stronger and vicious and relentless.  It does not give a shit if you’re leaving your only child behind to travel this life without your parental compass.  It is not kind, it is not fair, and as I mentioned above, it does not discriminate. 

All this really started to weigh on me, and for the first time, I mentally and emotionally struggled with this single mom by choice role I so proudly fulfill.  A choice I was always rock-solid about.  But the brutal combination of COVID-19 and my anxiety, started to fuck with that solidity.  A lot of questions started to surface, and for once in my life, the problem solver in me didn’t have any solutions.  

Once I began to feel like myself again, I realized that I was quarantined with an unwanted guest (ie. Anxiety), and the longer I tried to show it the door, the longer it was going to secure residency. I decided to just surrender to it and see what would happen.  Day by day, clarity started to ensue, solutions appeared, and gratitude set in.

During this time of quarantine, I have been thinking a lot about the people in my life who were taken too early, either by COVID-19 or something else.  How would they live their life differently if they knew their days here on earth were lessening?  I, unfortunately, can’t ask them, but I can try to honor them by making the most of my time here left on earth.  By living my truth, being more present, cherishing my people, and making a conscious effort to grab life by the horns and ride it wholeheartedly.   With that said, I decided to create a post-pandemic “RIDE THE HELL OUT OF LIFE” plan, in honor of those who didn’t get the chance to.  Here is what my plan, or shall I say my ride, looks like:

  • Explore places you are curious about, or never gave attention to.  Whether it’s as simple as sightseeing around your neighborhood, or rummaging through old boxes in your attic.  You might find something you did not know you needed.
  • Take a chance on love again.  It’s more fun to experience the ride with a co-pilot.  Sure, there’s great peace in being alone, but that peace also exists in the arms of the right person.
  • Check-in on your people, often and with intention.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that busyness is man-made.  We’re never too busy to call/facetime/text/email our loved ones. 
  • Deepen your conversations.  I don’t know about you, but I am done having surface exchanges.  I had some of the most real conversations during this time, unlocking new levels of friend/family relationships.  Exploring each other’s dreams, fears, wishes, etc.  By going deeper, it allows you to become a witness to their beautiful life.
  • Honoring all those people who were there during this time.  Those are the true badasses, and game-changers: Doctors/Nurses/EMS/Police officers/Firefighters/Teachers/Grocery store clerks/Mail, Sanitation, and delivery workers.  Let’s not stop clapping, honoring, and showing gratitude for them when this lets up. *And a special shout out for my Perdue Chicken Nugget delivery angels: Sara Tortolani Pirrello and Joanne Ruto. We owe you one! <3
  • Do what you love.  I know there are so many people who are out of work, furloughed, etc.  It’s frightening.  But what if we view this as a rest stop, to think about what we actually want to do, instead of what we’re expected to do.  Even if it’s a passion project…go for it… so many people leave this life with their dreams trapped inside them.
  • Get caught in the rain, purposely.  Leave the umbrella at home and let it pour down upon you.  It’s a wonderful reminder of what it feels like to be alive.
  • Say “I love you” more, and don’t forget the “I”.  End every exchange with it.  People will feel it and it will make a difference – and not only to the receiver.
  • Reset.  What a fu%king waste this all would be if we went back to our “normal” way of life.  For those of us still alive, we have another chance to get it right.  Whatever ‘right’ may be for you…you are being given a re-do.  Don’t fu%k it up.

I conclude with this, COVID-19 has called us all to pay closer attention to the things we desperately neglected while living our “normal” life.  For me, that was my anxiety – my biggest mental hurdle.  It had to take a worldwide pandemic for me to acknowledge its power-grip on my life.  And life is too precious to be restrained from living it to the fullest. 

Get busy living, my friends (but not too busy 😉)

Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 8-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

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