Wow….what a journey it has been through this COVID-19. So far, I am half way through my journey and I can already say that I sure don’t want to be returning to this destination!
Within a couple of weeks of arriving, the schools were shut down, followed by retail stores, restaurants, parks and then finally beaches. This sure didn’t leave me with much to do!
Then the worst happened. A thing called social distancing was invented. I, like many others, had never heard of social distancing before. It requires us to remain 6 feet away from all other people, except those who you share a home with. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, a “stay at home” order was brought into effect. This meant that I couldn’t leave my home except for an “essential” reason.
I may be a solo traveller, but I am considered by many to be an extrovert. I knew that without being able to spend time with my friends or family that I was in for one hell of a journey, so I settled in for the trip of a lifetime. Let me tell you, COVID-19 has brought a whole new meaning to the concept of solo travel.
This post is written solely for the purpose of bringing awareness to those individuals living through COVID-19 on their own, and of the struggles experienced by others. It is my hope that this will provide inspiration to others and to let them know that they aren’t alone. It is okay not to be okay.
Life in Another World
I do want to keep this post as up-beat as possible, but to fully understand the impact this pandemic has had on myself, I want to share my journey with you. It is my intention to bring awareness to those individuals taking the journey alone through COVID-19 in isolation, especially the elderly and homeless. It is my belief that the emotional well-being of many people will suffer much more, and will have a much larger and longer lasting impact than the financial tole created by this pandemic. We must always remember that everybody was fighting a battle before taking this trip and the impact of isolation will affect everybody differently. Always remember that we are all taking this journey together and just a small gesture towards another individual can make a huge difference.
In November last year, I was given the ultimate blow that any mother could ever have in her lifetime. I received the dreaded telephone call to say that my son had collapsed playing ball hockey and had been taken to the hospital. When I arrived less than 1 hour later he had already been pronounced dead. He died instantly as a result of a heart attack at the age of 35. You can only imagine how devastating this was and how any mother would struggle with this news. However, life goes on and together with my girls and grandchildren, I was able to survive the devastation through the Christmas holidays.
All who know me, know that whenever I am grieving, stressed, or just need to unwind, I book a trip to an island for some much needed beach (my happy place) time. There is nothing that works as well to bring things back into perspective as grief travel. It helps you to realize that the world is full of beauty and it is that beauty that gets you through the tough times. And so I spent the first week of February laying on a beach in Dominican Republic at the best all-inclusive resort that I have ever stayed at, having the best, most fun-filled vacation I could have asked for.
At the end of the week, I was ready to return to my normal day to day life and get back to work, only to learn that I had been booked in for surgery (removal of gallbladder) four days after my return. So much for that vacation high lol. It was four days after my surgery (1 week after my holiday), that the Canadian government issued the “stay at home” order. I felt completely lost knowing that while I was still grieving the loss of my son I would now be isolated from my friends and family. I just couldn’t believe how fast the world had changed literally within hours.
My Solo Journey Into COVID-19
I consider myself blessed to be employed by an essential service and therefore continue to work. Can you believe that lawyers are considered essential? I sure couldn’t. On March 13th, we were told by our employer to work from home if at possible. Living alone and having already been out of work for the entire month of February, I opted to continue to work from the office. For my mental health, it was imperative to be out and have some form of contact with other humans. Don’t get me wrong I love my dog, but he just doesn’t cut it.
And so the solo journey into COVID-19 began…..off to work every day and straight home after work. No socializing or human interaction whatsoever. Except for clients that I spoke to on the phone, I never spoke to anyone and never saw a sole. I have missed my granddaughter’s 13th birthday and my daughter’s birthday, as well as Easter. Have you ever spent Easter alone? On the upside, my son-in-law brought a turkey dinner to my porch, so no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for this girl, AND, I have also now learned how to video chat.
I will admit that initially when I departed on this journey, I was feeling down and out and more than a little depressed. I have lived alone and travelled alone for over 10 years and for the first time ever I felt completely alone. Isolation is a very lonely place when confined to the four walls of your home day in and day out with nobody to talk to.
I am only sharing this part of my solo journey to bring awareness to the fact that there are MANY people, especially the elderly, who are living through this pandemic on their own with absolutely nobody, and face this reality every single day. I am
somewhat young and healthy, and am used to travelling on my own, but there are many folks that are not so lucky. If you know a person who is on their own, please reach out to them just to say hay, how are you.
My Solo Journey Half-Way Through COVID-19
Adventures to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
I am now half-way into my journey through COVID-19 and as much as it still sucks, I consider myself extremely blessed. I am still working fulltime (for now). I have a home and a roof over my head and food on my table (thanks to my son-in-law the chef). Most importantly, I am still able to enjoy all of the same travels and adventures throughout this journey that I was able to enjoy in my previous world. These are unprecedented times and require unprecedented measures, as well as some creativity and imagination. I have figured out how to continue this journey on my own, and I have come to view it as any other solo journey that I have taken. This trip has come with much anxiety, but I am excited to share my adventures taken to overcome any anxiety that I may have had, with all of you:
- Take a hike – The trails are closed and it’s not quite the same, but the outdoors are still open. I go for a walk around the block and explore my neighborhood
- Go to the spa – fill up your tub, add some bubbles, and play soft music. I know you have all the time in the world right now, so add in a facial while your at it.
- Go to the movies – grab a glass of wine and put on a movie, preferably one that makes you feel like you are off in a far away land (I loved Crazy Rich Asians)
- Hit the gym – I forgot, they are closed too. If you have hand weights, medicine ball, or bands, leave them in a decorative basket beside the couch to grab while watching television. No excuse not to get a bit of exercise in. Don’t forget the cardio. Go for a brisk walk or jog. Grab a skipping rope, or just do some plain old jumping jacks.
- Travel to your favourite destination – even though there are no flights available, now is the perfect time to grab all of those travel photos and organize them. What better time for happy memories.
- Have your girlfriends over for some drinks and gabfest – grab a glass, or bottle, of wine and arrange a video chat with your favourite girls.
- Take a roadtrip – for me, being out on the road gives me such a feeling of freedom and calm. Hop in the car and just drive. I still get to do this every day (for 3 minutes) to go to work.
True Story: As I said, at the beginning of my journey I was feeling a little down and out. I needed to get away, so I went on a road trip to the beach, which is 1.5 hours away (one way). My daughter-in-law and grandson also joined me. As social distancing is in effect, we had to take 2 separate cars. We each packed up a picnic and headed to the beach for the “day”. When we arrived, we had our picnic (20 feet apart), threw a couple stones in the water, walked for 5 minutes and then realized we needed to use the restroom. Guess what? You guessed it! No public bathrooms to be found so we hopped in the car and drove the 1.5 hours home.
PRO TIP: If going on a road trip, bring a pail and toilet paper, just in case.
- Do some fine dining – most restaurants are still delivering or at the very least have take-out. Grab some take-out. Set your table with your finest china. Light the candles. Pour the wine. And voila – dinner is served.
- Re-decorate that room that you’ve been wanting to do for awhile.
- Get lost in a good book
- Plan your next vacation
- Learn something new or take up a new hobby ( I downloaded an app and started colouring).
- Plant an herb garden
- When all else fails, clean. I can honestly say that my house has never been so clean AND the ironing is done. You know the trip is bad when the iron comes out.
My solo journey has not yet come to an end, and in fact it still has a long way to go. Despite the many, MANY, bumps along the way, this journey hasn’t turned out to be as shitty as I thought it was going to be. I won’t lie, I do still have my moments, many moments actually, but for the most part I have settled in and I am doing everything in my power to make the best of it.
I have learned many things throughout this journey, however, the most important lesson that I have learned is that the only person that I can depend on is myself. I took the bull by the horns and reached out to professionals to help me deal with the loss of my son, as well as the feeling of loneliness that I have been experiencing for the first time in my life. When I’m feeling down and out, I hit the trails and breathe in the fresh air and take in the beauty that surrounds me.
I know that I will end this journey a much better person than I am now and I will have grown to a whole new level. I am one of the lucky ones and feel very blessed that I had the courage to reach out, while so many don’t feel that they have that option.
If you are also taking this journey through COVID-19 solo, know that you are not alone. Know that it is okay not to be okay. Go on some of my adventures to get you in the mood for this journey and do whatever possible to maintain a positive attitude, as difficult as it will be. You WILL come out of this on the other side.
How are you coping with isolation and not being able to travel?
PIN SO YOU AREN’T ALONE 🙂