Author: Ann Schiebert
Any worldwide pandemic is very concerning, and, in fact, it can be very scary. We could bury ourselves with the “what ifs.” What if I come in contact with a person who has this awful disease? What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay my bills? The “what ifs” are endless and often lead to catastrophic thinking. With the acknowledgment that this is a perilous time with lots of unknowns, I offer a reframe.
As I opened my computer this morning, I was greeted with a photo of a lovely hiking trail located somewhere in the woods. Honestly, it was gorgeous. I thought to myself, “why can’t I be in this forest?” Now, I’m making plans to go for a hike! I am going to “drink in” all the beautiful green plants and trees that I greet as I walk by them.
When the governor of California (where I live) announced that we should all stay home, I thought, “Stay home? That is so limiting. It’s like being in prison!” I worked on myself in reframing how I received Governor Newsom’s new guidelines. Eventually, I became grateful for having an elected official who cares enough to direct what he thinks would be protective. Then, I looked around my home. There are so many projects that I have told myself I haven’t had time to do, such as reorganizing my much-neglected closet, cleaning some of the kitchen drawers that have become the home to an assortment of crumbs, and weeding my much-loved garden. I have so much to do!
Look around. Whether you have a house, an apartment, or an RV in which to reside, be grateful that you have shelter. Some don’t. Maybe it’s time to be philanthropic. For most of us, our refrigerators are running, our cars have gas, our lights are on and, if not, we have candles and other ways of illuminating our spaces. Taking surpluses to those in need is certainly a rewarding way to fill ourselves up with gratitude for our own circumstances.
Then there are our four legged “angels” who live with us and depend on us for their health, fun, food, and love. We call them “pets,” but they are much more than that. They are our company, our healers, our fuzzy sleep pals, our greeters. During this time of limits being placed upon our personal freedoms we can learn from our fur family members and regard them as role models. Many dogs stay in a confined area and only get out when we walk them or take them to the dog park or beach. Yet, they are happy with their lives. Indoor cats are completely content and are self-entertaining – usually by taking long naps! They are limited in where they can go, but they feel free. I know we can all do the same – just look to your pet if you need guidance.
Usually, there are plenty of dogs around when I take my kitties for a walk in their “cat baby buggy.” I observe dogs along the way because part of my reframing is working on a brand-new series of books titled Dumpster Dogs. It’s about the adventures of a group of dogs who were abandoned by their respective owners. The dogs meet, form a friendship, and take up residence under a number of floorless dumpsters. Eventually, they overcome rejection and endear themselves to the human protagonist in the story. Dumpster Dogs hopes to teach young adults (and adults as well) the value of learning about people before making judgements and how to overcome adversity from a dog’s point of view.
Are you a dog owner? If so, I’m offering a free PDF of Dumpster Dogs in exchange for your dog’s review! Yes, you can read the book to your Fido and ask their opinion! If nothing else, it could be a good diversion while sheltering at home. To request a copy, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reframe how you think about your circumstances during these challenging times. Create happiness for yourselves. Go outside. You are not on a leash; your comings and goings are simply limited for a period of time. Meet this Coronavirus as an opportunity to be creative and curious. None of us know what to expect. Our uncertainty will not last forever. That’s one thing we can all be assured of – nothing lasts forever!
Please be well and stay safe!
Dr. Ann Schiebert, PsyD