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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold


Dear Hearts, How are you?! I mean, really! How are you? I wish I could speak with each and every one of you face-to-face and in person, and see for myself that all of you are okay.

But, of course, right now, social distancing forbids it and I'm not certain it would even be possible anyway. So, please consider this my official greeting card of love and well wishes to everyone.

This virus has all of us on lock -- on several levels. And I sincerely hope none of you -- or your loved ones -- are infected. If so, I hope you are rescued, treated, and healed. The remainder of us are simply dealing with first world problems.

Please don't misunderstand. I wouldn't even begin to make light of all the parents out there who are juggling work and homeschooling, dealing with littles, or those who are moms, dads and grandparents of 2020 graduates! I've been a stay-at-home Mom (with no car and no internet) back in the day and, although I adored my kids and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them, admittedly, some days were rough duty in those long deep trenches.

And all of you first responders and essential service angels! You all wear invisible capes and wear them well. You are those folks to which the iconic late Fred Rogers referred when he quoted his mother saying "Look for the helpers". There is nothing we can do or say to thank you enough for your tremendous daily sacrifice. I suppose if you desired anything -- besides sleep, protection, and safety for your patients / clients / customers -- it's for folks to stay home and be safe.

Which brings me to all of the rest of the world.

Dear Hearts, I see your comments, memes, suggestions, political opinions, and armchair quarterback coaching on social media every day with regard to this virus and current state of affairs. Many of you have lamented how upset, fearful, or depressed you are -- either from being on lock for four weeks now (for some of us), or from watching way too much news.

Even my friends who are self-proclaimed introverts, and joke about how this situation is something they've been in training for all their lives, are already stir crazy with at least a minimum of four more sequestered weeks to go.

Personally, Dear Hearts, I have experienced the very opposite.

This Happy Heart Writer is a bonafide card-carrying high level functioning EXTRAvert. And although I can NOT complain about my personal situation as I have what I need -- my needs are few -- I do need people! Coming from a long line of huggers, being a people lover and people watcher, this social distancing thing goes against every fiber of my chronically outgoing being.

Social media is nice, and I am Grateful for it. I can ZOOM, Tweet, FaceBook, Instagram, Email, SnapChat and Google Hangout as much as my Internet Provider will allow. That is, if it's not so overloaded with all of you that I am unable to connect! Last weekend, I experienced technological difficulties to the point where I was ready to drop kick brand new hardware across the room - and that's not me! Finally, my ISP and social media powers-that-be got it together and I'm once again good to go.

But nothing takes the place of face-to-face human interaction, even if it has to be as a masked crusader six feet apart.

I will spare you my soliloquy on how to stay healthy during this time of trial. There are plenty of experts living inside the Google and the YouTube who can do that much better than I. While I am working toward a PhD in Pastoral Psychology, I'll even spare you a sermon on how you can maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Another time, perhaps.

What I will share with you, Dear Hearts, is how I am coping with forced withdrawal from my otherwise active social calendar (March and April are completely blank), losing track of what day it is as I scratch tick marks on the wall with my overgrown sorely-in-need-of-a-professional-manicure talons like an island castaway, and what I do to keep my sanity as an EXTRAvert . One of the things the experts will tell you is to go outside. Keep away from other people, of course, but go for walks, jogs, runs, and bike rides.

As most of you - all six of you who actually read my blog posts - know by now, I love to sail. My skipper, who manages a rotating crew of about six people during racing season here in the San Francisco Bay area (no races right now, of course), did his best to figure out how we can still meet to at least run drills. While folks are allowed to be out on the water at a minimum of fifty feet apart, there is no way our crew can sail as we all live in separate households. He even wondered whether or not we could take turns, two at a time.

Nope. No bueno.

Unless my skipper's wife or kids want to sail with him - and they don't - it looks like the boat will bob up and down while tied off in its slip for another month or more. If we're lucky, we'll be able to cast off sometime around Mother's Day. But I'm not holding my breath.

I feel like a fish out of water as it were -- lost at sea without even being out there, and with no one to rescue me.

My other favorite activity is to hike. I try to go every weekend; however, the parks are closed and around here, that includes beaches and hiking trails. Thankfully, though, we're allowed to go out for walks. Gratefully, my town is conducive to that activity with sidewalks and creekside walking paths (no bikes allowed right now for some reason). Getting out in the fresh air and going for a good forty-five minute stroll not only stretches my limbs, helping to prevent premature rigor mortis, but fills my lungs with clean oxygen - something experts claim we desperately need in order to ward off the COVID.

In addition - and here's the real healer for me - my daily walks are intense and robust physical, mental and spiritual therapy. Things are blooming around my little corner of the world; and to see color, life, hear birds singing and twitterpated, and ducks nesting in the marshes along the creek, not only brings pleasure to the senses but an air of normalcy.

Yes, Dear Hearts, we all love nature. But the thing that is most endearing on my walks is the social interaction with people. OK, so we converse and wave a good distance away, but the ten to fifteen minute chat I might have with my mailman. my neighbor across driveways, or a perfect stranger on a sidewalk as I step aside to give them plenty of space between us, is a balm to my soul.

And finally, here is my tip of the day for all you EXTRAverts out there: the best folks with whom to stop and have a little confab are . . .[drum roll, please] . . .

. . .The dog walkers.

All you have to do is admire their dog, ask its name or how old it is, and simply stop. Give them plenty of room and the dog walker will gladly answer your questions, and even sometimes launch into a little monologue about how their pooch is handling the lock down.

I don't have a dog myself (not allowed where I currently live), but I have always loved them and live vicariously through the pets of others. I even enjoy dog sitting for friends from time to time. As a kid, my older sister obedience-trained dogs and showed her pure bred champion Keeshond. My younger brothers and I tagged along to her dog training classes and made fun of all the breeds as their handlers did their best to get Fido to sit, heel, stay, etc. Attending the string of dog shows, where my sister and her beautiful canine won trophy after trophy, became a favorite pastime.

So when I ran into a dog walker whose little gray brindle French Bulldog named Grizzy was willing to offer up all manner of information about his pup's Disney-cartoon-like personality -- of which he possessed oodles -- and habits, I actually felt . . . well, rescued!

Such was the similar feeling when I came upon a lovely middle-aged lady with two white Golden Retrievers; an elderly gentleman with his little Schnauzer named Vera; a young woman in her twenties with her new Jack Russell Terrier mix named Roo; or a couple with a three year old black Labrador Retriever who was itching to jump in the creek and chase after water fowl -- all of whom made me feel as though I'd been saved from a deserted island and was as vital to my health as clean eating and outdoor exercise.

Granted, people who know me will tell you I've never met a stranger. There's no denying it. But dog walkers make it even easier than normal to strike up a conversation. I find that since they love pooches -- many of them have rescued theirs from a shelter -- the people themselves are a safe place to fall, and comfortable for the most introverted or shy to talk to.

So, Dear Hearts . . .in a situation where we are, understandably and wisely, advised to"look for the helpers", I also assert: Look for the dog walkers.

And be rescued.

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