choice, coping, covid19, divorce, Quarantine, Uncategorized

Fear, Choice and Death

Ever have somebody want to kill you? I mean actually plan and plot and tell your daughter how they were going to do it?  Someone who made it their mission to destroy you. Now imagine walking around every day knowing that there was someone out there who’s sole desire was to kill you.  

I remember they day I made the choice.  I had spent months walking around in fear of my soon-to-be-ex husband. Constantly looking over my shoulder. Unable to sleep because of every creak and squeak in the dark.  And one day I decided to stop.  I decided I had already given eight years of my life to someone who didn’t deserve them.  I wasn’t going to give one more day.  I understood the reality. “Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship,” the Domestic Violence Intervention Program reports. I was taking a risk by leaving. I was taking a bigger risk by staying.  I was tired of being afraid. Tired of giving control to someone who had been controlling me for 8 years. I wanted my control back. And that day I took it.  If I was going to die, I was going to die without giving  him one more day, one more minute, or one more second of my life. I choose to let go of fear and trust my fate.

I never looked back.

Twelve years later I realize what a defining moment that was for me and how it would affect my life and my choices forever.

This morning I woke up to a headline that read, “US Reported More than 10,000 Covid-19 Deaths in Four Days.”  Crap, that’s a lot of people.  That sounds scary. So, I ran the numbers.

  • 14,400,000 have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
  • 279,000 have died
  • .019 % of people diagnosed have died
  • We have 331,000,000 million people in America
  • Only .043 % of the population has had COVID-19

Ok Tara, back into your rational brain.  Take a deep breath and repeat, “I will not be afraid.”

I know that’s easy to say when I’m not a nurse or doctor overworked, exhausted and surrounded by death. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not one of the 279,000 families that are celebrating Christmas this year without someone they love. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not over 65 and that stat doesn’t apply to me.

My mom and I argue on this. She’s afraid to leave the house. I get it, she’s 74.   So far she’s missed all 3 grandkids birthdays, Mother’s day, her birthday, my birthday, my brother’s birthday, our Annual 4th of July BBQ, a trip to Cali to see my brother, Halloween with her grandkids, her annual Vermont trip, and Thanksgiving. Well not completely missed, if you count the occasional outdoor social distancing visit where we have sat 20 feet part and passed cake through an elaborate system of who touched it last.

I’m hearing about nursing homes that are in full shut down mode. We have a close family friend in one. I asked my mom if I could send her an Advent gift. Her year has been even harder than my mom’s because she doesn’t get to do backyard 20 feet apart distancing dates.  I figured an Advent calendar that gave her a fun gift to open might give her something to look forward to each day. My mom said no packages are allowed in. Apparently, I have more access to a local inmate than my grandma-by-choice.

I try to think how I would feel if situations were reversed. If that was me. I wonder if I was at an age where I might already be celebrating my last holidays, what would I want to do?  It leads to me to the ultimate question: is life about living or about being alive?  I mean, what’s the point of being alive if I’m living in a paid Medicare version of jail?

I’m reminded that fear is unbiblical. (Isaiah  41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:6-7, just for starters)

Common sense is biblical.  God says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV 2 Timothy 1:7) and a personal favorite when I feel my thoughts running wild.

So where is the line?  I mean, even after I decided I wouldn’t let fear of my ex rule my life, I was still cautious. I kept my alarm system on.  Parked in my garage so no one knew I was home. Stayed off posting where I was on social media (something to this day I am still aware of, and will often post only after I leave a location) and that’s just for starters. I didn’t just say, “Well I’m not afraid and so I’ll walk down the train tracks with the train coming!” (Back to that whole “sound mind” thing.)

I still don’t want to eat inside a restaurant and my daughter thinks it’s crazy.

I admit, I still wash all my groceries which I also know the “experts” are saying we really don’t have to do anymore, but for some reason it makes me feel better thinking of all those people who touch my  food.

Neckgators make me nervous because they are COVID sieves and might be the equivalent of wearing nothing.  Like everything concerning COVID-19, the data on this changes weekly.

And I may or may not be the person who complained at Physical Therapy because no one was properly wearing a mask, including the receptionist who took her’s off completely to walk around prompting everyone else to think it was fine to do the same. And I may or may not now book my appointments at the end of the day so I am usually the only one there and the receptionist who was reprimanded after my complaining is gone for the day. (I have been warned by caring friends…if she ever offers me a coffee I should politely decline.)

With all of this though, I know that I won’t see my mom.  God forbid I am the one who unknowingly gives her COVID and she dies. My sister would never, and I mean never, forgive me.  Openly, I think my mom has a high likelihood of dying from COIVD. Not because of her age or because she has zero underlying health conditions and is probably healthier than I am, but simply because she believes it will kill her.  What we believe is powerful.  What we fear is more powerful. ( Job 3:25) And science proves to us fear destroys the immune system. So yeah, I’m not gonna be the one who kills off mom.

But it still hurts my heart.  Not just for my mom but for our country.

I think of the long-term financial devastation for small business owners. Restaurants that are closing, families that are behind on their mortgage, rent payments and utility payments.

I think of the child who just shot himself on a live zoom class during virtual school.  I guess school shootings still happen even if you’re remote.

I think of the vendors who rely on the holiday selling season for their craft shows which have been canceled. Those people who lost their income to Amazon and Cyber Monday.

I think of all the nonprofits who rely on 5K’s and in person Gala’s to raise money for very important causes in our country, ones that affect more than .019%.

I think it’ll be a few years before we see the mass financial devastation our choices have caused.

And I wonder if it’s worth it for .019%?

I know it’s worth it to the almost 300,000 families who lost family members. It matters to them.

But it also matters to the families of the 10,000 children that die every day from starvation. (Everyday. That’s 40,000 in four days.) Nobody has invested $9 billion dollars in the last eight months to change that. But, I guess that’s because the majority of those children we don’t know and they’re a different color.

I guess it matters of the families of the of the 261 alcoholics that die every day.  But on election night, “Where is the nearest liquor store” was the number one searched  Google term.

I bet it matters to the 97,966 business owners and all their employees who (as of Sept 2020) have permanently closed their businesses. An according to Kevin Kuhlman, VP of the National Federation of Independent Business,  “If economic trends continue at this rate, one in five business owner anticipates they won’t be able to make it until the end of the year.”  That’s a lot of employees out of work and a lot of money relocated to a handful of large corporations as consumers take their shopping elsewhere.

I think the biggest thing this virus should cause us to do is stop and think. Think about our choices, the way we go through life, the way we treat other people and just what we prioritize.

Just like my ex-husband, I don’t know if COVID will take my life, but I do know that it won’t take my peace. I do know I won’t let it control me with fear. Regardless if I live or die, I will not be afraid.

The choice is ours.  

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Freedom, Power, and 4th of July Wearing a Mask

face mask

I believe people are more alike than different. In the end we all desire the same things. Safety, opportunity, freedom and respect to name a few. I think it’s written down somewhere actually. Something like, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Words we celebrate this 4th of July weekend.

Words from our sacred Declaration of Independence. A sacredness that goes beyond hot dogs, hamburgers, fireworks and two hours of beach traffic. Words that are interesting and intriguing document to me. Not just because it founded the country I have been born and raised in and took my 8th grade trip to Washington, DC to learn about. But words that remind me we are more similar than different.  That these are “unalienable rights.” Rights that are given to us by our creator and which governments are created in order to protect.

How exactly to preserve these “unalienable rights” seems to be where the division lies.  See Jefferson’s first draft didn’t say, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” He actually wrote, “the preservation of life.” Later, after multiple edits, it was shorted to just say “life.” So, does it mean that our government can then force us to wear a mask to “preserve our life” or does that interference then step on the second enable right of “liberty”? Or, maybe it steps on the third one because wearing a mask sure doesn’t make me happy. (And openly makes me wonder how Muslim women wear burkas when taking off my mask offers more sweet relief then taking off my bra.)

Now more interestingly it was Richard Cumberland (a 17th philosopher) who said that in order for us to be able to enjoy our third “unalienable right” (pursing happiness), it was essential to “promote the well- being of our fellow humans” (Wikipedia quote not his).  This idea actually permeates most cultures and goes by a phrase I was taught as a young child: The Golden Rule. We say it so often we forget the deep intention and power behind it.  First, it’s the Golden one. Like the Golden Child, or the Golden Calf, it is special, unique and the one that stands above all others.  It’s not just on a list of rules. It’s the rule. The rule that stands above all others.  Like gold itself, it is precious, valuable, and worth more than the silver or bronze rules. If you only follow one rule, you follow The Golden One.

It makes me stop and think, “treat others the way I would want to be treated.” Do I always follow that rule? Just yesterday morning I can think of almost five people I drove pass waiting to cross the busy one road that  spans the beach by me. One way in and one way out. With everyone currently home, nothing opened, and nothing else to do, it was crammed so tightly with people that my 18 minute drive to and from yoga took almost an hour. I admit that even though I’ve mellowed out as I’ve gotten older, I was quick to drive right by those patiently waiting to cross the street because I was agitated, feeling claustrophobic and just wanted to get out of there. Not very golden rule like.

I also have a message sitting in my phone from yesterday. It’s a person who is attempting to do a “follow up call” with me. (I’m sure to sell me something.)  I haven’t returned the call. I hate high pressure sales or people who are trained to just ask leading questions to get a yes. (I say this as someone who has taught sales for 20 years).   Being in sales myself, I should be even more quick to return this call and yet the golden rule is no where to be found as that message still sits there. (If this was 1995 there would be a sad red light flashing on my answering machine.)

So, as I get ready to celebrate my freedom this weekend I have to stop and recognize that the golden rule means more here in the USA than probably any place else in the world.  Because here in America I am given my unalienable rights. And with those rights comes great responsibility. Responsibility to follow the golden rule in order to continue to enjoy those rights.

In 1817 William Lamb (a member of the British parliament) was recorded saying, “The possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility.” (If you don’t know who William Lamb was then you might recognize the abbreviated version from the Spider Man comic book series.)  Freedom is great power.  It’s power over ourselves. Power over our lives. Power over our choices. In a land where freedom is woven into our DNA I don’t think of freedom as power. It’s only when I stop, slow down and think about it that #1 I hear Mel Gibson screaming, “Freedom!” and #2 I understand the connection between my freedom and my power. 

Simply by acknowledging the power (freedom) I have because I was born in the USA, I begin to acknowledge that with that birthright came great responsibility.  More responsibility then those born in totalitarian or communist countries. More responsibility then maybe I deserve.  It’s my choice how I choose to use my power.  Do I use it to metaphorically give my finger to my neighbor? (“Hey look at me exercising my freedom and not wearing a mask because I am FREE! Free I tell you!”) Or do I use to say “Hey I’m not 100% sold that this whole mask wearing thing is actually effective and might be total propaganda but in the slim chance it will make a difference I’m willing to put it on because I might not be high risk but you might be and I’m following that whole Golden rule thing.”  (*Now if someone believes they are physically endangering their own health by wearing a mask, I would encourage you to have a heart to heart conversation with a mom who’s kid went through a bone marrow transplant and had to wear a rock hard mask for 100 straight like Em did at four years old, and then we can revisit that conversation).

It hurts my heart that a mask in our country has replaced the Elephant and the Donkey as our political emblem.  I tend to run conservative. (Unless it’s about victims’ rights or universal health care but that’s a whole other blog).  So I don’t wear a mask because it makes me a snowflake or a sheep. I wear a mask because I understand I was born into a country with great freedom. I understand that freedom came with great responsibility, great power, and my power gives me choices. I choose to follow the Golden Rule. Until N95’s are easily and readily accessible for everyone who wants to exercise their freedom and protect themselves then my choice is to do what I can to help those who can’t protect themselves.

As I am about to celebrate this day of declaring independence, I am deeply pondering my freedom, my power and my choices.  In the end, It’s my conscious I am responsible too. Not my government, not my neighbor, not even my flag.  And for me, because I so value my freedom, I will choose to be responsible with my power, lest one day my freedom is no more.

Happy 4th of July!

*If you like the mask in the photo you can get it on Etsy by LilieMayCo for 14.99


Active Hibernation


I keep calling it the Quarantine Cave. I’ve retreated into my house and am waiting till COVID19 passes to “emerge” again.  Like a bear hibernating for winter who is waiting for spring.  Fortunately, I’m not in the medical field and I’m apparently non-essential (doesn’t that make you feel great…what a term!)  I don’t really have a reason I have to leave my house.  I’ve decided the single best way I can support our medical workers and those “essential works” who have to leave their homes, is for me to stay home. There’s really no reason for me to be out unnecessarily if I don’t need to be.

So here I am two months into quarantine, and I have completely lost track of time.  Days, hours and weeks all meld together.  I had a virtual event this week that I actually got showered, dressed, and even did make up for. Just as I was about to go “live” someone from y team texted me asking, “Isn’t the event on Wednesday?”  I quickly responded, “Yes!” only to realized it was Tuesday. I was a full 24 hours early. That’s how disorienting the cave is.

For many of us this is an opportunity to hibernate. We are hibernating at home, each in our own attempt to help “flatten the curve.”  To keep ourselves healthy and out of the hospitals that are already overcrowded and running low on PPE (personal protection equipment) for their staff. So, we do our part, stay home, and hibernate.  The hard part is, unlike a bear that knows when spring comes, we don’t know how long this hibernation will last.

If you know me at all you will know I love words.  I especially love the root meaning of words, and the energy behind its original intent.  (I was the President of my high school’s Latin Club after all!) So, I looked up what the word “hibernate” actually means, and it’s really interesting!  It’s from the 1600s and it means, “an action of passing winter”.   I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s an action. Hibernating isn’t something that’s passive, it’s something that’s active. Plus, just like the idea of passing the winter, we’re hibernating to pass Coronavirus. We are all trying to pass this season.

I have found myself thinking a few times, “Can we just wake up and have it be Christmas? I would like to just pass this season.” What’s interesting about hibernation though, is that it’s an active passing. We actually have a choice of what we’re going to do during this season of passing when we’re quarantined. We can be active in quarantine.

For the sake of true transparency, there have been days where I have been on point with this and then there have been just as many days where I feel think, “It’s four o’clock in the afternoon? Where did this day go?” because I’m still in my pajamas.

I’m not going to sit here on a soapbox and say, “I’ve got this” and “I’m doing this great”. Instead, it’s to share how I am processing this quarantine cave in a hope it will help you process it to.  I find myself thinking, “Okay Tara, who do you want to be when you leave this cave? How do you want to actively pass this season?”

The phrase that keeps coming to my mind is, “difficult times create determined people”. We can choose to be determined this season or not. We can choose to be watching the news constantly, stressed out, lowering our immune system or not. We can choose not.

Let’s be clear. This will be a mental challenge. As a global community we are more connected now than ever before.  Being this connected (especially on social media) means that our newsfeeds may become flooded with posts and pictures from friends (and friends of friends) who are in the hospital, people who unfortunately will be fighting for their lives in ICU.

I remember when my daughter was in the hospital going through cancer and I felt like every family I knew was losing their child. I remember finally asking one of our doctors in fear, “Is there anyone who survives?!?”  I confided how painful it was for me to watch my child suffer through cancer treatment. If she wasn’t going to survive I didn’t want to continue treatment.  It seemed like every child I met was dying. If she was going to live it would be worth the horrific treatment. If she wasn’t, well, it wasn’t worth it was it?

Her doctor quietly said back to me, “We don’t know. That’s the problem. We just don’t know.”

So, I chose to become very “mentally cautious”. My heart was broken for friends who were losing their children. However, I had to put blinders on, I couldn’t let fear overtake me. I had to stay focused on my child. Her victory.

Ten years later, I’m finding myself in that same position now. I can log into Facebook and see post after post of who’s in the hospital, who’s got family in the hospital, and who’s lost family members. Yet, each post reminds me, “Tara, you’ve got to put your blinders on. You can feel sadness for these families, and sympathetic towards their pain, but you can’t let fear overtake you.”

Our world is small and with technology we are all interconnected.  It can feel like everyone is vulnerable, everyone is sick and everyone dying. Yet that’s just not true. The medical stats show us that most people will survive. Most people will have mild symptoms.  Most people will be ok.  Even some of those in critical care will still survive.  That is the hope. That is the light we need to stay focused on. Because what you focus on gets bigger, so I’m keeping my blinders on.

During this season of hibernation, I need to be extra cautious as to what I’m feeding my mind. I also need to decide how I want to actively hibernate, and so I’ll share with you, five different ways I’m choosing to actively hibernate and what you can choose too.

Check back soon  (or subscribe!) because we’ll start with #1 – The Emotional Cave ….