I’m grateful that I was able to get through this. I’m grateful that as a yoga teacher I have tools to help me maintain composure, quiet the monkey mind, and give myself silence and space to observe my thoughts and emotions. I was able to listen to my body and give myself what it needed to heal.
Sitting in the airport on the morning of March 12, waiting to board my flight to Belize, I was excited and looking forward to the week ahead. The news was barely breaking the day before I left. Fear has never dictated anything in my life, so off I went. Leaving behind a perfectly normal existence; my family, my yoga shala and New Jersey, I would never have guessed that COVID-19 would change all of it. The same day I flew was the day that it was announced as a pandemic.
By the time I had reached my destination just six hours later, the life I had just left was no longer the same.
Central America had not been affected by the virus, nor the hysteria surrounding it. Navigating through the week, I checked on my daughters numerous times throughout each day. Feeling at ease because they didn’t seem panicked, worried, or stressed, I didn’t realize the impact that this virus was having on New Jersey and most of the world. Sure, I get updates from Toms River Patch. I have social media. None of that prepared me for what I would encounter when I got home.
On March 18, I arrived in Newark to a mostly empty airport with all the stores and restaurants closed, bars covering them. The shuttle to long term parking was empty. Arriving at the parking lot it was late, foggy, cold, empty, dismal and creepy. I drove the hour-long drive back to Toms River with excitement to be home, hug my family, pet my dog, Bodhi. I walked into my home with my family eagerly awaiting my arrival.
To my surprise, nobody would hug me. They said, “No, you might have the virus”.
Before I could get any words out my husband demanded that I go take a shower immediately. I showered, then afterward entered the living room and sat on the couch to hear about school, work, life, all the things I missed while I was away.
My family sat far away from me.
A lot can happen in a week…
Waking up the very next day, I had lost all sense of smell, and taste. My appetite was non-existent. I was extremely thirsty. Thinking it was from travel, and possibly allergies (as I had typical cold/allergy symptoms), I took Allegra and carried on with my day. The next day with still no taste or smell, I was even thirstier than the day before. I had a headache and felt nauseous. I thought it was…yes, you guessed it, allergies and travel. The next day was progressively worse. The pain in my body was not familiar, my headache was different, the nausea was horrible. My chest felt tight. I had a strange feeling in my nasal passage and throat. The only way I could describe it was if there was “powder” stuck in my sinus cavity and my throat.
By Monday I was sweating, vomiting, the pain in my body was worse, the headache, nausea, the strange “powder” stuck in my sinuses and throat, still no appetite and still not able to smell or taste. It was time to schedule a test for COVID-19. I stayed in my room for the next couple of days, until on Wednesday it was time to drive to Marlboro (a 35-minute drive) for my drive-through testing. I pulled up to a tent. There were people with clipboards, covered with plastic. They had on masks, gloves, shoe covers, and white suits which covered them from the neck down. There were cans of Lysol all over their tables.
How is this real life?
I answered all their questions, and there were many. They are careful to save the tests for the very sick. You see, I was high risk. I was in at least 10 airports in a 3-week time frame. I traveled to Costa Rica at the end of February. I came home for a week and a half and then I left for Belize.
Words can’t describe how bad it was. Nothing I say sounds right, or enough. The sickness lasted almost two weeks. You indeed go through this sickness alone. I felt scared, lonely, sad. By the time my positive results came in on April 2nd, I felt like I was in recovery. Many of the symptoms had passed… I stared at the words “This is a positive test. You do have the COVID-19 virus. Once again this test is positive for the coronavirus”. With all that I had suffered, deep down I knew that’s what the results would be.
The results were only shared with my family and a couple of close friends. I was hesitant to announce it on social media out of fear. Fear of what? I don’t know. I announced it because I was tired of all the negativity, the panic, the anxiety that I was seeing on social media. Saddened to hear the fear in my friends’ voices when I spoke to them.
Sharing my story because I wanted to help, with hopes that it would ease someone’s mind if even just a little. This virus is doing so much damage. People are losing their lives, their income, their normalcy, their happiness. People are sick in the hospital, in their homes. I can’t imagine the toll it will have on our economy. My mind races with thoughts of people stuck in homes with abusive spouses or family members. My heart aches for the people that suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety.
I think of the children that don’t have stable homes, are they scared, hungry?
I’m grateful that I was able to get through this. I’m grateful that as a yoga teacher I have tools to help me maintain composure, quiet the monkey mind, and give myself silence and space to observe my thoughts and emotions. I was able to listen to my body and give myself what it needed to heal. With all the pain, suffering and chaos surrounding the world right now, I feel a little selfish when I think about my own business and what will happen to it. I dreamed of opening a yoga shala that was unique; a safe space for people to heal and transform. A non-intimidating space to make anyone feel welcome despite age, race, religion, gender, sexual preference, and economic status.
My dream became a reality on January 1st of this year! Opening Atman Yoga and Meditation in Toms River was just as I had envisioned. It’s small, intimate, warm and inviting. I had been teaching yoga in various studios around the Jersey Shore for four years. After working in a “corporate yoga” setting as my home base, I noticed things I didn’t like about that world and things I didn’t like about what was happening in the yoga community in general. Being led to yoga for me was a pivotal part of my healing. Struggling to heal from the past. Yoga gave me what I needed to heal from the inside. I can honestly say that five years ago yoga saved my life. And just like I did with this virus, I’ll place my trust in God, the universe, and my own strength to get through the struggle of keeping Atman in business. Right now, I am healthy and so is my family, and that’s all I can ask for.
So, friends, yogi or not, we will get through this. It is possible to come out of this tragedy with some valuable life lessons if we are open to receive them. Be brave, be strong. Take care of yourself, take care of each other. Be a little more kind and receptive if someone is reaching out to you for interaction during this time. You never know what someone is going through behind all the pretty social media pictures. Let’s hope we are changed after this. Let’s hope that we appreciate our freedom more. Let’s be nicer to each other, and make sure our hearts are open and receptive.
What’s that saying? Never underestimate the power of a girl and her yoga mat? Yea….it’s like that.
Peace and love to you all. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
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