Coping with the Pandemic

Folks, my world is being shaken by COVID-19. My life is changing every single day. The college where I work is a ghost town and next week almost all staff will be working from home. I really miss the students, who are taking their classes online now. Trips to the grocery stores are depressing – empty shelves and people keeping their distance are real downers. I can visit my parents only if we’re outside and at a distance from one another. Even before COVID-19 my husband and I were thinking that declaring bankruptcy could be a viable option, and now it’s looming. My dojo hasn’t met this week. I feel like my world is shrinking, imploding. I am stunned by how much has happened in so short a time.

I took a week off from working out. I needed the time to wrap my head around the new reality and to grieve a bit for the things that need to be set aside for the time being. I came to the realization that I did not need worries and anxieties about Karate on top of everything else that is going on right now. I knew those worries about my Karate were actually quite silly. Ordinarily, I could easily dispel those anxieties with any number of coping mechanisms and just plain hard physical work.

I just didn’t have the energy this past week.

So I let go. Sort of.

I prepared for the weeks to come and these preparations solved a multitude of problems. My husband needs quiet as he works from home – which he’s been doing for several months now. I need an area big enough to accommodate kata (forms) practice. My husband was in a big basement room with an outside entrance to the driveway. I was in a teensy bedroom in the basement. We were using the wrong spaces.

This past weekend my husband and I concentrated on making the teensy basement room into an office. My husband now has a door he can close. No one will traipse through with sacks of groceries. We focused on getting that office functional ASAP. My new workout room was a complete disaster area for most of this week. And that’s OK.

Like I said, I needed time. Emotionally and psychologically, I was drained.

I know exercise is good for what ails you, but sometimes it’s hard to get the motivation to do so. I assured myself with the fact that I never intended to set aside exercise and karate permanently. I knew all I needed was to come back rested and with a fresh perspective on the little hangups that seemed so enormous while I was dealing with the grief and strain caused by the COVID-19 situation.

Wednesday night I felt guilty that the exercise/craft room wasn’t quite done yet. Throughout the week I picked through craft stuff and boxed up quite a bit of it for the thrift store, but there were still a few piles of stuff on the floor. I decided the space didn’t have to be perfect to be usable. I shoved what remained of the mess into a corner of the craft area. As I worked I realized that I was happy. I vacuumed the floor and went to bed excited about resuming my workouts.

The new, bigger space is wonderful. I only have to do a little scootching when practicing the kata (forms) which require the most space. I never realized how annoyed I was at the constant scootching I had to do in the little room. Thursday, when I worked out for the first time since the last class day, I felt free and I felt… Flabby.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to set the bar a little lower than it was for just a little while while I rebuild. I’ve lost a little ground physically. Mentally, though, I’m back. Yes I’m sad about the cancelled classes, yes, I feel lonely for my little tribe, and yes I am frustrated that tournaments are being cancelled left and right. But now that I’ve wrapped my head around the other things that are going on in my life I’m ready to deal with this.

I have to stop feeling guilty about the week I took off because it gave me a little bit of breathing room – a little time to gradually work through some things as I prepared my new and better workout space. Of course I’m going to miss my fellow karateka, but I also know how to work out on my own. Prior to the cancellation of what would have been my next tournament I was, like every year, tearing my hair out trying to pass the online test for renewing my kumite (sparring) judging license. Now I have quite a lot more time to study (God knows I need it). I had one excellent tournament before everything was shut down and the 2nd and 3rd place medals I won were good, solid wins against some excellent ladies. Even if all the tournaments are cancelled this season, I will still have the good memories from that one tournament. Most importantly, to me anyway, I have more time and space to improve my karate in preparation for my Shodan (1st degree black belt) test.

Dear reader, my answer to the question, “When will you test?” remains the same: I am preparing for that test, have been since November 2018. Frankly, nothing is certain given the COVID-19 situation. I’m hoping for the best – that all this will be a memory in a month. But… Reality is that I will have to be clever and diligent in my study, and I might have to wait quite a long time to test (which could be true anyway regardless of any stupid virus). God knows I have a LOT to work on. And thanks to the little break I took this week I am ready to buckle down again. I am hoping this discipline will help carry me through the challenges in the weeks and months to come.

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

4 thoughts on “Coping with the Pandemic”

  1. Hello, so nice to read this post. It is such an odd experience to be sharing this quarantine with the world and it is really hard to readjust our lives so quickly. Our Kung Fu studio is of course closed as well, but they have been making some videos of the basics to keep people motivated. It is so appreciated!

    Good for you for creating a work out space. I hope it helps you practice. I am looking forward to warmer weather to do some forms outside. Thanks for your post!

  2. Hi, June! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Yes, the new space is a HUGE relief. I have a tiny craft area at one end of it – that now hosts the laptop computer, which I use for video conferencing for my work. So glad your Kung Fu studio is making videos – so many martial artists are going that route.

    1. It is something that is solid in a rapidly changing world. We recently learned some bagua, which we are told that the motion is supposed to help you keep your center while everything around you changes. 🙂 Seems very apt.

      I hope other things work out for you too. It is a scary economic time now as well.
      Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.