Reflections on Tranquillity © lynette sheppard

In late February, I watched the news and knew we were in for a major hit. Every healthcare professional I know has anticipated and dreaded the coming of the next global pandemic.  Knowing didn’t make it any easier to cope.

My husband and I live on a tiny island in the Pacific. Our governor shut down most travel on March 25. Turned out that an island resident who’d traveled earlier in the month came down with the virus. He worked in our main grocery store. Overnight, the entire staff of that store was quarantined, people in hazmat suits arrived to decontaminate all three of our little grocery stores, and food shopping stopped for three days. Our two smaller stores and their rock-star staff along with dozens of volunteers revamped “shopping” to get food to our island. We line up in cars, hand over lists and credit cards, and we wait until staff fill bags of food and place them in our cars. (My husband waited in a line of cars for two and a half hours the other day. He said that he just thought of it as a medium length plane flight.) Some things are not available, Hours are reduced. But everyone is cheerful and caring and grateful. So far, only one other person has tested positive for the virus. We isolate at home except for shopping and exercise. We all wear masks and gloves whenever we go out. We keep at least 6 feet between us and others at all times.

My brain fog came back with a vengeance. For the first time in years. I couldn’t hold a thought for more than a few seconds. I’d start to do something, then wander into another room and start to clean, then get hung up on straightening out my jewelry box. I’d forget just about everything. I couldn’t really blame it on menopause this time. Anxiety and uncertainty just made it hard to think.

After the initial shock and panic, my brain is a little less foggy. I have enough attention span to make lists and write this blog post. Dewitt and I have settled into a new routine. We work in the morning. We make art, write, or read in the afternoon. We line up for groceries once a week. We go to the post office twice a week. We call, Facebook, and Zoom with friends and family. We connect with our neighbors and help one another where we can. We take walks and listen to podcasts every day. We are toning up and losing weight.

We’ve adopted some new habits. We are watching less television. (Which is weird; I thought we’d binge watch Netflix everything.) We dress up for dinner, even though it’s just the two of us.  We eat outside on the lanai every night. instead of balancing our plates on our laps in front of the evening news. We try new recipes with fewer ingredients. We go to bed earlier and read books before turning out the lights. Every day is spa day, as I pull out and actually use the cleansing masks and foot soak products in my closet. These little tweaks serve to calm and nurture us, as does yoga, meditating, and just listening to the birds.

Tell us how self-isolation has affected you. What coping methods can you share with your menopause goddess sisters? Women sharing wisdom – that’s what we are all about. Post in the comments below. Be safe, be well. We will get through this – together.