I believe in being a positive person. I am specifically convinced that we can always find happiness if we search for and value the small things. Italy is going through this incredibly difficult time of trying to slow down COVID-19 infections. Like all people living in Italy we have been ordered to stay at home. I however, thought this isolation could be a true gift if I wanted it to be. I have two young children and have been in the last few years so busy in my professional life I worry I’m missing out on so much of their lives. Now, me being at home and them out of school, meant I could finally, truly, enjoy every moment with them. I am blessed to have a garden and a lake view. To be honest, being stuck in Italy with amazing spring weather and food, with all the free time in the world, sounds like a dream. Of course, reality means there are other aspects that greatly influence this experience.
I would say stress is by far the biggest factor and amplifies the effects of all the downsides. As an artist and teacher, my income has dropped to zero, now and for the foreseeable future. I can’t do anything about it, so I fight the urge to drown in worries. Healthwise, in the past, seasonal illnesses would be no big deal, I would just power through it. But a simple cold which normally I would barely notice, this time impaired me for weeks due to the constant stress that it might be the first sign of Covid-19. Luckily antibiotics worked, (I almost NEVER take them, this time I had to) and proved it was only a stupid cold.I am an avid reader, I thought being informed about local and national events through social media would be useful. However the hourly flow of information and negativity has caused a deep sense of fear and paranoia in me which I thought I was immune to. Talking about immunity, I have a few autoimmune disorders which flare up like crazy when I’m stressed and sick. Which means I look and feel like a wreck for no good reason. All of this makes me short-tempered with my kids who often, with infinite possibilities, get bored and demand attention. At least so far, the kids don’t seem to be anxious and nervous about the situation. However, even if they are happy, many times all I want is to lie in bed and read articles on the latest treatments or statistics. I get irritated with them and consequently am mad at myself because I was so looking forward to this time together. THIS is my reality.
But then, positive, life-loving me kicks in, and I am able to find and appreciate the good. What’s real is also seeing everyone singing on their balconies at 6pm. Having an incredibly transparent and courageous government, prioritizing health over the economy and being a pioneer for the rest of the world. For the first time maybe ever, people are truly proud of being Italian, all united in facing this illness. I am part of an incredible community of artists doing everything that can be thought of to remain alive and active, getting through this together. What’s real is that, (even if it might be the most cliché thing in the world to say) when my kids hug me and say they love to be with me, it just makes me cry for joy.
And so my reality starts to get much better overall. I get up in the morning and have coffee. I lay outside on my lawn and play or workout or draw with my kids. I bake, everything and anything with them. I am by my child’s side as he homeschools. I chat with friends, take online classes, evaluate different ideas for new projects, keep in touch with my students. I paint a rainbow with my kids and hang it out our window. I put on 80s music and have dance parties with them which we all adores. I dream of future plans to travel. I take the time to hug and cuddle. I wish I could be lazier, but for me being lazy has to be a reward after hard work. I guess it is reality as well that being happy is hard work, especially during difficult times like these. Although we had a rough first week, I’d say now we have found a new routine, and it’s enriching us in a deep way.
Dance taught me to live in the moment, it’s a gift children have as well. So be it good or bad, I’m going to try and live every moment I spend in this new reality, so if/when this all passes I know it was worth it, and so will they.