Thanks for COVID

Thanks for COVID
March 25, 2023 Maggie Lynch
In musings

March is almost over. Spring is officially here. Easter is two weeks away. Though I’ve been incredibly busy since my last post for Veterans Day in 2022, it feels like I have nothing to show for it–at least not in the traditional way.

I have no new book to release. I have no great promotions I’ve run. I haven’t put out a newsletter to my fans since last summer. In every way that I’ve measured my author career to be successful, I have done nothing to make that happen. As if that knowledge wasn’t enough, to put a nasty point on the end of March, my husband and I came down with COVID this past week. It’s not a horrible, in the hospital version. We both have had every vaccination and booster we were eligible to get. We’ve been very careful and I’m sure that is a huge factor in us not being in the hospital.

Yet…we still got it–like many people have who did all the right things. Just when I was thinking: “We are out of the woods. Three years down, we made it. They’ll be lifting all restrictions in our area in April.”

Then BOOM!!! COVID!  It’s as if the universe wanted to prove to me, once again, that control of my life is never promised.

Control Is Such A Mercurial Concept

Of course, that is all me feeling sorry for myself. The reality is COVID doesn’t care how good or bad a person I’ve been. And all the other struggles I’ve had are also not a judgment of my character.

Hand of God sends lightning from sky cloud engraving As a child, I believed I controlled everything based on my behavior. If I was good, God would somehow intervene in whatever struggles my family was having. If I was bad, I risked not only myself but my entire family. Though I no longer believe that to be true, I can’t help but go back to that feeling when things pile up.

The reality is, I’m actually somewhat grateful I was taken down by COVID. I know that sounds crazy. I’m not grateful to have been sick and miserable for a week. I’m not grateful to have my husband then be sick and miserable for a week. But, whenever I get sick it forces me to stop and take care of myself. It forces me to take stock of how I’ve been operating and if it was sustainable. It forces me to stop believing I can control everything and everyone around me. I DO have some control over preparation, my reactions to challenges, and worry. But I don’t have control over many other things that impact my life.

November included two major changes in my life at once.

I accepted a part-time job back in Academia at the beginning of November. I sought this out and was fortunate to have found the right situation for me and my expertise. I’ve been retired from Academia for eight years, building my author career, changing my living circumstances to downsize and budget for the long-term reality of that retirement career. However, circumstances were changing and I knew I needed more backup income in order to survive the next year or two. I. knew my mother was going to need to move to a senior living situation in the future and that it was expensive. I also surmised the same was for my sister who lived with her.

I was fortunate to find a job that matched my expertise. I was VERY fortunate to find a situation where the people I work with care about what they are doing and show care to each other. I’m respected and I respect the people I work with. I was able to control where I worked and the preparation for finding that opportunity.  I was surprised both at how easy I fit in and took on the job, but also by how much time 25 hours per week changed the time I had previously dedicated to writing and business and family. I had not realistically understood that change was going to be huge.

The first week of my new job, my mother fell down the back stairs to the yard at her home and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. That hastened my search for a senior living facility for her and my sister. Fortunately, I’d been looking for a year-anticipating the move was two years out. However, the fall combined with my sister’s failing health, forced me to move that timeline up. I moved both my mother and sister into a facility near me the day after Thanksgiving.

What I could control was finding them a safe place to live that was somewhat affordable, and was near me so I could visit often. What I could not control was how they might adapt to their situation.

December was a Blur.

Honestly, I don’t remember December much. It seemed I was awake all the time, trying to keep up with my new job and moving forward. Making sure all the financial stuff was ironed out for my mother and sister where they lived. Making sure they were adapting well (never as easy as I’d hope but making progress). Coordinating Christmas dinner for my mother and sister and various relatives at their new living facility, so it would feel as much as “normal” that it could be.

January I vowed to “Get it Together.”

Cover for Two Voices by Maggie LynchI made all kinds of plans and promises to myself. Get my new middle-grade book out to publishers. Start executing a plan for finishing a couple of series in 2023. Finish the last book in my Sweetwater Canyon series, Two Voices. Finish the last book in my Cryoborn Gifts series, Singularlity. I knew what the plot and themes were for both of these books. They’d been ready to write for two years.

I didn’t even touch those two series books. I did do another editing round on the middle-grade book, but still didn’t send it out. I felt exhausted just keeping up with my new job, helping my mom and sister adapt to their new living situation, setting up new doctors and pharmacy and all that a move entails for them, along with the regular upkeep of other responsibilities all on an equal plane. I was sure I could manage it all somehow. And each month I couldn’t, I said: “Next month. Next month I’ll have it together. This is just a blip. One more month and it will all come together.”


Cover for Singularity by Maggie Lynch, Cryoborn Gifts series, Obsidian RimFast forward through February and March.

Here we are…again…with not a lot to show. I was really beating myself up from week-to-week for not moving forward on those goals. Yet, it seemed that every minute of every day was filled beyond the brim with responsibilities. What was wrong with me? It’s not like I was doing nothing or watching hours and hours of TV, letting my brain be entertained instead of exercised. To the contrary, I felt like I was constantly solving problems for various family members, for me, for others. But I was not producing product. I was not advancing my writing career like I had in the past.

Had I lost it? Was I no longer a writer? Was my age finally really taking a toll on my mind and I was no longer able to do more than one thing at a time?

Change Is Hard. Underestimate that Transition at My Peril.

I know this intellectually. I just didn’t think it applied to me. I’ve always been pretty easy about change. In fact, I’m often the one who initiates change, much to my husband’s chagrin. I even used to teach classes about “embracing change” when I was in the corporate world.

This goes back to the entire “control” problem. Though my mother was adapting decently to her new living situation, she still needed more of my time. Her dementia seemed to be more pronounced and she seemed to need a lot more contact and reinforcement. She wasn’t easily making new friends, afraid of forgetting or going anywhere in the facility alone.

My sister was not adapting well at all. She put on a good front, but it wasn’t working. She was living in a world of the past where she had more control over her body and its ability to move and breathe and recover. It was a lot harder for her to accept that she was in this situation. Denial is a very strong emotional reaction to change. Instead of getting stronger, she was getting weaker.

I was in denial as well. I thought I could do it all. I could ensure mom and sister would thrive. I could ensure my project at work would move ahead at breakneck speed to make up for the time lost before I took the job. Most of all, I could keep doing everything I had been doing for my writing career in spite of all my hours going to working part-time and taking care of family. I kept telling myself: “A little less sleep is okay for the short period of time you’ll nee to do this. A little more focus will get me back on track. Pick up the pace. Keep smiling. Soon it will all fall together and this difficult time will be worth it.”

My sister went into the hospital for five days as her oxygen was dangerously low. That ended her period of denial. The good news is she was discharged with nursing care and physical therapy. She is now doing better than ever.

Then COVID hit. It all came to a screeching halt. Ten people where my mom and sister live tested positive. My sister tested positive a week after coming home from the hospital. I took her to a follow-up appointment and the next day she tested positive. I had symptoms two days after that and then tested positive on the third day. My 89 year old mother tested positive two days after me. Her only symptom was a loss of taste.

COVID ended MY denial of managing it all, having control of the outcome. Now I couldn’t go visit. I could barely get out of bed.  I couldn’t exercise my will or control over their health, nevertheless my own. As I write this, I’m no longer positive but I still can’t draw a deep breath. I still get weak if I move around too much.


Reminder Accepted

The world didn’t fall apart when I couldn’t control it. My sister has come out of this stronger. She is no longer positive. Home Health services have made a huge difference–a difference I could not have made myself. My mother has beens surprisingly calm during this–though sometimes confused but never frightened. She tested negative yesterday and has been able to return to dining with others instead of isolated in her room.

For me? I stopped beating myself up. I can’t be the same as I was six months ago or even a year ago. The reality is life is not the same for me. It will never be the same as it was then. Life is change and to think otherwise is self-defeating.

I am not the same person I was a year ago, or six months ago, or even a week ago. My reality is that, for the foreseeable future, I must continue to juggle several priorities. That means that some priorities will fall behind because I’m not the best juggler. I used to think I was a great multi-tasker. Maybe I was in my twenties or thirties. Over the years, I’ve realized that what I am is very fast single-tasker. Sometimes I’m fast enough that people think I’m multi-tasking, but I’m not. I’m just getting each task done quickly and I arrange my day so I can get more than one thing done. But that means the tasks are discrete and short. I can’t write a novel in a day, or even a week.

At the moment my priorities are:  1) Get healthy so I can work and help others; 2) Stop worrying about what I’m not doing and instead choose what I am doing; 3) Prioritize by calendaring those things I want done. I can’t do everything on my list this week, or even this month. I MUST choose what I will and can do. Otherwise, I set myself up for failure.

These are the reminders I’d ignored. I was in denial about my abilities to do everything I’ve always done. COVID forced me to recognize that. I’m not sure anything else could have grabbed me by the collar and made me stop and reconsider the path I was taking.

Will I get my new novel out to publishers? Yes, I will do it before the end of spring break. Will I get those two end of series books released this year? Probably one will happen, but I will try to at least write both of them. If I get one of them done and released this year, I’ll count that as a win.

Woman staring out serene mountain view. Words say: Worrying oes not take away tomorrow's troubles. It takes away today's peace.

The quote on the right came across my Instagram feed today and it really hit home. I’ve been dealing with my inability to get everything done by constantly worrying about it. It’s as if the worry makes sure I don’t forget it has to be done. It’s like all the little stickers around my computer monitor to remind me of things I need to do. They are visual reminders so I don’t forget. I allowed the worry to be a  replacement for getting them done–a false sense that by worrying I was dealing with them.

Prioritizing gets things done. Having to make a choice and let something go, for now, allows me to actually get something done. It is what moves me ahead.

I’d forgotten that.

Thank you, COVID! Thanks to all my friends, family, and so many author support folks who have been kind, kept me going, and kept saying I was still fine even if I produced no work. I was loved even when I missed an email, a meeting, some other commitment.

I am so very blessed!


Lets Connect!. Follow me on your favorite social media sites