A monster pandemic has been unleashed upon the world. Weeks of quarantine. School, work, everything… from home. Hospitals overwhelmed. Loved ones overran by a virus, resulting in virtual or drive by funerals from the sidewalk. For me, the new norm is like an animated horror movie in slo-mo. Does anyone else feel like we’re stuck in the Twilight Zone?
Here’s my first animation of my family at home. The video is just a day in our life during this weird time.
In early March, the first week we worked from home, my hubby went shopping. He was shocked to find bare shelves. It’s hard to believe this was happening in America. He took video of this surreal moment of reality. Take a look for yourself.
2020…In the beginning
Unbelievable right? For me at the beginning of each year, I usually make dissertations sized plans. Since I do documentary production work, most of the pre-production planning is outlined before we hit the road. So I try to model that with family plans, yes you guessed it, control-freak-in-chief. So this may surprise you when I tell you, for 2020 I decided not to make my typical lofty plans… Friends shared their vision boards with me. I had nothing. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel anxious. I prayed whatever your plan is Lord reveal it.
In February, for black history month I got invited to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. When I asked the boys if they wanted to go, they said yes. This would be a visual experience of pivotal milestones in American history that’s not fully taught at school. It was important and necessary. They got the full immersion of how blacks lived as unwanted strangers in a new land.
They learned how different things were back then and how much things have changed. They sat at the lunch counter and heard insults hurled at them. They felt the seats vibrating to replicate the experience of people kicking their seats. My teenager could not go through the full lunch-counter-experience. He said the sound of voices taunting him, berating him, insulting him pierced his heart. It literally hurt him to hear other human beings talk to darker humans like wild animals. He stopped listening before the timer reached a minute.
My little one had no idea how segregation kept everything separated by race– from schools to cemeteries. When he saw the images where everything for blacks was labeled colored and read that white kids could not be in the same schools with black kids, he said with a frown on his little face, “That’s not fair!” It was an unknown world to him, because today he sits with his white friends at church and at school. As uncomfortable as it was I believe it’s important for children to culturally understand their history to help them navigate their future. Every culture understands the importance of this. So much of the history felt like he said, unfair, yet in the middle of that I found a treasure. My personal favorite image that follows gave me a new appreciation for the power of unity. Read each line carefully and pay attention to the numbers.
Logistics planning is involved in my current day job. When I saw this sheet, it blew me away. As much as Dr. King led the March on Washington, this sheet of paper is a testament that united people of color are a force for good. Look at how they and their allies organized their community to stand up for their rights without a single incident of violence! This A-team thought about everything from buses to hotdogs and far exceeded their attendee goals. I felt the power of unity and the brilliance of a people determined to become more than second place. But in this instant I understood the adage, unity is strength. Being the first or only person of color is not a badge of honor, if you can’t pave the way for others. However, the collective effort of a family, a group of women, a group of young people, an alienated group brings bigger better results. The power of unity is unstoppable.
I’ll pause right here to hail all the people of the past and present with the gift of logistics – who can create calm in the midst of a tsunami. You know who you are, put your hand on your shoulders, then reach to your back and pat yourself from me. Change cannot happen without you. Organizations cannot not run without you. I have a person like this in my family. A true gift. You know who you are!
By the end of February, my little one had an idea for a family outing. He wanted us to go to see a basketball game. I had never been to a game. One day as I was searching for tickets, a friend of mine asked what I was doing. I told her and she offered to buy the whole family tickets. 😱 Thank you for your favor that replaced all my plans.
Little did I know that my first game would be my last game for quite some time. Fast forward a month later and one by one things start shutting down. No one knew we were on the verge of a pandemic. No more gatherings. Including work and restaurants. Sporting events nationwide began cancelling.
Easter was coming up, the largest Christian celebration annually. But a week before Easter, my family had to gather around the TV to watch FB live stream church service. With a small group of singers on stage to sing praises to God, only few staff members in the pews and the rest of us at home. Pastor Gwennie said, “Our house was God’s house.” It stuck with me. I was so impressed that our church that had no live service presence, fully adapted to the shelter in place order that came next.
Even Spring Break was … at home. Didn’t think I would have to be an actress, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I dressed up like I was going to the beach in my backyard. I figured if real life felt like make believe, I can have a mental vacation. This is one way I transplant myself from a negative reality to a positive possibility. If you’ve reprimanded a child for daydreaming, stop, I personally feel they are taking a mental break into a visual kingdom. Creativity begins in the mind’s eye. We all need it now, especially since we’re on a prolonged sabbatical. With not a clear end in sight.
We all have questions about the future and a humbling wake up call that we need to replace self reliance with divine dependence. Has it dawned on you that you don’t have control? Not of the next moment, nor the future. Facing this truth is scary. Leaders of families, organizations, companies, schools, food supplies, medical systems and countries need a solution for this ginormous problem.
Many of us have elderly family members– a mother, grandmother, aunt, dad, granddad, uncle that we’re concerned about. Then there is that person who is still in pain because someone they adored got stricken with the virus and then taken away from them. Anyone out there like me that hates this plague?
Information is flowing, mostly negative, some speculative, others informative and all together, that gets overwhelming. I decided to limit my intake of information that breeds negativity and builds up fear. Not because I don’t want to be informed about the latest but because I know the limited nature of my humanness. Negativity is a drug, that once put on autopilot, it forms into an abyss of tormenting questions asking “What if? What about? How can we? When can we?” Questions with no answers is an exhausting exercise. It drains your life source. You get weak and tired.
But what if you accepted that you don’t have the answers to this new abnormal life. What if your idea of a solution doesn’t hold the answer? What if the problem is beyond our human fix? What if the most ingenious person is baffled? The most powerful man is powerless? It’s scary to process that with all our titles, positions, talents, knowledge… we are like grass.
Yet, this acknowledgement forces us to a place of surrendering our entire plan, fix and resolutions to the master planner. Most of us think that the surrender means releasing something for nothing. You may wonder, like I do, “If I let go of what I know, my grand master plan, what will I be left with?” Look at the waves in this next video how they roll in and crash the shore, then recede back into the deep ocean.
Surrender is an exchange, when you let go of your plans, it’s like the waves receding, in exchange you’ll receive His ultimate divine design.
Letting go is not easy, and it can be scary but it has to be done willingly.
Joan Brown went through her own hell. A quadruple murder suicide and lost all her close family members, including her only daughter by gun violence. Yet, having survived and now wheelchair bound, she writes about facing fear head-on.
Listen to her words, and think about any situation looming large over you– no income, loss, sickness, aging, no graduation, no school, no normal. She is smiling. Looking at the world now, paints a grim future but there is life after going through hell and there will be life after a pandemic. Even if we don’t know how it will look, rest assured in this truth from the Psalms, “You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book.”
I lay down my control
I lay down my plans
I exchange it for the plans God has for me today and
For the future–for my spouse, me and my family