Only mid-March, but it seems like it’s been forever…..What a difference a week or two can make, right? By now, every one of us has been effected by the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. I count myself among the lucky ones, I’m not sick, I don’t have a parent in a nursing home, or school age children to manage now that schools are closed. I haven’t had to re-arrange my schedule to drive cross-country to pick up my college-aged kid whose school has been closed for an indeterminate time. I don’t struggle to get food on the table, or live pay-check to pay-check, and I don’t have a chronic illness which requires me to be a frequent visitor to the health care system.

But, I am an engaged participant in society and when a disruption like this occurs, everyone is within reach of its grasp. I published my debut novel in May of ’19, and have been doing my best to market it and make sure it gets it’s best chance in the world. Marketing the book, social media and event appearances take a fair amount of time and attention.  Coming up to the one year anniversary for A Better Next, there is still much to do. 

I also want to boost my skills, and refresh my perspective on writing in community with other writers. So, I registered for the Iceland Writer’s Retreat late last fall.  I was so looking forward to the excitement of meeting new writers, the faculty looked amazing, and it was to be my first trip to Iceland. Arrangements made, I turned my attention to other pursuits. My leadership work with two non-profit boards is important to me. I believe I have chosen well, and my sense of purpose is based on feeling valued for what I can bring to each organization. Of late, one of these organizations has called upon me to lean-in more than usual; this goes with the territory if you take the volunteer work of governance seriously, which I do.  In short, I’ve been busy.

With the dawn of March, things started happening in Iceland, as the news of the spread of COVID 19 became prominent everywhere.  First, the news that a case of travel-related coronavirus was identified in Iceland, then a few more, then news of a hotel in Reykjavik being purchased to hold the quarantined, then the first e-mail that the organizers were watching and taking their cues from WHO, etc.  By this time the US government was cautioning the elderly—not just those with under-lying health issues to stay away from cruise ships and long airplane trips and I became curious as to the age one is considered elderly—clearly, not me!

During my life, I’ve taken many business trips alone, and wasn’t at all worried about going on this trip, on my own; ready to make new friends among the like-minded. But, when quarantine started to become a frequent word in news reports around the world, I started to consider what it would be like to be quarantined in another country, or ill, and on my own.  Just as I was ready to bail, the organizers announced that the Iceland Writer’s Retreat was cancelled.

I’m hoping it will be re-scheduled for fall, or perhaps I can go next year? I’ll survive.

Concurrently, most literary events and even bookstores are closing for this pause. My work with one of my non-profit boards has now been moved to the virtual sphere—and remains important.  As of now, the unintended consequences of these changes in norms of daily living are unknown.

What we do know is that resilience is key, for everyone. I applaud all of the efforts being made by small businesses and literary players to experiment with new ways to stay connected. I hope we make the most of this unexpected but important pause in everyday life to secure a healthier future for the vulnerable among us. Stay healthy and lean-in when you can make a difference in helping somebody else. And—read a BOOK!