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Unlike many of my friends who have suddenly become doctors and scientists – I am not.

By Lindsay St. Clair

I’m just an American who falls into the immune-compromised group after being bit by a tick… yeah, something so small you often can’t even see – completely derailed my life at the end of 2018. Interestingly, I’ve been treated with the malaria drugs they are now using for COVID-19.

The term “cytokine storm” is not new to me. I was one of the unfortunate people (like many) that it took months of specialists, scans and tests before getting an answer because it’s “so rare” in Arizona. A CDC positive test proved it is indeed possible. Six weeks of intense IV antibiotics and interventions in NY were not enough… six months on a clinical trial drug had me in bed and crawling to the bathroom… it was brutal.

I’m still dealing with neutropenia (which is an unusually low number of neutrophils – a type of white blood cell in your immune system that attack bacteria and other organisms when they invade your body) and my immune system is deficient in producing antibodies to fight pneumonia. So it’s a little nerve-racking over here with this virus scare. My personal experience opened my eyes to the blessings and deficits in our healthcare system. It’s been a hell of a journey (the specifics aren’t the point of this post), but the research, diagnosis, treatment and coverage for Lyme disease & co-infections need desperate attention. My full recovery has taken much longer than my Type-A personality ever thought possible, especially considering how invested and dedicated I’ve been to get back to 100% – it’s a full time job. I’m now very well-educated and in-tune to the multi-layers of healing all systems and have all the tools in my toolbox… I’ve just adjusted to the fact that this is a marathon not a sprint. I’m actually “healthier” than I’ve ever been in my life and it’s a true blessing. Honestly, it was a wakeup call.

I never would’ve answered and would’ve kept sending to VM if I had not been completely knocked on my ass. Balance is now my best friend: I slowed down. Reset. Refocused. Re-engaged with myself and found inner-peace. The calm is priceless.

 

Treatment in NY with the most amazing medical team

So, I admit, my perspective may be slightly jaded based on my personal circumstances.

I gained some pretty legit experience having my busy, active, fulfilling life and career (I still love) take a complete 360: my health in the driver seat with no turn signals, isolation and loss of my all my social activities that once kept my calendar jam packed with the little time left when I wasn’t working, fear, financial devastation… and months of perfecting introspection, ninja self-care and redemption are now my jam.

I’ve been prepping for this (and I survived learning my true hair color – those memes crack me up – and letting go of lots of luxuries which lost their relevance in my day to day priorities.) I had no idea I’d be ahead of the curve for this current situation… I’ve been practicing for more than a year now. And this is going to be an intense Round Two with more unknowns. But I’m much more mentally prepared now. I’m hoping some of this may potentially have purpose or insight for you during this time of uncertainty: Strap in!

Spoiler alert: Life is still challenging, but it’s a hell of a lot more meaningful now. I promise there’s hope.  It’s not linear… it ebbs and flows like a freaking roller coaster but keep your loved ones close and the ride is much easier.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is assume people are doing their best and have good intentions… it makes your reactions much more thoughtful and you realize it’s not about you.

I feel compelled to share my personal story (I’ve been very private about this and I still feel uncomfortable blasting it out now, but I know vulnerability is powerful when life is messy.) I also think some of my “friends” on FB have temporarily lost their damn minds. But I lost my mind a bit in the beginning of my journey, so I get it. I’ve just had a lot of time to absorb the enormity of what major life challenges can do to the body, mind and spirit.

During our current crisis, I’ve been equally blown away by the generosity of many. At the heart of it all – people are inherently good… they just lose their way sometimes. Fear is mofo.

You may be let down by people close to you… you may be pleasantly surprised by complete strangers. We have no control over anything but ourselves so be ready for both.

The world crisis is not a black or white issue – it’s full of grey… and mix in fear, finances, health, morality and livelihood — people all have a right to their feelings, emotions and opinions. There’s not a right or wrong approach here to why this is happening, but it’s time to set aside your politics, speculations, conspiracy theories and especially the rationale that this is destroying our economy for only a “small portion” of the population. I won’t repeat the terms I’ve read as I hope they were unintentional.

Trust me, you will find whatever answers you seek to justify your claims with a few random internet searches… and you will always find support for whichever wolf you decide to feed. Choose wisely.

Are you contributing to the problem or the solution?

Right now – we need solutions. This is a defining time to see what your character is made of… and the example you are setting for your kids, family, neighbors, employees, co-workers, and community.

Each of you who are completely healthy are one random incident like a tick bite, freak accident, car accident, or life-altering doctor’s appointment away from falling into the health category that is being quickly dismissed by some. Please don’t forget that you have many friends who you may not even realize have diabetes, heart/lung issues, asthma, cancer… most immune deficiencies are invisible.

Most people who have had a health crisis lead active lives and are still valuable contributors to our society because they have compassion, grit, resilience and understand what truly matters. A lot of our best leaders. This is also about our nurses, doctors, first responders, caregivers, grocery store workers, truck and delivery drivers…  and so many other front-line people who are going to battle for us. It’s time to set aside your ego and leave some room (in your heart) for the possibility that some simple actions may truly make a difference to our communities. Please give the benefit of the doubt and take “STAY HOME” seriously. I realize as a society we can’t do this for an extended period of time, but let’s do our part to flatten the curve now so we don’t overwhelm our hospital system. They aren’t properly equipped and need time: They need tests and treatments in hand. So yes, a couple weeks of slowing the spread may really make a difference. I know there are similarities and differences between the US and other countries who are only merely weeks ahead of us on this… but if there’s a chance we can learn from their actions or lack of actions – let’s come together and be smart.

I get the financial scare more than you know and I’m not minimizing this aspect at all. In fact, I realize this may be an even bigger threat for many reasons. While my circumstances may be completely different than what you are facing… it was suffocating and scary to unexpectedly need to drain more than six-figures from my savings, retirement and equity from my home – everything I had worked my tail off as a single, hard working woman for security. My safety nets. I realize how fortunate I am that I had these options as I know many do not. I held on with all my might… clutching and clawing to the what I thought gave me freedom: my finances… my livelihood. And in the beginning, I kept pushing and working insane hours to desperately cling to my identity and income while putting my health aside. Until that was impossible and despite my best efforts and kick-ass attitude – my body gave up. It still took my mind and body’s “flight or fight” response of being “ON” all the time and years of being so busy — several months to exhale even while being sick. I had no idea who the hell I was when all the chatter stopped and the health I had put on “hold” was suddenly my “only” priority. My goodness, that’s an eye-opener. So, I understand the panic.

When the day to day of what you know is suddenly drastically different – you are faced with new realities. This current crisis is just getting started and the effects are going to be long-lasting. But freedom, at least for me, was surrendering and figuring out what I was made of when everything I built came crashing down. Freedom, again for me, was the realization that if you don’t have your health – you don’t have anything. And if you’re healthy – you can rebuild anything. In the process you may find, like I did, that the remodel is completely different than the floor-plan you envisioned and once carefully planned down to every last damn detail… but this new architecture may turn out to be the master plan you didn’t even know was possible. Attitude and perspective are key. It took me months and A LOT of soul searching to get here… it doesn’t happen overnight.

The night before my health took a nose dive (with my dear friend Lisa)

Nothing matters without your health.

The reality is: Some people you know personally will get sick. Most will fully recover. Sadly, some may die. Many people you know will lose their jobs and businesses. There are going to be long-term effects no matter how you slice this crisis. Both the health scare and livelihood scare are critical to mental health, well-being and survival. People may not die from health complications from COVID-19… but they may die because they can’t handle the other effects of COVID-19. The mental aspect of challenges like these are very tangible. So be aware of your own self-care and check in on your loved ones.

No one is immune to this no matter what “health” category they fall in. This includes your kids who will have a lot more time on their hands and are online watching the same craziness you are, but don’t have the brain capacity and experience to comprehend it. Hell, most of us adults don’t either… so be mindful of what they are dealing with even though you may be freaking out about keeping a roof over their head.

When you don’t have your health – money and assets mean nothing. It takes time to let that sink in, but when you aren’t sure if you’re going to wake up in the morning – you don’t care about your stock performance. I watched my best friend Jocelyn take her last breath and it didn’t matter what she did for a living or how much was in her bank account. Her wealth was defined by who was surrounding her as she left this earth. These are “just words” until you live it and for some reason people have no concept of their own morality until it’s staring them down in the darkest hours… but news flash – we’re all going to face these facts at some point.

From Whomp. Whomp… to Silver-lining: Whoop! Whoop!

I’ve had to dig deep this past year to overcome the unexpected challenges. But I can honestly say that once I got past the tsunami of the storm (and trust me I felt like I was drowning many times) – my perspective on life and my purpose on this earth has become much more clear and meaningful. There is no greater gift. I’m rebuilding and getting my mojo back with new ideas and passions. Life may look different, but I actually appreciate this new view more. I can only hope that during these trying times you’re able to gain perspective on your own life in a positive way. And you find the capacity to help others do the same.

Kimmie (true blue friend), Jocelyn (my guardian angel) and me

Vulnerability and gratitude.

The biggest lesson for me – I thought I understood the meaning of vulnerability and lived my life authentically. I’m an open book. Through this process, I realized that I was full of shit and still guided by my ego thinking taking care of everything and never needing help was a positive trait.

I was humbled and brought to tears so many times by the generosity, kindness, love and support from my family, dear friends, work family and community. I now understand the true meaning of vulnerability and that strength is sometimes more powerful when you let your defenses down and let people help. It’s being okay with not being okay. It is still hard for me to comprehend how truly fortunate I am to have such an amazing tribe.

They lifted me up when my stubborn-ass was too proud to admit I needed their energy, support and guidance. Thank goodness they all know me well enough that they didn’t give up on me and surprised me time and time again with their selfless acts of pure love. It has forever changed me as a human. I am where I am today because of countless people who showed me unconditional love and support… and still do. My heart is full and living with authenticity is now a non-negotiable. And I will forever pay it forward. Lean on each other. It matters. At the end of the day – it’s the only thing that really matters. Check in on your “strong” friends… they probably need it most.

Here are some tips that may help give you peace of mind:

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert in anything. These suggestions are from my personal experience and may not resonate with everyone. My hope is during this chaotic time, especially while scrolling through the news and social media – they may help someone.  I have no agenda other than wanting to contribute in a positive way. I added links just for reference as a starting point if you’re interested in learning more. If you’re financially freaking out – I added resources at the end so start there – and keep checking with your state because grants/loans are continuing to become options.

  • Routine: Life is crazy right now and your day to day is unknown territory. Make a scheduleto maintain a sense of normalcy. Pack it full of self-care.
  • Meditation: This was a game changer for me when I did a yoga certification in India about ten years ago… and if you can only embrace one activity right now: this would be my number recommendation. You don’t need perfection… it’s a process. Just start. I love the App Insight Timer. There are also 10 – 30 Day courses for healing, empowerment, overcoming fear, resilience – tons of relevant topics. There’s a free trial and you can download lots of content. There are even options for kids.  Donny Starkinsalso has amazing free online videos if that is more your style and he said it was okay to share.
  • Sleep: You may have trouble sleeping during this time. Your schedule may get completely thrown off but try to maintain a solid bedtime and wake up time. Resist the urge to pull an all-nighter binge watching Netflix. If you don’t get sleep it makes everything more difficult. Meditate. Journal. Take a bath. Drink tea. Find natural supplements that work for you if necessary. Turn off all electronics and no TV in the bedroom. Healthy sleep habits are critical now.
  • Proper Breathing Techniques: it’s hard to comprehend that you can screw up doing something that comes naturally, but our stressful lives have altered the proper way to breathe. If you are prone to anxiety – breathing correctly may change your life.  I’m a huge fan of Wim Hof Methodand practice daily. I also embrace the cold therapy. There’s science behind how it helps with the autonomic nervous system and immune system. He seems wacky at first, but you will learn to love “get high on your own supply.” If this isn’t for you… there’s plenty of other breathing methods to try. Watch the belly of baby when they breathe and start there.
  • This saved me. Reminding yourself of everything in your life you should be grateful for can honestly change the course of your entire day.  I found writing in a journal in the morning and before bed to be very helpful. You can always re-read it in times of need.
  • Read. I read more than 50 books last year! I hadn’t been that dedicated to the craft since I earned free pizzas at Pizza Hut in elementary school. Lol Most of my current books are research-based on how to heal and it came from a place out of obsession rather than just enjoyment, but this may be a good time to get lost in fiction or whatever floats your boat. Prior to my re-engagement with books, I loved the app Blinkistwhere you can get the key ideas from bestselling nonfiction “distilled by experts into bite-size text and audio” in about 15 minutes. It’s a great daily practice. If books aren’t your thing – podcasts are another option.
  • Digital Detox: You are probably addicted to your phone. Put it down. Exhale. Repeat.
  • Exercise: this is huge for health and mental well-beingand many people are going nuts with the gyms and studios closingMost gyms are offering online classes. Take advantage of trying something new. Nobody will see you if you look silly. Yoga. Yoga. Yoga. Also consider doing FaceTime routines with your friends.
  • Sunlight: Vitamin Dfor the soul. Get some. Put your bare feet on the ground and soak it up – just 10-15 minutes is all you need.
  • Healthy Diet: Don’t go off the rails because you over shopped and stocked up on junk food you don’t normally eat because it was all that was left at the grocery store. Diet should be considered a lifestyle and has a major impact on your gut health, inflammation, immunity and brain chemicals. Everyone has different dietary needsand there’s not one right answer. Do your own research. Trust your gut (literally) and pay attention to how you feel with certain foods. Gut health is key to every aspect of your health. Dust off your juicer and make fresh veggie juice… and if you don’t normally cook at home – get creative and find new recipes. Share with friends. My niece loves to bake and trying new creations is one of our favorite ways to bond.
  • Vitamins/Supplements – There’s a lot of viewpoints here. I listed some recommendations below, but always consult your physician first (I’m well-versed in immune support and body detox  – message me for more info.) Spence Spenceris also a wealth of info in this area as well as ozone therapy.
  • Try to limit alcohol – Now that the bars are closed, you may find yourself having more drinks at home… it’s a slippery slope so be mindful if your wine bottles are outnumbering your water bottles in the recycle bin. I had to stop drinking during when I got sick due to the effect on the immune systemand I haven’t looked back… I didn’t realize what a leading role alcohol had in my social and work interactions. Life is much sweeter without a hangover and the Sunday “scaries”. If you find yourself in need of support – I listed resources below.
  • Hydrate: It benefits your health… The brain is estimated to be about 75% water: even as much as 2% dehydration may negatively impact your brain function.  Drink up! Tap water isn’t going to kill you and it’s better than wasting water bottles.
  • MusicBinaural beats: Sing, dance, rock out and keep music flowing through your veins.
  • Epson Salt baths and Essential oils: Calm the body and mind.
  • Prayer– religion and/or spirituality is very personal – there are lots of online groups to keep you inspired based on what moves your soul. If this isn’t your thing – just practice the universal connection of love and compassion. It’s powerful.
  • Set Goals: stop making fun of vision boards and let your imagination go wild. Get crafty with your kiddos.  Seeing your goals visually does have an impact to keep you on track.
  • Write that bookor start a business plan… funding may not come easy for a long time, but this may be a work in progress that you can finally explore and START.
  • Creative outlets: Art, make jewelry, learn how to play an instrument… google things you’ve always wanted to learn and go for it.
  • Plan your dream vacation – it may only be a dream and a total stretch right now, but when life gets back to normal you may be able to take advantage of some of the incredible deals (and most have no cancel fees now – just double check all policies before using your credit card)
  • Connection: There’s an App for that…FaceTime, Skype and many others will be critical to keeping your sanity and personal connections. Schedule coffee, lunch, dinner, happy hour dates… you can round up a group and make it a party. Get creative.
  • Relationships may get strained right now. Work on them daily with honestly, fairness, and patience. If your partner gets the virus– follow all the guidelines. Single: Online dating? Sigh. You may have time on your hands, but no more Netflix and Chill with the social distancing. I saw a mutual friend risked it on FB and a chick stole his toilet paper. It’s a jungle out there. You’ve been warned.
  • Humor is the best medicine. Keep laughing. Keep sharing funny stories. There’s nothing comical about the seriousness of this crisis. But sometimes a little humility and a break from the doom and gloom is just what the doctor ordered. Ignore what offends you and move on.
  • If humor isn’t helping and you want to punch someone when you see all the memes… that’s okay, too. You are not alone. There are helplines. There are online counsellors. Stay connected with friends and family who lift your spirits. Avoid vampires. Be a bad-ass ninja with blocking people from social media. What a great time to set healthy boundaries (my fave from Brene Brown).
  • Grace – go easy on yourself. These are unprecedented times. Don’t let the “Are you still watching” alert on Netflix mess with your self-confidence. Do you. But if you haven’t left your couch in more than 24 hours and you’re a few cartons of ice cream deep– you don’t have to put your pants on, but phone a friend. Remember, you are never alone and it’s okay to ask for help.

Practical ways you can spend your time:

  1. Clean out closets, garages and pantries (donate your clothes, unused toiletries, extra food to your local non-profits) – They need you.
  2. Plant a garden – Even it’s a little herb garden in the kitchen. Grow something.
  3. Detail your car – when’s the last time you had time to do that yourself?
  4. Do your taxes – Now you have until July 15th

For those that absolutely need to leave the house – Do good (there are ways to help from your living room, too):

  1. Donate blood: If you are healthy – there’s a national shortage. Red Cross is the new hot spot!
  2. Food Banks: Donate and/or volunteer.
  3. Schools: Many are still providing lunches. Find out how you can donate or help.
  4. Local non-profits: They still need you now more than ever. Most rely on events and fundraisers to keep their doors open and support the community. Reach out and see how you can help.
  5. Support your elderly neighbors – Grocery shop for them. Leave care packages or a little note on their doorstep.  Help them apply for resources. Maybe a phone call – they are lonely and scared and not as internet savvy to seek out help.
  6. Nursing Homes – You can’t visit directly but find out how you can support or connect in unique ways.
  7. Animal shelters – Foster animals. Donate food. They are in crisis and people may have to give up pets.
  8. Support local restaurants/bars with take-out/gift cards, pay your hair dressers, massage therapists, nail techs, boutique gyms, alternative health care providers (acupuncture) etc. in advance or freeze your account and buy gift cards and use later for yourself or as gifts – continue supporting each other and share the love. They make your life better all year – small acts of kindness will make sure they are still there when you need them back in your life.

For my friends with small businesses:

  1. There are a lot of resources below to check out for funding, loans, employee benefits, etc.
  2. From a marketing perspective: Now is the time to be creative and think outside the box.
  • If possible (I realize many businesses will not have the opportunity or resources to do these things), but for those who may: teams can still work on customer-related retention, marketing and community support even if you are closed temporarily
  • Use time for strategic planning – focusing on your consumers’ journey
  • Companies who stand out and attempt to do the right thing during this time will retain loyalty when business resumes
  • Share resources relevant to your consumer base (If possible – adapt to an online strategy and create video content – nobody is expecting perfection right now – they need connection)
  • Consider partnering and sharing resources with like-minded companies
  • If possible and it makes sense – personally call your clients/customers/patients = human connection is imperative at this time
  • Take the time to write hand write notes with appreciation and gratitude
  • Send personalized email offering support and use social media
  • Encourage employees to get creative in how to support the business and community and listen to their ideas. Consider allowing them to volunteer and/or donate blood if they feel comfortable doing so and paid workflow has slowed down (while being mindful of their work duties and family situations.) Consumers are watching how your treat your employees.
  • Marketing must continue but it should be about connection, community and communication
  • Craft a plan on your revamp strategy and keep your consumers informed – it’s okay to be honest when you have uncertainties – none of us know when life will go back to normal and it may never be the normal that we once knew (it will be much more successful if you stay in contact with transparency)

Heidi (Miss Stir the Rice) and me

In closing: Stir the Rice

One of the most impactful moments of understanding what it means to “live in the moment” was with my sister, Heidi. She’s been one of my biggest fans and supporters who has been by my side every step of the way since I was her annoying baby sister. During a time when I was really stressed and full of anxiety – I was trying to explain to her what I was dealing with as my “monkey” mind was all over the board and I couldn’t relax.

“Help me understand what you’re going through… explain it to me?” She asked patiently, as we both cooked dinner together in the kitchen.

“Well… hmmm… like right now, what is going through your mind – what other things are you thinking about?” I pleaded to relate and to give my state of mind context.

“I’m not sure what you mean, sis… I’m not thinking about anything – I’m just stirring the rice.”

My sister is the master of living in the NOW and not getting caught up in the minutiae that doesn’t matter. Whenever I start to get stressed out or anxious… I think of Heidi.

And I remember to just stir the rice.

You all probably have a lot of rice stockpiled. Stir the hell out of it even if you don’t eat it.

Getting through difficult times reminds us of our collective strength and to be thankful for what truly matters. Be a leader. Be kind. Be the best version of you even if you’re still trying to figure out who the hell that is…

Love and Light,

Lindsay

 

Link to blog: https://stirtherice.com/2020/03/20/now-is-the-time-to-stand-together/

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