I was late to picking up the Sudoku fad, but when I tore my ACL 11 years ago, had surgery and went through months of PT to regain (nearly all) of my range of motion, I started playing. It was perfect to help me deal with the time I was sitting waiting around for a session to begin or laying around doing exercises to help straighten my leg or icing my knee to bring down the swelling. Celebrity and gossip magazines helped, but they weren’t enough, and I couldn’t focus on reading anything with substance or complex stories, so I got hooked on Sudoku.
Thanks to my parent’s recommendation, I have found over the years that the cheap $1 Dollar Store Sudoku books are my favorites. I truly appreciate how Sudoku has its different patterns and if you break the code, you figure out the puzzles. There are tricks you learn and resources available to use—and if you screw up, there are answer keys to help you out. I don’t do Sudoku all the time, and there will be long stretches where I don’t play, but I always have a book handy, that I can work on. Because when I do pick up my most recent Sudoku book, I am able to get lost in the puzzles and I can use it as a mindfulness activity.
I’ve been playing Sudoku a lot the past month or so and hadn’t really noticed because I was going through the quick 1 and 2 starred puzzles. However last week, I finished the 3 starred puzzles and started the 4s and realized that I was using Sudoku as a coping mechanism.
Even though I am on the first true ‘teacher’ summer vacation that I have been on in years, I realized I am experiencing a great deal of stress and distraction despite the school break. My mother-in-law had to have unplanned surgery. My sister had her rescheduled (thanks to COVID) surgery and since she had to quarantine for two weeks prior to the operation and she did it at my parents, I haven’t been able to go back to Michigan to see my parents since they came back from Florida—and they can’t come visit us. My nephew’s high school graduation has been unique. The Chicago Public Schools 2020-21 preliminary back to school hybrid plan is very scary and could lead to a strike. One of my sister’s in law, a doctor, was diagnosed with COVID two weeks ago and so COVID is no longer confined to statistics or a former colleague in NOLA or the sister of one of my dear Peace Corps friends. This is family. And then there is the realization that because of how poorly the US is handling our COVID experience, my passport won’t allow me to travel abroad to most countries where I could have gone in the past.
Needless to say, I haven’t been able to do things like focus on reading books of substance or write much in my blog, but I have been able to do Sudoku!
At support group recently, we discussed how we are all going through a trauma fatigue, where with so much going on daily—and no end in sight of this pandemic and its drama—fatigue is really hitting many of us extremely hard. With it being summertime in the US, there are a lot of expectations that this time of year is supposed to be lighter, more effortless. Fun. We are supposed to be doing things we love to do during the summer like playing in the water; going to the beach; rowing with teammates; getting together with family and friends for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and anniversaries; eating out; and traveling. However, instead, everything has been impacted by the coronavirus. We are making do, but this pandemic is getting old and so most of us are feeling some kind of fatigue these days (and if you aren’t, you are most likely in denial!). Labeling the problem definitely helps me address the situation.
And, luckily, one set of plans has actually worked out. This week, Terry and I were able to travel to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Keweenaw.
We headed to the Monastery that Terry’s uncle co-founded over 35 years ago and have stayed with the Monks, in one of the visitor cabins.
Being able to experience this part of the world during this intense time, with its beauty, peace, and solitude, has been exactly what I needed to help me regroup, cope, and prepare for this next phase of COVID: American Style.
Sitting alongside the ever awesome Lake Superior; sleeping well; sharing lovely meals and conversations with the Monks; disconnecting from much of my tech and social media use; spending quality time with Terry; and carving out some alone time where I could write was wonderful.
It was so much fun to sneak in the backdoor of the magical Jampot, which supports the Monastery’s vision, and has been hopping this past month despite the pandemic…
And to be able to truly relax like it is summertime, has been heavenly!!!