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Taking pause in light of COVID-19

On my 35th birthday, I celebrated by hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Two years before that, I celebrated my 33rd birthday by starting my first thru-hike. It might have been only 40 miles, but it was a thru-hike none the less.

Last Sunday was my 38th birthday, but it was much different this year. I slept late, deep cleaned my bathroom, took a long nap, and then a long walk around my neighborhood with my pup, Caddie.

Although I hadn’t purposely planned for any kind of epic way to celebrate my birthday, I was supposed to get my Wilderness First Responder certificate on Sunday. My birthday happened to fall on what would have been the end of an 80-hour course. But as can you can tell from above, that did not happen. We made it through one-third of the class before COVID-19 shut us down.

Birthdays aren’t really a big deal to me, but this year it was just odd. With everyone practicing social distancing, I had no one to celebrate with. And although a chill day at home to get organized for the birthday celebration didn’t bother me, it gave me pause to wonder what this new norm will bring.

It’s not hard to look around and see the effects of COVID-19 on our society. Whether it’s your friend’s over-the-top angry Facebook post at people who don’t believe exactly as they do, or it’s canceling a trip you’ve been waiting months for, coronavirus is affecting us all. Or maybe, you know someone who has contracted the virus and is scared, sick or confined to one room for 14 days.

With it being a new disease, it’s hard to tell how it will affect us long-term. We don’t know what to expect. And with the experts advise changing almost daily, it’s hard to know what our future holds.

I worry about my parents getting sick. I worry about my 18-year-old nephew, who is valedictorian, not getting to bask in the glory of all his accomplishments from his high school career. And I worry about the trip he and I are supposed to take together following his graduation. And about a trip I have planned in July to California.

All of this worry has caused me a great deal of stress. I’ve noticed I’m quick to get annoyed, and I’ve been extremely quick to anger. This doesn’t make me very pleasant to be around.

And one of the hardest parts is, that to deal with stress I love to get in my car, crank my music, and drive far, far away to a place that is new and exciting. But with COVID-19, unnecessary travel is not advised.

But at least for now, we can still enjoy the outdoors. Going for a hike, especially a solo hike, is a great way to practice social distancing. It is also another way I destress.

All this unknown also helps me have more faith and trust God more. Because all I have right now is faith that my parents won’t get sick, my nephew will get to have a graduation, and my trips won’t be canceled.

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