Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Ladder

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  
Winston Churchill

About 5 years ago, my late wife had the bright idea to sign us up for a four hour swim workshop at an annual pre-season triathlon fair.  I said no way in hell.  She said, I just paid and registered us.  The instructor was four-time Olympic athlete Sheila Taormina. She was the first (maybe only?) woman to compete in three different Olympic sports, swimming, triathlon, and pentathlon.  As an aside, I love Olympic trivia.  My family still laughs and reminds me of my 63 page hand-written paper in 8th grade (back in the stone age before Macs or PCs), about the Olympics. I can recite where each of the modern Olympics took place, and what was the major political controversy that clouded the games.  And there was always something.  But I digress.

Anyway….Sheila knows about grit.  At 5’3”, they told her she was too short to be a competitive swimmer.  She proved her critics wrong when she and her teammates won a gold medal for 4x200m freestyle relay in 1996.  She also has won several world and international titles in Triathlon.  So basically she’s a badass.  

To say I was dreading this workshop would be an understatement.  I’m a triathlete who learned how to swim when I was 48.  I didn’t have many years of swimming under my belt, so I rationalized that could use all the help I could get with my technique.  I knew however, I would be taking this workshop with younger, more buff gods and goddesses who could tread water indefinitely and do 100 yd repeats 100 times.  So with much trepidation, I suited up in the locker room and entered the MIT pool area. 

I was used to swimming at the local Y, where the deep end is maybe 6 feet and the shallow end is well under 4 feet. The kind of pool where I could stand up in the shallow end,  put my hands on the edge of the deck (which is just a tad bit higher than waist level), and push up to heave ho myself out of the pool.  

Well, I don’t think the MIT pool even has a shallow end.  And in fact, when you’re in the pool, all you can see is wall around you.  And the starting blocks looked more like high diving platforms.  Ominous.  

Sheila came on to the deck. She was friendly, enthusiastic, and full of energy.  She outlined what we could be doing, including a before and after underwater video of our technique, individually critiqued by her.  Very cool.  So we hopped in the water to warm up.  Our warm up included first treading water for what seemed like an eternity and taking warm up laps while she videoed everyone.  I remember quite clearly after the critique (which was very informative), the next part of the workshop consisted of drills designed to have you swallow and/or inhale significant amounts of water, as sometimes swim drills do.  But again there is no real shallow end, and no hanging onto the edges, so you’re treading your ass off in between drills, and swimming your ass off so the buff god/goddess behind you doesn’t swim over you.  And while you’re doing these drills she’s shouting out more tips (and by now she’s memorized our names so there is no anonymity). Tips like, “Ok Marie, even though your feet are bound together with rubber tubing, don’t flail your arms to try to stay afloat, just turn your body.”  I had more of a chance of drowning in this evil vat of water, than any open water swim I’ve ever done.  

And then came more fun!  We were going to practice diving off the 10 feet tall blocks.  I thought, ok my arms are about the fall off so at least I get a chance to get out of the pool and breathe on my way to the death blocks.  So I swam to the edge of the pool, my arms reaching well over my head to grab the edge and I proceeded to attempt to pull my body weight out of the pool.  Fail.  I tried again.  No freakin’ way.  So of course, the next logical step was simply to swim over to the ladder and climb out.  I had my hands on the rails of the ladder when I heard her yell, “GET OFF THAT LADDER!!!”  (Voices reverberate quite well in the pool area by the way.) At first I thought “ha ha ha, oh Sheila, you’re such a kidder,” and proceeded to get one foot almost on the first rung, when I looked up and at the top of the ladder, there she stood, all 5’3” looking down at me, and said, “Get back to the front of the pool!!!” (Again echoing) Now no athlete makes it through training without a swift reaming by their coach, so I gingerly doggy paddled (the only stroke my arms could muster the strength to do) back to the looming wall.  My wife happened to be there and I said, whimpering in almost a whisper, “can you help me?” She just looked at me like, you’re on your own with this one babe.  So this time I used the sloth method of climbing where I pulled myself up far enough to latch my foot onto the edge of the deck, and then desperately grabbed for the starting block and pulled with all my might.  Then using one of the fundamental laws of physics, F=MA, I flung my other leg for momentum ended up on my back. I’m sure no one there had ever seen someone roll out of the pool with the grace of an elephant flipping over on its back. And so ended our four hour workshop.   I don’t think I spoke to my wife for a week after this ;)

Seriously, we laughed so hard on the drive home.  I tell this story as if it were a 4 hour horror show but guess what?  I knocked about 20 minutes off my 2.4 mile swim time by the end of the season by using what I learned in that workshop.  And it goes without saying, one of life’s lessons is no matter how weary or uncertain you may be, get off the ladder.  No one can do it for you. It may not be pretty or with finesse, but you’ll be glad later on that you found your own way to climb (and even roll) back onto the deck.  

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Gold Ring

"He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment."  

- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit




When my daughter was younger, she told me, on our drive to school, about a fascinating dream she had.  She was studying geography at the time, and her dream was about one of her teachers narrating a story.  The teacher’s words were magically projected in a way that the kids could actually see the story unfolding in front of them like a hologram.  It was about a man who owned a beautiful, magical gold ring that he had mistakenly left on top of a cliff.  A cliff overlooked the ocean, with crashing waves.  A villain climbed the cliff and stole the ring and disappeared with it.  When the owner of the ring returned, he was terribly distraught to learn that it had disappeared.  He searched high and low for the ring and just when he thought there was nowhere else to look and was ready to give up his search, he happened to reach in his pocket and there was the ring—it had been there all along.  


 Of course, Mama the shrink found this dream to be fascinating, but I spared her a dream analysis discussion and just let her be excited about the dream at face value.  The best part for her was the live projection from the teacher’s mere words. But I couldn’t help thinking afterwards about the symbolism in the dream and how it could apply to us all.  We all have those villains and demons, the ones who steal our magic gold ring.  For some it can be an external source of discouragement, listening to what others tell them they can or can’t do.  For many of us, it’s that internal voice who steals the ring.  The voice that says for example,  “Your injury will never heal, and you’ll never do another race again.”  Or where the villainous voice in your head says loud and clear, “You—26.2 miles—HAHAHAHAHAHAHA--are you kidding me?”   How easy it is to sink into the quicksand of self-doubt. But eventually, we remember we have a gold ring, somewhere.  Really, how many times have we been through this “are you kidding me?” mentality only to cross the finish line when it’s time.


So again, let me remind you (in my ad nauseam way) to be fully present with the aspects of our lives that we can control.  Focus on our training plan one week at a time. Or if recovering from injury, focus on the next step to healing and getting stronger. Or losing weight.  Or rethinking the cancelled season.  Or pondering our small part in making the world a better place. Because right now we can’t look too far into the future. We can’t assume that everything about this uncertain future will be bad—it never is.  During these times, reach down and feel the gold ring--you may have misplaced it, but it always ends up back in your pocket.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

On Motherhood

“A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.”  Unknown

I know this blog is about resilience in sports.  I wonder though if everything I’ve learned about resilience was from my mom, and from being a mom myself….and more recently becoming a single mom and widow.  I first wrote this piece about 10 years ago and have since revised it.  It’s amazing how much has changed in 10 years, and yet how much has stayed the same. 

There was once a woman who taught me to love.  Through her love, I learned to respect myself and in turn, learned how to love others.  She held me when I cried, listened when I talked.  She went without so that my brother and I could always have the best of everything.  She stood in the rain for countless track meets, played chauffeur, cooked whatever I asked for, and taught me an appreciation of opera and to be proud of my heritage and culture.  She made me feel like I could accomplish anything, and pushed me to be a strong and independent woman.  There were times when we had difficulty navigating our common ground.  Although my mother was very proud of me, I don’t think she fully understood why I would go to school for so many years, why I would exhaust myself staying up all night working on research, why I would worry about work and put in 60-70 hour weeks.  But after my daughter was born, we found our common ground---she now got why I was so exhausted staying up all night with a sick child, or why I would worry about any illness or symptom she had.  We spoke the same language now.  

My mother was gentle and loving, but at the same time, one of the strongest women I knew, full of energy and fight....and certainly no wallflower.  You always knew where you stood with Camille (her name). But there came a time when she couldn’t fight anymore.  It was like for your entire life, watching Superman, who had been previously able to leap over tall buildings with a single bound, and then all of a sudden watching him drown in Kryptonite.  It was her time to leave this earth. Like most mothers and children, we didn’t see eye to eye on everything, but when she died, I had no doubt how much I was loved.  And her strength and confidence flow through me every the way I am able to love my daughter with an intensity that knows no bounds, in the way I value my family, in the way I fight to the end and don’t give up.  I’m not a religious person at all, but in the most difficult times, I hear her voice and feel her energy.

L to R: My great-grandmother, grandmother, yours truly, and Mom
Then further downstream is my daughter....most definitely no wallflower either.  She was named after my mother’s mother. As you may know, I’m a shrink. And my daughter is a teenager. People often say to me, oh you’re a psychologist so you must know about child development. I could just laugh my ass off at that.  First off, I only work with adults. Second, I’m slogging through this unknown territory in the dark, just like the rest of you.  So my poor kid is forced to talk about feelings and emotions...and process....and process...and process some more, kind of like a marathon with no end. When we argue, I tell her “it’s developmentally appropriate for you to push away and form your own identity” (and I mean it, well sort of… just don’t push too far). Which is followed by massive eye-rolling and her telling me “don’t throw your psychology stuff in my face.”   

But in all honesty she is the light of my life, and has been since the day she was, fifteen years ago.  When the nurses first showed her to me, she was actually screaming at the top of her lungs.  It was her first cry, a very loud cry for this little person and actually a good sign.  They handed her to me and I started to sing to her, and her screaming suddenly stopped.  She opened her eyes long enough to take a look at me, then furrowing her brow (a look I’ve come to know so well now when she is thinking really hard), as if to say, “Hey, wait a minute—I know that’s you.”  She closed her eyes and went to sleep.  It was love at first sight for me.  

Fifteen years later, her presence still illuminates a room.  She has opened up a side of me that no one else had been able to see. My late partner used to tell the story that in the many years we had been together before having a child, she had never heard me sing—never, not once, not in the car, not in the shower, karaoke was out of the question...not anywhere.  But what  kind of mother doesn’t sing to her child...well, if you dare to call the noise that came out of my mouth, “singing.” I haven’t stopped singing since then. I learned to be an expert in pretending.  Over the years I have been the voice of Cinderella, Snow White, Gepetto, and the Wicked Witch of the West.  Then we passed the princess phase and I was Selkie, the sea lion from Nim’s Island or sometimes an evil pirate-Arrrghhh.  We used to blare music and dance around the kitchen after dinner every night.  It was for her sake ten or so years ago that I pushed myself to improve my health, lose 100 lbs and start triathlon training.  And perhaps, if it wasn’t for her, would I be a triathlete?  

Holding my little creature, just a few days old
Despite its constant joys, motherhood has been the most difficult (yet rewarding) undertaking of my life.  Although I feel comfortable with my ability to be a mother, the uncertainty of it all can be daunting at times, and so I focus on that which I can control.  It doesn’t get any easier with time.  With every new phase of development, I feel as helpless as I did as a new mother, only in a new way.  There are times when I’m so sure of what to do, and other times I’ll ruminate about whether or not I have handled a situation or answered a question the “right” or best way.  Fortunately, I get many chances to make up for the times I might mess up. What do you mean children don’t come with a manual?  I always think, WWCD? As in “What would Camille do”?

Well, it’s been many years since we’ve pretended.  More recently, we discuss our binge watching of Grey’s Anatomy, and she does a great Ellen Pompeo impression.  Now, she can talk twice as fast as I can during an argument and is way more articulate. There are times when I foster this sense of autonomy and other times when I draw the very clear boundary of who is the child and who is the parent.  She knows the look on my face that means don’t push another millimeter. At times I’m not very popular, but this is not about a popularity contest. This is about the creation of a world citizen who is kind, loving, respectful, independent, and confident. One who can have fun and will find happiness, in whatever way she defines happiness to be.  I love hearing her ideas of social justice, and her idealism about a world that is often hard to be idealist about. 

From the time she was three, she thought that every other kid got up at 4am to pack up the car and go watch their mama on race day torture herself swimming in the dark, biking and running (also in the dark) for endless hours. Anyone who is an endurance athlete knows that moment of darkness that can make or break you. It was the thought of her at the finish line that pushed me through some grueling hours of pain and doubt. She said to me one night as I dragged myself across a finish line in the middle of the night, long after the fanfare and cheering crowds, after every other triathlete had finished, “I’ve never seen you give up Mama.” I hope that is the message of motherhood that is never forgotten…..And we still dance in the kitchen. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Light at the end of the 140.6 mile tunnel

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dog Zen

"(S)he knows not where (s)he's going, 
For the ocean will decide,
It's not the destination,
It's the glory of the ride."  (Edward Monkton, Zen Dog)

 Before I tell you about my secret weapon for staying sane (sane being relative), I want to help put into perspective what it is that we may be feeling right now, whether it be loss due to circumstances or loss due to injury.  David Kessler, one of the most well-respected authorities on grief, has put a name to the discomfort that most of us are feeling at this time.   In an interview, he stated,  “Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures.”

I believe in the concept of time-limited negative thinking, albeit not always easy to do. I'll give people contained permission, that is, tell them when they’re fighting intrusive negative thoughts, to allow themselves to feel whatever it is they’re feeling for 5 or 10 minutes and then to try to shift their focus.  For example saying to yourself, I feel sad that my spring season has been shut down, or I feel sad that I’m in the best shape of my life and my race or event is postponed, I feel sad and anxious about not knowing when this uncertainty will end.  No judgement, no social comparisons.  Just “I feel ____ .”  The period is key.  Allowing ourselves to name a feeling and sit with it, then helps us to refocus to the present. 

Most experts in the field of mindfulness would agree when you can bring yourself to the present, you can lessen feelings of despair about the past and/or the anticipation and apprehension regarding the future.  So who better to turn to for some lessons in mindfulness, than my resident expert on mindfulness.  Nope, there are no Tibetan Monks living in the house, no Yogis, neither Tara Brach nor Jon Kabat-Zinn reside here. However, if you ever want to learn how to be in the moment and be totally zen-like, just watch your dog

There have been countless books written about integrating zen into different activities.  Books such as Zen and the Martial ArtsZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and the Art of ArcheryZen and the Art of Faking It (faking what I’m not sure), Zen Guitar, and countless others.  I could use a little light-heartedness right about now,  so this post could be entitled, Dog Zen and the Art of Sports Training

Here are a few lessons of dog zen that can be particularly useful:

Lesson 1: If you’re an underdog, be strategic—it’s not always muscle that gets you to the end game. Focus on process goals. Seven years ago, we started to dog hunt.  Since our last dog was around 8 or 9 when we adopted her from a shelter, we decided this time we would look for a puppy.  We looked at various places, then found a farm up in the hills where ironically, I had, on many occasions, ridden my bike; in fact, it’s the area where I love to ride most.

 Lady Clementine of Chop Mist Hill

 I found it ironic, how many times I’d ridden past the very place where we would come to find this little creature who would bring so much joy to our home.  If you ever want your mood to soar off the charts, spend about 30 minutes in a pen full of 8 week old puppies. These little blonde balls looked like popcorn as they jumped and bounced off the walls, climbing all over each other.  It reminded me of an Ironman mass swim start (minus kicked in the face)—complete mayhem.  Each of them trying so desperately to be in front so that they could make contact.  Except one.  One teeny not-so-blonde, but very orange one, that nosed her way to the front of the pen by crawling underneath all her brothers and sisters in stealth commando style, finally just curling up right next to us. That was her statement; subtle, yet effective. My daughter made her decision at that moment and picked this runt of the litter.  Our friend Kristin came up with the name Clementine (Clemmie)-how perfect for a teeny orange ball.  Clemmie had her sights set on her goal, and found the best way to achieve it. It wasn’t the way everyone else was doing it, instead she used her strengths to her advantage.

Lesson 2: Be grateful for what you do haveBefore my injury, during my endless hours of training, I was an ingrate.  Boo hoo, I have a 5 hour ride.  Hey, how about being grateful that (a) you have the time to do it, and (b) you have the health.  I realize this now more than ever. Watching Clemmie run and play with abandon is a reminder that when we get back to training, and back to our lives, to seize the day and soak in every moment of race day as well as long training sessions.  Every morning, she couldn’t be more excited about her day. If she had a voice, I could just hear her exuberance as she wags her tail and licks my hand to wake me up each morning: “GET UP, GET UP, GET UP!!!!  IT’S MORNING AND I GET TO EAT AND PLAY AND EAT AND PLAY AND OH MY GOSH, I’M SOOOOOO HAPPY!!!!!!!!” I admit, on race mornings, I used to feel that way as I jumped out of bed.  

 Carpe Diem!

 Lesson 3: Rejuvenation is an integral part of training and life One thing that has always been difficult for many athletes, is allowing time for rest and recovery.  The one common statement I have heard from people over the past couple of weeks is, “I’m so unmotivated to train or work out.” Or “I just feel sooooo exhausted.”   Uh yeah. This pandemic will forever change our lives—not in all negative ways, but right now we are adapting to new conditions from this global crisis.   Please ignore those Facebook posts of those who are sharing their superhuman productivity.  Whether it be not missing a beat and continuing perfect adherence to training plans (but good for you if you are),or doing 50 hill repeats a day or power-lifting mammoth sized weights in the basement.  This is a marathon with an unpredictable, movable finish line. If you’re a marathon runner, you know you’re likely to hit the wall at mile 18.  But you know at 26.2 miles you’re there!  But what if you got to mile 26.2 and the race director said, “sorry we’re moving the finish line to possibly, but I’m not sure, maybe 32.6 miles and then we’ll go from there.”  If you knew this beforehand, you’d know to pace yourself very differently.  Similarly, we need to emotionally and physically pace ourselves.  As Clemmie would say, it’s always ok to pause.  

 I'm excellent at pausing

 Lesson 4: We accept the love we think we deserve (Stephen Chbosky).  Clemmie loves herself and that love is shown effusively to others.  Each time she greets me it’s as if she hasn’t seen me in years. She reminds me to forgive myself after a bad training day or bad race.  It was evident from day one, that Clemmie was meant to be a therapy dog.  She has passed all of her preliminary exams to be a “certified” therapy dog, meaning she will be permitted  to come with me to nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and disaster relief sites.  She’ll have her “final'' exam as soon as we’re able to resume our lives.  But for now, even without final certification, she is a people magnet, and when in my office is my assistant therapist.  Wherever we go, I can’t even say how many people approach us to pet her and inquire what type of dog she is (a Goldendoodle).  I watch the smile that she brings to people’s faces, as she, in her klutzy, oafish way will offer someone her enormous mitt of a paw or give someone a big lick and dog smile, then roll over on her back for a belly rub.  

Therapy Dog Clemmie reporting for duty

Lesson 5: Self-care people. This one is simple. Eat well, hydrate, set structure to your day, and try to get some good quality sleep.  

And don't forget breakfast

Lesson 6:  Pets improve your health (a no-brainer).  Research shows that pet owners live longer lives than those without pets.  There is empirical evidence showing that spending just a few minutes with a pet significantly reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, increases the neurotransmitter serotonin (associated with mood and feelings of well-being), and lowers blood pressure.  Some dogs can actually sense the onset of a seizure in those with epilepsy.  Others can sense decreasing blood glucose levels in diabetics.  Pet owners exercise more and are less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.  As for me, quite simply, I feel like my heart, like the Grinch’s, has grown 3x in size  since this fur ball came into our lives. 

I'm better than drugs

 When I was competing, I was blessed to have so many people who inspire me.   I think of my little runt (well, now she is 55 lbs and still growing), who, despite being mauled by her littermates, kept slowly inching forward and never gave up.  She has an infectious enthusiasm for life.  She puts her heart into new endeavors, whether it be learning new commands, swimming for the first time, having a calming effect on clients, or exploring a new area.  As we heal from this global trauma,  I know for myself, each time I feel overwhelmed with uncertainty about life, about my injury, about my triathlon training and start to look too far ahead, what brings me back is living like Clemmie, thinking about every moment, this moment, the only moment. 

And one more thing….don’t touch your face.

Or else you'll have to wear the cone of shame

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Moving Through

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

― Vicki Harrison

If I hear the word “unprecedented,” one more time, I may scream.  This may be new territory for many of us, but our emotions and response are similar to any loss.  Whether your collegiate season ended abruptly, or you had a spring race that got cancelled or you’re in limbo wondering if your event will be cancelled, you are grieving a loss.  Most people have heard about Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross’s stages of grief (which originally referred to the person who was actually dying but can also apply to survivors).  It would be nice if we progressed through these stages in an orderly serial fashion, but we don’t. We ricochet back and forth between the stages, but eventually we move through it.  Not move on, but move through.  

Denial No freakin’ way, nuh uh.  This can’t be happening.  I’ll be returning to school in a couple of weeks and will play out the remainder of the season.  Or there’s no way in hell they’ll cancel this race. Just a couple of weeks and we’ll be back on track.

Anger:  NO FREAKIN’ WAY!  Why now?  It’s my senior year and now everything is ruined.  Or I’ve been training for this race for the past 9 months, giving up every aspect of my social life.  All that hard work and it’s gone.  I can’t believe the organizer or school is over-reacting like this. Re-open the damn gym, I need to get in my strength work. 

Bargaining:  No freakin’ way??  Or is there a way?  Maybe if we all wear masks and stay 6 feet (not 5 or 7), away from each other we can still play out the season.  Maybe they’ll just reschedule the event a couple of months late; I can deal with that.

Depression:  Nooooo (sigh)  freakin’ way. You start the true grieving process.  You start to grieve the loss of this season, this point in time.  It’s so important, as in any grieving process to name what you’re feeling.  There will never be another 2020 spring season.  When an athlete is injured, there can be a profound sense of loneliness—no one understands what I’m going through, everyone is just going on with their training season.  And here is one of the ways the present situation is different—other people, teammates, training partners, coaches, fans, do  feel the loss right along with you.  As athletes, our sport is a huge part of our identity.  You may feel that sense of identity as an athlete is gone right now. And a lack of control.  And on top of it, we can’t hang out in person with our teammates and training partners and friends. Do not deny yourself these feelings.  As difficult as they are to sit with, the psychological literature shows the only way to make it through pain and grief, is to sit with it.  No, you can’t just “move on.” Again, we don’t ever really get over loss, but we do find a way to get through it.  

Acceptance:  No freakin’ way….this year.  There will never be another 2020 season, just like there will never be an exact replica of a loved one or beloved pet who died.  Eventually, and I mean eventually (and this differs for everyone), we start to radically accept the circumstances.  We may not like them, but we accept that all the worry and sadness in the world will not bring this season back.  This is where we may practice dialectical thinking, where we experience two seemingly incompatible thoughts and feelings at the same time.  It sucks that there will never be another 2020 season and there will be more seasons.

So yes, there are words for what you may be feeling right now.  Here are some tips to make it through:

1.   Allow yourself to feel.  As I mentioned earlier, allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions that you feel.  Name what you feel, write about it.  The literature shows that writing about difficult emotions like grief, trauma, or stress actually helps us to put structure to these feelings swirling around in our head untethered.  And we find naming or writing these words will not destroy us.

2.   Remind yourself that you are still an athlete.  Joel Osteen has written about the power of “I am” statements.  What comes after “I am” are beliefs you program yourself to think.  And what we think leads to what we feel.  Think of Mohammad Ali, “Ima show you how great I am.”  “I am still an athlete” “I am not alone in this.”  

3.   Remember we are athletes, wired to overcome adversity and work through the pain.  We are mentally tough.  This is how we make it through a race or a game.  We feel physical pain, the burning in our legs, the exhaustion in our arms, feeling like our heart is going to beat out of our chest, and still move forward in spite of it.  When I would feel like I couldn’t swim another stroke, pedal another rep or run another foot, I would think, just move forward, baby steps, but forward motion.  That applies to our mental fitness too.  Keep moving forward mentally.  

4.   I reiterate, you are not alone.  Reach out to teammates, training partners, coaches, and others who understand what you’re feeling.  And if you find yourself sinking and not able to recover, seek professional assistance.  I watched and listened to a clip from the Rotterdam Philharmonic playing “Ode to Joy” remotely, individually, but all together.  Each musician was playing their instrument and was able to see and hear fellow musicians.  The result was watching a screen that reminded me of the beginning of the Brady Bunch, thumbnails in a grid, but yet perfect execution of playing together as an orchestra:
Separate and together. 

5.   Take care of yourself.  And last there is the stuff we are reading on every online “tips to cope”  list.  Eat, drink and sleep well….exercise (preaching to the choir), reach out. meditate, take one day, one hour and sometimes one breath at a time… 

You can visit my website at: