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The In-Between Times

22 June 2021

As Allison navigates the In-Between Times she finds herself trying to remember how to recombobulate.

Tags: allison read, balance, covid-19

Now that I’m vaccinated and Dr. Fauci says it’s okay to move about the country again, I’ve flown for two work trips and have been delighted to be back on planes. As excited as I am to return to travel, see more people, hug, unmask some of the time, and even eat inside a restaurant, I’ll confess that I’m finding re-entry to be discombobulating. I’m just a little off.

I put a lot of energy into learning how to live in the COVID times, and I’m a bit rusty when it comes to socializing. I even forgot to empty my water bottle before going through security! I once loved crowds and am glad to be back in them, but I’m sometimes disoriented. I’m generally getting my work done, but everything feels slower as though I’m in a fog. I was so excited to get vaccinated that now it’s unnerving to feel out of sorts.

I’m not quite ready to call these the Post-COVID Times, so I’ve been calling them the In-Between Times. (There were the Before Times, the COVID Times, and I’m so hopeful we’ll achieve the Post-COVID times when more of us are vaccinated and the variants pose less of a risk.) As I’m navigating these In-Between Times, I’ve been focusing on one of my favorite words.

I still remember the first time I taught at a hospital in Milwaukee and encountered TSA’s Recombobulation Area. After you get through security and are scrambling to gather your belongings at General Mitchell International Airport, you’ll see a sign in the airport’s standard font. Here’s the backstory, but the main thing you need to visualize is all the people looking up at the sign, pausing to wonder if it’s really a word, and then laughing. You can almost feel the tension evaporating as the smiles emerge.

Now more than I ever, I ask myself, “How can I recombobulate?” When I’m scattered, I focus on sleep, breathing, affirmations, morning pages, and exercise even if I only have time for 15 minutes on my elliptical. I try to have self-compassion even though I often want to yell, “Come on! Get your act together!!” I also ask myself what lessons from the COVID times I want to bring with me as I navigate what’s next.

What helps you to recombobulate?


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