On the Run from Corona: Update From The Road

Coronavirus

The coronavirus throws a unique set of spanners in the works if you don’t have a home. 

This time last week, a friend and I were settling into a lovely rhythm of work and training in a beautiful Californian suburb, when the pandemic hit. Very quickly, the countries where my family lives—France and Belgium—closed their borders to non-citizens, which unfortunately, includes me. I wasn’t due to see my family for a month and I’m used to spending long stretches of time apart from them but this felt different. Anxiety hit me pretty hard. It was a struggle to concentrate and I could feel my muscles tightening up.

Flying and passing through busy cities seemed to be our two greatest risks for catching the virus so we decided to sit tight until the lockdown was lifted in Europe. I filled the freezer with food and breathed and stretched my way back to a state of equilibrium. We fast became a mini-experts on the virus—tracking stats, listening to diverse commentary and watching the different ways that each country handled the spread. There looked to be a 3-month cycle in each location…which was not ideal since my visa was due to run out right as the peak was forecast in America. 

Since Canada had already shut its border, we looked to Mexico—speaking to friends and monitoring updates. Initially, we had been making decisions every couple of days but we started having to reassess every day, and then every hour. 

THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING HOMELESS

“Have no attachments; allow nothing to be in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat, if you spot the heat around the corner.” Heat

Getting ready to leave at a moment’s notice is one of the advantages of a minimalist lifestyle. Over the course of several years, I’ve reduced my belongings to fit in a cabin-sized suitcase and I keep all my true essentials—passport, bank cards, iPhone and laptop, in a small Eastpak rucksack that my friend gave me for Christmas. As we have the car, my mobile home kit this time also includes kettlebells and a couple of yoga mats.

The moment we heard from friends that Mexico was likely to shut its borders, we made the decision to leave our lovely Airbnb and our freezer packed with supplies and drive straight to Tijuana. Again, not ideal! If we’d had the luxury, it would have been a lot more comfortable to do the long drive in America and cross the border in Texas but we couldn’t take the risk of getting trapped. 

My anxiety ramped up even higher this time. I was nervous that we wouldn’t be allowed entry into Mexico, I was incredibly apprehensive about the drive through the border towns, especially if there was any unrest related to corona and I wanted to maintain open and honest communication with my family without adding to their concern. 

It turns out we got lucky in a million ways. As I write, we’re on our third day of dawn-to-dusk driving, so far without a hitch. We’re headed for a beautiful town in the Mexican countryside where we have friends and relative safety for the next few weeks or months. Hopefully, we’ll get there with just enough time to find a place to live and fill the freezer before the town goes into lockdown. 

THOUGHTS ON THE EFFICACY OF ANXIETY

“Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” Dan Zadra

I don’t think that the spikes of anxiety that I experienced over the last few days have been helpful. Anxiety scrambles my thinking, tenses my muscles and triggers pain in my neck and upper back. It’s also impossible to have fun when you’re anxious. I wasn’t able to enjoy going through immigration in Tijuana. I let alarming messages from people close to me upset me. And I’m not at all sure it helped that my heart pounded almost out of my chest each time we passed through an unofficial Mexican checkpoint. 

I’ve been trying to track how anxiety feels in my body, to identify who and what triggers it and to gradually reduce the time that I’m in that state of “fight or flight”. What I’ve come up with so far is having wonderful people to speak to who can encourage and support you, breathing deeply when anxiety takes hold and stretching tight muscles morning and night so that tension doesn’t turn into pain. 

BECOMING ANTI-FRAGILE

“The price of security is insecurity.” Dan Harris

Reflecting on this time when all the luxuries we took to be inalienable rights have been so easily taken from us—including access to family, healthcare, employment, homes, food, exercise, free travel and education, I’m trying to work out how we can do better. What lessons we can learn. 

For me, I’ve decided that I need to be more resilient physically—not only from a health perspective but also in terms of being able to defend myself from attack. I’ve also realised how highly I value adaptability and see the risks in an inability to adjust. I know I need to identify my Achilles heel(s) and pay attention to areas where I am weak. And philosophically, my goal is to be less attached to things turning out exactly as I’d hoped. 

I know we haven’t seen this thing play out yet but so far, I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to pause and shore up my defences. 

What has corona meant for you?

12 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Abi, So glad to hear this update. I’ve been thinking of you daily, wondering how you’re adapting and traveling. I had no doubt you’d make smart moves, even when choices were/are limited. Mexico sounds like a delightful adventure. Only wish I could be stowed away in your suitcase. Take good care xxx.

  • Hey Abi – covid19 has meant a whole heap of different things all at once. Fear, hope, fingers crossed, all in a day, every day.
    For once it’s a complete uncontrollable.
    And that’s rubbish.
    We all know we can control some stuff – control the controllable etc etc.
    That changes nothing in terms of this though as some of us cannot ‘fix’ the inbuilt vulnerabilities in our bodies.

  • Good to read your story. I was two weeks away from starting a new life abroad (plane finally cancelled) and it’s all fine.
    I think it’s the first time, humanity have to face a worldwide virus and it could be stressful for sure.
    And it might stop our freedom but I think it’s a fair price to stay home to save lives.
    Anyway, I hope every travellers and nomad will be able to travel again soon.
    it might bring more online yoga people during the quarantine 😉

    • What seems so crazy is that the ways that it is stressful to each person are so unique. For some it is restrictions of freedom, for others it is ill-health for themselves or their loved ones. None of us are immune from the consequences. Hopefully, people do feel like practicing yoga but it is often hard to do the thing we know we need to do.

  • Abi, I love how you framed what has been happening. I tell Mike that fear is normal, but you don’t have to dwell on it. Jesus commands us to keep casting all our worries and problems on him. And to thank him for. handling them. Then he goes on to say, in effect, when your mind is empty of the worries because you entrusted them to me, then think about what is true and beautiful and excellent and worthy and praise-worthy. So much is! What’s good about this Covid19? like you and some of the others have commented, we are learning to hold our plans and our desires lightly. We are thinking about family and friends a lot more. This is all so very good. Glad to be able to picture you in the Mexican countryside among friends, continuing to work and provide us such good quality videos. I LOVE your weekly blogs and thoughts. Please keep them up. And the quotes. Que Dios te bendiga!

    • Thank you Maria. That’s beautiful. I love that idea of a mind empty of worries and space for what is true, excellent and worthy of praise. Stay safe.

  • Hi Abi,

    There is a silver lining if you like the taste of Carona beer as that is the only beer left in the shops!! ( i’m from dear old Blighty) Not sure if people think drinking Carona is unhealthy juju or it actually contains the virus!!

    Personally I’m a stout man…that’s not my physique you understand but my preference in beer. ( yes i have managed to hunt down a few bottles, cheers!)

    Be careful out there Abi, keep breathing.

    david

  • One thing that can be good in these times, is a social media/news detox.
    Now that you’re in a safe place, if you stop, breathe, and look around, remind yourself that you’re safe. Take a break (3 days, a week, whatever) from outside media consumption (I realize your business is online) and requires being “networked.” It will be there when you come back.

    Breathe, do an extended body scan, relax. And literally tell yourself, your mind and body, that you’re safe.

    • Thank you. I do choose my news and social media sources very carefully. There’s a lot of fear-mongering out there that is louder than the supportive and solution-focused messages. Let’s make this alive time not dead time.