We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.  

Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment we’re not alone.

Orson Welles

This week marks a year since we became a mask wearing, socially distant population.  Americans  learned what changes were required to live safely in a pandemic world.   The year 2020 will likely be a new marker in our collective memories.  COVID-19 reminds me of how I recall life pre-9/11 and post 9/11.  Priorities and what really matters have shifted in many ways.  Family gatherings and travel plans were halted.   Lunch dates canceled.  The safety of loved ones, especially the most vulnerable, became an immediate concern.

My husband and I were 10 hours by car away from home when Covid hit the US.  As states began to shut down, we decided to cut our winter vacation short.  We came home a week early.  Once at home, many of my daily activities, like teaching yoga, were put on pause.   I wondered how I would spend my “retirement time”  in the socially distant new world order.

By the end of March, my home yoga studio, Sun and Moon,  and Inova’s Life with Cancer,  queried teachers, “Are you willing to teach virtual yoga classes?”   Something told me I needed to do this. Initially, I paused. I prefer face to face over electronic connection.   My tummy did somersaults.   The thought of being “live” in this youthful, fit, on-line world made me feel vulnerable.   The thought of a self-video brought on a deer in the headlights look.   This happens when I step out of my comfort zone.

An inner voice said:  “Get over yourself.”  I grabbed my iPhone and played with a few short self-videos to make sure I didn’t look more awkward than usual.    My attachment to a self-image that no longer existed seemed adolescent.  I spent the afternoon figuring out how to  post videos on YouTube.  Then, I sent an email expressing my desire to teach at both organizations during the pandemic.

That night, I went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night, realizing that both organizations had asked about teaching classes on something called Zoom, not YouTube.  I panicked.  I felt a deep need to connect with others through yoga.  BUT,  my computer/video technology skills were next to non-existent.  Duh…how would I see all the participants in a yoga class on my iPhone?  Did I even have the right equipment?

Flash back to late 2017, I was offered an opportunity to sub a chair yoga class at a local retirement community.  I  taught chair yoga in the past, but the majority of my experience was teaching gentle and restorative yoga.  Ever the student, I decided to bolster my previous chair yoga training. I enrolled in an on-line, go at your own pace, chair yoga teacher training program through Yoga Vista Academy.  In preparation for my teaching gig,  I zipped through the on-line course.  I never completed the certification requirement. I was too insecure to video the required “teach-back”.  Sherry Zak Morris, the co-founder of Yoga Vista, was generous with her encouragement and offered technical tips on self-videos. Last Spring, I referred back to Yoga Vista’s  course material to refresh my depleted self-confidence.

In a very short time, I figured out what I needed. On April 1st 2020, I taught my first Chair Yoga Class on Zoom at Sun and Moon.  Shortly after that, virtual restorative yoga began at Life with Cancer.   Soon, friends and family asked me if I would teach chair yoga to them.  Almost a year later, I’m teaching several classes a week to friends and family all across the US, Canada and Sweden.   With over 200 Zoom classes under my belt,  I teach more now than in pre-Covid times.

Zoom classes filled a void left by not being able to enjoy in person social time. The encouragement I received from students also gave me the confidence to finally complete by chair yoga certification with Yoga Vista Academy.

While Zoom yoga kept me busy, I missed connecting with family who live in different states. I fretted about my Mom who lives on her own. She missed her daughters.  One of my sisters suggested we connect virtually.  Armed with my Zoom subscription, I volunteered to organize the LeFever Gals weekly check-in.  (Photo above: LeFever Gals screen shot.)

My family and I have been fortunate to be able to have access to and master the technology tools that keep us connected.   These virtual moments have made losses easier to accept.  Many times this year, I recalled something that a dear friend from Bayonne, New Jersey repeated when we faced challenging times:   “Ya come into da world alone and ya go out alone…”   Paraphrasing Orson Welles: “With some love, friendship and technology, we can create the illusion for the moment we’re not alone.”

Last week, I received my first Covid shot. The second is scheduled at the end of March.  I’m hopeful that safe, in-person time is around the corner.  In the meantime, what tools have you discovered to connect with others during these crazy times?

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