Homeless During a Pandemic

In less than a week, all our lives have changed (if yours hasn’t – go wash your hands, NOW). Every single person in this country is affected by this pandemic, one way or another. Last week the severity of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) got escalated to a pandemic, and word was getting around that schools might shut down here in Ohio… things were progressing real quick. I was talking with a friend, telling her how lovely it would be to have a few weeks “off”, thinking about all the projects I could get done around my house, the nice “break” from it all, bunkering down and using this time as a reset, a reboot (while staying safe and healthy in our beautiful, clean home)… and not more than a few hours later, my world exploded, literally.

We had just gotten home, finishing up eating dinner when the lights flickered, power shut off and we heard a loud grinding/pop sound. My husband went outside to the meter to check and I started smelling “fire”, hotness, something burning. I told JR, he went down to the basement and called up that there was a fire. I got the fire extinguisher, promptly gave it to him, rounded up the kids and the dog, called 911 and we went outside. JR used the whole fire extinguisher on the fire – which was from the electrical box that had shorted, and within minutes the entire basement was engulfed in smoke. Electrical fire, have you ever smelled one of those? JR ran upstairs to grab a couple essentials and we waited, for what seemed like a really. long. time. for the fire truck to fly past our house! Kind of funny now, but at the time, it wasn’t  – we were all waving our arms in our driveway trying to flag the firetruck down. 3 fire trucks, a State Trooper, Sheriff, and lots of family in our driveway later, it all unraveled from there. After a few hrs of all this, we quickly packed up bags and checked into a nearby hotel (which we promptly found out is known for prostitution). So, we packed up our bags again the next morning and moved to another hotel – which was much better; a 2 br suite with kitchenette, delicious free breakfast, pool, fitness center, and pet friendly!

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My heart was filled with joy that we caught it fast. The timing of it all was divine and God was surely protecting us on that! My husband started the insurance claim and contacted ALL the people to get this ball rolling (electric company to shut off power, electrician, fire clean up professionals, textile professional cleaners, construction company, insurance adjuster – oh my).

And then it happened, Thursday, it was announced that all the schools in Ohio were going to shut down for at least a few weeks. Friday, it continued to escalate, stores out of stock, people hoarding toilet paper – and here we were just trying to navigate through the crisis of our little life with just a few packs of TP and NO Clorox wipes – gasp, I know! The contractor and electrician told us that it would take about 6 WEEKS to get all the work done for us to move back in (heart sink here).

And then it continued to happen… over the weekend, more mandates were ordered – gatherings were banned, churches started canceling in-person services, restaurants and bars closed, all the while we were in our basement slaving away to inventory, document and take pictures of every. single. thing. that had smoke damage – everything in the basement and our office upstairs.IMG_0802Monday – word is swirling around that “shut ins” are going to start – not leaving your house except for the essentials. To be living in a hotel, without our “stuff”, not in the comfort of our own home, amidst all this chaos and uncertainty – I really can’t even put into words this feeling. This feeling of unknown. When I think about last week when I was daydreaming about a shut-in, in my home with my family, we were going to bake, have family devotional times, and do projects and experiments, start reading a book series together, organize and deep clean, and play outside… I had big plans and was really looking forward to this incredible time to stop, reflect and focus on what’s most important – now, it’s just survival mode.

And here we are. Living between a hotel and going to the house every day as lots of people are in and out of our home, packing and cleaning and working through this process. I brought some food from our home to the hotel, then there was not much food at the house when the kids got hungry (yet again). Not really sure what clothes are where. Definitely didn’t have the right shoes at the hotel today for the outfit I had to go to work in. Toys and entertainment for the kids for the hotel AND the house are getting lost in the mix, and trying to make this not so traumatizing for my children, holding tight to be steering for them- while now incorporating SCHOOL for my kindergartner and middle schooler… just! wow! Oh – then there’s the dog. Trekking her back and forth too, all those potty brakes at the hotel. Thinking about having to bunker down, NOT in my home, brings me to tears… I thought a lot about that today (hence this post) and you know what? It is all about perspective! It’s all just “stuff”. The more I think about how difficult this is; the unknown of when we can move back in, feeling so sorry for my kids who we’re dragging from house to hotel to my work, and now needing to become a germaphobe AND teacher… the worse I feel (and apparently eating too many Nutter Butters, dipped in a cold glass of milk, doesn’t really help either). Thinking about this pandemic we’re all experiencing, while dealing with the aftermath of the fire & living in a hotel is, just… overwhelming. We’re all experiencing this coronavirus together, we will all get through this together.

Today, I decided I needed to refocus my perspective (I’ve had lots of practice of “reframing” in my life, it’s a survival mechanism I suppose). I could ruminate on all the above. It’s all true. It’s all very relevant. It’s all at the forefront of my mind. But there’s more than that. The bigger picture is that we’re together. We have provisions (& I’m pretty sure unlimited toilet paper at the hotel – take THAT all you TP fanatics). JR’s job has really stepped up and helped out. My job is giving me flexibility.  Family and friends have poured out love to us. Faith, hope and love – that’s what it’s all about. But the greatest of these is love, and we are so blessed to have lots of it!

Tonight I took a long hot shower (well, to relax AND burn off the germs too). I breathed. I prayed. I WILL NOT let this fear and uncertainty steal joy from my days – pandemic or not. If you feel yourself spiraling, please take time for self-care and remember the more you think about all the fearful things, the more fear you’ll have – don’t feed the beast. Think about things that are lovely (like the Spring that we’ll all get to enjoy, coming up real soon). And true (like being alive, enjoying the present of this day).  What we think about, matters. It shapes our behaviors and our beliefs.

Inspiration 11x14_10So, with all this unknown and craziness swirling around us, don’t let it consume you. Take a step back. Take a breath. Take a hot shower (always my elixir). Take precautions – buy (and use) all the Purell and Charmin, and then move forward. Take this time for personal growth. Take this time to “cleanse” (literally, and figuratively). Take. This. Time. We can only do our part. Let’s embrace it.

There are a lot of people on the front lines risking their health while trying to handle their own families through this too. Lots of stress. Lots of unknowns. There are a lot of people hurting from this pandemic already; financially, mentally, economically – but what does worry do? add 1 day to our life? help anything? (spoiler alert: the answer is “no”). Let’s pray. Let’s shut off the news and open our bibles – even if it’s for the first time (if you don’t have one, go to your nearest hotel – they have one. or message me at deserea@truelifecreations.com – I’ll mail you one! or go to a church and ask for one – you would make their day! I promise!). NOW is the time to dig deep in our faith – ESPECIALLY if we’re hurting, or fearful, or struggling. God will work miraculously in your life – He will give you a sense of peace and calmness greater than you can even understand. All you have to do is Ask.

And then play a board game. Learn some card tricks. Swing in a hammock (it’s my favorite hobby). Put a scrapbook from a vacation/ event together (as far as I know, Walgreens is open and you can still order prints). Work on that project. Organize that thing. Take a nap (my other favorite hobby). Play music. Read. The list is endless…

Remember – we’re in this together. Let’s look for the good. Let’s seek, and you know what? We’ll find (good or bad – depends where we’re looking). AND, if all else fails – think of me and my family living in a hotel during this pandemic… it could be worse!


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