Claudine Arndt

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Love in the Time of Coronavirus. These are the words that keep visiting me, gently whispering in my ear multiple times each day, guiding my thoughts and outlook around the pandemic we’re facing: Love in the Time of Coronavirus.

Literature nerds will recognize this as an overt wordplay (aka ripoff) from Nobel prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera. For those of you with passions beyond fiction, very simply Love in the Time of Cholera is a love story following two main characters, Florentina and Fermina, who first fall in love while young but don’t end up in a relationship together until five decades later. Among many plot twists and turns and enough drama to flush out a novel, the book encourages readers to explore what love really, truly looks like.

Which brings me to where I started – love in the time of coronavirus. Though the plot we are currently living more closely resembles the apocalyptic trajectory of Station 11 (one of my top-five favorite fiction reads ever), I wonder if you see what I’m seeing lately: a global love story unfolding within this pandemic, bearing a depth I’ve never witnessed before. Love showing up in both ordinary and extraordinary ways: farmers donating food to food shelves and schools for grab-and-go boxed lunches, young healthy individuals staying home for the greater good of all, neighbors intentionally checking on each other and delivering food when needed, families and friends regularly FaceTiming to stay connected, chefs and restaurant owners donating meals to health care workers and the recently unemployed, executives donating their salaries, neighbors singing to each other across Italian plazas and New Yorkers giving a resounding round of grateful applause to health care workers as they leave their shifts at the hospital, people asking each other, “how are you,” and actually listening deeply to the answer.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus.

Perhaps I’m being overly romantic in my outlook, just as Gabriel Garcia Marquez was criticized for being too simplistic in his depiction of enduring love (though perhaps only by those who chose to interpret his message simply). If that’s the case, I’m cool with it because having this outlook makes me feel better and encourages me to step up my own game and be the best person I can be. This crisis is offering me a beautiful reminder of what is important in life. I like looking for and uncovering all the positive and generous acts emerging amidst the universal uncertainty. It definitely beats the negative news headlines.

Of course, within this global love story is also the opportunity for each of us to cultivate a deeper self-love story, one in which we commit to taking care of ourselves as if our health matters – because it always has and always will. Life has changed dramatically in the last few weeks, and it looks like many of these changes are going to be with us a while, but we are still living. Do you feel alive? I cannot begin to imagine a better time to start valuing your health more deeply and learning to cultivate healthy habits. Seriously. The time is now, when nothing is normal and everything feels topsy-turvy anyway.

Close your eyes: Can you imagine a healthier, stronger version of yourself? Take a few seconds to sit with that vision, and then see if you can land on one or two ideas you already have for boosting your health. You’re smart. I know you have some ideas.

If you’re looking for other ideas, today’s love note from me offers resources for how to buy locally from farmers during this time when quality food is essential, and ideas for moving your body while sheltering in place. I also wanted to share a favorite springtime recipe and the link for a healthy deviant journey I’ve begun, in case you want to join. Here goes:

1. There is no better time than the present to connect with local farmers and buy your food directly from them. Quality food is essential to health and well-being, and one of the best ways to get quality food is to buy it from a source close to home that took care growing or raising that product while also caring for the land. I am well-connected with Minnesota farmers because of my work with the Minnesota Cooks program at Minnesota Farmers Union. Over the last two weeks, the Minnesota Cooks team has been compiling a resource we’re calling Buying Locally While Social Distancing, which is a list of Minnesota farmers offering farm fresh foods for safe delivery or pick-up. Small family farmers = healthy food + food security. During a time when none of us really wants to be grasping for the last package of chicken in the grocery store while trying to maintain distance from others, why not seize this as an opportunity to connect directly with farmers for the freshest food possible?

For those of you from other parts of the world, simply google your city and state with the words “farmers market association.” That should give you a good starting place for connecting with farmers. You can also contact your state’s farmers union and ask for names and numbers. Remember: don’t show up at farms without a prior appointment.

2. Move your body while sheltering in place. Though our world has changed dramatically in a short span of time, our body’s need to move has not. Perhaps now more than ever it’s imperative we continue to exercise – or build some sort of a movement practice if we aren’t already in the habit. Barring any health concerns which prevent you from exercising, movement is a critical pillar of overall well-being – both physical and mental. If you’re typically a sedentary person, it’s totally okay to start small with a short walk down your street, a few intentional extra trips up and down the stairs, or simple bicep curls with five-pound dumbells. Consistency is key, and getting started is the hardest part. Every little step we take adds up.

If you’re looking for instructed fitness opportunities, consider checking out some of the super awesome people and studios I’ve listed below, all of which have taken their classes virtual and, therefore, are currently available to you wherever you’re hunkering down in the world:

a. My friend Suzy, owner of Defining You Pilates and Fitness in St. Paul, and her stellar team quickly transitioned their Pilates and fitness services to a virtual format. As stated on their home page, “We are choosing to be creative, nimble and innovative in our approach to community fitness.” Yes!!! Suzy is a leader in the Pilates universe and the queen of staying upbeat. She will make you smile while giving you a great workout.
b. Feeling sassy? If so, mXe (prounouced moxie) is the studio for you. Offering dance, cardio, barre, boxing, and more, they’re also offering the first week of online classes free. Dancing helps me feel alive, and the folks at mXe know exactly how to get your heart rate up while making it fun enough to help you forget just how hard you’re working.
c. In the mood for one-on-one personal training? The dedicated team at Discover Strength is offering 1-on-1 virtual training for $39 per session, with the introductory session free. You don’t need any equipment, though small weights and an elastic band might be useful if you have them on hand.

Of course, walking or running outside are always available to you, as are body-bearing exercises like planks, push-ups, and lunges, which you can do from the comfort of your living room. I’ve also enjoyed discovering fitness videos like this Latin Dance Cardio Workout on YouTube, which keeps me hopping and flailing around my house breathless while giving my husband some cheap entertainment. It’s a win-win. ;)

3. Embark on a 14-day healthy deviant adventure with Pilar Gerasimo, health journalist and author of The Healthy Deviant. I mentioned Pilar in my last newsletter after attending her book launch, as I am a huge fan of hers and love the health revolution she’s promoting. Acting on instinct, Pilar decided to offer this 14-day healthy deviant adventure now while our lives and routines are already disrupted. Makes sense to me! The adventure started last Wednesday, but it’s not too late to sign up and catch up. Price is based on what you feel you can afford right now: $0 – $79. I’m always up for being a healthy deviant, so I signed up. I hope you do, too.

4. Minty Pea Spring Soup. This soup is an easy springtime dream. You should make it. End of story.

As a reminder, I am still seeing clients and have room to take a few new clients, but all of my sessions are taking place virtually until further notice. If you could use support, please reach out.

Stay healthy and sane, everyone!

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