By Karla Klemm — Grand Junction, Colorado … “You’re not going to like this assignment,” were the words I heard as two coworkers entered my office. It’s funny what the brain thinks in split seconds.  As the manager of the WIC program for Mesa County, a supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, I usually have a schedule that is quite consistent and routine, thanks also to a wonderful staff.  Little did I realize that this would change for awhile.  It turns out it was “all hands-on deck” for the COVID-19 effort and I was needed to coordinate the COVID sampling site for my county.

Now my days are filled with coordinating volunteers, making sure the physical site is ready and that the sample kits are in place, working with new departments that I usually don’t interact with, and also checking in with staff that are now working remotely.  I am proud of being involved with an effort to stem the tide of this unprecedented pandemic.

The first day of my new assignment, to say I was exhausted, was an understatement.  When I hear media reports that fellow citizens are trying to find ways to prevent boredom with this quarantine, I realize this is not my reality.

My husband David, who isn’t necessarily known for his culinary skills, has stepped up to the plate and is now the head salad maker of our household.  He’s learned that Google has a lot of advice to offer about how to cook a potato.

Realizing that this assignment could go on for a while, I have found how important sleep is.  In the morning, after a devotional, I take 20 minutes to do a stretching routine on PBS, called Classical Stretch, which is similar to Tai Chi.  I feel like I’m stronger because of it.

When I get home after work, I check out David’s latest salad creation, head to my small backyard, take off my socks and bury my feet in the grass and do some “earthing.” There is definitely power in nature and I have enjoyed watching spring unfold.  My cat, Thea (pictured), has also benefited from this ritual as she is usually housebound.  The birds have a different opinion as they watch the bird feeder from a tree, awaiting Thea’s absence from the yard.

When the weekend comes, I am so thankful for the Sabbath.  I have been listening to music I forgot I had in my iTunes account and also reading books and articles I haven’t had time for during the week.  I like to cook and try new plant strong recipes, go Nordic walking or move plants around in my flower garden.  Our daughter, who lives in Los Angeles, is working from home for now.  Talking with her more frequently makes us very happy.  Also, during this time of isolation, I have enjoyed seeing the homes of the newscasters as they “zoom” from their abodes.  It makes them more relatable to me.

As we all grapple with how to react during this time, I feel the power of poetry is needed more than ever.  Here is an excerpt from a poem by Kitty O’Meara, a Wisconsin chaplain, which seems to sum it up:

“And the people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed…”

Karla Klemm is a dietitian and lives in Grand Junction where she coordinates cultural gatherings for the Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church. Photos by Karla Klemm.

Karla Klemm & Heidi, nursing coordinator