Sharing Our Stories: Alumnae Stories from the Pandemic

ellen sue spicer-jacobson 59Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson ’59 has shared her creative spirit with alumnae through her books and by designing the Class of 1959’s 50th Reunion class banner. She is active with her Class, attends AADC Alumnae Reunion Weekend and also participates in the annual AADC Cabin Fever knitting and sweet treat event. In addition to previously published books, she hopes to publish her first novel, “Full Set of Nails,” based on her experiences and those of friends who divorced in midlife, what she calls “gray divorce.” Ellen Sue considers herself a “rhymnast” or a gymnast with words, rather than a poet. Here is her story and one of her “rhymes.” Here is her story, shared on October 8, 2020.

When my “advanced age” put me in the category of high risk for COVID-19, I thought cabin fever would set in. Much to my surprise, I began to declutter my house, go through files that needed culling, and finish the first draft of my novel, “Full Set of Nails.” A national publisher has been looking at my manuscript for possible publication. I have been relieved from errands (my daughter food shops for me), removed from classes in person (yoga, creative writing) and realized I was enjoying the less hectic schedule I had been keeping and that curling up with a good book or taking a walk in my neighborhood became more enjoyable than ever. I began to live the cliché: “the simple things in life,” including passing up some Zoom meetings to explore or catch up with projects at home.

Underneath this, however, is a gnawing anxiety about the state of the world. I truly believe that the pandemic is related to climate change, because Mother Earth is overwhelmed with all that is being done; sullying her rivers and oceans and polluting the atmosphere and our foods with chemicals our bodies don’t need. What we do need is a set of spiritual ecology guidelines to clean up our planet and our own bodies. (See an article in Consumer Reports, “Stop Eating Pesticides.”) I have become a “nutrition ecologist,” and my 14 year-old website is beginning to reflect this transition from women’s health to planetary health.

Balancing these positive thoughts and activities with the anxiety is a daily encounter with myself. While I am considered an extrovert by most people, I realize that social distancing has allowed me to explore my “shadow self,” that is, the part of me that enjoys my alone time, my reading for pleasure, my love of letter writing, and even my decluttering time. Many of these activities are pushed away when I am out in the world connecting with family, friends and other activities.

I miss seeing my family and friends, so thank goodness for the phone, email and Zoom. Again, there is a need to balance my external life with my internal (shadow) life. And when we are allowed to be with family and friends, I will need to reevaluate this balance between alone time and social time, so that I am not overwhelmed with responsibilities and commitments that steal from my alone time. I am learning lots of lessons during this difficult time and trust that when we are back to a kind of new normal, I will take these lessons with me and create a world that feels safer and kinder than ever before.

Coping & Hoping in the Time of COVID

Day after day during COVID, my routine rarely alters:
Keeping calm, healthy & alert; my resolve never falters.
Making the bed, doing the laundry, my thoughts ever roam.
Is this new way of living good for our global home?

Wearing a mask, shopping at dawn, not eating out.
Is this the new norm everyone is complaining about?
The flu in 1918 has a similar resemblance: quite eerie.
Will we ever again feel safe, in practice and in theory?

Day after day, I think a lot about what this new life is worth?
Is COVID telling us to clean up our shared home: Mother Earth?
Are the severe storms, floods, and greenhouse gases a global warning
to scale down our lives, take stock of our actions, every morning?

If so, then we need to do all in our power every single day
to clean up our ailing planet, everyone in his or her own way.
Reuse/Reduce/Recycle is a triple, important conviction
to save us all from dying: the human race’s extinction!

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is coming to deadly fruition.
We don’t need a crystal ball; just use your natural intuition.
If we take from the planet more than we give,
soon everything will die and no one will live.

I have become an environmental activist now,
Creating a green team to see what and how
we can do to save the planet & also all our lives.
I see no other choice to a path that says: “SURVIVE.”

I feel a small revolution stirring in my soul
and my green team project is now a major goal.
So join me if you wish to be part of this quiet revolution.
REUSE/REDUCE/RECYCLE and reach a safe solution.

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