The pandemic caught many of us by storm. We were side swiped. It came quickly and knocked us off balance from our daily routines.
There have been times during the pandemic where I felt locked down and could not breathe. The most challenging part of this pandemic for me is that my swimming routine came to a screeching halt! It felt like the end of the world. I almost cried at the thought of losing the ability to exercise. Swimming has benefitted me mostly due to the osteoarthritis in my knees.
Despite the negative consequences of the pandemic, there has been something positive about working from home. I am intentional about going outside to enjoy nature while getting natural vitamin D from the sun.
We have heard about the many lives lost from COVID-19, and it is totally devastating from the high numbers. What brought it home for me is knowing people personally who not only contracted COVID-19 but dying from it. Losing friends, church family members and not being able to express my heart to them and say good-bye took the air out of my balloon. Funerals were limited because of the severity of the virus. Each time, I learned of someone I knew who passed, it made me grieve my mom all over again. It almost became overwhelming. I knew it was critical for me to get help with my emotional breakdown. Therefore, I decided to join GriefShare, to help me process my emotions. Grief Share is a friendly, caring group of people who walk individuals through their life’s most difficult experiences. GriefShare support groups meet weekly around the world. Individuals do not have to go through the grieving process alone. I participated in a GriefShare support group online via Zoom weekly. It gave me a safe place to share while helping me to maintain emotional stability. The group members were some of the most beautiful people I have ever met. I looked forward to participating in this online community.

The pandemic represented WAR for me. This meant, I had to fight for what I knew and believed. God is in control. My politics did not change despite the virus in the air.
As of this writing, California has 2,670,962 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 29,701 deaths. There have been more than 367,000 individuals died in the United States. There was a lot to be concerned about for certain. The unemployment rate is in the US is 14.70%. The unemployment rate in California is 8.20%. Businesses have closed, stores have gone out of business, and individuals have lost their homes and were evicted. California employers sought to reduce labor costs and laid off, furloughed and reduced the compensation for city, state and county workers. All have different impacts and ripple effects. However, God is still good. “Victory is mine” and nothing I hear on the news can change my mind. I kept proclaiming all is well. I put a smile on my face to go with my belief. I was determined to hold on to my faith. The messages I heard over the years surfaced when I felt exasperated. This made me reflect on my history with God.
I did not realize I had built up as much timber (prayers stored up) until I was walking to my vehicle after work. I looked at how far away my vehicle was parked. My knees were in severe pain and I had a long walk. Without realizing it, I began thanking God for all the wonderful things in my life. I gave Him glory for the good day I had at work. I found myself saying these words, “Lord, I bless and honor you. I delight in you. There is nobody like you Lord. Your name is great. Halleluiah, Thank you Jesus. Glory to your name”. Before I knew it, I had arrived at my vehicle. I rolled down my window as I drove to my swim. I smelled the fresh air and said, “Lord I thank you”. It felt empowering to bless God. It is a beautiful thing to have a grateful mind during a difficult period. I was determined not to be ruled by my environment.
I arrived at the pool and began to swim laps. As I swam back and forth this experience (of praising God during difficult times) dominated my thoughts. It felt amazing to mentally overrule my circumstances and to dominate my thoughts with the goodness of God. It was clear to me that I had to write and share this experience. I did not allow the pandemic to steal my PRAISE. My brain was stored with exerts from a sermon by my pastor, Bishop Noel Jones. I remember him saying, if you lose your house, don’t lose your mind because you will need your mind to get another house. Don’t lose your mind if you lose your car, you will need your mind to get the next car. Don’t lose your mind if the man leaves you, you are going to need your mind for the next man. These words and Bishop Noel Jones many sermons were deeply embedded in my spirit and represented strength for me. I was not going to lose my mind because of the pandemic and my pain.

I knew if the government failed, God will not fail. I was determined to maintain my faith. God’s word cannot return void. I will continue to stand on the promises of God. On the solid rock I stand, all other grounds are sinking sand. Because God is my solid rock, I can maintain my trust in Him during the midst of this pandemic. God is on my side. He has the whole world in his hands. My PRAISE took me to another level in God. “God inhabits the praises of his people.” Psalm 22:3

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Sonara was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After High School, she went onto college and graduated with a B.S. Degree in Human Ecology and a M.S. Degree in Psychology from Cameron University in Lawton, OK. She has certifications in Postponing Sexual Involvement, Microsoft Digital Literacy, True Colors, P.S. MAPP and Toastmasters International. Dr. Sonara also has a lifetime Adult teaching credential. Sonara is a former School Administrator with John Muir Charter School. Dr. Sonara completed her PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy (Psychology) at International University for Professional Studies. She has a certificate as an advocate for Self-Care.

Dr. Sonara is also the owner of SCB Consulting, which specializes in using Music as Medicine. Her focus is to empower individuals through personally and professionally through the arts for creative expressions. A partial list of the organizations Dr. Sonara has worked with include: Health & Human Services Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Labor, Long Beach Job Corps, Hawaii Pacific University, LA Care Health Plan, Lawton Public School, the Mayor Commission on the Status of Women, San Diego Youth Involvement, Fremont College and Langston University. She is also a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the California Department of Rehabilitation.

Dr. Sonara is a Humanitarian known for her acts of kindness and grassroots efforts. She has a big heart for children and believes in putting action behind her words. In 2001 she founded a Men's Reading program at William McGill School of Success in San Diego. The Reading program is still in existence today and is a success. From 2004 to 2009, Dr. Sonara conducted annual workshops for the California Legislature at the Statewide Community Renewal Summit, a blue print for rebuilding communities.

Dr. Sonara understands the importance of being active in the community. She is a on the Board of Directors for San Diego Coalition for the Homeless since 1998. In addition to her board duties, Dr. Sonara plays Mrs. Santa at the annual Holiday Magic for Kids. This celebration gives away toys to 5,000-7,000 needy children throughout San Diego County. She is also a former board member for Adoption Information Center. Dr. Sonara is a Diamond Life member with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.

Working with the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing survivors had an impact on Dr. Sonara’s life. The need to help individuals express their feelings after a traumatic event is what encouraged Dr. Sonara to pursue a PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy.

She created a National Healing Music Project which was sent to the Obama Administration. She served on the Oklahoma Mayor’s Commission for the Status of Women. Dr. Sonara has received countless awards for her contributions to the community including “Sonara Day in San Diego” in August 2005 proclaimed by the San Diego City Council, Outstanding Citizen by Assembly member Shirley Horton and Citizen of the month by Congressman Bob Filner. She was named Member of the Month in 2013 by Toastmaster’s International, just to name a few.

Dr. Sonara is working on a book titled, “the Healing Power of Music”. She resides in Los Angeles and has two college children, Drunell II and Drunara.

Dr. Sonara lives by the philosophy that, “the more we invest now into the lives of others, the less we’ll be required to pay later”.