When everything shut down in March of 2020, I don’t think any of us could’ve predicted that things would go on this long. The shock of picking my kids up from school on a Friday, finding out that school was cancelled until who knows when was almost more than I could fathom. It was the final year of my kids little Spanish Immersion school (it merged with another school and we’d opted not to move with it) so this last day was truly the last day of seeing these teachers, some of these friends and this school building forever. I took my boys home, tried to comfort them without having any answers and we hunkered down for the lockdown.
I remember my precious self so earnestly believing that things were going to right themselves in a couple of months. We stayed home, along with the rest of the world, cleaning closets and decluttering in hopes that things would get back to normal soon.
In many ways, I am so thankful that I didn’t know how long things would stretch on. I think I would’ve spiraled in a way that would’ve been scary. I like a plan. I like a calendar that’s full. I like to know what’s happening next and I’m sure I’m not alone in these things! Here we are a year later and we learned how to do life with a little more flexibility. Although we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, I feel so hopeful for the end of this chapter.
Do you feel like there are things you’ll hold onto from the Covid era? I do! Lessons learned through the stress, the improvisations, the letting go… there are treasures that we can take with us when we re-enter into the busy everydays we used to lament but later realized we loved and missed dearly this last year. I’m sure I could write for days about the things I’ve learned but here are the ones that stand out.
Staying Present: I am a planner. I plan trips, remodel timelines, date nights, time with friends, playdates for my kids, organize our life around sports and I love all of it. My paper calendar and I are very good friends. When the calendar was suddenly blank and we had endless days at home, I went into the most crazy cleaning/organizing mode, trying to make up for all that empty space. I had the entire house organized and cleaned from top to bottom in the first week. After that… there I was… with time. I spent a lot of time where my mind kept roving over the calendar or the day, trying to find the next thing to rest on or focus on. It hit me that all of that is the opposite of being present where I am now. I read somewhere recently (can’t remember where) that the only place our bodies are is in the present so when we’re a million miles away from where our bodies are, we’re living in a disembodied state. Deep breathes here!! Embodiment is learning to live in our bodies and learning to become good at being present where we actually are. This idea spoke to me so much that I picked a word for 2021. I never pick words for a new year but this year, it felt like a good idea. ‘Here’ is my word and I try to be here often. It’s not easy for me but I’m choosing to keep coming back to it.
‘If I had more time’ Theology: This one is short and sweet. If you tell yourself this, you’re lying to yourself. We had so much more time this past year and did you get all the things done that you’ve been saying you’d do, if only… ? Yeah, me neither. The truth is that we get the things done that matter to us, regardless of how much time we have. The end.
Menu Plans: This is not super deep but oh my goodness… having a plan for what I’m making has been something I’ve gotten so much better at during Covid. It started when everything shut down and I was trying to shop as little as possible. I’d plan out 14 days of meals, shop and cook until we’d eaten everything and do it all again. Granted, that’s a little extreme and I don’t actually want to live like that but when I cut it down to 7 days and eventually to 4, that felt like menu planning for beginners and so easy. Pre-pandemic, it felt hard. Planning our dinners ahead has taken the stress out of figuring out what to eat and it’s also helped me be much more creative. I’ve tried more new recipes in the past year than I have in the past 5 years combined.
Trusting Friendships: I have always had a little angst around friendships. I really value my friends and love to spend time with them. I don’t always trust that people feel the same way about me. It’s just one of those insecure hangups of mine. When everyone stopped seeing each other last March, I had a hot minute where my mind ran the gamut on how alone I’d be at the end of this. But you know what? This year has been a good year for friendships. It’s been harder to connect at times and be together as often as I’d love to but I think I’ve grown to trust that the people around me want to be there. That feels like a win.
Rhythms: With kids and sports, friendships and date nights, it can get very easy for the calendar to get jammed with activities and suddenly hit a point where we’re simply exhausted. We found a really good rhythm through Covid that I don’t want to let go of altogether when things ramp up again. We planned a specific day each week that we just rested and spent time together as a family at home. The lack of a plan and a schedule was good for all of us. We also started making Friday nights a family night with takeout and a movie. It was our reward after a long week and we all look forward to it so much. I’m sure it’ll turn into some eating out and then a movie as things open up but the overall theme is something I don’t want to let go of.
Letting Go: My family doesn’t live in the USA. My brother is in New Zealand and the rest of my family is in Canada. The border has been closed and I haven’t seen any of them in so long and it’s been hard. For months, I would hit a wall in my head almost daily when I remembered that the border was closed and it took until September before I accepted it as reality. Learning to let go of ‘what if’ and accept ‘what is’ was really important for my mental health. And now I can see the end in sight and cannot wait to be in Vancouver for drinks in my ‘city clothes’ with my brother and his partner. 🙂
A year in, I can see that all was not lost this year. In fact, there was so much good learning and digging deep that never would’ve happened in the same way without this pandemic. I know I’m not alone in this. What did you learn?