I can’t believe we have hit March and the weather even seems to be warming up a bit in Indiana anyway. I feel like the past year has been one perpetual March. In fact, I was talking to someone recently and made the comment, “It was about this time last year that we went into lockdown”. I realized after I said that, it really stuck with me throughout the day and I started to think that when this first thing all started all I kept thinking about was how I couldn’t wait for things to be back to “normal”.
I can honestly say a year later, I really don’t want to return to normal. I want our lives to be better than they were before all of this. I want to move forward, not backward and I want to take every lesson I’ve learned over the last year and use that towards doing something better this next year.
Have you had a chance to reflect on things you have learned about yourself, others or our world? I was thinking about my personal “lessons learned” and here’s what came to mind:
I’ve been so touched watching friends, family and even strangers on social media come together to support each other. Kindness towards each other really goes beyond just giving someone a compliment or writing a note of appreciation. Sometimes, kindness means fighting for change and speaking up against injustice. Kindness is simple, but sometimes something we need to actively practice too. It’s important to realize you just never know what someone else is going through – especially during these crazy times. It’s been so inspiring to “look for the helpers” and see so much goodness and humanity, even in the darkness. At the start of all of this, there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) at hospitals and offices. I saw so many friends in health care talk about reusing the same disposable mask for days or weeks at a time. As they shared those things there were also folks in our community that gathered together to find and purchase masks, print 3D face shields and ear protectors, and hand sew masks and caps for health care workers. I saw countless restaurants donating food to hospital workers and first responders. I saw my own friends volunteering to bring groceries to the elderly and folks in need. These acts of kindness are what I want to remember most about this time.
Before quarantine I had learned the lesson that “you make time for what’s important”. So all the times I’d want to say, “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” really was simply an excuse. If it was important enough, I would make/find the time. Here’s the thing: We all have the same 24 hours in a day….. but what you do with it is up to you. It’s funny because during the pandemic, I think a lot of us found ourselves with more time. We had time to reflect, daydream, read…. Just “be”. It won’t be long that life will start picking up speed again – and just because it does that does NOT mean you have to surrender that time to the world. I’ve started really thinking about what I’ve missed, truly missed and what I haven’t. What felt like a relief that “we can’t because of the pandemic” became a valid reason to not do something – is that something I want to add back into my life draining some of those precious 24 hours I have each day? Likely not. It’s about being authentic with yourself and with your time. It’s also about taking care of YOU and your own mental health.
Learning Matters. (along with a sense of humor – that doesn’t hurt)
With this added time mentioned above, a lot of my friends and family took up new hobbies – maybe they learned to crochet or knit, maybe they learned how to bake a new recipe or cook a new meal. How great did it feel to learn – and have the time to learn? Pretty great, right? So even if an experiment failed or that scarf really didn’t turn out the way you had planned, you learned something. Sometimes learning something can be everything! What did I learn to do? Honestly, I had a freak kitchen accident where I accidently had a fight with a mandolin slicer. I quickly learned how to care for a finger that had quite a piece left on the slicer. I was thankful to have an ER doctor as a friend who talked me through the entire ordeal via video on our cell phones. Know what I also learned? Using that guard with a mandolin slicer is really recommended. See – learning + humor!
The most important things in life aren’t things. I spent more time with my kiddo than I ever have before and you know what? He still likes me. I know more about his teachers, his homework, his fears, his dreams than I did a year ago. Why? Because we played games, took long walks and did things that we “found” time to do – time that normally would have been spent running around in this crazy world. I mean this life isn’t about work or money or even success. In the end, relationships are truly what matters most. As life starts to get busier, make sure you’re devoting time to what’s most important. Give your family, friends, and loved ones the gift of your time. Love your family (and yourself) enough to say no to things that aren’t a priority. Be intentional about your relationships and invest the time to nurture them.
Small Things Matter.
As we found life slowing down some, I realized that I noticed more in the world around me. There really is so much beauty in the world around us if you can take the time to observe and “see”. One thing I loved when the pandemic started is folks were taking more walks, sharing more pictures of nature and the world around us – things I may not have noticed in the course of a crazy busy day. I had one friend share pictures of rainbows, sunsets, amazing flowers, dogs playing – you name it. I think this is something we can easily look past or miss in the hustle and bustle of a day. So while we often miss it, we’re surrounded by so much beauty all the time. I think what I learned from her often sharing is that even in a world of change and sometimes disappointment and/or fear, we can make a choice to see beauty. Since then, I’ve appreciated some of those smaller, little things a bit more - from my son’s incredible laughter to a fantastic sunset to a uninterrupted phone call with a friend.
Like I said, I’m really going to try not to “get back to normal”, but working at moving forward. I’m going to prioritize creating moments of stillness where I am still able to pause, take a breath and notice my surroundings and appreciate them.
Here’s hoping our “new normal” is one where we don’t lose or miss all the great lessons life gifted us.