2020 began with exhilaration, and many of us thought this year was going to be the year that turned things around for us with much clarity, restoration, and peace. We thought this was going to be the year that opened our eyes with wisdom for the sake of hindsight being what it is—20/20. We had hopes that we were going to be our best selves this year with dreams coming true, relationships mending, careers taking off, and this was going to be a great year with a Pollyanna feel to it.
Today marks the halfway point of 2020, and nobody can deny that this year has been an eye-opener filled with clarity, restoration, and peace. Just not quite the clarity, restoration, or the peace that we had expected at the beginning of the year. Although, in hindsight, many of us are getting what we have been craving and in dire need of but we just never knew or would even have considered because our lives have been so darn fast-paced, hectic, and someone’s lack of foresight ended up consuming our every waking moment and taxing our health and well-being. So many of us spent our days mentally checking off tasks from our jammed packed calendars with no sign of a lazy moment to recharge. The most popular universal refrain, “I don’t have time,” resonated in the universe in linguistic ambrosia. Go, go, go without catching our breaths was the way of life. We all know people like that, and maybe we are one of them. I confess I was one among them.
What I’ve learned about my body is that if I don’t make time to rest, it will eventually force me to take that hiatus whether I like it or not or whether it’s a good time or not. Most often, it’s not a good time, but when is it a good time for us to take a break? With our demanding schedules—never. What does that mean? That means we have to schedule in time for ourselves to rest, rejuvenate, and recharge–all necessary evils for our bodies to keep going. It’s not that we won’t let ourselves have downtime, but instead, we got ourselves into such a tight busy lifestyle that we can’t escape from it, and we don’t even notice that, or more importantly, we don’t know how to do it.
Little did we know that what 2020 would bring us would leave us lost for words as we journey into uncharted territories where our health and liberty are at stake. The world we knew and the freedoms we were so accustomed to and spoiled by would now be a blurb in the history books. The new norm with an array of protective gear such as facial coverings and gloves would be the fashion statement of the year. With everybody in the world confined to their homes under the hashtag of #WeAreInThisTogether but without any physical contact and most likely not even with our family members. Yes, we are allowed to leave the house but only for essential reasons such as grocery runs and exercise. I know none of us would ever have imagined that our day-to-day freedom, which we have taken for granted, has become a liberty as we can still come and go as we like but within the boundaries dictated for our safety.
The restrictions mandated felt extremely hard when Shelter in Place began. Many of us barely knew anything at the time but followed like sheep obediently to what we can and can’t do with the restrictions changing almost daily as those pertinent leaders researched and learned more about the Coronavirus. In the beginning, when I knew nothing, I was nervous and apprehensive. I wouldn’t leave my house except when I absolutely had to. When I did go out for groceries, I danced around people like they were germies, eyeballing each person near me wondering if he or she might be carriers of the virus and keeping them at a safe distance away from me. That was actually a good thing because I was obeying the social distancing protocol; however, that was no way to live my life—living in fear like that.
Knowledge is golden and is the key to freedom. I say this because never in my life had I ever been so glued to the tube soaking in all the current events I can fathom. As I knew more about what was at stake, I became liberated from my fears. I maintain the social distancing protocols and still assume anybody could be germies. I no longer weave between people treating them like they are a weapon to my destruction, though.
Everybody I know obediently follows the rules as I do. Many people I know were among the group of always on the go folks. I was exhausted hearing about their busy lives. With that said, I was happy for them that they finally get to rest. Shelter in Place forced us to stop, assess our current situation, and determine our course of action to cope and acclimate to the new norm. At the same time, this pandemic has helped us reassess what is truly important and forced us to take a good hard look at our priorities. Not to lessen the effects, or the devastating impact of Covid-19, which is out of our control, but the part we can control is the part where we can decide how we are going to let it dictate our life.
This quarantine is a great time to reevaluate what is important to us and to review our priorities. It’s an opportune time that I seriously doubt we would ever get again. A golden opportunity to catch our breaths, spend time in our homes, that we worked so hard for, and enjoy our blessings, and at the same time make some precious new memories with our family who are with us. Especially since many people complain that their kids are growing up so quickly that they don’t get to spend much time with them, and they missed those moments that they can’t re-experience. Life, after all, is not a dress rehearsal.
I hear many people have taken advantage of this time to clean out their closets and drawers. Some started taking online classes, baking up a storm, working on home projects that they never had time to work on, reading the stack of books that were once shorter than their kids. Creative souls have stretched their talents by sharing their art via videos and canvases. I heard many people working on their nth puzzle. Many home gyms have gone up. Many families composed and performed beautiful musical pieces to lift spirits in the world. Many, many have found new innovative ways to help their communities. As bad as Covid-19 has been, there has been a lot of good that derived from it, too. These, and many more, are invaluable opportunities that we can employ with our forced hiatus in the middle of our crazy busy lives.
I know this is an understatement as there are a variety of people who respond to this crisis in their unique ways that I can’t even pretend to understand. There are many more layers to the pandemic that I can’t scratch the surface of, but like everybody else, I too am trying to do my part to boost spirits when possible. I do my part by baking cookies, yep, that’s what I am doing, and gifting them to delivery people and other drivers that serve my street. But yet, that doesn’t feel like enough. I’m one of the high-risk people, so my opportunities are limited. Thus, I am writing this to lift some spirits with gratitude that Shelter in Place doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For those of us lucky enough to get to be forced to stay home, think of it as a staycation.
2020 is only halfway over. The world is starting to recuperate from the pandemic. We can recuperate ourselves and our lives along with it and turn circumstances into opportunities. We can still make our dreams come true. They may look different. We may need to tweak things a bit. We may even realize that what we have been striving for may no longer be pertinent, or maybe it never was what matters most to us. Perhaps we were so busy making a living and shooting for goals thinking that’s what we always wanted, but in fact, we’ve been miserable and didn’t even know it. Maybe our crazy busy lives derailed our vision, and we lost our way. As we clean our homes, we can clean out the mental clutter and do some soul searching to rediscover ourselves and our values.
As for me, this was my opportunity to apply chair glue to get serious with my writing life. Those of you who know me, know that I can’t turn down a date to hang out with friends, but thanks to Shelter in Place, I have no excuse but to apply chair glue and write! This time also afforded me to rediscover myself and what matters most to me, and from that, I borrowed the idea of the Rediscover Me Challenge from a Facebook group that I belong to and created my own challenges that help me to instill the values that are important to me and turn them into actionable goals that ultimately will become my positive life habits.
Today, I successfully mark the end of week four of living a writer’s life. I began week one of this challenge by setting up shop for my writing life. In week two, I began to improve my health goals by incorporating more plant-based recipes into my diet. I learned that I’m actually a flexitarian, but for this challenge, I wanted it to be all about plant-based. Week three was the addition of new workouts to improve my physical wellness and sprinkling in domestic projects since it feels right to include them here. Week four was time for taking my spiritual growth to the next level and time to cherish relationships further. This game plan stemmed from my tackling the hardest tasks first, and it worked out beautifully. I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and happiness having gone through this challenge. For me, I have to say that taking a moment to break from life as I knew it afforded me to achieve the clarity that was needed to restore what wasn’t working in my life, and I found peace in the meantime. This challenge helped me to put good habits in place, but these habits, by no means, end with the challenge but instead will become my new norm.
As our communities slowly reopen, we still need to be cautious and maintain the good disinfecting habits that have become our way of life because we can’t get sloppy. We have to keep on doing our part to protect ourselves and others each day and do our part to make every day a better day for us and those around us.
Be Happy and Stay Safe! 💜