Hi friends. How ya doing? Hanging in there? [sigh] 😔
Times are different. Weird. Maybe even semi-routine by now. But normal, yeah I can’t even say that word because literally nothing is normal. I feel like maybe it’s a new normal… but honestly, who cares what we call it. We are all living through a Global Pandemic. We’re working from our kitchens, homeschooling our children between conference calls, cooking 800 meals a day and exercising from our living rooms. We are barely leaving our houses, and if we do so, we are fogging up our glasses as we struggle to wear a mask. (Who knew simultaneously breathing and seeing would be such a nuisance.)
I digress. None of you need me to tell you what we’re going through. You know. You’re living it every day just as I am. You feel the emotions. You know the tears. You know the gratitude. You miss sports. You’re buckled in on the roller coaster riding this ride with no ability to get off. I see you. I validate you. I feel you. We are all doing the best we can with what we have.
I’ve had a lot of time to think during this pandemic. Some days my thoughts are louder than I want them to be. Darker than I want them to be. But there are other days when my thoughts teach me things. Show me the blessings. Guide me towards the revelations.
Here are 10 lessons this Global Pandemic is teaching me:
To start, I say “teaching me” because I can’t say taught. This pandemic thing in our world is far from finished. Taught implies that it’s over. It’s past tense. Or worse, it implies I’ve mastered these lessons, or passed the test. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I say teaching, because every day I’m learning these lessons again from a new lens. I’m watching them evolve and change. This global pandemic is teaching me:
And in a really big and profound way. I am grateful to still be employed. I am grateful for good health. For property to spread out on and a bike to ride on the sunny days. Even on the mentally toughest days, I’ve found my gratitude. I hate that it’s taken corona virus to teach me this lesson on such a deep level, but none the less I have so much to be grateful for.
It took a Global Pandemic and a stay at home order for me to realize how discontent I was. Deep shit, down in my soul, that I wasn’t even aware of, was affecting my level of contentment. To sit. To be still. To be staying at home all the damn time—I could no longer run from it. I am learning how to be with myself. How to be content in my home and how to be at ease. (Cue gratitude above, that really helps with this.)
Ohhhh and ALL the importance of it!! We are hard wired for connection, but connection has looked a lot different and been a lot harder to achieve during this time. This lesson on “how can I connect” is leading me to different avenues and levels of intentionality. I’ve written tons of letters (and I have used more stamps in these 2 months than maybe my entire lifetime.) I’ve sat in people’s driveways just with the desire to talk face to face. I’ve spent hours upon hours on Facetime and Zoom. I’ve played countless games with my husband and we’ve taken walks to no where with nothing new to talk about. To every person who has connected with me in some way, I thank you. You have kept me more sane than you know.
- Music is unifying and healing.
I’m not sure how music has impacted your COVID-19 experience, but I am learning how healing and unifying music can be for me. As a long time choir girl, I love to sing and have always been drawn to the lyrics of songs. So many songs have touched my emotions during this time and have resonated with me on another level. I also watched the CMA Virtual Award show—or whatever the network did to replace that time. It was cool to see how everyone (no matter your background or socio-economic status) could listen to or play a song and find some greater meaning and purpose in it. It was really healing, and I remember being so grateful in that moment for some type of distraction from the pandemic when it was feeling so heavy.
- I am mentally stronger than I think I am.
I’m discovering that my mental strength is like a physical muscle, it has to be worked to get stronger. I am learning that when tested (to this extreme magnitude) I have a lot of give. Like rubber or elastic—I don’t like to be stretched to my breaking point, but this pandemic is teaching me that I have more “give” to me than I thought. Here on week 9 of working from home, I am so much stronger than I was in week one or two. Choosing joy on the hard days, finding nature on the gloomy days, feeling grounded in the midst of chaos…I’m working on it all. All of this mental work is showing me I’m stronger than I once thought.
- Humor is delightful, and forever needed in our world.
I miss laughing. I miss lightheartedness and I miss the witty, fast-humor conversation that are hard to have via video conferencing. I am learning the power of laughter as a key human emotion.
- Health care is a human right. And health insurance being tied to employment is a slippery slope.
I won’t beat a dead horse here or get too political— BUT for the sake of transparency, if the pandemic didn’t teach you how imperative functioning health care is to our society or to your family, YOU. ARE. PRIVILEGED! The fear of contracting the virus when you are collecting unemployment and living void of employer backed health insurance is unfathomable to some but a dangerous reality for many more. For me, this pandemic is showing some huge holes into our American health care system. It’s made me care about the least of us in a stronger way. This lesson in particular is shaping my decisions, molding my thoughts and igniting a fire in my soul. Sometimes we need healthcare the most when the economy is crashing.
I am learning a large lesson of grace to the self. How to offer myself forgiveness and lower my standard of perfection. I am learning there are days I just can’t. There is so much uncertainty. Especially during this time, there had to be an altered state. Perfection, or a perception that “she’s got it together” (or my desire to achieve it) was not going to cut it. I can’t possibly use all my energy striving towards perfection when I need energy to fight depression, anxiety and the mounds of uncertainty. I learned really quickly that survival while quarantined in my house had to be synonymous with grace. Reread that: Survival = Grace. Every day I relearn this lesson and practice the art of extending myself grace. [An inside hint if you’re also learning this lesson, grace to myself started with a surrender to something else.]
- The power of empathy.
Empathy (n.) — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This global pandemic has united us all on a much deeper level. On an empathetic level. The ability to understand someone and share the feelings they are feeling is what connects us. It’s why Tiger King memes and toilet paper struggles make us feel validated. Someone is experiencing something with me. They “get” me. They understand what I’m going through. During this time I’ve felt extremely pulled towards empathy and it’s greater purpose to connect us all.
- Having something to look forward to is a necessity in my life.
What I look forward to has completely changed in the last 9 weeks, but the fact remains that I am hard wired to look for the next thing. This can be a good and bad trait about me. It pilots my hard work and determination when I’m reaching for goals, but it can also be destructive when I’m striving to be content within the here and now. I miss traveling and planning our next weekend getaway. I also miss looking forward to big events like The Masters and the NBA playoffs. Now, I look forward to going on a drive to get out of the house or a glass of wine after a long week. This lesson is simple for me, I need to keep planning things to look forward to, even if they might look different. It keeps me happy and sane.
In AOL instant messenger terms, I’m going to “sign off now”. But I’d love to hear from you! Tell me how you’ve been holding up during quarantine and what lessons you’ve been learning. I’m here for you!
Remember, we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.
4 thoughts on “Once upon a time, I lived through a Global Pandemic”
Beautifully and realistically written. Bravo Robyn!
Robyn, your reflections are, for me, so grounded in reality and centering in spirit! You share an openness and vulerability in a way that all of us can understand and benefit by, too. I hope to share this piece with someone who is spending time in incarceration, so that the “new normal” will not be such a shock. I’ll not attribute it, unless you feel okay with that; I can include your name, or simply say, “from a friend”. Thanks for your commitment to sharing your writing with a larger world.
Vicki… the fact that my thoughts and perspective are worth sharing in your eyes is extremely humbling. Please feel free to share this piece with whoever you feel can benefit from it! You can also tell your friend “hi” from me!
On a personal level, thank you for reading and commenting and sharing! It means a lot to me! Miss you greatly and I hope you’re doing well!
So good to spend time with you, Robyn! Shared the link with WAY, of course!