Good Morning Friends,
I hope this finds you happy and healthy. I was looking at the calendar today and noticed it has been almost a year that I have been working full time from home. It seems like just yesterday we were sent home and yet that also feels like a lifetime ago.
I thought I’d share 12 things I have learned inside Covid/Quarantine in the last 12 months.
1.Living on A Budget Is Imperative
Nothing has ever been more certain that living under your means and having a rainy day fund are the way to go. Getting rid of your debt allows you to have the financial peace to let go of living paycheck to paycheck. This means saying NO to a lot of things. It means having older cars. It means not having the latest and greatest gadgets. For my family it means cutting cable, buying the kiddos clothes second hand (they tear the crap out of them anyway),making household items from scratch, and finding free family entertainment like going on hikes and to parks. Having less expenses puts you in the best shape in case god for bid an income was lost like so many folks struggled with this year.
2. You can Physically Distance but still Social Connect
I will have to tell you from the beginning the phrase ‘social distancing’ really bothered me. We are a social species and we THRIVE and our immune systems are measurably HEALTHIER when we are in community with others. Being connected with others this last year looks a little different- but true, deep, and meaningful interactions are still possible. This looks like sending a card or downloading an app where you can leave your friends video messages back and forth catching them up on the happenings in your week. This looks like meeting up with a friend at a park bringing your own coffee and walking together outside with plenty of fresh air and room to roam. There might be some extra effort on your or others part, but believe me it is worth it.
3.Health is Wealth
Many of you know my family’s story of my husband battling Lyme Disease for many many years to the point at his worst he was taking eighty eight pills a day and we were very concerned at one point if he would be here to see his kids grow up. Many many years, treatments, doctors, supplements, protocols, and general life adjustments later I am eternally grateful to say he is currently in Remission status and healthy. This taught us to never take for granted our health again, no matter our age (he became ill at 31). It also taught us that health is our number ONE priority. Taking care of ourselves and doing what we need to do to be the healthiest version of ourselves is our number ONE J-O-B. We don’t play around. We have the occasional ‘treat’ (not cheat) meal don’t get me wrong- but we invest in clean and organic food, hygiene products, and live everyday trying to continue on the path of taking care of ourselves mind body, and soul. This year should be a sounding alarm to clean up our act to make the choices to either keep or place us in the lowest risk category focusing on all we can control in a world and time that feels out of control.
4.The Slowing Down can be a REALLY Good Teacher (if we let it)
Dave Hollis said something so profound at the beginning of quarantine that I have to share ‘In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.’ For me, I can say I learned that the constant weekends spent running to get groceries, take the kids to some sort of event to be entertained for a mere couple hours, and being on the go go go to get stuff done done done… came to an abrupt halt leaving me with what had been there all along if I simply stopped deliberately trying to step out of it – stillness, discontent, the truth that even though I thought I had everything I wanted on paper and a life I was so grateful for.. there was still a massive void in my life. The slowness showed I had some work to do. The stillness showed me in the past I had used booze, food, my phone, and hustling to try to distract myself from actually acknowledging the hard truths I now have reckoned with and used therapy to work through. There can be lessons learned in the slowness if we allow them to teach us.
5. We Do Not Nor Did We EVER Have Control
Elizabeth Gilbert illustrates this best with this soul crushing but true tea, ‘You are afraid of surrender because you don’t want to lose control. But you never had control; all you had was anxiety.‘ Covid turned our world upside down and showed us (rather reminded of us) that we can not take anything for granted and we never truly know how much time we or our loved ones have on this planet. Again, we have never known but we developed some false sense of security if we weren’t careful along the way. The bottom line is take this day as it comes, because tomorrow isn’t here or promised.
6. You Can Not Pour From an Empty Cup
You’ve heard this. I have heard this. However, doing the work of putting yourself first can really be a skill that might not come naturally and every day mark steps to develop. Especially as women and mommas we tend to drip whatever we have leftover on ourselves vs priming and hydrating the pump for ourselves first. I have learned I am no good for anyone (kids, spouse, friends, family, coworkers, community) if I am not being kind to and taking care of myself. Self Care talk has been thrown around left and right and most often gets equated to massages, nails, expensive coffee and don’t get me wrong those things are delicious and so indulgent and I am here for.all.of.them. but true honest Self Care to me is all about taking care from within not the outside pampering. This looks like therapy, journaling, mediating, taking the time to cultivate a passion, and anything that is true honest to goodness, soul care.
7. What You Focus On.. Is What You Become
I have not always been a positive person. Growing up and enduring some childhood trauma I at one time had a very dark, get them before the get me, and utter cruel sense of the world. I have had to WORK to focus on the good. I have had to make the habit of searching for the light even during dark times. I have not done a complete 360 and subscribe to the radical notion that everyday should be all rainbows and unicorns if you simply manifest it (although that would be so amazing wouldn’t it). I choose to see the good in spite of life giving me (and us) opportunities to easily and often to point out it’s faults, faults in others, and faults in ourselves. I don’t watch the news. I limit my time on social and recently decided to follow 0 folks on Instagram only posting content and then going about my merry life and way. I choose and make a gratitude list every day which is crucial for seeing the glass half full. Your attitude and outlook determine the quality of your life friends, make sure it is a good one.
8. Movement is Therapy
I have for sure in my life been more concerned with and absorbed in how I look. The older I get the more I realize however, it is all about how you feel. Two months into quarantine I fractured my 5th metatarsal in my foot. I didn’t just break it, I sliced the bone all the way down like you do when you are fighting over the wish bone at Thanksgiving. At the time getting out and getting exercise was the only thing that was keeping me sane in those early quarantine days. I learned some different coping skills through that experience, however I was also reminded more than ever, that movement is therapeutic. Not only does it create endorphins and dopamine (positive chemicals) in your body it helps you battle stress producing ones as well (cortisol). I move my body every single day not because I want to look a certain way (although I am more toned than I ever have been in my life having exercise as a foundation) but for my cognitive mental and emotional health.
9. Habits are Everything
Starting my morning in same way, just as I had prior to quarantine, gave me a sense of normalcy. Sure leggings are nice (they are great actually). Yet, after a couple months worth of wearing that as my new ‘work attire’ I could sense a downgrade in how I was feeling in the self confidence department. Self knowledge is power, so I changed it up. I added a couple things to my routine to give it some challenge and newness (cold showers, meditation, journaling) and I have seen the improvement simply wearing jeans and a nice top can do for my spirits. Habits are there not to start when things are tough but to begin when things are calm and easy so when hard shows up you have a regiment and routine at your core that helps you feel grounded. This is not to say you can’t adapt some habit inside struggle, it is just way easier if you start beforehand.
10. More Free Time Meant More Time To Try New Things
I learned how to cut my kids hair this year perhaps out of boredom but also to save a little money and stay safe at home. I grew roses of ten different colors when I had never grown/planted a flower before in my life. I learned how to make all the diy face mask a girl could dream to have. I tried recipes, some were amazing some were downright inedible. I have tried different types of yoga. As a family we have learned how to play chess, chickenfoot, and found a new hobby we all enjoy doing together- hiking. It is a relatively inexpensive hobby and one you can do even inside quarantine (requires a little more time to see what parks and trails are open). As things got canceled (weddings, baseball leagues, dance performances, school for a hot minute, and so many more things) it allowed for time and life to free up. We learned a lot of things we would like to do and did. We also learned some things we can cross off the list and hope to never revisit again (any craft including glitter and slime are satan reincarnated himself). It is all about using the new found free time to spend it trying something you have always wanted to do and try but always said you ‘never had time for’. Now you do my friend, now you do.
11. Loving and Liking Your Partner Are Two Different Things
I love my husband. We are a good team. He is the most loyal human I know and isn’t afraid to change diapers, go to parent teach conferences, take the kids to an appointment, cook dinner, or stand in line with mere tampons on the conveyer belt on a grocery run for his wife. He is kind and an overall good man.
That being said. There are times I think and feel like he is a royal asshole (and he would say the same for me). This isn’t happily ever after, there is no such thing, this is life. Life is messy, in life we loose our cool, say things we wish we didn’t, and in life you can love your person but also not like them at the very same time. With spending so much time together you find out just how stable, connected, and compatible you are when working together through a crisis (covid, hard season). I am grateful to have the experience of working through some hard seasons together, seasons that could have easily (and do) tear couples apart but ones we stood planted locking arms battling the tides together. Communication is key. Even if communication looks like ‘I need to go for a walk to cool down and get away for a second (from you, this house, these children, this job, this ____ insert whatever). It doesn’t mean you have a terrible marriage- it means you have one. Welcome to doing life with another human beside yourself. It is hard but I promise you if you picked an overall good one, it is worth it.
12. Most People- Are Truly Doing The Best They Can (with the knowledge, skills, and education they have)
Think of the person that is the hardest human for you to like, get along with, or allow yourself one shred of empathy for. I hear you saying and listing all these terrible, atrocious, outlandish, and downright unspeakable things this person has done. I get it. I have a name on my list too friends, I am no exception. Now, take a deep breath, close your eyes (well I guess you can’t because you are reading). Take one second to calm your mind, now…. imagine that they are truly doing the best that they can do. Before you start listing off all the ‘hellll nahhh’ ways this person clearly isn’t showing up as their ‘best self’, I get it… but for one second imagine that they really are doing the best that they can with the skills they have, knowledge they understand of the world, and education shaped by perhaps their environment or situations throughout their life. This doesn’t mean you give them (or anyone for that matter) a pass for being an asshole to your or your family. It does mean though that giving one small amount of empathy leads with love and the benefit of the doubt. Here is the truth, this is actually a selfish motive. Giving empathy and releasing anger, frustration, tension actually makes YOU physically feel better instantly.
Allow me to share a story with you. I have always had a caring heart for homeless folks (especially homeless youth) and kids in crisis so much so that I have a ‘homeless care package’ bin in my car filled with items I hand out to people I come across in need and as a family we are preparing to take in foster placements. So back to the story…
I was recently getting tattood (ya ya mom I hear ya I hear ya) and in the area where I was getting tattood there is a large homeless population. This is also very close a highway that has a very strong connection to being the transit route for human trafficking.
My tattoo artist was telling me the week prior there was a gentleman who appeared to be in his mid thirties trying to use her wall charger outside her building to charge his phone. This outlet had been shut down months before due to this very reason. This particular (homeless) man appeared to be very upset about this fact and created a scene due to him being upset about this outlet being off to where it was later evident he was most likey high on something. A couple minutes later a cop pulled down the street (heading to and stopping at a different shop) and this gentleman decided it would be a good idea to go tell on the tattoo artist shop for ‘illegally shutting off (legally) their outlet’. Well you guessed it this man was arrested and taken off in handcuffs. I am not sure the charges but most likely drug possession and disturbing the peace if I had to guess.
Now. What are you thoughts? He got what he deserved, junkie. Why doesn’t he just go get a job at Mcdonald’s instead of living on the street? It is his choice for the life he is living. Do you think that he is doing the best he can? I hear you scream No….
What if I shared that after they ID’d this man and it was discovered that he had been missing since he was 15 years old. What if I share that his family had been looking for him and he had either been taken, sexual trafficked until he was no longer in the prime age to profit for perpetrators (over 21)? What if he was most likely beat and drugged by abusers to make him less susceptible to fighting back or running away? Would it be unthinkable that this man was lead to drugs and a life filled with no clear foundation, role models, or even mere friends to even know how or where to start to change his story? What would you think then? What if nearly half of homeless folks and higher rates of homeless youth had similar stories? What would you think about them then when you saw them on the street desperate and begging?
Most people are doing the best they can with what they have…. let us lead with love and let us lead with empathy. That is how we make it out of a year like this more whole friends.
That is all until next time.