I Wonder

I will confess. My blog is coming to you a day later than usual. It’s the first time in a long time I’m publishing my blog late.

It’s interesting that even though my blog deadline is a self-imposed deadline, not meeting it really bothers me. I guess it’s the side of me that needs to follow through on goals, do what I say I’m going to do and give 110% effort on everything I do. Lately though, I’ve found myself falling short of these things. I’ve been in a funk and it’s one that feels somewhat familiar to me. It’s the same funk I remember being in at this time last year as I was transitioning into a life with COVID-19.  

As an increasing number of citizens are getting vaccinated and more states are seeing a drop in positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to coronavirus, we are beginning to see some forms of pre-COVID life return. More states, including mine, are lifting many of the restrictions we have been living under for over a year now. Whether it’s the right thing to do or the best time to do it, is up for debate. Regardless, it’s happening.

For the last 12 months we have yearned for what’s happening in some of our states today. We have yearned to be told we can send our kids back to school safely. We have yearned to visit our loved ones in nursing homes or assisted living centers. We have yearned to attend sporting events. We have yearned to worship in-person. We have yearned to return to the workplace with our colleagues. We have yearned to eat in a restaurant, exercise at the gym or attend a concert. We have yearned to take the family vacation we had to cancel. We have yearned for the day when we can meet in-person and not virtually.  

Many of the things we have yearned for are now happening or are available to some of us. And, yet, we aren’t all reacting to it with the, “WOO HOO!”, we imagined we would.

As much as we all struggled to transition into a life with COVID-19 a year ago, some of us are struggling to transition into a life where COVID-19 isn’t controlling everything we do, and eventually a life without COVID-19. Transitions are hard. Switching up routines can be challenging. Changing habits requires time, motivation and effort.

I am in a time of transition. I am being challenged to re-think the way I have lived my life this past year with COVID-19. I’m reflecting on what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been doing it, who I’ve been doing it with or without, where I’ve been doing it and how it might all change – again.

I wonder…

    • Will having more in-person interaction drain or build my energy level?
    • Will virtual meetings be of necessity or something of convenience?
    • Will I protect my calendar with white space or fill it up to be as full as it once was?
    • Will I dread having to dress up and leave my home or look forward to it?
    • Will I continue to wear a mask, even if not mandated, or banish them?
    • Will my social skills be more like…riding a bike – a skill, that once learned, is never forgotten…or more like…playing an instrument at a high mastery level – a skill that if not practiced regularly over time diminishes or is completely lost?
    • Will some relationships I had continue to be important in my life, be less important or not important at all?
    • Will I live life with more gratitude or resentment?
    • Will I say, “I love you,” more often or let it go unspoken?
    • Will I adapt my new routines back to some of my old routines? Will I go to the gym three times a week? Will I get up early and attend worship in-person?
    • Will resuming family gatherings be something I look forward to or dread?
    • Will I have become more self-minded or community-minded?
    • Will I continue practicing good hygiene habits or slack on them?
    • Will technology play an even bigger role in my daily life or will I set personal limits or boundaries?
    • Will I continue doing most of my shopping online or will I return to in-person retail shopping?
    • Will I continue keeping my closets organized or my yard in pristine condition or say, “To heck with it!”
    • Will COVID-19 become an excuse or still a valid reason?

Yeah. I’ve been wondering a lot about how I will live life in a post-COVID world someday. Maybe you have been, too. While we are by no means fully there and won’t be for a good long while, the shift towards it is beginning. And, as the transition continues, it will shake up the life we have settled into this past year.

All of this reminds me of the blog I wrote on March 18, 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, entitled, “Shake Up.” I started it by writing:

“We’re living through a very difficult time right now. Anxiety, stress, isolation and fear of the unknown seems to have invaded many of our lives in a short period of time. The coronavirus has shaken up our lives. It has shaken up our routines. It has shaken up our jobs. It has shaken up our investments and bank accounts. It has shaken up our social calendar. It has shaken up our families. It has shaken up our relationships and connection with others. I’m going to be honest. I wonder what this “shake up” means in our lives…”

It’s interesting how a year ago I was in the same state of wonder I find myself in today.

I think what I am struggling with now is seeing how the “shake up” we experienced a year ago HAS really changed our lives and will continue to into the future. Just as we experienced anxiety, stress and fear of the unknown at the start of the pandemic, we are experiencing some of the same feelings as we transition into a life of unknowns out of the pandemic. We are experiencing a new “shake up” and while it isn’t as abrupt as the one we experienced a year ago, it is still a shake up, and one that still leaves me to wonder.

As we move through this time of transition, perhaps it’s the words I wrote at the end of my blog on March 18, 2020, that we all, including me, need to be reminded of:

“Your world may be shaken up right now, but you will get through it. Practice patience. Grant yourself grace. Relax. Focus on what and who is important to you. Stay connected with loved ones. Take one day at a time and have faith that time will figure all things out.”

Lessons Learned: Writing the Narrative

Cue this week in March a year ago when our lives were abruptly put on hold and we were restricted from leaving our homes and seeing our loved ones. It feels like yesterday AND a lifetime ago. No matter who you are or where you live we all had to stop and face the unexpected and unknown challenges ahead of us.

Little did we know the challenges would continue into the same week a year later.

This past year forced us to endure a lot – isolation, uncertainty, hopelessness, fear, loss, insecurity, grief, frustration and loneliness.

On the flip side, this last year was also transformative. It forced creativity and flexibility and a new way of thinking, doing and being. We adapted and we learned.


Slow down.

I remember removing scheduled activities, meetings and obligations from my calendar and watching it go from being a page of solid black to a blank, white page. I can’t recall seeing my calendar that empty for a long, long time. Going from a 100 mph pace to 5 mph (if even that) was a shock to all of our systems. It seemed almost impossible to do at the time, but we did it. For me, I came to appreciate the “pause” in my life and am now grateful for the time. It serves as a reminder for all of us to protect our time and leave some white space on our calendar.  

Expect change.

The only certainty is uncertainty. We have learned, not only to accept change, but to expect it. We need to always have a plan, but be prepared to change and ditch those plans. And we need to embrace the surprises and detours along the way for not all change is a bad thing.

Go with the flow.

For those of us who are routine people and who thrive with a schedule and daily “check off” lists, we felt  “lost in the desert” when the pandemic struck. Without a roadmap, we were aimlessly roaming in ways that were unknown and uncomfortable to us. I will always be a routine-kind-of-person. The pandemic didn’t change this about me. But, the pandemic did teach me that sometimes if life takes you in a different direction or throws you off course, you just have to go with it and not fight it.

We are resilient.

Learning to homeschool, work from home and connect with others safely – are just a few of the many ways we creatively pivoted and transitioned during the pandemic – all showcasing our true perseverance and resiliency.

Notice and appreciate the little things.

I remember how I felt when…noticing an uptick of couples taking walks and being in conversation with one another, seeing parents and kids playing outdoors and having fun, finding toilet paper and hand sanitizer on a store shelf as if it was like finding a nugget of gold, receiving a “how are you doing” phone call instead of a text message from a friend, realizing I have all the ingredients on hand to make my favorite recipe while being quarantined…It was the little things that we noticed and appreciated in ways we never had before that made us happy.

Count your blessings.

We were all deprived of so much this year and experienced hardships in ways that we couldn’t imagine. But, COVID-19 was even harder on those who have less than us. Counting our blessings – big and small – and trying to help others in any way we can is one of the most important things we can do – pandemic or not.

The internet can be life-sustaining.

Enjoying virtual concerts, happy hours, tours, worship, book readings and tutorials sustained us in ways we may never be able to comprehend. I am much more mindful now of the internet being a blessing than being an evil.

It’s okay not to be okay.

Most everyone has not been okay this past year. Understanding this has helped me accept my own not-okayness and realize I’m not the only one struggling. Knowing we are not walking alone through darkness offers us comfort, peace and strength.

We need community.

If nothing else, I think we can all walk away from the past year with a deeper understanding of one, undeniable basic need we all have – to be in community with others. I doubt we will ever take it for granted or underestimate its importance in our lives from here on.

These are just a few of the many, many lessons we have learned these past twelve months and with the pandemic still in force, there are more lessons to be learned. Generations from now, plenty will have been written about the highs and lows and lessons of the past year, but we will be the ones who actually lived it. We each have the power to shape the future narrative about the past year. We will influence whether the narrative focuses primarily on the challenges we experienced or the lessons we have learned because of them.

So, I ask you:

What would your narrative of the past year most focus on? The good or the ugly?

What are the lessons you have learned from the challenges you faced?

How will you take the lessons you have learned and use them for the greater good in your own life and the lives of others?

What do you want future generations to learn from your experience?

Now, grab a pen or pencil and begin writing your narrative. You have it within you because you have lived it.