...and then COVID happened...
I have heard those four words used to justify a lot of behaviors this year. I've even used them myself: I was in the best shape of my life...and then COVID happened. I was a non-drinker...and then COVID happened. My creativity was flowing...and then COVID happened. I was ready to take on new challenges...and then COVID happened. Basically, you name it...and then COVID happened. Social media only confirms this. Over the holidays I saw several posts from normally upbeat accounts I follow that read, "it's okay if the holidays suck this year," or some other iteration of that sentiment. I know it was well-intentioned and designed to let people know that they were not alone during the holidays. But on the flip side, something about it just sounded defeating.
Yes, COVID upended life for everyone this year, and I am not about to pretend like it was worse for me than anyone else. On the contrary, no one in my immediate family caught the virus, my husband was considered "essential" and I sheltered in place in comfort. I realize how blessed I am, and I am grateful. But just because things could be worse doesn't mean they couldn't be better. I struggled mightily with my anxiety and I struggled with loss. Loss of motivation. Loss of focus. Loss of perspective. Loss of passion for life. Loss of people I cared about who were taken too soon. Even the loss of my dog. And, somewhere in the middle of this year filled with losses I lost myself for a minute too. My "occasional Saturday margarita," was becoming 2-3 and not always on a Saturday. My usual "go hard," work ethic was leaning more towards "go home." In fact, I was considering hanging up my cycle shoes for good. I was becoming okay with feeling defeated and helpless. I was questioning the world and my contribution to it. But it's all good because, "Hey! It's 2020 and it's okay for things to suck, and it's okay to feel like shit." News flash: It's NOT okay! Life is not going to be rainbows and butterflies all the time, and I firmly believe you should give yourself permission to feel all your sad, mad, bad, or anxious feelings--just don't live in them.
Over the holidays, I was fortunate enough to get to spend time in my hometown with my family. I slept--A LOT! I ate whatever I wanted. I did not exercise AT ALL--not even a walk around the block. I played games and watched movies with my family for hours on end. I spent 10 days regrouping, relaxing, and reflecting on the past year, and what I realized is that while life may not always work out the way we plan, it does still go on and you can't put it on hold while you wait for things to change. "And then COVID happened," is not an excuse to stop living your life the best way you can because while you are busy waiting for things to return to normal, time marches on--and that is time you will never get back.
I am all about giving yourself grace and being gentle with yourself, but I'm not "okay" with just accepting defeat. I realized that's part of what's been draining me this past year. I had allowed so much of the negativity, rudeness, misinformation, misguided opinions, and psychological bullying that is so prevalent in our society to permeate my world and throw me into a self-defeating spiral--forgetting for a moment who I am and who I want to be.
On Christmas Eve, my family and I had a beautiful dinner at my favorite "fancy" hometown restaurant when I overheard yet another conversation that ended with, "and then COVID happened." I decided I'd had enough. I looked around the table and asked each person to share one positive thing that they took from this exhausting year. After some thought, everyone realized that there was something good to be found. My youngest realized how much he valued his school community and his friendships. My oldest found an inner strength he didn't know he possessed. My mother and father were gifted with more time at home together--a luxury not often afforded to them because of my father's schedule. My husband and I both felt like the extra time with our children at home was a bonus since both of them attend schools out of state. And, as for me personally, I learned the value of slowing down every now and then---not to mourn the things that suck--but to find and savor the things that don't!
On January 1, there is not going to be a magical shift in the universe that causes everything to return to normal. In fact, our current way of life may continue for quite some time. How do you want to spend that time? The only resolution I am making this year is to remember who I am---a person who fights hard to not let life keep her down and who tries to find and focus on one good thing every day--and I encourage you to do the same. You may have to search a little harder some days than others, but it's there. And if you can't find it call me--I'll help you look:)