It’s been almost a year with COVID. And what a year it has been. Unlike any I think we have ever really had before. I had another post planned for today but I just couldn’t get into writing it.
This last week was a struggle. And not because anything happened. Nothing did. But it was just a week. A long one where I had so little energy or motivation. And I wanted to share that because I don’t know that people remember that enough. Everyone has moments of struggle. No one wakes up every day, and lives through every day, and feels good every day. It’s just not what happens.
This was a week like that for me.
I think we sometimes forget that it isn’t the goal to always be happy. I really don’t think that’s the goal. The goal is finding or if you prefer, making, the best out of what comes.
It has been a year y’all.
A really long, crazy, year.
Certainly, every year has its moments but 2020 had the added intensity of COVID. I’m not sure how it effected you but I know it did. This one affected everyone. And the effect was profound and immense. I don’t think I’ve lived through anything that grabbed everyone in the world the way this did.
So in addition to the regular life stuff that just happens we all needed to manage it through the maze of COVID.
Births, deaths, graduations, parties, holidays, Jesus just getting to school and work! COVID.
I can’t speak to everyone’s experience on it but I can share mine and the lessons that I’ve taken from these last 12 months. Powerful lessons that will remind me of some core principles of life that are always true - they just are.
Self-care is real
Commitment is everything
There is no finish line
We’ve been hearing about the importance of self-care for decades now. Be sure to fill your cup first. You can’t give to others if you are empty yourself. First, put on your oxygen mask before helping someone else.
We know this. We all know taking care of ourselves is important. But this year - this year showed us why.
This year brought a lot of people to their knees simply because of the monotony. It was so weird to feel so off when there wasn’t anything really “bad” happening to us directly. It was amazing how much different our days felt just because we weren’t able to go out and travel, or even work and school.
The days crawled and sped past at the same time and before anyone knew what was going on we were staring at the ceiling at night wondering what the hell was going on?
It was obvious from the beginning of lock down that structure and routine were going to be important. I remember reading the suggestions for our health department (and many more organizations) on how you should still get up at the same time as normal. Take a shower, get dressed. And I think most people probably did for a time.
We certainly did.
But slowly the grind starts to wear on you. Soon the days started to blur and you start to forget even what day it is.
Some days it was hard to sleep.
Some days it was hard to get up.
And despite our best efforts things just started to loose their meaning.
This is when self-care becomes a necessity, not a luxury. This is when self-care becomes about more then a bath, or a girls night out. This is when self-care becomes a deliberate decision to engage so that you can maintain some sense of purpose and meaning.
I’m fortunate that I can indulge with self-care. It is possible (though not always easy) for me to find time to take a bath, meditate, journal. But even if I wouldn’t have had time for that I would have found a way to be sure I at least had time to breathe and focus each morning and each night. It is what kept me sane.
Without skills and techniques for helping myself I would have been lost by the end of the third month. Some of my ways of coping was as I said, indulgent. I really tried to guard a bath night for myself every Sunday evening after the kids were settle down for the night. It didn’t always happen...when you are a parent, you do sacrifice your needs for your children’s. Sometimes it isn’t possible to do it any other way. But when I could - I did.
Some ways I coped was by keeping my routine. I did get up at the same time. I did get dressed. Some days I even put on make-up just because.
I was very purposeful in keeping in contact with friends and family. I made sure I reached out when I needed help. Or when I just needed a laugh.
I spent as much time outside as possible. Even as it started to get cold (and if you know anything about me and the cold you know this is serious). I encouraged my children to do the same.
I exercised regularly and even though it took me a while to find a practice I liked I kept working it. Cause I knew I needed to. Especially when I started to not feel like it.
And the piece that kept me going was a mindset focused on potential, and opportunities. I made myself have an attitude that helped pick me up when I started to sink.
And I did have days were I sank y’all. Many, many days.
Days that felt like they weren’t going to end and I was so exhausted I could barely tolerate the idea of another day like that one. But my attitude and mindset were there for me to pivot and reframe what was happening.
And that leads me to the second lesson. Commitment is everything.
I think we have lost the powerful meaning of commitment in our society. I think that it has become so easy to replace things, and have something new come into view so quickly that we have forgotten the power of commitment.
Commitment is the pledging or promise of completion of something in the future. Even promise and pledge seem to have diminished in meaning it seems. Commitment means you keep going. You keep doing it - whatever it is. Commitment is when it no longer matters how you feel in the short term to arrive at what you are working toward in the long term.
It’s what Ray Dalio speaks about when he says to make decisions based on the secondary result, not the primary one.
It’s what Tony Robbins talks about when he says burn the boats, or resolve.
It means you wake up in the morning and you go work out even when in that moment what you really want to do is stay in bed.
It means you keep telling yourself the truth of “this to shall pass” even when you want to sink to the floor because every second feels like an eternity.
It means you do it anyway. Even when you don’t feel like in that moment because you KNOW you HAVE to to keep going.
It means you decide to do it for yourself AND for the people you love.
Commitment was a powerful lesson from COVID. It asked me, sometimes multiple times in an hour, are you going to do what needs doing or are you going to give up?
My commitment through COVID was the same I think I’ve always had. I will get through this, I will figure it out and it will be ok. I just didn’t realize how badly I NEEDED to commit to those ideas. The commitment to that mindset is what allowed me to keep giving myself self-care even when I just wanted to stay in bed.
It was the commitment to that mindset that allowed me to stand back up when I fell. And guys I had some falls.
Commitment and mindset don’t mean you don’t struggle. It just means you don’t let the struggle stop you.
And this leads me to lesson number 3. There is no finish line.
Let me explain what that means. It means you aren’t waiting for some great “arrival” when “bad” things stop happening. You can put in a lot of work to change, and grow and you WILL see progress. You will.
But that doesn’t mean you hit a time in your life when everything just gets easy and there are no more struggles. You might deal with your struggles better, but if you are waiting to not have them at all you are going to wait forever.
That’s just not how this game is played y’all. There is no finish line. You don’t cross a threshold and things don’t bother you anymore.
You are human. Things are going to bother you.
How you handle them will change.
How you feel about them will change.
The fact that they still happen will not.
That means these strategies of self-care don’t stop. It means commitment doesn’t go away, it may just shift.
It means that we are always going to be readjusting how we are engaging with the circumstances of our lives.
Some days we can be reminded of an issue or trigger we had in the past that we thought was long gone, and instead we find it raise it’s head again. It can come out of no where and make you feel like you haven’t made progress. But I assure you, you have. It’s just that life doesnt have a finish line. We will always need to engage then rebalance, then engage again. Balance is a tight rope, it’s a readjustment that never really stops.
And that’s ok. That spirally growth is helps us reach to the next level without forgetting where we have come from. And all three of these lessons are always true. I just found out how true they were through these last 12 months.
So what about you? What lessons have you had through COVID? What has helped you?
What has been hard or even felt impossible at times? We all have something to take out of this time. Finding the lesson ensures the time isn’t wasted.
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Until next week y’all -