Phew! It’s been a year that we’ve been cooped up and unable to get out and spread our wings. Most of us have stayed away from meeting family and friends in person. We’ve texted, emailed, fake-hugged from six feet, and made do with drive-by birthdays, graduations, and showers.
Yet, miraculously, during this time, babies have been conceived and born, meaningful accolades have been worked for and awarded, and the affection and fellowship we feel with our friends and loved ones has endured. In short, we’ve adjusted.
As vaccination efforts spread and we start to actually know people who’ve received it – maybe you’re one of the lucky ones??? — there seems to be a parallel mindset shift, a rejiggered perspective on how we are in the world. Can you feel it?
As our neighborhoods open up and we can move about hugging and kissing and sharing closeness, I hope that you will always remember how you survived by doing whatever it took to self-comfort – without a massage or a pedicure or a fancy meal out or an expansive Christmas holiday celebration. You managed to be okay right where you were, even if that was a solitary place, perhaps with acute loneliness. And while it was crazy wild at first, a time when we stumbled about not fully believing COVID was as bad as it was, things are beginning to crack open again.
Before you jump back into your routine life, I encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge how comfortable you got with uncertainty, with restrictions never imagined in your lifetime. Before looking ahead, take a long and generous look at how you adjusted and made a good life with all that happened in the last year.
One major change for me was accepting my decision to downsize from a two-story house to a one-story, super tiny apartment in a senior living complex. Can’t you just hear me screaming in my head: I’m too young to live in one of these places!! It’s true. I’ve always felt that owning a home, a place where I was totally independent and living large, would work for me for many more years. Yet, the fires that come close every summer were stressing me out. I couldn’t sleep during these times, times that are getting longer and longer each year. I made a mindset shift.
And while I hate to admit it, before the pandemic, I truly felt I wasn’t at a 100 percent if I didn’t have makeup on. I felt my message wasn’t as credible if my brows were wild and my hair too shaggy. (This might say more about the judgments I make than it does about my fear of being judged. Oh, well.) But recently, I had an epiphany when I passed a mirror and saw, not an old, overweight, wrinkly lady, but a vessel filled with good times, valuable info, comfort, compassion, support and stillness. All delightful things I want to be. I realized that I am those things because I want to be those things. I’ve let go of who others might want me to be and have acknowledged who I really am. The next party I have, I’m inviting that chubby old lady.
Most negative things offer us an opportunity to grow. The pandemic coupled with political upheaval, has been the gift that, while it’s brought unimaginable sorrow, has also brought valuable new information. I’ve learned that what I have to say is just as meaningful (or not) whether my hair is coiffed or I live in an apartment. I’ve learned that, being an ear for others who have something to say is just as viable despite the weight I’ve gained from being cooped up. I’ve been able to give comfort, acceptance, love, and caring attention regardless of my appearance.
As we head into a new dawn, remember to take comfort in who you are and in how well you can handle new and distressing situations. You made it this far. You are still loved and honored, by yourself and by others. Fight the tidal urge to slip back into defining happiness in your life by external stuff.