It’s been a year of the pandemic: loss, illness, change, uncertainty, loneliness, disruption, financial stress, political upheaval, social and racial reckoning. Whew, what a year. I don’t know about you but I feel exhausted, worried about how what we have experienced will impact all of us moving forward, uncertain about what the future will look like, and also hopeful that we have all learned, grown and are ready for whatever comes next.
But let me follow my own advice and breathe. I’ve been saying that a lot this year – in writing and in conversations. No matter what is going on around us, it is so important to know and acknowledge what is going on inside us. Yes, it can be hard, and yes, it can be unpleasant. Only when we are aware of what is going on on the inside can we make effective decisions for what happens on the outside. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values guide our choices and our actions, and therefore our paths forward.
I’m hearing a lot of talk about marking the year “anniversary” of the start of the pandemic. You may find yourself remembering when this all started a year ago – the last day of school, the last time in an office, the last dinner out, the last time with family, and really the last time for many of us that we lived in a world we believed held more certainty than we do today. These memories and the associated feelings and sensations are actually our bodies and our minds way of helping us make sense of what we have been through, and prepare for future challenges. Reflecting on the past, gathering to celebrate and honor and even grieve events, turning inward to acknowledge feelings are all ways to help us continue to cope and find comfort.
So where do we go from here? Oh, how I wish I knew. But living through the pandemic has reminded me of important life lessons that I think I already knew but didn’t necessarily have in the forefront of my consciousness. And I believe we have all learned some new lessons that we will carry with us as we march forth.
- Life can be hard, and we can get through these hard times
- I can’t, and also I can, and also I did
- I am sad about all that we have lost, and I am surprised by some of what we have gained
- It is hard to believe and be hopeful when things get hard, and I try to choose hope whenever possible
- It is comforting to think that we have control in our lives, and much of the time we don’t have as much as we think we do
- We cannot control a lot in the world, and we do have control over our own choices
- It is tempting to want life to be simple, and it rarely is
- Change is scary and uncomfortable, and it can also be for the better, or at least make us stronger
- Individuals can be smart, creative, compassionate and effective, and we can accomplish more together than we can individually
- This year has been really hard, and maybe there have been some silver linings
- Breathing is critical to being alive, and breathing is a very useful coping skill
- Humans (including our family, friends, colleagues, leaders, etc.) are not perfect, and yet we are all (mostly) doing the best we can
- Things are not always fair and right, and we must fight for what we believe in
- We may not know what life after the pandemic will look like, and whatever life does look like, we will adapt and deal with it and hopefully we will be ok
There will always be “ifs” and “buts”, and I sincerely hope we can have more “and” in our lives. I wish I had been clever and organized enough to get this on paper and into the world on March 4, and alas I did not. Oh well. At least I am here, and writing, and sharing. So, March forth. Don’t forget to Be, Breathe and Believe.