Coronavirus, murder hornets, economic instability — oh my! What an odd time in which we are living. 2020 has not been the start to a new decade that anyone expected. In the United States, the majority of the country has entered into some sort of “quarantine mode” with many businesses closing their doors/offices and forcing employees to work remotely. Restaurants have shut down, stores have limited access, and (gulp) all the wineries have closed in an effort to force the population to stay home and stay safe.
In my state of Michigan, quarantine has been implemented since March 16th. There is unrest among Michiganders as the weeks move forward with no change in circumstances; restaurants are struggling as delivery and curb-side are their only options to continue service, lay-offs and furloughs are being carried out by numerous corporations, and unemployment numbers nearing those of the Great Depression. Many of G’s and my favorite local stops may not be reopening as the economic stability of our home state teeters on the edge.
Though I fully understand the government’s urge to keep residents safe, my heart hurts for those who will be effected by this pandemic for years to come. Everyone’s safety is important — health-wise, financially, emotionally, and mentally. As every week passes, it is amazing to me how divided my state grows… and how desperate people seem to be becoming. You could not pay me enough to be in our governor’s shoes right now.
With that being said, I am not going to talk any further on politics or economics. I am so torn, seeing reason on both sides of the fence. These are unprecedented times. There is so much truth when a “new normal” is spoken about; the world is not what it was in 2019. Some may argue the the new normal will be better in the grand scheme; some argue things will never be as good again.
To me, things are different. There are so many variants to this situation that are outside the vast majority’s control. And as I have become in the habit of saying, “If I cannot control what is happening, then I can at least control how I react to what is happening.” So as our world changes and things become different than before, I am setting my mind to embrace what I can, enjoy what I’m given, and make the most of what I have available.
With this in mind, I wanted to share a bit about how I’ve been coping during the past several weeks. Life has definitely changed, and I am attempting to make the most out of each curveball I’m being thrown.
I’ll be honest, I have gone through a whirlwind of emotions over the past eight weeks. Most days I am content. Happy even. But there have been some days when I was downright depressed. Reading comments on Facebook has spurred me into rages, seeing some news releases has brought me to tears, and I’ve gone through periods of time where it feels like a pit sits in my stomach. I’ve felt restless, unsatisfied, and angry with decisions outside my control.
At first, those days of feeling trapped or resentful were occurring more frequently. Selfishly, I did not want the world to change. I had become accustomed to living a certain way: going to work, binging TV, eating whatever I wanted, finding excuses to not exercise, going out every weekend, and spending more money than necessary. I did not realize the tolls these decision were having on my mindset, marriage, and overall well-being.
One evening after feeling a rush of negative emotions, I realized I needed to get out. Get out of the house, get out of an opportunity to take my frustrations out on my husband, get out of my own depression and reckless thoughts.
So I got into my car and drove for an hour. I focused solely on the road, letting the weight of my inability to control this current situation to roll off my shoulders. I had no agenda of where to end up, but I found myself at a lookout, watching Lake Michigan’s waves crash into the shoreline. Witnessing the lake’s anger was meditative. I was able to breathe with each new spray of the water’s power.
In and out.
In and out.
I took each breath to push my anger away from my mind. I reevaluated my approach to this new way of living and created a game plan to change my mindset for the better. My perspective changed as my breathing slowed — I no longer saw the lake as angry, thrashing about. Instead, I noticed how the lake was reshaping the shoreline, pulling at the ground’s seams to create something new. Something fresh. Something different.
I returned home with the notion that I would begin reshaping my life in the same way. I walked into my house with a renewed sense of being, and I sunk into the comfort of my husband, our bed, and a good book.
It was time to start seeing the good in the unknown.
I had been viewing the state’s shutdown as something impeding my life. Now, I saw it differently though. Moving forward, I began to utilize the quarantine as a refreshment to my schedule. Having an empty agenda allowed for a number of positive personal opportunities.
One day, G and I sat down to rehash our budget. With a little nudge from our stimulus checks, we can see a “debt-free life” glimmering on the horizon. We created a game plan to pay off my student loans, finance his truck projects, and earn a good chunk of equity. All while enjoying a “bucket list” vacation at least once a year.
I’ve been able to use my copious amount of time at home to implement my run training program and make healthier eating habits. I’ve been reading more and Netflixing less, spending more time outside while experimenting with gardening, and exploring our hometown through daily walks with Copper. Taking time to simply do nothing has also made a huge impact on my mental well-being. I’ve been enjoying time spent on our back patio with G, just sitting with no objective. I’ve been taking intentional steps to slow my life and enjoy where I am. And it has been extraordinary.
However much I’ve enjoyed my isolation, remaining connected has been a powerful coping mechanism for me as well. I’ve found solace in being alone and love spending time with G, but am thankful for my external support systems as well.
Thank goodness for Facetime and Zoom! I have been able to continue participating in at-home WODs with my CrossFit box, having weekly wine-drinking dates with Saki, and catching up with my House girls. I miss in-person interactions, but I am thankful to have alternatives to connect with friends and loved ones in some capacity.
Personally, less has been more in my life lately. I may have some bad days but most days I am finding myself to be extremely content. Life is being lived at a slower pace; my agenda is wide open to focus on the simple things that make me happy. These things include focusing on my marriage and bettering my well-being — be that mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or physically.
As Michigan’s governor begins to reopen the state, I am excited to see life return to more “normal” activities, but I have also found a new appreciation for a less-busy lifestyle. It took some time for me to find this appreciation — and a bit of gas, ha! That appreciation is something I foresee moving into my next phase of life though. I want to refrain from busying my life to the point of losing self-awareness and self-contentment. Moving forward, I want to find my happiness in the Less rather than the More.
Though this year is far from perfect, I am not to the point of discounting 2020 as a whole. The circumstances of this pandemic and business shut downs is bringing new meaning to “appreciating what you have” and “giving it all to God.”
Life has been forced to slow down and caused many to look inwardly and evaluate their lives. Personally, I needed the reminder of priorities in my life. I realize I did not have success where I had been looking for contentment (activities, personal agenda, other people.) Instead, I’ve found a better type of happiness in the simplicity of where Life is now — at home, within my marriage, and focusing on how I can elevate my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.
I am excited for the world to reclaim some sort of “new normal”, but I’m more excited that that new normal may be better than our old normal.
Wishing you all love, hope, and successful, my friends.