"Into the Unknown" seems like the appropriate song to serve as a soundtrack for 2020. Or maybe it’s that I’ve watched Frozen 2 more than any human should have watched a movie over the last 9 weeks of quarantine. Either way, saying this year has been and is full of unknowns may be the understatement of the century.
I finally realized this weekend while escaping the confines of my home to go for a run with my mandatory facemask that one of the biggest struggles for me throughout this strange season is suddenly feeling like I have zero control over all the things that I once took for granted.
Who knew going out for a coffee with my girlfriends would become prohibited? Who knew that I could no longer browse online for good deals to fly home to see family in the states? I took for granted the “liberty” that I had and the notion of control in my life.
Does anybody else relate?
Jokingly, when this all began nearly 70 days ago I posted this on Instagram:
And if I wrote that again today, I’d probably write something like “Control what you can. Stay away from the crowds at Costco. Just breathe and wear your mask.”
Little did we know that 2 1/2 months later, we would have been in the same if not worse position. This idea of not being able to control even the little things in our lives rips open the deeper truth that we’ve never been able to control anything all along.
I don’t know if that makes sense, but as much as we liked to play the part of conductor of the orchestra of our lives thinking we were the ones deciding when the tuba toots its loud horn or the flutes do their diddy was all an illusion. We’ve never been the ones to control life’s circumstances. (And yes, I should have picked a different metaphor, I really know nothing about the sounds an orchestra makes, but it had potential in my head.)
We cannot control outer circumstances and we never have been able to. The only thing we can control in this life is ourselves and our reactions to what is happening.
It’s always been that way. Our current situation is simply bringing it more into the light, because there’s nothing else to distract us in our surroundings.
And it’s this naked reality of having to deal with the truth that we are not in control and that so much of our life’s stability in the past was reliant on finite schedules, trips or events that we were “planning” to fill our days and create a sense of security in our lives.
It’s hard. It’s not always pleasant dealing with ourselves and our feelings. (Especially when it’s coupled with kids who don’t sleep well and parents who are so tired trying to find some sort of balance with working from home and raising kids while doing their homework, or just enough of it to make sure they recognize letters and numbers. Or is that just our house?)
I miss having trips to look forward to, I miss being able to invite friends over for Max’s 5th birthday that is happening in 4 days, I miss getting out of the house to go drink a coffee that I didn’t make for myself trying to find some semblance of a routine getting up before my kids (they’ve somehow turned into night owls and early birds at the same time and it’s no fun for any of us).
And with all I’m missing about daily life and the liberties we didn’t even know we were taking for granted in the past, the truth remains that this year is still so much “Into the Unknown” as we don’t know what will come next.
The news changes every day. One minute you think scientists are on the brink of discovering a vaccine and the next you read that people are getting reinfected with Covid-19 so now nobody knows if immunity exists or not.
One day you read, people with pre-existing health conditions are at highest risk and then the next you read young children are showing new symptoms related to Covid and it’s terrifying.
At the end of the day, which yes, I join the chorus of exhausted parents who wonder if we’ll ever find any alone time again, I realize that it’s ok to feel all the things.
Feeling is uncomfortable sometimes. It’s not always fun. But it’s important to recognize how we are feeling and as I had a serious case of the “Monday’s” yesterday unable to focus, distracted by the news, feeling blah and unmotivated about everything yet managing to do my job with trainings, webinars and calls, I talked to a friend at the end of the day who asked “How are you?”
And I was near tears when I said “I don’t know. I don’t know why some days are so hard and other days I feel like I got this. Today was hard.”
So I started to think of the days that have been “good” during quarantine and I realize that despite the uncertainty surrounding us at all moments, there are some things I can do, as trivial as they may seem, that keep my mental health positive.
5 Things to Keep Me Positive
Go to bed early so that I can get up early and have a cup of coffee before my kids wake up. It is one of life’s simple pleasures that I’ve enjoyed for 5 years, just because I now have nowhere to go doesn’t mean going to bed late is helping me.
Drink water. With ice. All day long. (It’s been 95 degrees here most days).
Exercise. Every day. The days I skip my morning workout routine are the days I feel like I can’t get motivated to do anything.
Dress for success. Yes, even working at home. The days I put on a dress or take the extra 5 minutes to do my hair and throw on mascara I feel more ready to conquer the world of webinars that my career has morphed into.
Choose healthy food. I’ve always been someone who loves my greens, but for some reason the first month of quarantine I found myself seeking out comfort food or drinks. It felt like “vacation” almost for the first 40 days and then I had a moment of reckoning “This probably isn’t the best habit to pick up during a global pandemic.” And as obvious as this sounds, I stopped having that habitual quarantine glass of wine at the end of every day.
Anyways, trivial perhaps, but with all the unknowns in our current world, I guess the days I’m still thriving are the days I choose the healthy habits that I know have always helped my productivity, mindset and life even before a pandemic hit.
It may be obvious to most, but it has taken me a few weeks to find the new rhythm. I’m learning too that celebrating the weekends and being fully present with my children has allowed me to thoroughly appreciate their antics, the slow pace of life right now and the sunny Saturdays and Sundays we spend at home enjoying the simple pleasures life has to offer.
So while there’s a lot of unknowns surrounding us right now, stick to what you know, choose those healthy habits and allow yourself to feel.
That’s what I’m going to be doing over here, while still dreaming of another day I’ll be able to plan something other than a webinar or zoom call to connect with the people I love most.
And for anyone interested in reading something that has zero to do with a global pandemic and is another post named after an iconic Disney song, read “A Whole New World” which talks about our journey through immigration and a bit of my husband’s story.