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May 19, 2020

Losses and Lessons: My Experience of Life During COVID-19

It has been two months of sheltering in place, of staying home, and of self- isolation. This has been a time of many changes in my outer world, as well as inner upheaval for me.

There is sense of loss and deep gratitude. There is a mix of messiness and magic, with both often showing up within the same day.

What are the losses?

Anticipation: 

I have always been one to look forward to events. I can remember my excitement as a young girl the night before Christmas. I could hardly wait for the morning to come so I could see the present under the Christmas tree. Yes, it was one present and I could hardly wait!

These days I miss looking forward to lunch with a friend, a family barbecue, or a road trip with my husband. There haven’t been any pub nights with my sister and her husband, meals with our potluck group or play dates with my grandchildren.

Browsing:

I miss the thrill of spending time in a bookstore, wondering which of the many books will call out to me on this visit. Somehow going through the lists of books online is not as satisfying as browsing in a real bookstore. Garden stores are filled with beauty this time of year and I miss being able to linger in the aisles without worrying about other customers being too close to me.

Even if clothes shopping is not my favourite activity, I find myself thinking about the summer sandals I  want and the fun I have had in the past browsing in the local ‘outdoor activity’ store that has sandals, hats and even dresses that suit my taste.

Connecting:

I miss sitting with a friend in a coffee shop. FaceTime is wonderful….up to a point. However, I miss the ‘full body experience’ as I lean in to a deep, intimate conversation with a dear friend. I miss hugging my grandchildren. I saw them from a distance on Mother’s Day weekend and I had a longing and deep pang in my heart as I refrained from hugging them.

What do I notice that is different about me?

My Reactivity is Changing

I have been shocked at how easily I am triggered by things these days. My reserve tank of patience is running low and I am easily upset by seemingly ‘little’ things. I have a heightened sense of justice and fairness and I get angry when I see people not obeying certain ‘rules’ that I follow carefully. What do they think that the guidelines are for others and not for them?

This is what happened on my walk today. Two women approached me side by side. I moved over as far as I could, and they just kept walking together, rather than going single file. I moved off the path, and  turned my face away, steaming with anger. They  ‘should’ respect me. They were rude and selfish!

After they walk by, I storm away to catch up to my husband.  I am in a stress state, which means I lose my joy of the walk and I feel restless and upset. I vent to him about my frustration. He walks along quietly and reminds me that outdoors there is a lower risk of virus transmission. He tells me to ‘let it go’ and not allow them to spoil my walk. I am silent. I listen to  the conversation happening inside my head. Here is what I hear.

My Inner Dialogue is Changing

I observe myself in this state and have some big questions to ask myself.

Why am I so bothered? What is really going on for me?

I am tempted to scold myself because of my reactivity. Then I hear the words, ‘Be Kind.’ This motto is the opposite of what I embody. I want to change that. I take a breath and send myself some love. I take a long hard look at my motives.

Here is what I see.

I want to be in control.

So much is out of my control these days and I grasp for whatever little bit of authority I can find. Telling other people how to behave on the trail might be the answer. I also know that ‘having control’ is an illusion. The only thing I can control is my attitude, and in this time of uncertainty, that is an important lesson.

Another question arises.

Does my state of mind bring me joy? Am I living a life that I love in the midst of my judgmental energy?  The answer to this is: NO!

I remember that I desire to be led by lightness and play when I go for my walks. How can this happen if I am constantly angry at others on the trail?

My Actions are Changing

I think about my husband’s advice to ‘let it go’. I breathe deeply and release my anger. I forgive myself for my judgmental thoughts, and I start looking around. I see my dear husband, trekking happily towards the car. I hear the birds singing and I look up at the old growth trees that have weathered so many storms. My heart feels light and my body relaxes. I have a smile on my face, and I am filled with gratitude for my healthy body, my time in nature, and for Love.

What have you noticed about yourself during this time of upheaval and change? Are you practicing self-compassion or self- punishment? What choices will you make about your actions? These principles are applicable no matter what is going on in the world. Take a moment to reflect on what you desire in your life and find ways to create a life-giving experience for yourself and your loved ones.

My book, Saying Yes to Life: Embracing the Magic and Messiness of the Journey‘, might be of help to you. It offers some ideas about navigating uncertainty and learning to trust our own wisdom. Check it out, and I trust you will find the support you need!

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Marjorie Warkentin  |  Contribution: 4,215