There’s been oodles of time to learn about myself during the pandemic. Hours spent isolating at home and isolating at our cottage gave time for self-reflection.
It’s more than 160 days since Canada issued the ‘stay-at-home’ recommendation/order that essentially put the population — except for essential workers — under house arrest. Initially, it was a novel experience. Quickly it evolved into worry, fearfulness, uncertainty, and anxiety. The isolation felt surreal. I asked myself ‘when will it end?’ Every day felt the same, thus making it hard to remember if it was Sunday or Tuesday!
Canadians waited for the curve to ‘flatten’ and then waited again for restrictions to be lifted. In Ontario where we live, all areas are now in Phase 3 of re-opening with strong advice to continue with precautions such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand-washing. Although most businesses have re-opened, caution is advised for patrons especially when interacting with others indoors. School openings are planned after Labour Day.
Day after day of isolation with few (mostly virtual) social contacts provides a lot of time for serious thought. I’ve re-examined many of my attitudes, beliefs, and values. Both the pandemic and the brutal killing of George Floyd brought new perspectives. Staying in my ‘nest’ at home changed how I feel and how I see things.
What I’ve Learned from Staying in my Nest
- The most important lesson I’ve learned is how quickly things can change — and change drastically. Many of the things I took for granted are gone. This includes gym time, hugs, handshakes, dinners with friends, bridge games, and spontaneous interactions with other people. Who knows when I’ll enjoy these activities again? I look at the positives such as having stable pension income, a comfortable home, a cottage nearby for summer and weekend escapes, and access to our grandchildren. Yet, sometimes I find myself feeling sad and nostalgic about what’s been lost.
- I have an amazing husband. During the pandemic, he has been a source of strength for both of us — patient, loving, and attentive to my needs as we stay at home. Daily, he reminds me to accept what is beyond anyone’s control. He compliments my longer hairstyle. He smiles and encourages me when I am out of sorts. He never fails to thank me for the meals I prepare. We talk about books we read, movies we watch, politics, and the daily news.
- My priorities have shifted. Although I’m sometimes lonely, I don’t miss socializing as much as I thought I would. I won’t return to some activities that I attended regularly before the pandemic. I’ll be careful about accepting or extending invitations, especially when making long term commitments.
- A blank calendar forced me to slow down and rest. I rather like the slower pace of living. Slowing down and taking time for myself and enjoying my thoughts is part of this time of forced rest. I always needed time to re-charge after a busy day interacting with others. I treasure living at an enjoyable pace and having opportunities each day for leisurely conversations with my husband.
- Using Zoom has been a gift. Socializing by video is not perfect. Zoom yoga classes are wonderful as are Zoom happy hour events with friends. Having a mute button often saves me — all I need do is smile brightly. I wish I had bought shares in Zoom before the pandemic!
- I learned how much I missed grocery shopping. During the first months of the pandemic, I sent a list to my daughter-in-law who shopped for us. In the past weeks, I decided to take advantage of the early ‘seniors hours’ and venture to the store wearing my mask and gloves. Who knew that shopping for food could give so much pleasure? To minimize exposure to other people, I go only once every week or ten days and make do between shopping events. Planning and list-making are essential as I won’t risk going to the store for just one or two items.
- Much as I like cooking and baking, doing it every day for weeks on end is a drag. Thank goodness for ideas on the internet. I’ve missed weekly outings to restaurants for lunches with friends or leisurely dinners with my husband. Restaurants are opening again but I’m not ready to take a chance on contracting COVID from a server or another patron. When I do return to restaurants, it will most likely be to those local eateries with strong reputations for cleanliness. and outside patios.
- I learned to consume less, live with less, and simplify. Online shopping and home delivery for essential purchases is my go-to mode. I’m no longer drawn to the latest new shiny item that’s advertised. I didn’t miss the personal shopping nor the pressure to buy new spring/summer clothes as I wasn’t going anywhere. When I culled my closets I realized (again) that I should refrain from purchasing clothes and shoes that I don’t need and may not wear again.
The COVID 19 pandemic taught valuable lessons about simplifying, appreciating small pleasures, and setting priorities. This pandemic has been with us for five months. Most scientists predict another year or 18 months before reliable vaccines and/or treatments are available. It requires no speculation to know that everyone will need to adapt to a new lifestyle as we live with this virus lurking around us. It’s a new normal for everyone.
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