It's Okay to be Okay: Musings from Quarantine
Hello friends and fellow Quarantiners. Another day, another ridiculous amount of time spent doing all the things that make the hours pass and hopefully fill your "new normal" with a bit of purpose and happiness.
To be honest, I've been thinking about this post for close to a week now. I realllly wanted to write it Sunday - you know, Sundays are for the blog - but then guess what? I didn't. I ended up allowing myself to sleep until my heart's content (aka not setting a morning alarm) and then found myself getting tired again after some afternoon reading and an overall lazy Sunday and took a nap totally obscuring my blogging time. Oops.
But you know what else? I'm giving myself a pass. My days have been flying by, one after the other, and while blogging does give me a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment during these weird times, I also really craved a lazy Sunday. Since it was pouring rain from the moment I woke up, I figured what better time to make those lazy Sunday dreams come true.
Okay, now that I'm well rested and ready to take on another week, I'm coming to you with what might be considered an unconventional blog post, especially during these Corona Times.
I've noticed a theme of overwhelming sadness, distress and emotional upheaval lately. Instagram stories are FILLED with reminders that "it's okay to not be okay," or reminders that "not every day is a good day," and while I am totally in support of that - darn right every day is not a good day! - I also want to talk about something perhaps a bit taboo. At least I know it's felt that way for me personally. So, well, here it goes...
IT'S OKAY TO BE OKAY.
Let me explain. There is an absolutely horrible pandemic happening in our world right now. It's rocked this globe unlike anything I've ever experienced in my lifetime. It's taken thousands of lives, inflicted extreme illness upon thousands more, created fear and hatred amongst so many who are dealing with the unknown and the fear of losing their own life to this horrible disease. It's a tragedy unlike anything many of us will ever see or experience again.
That being said, as with any horrific tragedy that occurs, big or small, the only thing we CAN control is how we react to it.
In this case, that's twofold. The first of which being following government regulations by sheltering in place, keeping six feet of social distancing apart from each other when in public, to name just a couple of government mandates.
The second piece of this being our emotional reaction. I completely understand that this is an extremely difficult time. Families have been flipped upside down with the closure of schools and daycares, workplaces, organized sports, camps, etc. Parents who are full-time employees are now becoming full-time employee in addition to at-home teachers.
Individuals who are used to spending all of their time surrounded by friends, family and coworkers, are now suddenly forced to be by themselves, which let's be honest, for some people is about the worst thing they can imagine.
Hard-working people have lost their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control, small businesses are finding themselves struggling to stay afloat, and companies in general are navigating the waters of this new normal.
Like I said, times are tough. Seemingly impossible even.
Beyond all the turmoil happening in the world around us, I want to take a moment to focus on Y-O-U.
Personally, I've felt completely inundated by messages of distress. There are moments where I'm reading message after message of complete dejection and I find myself wondering "should I be feeling that way?" "Am I not normal for not having these feelings?"
As I said before, we all have THOSE days, and trust me I've had my fair share, and it is COMPLETELY NORMAL (and warranted), but I want to encourage each and every one of us to not let THOSE days become our new normal.
Don't let the fact that you can't leave your home or hang out with your friends keep you from chasing and living a fulfilling life. Instead of looking at what's being taken away, let's look at what's been given to us.
During my normal day to day, I find myself complaining about my physical appearance, feeling like the stress of a 9-5 is keeping me from fulfilling my fitness goals and not to mention the lack of time to achieve them. However, now I find myself beginning each day with two hours of movement. I'm challenging myself physically in ways I haven't done in a while because I have the time.
During my normal day to day sure I read, I read a lot actually. Instead of turning on the TV I often grab a book instead. However, when I'm getting home from work at 6pm, showering, unpacking my lunch and bag, repacking for the next day, eating dinner, taking care of the dog, only to realize it's now 8pm and I have like an hour before I go to bed, it's hard to get as much page turning in as I would like. Now, I find myself reading an average of 4-5 hours a DAY. Devouring book after book, cruising toward my goal of reading 50 books this year.
During my normal day to day I fantasize about bettering myself in a variety of ways whether through journaling, taking an online class, learning a new skill set, blogging, etc. but never have the time to sit down and tackle these feats. Now, I find myself fitting these activities into my schedule because I see the impact they have on my mood and my day. Each of these activities challenges me to continue growing and learning when I could just as easily be sitting on the couch binging Netflix.
Time. If utilized properly, our time can be spent filling our days with things we only dream of doing during the year when every waking moment is spent working. The amount of times during a given work week when I hear people talking about "not having enough time" to do XYZ and yet those very same people find themselves unable to bear these precious gifts of time. Right now. In front of our very eyes.
Granted, I understand that my situation is not like everyone else's. The reality is, we are all facing our own demons and challenges right now. No, I don't have children and I am extremely lucky to still have my job and to be with family right now, however, that doesn't mean that we can't all infuse a little positivity into our lives as we face these demons head on.
I'm not telling you it's going to be easy, the remaining weeks of Quarantine. And the reality is, we don't even know when things will truly be back to normal. I'm just telling you that IT IS OKAY TO BE OKAY.
Run that back. IT'S OKAY TO BE OKAY.
If you're like me and you've actually been relishing this time to slow down, pause, learn, grow and challenge yourself in new and uncomfortable ways, know you're not alone. Don't feel the pressure to be down and distraught just because that's what you're seeing on your social feed.
Be the light that others so badly need and crave right now. Utilize your powers of positivity to infuse that energy and love into the lives of those who are so missing these things in their own lives.
Use this time to connect with friends and family, pick up a new book, start that art project you've been delaying, work on a puzzle, bring out the cookbook and try a new recipe, learn that new language you've been wanting to learn, tidy up your resume, or better yet, your LinkedIn. (Raise your hand if this is on your Quarantine to-do list).
Whatever you choose to fill your days with, try as best you can to live in the present moment and practice gratitude. Be grateful for every day you've been gifted on this Earth, especially knowing thousands of people's lives have been so abruptly taken from them, and live each moment for them.
Why wait for tomorrow when you can do it TODAY? Now is the time. Now is your chance. It's up to you to take it.
(Originally Published April 9, 2020)