what you focus on you create more of
I was talking with a friend the other day and she asked, "How are you holding up?" I was surprised by my answer. I said I was fine, and I realized I actually am fine. I think I am now used to this quarantine thing, which seems to be just in time to begin to get back to a closer-to-normal routine.
As I take mini-steps to go back into the world, donning my mask and keeping my social distance, I go back out as a changed person. I have a feeling we have all changed in one way or the other-- mentally, physically, and/or spiritually. I don't know how we can go through something like this without changing.
I have gone through phases. At first it was disconcerting, staying home all the time and not running here, there and everywhere. My husband did the weekly grocery shopping, and he continued to go to work. I worked from home, getting my website up and running, creating content for an online coaching group I was running, and training clients via FaceTime. I was staying fairly busy during the day, but it was still different. I made time every day to connect with a family member or a friend every day, and I committed to filling my exercise ring on my Apple watch each day. I felt good and strong.
Gradually, though, I began to regress a bit in some of my healthy habits. After going 6 months with no alcohol, I began having 2 glasses of wine nightly. It was amazing how easily I fell right back into the habit. I am no brain expert, but I do know that habits are well-worn pathways in the brain and that they never disappear. You can create new pathways, but it is only with consistent effort that you stay on that path. If you jump off, your brain automatically goes back to that well-worn path.
Two glasses doesn't really sound like a lot, but I could feel the difference in my energy level and mood the next day. My sleep was affected, and my hot flashes returned with a vengeance. (I know there is a correlation between hot flashes and alcohol, but I don't know about causation.) Overall, I just felt less vibrant.
It took a while, and I am not beating myself up for how I handled this time. I just turned a corner and realized that I am happier when I save alcohol for special occasions.
In addition to thinking a lot about alcohol, I have thought a lot about small joys, happiness, and simplicity. I have always preached gratitude and joy hunting, but I got the chance to really live it during these last couple of months. I started taking walks for no other reason than to get outside and think. I created a space in my home to sit as I type and watch out over the neighborhood, noticing and appreciating the dogs and the kids playing. I baked bread weekly. (This recipe is seemingly fail-proof if you are interested, by the way.) I took naps. I connected with friends. I daydreamed, and I watched some good old Netflix. Little Fires Everywhere and Ozark were my secret pleasures. I read in the middle of the day, and cleaned/organized when I felt the need or desire. In general, I allowed myself to slow down. What a revelation!
I am completely blessed that I had shelter, food, and a support system during this time. I have felt guilty, actually, for growing and embracing this time when there are so many people who have lost their lives, or have lost a loved one, or who are risking their lives to help us get this under control. I have laid low on social media during this time, because anything I thought of seemed trite and silly and inconsequential compared to what was going on in the world.
I have come to understand, though, that we can hold joy and sorrow at the same time. Khalil Gibran wrote a beautiful poem about that very thing. My favorite line: The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Interesting to think about. Joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin, which feels like permission to look for joy even in the midst of this mess. I'll take it.
So I head into a new normal, at a slower pace and with a cute mask, changed in a myriad of tiny ways. In what ways have you changed throughout the last few months?
About the Author
Kim is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and group fitness instructor. She is a mom of two grown kiddos, and a former elementary school teacher. Most days, she can be found training clients, prepping food, thinking about food, or writing about food. She is also obsessed with mindset and habits. She is a 9w1 on the enneagram.