Pandemic-Sized Gratitude

I’m going to join the chorus with everyone else this year and just acknowledge that this has been a hard year. However, that is not where I want to camp out. Rather, I want to focus on what I am grateful for during this pandemic season.

First, let me give you a little background about myself. I am a high-achieving, over-achieving, first-born, {mostly} extroverted, Enneagram 3, ENFJ, people-pleasing perfectionist. That’s a mouthful. Even more than that, all of these labels produced in me a kind of drive that has motivated me to work without ceasing but has often left a play-sized void.

The fact that I love to work and find both pleasure and satisfaction in it doesn’t help my cause.

So, you might be wondering what this has looked like in my life. Well, it looks a lot saying yes to everything and everyone regardless of how exhausted, depleted, overwhelmed or overbooked I may be. It means giving 110% when I only actually have 70% left. It means ignoring my inner self to just keep going, going, going like that faithful old Energizer bunny.

I’ve gone to counseling, read all the books, received coaching, and created all kinds of “rules” for my life to help me slow down. Yet, nothing has truly stuck or helped me get out of the “can’t stop, won’t stop” mindset…until I found myself in the midst of a global pandemic.

Sometimes, the only way to truly change is to be forced into kicking and screaming. Just like everyone else, I was not at all excited about cancelling my honeymoon to Mexico and my daughter’s first birthday party (we had rented a pool - she loves swimming). I was sad to cancel all date nights with my husband for the foreseeable future and disappointed that our neighborhood parks would be closed just as my toddler was getting her bearings on navigating the world on two feet. I had big plans and a full calendar - until one day I didn’t.

However, I found that what once filled me with dread - days and days at home with “nothing special” to look forward to - started to become rather enjoyable. I created a slow morning routine with my toddler that allows me to enjoy time with her, reading together and drinking a cup of coffee (I’m still amazed we can pull this off most days). My husband and I watched all 22 Marvel movies. I chatted with my neighbors (from a distance) outside. I was able to focus on building my business to the next level because I wasn’t running in a million directions. I spent time everyday just doing nothing and letting that be okay. I breathed. I played. I enjoyed the scenery.

“Slow living is a curious mix of being prepared and being prepared to let go. Caring more and caring less. Saying yes and saying no. Being present and walking away. Doing the important things and forgetting those that aren’t. Grounded and free. Heavy and light. Organized and flexible. Complex and simple.”

-Brooke McAlary, Slow Your Home

Without having a social calendar there was little to say yes to except myself and my family. Being forced into semi-social isolation for months allowed me to break the biggest, baddest habit of my life and now I can’t imagine going back to my pre-COVID pace of life (my husband - who is the king of relaxation - couldn’t be happier about this version of me).So, on this Thanksgiving, I have some pandemic-sized gratitude for the gift that was given to me - the gift of slowness and simplicity.

I’m not sure when this pandemic will end and I don’t quite know what “normal” will look like on the other side of this. As with most things, I’m sure we’ll all forget a lot because that’s what humans do. But, this is one lesson I won’t forget.

I’m still me. I still have a crazy drive and insane ambition. I still have grand plans and big dreams. Those things aren’t going away. But, hopefully, the way I pursue them will be a little different. Whatever life looks like on the other side of COVID-19 I know that I will be living it with greater simplicity and at a pace that allows me to get off the highway from time to time and enjoy the scenic route.

I’d love to hear about your pandemic sized gratitude. Feel free to comment below.