An ode to life in lockdown

As the world begins to wake back up and gets ready to come out of hibernation, I’ve found myself a little tentative about the new reality on the horizon. Despite waiting for the moment “we can all go back to normal” every day for the last year, there’s a part of me that’s dreading the return to the way things were — and that same part is hesitant to actually say that out loud.

There has been so much of the last year that’s been hard. Having a baby in a pandemic. Isolation with an infant. Fear of loved ones getting sick. Dealing with my husband’s layoff and job search. And then dealing with it again, for a second time, just a couple months later. Not (really) leaving the house. Not getting to hug my friends. My in-laws only seeing their granddaughter via FaceTime. Figuring out how to work and live in the same place. And the list goes on…

But… there’s also a part of me that has really liked it — maybe even loved it.

That didn’t happen immediately. I struggled early on, when the world was crumbling before our eyes, and I was inching towards becoming a first-time mom. I went on walks every morning and frequently ended up sobbing as I strolled down the street. There was a lot to worry about, a lot of unknowns.

But as time ticked on, we adapted. We simplified, slowed down, let go of expectations. The tears eventually turned into gratitude, and I ended up finding a lot of good.

Early on, my friend and mentor, Sue Paige, posed a question that sparked this shift in how I saw the whole thing. She asked, If, for one minute, you could put aside the idea that all of this is terrible… what if it’s actually wonderful? Wonderful?! After the initial shock, I forced myself to write a couple things down. And gradually, almost imperceptibly, that seed of an idea grew inside me, and now, here I am a year later, sort of dreading the return to the “normal” I mourned for so long.

Over the last year, I’ve found a more centered, more compassionate and more easy-going side of myself. I’ve actually created a closer relationship with the friends I haven’t seen in person. And I’ve savored the moments with my family more than I ever did before. I’ve rediscovered my love of purpose-free walking and found all sorts of nooks and crannies in my neighborhood that I never noticed while whizzing past on the way to work. I’ve come to cherish the slow-and-then-sudden change of the seasons as the entire world around us resets every couple months. I’ve fallen in love with the simple joy of a casual day at the park, or a sunny afternoon on the porch. I’ve adopted an early bed time and become an early riser. I’ve relished in the magic of an extra (extra!) long shower. I’ve cut out a lot of excess, been more mindful about my spending and committed to buying more used and recycled goods. And the greatest joy of the last year is getting to spend more time everyday with my daughter, Frankie. I’ve gotten to witness more firsts than I would have if I was commuting or traveling for work, and that, I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’ve gotten to put her to bed every night and wake her up each morning. To spend the extra time in the morning reading her a book or singing a song together. So yeah, in a lot of ways, despite the unimaginable tragedy, loss and sadness of the last year — and the fact that it’s also been one of the hardest years of my life — it’s also been… wonderful.

The idea of going back to the hustle of life pre-pandemic? I’m not sure I want to. Yes, I can’t wait for the hugs (the HUGS!), the game days, the vacations, the dinners out, the deep breaths in that aren’t through a paper mask. But, there are also a collection of blessings from our collective year “off” — this weird and wild ride we’ve all been on — that I want to carry forward into our new normal.

As you get ready to transition back, how are you feeling? And what do you want to carry forward?

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