Paralysis. This is the word that perfectly defines the 2020 Covid pandemic for a lot of us. Some people were working more than ever, while others enjoyed family time in gardens and sunny locations. Millions lost their lives, their family members, their jobs. Most of us faced a slowing down, and we were not sure what to do about it.
Before the pandemic we had taken for granted our everyday life, our social contacts, our meetings, workshops and conferences. We were sick of emails and screens, and yet we were glued to them all day. We ran from one place to another, we had no time to respond to the growing demands, and no space to think and do the kind of work we wanted to do. Those of us with children, had taken for granted that our kids would be in school or nursery for many hours. That our spouses have their own jobs, free time and space. We were proud until then, that we managed to create a separation between free time and work, a separation between our roles. One space and role kept invading the others, but we pretended it wasn’t such a big deal. We had it all under control.
Slow living was not something we thought would be placed on us, unless we consciously chose it. But in 2020, slow living was what we got. With the epidemic, time was suddenly redefined. Our roles and identities were not the same. We have become more of something, and less of something, at the same time. Some of us started questioning what role work played, whether domesticity was really such a boring thing ( baking bread anyone?). We had to look at our family members and spend long periods of quality time with them. We could not escape the usual interactions by running to meetings, events and trips.
What helped me to stay a bit sane during those times was:
Having a schedule: I become inspired by the monks and their "rule of life". I made a schedule for myself, and for the children. I experimented and changed it a hundred times, but at least I had something to look up to in terms of structure, something bigger. I keep glued to schedules and time blocks to this day.
Stepping up on leadership: Sometimes it’s you who is in charge, sometimes it is someone else. I took the lead at home, my own little castle of influence. I perfected my cooking skills, showed positive energy, practised creativity, spoke about beliefs and ideas. I did not have to wait for a manager to step up, or the kids to call the shots. I was intent on guiding others in the way offered to me.
Keeping connected: I did not feel like it. I wanted to sit behind the screen and consume news and content, and maybe write. But I soon realised that hearing people's voices would be the antidote to loneliness and anxiety. I didn't sit on Zoom but I did make many calls to family and friends. I found a way, to call people every single day. This is the best time to listen, and share and make each other laugh.
Looking back at that time now, it was a positive time for our family. But it also taught me not to take anything for granted. Changes will happen and the only thing we will have to keep us sane is the family and friend networks we have built by staying connected to others and being a positive influence.
I get emails from people every day, telling me about their communication woes. Now that you are ready to do something about it, drop me a line and I will tell you what we can do next.