Using Our Time

I think we know now, more than ever, that our time in this life is limited and tomorrow is not guaranteed. I think we also have a new appreciation for the things we have taken for granted like going to concerts and seeing movies.I know many people are itching to get out of the house and have fun. I also know that without many options of fun things to do, it is tempting to stay inside and stream movies all day. But when we have some extra time given to us, it is a gift we shouldn’t take lightly.

I have been fortunate enough to have Fridays off during the month of August. I was both excited and sad about this, excited to have time off from work but sad that during a pandemic I couldn’t do all the things I would like to do. (I know some people have traveled to beaches where they can practice social distancing while also vacationing, but I personally haven’t felt comfortable with sleeping somewhere like a motel where other people are staying because of the possibility of spreading coronavirus.)

I wasn’t sure what to do with my days off, but I knew that I didn’t want to waste them. So each Friday in August I picked a different park within 30 minutes driving distance to explore and take pictures. I am not a photographer, but it is a fun hobby to take pictures that costs little to nothing (depending on what you are wanting to invest in.) Not only was it healing and peaceful to spend some time by myself in nature, it was wonderful to be out of my house and seeing people (at a distance.) And I got some good exercise. I saw frogs, turtles, geese, great blue herons, and sasquatch! (Well, a large cut-out of sasquatch leaning on some trees.) I was also amazed to see how much natural beauty was within a short drive of my home!

If you find yourself with some time on your hands, I highly suggest taking 2 or 3 hours and exploring the outdoors near you. How well do you know the area you live in? You might be surprised at what you discover!

Whatever we find ourselves doing in this pandemic, let’s make good use of our time. It is fleeting, and even a year as terrible as this one shouldn’t be wasted. Just make sure you are responsibly taking precautions to protect yourself and others!

(These are not my personal photos, I plan on uploading and editng my own pictures soon!)

Shifting Times

I hope everyone enjoyed the poetry series I posted over the last few weeks. I will do more in the future. This week I am back to blogging and sharing my personal thoughts.

I think it’s hitting now that we are in July that “normal” isn’t coming back any time soon. And even when the worst of this passes and medicine catches up to help us, “normal” won’t be what it once was.

Oddly, I feel very open and welcoming of this. Of course, my hope is that we as a society progress when it comes to matters of race, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, healthcare, and income equality. I believe that this pandemic is showing us that there has been an illness infecting and rotting us to the very core when it comes to how we have been “functioning” as a society. So I am open to whatever positive change comes from the exposure of our collapsing economy and social inequality.

Photo by Guillaume Meurice on Pexels.com

But my personal upheaval began back in 2018 when my career and faith began being challenged. I have been unsettled and transitioning for almost 2 years now, so this pandemic probably hasn’t thrown my life out of whack like it has for millions (billions?) of others. I have had a head start on being accustomed to uncertainty, sudden change, suffering, and being lost.

That being said, I believe that this weird time when many of us are cancelling plans and staying home more has actually led to an inner quietness to settle inside of me.

I have been scared, nervous, and exhausted by the pandemic. I want to sing in choir, go to plays and concerts, travel, go to the beach, go to cities, visit museums, go to church, go eat at restaurants, and even go to the grocery store. I am sick of this, I am scared of this.

But I have had time to mourn the suffering I experienced from my more recent traumas. I have had time to write and create art from that pain. I have had time to be someone who has been seeking and searching spiritually. I have had time to transform and grow in ways I may not have if I hadn’t had this time. Being used to uncertainty has helped me make use of this weird, scary experience because the rug had already been pulled out from under me before the pandemic could do it.

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I am finally cultivating some peace. I am finally healing. I am finally moving forward. Something inside me has finally shifted to a place where I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthier than I have been in 2 years. And for that I am grateful.

Let us remain cautious and wary. This illness is terrifying. Let us take care of others. Please wear a mask. Protect your family and your community. Be good to others. Do no harm. Maybe if we all have a shift within ourselves personally, we can have a greater shift in the world around us.

Don’t Pass Up The Moment

I know, this year is pretty awful. I have found myself wanting to hit fast forward to maybe a better life in 2021. For me, personally, life has been kind of rough since late 2018. Maybe you’re like me and you’re wondering, “Is it always going to be this hard? Is life just a struggle to keep your head above the water?”

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I am hoping that help comes soon for those who are struggling financially or suffering with illness.

But for the other hard things that we are experiencing, we can learn and we can be better. It is our privilege that makes us want to avert our eyes until the storm passes. It is time, past time, that we use our privilege to lift others up and dismantle the evils of inequality embedded in our society.

Who do you want to be a year from now? What do we want our nation to look like? What do we want the world to look like? We have an opportunity to change it all, if we want to.

When it comes to quarantine, we can really grasp onto ideas of work-life balance, self-care, our work culture, our educational system, our economic system, climate change, and how all of the ways we have been functioning in the world have been hurting us. We can take this moment to fix our broken systems and mold how the future will look for us.

When it comes to the protests against racism, we have an opportunity to take a long look in the mirror and work on being better, loving, and justice seeking people. We have an opportunity to open our hearts to other people in a way that is truly about love, sacrifice, equality, and peacemaking. What we have been doing hasn’t been working. It has been killing. We have the tools to change it all.

Don’t wish away the year; this is a moment in time that requires our attention, and we cannot pass it up. All the time we have is precious. Instead, take this pivotal moment in a pandemic, in a time of protest for racial equality, in an election year, in an economic recession, to learn, grow, and act. If we latch onto the movement that’s happening right in front of us we may look back a year from now and be proud of how we used the opportunity that we were given.

Receiving

stone artwork
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Covid-19 has taken so much away from us. People have lost loved ones, celebrations they planned for, jobs and income, and so much more. There is so much grief. We have given up so much of ourselves, especially our essential workers who are risking their health and isolating themselves so as not to expose someone they love to illness.

Please know that there are also things to receive in this time. Maybe some are learning by taking some free classes or conferences online, or we are reading more now. Maybe some are resting, sleeping in, taking naps, watching movies and tv shows. Maybe some are trying new things like gardening, crafting, and new recipes. Maybe some are reconnecting with friends and family members. Maybe some are healthcare workers participating in the free coffee, donuts, and food different services are offering right now. Maybe some are really benefiting from funds, grants, and other sources of money being offered. Maybe some work in local restaurants and are being kept afloat by the community ordering takeout. Maybe some are receiving from charities who offer food and home necessities. Maybe some are receiving accessible worship in their homes. Maybe some are receiving healthcare to defeat the virus.

I am not asking you to count your blessings and be grateful. I am saying that we are all giving of us ourselves, so it is perfectly acceptable to also receive. Let’s help each other. Don’t feel guilty about taking what you need. This isn’t a promotion to be selfish (because we have already seen far too much of that), but it is an affirmation of self-care. Give back in all the ways you can, and receive what you need to survive this scary era in our lives.

We Can’t Force Things to Happen

I know we want “normal” back. I know we just want to go back to work, we want to get our haircut and nails painted, we want to spend time with friends and family, we want to go out for dinner and drinks; I know we really want to reschedule the concerts, the vacations, the graduations, and the weddings. I want to move forward. We all do.

But the truth is, this virus is going to keep acting like a virus regardless of how much we try to force life to be normal again. And unfortunately, we may be paying with the lives of our loved ones by opening too soon. Only time will tell, but there are always consequences for our actions.

Personally, in times past, I have tried to latch onto half-baked ideas and clung to dreams that had the life sucked out of them. I really had to have some goals ripped away from me and then spend some time without any long-term dreams and goals for a while. I tried to force my life to align with a vision that no longer fit me. It just held me back.

Then slowly, organically, new hopes for the future began to form on their own. It took a long time of having nothing to finally have something.

Yes, I am intentionally being vague. I am just going to keep my head down, do the work, and hopefully, the fruits of my labor will come to light. I don’t want to spoil the magic. But some of my new dreams are already coming true. When the time is right, I will share what I have been working on. But I am letting things naturally fall into place while working hard instead of forcing goals, dreams, and plans to happen before they are ready.

While we wait out this virus, it is okay to grieve and to long for better days. But, if we have the capacity to try, let us cultivate patience. If we make peace with the fact that our normality has been taken away, then we can sit with the “nothingness” we’re left with. This leaves space for new hopes to form organically, without us trying to force them into existence.