This year started for me with a with great anticipation. The promise of a new decade filled me with hope and excitement for what the future might hold.
I joined groups that dared me to dream and set big, audacious, scary goals. I reached out of my comfort zone, facilitating workshops further away from home. I invested in personal development for myself by booking time with some of my favourite inspirational speakers. I bought tickets to rock concerts and planned days in the city with my daughters. I planned trips away with friends…
And in the blink of an eye, this all changed…
One by one plans that had been months and even years in the making slowly were cancelled or postponed.
Hugs, handshakes and hongi disappeared.
The allowed group size of people continued to shrink. Until we were only allowed close contact with the people in our immediate bubbles.
All the things that had become a normal way of being and had seemed so important just a few weeks ago lost their urgency.
Responding to change
How life has changed…
We have gone from vague reports about a virus affecting people overseas and thinking, “This could never happen to us in New Zealand” to self-isolation in just a few months.
We are all collectively mourning. Mourning for the way things used to be and for the things that we have lost. Change happens to us all and change happens all the time. However, what has thrown most of us is the speed with which this change happened.
Please know that this is okay, and 100% normal to be feeling what you are feeling. No matter where you are – shock and denial, guilt and pain, anger and bargaining, depression, reflection or loneliness, the upward turn, reconstruction and working through or acceptance and hope, know that you are allowed to be here and so are the others around you. Own the stage you are in and don’t try to push yourself to the next stage before you are ready. Be kind and patient with yourself and those around you.
You might be feeling less than resilient right now, but be assured that you are stronger and way more resilient than you give yourself credit for.
Sometimes we can feel like we are buried under all the overwhelming things that are happening around us. But in reality we have actually been planted so that we can grow.
We do not grow our resilience in the easy times. Just like our muscles need stress and exercise – little micro-tears to build and strengthen them – so do we need to stretch and tear our resilience muscles. Strength and resilience grow out of adversity.
I know that I am the eternal optimist, but this time of self-isolation has been a gift in many ways. This has been a time for me to reflect and evaluate. It is almost like taking away some of the “noise” of life has allowed me time to focus on what is truly important to me.
The gift of time has allowed me to take a big long look at myself and how I was living – to engage in a real internal evaluation of self. To notice where my energy is flowing. To decide what is working and what I would like to keep. But also to think critically about the things that are not working and what I need to let go of. This time has allowed me to grow new skills and practice mental and emotional muscles that I might not have had the opportunity to if I hadn’t gone through this. I know that this experience will make me a stronger, more creative and resilient person if I just don’t get caught up in the drama.
Lessons from nature
This is something that is mirrored so beautifully in nature around me at the moment.
We have just gone through a drought up here in Northland and the cooler and sometimes wetter days has allowed the ground to rejuvenate and the dry fields around me to sprout with renewed green pasture.
However, paradoxically, other parts of nature are beginning to let go. The trees are starting to shed their leaves and are entering their rest phase to conserve energy.
In a changing world, the constant predictable transitions in nature are something that we can all take great comfort in and learn from.
We too need to let go of things to protect our mauri, our energy and allow new shoots to grow where we once thought it was barren. Holding onto the past will just cause us unnecessary pain and stress.
Things on my “to keep pile”
George Santayana, famously said, ” Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
And so I would be remiss to not take a moment to reflect on the lessons that I have learnt during this period in my HERstory.
- First of all, I am extremely grateful to be a New Zealander right about now. Our Prime Minister has acted with decisiveness, and transparency through what must have been some really difficult decisions. She and the government were able to put aside differences with the best interests of us all at the heart of the matter. This has been tough, but I firmly believe that we even though there are still some challenges ahead for all of us, we as a nation will be much better off because of it. As a leader, this has given me lots of food for thought around courageous decision making, putting aside ego, trusting each other and the value of vulnerability.
- The importance of connection is another important lesson for me. Connection with myself, my husband, my children, my friends and family and the other amazing people in our profession. Often the busyness of our day to day lives does not allow for this type of connection with others. Having time has allowed for time to journal, write and process feelings. Family time around the fire, board games, movie nights and bake-offs have become part of our everyday rhythms and rituals. This has become a time we all look forward to as a way to refill our emotional cups. I would like to make more time for this when we go back to work and school. To find a way to keep some of these new rituals going forwards.
- Although we cannot physically visit friends and family at the moment, and I really miss this, regular video chats with them have become the norm. (I must admit I was guilty of going weeks sometimes without calling my mum, sisters or friends – life simply got in the way.) Why did it take a pandemic for me to seek to strengthen these connections?
- Professionally it has been amazing to connect with and to be there for the members of my professional bubble. It has been so inspiring to tune into webinars and with some of the leading voices in ECE, there has been a smorgasbord of delicious PLD available for us to feast on. In a funny way, this “lock-down” has allowed me to be kinder, more generous and outwardly focused than I have been before.
- I have learnt to appreciate the simple joys in my life that I would have normally taken for granted. With Easter approaching, I have been reflecting on how consumer-focussed this holiday has become. In years past I would have spent hours shopping at Kmart and other stores for paper plates, baubles and decorations. This year without those trappings to distract me, the season seems slower and more meaningful – more of a heart moment.
- Lastly, I am recognising more and more the importance of faith. Faith in something bigger than myself (for me it is God). Faith in myself and my ability to grow and adapt. Faith in others around me and having the best of assumptions about them in my heart. And faith in us as a wider community that we can stand together and we can come out of this stronger, wiser and kinder than before.
What are some of the things that you have learnt about yourself and others during this time?
Support for you
As you might know if you have been following me I am working to support you during this time.
You don’t have to do this alone, support is available.
Have an amazing long weekend with your bubble.