This is not my first rodeo with social distancing. In June 2010, our daughter was diagnosed with Cancer and just like that, isolation became our new normal.
On Chemo, her immune system was compromised. We had 4 younger children and we all know how kids are incredible carriers and conductors of germs and viruses and basic filth. It’s like their super power. Anyhoo…..we basically holed up and all social life halted for the 2.5 years that she was in treatment.
There are differences between then and now. One, we’re all in this together. That’s HUGE. Do not underestimate how incredible it is to have others know what you’re going through. Two, back then we were fighting only for our daughter. Today we are fighting for our world. Again, knowing that you’re not the only one going through this situation is incredible for the mind, body and spirit.
2.5 years of isolation is a long time. It’s long enough for friends to move on. It’s long enough for you to lose so much of yourself in the monotony and loneliness that you’re unsure you if you will ever find yourself again.
I’m not some naive “Pollyanna” and my life is not in any way, all rainbows and roses. Social distancing and isolation can either destroy you or make you; and I fully believe that you have a say in how you respond and move forward.
I remember the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that I felt back then. I remember standing in my living room, trapped in my home, with no end insight. I remember feeling so incredibly powerless and out of control. my only option was to hold on tight and ride this journey, until it was finished. I felt like I had no control and no power. I felt like a victim of the whole situation. I was miserable, scared and lonely.
I remember the day that I decided that I would reclaim every bit of power that I could. The sun was shining. The warm air floated in through the window. Geli and the baby were both sleeping and the other kids were occupied. I pulled out my camera to find something good, something beautiful, something that was full of life. The situation had taken so much from me, from our family. We were surrounded by the hardship and struggles ; but I was determined to balance the scales and shift my focus.
I couldn’t change the immediate situation but I could choose to look for and see the good things that were happening in spite of, or even as a result of the hardship. That was the day that I was reborn. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see it so clearly. It wasn’t an immediate change. It was a slow, gradual process but looking for the good. Searching for the light. Finding the joy even in the middle of the darkest times, was life changing for me.
There are studies about the practice of gratitude rewiring the brain. I didn’t know this at the time, I just knew that practicing gratitude was like air to my drowning soul.
It is a practice. It requires effort, at first; and then it becomes a part of you; a glorious, life giving, transformative part of your very being.
I’m not encouraging that you lie to yourself, or that you pretend that everything is perfect. BECAUSE IT’S NOT! These are tough times that we are living in. Acknowledging the difficulties and finding the joy are compatible.
What I am encouraging is a shift of mindset.
My kids and I are trapped in this house and fighting like idiots because they are anxious and uncertain; but I am so thankful that we have this time together and that we are healthy.
I didn’t get my complete order of food because of panic and hoarding and now I don’t have any orange juice or Mr. Noodles; but I am so thankful that we do have food to eat and that I have time to bake and make meals for my family.
I can’t go out and be with my friends right now; but I’m so thankful that we have technology that enables us to connect through the internet so I can still see and chat with them.
Even finding the beauty in little things, helps to shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have.
That tiny bud on the tree that’s just emerging shows us that everything moves according to seasons and where there is a winter time, that a spring will follow with new growth. That the desolation of winter is always followed by the glory of spring.
Food spilled on the floor by your children is so annoying but it also means that you have food for them to eat.
My windows might be dirty but the sunlight shining in, is glorious.
There is good. There is always good. Sometimes the good things are easy to find and sometimes you have search harder. What I know is that searching “the good” is life changing. I do find that if you can acknowledge what you see in a tangible way, it seems to imprint on your soul. Whether that’s making a list on a piece of paper or in a journal; taking a picture to save on your phone, sharing your photos or thoughts with a friend or posting on social media…..there is power in acknowledging the good. It encourages you and it encourages others.
This is why I choose Joy and why I encourage you to choose Joy, as well. There is so much benefit from a shift of focus and a bit of perspective, right now. We are all in this together.