Hello and long time no write .. I know!! It really has been a while! The last couple of months have been a bit of blur and even though i had things i could write about i just never could gather all those of thoughts down coherently. For me March 2020 felt like 365 days packed into 31 days and April,May & June all just blended into each other with no concept of when one month started or ended.
I know many of us especially those of us who are master planners ( proud club member here) had goals,plans in our ‘New decade New year ‘ journals. I am a journal collector & had bought all sort of pretty planners for various areas of my life raring to start ticking them off ( I love a tick box LOL).
So imagine my discomfort and dismay when the whirlwind that was 2020 started to unravel and show me that you can plan all you want but you really are not in control.
And that for me has been the gift of 2020. It sounds odd doesn’t it? How can a period where there has been so much loss, anxiety, uncertainty, pain and an invisible virus be a gift? At this point i would like to say i am never one to minimise pain,loss or suffering. I have had periods of lament & very deep reflections in this period. I have felt dismayed, bewildered, helpless and even sometimes angry. I mean, just think of the various situations that we have had to adapt & face up to;
- Learning how to be a year 3 maths teacher while being in a zillion conference calls at work
- Knowing people who lost loved ones & could not even attend their funerals
- Millions of people losing jobs all over the world
- Businesses collapsing or going into administration
- The glaring effects of economic inequality all over the world with people having to choose between feeding their children or getting ill
- The images from various parts of the world that highlight how far we still are from living in an equal & just world
- Moving social interaction to a virtual world (with a few christenings,birthday parties and quiz nights thrown in for good measure)
- And the most bizarre for me; MASKS becoming a fashion accessory!
Due to some of this & a host of other things,a lot of people have actually ‘cancelled’ 2020. And I will admit that I also have uttered ‘Phew,2020 can you calm down please’ or even ‘Lord just help us to get to 2021’ at certain points.
But upon a lot of reflection I have come to the conclusion that like most things in life, there is always a glimmer of light even in the darkest situations. Just picture the twinkle of a star on a very dark night. Think of how dark it must be in a cocoon before a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This quote by Paul Coelho sums up why i think 2020 still has alot to give;
“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle“
Yes it appears that days are rolling into the other but as the quote above indicates, there are still miracles & ‘gifts’ in every single one of them. Maybe not in the way that we would have planned but they are there nonetheless. Here are a few of the ‘gifts’ that I have unwrapped in 2020;
The ‘gift’ of slowing down & presence with family– Yes, there were days when it was a bit much. Home schooling has been an experience! And i miss having time to myself on my commute to work, out with friends or even an empty house when the children are in school. Despite all of these though, i have really appreciated the gift given to us all to just stop & breathe.We might not have chosen or planned for this but we will surely remember 2020 as that year where we spent more time with our family .It has made me realise that i can enjoy my children without being on the endless hamster wheel of activities. We literarily had NO days off. We are definitely cutting back on some extra curricular activities even after all of this is over. Making banana bread & cooking are also skills and you never know I could be raising the winner of Masterchef 2032.
The ‘gift’ of truly understanding needs vs wants – We all have those things that we thought we could not do without. For me it was things like getting my hair washed in the salon, having my eyebrows threaded, facials & manicures etc And yes i miss every single one of those things(my eyebrows are crying) but it did become obvious that those things though nice are not really as essential as i once thought them to be. The gift for me here is facing up to the reality that i can no longer take some of these things for granted. At a time when it has been a struggle for most people to even afford the basic necessities of life,it has reminded me to be even more grateful for all that i have & complain less when i do not seem to be getting what i want. Its given me perspective & made me realise that we really do not need as much as we think we do. I have realised that I can do without some of those ‘wants’ so I can meet the ‘needs’ of others.
The ‘gift’ of flexibility – Like i said earlier, i love planning & i am a massive creature of habit. I mean before the lock down, i could almost tell you what i would be eating, wearing or doing for the next four weeks. So believe me when i say I really struggled with the disruption to my routine. And that is where this gift comes in, i have had to learn how to be flexible in managing my expectations & setting priorities. Yes, I still have some sort of routine in place( cant cope without them), however i have learnt to embrace being flexible about how i achieve them. You should have seen my home school schedule on the 23rd of March. I am literally laughing out loud thinking about how unrealistic I was to think that an 8 yr old would act like home was school.
It has been a year of so many personal lessons & revelations and more importantly for me it has reminded me to do what i can, when i can as you can never know what the next day is going to bring. I looked back at some actions that i took last year and was glad that i did not postpone them. And there have been those where i procrastinated when i shouldn’t have and will now have to face the consequences due to things out of my own control. I will call this gift – JUST DO IT!
It has been a year that has allowed us to confront injustices and issues that have festered below the surface for years in ways that we previously have been unable to. I have had conversations in the last 4 weeks that I never could have predicted having in January. It is still early days and I am very cautious in my optimism, that said I am holding up faith & hope for lasting change and a more equitable future for our children.
“Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change”- Martin Luther King Jnr
2020 has given us the gift of embracing change faster than we normally would.It has shown us how resilient we can be when we have no other choice. I mean most churches went from having physical church services to an online space in less than 7 days. For someone who works in the digital transformation & change space, i can tell you that is no mean feat especially for an institution that is not known for implementing fast paced change.
“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future” -John F. Kennedy
The one thought I would like to leave with you as we go into the next half of 2020 is to look out for those ‘gifts’ that it will bring even if they come in a wrapper that you least expect or recognise.
Don’t ‘cancel’ 2020 ! Lets give the next 6 months a chance you just might never know what you will unwrap.
Thank you so much for reading and have a lovely week and July ahead.