If you would have told me a year ago that COVID-19 would force schools to close, businesses to shut their doors and toilet paper to become the hottest commodity around, I would have laughed. Then on top of that, it wouldn’t just last for a few weeks or even a few months, but a year and beyond…I would have called you crazy.
And yet here we are.
It’s funny when you think of all the hope we clung to back in the early (naïve) days of pandemic life. I remember hoping my son‘s birthday last April would not be affected – which it was. Then I hoped he’d get a chance to go back to school before the end of the term – which he didn’t. Then I hoped the concerts I had planned in the summer would go ahead – they were cancelled. Then I hoped our summer trips would be salvaged – Not. One. Single. Trip.
I was still fairly positive in the beginning though, I really was. I “counted my blessings” as the saying goes. I wrote about Silver Linings and thought ahead to what still could be. Yet as the virus continued to spread and the global toll became more apparent, it became increasingly difficult to remain that way. Seeing the sickness and death toll rise, the loss of jobs and economic hardship, the increase in anti-Asian racism, the absurd arguments against masks and social distance mandates and the politicization about ALL of it has been disheartening to say the least.
On a personal level, it was a mixed bag as well. I went from teaching in person to online to unemployed to comfortably employed to sporadically employed to UGH. Despite my job woes, I had a few minor writing victories though. With my book being released at the onset of the pandemic, I was unable to do any in-person promotions, but I was able to sell some copies online and get a few copies in local bookstores. Sure, those bookstores are closed and my copies are likely covered in cob webs, but they are there. I also wrote a chapter about travel for the book discussing life After the Pandemic, and I had an article published in Today’s Parent about my thoughts on my son’s Birth Mother. So, not too shabby on the newbie writer front, I suppose.
The most challenging aspect, however, in regards to all things COVID-life – and I know for others too – has been the emotional toll, more specifically, the isolation. As a solo parent with little outside help, being cooped up with a rambunctious six-year old has been less than ideal for us both. Sure, he is the happiest human around and wants nothing more than to be with me every waking moment, but he still needs to be around other people, especially other kids. I’ve also found the lack of connection with friends and family to be hard, which is a bit ironic since I lived out of my home city for 17 years. I think for me, it’s the forced isolation and adjustment, the lack of control in it all that’s been so hard. You other Type A personalities will relate to that, I’m sure.
So I’ve decided it’s time to be proactive and make some changes on my own terms, for the good of everything in my life. This has got me thinking a lot about the notion of change. We all periodically make changes – some positive, some negative, some voluntary, some forced upon us. But what is it about change that is so scary, even if it’s the good kind? Change forces us to reset, to think about the unknown as well as the ownership of decisions, the possibility of regret, and the rarity of take-backs. All pretty frightening, I must say. However, change is the killer of stagnation and if you’re like me, that’s even scarier.
There is a great quote by author Fay Weldon who said “If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens”, which I think about every time I mull over the changes that I (or perhaps the universe) have decided to make in my life. And after this past year of blaaah-ness, there are plenty I feel on the horizon. Some are big, some are small, some might not be realistic, but I’ve decided they are necessary for me and my son.
The lack of stability in my career has thrown me for a loop to say the least. I still love to teach and think it can be a good profession but just not where I live, not right now. This got me thinking about reorganizing and rejigging, so it looks like I might be heading back to school yet again and changing careers at the ripe old age of 405. I’m nervous and am a bit daunted by it all, but I see it as the right thing to do.
And it seems I’m not alone on this one either. Currently experts in Canada believe that many jobs lost due to the pandemic may never come back and what remains may undergo a Job Shift whereby a large number of jobs will be reallocated from some parts of the economy to others.
And let’s face it, resetting is nothing new. Less than a century ago, our grandparents got through WWII and led the immigration boom out of Europe afterwards. In fact, my own grandfather came from England in the early 1960s to settle in little ol’ Windsor, Ontario and work in a factory. He then brought over his wife and sixty kids (okay, it was only six but probably felt like sixty at times) BY SHIP a few years later. In fact, between 1946 and 1953 there were 750,000 Europeans who immigrated to Canada, thus starting new lives.
To date, there has been almost 25,000 COVID deaths in Canada, over three million worldwide, yet glimmers of hope are starting to appear. Yes, our numbers aren’t great and we are in the midst of our third lockdown here in Ontario, but it has to end sooner or later, right? Right!?! Vaccines are starting to take shape in Canada despite a rocky rollout. But people are being vaccinated. People that I care about are being vaccinated, and I hope within a few
million years months I will be as well.
My son took having his second pandemic birthday in stride. He’s rocking online school in ways I didn’t think were possible. Spring is in my part of the world and disinfectant wipes are back on grocery store shelves (for now). I’ve started exercising again. I have connected with friends around the world, and I have mastered the art of Zoom drinks with friends.
So perhaps there is something to having and actually maintaining a positive attitude (who knew!?!) and having faith that the universe will give you what you can handle and more importantly, what you need. It’s not all roses and unicorns; many days I languish through it, but the light at the end of the tunnel is there. Sometimes you might need to squint or use a enormous magnifying glass to see it, but there is light.
What have you had to reset?
What could you reset in your life if you had to?