I like to think about the social distancing experience as a time when the world stepped back. We paused. We took a big deep breath and were forced to look at what we were doing on auto-pilot almost every day leading up to this point the world stopped. Many realized we weren’t really living and instead had become so absorbed in technology, activities and even relationships that were not fulfilling or supportive of who we are and we didn’t know what to do with our time now. We faced restlessness, concern for our future and even boredom among now quiet streets and empty stores.
There was a great need to be apart for protection and health during this time but there was also a greater need underlying it all. We needed to reclaim our home freedom. We were so overdue for this massive time out to redefine what living in a modern society looks like and what it all means. Gone was the busy and noise that had claimed so much of our attention that we could really define what was important. While many took this time as a struggle many more saw it as a chance to do things they love, create, develop and reset their journey to fit them better. There were many ordinances and rules applied but at the same time there was tremendous freedom.
Home freedom that most of us have not experienced to this level ever before.
During the social distancing this year I think a lot of us learned new ways to support every day living needs. We pulled out old recipes to make things from scratch and looked at our dinner tables with new found appreciation for the food and family present there. We spent time with those we love the most and connected virtually with those we couldn’t be near. The experience gave us perspective for the relationships and things we can easily take advantage of over time. It was a time for togetherness and connection on a new level that I believe all of us desperately needed.
During this time my family and I were like other families dealing with working and school. We watched our investments and retirement accounts sink and worried about how we would get what we needed for food and supplies. What I noticed however was we weren’t just binge watching as much TV as I thought we would. We weren’t on our devices as much as I expected either. We were working in the yard, playing board and card games. We were creating meals together and taking care of chores together. We were telling each other jokes and talking about what was going on in the world. I consider us a family that already practiced good family time but this reminded me that even we could do more.
I didn’t think of this experience as being stuck at home but rather of being home free. Life was stressful in new ways but I realized there were things that I was self-imposing stress on myself that didn’t matter now. I didn’t see it as a sentence or punishment but rather a time to get back to what was really important in my life. I could check in and validate if what I was doing was getting me where I wanted to go or if I was just floating along in life. It was a freedom I wasn’t expecting to realize and yet it was one of the most precious gifts from a horrible situation. This was a time to claim what we wanted our lives to truly be like and set in motion how to accomplish that. I became excited to see what others were going to emerge feeling inspired to do in their lives.
My creativity surged and my energy was higher during this time. Even though I was deeply concerned about the economy, our family’s financial future and our health I could sleep. I felt in control of using this time to explore what was next for me and my family. I found more and more reasons to spend this time considering what else we could do to live more naturally from this experience. How could we keep the good we experienced and apply them to every day life? How could we hold onto not letting auto-pilot living recapture us again?
It’s so easy to give up our sense of freedom when meeting endless demands on our time and money. I know how easily I have fallen into it despite saying I would be more mindful against it or what I was doing wasn’t an option. Yet this time social distancing proved how wrong some of my thinking on these things could be. Here’s some of the ways I found it was happening to me:
Working extra hours. It’s so easy for me to work longer hours since I work at home but sometimes I can let that be my new norm missing out on doing things that are also important like exercising, having some downtime and connecting with family. I have really worked to challenge myself to determine if working extra is really necessary or if it’s just my incessant need to knock one more thing off my to-do list and it could actually wait
Speaking of to-do lists, I have also worked to reduce what ends up on my list and questioning my personal expectations of when it gets done. It feels incredible to me when the to-do list gets done but I am accepting that sometimes things don’t belong on it and it’s ok if it’s not all done in a single day
Now that I know my family can do well with limiting technology I’m including more invitations for us to play games and do things outside of watching movies more often. It’s incredible to have that connection with them with laughs and fun for things that will be much more memorable than a movie
I realized there is even more room for us to cut back spending and align with more natural products to save money. We put in a veggie garden this year and didn’t really miss the eating out that we were doing before social distancing
Cleaning the house doesn’t have to be painful and a dreaded chore. It is a blessing to have the home we do and I love it here so of course I want it to look it’s best and be comfortable for me and my family
In the end many things stayed the same but I saw new opportunities to change how I was living to not only live more naturally but aligned closer to things that are important to me.
How are you applying the experiences of social distancing to your new normal?
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