I am driving my kids to school and we are listening to the radio. Every station is abuzz with news that Alberta is entering Phase 2 of reopening. The hype and energy are pouring over the airways. New life and excitement is in the air. We are reopening!
I confess I am a little taken aback. I didn’t know! I’m carried along with the excitement for a bit. Though we have closed and reopened many times over these past 15 months, this does feel different. I’m not ready to say we’re at the end, but we’re closer than we have ever been and that is something worth celebrating. A listener comes on the radio to congratulate introverts for paving the way for us being at home these last 15 months and to sympathize with adjusting to reopening. A bit of unease well up in me, because it hits me that we are entering a transition, between what was and what will be.
We have all been through these transition times, from graduating High School (like many students are doing right now) into deciding our future, from being single to being in a relationship, from being in a relationship to being single, moving from one career to the next, from one stage of parenting to the next. These transition times feel to me like I’m floating. My feet are not planted anywhere, I’m suspended between two realities, not yet stepping out of one and not quite entering the next. Time moves slowly here and there is opportunity to look back on what has been with nostalgia, while also anticipating what lies ahead.
Looking back, I remember my family was getting ready to go to a car show on the Thursday before everything shut down. But panic was rising so we decided not to go, and instead went out and bought a new computer and computer desk, knowing that things were likely going to shut down and we wanted to be prepared for working and schooling from home. The next day everything changed.
I remember doom scrolling through news articles, and having troubles sleeping as a result. I remember doing science experiments with my son everyday while he wrapped up his last year of elementary school online. I remember wearing gloves and wiping down my groceries after bringing them home, when we weren’t sure how this virus spread. I recall the sadness of not seeing family over the holidays, and missing out on vacations we had planned. I remember moments of sheer boredom. Along with those memories, I have treasured the new, relaxed, family oriented rhythms we’ve created, and the new recipes we’ve tried. The investment we made in a hot tub has been brilliant, for late night chats with jokes and laughter. I don’t think we’ve ever laughed this much!
In this in-between space as I reflect back I recall the challenges and struggles and the blessings and new perspectives. What do you remember?
As I look ahead to the great reopening, I hold both eager anticipation and fear and trepidation. Thinking about hanging out with people again is SO exciting. I’ve missed people! It’s also a bit unnerving. What am I comfortable with within these new guidelines? What is ok, when and how? Will I get nervous when someone gets too close? Will I unknowingly step back when I hear someone cough? Yay, I can go to the movies again. How do I feel about that? The Stampede is coming to town, will we go? I’d love to, but…
These are my thoughts and my feelings, and though you may relate to some, you may not relate to all. We are all going to have different thoughts and opinions on these subjects. Whatever you think and feel through this transition time is valid. It is natural to feel excited and/or wary. It’s normal to want to grab your friends and head to a restaurant, then have trepidation about it. Every thought and every feeling is legitimate and comes from a valid place within you, and it’s ok to think and feel what you will.
If living through a pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that I have permission to take things one day at a time. What am I excited about today? What do I long to do today? What am I comfortable with today? Start today, to honor every thought, response and emotion, as you remember what has been, and anticipate what will be. But take things one step at a time. That one step may be lingering here a little longer; sitting on the sofa with a good book and enjoying the quiet before your kids are home for summer break. That one step may be gathering friends for a BBQ to celebrate. It may be booking a much needed getaway. You do you!
Then, go and set a calendar reminder for 2 weeks from now, and check in to see how far you come. Don’t allow guilt, regret or comparison to run the show as you look back, appreciate every step you have taken in those 2 weeks to get you where you are at present, and take some time to celebrate. You have permission to make this transition however quickly, or gradually you choose, while honoring those around you. Be gentle with yourself. This is new territory. You do you!