Let me start by apologizing about being MIA for the summer but we have been busy and before I knew it bam(!) 2 months have passed, and I am still appreciating the amazing summer we had, which is a stark contrast to the last 2 summers where we have done a whole lot of nothing but puzzles and working around the house. And, trying to find a silver lining in the pandemic while things are still so volatile and out of control is enough to make you question if there really are any silver linings at all. But I’m here to say, yes, yes there are.
I feel like we woke up in an alternate reality, probably because that is indeed what has happened. I have a difficult time believing what has transpired over the past 18 months or that we’re still facing shutdowns, continued isolation and distance to the lives we have once enjoyed — we’re still mostly managing and with the odd exception, people are generally responding respectively and responsibly. After all, I am still able to walk outside, go camping, run to the store, see my family, but obviously, there are some limitations to what we do now or more so, how we do it, however, I know hope that this won’t last forever. Anyway, that’s what I tell myself as I mask up to go to the store or scrub and sanitize my hands for the 40th time today. It was during these 18 months that I have had time to reflect on some of the Silver Linings I have found from being sheltered in place during a pandemic so I thought I would share them with you today.
Kindness matters: I have learned that even though face to face interaction with our family wasn’t often possible, that text or call to my family meant a lot to both them and me. I realized how important it is just to touch bases to see how the people I love are doing, after all, this was a tough time for everyone (particularly our little people), they didn’t understand why they couldn’t pop over to Grandma and Poppas place like they have always been able to do. And, while I have always been appreciative for the care that our medical professionals give day in and day out, I also found compassion for the grocery store clerk or delivery person who was risking their health to be sure that people received what they needed to get through this difficult time. And I watched with disappointment how this pandemic brought out the less than becoming sides of many people, for whatever reason and I knew that wasn’t how I wanted to be. I think I am kinder now, and my views and empathy for others have become more balanced as I have realized people are more vulnerable than many of them realized, me included. And while it’s been a tough 18 months, I am hopeful that we (the world) will come out of this pandemic better than when it started. With knowledge comes power and when you know better, you do better.
There is something to be said about spending some time alone: Pre-pandemic, I would describe myself as a social person to a point. At the very least, while I was working, I was very sociable. I had my friends from work that I would have lunch with and I had a few friends in town that we would go out with (until they moved away, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE)! However, post-Pandemic and years living with my Multiple Sclerosis, I know I’m a different person than I once was. I would even go as far to say a better and more rounded version of myself. But I have also discovered I’m not so bad to hang out with and that I don’t mind my own company, my own time and space, and that alone time has helped me discover a few new passions like gardening, cooking and blogging.
There are benefits to slowing down: Although I haven’t been working for the past 5 years due to MS, I still had routine. But I found that not being able to do my “normal” activities gave me the break I didn’t know I needed. I wasn’t constantly rushing around trying to get this done or make it to that appointment, appointments came to me, which I am quite happy with. Groceries were delivered, me and the Purolator man (who, by the way is a Denver Bronco fan, making him the 3rd person on an island with a population of over 846,000 who share the beloved Bronco fan designation), chit chatted from the deck when he would drop off my 3rd package from Amazon that week. I was able to slow down and be more intentional with my time and energy allotment. This slow down meant that I had time to listen to myself and to hear what I needed. I started reading more, I started cooking and exploring new recipes and I spent time doing jigsaw puzzles – all things that helped improve both my mental and physical health. This slow down meant I could think thoroughly about what I wanted or needed to do for myself. Throughout my journey with Multiple Sclerosis, I have made many changes over the years in respect to managing my mental and physical health, I think the pandemic was yet another re-set button for me.
There’s never a bad time to make changes in your life: For me, I would say that Covid has taught me that it is possible to make changes to your life and leap into the unknown, even when everything around you and all the stability we seek from society has been shaken to the core. We (my husband & I) made some lifestyle changes, changes in our home, and we took on some projects that needed to be done and we survived and I would say at times, we even thrived. Covid has taught me that I am more resilient than I ever believed and that my health and family are truly the most important and precious things in the world to me.
It’s OK to take a step (or ten) back: The stress of the pandemic took a toll on my mental and physical health and the ability to sometimes accomplish my goals. I struggled with my MS at tines, I struggled watching my children and their families trying to figure this new normal out, I struggled watching my husband with his own chronic illness, so to put it mildly, much of the past 18 months have been a struggle. But during this time, I was forced to take a step back and give myself some grace to evaluate what I can and cannot handle instead of just powering through like a bull in a china shop. That has been a big part of trying to find balance in my personal life.
I learned the importance of celebrating the little things: I’ve usually considered myself a glass ½ full kind of a person, but self-isolation was tough. It was difficult to find joy at times in the bleakness that semi lock downs, restrictions and social distancing brought to my world, as I am sure it did to everyone’s world. So, I realized that it was more important than ever to celebrate the little victories like finding the missing piece to a puzzle that evaded me for a week or cleaning out the junk drawer and sending a big pile of goodies to the local thrift store. These all became celebratory moments for me.
I realized that my opinion is just that…….MY opinion: Contrary to how I would like it to be, my opinion isn’t reality for Tom, Dick, Sally, Jeannie or Harry. My point is, there are many opinions, beliefs, realities for every single person in the world and there is just as much data to prove anyones theories, even when they are contradictory to my own – and this pandemic has been a reality check for me in regards to my own humble opinion. Me stating my own personal opinion on Social Media particularly, usually gets me sh&% on by people who think I am stupid, uneducated, a sheep, etc and I’m so over it. Everyone should just do their own research and I’ve (for the most part), realized the benefit to my own mental health of just scrolling on by when I see something I don’t agree with. That being said, there are times I just have to speak up or risk biting by own tongue off, so it’s important to choose your battles wisely. Have you ever heard the saying “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”? Those words are ringing in my ear each and every day I open a Social Media app.
Whether we can agree or agree to disagree with what “this” is, we are all in it together. We are trying to keep it all together, trying to figure out how we move forward in a world that is unlike we’ve ever seen before. But there is one thing I am confident in and that is that eventually, things will settle down and when that time comes, my hope is that I will hurry less, reach out more, honk and wave with my middle finger less and laugh more — and greet each day with greater gratitude than I did the day before. If that’s not the ultimate silver lining, I don’t know what is.
Carrot Pineapple Muffins
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Ginger
- ½ Cup Carrots Shredded
- ½ Cup Raisins
- 1 Cup Pineapple Crushed with juice
- 2 Large Eggs
- ½ Cup Butter Melted
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- ½ Cup Shredded Coconut Optional
- Preheat oven to 350°Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add carrots, raisins & coconut (if using). Stir to combine.
- In small bowl, mix pineapple, eggs, butter & vanilla.
- Make well in dry ingredients and add pineapple mixture stirring until just blended (don't over mix!).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.