Today is all we have to work with, while memories of the past or worries of the future, or concern about the situations around us might distress us, today is the day where we can look up and do that one small thing that will make a difference, and if we are gifted with a tomorrow, we can do what we can again.
Initially all the changes we faced in 2020 when the pandemic really started to impact our lives and shape our day to day realities, left many of us in a ‘survival mode’.
We were compelled into thinking about the immediate practicalities and concerns we needed to get to grips with in order to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe.
I’m sure we all remember the news articles and ‘toilet paper-gate’ in those early days when people were struck with panic and started hoarding essentials for fear of shortages amid the lockdown.
I realise that for many people things are by no means easy now, but in general in a variety of countries we have now established ways and means of managing these new day to day realities of living life in a pandemic.
Working from home has become a default for many people, even if we are still not fully equipped and established quite yet. Home education is a ‘new norm’ for some, and it’s no longer a novelty or new inconvenience to be ordering groceries and then spending our time carefully disinfecting them. These are all part of the rhythm of our new lives, as is social distancing, delivery people leaving parcels on our door steps rather than handing them to us, and so forth.
Some people in society are really hard pressed, such as those working in the ICU, people facing abuse in other frontline settings such as shop staff, and those for whom Covid-19 has had a knock on effect upon their finances, family situation and living situations. Some have become homeless while others are going to food banks for the first time.
I suspect that for many of us with the time to read and write blogs, we may be in a more comfortable situation not living hand-to-mouth on a day to day basis and not having to worry about where we will live next month.
For those of us who are no longer in pandemic-survival-mode, and for those of us who still are, we all have the opportunity to dig deeper and work on our character.
We are being pressed into thinking about many things, some of which many of us prefer to avoid in the general day to day run of life. Death and what happens next is one that is key to think about. I personally believe that there will be a judgement, and the only way to be right with God is by seeking His forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ. That’s the biggest eternal need of all. Yet we also have other issues that we need to consider such as how we think of and relate to others, how we use our time, and whether we are developing ourselves in a way that will bring kindness into the world around us. We may be humbled by our circumstances and this may open opportunities for us to realise more of our humanity, our need and to develop thankfulness, perseverance and resilience.
So wherever you find yourself today, think of the ways in which you can be developing your character in this pandemic. Think of the person you are and want to become, and how you can use all of your experiences for the greater good, even and perhaps especially those which have been difficult for you.
Take care, as always friends, stay safe and never give up. x
*Do you want to survive or thrive in lockdown?*
We’re all somewhat anxiously finding ways to adjust to this new and unwanted ‘normal’. While we may be able to enjoy more time at home, and have more time to do things, it is under awful circumstances, and so it can be hard to settle and to concentrate on anything much.
We all have a choice here. To survive or thrive in lockdown. The third option is to go under, and that’s not a pleasant place to be. Many of us will have experienced times in our lives that have felt dark, scary and as if things are falling in upon us. We need to be strong and not let that be an option here. My heart goes out to those who are living in terrible domestic situations or even homeless in this time, such that ‘thriving’ isn’t really an option. But for the rest of us who are safe at home, we do have options.
Unless we have vision, we’re going to simply drift along, trying to muddle through each day as best as we can. If you want to thrive in this situation, you’re going to have to put your mind to it. We’re part of a unique time in history, and I personally don’t want my ‘legacy’ or ‘fruit’ of this season to be merely having spent all of my time playing computer games, watching films, or sharing random videos on social media. Do you? We need to step up if we want more than that for ourselves and our communities.
If you’re in this with me, then I encourage you to write down at least three things that you want to accomplish, work on, or build up during this time. You don’t need to share it with anyone, but you do need to be clear about what these things are. That way, even if you don’t have a solid routine (and who does in a time like this anyway?), you can still ‘chip away’ at things little by little, day by day, moving purposefully and with focus and direction.
Perhaps once you’ve written them down, share them with at least one other person, or simply display them somewhere for you to see and to keep yourself accountable by.
It can also help us to focus so that we don’t give in to the stress, sadness and negativity of this situation.
What about you? What focus will you have to help you more than just ‘muddle through’ this stressful and challenging time?
Learn as if you’re going to teach.
The funny thing about life is that even though we all know and have heard and see it vibrantly displayed in the lives of young children, that there is a joy and freedom from living in the moment that we can’t find if we are constantly overthinking things, we still know that life has a forward momentum and we need to go with it.
We can be still…but for a moment. I love to sit at a high point of the park overlooking the city, and just be still, to pause, reflect and just ‘be’. And yet, I know I will have to get up again, my feet will keep walking and I will have to move from the stillness and from one moment to the next. The gentle or fast paced momentum of life is still a momentum that no one can escape.
You know the saying, ‘Time and tide wait for no man’. Perhaps you are also familiar with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60:
This time of year could be the perfect opportunity for you to experience personal growth, make new connections and step out of your comfort zone. It could also simply mean giving yourself the chance to do something that you enjoy but usually don’t make time for due to competing priorities, or just the ‘hum drum’ of letting daily life trundle along without being too aware of your choices and chances.
Maybe, like me, you’ve had to work hard at overcoming anxiety. Perhaps there is something you’d like to do, some event you’d like to attend, or some new people you’d like to connect with – BUT you are allowing anxious thoughts to talk you out of giving it a go.
Maybe you’re brimming with confidence but are used to doing the ‘same old, same old’ that you haven’t even thought of saying ‘yes’ to that new opportunity.
Perhaps there are people, causes or needs that you can give your time to, to alleviate someone else’s burden at this time of year.
Wherever you find yourself, think about some of the opportunities in your life coming up that you might automatically say ‘no’ to.
Think of whether it is a good and positive opportunity in your life, and if it doesn’t compete with other more important things, and if it ‘ticks these boxes’ and it is something you actually think you can benefit from doing, then try saying ‘yes’.
Who knows where that simple ‘yes’ might take you, and what further doors of opportunity and friendship it might open…..
Seek out new challenges and opportunities for personal growth.
It’s the first of the month, and a new month means new potential, so stay positive and get planning!
Today is a brand new day – what are you going to do with it?
Life as it happens to be, just now, seems to be opening up doors of new opportunities to me. Little by little, things that make for my health and wellbeing seem to be falling into place, and I am grateful. After many tough times with my health, including panic attacks at work, and after several meetings, assessments, and recommendations for reasonable adjustments, I have been moved out from the open floor into a little corner room by myself, with big glass windows, and a view of trees and sky, and the main road. Today it is a rare bright and sunny day, and I am sitting at lunchtime in my little sunny spot, and for the first time in a long time at work, my brain, my nervous system, and all that has been distressed, is being given some relief and a chance to heal, recover, and grow stronger. And at this time new work projects and creative ventures are opening up to me at work and I am finding myself feeling not only ‘safer’ but more engaged, interested and happier in the challenge.
I don’t know about you, but it can be all too easy to get ‘stuck in a rut’ whether in work, in our personal lives, with how we spend our ‘down time’, and sometimes it feels like we are just dragging ourselves through our days, feeling bored and uninspired. It’s not a great place to be. Sometimes we just have to ‘do what we have to do’ to keep things ticking over, and we may not be able to change much about a situation we are in other than our thoughts, attitudes and perspective towards it. However, as important as it is to do that ‘inner ground work’ to encourage ourselves to be positive, perhaps we are allowing ourselves to believe that we can’t make a change. That things have always been done a certain way and so we just do the expected to fit in with the ‘tried and tested’ rather than challenging ourselves and others with the possibilities to innovate.
One of the projects I am embarking upon at the moment comes from the innovative idea of a colleague to introduce something new into our organisation that hasn’t been done before. They were met with an initial ‘resistance’ as their proposal is unfamiliar territory to management who are perhaps a bit more ‘old school’ in their thinking. I was asked to conduct some research into whether and why this would be a good idea for the organisation, providing the formal backing and facts and figures to validate this great idea from my colleague – the paper is going straight to senior management having been received well at a lower level, and now I am getting the chance to be part of the creative team to design, produce and implement this new idea, a team which I’ve wanted to be part of for a long while now, because I am both a very creative and analytical person, but need creativity in my life and a variety of outlets in order to thrive, and not just survive or go through the motions.
The reason I was asked to do this piece of work is because I volunteered to help out other teams – I asked my boss if I could broaden my skillset and because I am industrious, fast and efficient in providing a high quality of work for him, he knew there’s capacity for me to do more. Sure, there are no financial rewards that go along with this additional work, but there are the rewards of satisfaction of developing my skills, engaging my creativity and working with other inspired individuals – in a word, ‘fulfilment’. My boss therefore told a couple of fellow managers in two other teams that I was available to help out, and so the knock on effect has been new opportunities and connecting with other people with innovative ideas.
Sometimes we find ourselves wishing for a change, but not taking the first step to realise that maybe it is us that needs to do something about it. Change and new challenges or opportunities may not be handed to us on a plate, but we can take our inspiring ideas, and pitch them to the people with the power to make those changes. We might be knocked back, maybe at first, but at least we tried. So if you are looking for variety, more interesting challenges, and opportunities for creativity, maybe it is a gift you have to give yourself – in whatever area of your life – challenge yourself to create a new challenge, to ask new questions, and to break new ground – you may just find you really enjoy the opportunities that you yourself create! 🙂