I was standing on my balcony talking to a good friend of mine earlier this week, and at one point in the conversation he commented,
“You know, I noticed that you’ve been sighing a lot during this conversation. Why is that?”
I’ve been sighing a lot these days. During FaceTime visits with family, Zoom meetings with colleagues, and Google Hangouts with friends, at some point in the conversation I’ll fill the silence by shrugging my shoulders and sighing. What else can you do?
A lot has changed in the past few weeks, and the change seems to be coming faster each day. Decisions that used to be simple, like when to go to the grocery store or what to do to keep the kids busy, are starting to feel a little more complicated. Now it seems like every little decision I make affects not just myself but my family, my community, and America.
And a lot of the goals I set in 2020 have been completely derailed. Drinking has seen an uptick. I haven’t been working out as much while I figure out what “working out” looks like now. Liz and I were off to a good start going on more dates in 2020, but who knows when we’ll be able to go to a restaurant again? Although I will say that keeping the car clean has been a lot easier since the shelter-in-place order. Silver linings.
But there’s one area in particular where the wheels are really starting to fall off: my morning routine. The routine I described in October, which involved working out, meditating, reading a book, planning my day, and getting into the office with a cup of coffee by 7:45, seems a far cry from what I’m doing now. These days jeans are formal wear, meditating is non-existent, and reading a book has been replaced with a 24-hour news cycle revolving around one, single story.
Some of my struggles are more practical. The gym is closed – and my “home gym” consists of two 15 lb dumbbells in our dining room/kitchen/family room. And I really took for granted how helpful was to have time to myself during my commute – I don’t really have that now. Some real pivoting is in order in some cases.
But other struggles are harder to tie to specific external circumstances. Take snacking, for example. What is going on with that??? The snacking is getting out of control. I stopped doing intermittent fasting, and now I literally just walk around the house eating things, opening up and shutting cupboards and refrigerator doors again and again hoping to find… what exactly? Comfort I guess.
And isn’t that understandable at this time? Let me hit the pause button and say unequivocally that yes, it is. If you’re struggling with something similar, let me just say that it’s OK in my book. We’re all dealing with this in different ways, and I don’t think there’s a “right way” to be handling this right now. Still, it brings up an important dichotomy that I’m having trouble with these days:
I want to practice self-acceptance, but not at the expense of personal growth.
So how do I do that? How do I reconcile devouring an entire sleeve of Oreos that were supposed to be for the kids but Liz left them on the counter so they’re gone now?
Maintaining order where we can is important now more than ever as we collectively navigate this time of crisis. At the same time, we have to forgive ourselves. Two of my friends have recently used the word “grace” to describe this. It’s not a word I typically use, but I might pick it up. We could all use a little grace during this time. At the end of the day, it’s a balancing act. I need to forgive myself for the past without encouraging similar behavior in the future.
So this month, let’s focus on the present, and what we can do in the here and now to get things trending in the right direction again. I’m still convinced we can Do Better This Year, we just have to get things back on track, starting with where we have the most control. For me, that would be the alarm clock.