I do wonder how it’s possible that I feel so relaxed, so happy and so at peace in the middle of a shelter-in mandate – a worldwide pandemic?? This question really does demand an answer to check my character, my soul health, my motivation that has led me to a place of peace in the midst of this.
Since the mandate to stay in and work remotely, I have felt a massive weight of expectations lifted from me. The world is focused on crisis, not concerned with me. What I’ve realized is that the weight of expectations I have been feeling for years are those I have put on myself. No one has done this to me. I’ve been aware of this weighted blanket tucked in securely all around the corners of my thinking in the past, but seemingly unable to lift it. I suppose I do care far too much about what people think of me, if I’m impressing them, if I’m doing enough. And all of a sudden, here I am single, empty-nest, sheltering-in alone with absolutely no one having any expectation of me that I do things for them, or be somewhere. Even in this moment, my mind is trying to pull on me…is there something I should be accomplishing, a task I should do, someone I should be contacting? Is it okay that I’m sitting here writing this to you? Is that enough? Am I enough?
I’ve always found a great sense of peace in my times alone when I could still my mind and just listen to sounds of nature. Just sit, and not have to listen to anything man-made while I relaxed, read or wrote. Currently where I live, if I open the window, I can hear the wind and birds. It’s like my whole self just melts into a lovely state of all-will-be-well. Perspective opens up, and I see more clearly. Stress starts to diminish, creativity starts flourishing, and it’s like my soul can see a big, huge horizon like looking over the blue ocean that has no end.
I’m an only child so I spent a lot of time alone growing up. Friendships and time with others have always been important to me though, and those who know me would call me out as extrovert, say that I’m a type-A personality. I’ve been tempted to think that of myself, many times. But it’s the times that I’m able to refresh alone that bolster me for such ongoing, expected, energetic interaction with friends. However, what continues to surprise me is the fact that I have now been sheltering-in for 3 weeks alone, and I’m not missing the social interaction yet. My soul and mind obviously still need more time to let themselves off the expectations hook.
Because I was an only child, when I had my own children, I was acutely awareof how naturally selfish I had been all my life. My first baby was born when I was 27 and I was met with this beautiful new level of love I had never experienced. I was head-over-heels in love with my husband, but there’s something about a baby that opens up a whole new place inside a woman. An intense, deep cavity that can be filled with more love, and more pain, that she ever thought possible. And so, that began my journey of constantly asking myself if I was being selfish, in every area, with every person, for the next 27 years.
With time, I came to believe that I should always be giving to everyone, in every situation. I started to believe that is how true love expresses itself for friends, family, community. And, although, yes, that is amazing and beautiful, it doesn’t mean that it is 100% of the time, or that I’m not a good person if I take time to do something for myself. Specifically, if I don’t take responsibility for making sure everyone else is okay. But, that right there is the stacking that began to take place in my mind, the thoughts that pulled me all around that made it difficult to just focus on a few needs in the moment, the question that kept tugging at me, telling me that I should be doing more.
My observation of myself during this shelter-in mandate has been astounding in this. I have put WAY TOO MUCH pressure on myself to make sure I’m thinking of everyone else… my kids, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my employees, my community, the world. In my mind, it was raised up like towers in a crowded city without the narrowest alley for me to hide in. I, of course, have done this to myself. And so here I sit, happy to not be able to go anywhere, see anyone, and EVEN not be able to schedule a fun event on the weekend with friends, because my mind needs even more rest than 3 weeks from any expectations.
Amazing what we do to ourselves isn’t it? It’s okay to recognize what you may need in this time of dealing with a worldwide transition. This is a traumatic event for everyone. I hope you can take time to think through what you need, and how you may be acting, and re-acting, to others, if you are sheltering-in with family. I guarantee that whatever you are feeling and recognizing about yourself goes deeper than just being stuck at home and thinking you’re just bored.