I can vividly remember back in January 2020, when my husband was trying to tell me about a virus spreading in Wuhan, China. He seemed concerned as he rattled off the daily numbers, which were in the single digits. No matter how many times I ignored him, he just kept on.
My annoyed response, as I paused my Real Housewives episode for the umpteenth time, was something along the lines of "I don't give a Wuhan F#&@ about a virus in China!"
Fast forward to January 2021, and we can all agree my comment did not age well. In my defense, I don't think any of us saw THAT coming. It only took a global health pandemic and quarantining to make me realize that I was doing life all wrong. Being at home forced me to break bad habits, address character flaws, and develop new ways. My routine was completely reimagined, turning the kitchen table into a classroom and pushing my heart to its limit. The past year was filled with life-altering changes and far-reaching lessons.
The pandemic broke my old, unhealthy habits and replaced them with a new, healthier lifestyle.
I learned to be more aware of my friends and neighbors than ever before! We have to take care of each other and look out for our community. Pre-pandemic, I didn't think much of going to work or social functions with a little cold or if I was feeling kind of under-the-weather. This year has been an important reminder, for me at least, that it's okay to stay home and take care of myself when sick. The office isn't going to fall apart just because I miss a day. (Totally preaching to myself here!) By taking care of our own health, we are actually better protecting our community.
My retail therapy habit became painfully clear during the pandemic. Weekends used to be filled with shopping, usually starting at Target then browsing all of my favorite stores. I rarely needed anything at all, but always left with a buggy full of goodies. Going out with friends? New outfit for that! Date night with my husband? New outfit. Weekend trip with the family? New swimsuits, shoes and accessories, please! Literally just wasting money! Going from 100 to 0 made me acknowledge that this terrible habit had to stop for good. I'm proud to say that I haven't been sucked back in and am now 12 months retail therapy "sober." Life-changing!
I never truly grasped how stuck in my own little bubble I was until it popped. Have you ever seen a kid try to blow a bubble with their gum and it ends up all over their face? That's how I felt when it hit me how caught up on myself and unaware of the rest of the world I had been. It was humbling to notice the issues going on that I had simply not given the time of day because I wasn't personally affected by them. I will forever be grateful for the reality check the pandemic delivered that busted my comfortable bubble. (See We Repeat What We Do Not Repair for more on this journey.)
Expressing gratitude is not something I did much of before the pandemic. Sure I appreciated nice gestures, but I didn't always recognize them. We saw people cheer for and thank complete strangers, providing encouragement to our healthcare workers. Seeing how these small acts of kindness were so impactful made me reflect on how I could express my gratitude for my own family with everyday, simple acts. I started leaving my kids notes in the mornings with their breakfast, which translated to my daughter leaving the sweetest notes in my husband's lunch bag. A spoken "thank-you" to the ones you love, and even a stranger, can sometimes mean the most. (Head over to [gratitude in] 2020 - A Year In Review for more thank-you notes.)
My health and wellbeing was taken for granted day in and day out. I never really felt like I was under any threat or risk of sickness. The serious, and at times frightening, reality of the pandemic made me take my health decisions much more serious. I want to be in my strongest and most prepared state in case I do get sick. Long gone are the days of fast food and filling my body with more junk than nourishment. I owe it to myself and my family to be the best version of myself, mentally and physically. (See Six Months Without Eating Out - Woah! for more.)
Even worse than the junk food I was shoving in my mouth was the garbage filling my brain. Hours and days spent watching mindless and numbing TV left me feeling so blah. I was unproductive and more interested in my shows than I was just about anything else. I couldn't tell you anything about world events, but I was your girl if you needed to know the name and hometown of every Bachelor contestant. How sad is that? It's embarrassing but true. Pulling my head out of the television set, getting up off the couch, and plugging myself into real life has been crazy life-changing! (Switch over to [un]Plugged-In: How Giving Up TV Changed My Life if you can relate.)
Not only did the pandemic no one (except my husband) saw coming change the way our lives look, but more importantly how we look at our lives.
What did the pandemic teach you about your life and yourself?