There are several recurring dreams that I have had throughout the years. One of the most common ones is that I am in an unfamiliar classroom and find out that there’s a test being given that I was not prepared to take. With that realization, my dreamlike state becomes a state of panic. My mind and heart begin to race, as I scramble to try to figure out how to pass the test. Mercifully, at some point, I wake up, and my anxiety is replaced by relief, when I realize that it was only a bad dream.
As we enter another day sponsored by COVID-19, I feel, to some extent, like I am in the midst of a real life version of the aforementioned bad dream. Some days, though, I feel like there’s not a test being given or that I am actually prepared to take it. Other days, I feel woefully unprepared or that I failed miserably. Only it’s not a dream, it’s reality.
This may be the first pandemic in our lives, but life has been passing out tests since the beginning of time. Sometimes, they are individual lessons, and sometimes, they are lessons taught on a global scale. Each one of us is student, and there are always lessons to learn, whether or not we signed up for the class or not.
It’s human nature to ask why we are being tested. This pandemic may have caused a shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but it has led to an abundance of theories to try to explain why this is happening to us. These explanations range from the plausible to the absurd, and we can choose to believe whatever we want.
No matter why this is happening, the bottom line is that it’s happening. It’s happening right now, and no amount of whys or what ifs can change that. Class is in session!
I have been a student in other classes that I didn’t sign up for over the years. Infertility. Ulcerative Colitis. Anxiety. Depression. Breast Cancer. Heartache. I didn’t feel prepared for any of them and to say that I was an unwilling student would be a gross understatement.
With each class, I entered scared and anxious, and I fought against the perceived unfairness of it all. I would stay firmly entrenched in this way of thinking and feeling until I finally began to accept that this was the class that I was in now, not the one I wished I were in instead. As I eased into acceptance, sometimes, at an excruciatingly slow pace, I began to open my mind and my heart to the lessons to learn. There were, and still are, always lessons to learn.
With infertility, I learned: To be an informed patient and to advocate for myself. About the power of the mind-body connection. That I could somewhat conquer my fear of needles. All about the world of in vitro fertilization. That persistence, patience, and perseverance pay off in the end.
With ulcerative colitis, I learned: To understand and appreciate the importance of a holistic approach to good health. To seek second opinions. To make my health a priority.
With anxiety and depression, I learned: To love myself. To ask for help. To give myself grace during times when I struggled. To become more aware of my thoughts and how they control my feelings and actions. To extend compassion to myself and others.
With breast cancer, I learned: That courage is being scared and doing it anyway. That I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually stronger than I ever imagined. That there are angels among us and watching over us.
With heartache, I learned: That not everyone is meant to stay in my life, no matter if you had a past with them or were promised a future with them. That when someone hurts me, especially repeatedly, that it says everything about their character and nothing about mine. That I can open up my big heart and continue to love, despite it being broken.
This pandemic has been a demanding teacher, and there has been a steep learning curve. I hesitate to share some of the lessons that I am in the process of learning during the middle of the test, but here are some of them.
I have learned to include new technology, at least, it’s new to me, in my old school repertoire. I am becoming more proficient with Zoom and am enthralled with listening to podcasts.
I have learned that I really do love working from home full-time once again. I made the transition from working at home full-time to working in a more traditional office setting two years ago, and I did not realize how much my home really is a place where I feel more productive and energized until I made the move last month.
I can be even more creative start planning a new venture in the midst of the pandemic. This may seem like the time to put everything on hold until this is over, whenever that is, but I have a burst of creative and entrepreneurial energy and am exploring how to join their forces to create a new way for me to be able to serve others.
I can be positive and happy, even when there is much to worry about in the world. I am not turning a blind eye to the world around me, with its stories of tragedies and triumphs, but what I learned from past experiences is that if I only focus on the negative circumstances, it will compromise my overall health and well-being. So, I seek out moments of gratitude and joy and positivity to balance the negativity and pain, which enables me to show up in the world and do my best at home and at work.
I have learned through sheltering at home who and what I truly miss having in my life. When the social restrictions begin to be relaxed, there are certain people, places, and things that I will rush to, either once again, or for the first time. Who and what I want and need in my life have become so much clearer without the usual noise and distractions of the pre-pandemic world.
These are just some of the lessons in progress, and there will definitely be many more to come. Whenever these lessons present themselves, I will be ready, willing, and able to receive them and learn them.
That’s another story. . .
Categories: That's Another Story