Cautiously appreciating the breathing room

Kelly Spencer. (Contributed) jpg, TN

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Stage 2 of Pandemic 2020 has arrived for Ontarians and it has provided us with a little breathing room.

A recent trip to the beach gave me some renewed appreciation for the elements, for swimming in the lake, getting a sunny glow, to even hearing the seagulls. The folks were respectful there, setting up camp and walking the thin trails leading to the beach, keeping the recommended social distance. Even the post-beach ice cream cone with pandemic provisions in place was thoroughly enjoyed.

We taught our first yoga class outside at my business. Oh, my heart. Connection. Real life connection. I was simply so grateful to everybody that came to our very first lawn yoga class. It was a full house! Or should I say full lawn? Everyone was set up six feet apart from each other on the lawn. It had been many months since we’ve taught a class in person. There were tears. There was laughter. There was connection. We had been connecting with our students through online meditation and yoga classes, but there is no replacement for real life connection. Truly, outdoor yoga is one of my favorite things to do, so it is a win-win situation.

Our local BIA (Business Improvement Area) assisted us with opening our restaurant as well… outside. We now have six tables to serve our Eatery patrons, all situated 6-12 feet apart. Sure, it is different, as we take safety measures. Each table is now equipped with hand sanitizers and the server wears a mask, and we take contact information “just in case.” But we are grateful. We have been doing take out only, and to add this option for Stage 2 gives my business a little more breathing room and appreciation.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” – John Lennon.

We have all had to and are making plans and adjusting to a new way of life. I don’t know about you, but I thought this would all just wash away after a few weeks but here we are moving into our fourth month of a global pandemic. And while I hope we all tread cautiously with the recommendations of a slow and staged reopening with guidelines and precautions, I think it is also important to take a mindful moment to appreciate where this has taken us to.

I think in the aftermath of all living through an earth event unlike anything in a century, while simultaneously experiencing or witnessing (if we are privileged enough) the injustices that created the largest global civil rights movement, we are all going to be changed people.

I am not even sure we all understand the complexity that we are attempting to consciously or subconsciously process with the daily and mass amounts of trauma, fear and worry and information of the unknown. And while we live through this, we adjust to home-schooling, working from home, working on the front lines, precautionary shopping and so on. So much change can be unnerving to say the least.

The pandemic has caused many normal parts of life to screech to a halt, and it sort of feels like life itself is actually halted too. After all, for those lucky enough to not be unwell, the changes to daily life seem like a giant “pause” button has been pressed on our world – like we’ve stepped into some dystopian movie.

For many, our hearts have been cracked wide open in a scary and vulnerable way with a deep compassionate fear for not only people in our bubbles, but for our world and all the people in it affected by the virus or the injustices. But this current version of the world isn’t a movie. We can’t exit, throw our popcorn bags out and talk about how scary it was on the car ride home. This is real life, and though it feels anything but normal, there’s no one holding a giant remote keeping us on pause, nor is it impossible to stay safe while still doing things we can.

Here are my tips this week that I offer you that have worked for me to stay present with life – whatever it may be bringing.

1. It’s not “back to normal,” it is Stage 2. Meaning, we still need to be mindful of the present moment. COVID-19 is not gone. Not even close. We have entered Stage 2 but precautions of mask, good handwashing, sanitizers, social distancing and keeping our bubbles, even if expanded within reason.

2. Connection. Take the time to discover what connections are important to you. Perhaps the universal “time out” has allowed you the opportunity to discover what or who is really important to you and what or who no longer serves you well. Make conscious connections with people and activities that make you feel happier and healthier.

3. Start the day right. This time of global transformation gives the time to shift. Start your day with intention. It is easy to grab your phone as the eyelids open and see what is going on externally, with social media or world news. Try starting your day with a few moments of deep breaths and asking yourself what intentional feelings and events do you want to feel and accomplish in that day.

4. Reality check. How much of how you feel is being caused by the external. It could be a family member, social media friend or the news highlights that are affecting the way you feel. What is real in your world right now? Sometimes, especially if you are empathic or codependent, we take on others stuff likes it’s our own. That doesn’t mean we aren’t moved by external situations but can we observe what is truly ours and what we are observing?

5. Appreciate the breathing room. Appreciate the beach, the walk, the patios, the outdoor classes, the larger bubbles with family or friends. Take the time to talk about what you are grateful for, journal your thoughts of what makes you thankful and appreciate there has been movement into Stage 2 by taking the precautions we all endured previously in Stage 1. Energy we focus on expands. Be grateful for the little things as the big picture is often an accumulation of all the little things that we are choosing to focus on.

(Happy Healthy YOU is a wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast! If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email kelly@indigolounge.ca).

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