A Fresh Start

When the pandemic first hit, I hated hearing people say, “things will never be normal again.”  It seemed to be such a pessimistic view, and predicted a future I didn’t want to face.  I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in fear of a virus, and honestly, I resented the suggestion that I would have to do just that.  It was almost as bad as people saying they didn’t mind the lock downs because they liked staying home.  I like to stay home too, but there’s a huge difference between choosing to stay home and having to stay home.

Now I realize I probably misunderstood what people were saying.   I think they really meant that our lives would never be exactly the same as before.  And that, of course, is true.  Many people lost loved ones, others lost their livelihoods, and everyone discovered just how quickly life can change for the worse.  I don’t know that I’ll ever feel truly comfortable in a crowded room again, or trust that I can find everything I need at the store.  The past three years have changed me.  But the good news is, not all of those changes are bad.

Before the pandemic, I left my house regularly to run errands, shop, go to work, etc., and never once thought, “Is this outing worth the risk?” If I wanted or needed to go somewhere, I simply went.  But after March 2020, I began to think carefully before venturing out of my house.  Suddenly, I knew exactly what my priorities were (caring for my grandson, helping shelter dogs, shopping for necessities) and what commitments and activities I was willing to give up.  Living through the pandemic helped me better distinguish between what I need and what I want.

And when gathering with my friends and relatives became potentially dangerous, I quickly learned which relationships I was willing to put on hold and which ones were too important to live without.  My immediately family became my “social bubble,” but I was very intentional about staying in touch with friends and extended family through phones calls, texts, and e-mails.  (I never did figure out how to work Zoom.)  I may not have been able to enter my Mom’s apartment, but I dropped off provisions and later, meet her outside for a socially-distanced visit.  Nothing emphasizes how much people mean to us more than the thought of having to live without them.

In this post-vaccination world, I’m back to doing many of the things I did before Covid hit.  But the truth is, I’m really not the same person I was three years ago.  I always wondered how I’d handle a crisis, and now I know. (My husband’s cancer diagnosis in June 2020 was a part of that lesson.)  I’m more willing to try new things.  I have a better sense of my true priorities, and I think I can see both my strengths and weaknesses more clearly.  And those are all good changes.  Sometimes, “not going back to normal” isn’t such a bad thing after all….

78 thoughts on “A Fresh Start

  1. I think the past three years have changed us all Ann, reassessing our priorities, making us realise what’s important and how we want to spend the rest of our lives. I know mine will never be the same again. May your year be filled with all that makes you happy, grateful and at peace. Much love. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Like you, I’m not the same person I was before the pandemic. Long periods of isolation made me choose carefully how, and with whom to spend precious time. My husband was also diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic; his compromised immunity still means that we are cautious about attending events with large groups of people. We cherish the social bubble of our immediate family plus a few trusted friends. With the protection of vaccines, I’m more confident about attending my book clubs and bridge groups. We are not ready to go to the theatre much less to do the travelling we previously enjoyed. I wish you all the best in the new year. Enjoy the new, post-COVID person you’ve become!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, the pandemic changed us, and having a spouse with cancer is also life-changing, and when you combine the two it’s a lot to deal with! We were lucky in that the chemo my husband had didn’t lower his immune system, but we still had to be careful because getting Covid or being exposed to Covid disrupted his treatment schedule. We are out and about more now (both fully vaccinated) but we still avoid large crowds and unnecessary risks. And thanks for your kind words…..I do like the “new” me a bit better than the old one!

      Like

  3. What an insightful and positive post Ann! You have found self awareness in the changes that were necessary to get through these last 3 years and that’s not easy or something everyone is able to do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Deb! Trust me, it was a struggle, and the changes in the way I look at things are something I’ve only recently realized. I don’t always understand things as they are happening. For me, those “aha” moments come when I look back and reevaluate what has happened. But I now realize that as hard as Covid was, it did enable me to mature a lot, and that’s a good thing!

      Like

  4. My life has definitely changed and, like you, some of that is good, some not so good. But, it sure helped to get our priorities straight. What I really hoped would change is that humans would become smarter about our interactions with nature, we’d learn to trust science, and we’d realize that we are better when we work together for the common good. Sadly, that didn’t happen as much as I would have liked.

    Liked by 3 people

    • No, it didn’t happen much at all! It seems that it’s just the opposite: people are stressed and frustrated, and busy taking it out on anyone who they believe is different. I don’t want to fall into that trap, so I’m intentional about trying to use the experience to be my “best self,” you know? Thanks for the comment, Janis!!! It’s always good to know others feel the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Ann. We got used to going out and doing things without thinking and perhaps did not appreciate them as much as we should have. Now, we must be more thoughtful, based on our situation and comfort level with Covid and other things. Hugs are more considered and more precious, as our face to face gatherings. We can have fun without throwing caution to the wind. Hope you and your hubby are both doing well. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we really do appreciate what we used to take for granted, don’t we? And like you, we’re living our lives without taking crazy risks. It’s a balance that I think we’re getting better at as we go along. And thank you, at this point, we’re both doing fine!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I could really identify with this. There really are things that have changed, both for the good and bad. And it’s better to concentrate on the former than the latter.

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think the pandemic, at the risk of minimizing it, was just another, albeit tragic, event in the life of us baby boomers that shaped and continues to shape us. JFK assassination, civil rights movement, Vietnam, AIDS, gay rights, 911, tech bubble burst, the Great Recession, and finally (for now?) the pandemic. It may be easy for me to say as I did not lose a loved one from Covid, but I do see it as just another event in our collective history.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, it really was. I think the impact was felt more because it was world-wide, which made it seem inescapable. I also think some people felt the impact more than others, depending on what they did for a living and if they lost someone. But another big event will come along in a few years, and the Covid experience will become just another event to be remembered.

      Like

  8. We learn many lessons during a major crisis, and good things come from small and big disasters. Between Christmas and New Year, I had a terrible accident on a slushy highway. The car was totalled, but I climbed out of the car uninjured, for which I am so grateful and from which I learned how precious life is.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. What a beautiful post, Ann. I heartily agree with you. I began performing from my bedroom during the pandemic. It’s so comfortable for me and I love it. My days of “paying to play” at a nearby open mic are over now.
    A lot has happened over the last three years. Your resilience inspires me and I love the way you write!

    Liked by 3 people

    • The past three years have been very traumatic to most of us, for varying reasons. It sounds as if they were especially tough for you, and I’m so sorry for that. Moving forward and starting fresh is harder for people who have suffered profound loss, so please be gentle with yourself!

      Like

  10. I agree. Normal, whatever that is, welp, it was never really normal when we look back anyways. Our lives, by and large, fit us when we look at things realistically. Sure life has a new set of challenges post Covid, but there are always going to be challenges. It can be what divides us or brings us together. I choose the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Definitely agree with you that priorities have changed & I’m less likely to spend time on people — and issues — that don’t need my input. May that quietude continue.
    And blowing out birthday candles on a cake now sparks nausea, rather than joy. Likely wasn’t EVER hygienic! 🙄😅

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, that’s a practice that needs to fade away…..I always had doubts about eating a piece of cake that someone has just blown all over. Especially if the someone was a child, because then it also involved a lot of spit. And good for you for realizing that you need to spend your time only on the issues and people that are truly important to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such an honest reflection of life – so thank you for that. You came to accept that life isn’t the same and how the pandemic changed you – but I’ve got the feeling that those you initially pronounced as naysayers actually knew what they were saying. After all, people have a way of extrapolating the moment without knowing what they mean because they are looking at their effects of the present. Well done … and more importantly, wishing you and your husband peace and strength with your current journey.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s always nice to know that someone appreciates our writing. Especially when we’re trying to be honest about a complicated subject! And you’re right, we usually comment on the present we’re experiencing, and can’t really see how it will all play out in the future.

      Like

  13. Covid did not change much in our lives. Because of Leo’s illnesses we have always locked the front gate whenever there is any sort of a bug about, so Covid was just one more incident. No deaths in family or friends, nor among neighbours, thank goodness. What did happen was that we became more aware of how fear makes people obedient and unquestioning, even though here we were not subject to the constant pressure to have a vaccination in order to protect others as happened in the U.K. I am much more wary of governments in consequence, wondering how they will use this successful control in the future, in matters other than health.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, my husband and I talked about that too! How easily people just said, “Ok” when told to stay home for weeks on end, even when it meant financial ruin and huge emotional strain. (Let’s be honest, some people didn’t die of Covid, but they did die as a result of the lock downs. People couldn’t get their screenings to catch cancer in the early stages, or get tests to explain their chest pains, etc. And lots of old people who found themselves completely isolated simply gave up on living, and I can’t blame them for that.) I can’t imagine that governments…and even terrorists….weren’t watching with interest when they saw literally the whole world shut down due to a virus. That was one of the scary aspects of living in the pandemic!

      Like

  14. Ann, I appreciate your thoughtful discussion and rational conclusions. Yes, COVID was one of those memorable marks on our history as humans. Kind of like the Kennedy assassination or the Challenger disaster. And sadly, it’s still (three years later) making its mark. We’ve lost a lot of our innocence as people have died and the subject of vaccinations has become politicized. You must’ve enjoyed your wee break!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Debbie! I didn’t really plan to write about this subject, but it’s been on my mind lately so I thought, “why not?” I know it can be a sensitive subject…especially since Covid, and the vaccines, became political hot buttons. But I’m relieved to say that it seems people understood what I was trying to say and are okay with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I recently saw a saying that has been around before, something about “Life is like a river”, the same water never goes by twice and it is always moving. So true. Each day is new and we have the experiences of yesterday to inform our life today.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I love your perspective on things. I find your posts thought provoking and genuine. My momma had a huge surgery in March of 2020. We weren’t allowed to go. Only one person was allowed in the hospital. If I would’ve know she would have only had 2 more March’s, I would’ve gone. Not being able to be there for a major surgery was heartbreaking. Looking back now, it feels like all of that (stay home orders, etc), took a lot of time that I could’ve had with her. And, hey, I get it- all of that was for safety. Losing my momma, then looking back, it just changes the view/perspective somewhat. I’m sure lots of lessons were learned by many in these past few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jessica! And I’m sorry about your mother. It’s hard enough to have a loved one in the hospital without not being allowed to visit. A friend of mine’s brother-in-law had major heart surgery in April 2020, and no one was allowed to visit him during the two weeks he was in the hospital. It was awful! I understood the rationale behind the policies, but it made it so much harder on the patient and their families. I’m glad hospitals are allowing visitors again, usually on a limited basis. We did lose so much time that we’ll never get back!

      Like

    • I think it definitely changed us all, and I hope mostly for the better. I do think some of the increased anger and intolerance we’re seeing these days is a direct result of the frustration and fear of the last few years. But I think we’re also seeing people who now realize they’re stronger than they imagined, and who have a better idea of what is truly important. Traumatic experiences are chances for real growth, if we’re willing to change, I think. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  17. When the curtain came down and you could only see people on a screen or not at all I found it devastating. It has made me much more appreciative of human relationships. We did zoom quite a lot and like many others found we were talking to some people more than we ever had before! When we were allowed to meet people in ones and twos i did so and have stuck with making specific dates to meet rather than just expecting to see folk around. And I am much more open to initiating new friendships whereas previously i would have hung back. So a ‘fresh start’ resonates with me – I think i have changed for the better, but I’d obviously still rather none of it had happened!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s exactly how I feel! I’d much rather the pandemic didn’t happen, but since it did, I’m at least grateful for the lessons I learned. I’ve discovered just how important human contact is, and how it is worth the effort to maintain friendships and close ties with family. I never learned zoom, but I did make full use of phone calls, texts and emails. We also socialized outside a lot, no matter what the weather. Pre-covid, if it was below 60 or above 90, I never would have dreamed of eating outside or meeting friends outside. But during the pandemic, those parameters grew to below 30 or above 100! We just dressed for the weather and made it happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Great post Ann! the Pandemic sure did change our way of life. I think it helped me appreciate the ability to get together with loved ones and how precious time is with our loved ones and friends! life is too short as it is and we need to enjoy every day! Thanks for the great post! Regards, Kurt Richardson

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Kurt! It made me appreciate being together with my friends and family too. And one of the things I like best about my blog is the ability to reconnect with old high school friends like you!

      Like

    • Yes, it can be hard, can’t it? I think the trick is to reclaim the best of who you used to be and to let go of the parts of your old self that didn’t feel quite right. The best outcome is to become our best, true selves. But that really is easier said that done. Hang in there, Bev! I do think better times are coming!

      Like

  19. You are so right, Ann. The pandemic years did change us. How could it be otherwise? I like to think that the changes made us stronger in many ways. We learned that we were capable of a great many things we never had to do before. We had to cope with so much change and all at once. I like to think that our society is more compassionate, more understanding of the fact that life is not easy for anyone…there will always be good times and difficult times. It is best to be kind! Many people lost loved ones, and many people have suffered in other ways. More than ever, people need compassion and kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely agree! Kindness and compassion have never been needed more. We’ve all been traumatized to one extent or another, and kindness and compassion are what helps everyone heal and move on. We need to build on the strengths we developed during the pandemic and be much more intentional about how we move forward. I try to be more discerning and careful to think for my self and follow my own heart. That, and being more compassionate towards others, really helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are a kind and compassionate soul! Your attitude does make a difference in the world. I remember what you wrote about the waiters and waitresses in all your favorite restaurants. Even after a long time away, they remembered you and your kindness. People do always remember how you treat them. A smile or a kind word seems such a simple thing. In reality, it means a great deal. You just never know what another person might be going through.

        Like

  20. I guess you’re right. This is our (everybody’s) new normal. We went out to dinner last night for the first time in years. It was our anniversary, but even when we could have gone out, we chose not to. I think we got used to not driving anywhere at lunch. So now we have a standing lunch date, and that’s more fun. But not seeing friends and family was the hardest part.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you’re getting back out again! I think many of us changed our habits during the pandemic, and we get to choose which habits we keep and which ones we let go. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  21. The pandemic made me who I am today. Being isolated at home for days on end I relaxed into being me, not someone everyone else wanted me to be. I’m happier now. I’m more open to ideas, and to saying NO to things I don’t want to do, and to eating better at home. I feel like I have my priorities straight now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s wonderful, Ally! Sometimes time alone is the most important thing we can have. It teaches us who we really are, and yes, without being in constant contact with others, we get to just be ourselves rather than who others want us to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Even before the pandemic, things are never the same again – unless you’re in the most horrible of ruts and live under a rock. The pandemic was just a more extreme form of change – but for us, already enjoying a relatively quiet retirement when the pandemic started, the changes weren’t too severe. Maybe we’re a bit more hunkered down now, but that was already a tendency. Guess the trick is to remember to stretch those wings from time to time…

    Like

  23. An excellent and insightful post, Ann. I had mixed feelings about the lockdowns. At first, I missed going to the shops and the gym and seeing friends and the rare visits from my family. I used to go out in my electric wheelchair to ride around my road for half an hour to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Did you have the one-hour rule there? Over here, we were only allowed to be out and away from our homes for a maximum of an hour a day. I remember passing people on the way and almost being too scared to breathe, even though I was wearing a mask. However, as I rarely saw my family, it was the same as usual. My son came down with the children for a brief ‘window visit’; other than that, I didn’t see a soul and didn’t have a social bubble, either.

    But some very good things came out of the pandemic for me. Like you, I learned to prioritise what was really important to me. With the lack of family contact, I joined the WEA, an educational institute. Before lockdown, they held local classes face-to-face, but when that was banned, they switched to Zoom classes. I was in my element. I could study, see and talk to people from all over the country, sometimes, the world. I learned so much during that time and am continuing with them even now.

    I remember you talking about your dear husband’s diagnosis back then – it must have been such a difficult and frightening time for you, your husband and your family. I’m glad he is doing better now, although I understand you must still be careful. I’m glad you could see your mom when we were allowed socially-distanced contact and that you could drop her groceries off. It must have also been a bonus that you were able to help with the shelter dogs and to care for your grandson.

    I do see my children and grandchildren much more often now, which is wonderful. I don’t think it was related to the pandemic, though. It’s just how things worked out, and I’m so happy about that. Xx 🌼

    Like

  24. With my husband undergoing chemo, we are STILL under most of the COVID restrictions, but hope that will end sometime soon. We have come to appreciate Zoom and FaceTime, though, and have managed to keep in touch with most of the important people in our lives. In fact, I plan to keep using the technology even after the pandemic settles down enough for us to get back to semi-normal. With friends and relatives scattered through at least a dozen states and three different countries, why only visit them once every 5 or 10 years when we can “visit” all of them much more often online?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.