I can’t believe it’s been a year since the pandemic hit. A year since our lives collectively changed. It feels like a weird combo of time standing still, on one hand, yet passing so quickly in the blink of an eye, on the other. All of the restrictions feel strangely normal at this point, but nothing about the past year has been normal. Many of us have lost so much…. people we love, time we can’t get back, our job, our sense of security, our health… But if we put all of that aside and try to find a few positives, an exercise I like to do when things seem all doom and gloom, I don’t have to dig too deep. I’m fortunate that the past year hasn’t been all bad. Now, more than ever, I am doing my best to look on the bright side even if it seems just out of reach. Is this the home stretch of life interrupted? I certainly hope so.
A year in, the pandemic isn’t letting up in France, with just this week new restrictions in 16 departments as new cases soar and vaccination remains slow across the nation.
Let’s get into a bit of reflection. One of the most positive aspects of the past year for me has been the introspection and gaining perspective. I’ve gotten even clearer on what I stand for and how I see the world and those who live in it.
I invite you to share how you’re holding up if you’re open to it.
I hate how we all have this baseline normal of pandemic-related stress. It’s the foundation upon which all else gets piled onto. All of the regular life stress feels magnified and harder to manage when it’s being stacked on top of a foundation of pandemic stress, worry, and the fallout of what feels like losing an entire year.
I hate the feeling of losing time and wish we could turn back time, as the song goes. Really. Life is precious and so short and feeling like any of it is being wasted is so frustrating. I feel like life becomes more and more challenging the older we get.
But despite it all, Tom and I are doing OK. We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and the support of each other. And Dagny. Pets are EVERYTHING.
// My grandma. My grandma was 94 years old and lived a great life in good health right until the end. She had been in a nursing home for several years and her frail body was no match for COVID-19. Attending her funeral on Zoom didn’t give her life the recognition it deserved and I hope we can have a memorial service for her in the not-so-distant future when it’s safe to do so. My grandparents were our caregivers all through school since my parents worked and I’m so thankful I knew her well. She was always my biggest cheerleader and loved Dagny as much as we do even though they never met face to face.
// The feeling of having control over things. A global pandemic tends to throw any semblance of control out the window. I like feeling I’m in control of my life. It’s comforting. Between changing travel restrictions, health recommendations, and everything else related to the pandemic, the loss of control has been hardddd. I know rationally that we control very little in the whole scheme of things, but this past year has amplified that tenfold.
// Work on the blog and YouTube. I’m so thankful for the Oui In France community here on the blog and YouTube. It’s given me much-needed purpose over the years and I was more grateful for that than ever this past year. I showed up every day to work on all things Oui In France whether that was new content creation, work on the back end, answering emails, editing videos, etc. There was always something to do, so I took my mind off the obvious by throwing myself into working on my blog and YouTube channel and connecting with all of you.
// My fitness routine. I am obsessed with Peloton and the Les Mills On Demand apps and am fortunate in that I find it extremely easy to find motivation to work out at home. I have no plans on ever going back to my gym. I picked up running shortly after the pandemic started (wrote all about that here). While I’m still slow as heck and just do it for overall fitness (not a specific training goal), I’ve improved over time and am so glad I’ve stuck with it… even though I still don’t love it and find it ridiculously hard.
// My love for cozy clothes. I like to be comfortable, so the pandemic has given me permission to wear joggers and sweatshirts and cozy socks even more often than I normally would (which was already off the charts). My favorite sweatshirt is from Everlane. I haven’t worn a regular bra in a year, in favor of this. Great cozy options here too. I think if I put on work clothes, did my hair and makeup, and went outside, my neighbors wouldn’t recognize me. No shame. #TeamCozyLife
Still struggling with…
// Feeling everything so deeply. God, has it BEEN A YEARRRRRR. I’ve known I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) since even before I heard of the official term back in college. About 20% of the population is wired like me with a highly sensitive nervous system that gives us increased awareness, makes us more intuitive, more empathetic and allows us feel things more deeply. On the flip side, HSPs tend to get overwhelmed and overstimulated more easily and need our downtime to recharge.
Given everything that 2020 was, highly sensitive people like me struggle even more. I plan to write about this more in the hopes of helping some of you out there who may also be HSPs and not even realize that it’s a thing. For now, something that’s helped me immensely has been this book by therapist and fellow HSP Julie Bjelland called “The Empowered Highly Sensitive Person, How to Harness Your Sensitivity into Strength in a Chaotic World.” She has a lot of free content on her blog worth checking out.
// The unknowns. Worrying about the future only robs us of the current moment. I know I know I know. But the mind is a funny thing. It wanders to: When will Tom and I be able to visit my family in the USA? When will we be able to get vaccinated? Will Tom and I get COVID? What will happen with the health of loved ones who I worry about? I have several loved ones whose current health statuses range from a bad health issue that’s currently being managed to terminally ill and it is taking its toll. I feel like I’m always waiting to exhale, unsure of when the next blow will come.
// Being proactive with cooking. I admit I’m lazy in the kitchen and hate making a big mess every night. I love to eat but hate to do the work and always feel like I’m wasting time when I have to stop working and go cook. We tend to eat the same uninspired meals — dinner is an afterthought. Although I want to get better with this, I guess it’s not such a big priority or I would have actually followed through and made the change. We’re fans of HelloFresh. And takeout from local restaurants. It’s OK for now. Yay for fish and broccoli.
Proud of myself for
// Hitting the 50k subscriber milestone on YouTube. Last month I hit 50,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel and am incredibly happy with how my channel has grown. To celebrate the milestone, my subscribers wanted a Q&A and a giveaway, so stay tuned later this month for a video delivering both. 😉 Along with that, my recent behind-the-scenes pharmacy video is probably the video I’m the most proud of on my channel, so I’d love it if you took a look.
// Making progress on my first eBook. I’m trying to finish an eBook for beginner lifestyle bloggers. More on that hopefully sooner rather than later. Although I’m not in the home stretch yet (see my P.S. below), I’m getting there.
Areas I can improve upon
// Managing my time better. This year has put a damper on our collective energy and when you work from home and are in charge of your time, sometimes it’s hard to be disciplined with how you spend it. I feel like there’s never enough time to do the things I want to do personally and professionally. I’m not great at organizing my week. Three things I do prioritize are fitness, dog walks, and self-care, so I guess if I’m nailing those three, that’s already good.
// Being less hard on myself. I am my worst critic and have very high standards for myself. I’m great at giving others grace and kind support, but for myself? Nope. It’s easy for me to find areas where I could have done something better or differently and then I dwell on whatever it is even though it’s in the past. I’ve been even harder on myself this past year, which makes no sense because if there ever were a time to give ourselves a break, it would be now. Oh well, working on it…
How are YOU? Hope you’re hanging in there. Talk to me…
P. S. I’m typing this with my eyes closed and will ask Tom to help format the post. For the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad eye stream due to all the computer use so I’ve had to cut down my screen time to basically nothing. It’s been incredibly frustrating since my life revolves around my computer and I always have a ton of stuff to do on the computer. Despite having blue light blocking glasses and taking breaks often, my eyes are on strike right now. I’m trying a matte computer protection screen and good old fashioned eye rest so I don’t push it and actually injure myself. Here’s to hoping things improve on that front.
Bonjour, Diane! Dare I tell you about my 2020? It was very stressful – To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!”
In November of 2019 I bought a house. Two weeks later my boyfriend (with whom I had broken up) proposed to me, and made it official 2/14/2020. We started planning our wedding – fortunately for just the two of us – in Jamaica in May. They closed their borders, so we had to postpone the wedding. The day we were planning to get married turned out to be my last day at my full-time job, as I was cut due to circumstances beyond my control. Because of COVID, hiring was frozen, so I could not transfer to another branch as a full-time employee, but was able to work as a part-time employee (with full-time hours). The new job was an hour away from where I lived, but was closer to my fiance’s condo. That changed the plans for his moving into my house, and I began packing my things back up, and preparing to sell my house.
We were able to reschedule our wedding for the end of July. That turned out to be a good thing because the dress I ordered online did not come in (from China) until a week or two prior to our departure. It could not have been any more perfect – the wedding or the dress!
I started taking Social Security in October, and started talking to an insurance broker about Medicare supplement options. Also in October I put my house on the market, and had a contract 2 days later for the full price.
I found out that I need to have a shoulder replacement, but the doctor said I should put it off as long as I can stand it. I am also having knee problems & need to have that resolved. All the while, I have five stubborn pounds that I really need to lose. It is amazing how difficult it is to lose five pounds, and how miserable it feels with that little bit of extra weight! But with all the stress, it is next to impossible. Everything going on in the US – political and otherwise – certainly has not helped my stress level!
The Medicare supplement company I had chosen was taking their sweet time, then denied my coverage at the end of the year & we had to scramble to find someone else. My buyer’s lender postponed closing 6 times, so I finally cancelled that contract in January!
In January, 2021, I put my house on the market again, had a contract one day later, and it did close a month later! I also got my Medicare supplement. So things are looking up after a really strange 2020. My husband and I have escaped getting COVID, and are both fully vaccinated. I am working on my bucket list – bought lessons to learn to play the piano, I have started writing a book – actually two of them, started my attempt at learning French, and while searching for movies about France, discovered Oui in France! Yes, things are definitely looking up! I am seriously considering the Super Sprint challenge from Lingoda that you are promoting, but am not sure I should commit to every day for 3 months. I really would love to get to a comfort level with the language before going there. What to do, what to do…
Hi Linda, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and want you to know I’m sending you a hug from afar. I’m sorry my reply here is shorter than it usually would be — but I read every word of your comment — due to my eye issue at the moment.
So glad things are looking up despite the stress the year brought your way. Congrats on getting married and so glad you got the vaccine!
P.S. The sprint is an amazing offer (even the 50% refundable one that is a little less vigorous). If you are motivated and want something to hold you accountable (and you have the time), it’s a great offer!
Niculina McClanahan says
I’m sorry your eyes are suffering, I hope you’ll find a way to still do what you love while protecting your vision. Be careful!
What a year indeed, Diane!
I lost my mom to Covid in similar circumstances as your grandma and that has been the hardest thing for me. I also got a brand new granddaughter who will be turning one next month. She is beautiful and brave and is the testimony that life has a way to prevail no matter what. I get to babysit her 4 days a week while her parents work and that brings me so much joy.
Being an introvert has helped me to stay somewhat sane. But there is a lot of suffering out there, my older grandson is graduating high school in May, and his life has been turned upside down. Of course, my heart aches for him and his friends.
This pandemic has brought up a mixed bag of emotions and I believe everyone is trying to find their own ways to cope. Some are doing better than others but it has been a truly difficult year.
I’m glad you found real support through your blog and YT channel, and with Tom and Dagny you have your small little bubble where you can have some sense of control.
Here in California things are looking a little better, both my hubby and I got the first vaccine and we feel truly grateful we’ve made it to this point without getting sick. We’re not however out of the woods yet as there is still community transmission of variants that are apparently more voracious. We’ll see what the future will bring.
Take care, I watch and read your content although I may not comment. Keep at it, you’re helping a lot of people
Hi Niculina, I appreciate that you always take the time to comment. Thank you for being a part of my community.
I’m so sorry you lost your mom. That’s really hard. Sending you a hug. Congrats on your granddaughter! How exciting! Also glad you got the vaccine.
Thanks about my eyes. They just needed (still need) me to back off a little bit. Between Oui In France, work, and regular life stuff I do on the computer, it’s hard to escape the screens!
Mark H Bramhall says
I’m an old guy (72+) and did retire, but un-retired in 2018 when I joined a French startup. (We are building a hardware/software product for big data analysis.) I moved to Paris in 2018 and, after some moves, have an apartment in the 4th. Part of my work agreement is a roundtrip about once a month as my wife still lives in the US!
She came over on March 13, 2020, for a visit. We hard France was closing (friend of the wife of my work colleague’s sister) and immediately got tickets to get to the US — we arrived March 15, 2020. I have been here since. I chose to be with my wife rather than in Paris. It is over a year now. Fortunately, I can work remotely.
We have isolated as our own little pod and have been very careful. I cannot visit my mother (will be 99 in September!) yet. Can call (she is in Colorado), but need to see her! We are lucky to have the two of us. It would be much harder solo. We have had our first vaccine shots and get our second at the end of March.
I so much miss my 17 minute walk from the 4th to the 3rd, where our office is, and back. To have lived a good life and now be able to walk through Paris each day is a dream. I expect to be able to return late summer.
nAussie Jo says
A year already boy it went fast,the big change for me was not going out but I am use to not going out now
Steven Black says
Having trouble being motivated to fix good meals? Maybe this can help a little. A while back I really discovered I can put Youtube on my smart TV and viola, I have a new, informative, exciting things I can learn about and then do myself. Since I stumbled on to your informative videos, I have enjoyed many other Youtube sites. From videos about everywhere I have visited in France and many more I want to visit. Matter of fact, the first video of yours I saw was boating on the Charente. Then I discovered the French Cooking Academy with Stephane. Stephane demonstrates in English from his kitchen in Lyon (I think) typical French gourmet delights that are really easy to make. Maybe watching a few of his videos will inspire you to create in your kitchen and additionally, increase your love for all things French.
BTW, my French is limited and my French neighbors in Cote D’or work with me. I do find it funny that, as if there is magic in it, my friends interject “viola” in their sentences, like if I hear that I’ll understand everything. Sometimes I wish they’d just speak a little slower.
So anxious to get back to our reno-in-progress in Bourgogne.
Virginia Koffke says
Hi Dianne, I do hope your eyes are getting better. I suffer with my eyes but becacuse of allergies.
This past year has not really affected me at all as I don’t normally go out except to do grocery shop or medical visits. My husband has suffered at not beong able to go and do his normal volunteer work but from October he was able to do one day a week.
I regret not using my time more effectively to finish off various craft projects. I had more time as my grandchildren were home schooling so no school drop offs and pickups and I did not use this extra time wisely. Weirdly for me I got into binge watching lots of tv series that I had read about and this is very time consuming. We did resurrect our vegetable garden to be more productive, we had stopped growing as much. I tried out different recipes but I didn’t get into the bread making thing or pasta, tried it once, no not for me.
It was also a relief to not have to go to various family functions, so no awkward or tense moments and no guilt either at not going because they didn’t happen. This has led me to not agree to do anything I don’t want to, I don’t have to people please, it is great.
My husband and I have had some wonderful conversations across a wide ranging list of topics, we have had time to listen to each other and explore ideas and dreams. This has been the best bonus that Covid could have delivered.
Here in Australia we have had a failry easy time of it compared to everywhere else and wearing a mask was not an issue for us or social distancing and most people seemed to be ok with it too. Our youngest daughter and her husband live in Melbourne and they had a lot more restrictions than us but they coped really well and saved a lot of money in the process (no eating out). Our other daughter and her husband got to work from home and now their companies are letting them work from home three days a week, this has meant a lot better family life for them.
I would like to travel to see our family in Europe, we are all getting older and we feel time is running out to be together but Zoom is great.
Hi Diane. I just found your blog and think it’s very interesting. I look forward to hearing more about your life in France. Have you considered becoming a French citizen? Love to hear from you, Avery
P.s. what is your email address? I tried to email you this but it bounced back.
Hi there, welcome! it’s ouiinfrance at gmail.com (or use the contact form on that part of my site if it’s easier). 😉
I’m sorry to hear about your eyestrain. Since it’s so severe I do recommend seeing an eye doctor to make sure nothing else is going on.
I found your videos by accident and have been enjoying them. I have not been to the Loire Valley but my stepchildren’s mother is from Tours. My husband lived there for a few years when he was married to her. I’d love to visit the area someday. I love your walkabout and visit to stores and bakeries videos.
The beginning of Covid last year was hard on me mentally. I also took up running as a way to expend energy and anxiousness. I’ve only moderately kept it up and wished I would find a bit more motivation to continue running. I do get outside for hikes as often as possible. The one good thing about Covid has been the ability to spend more time doing hobbies. So many other things have gone by the wayside and now I realize I don’t miss shopping at all.
I’m fortunate I can work from home and never had any gaps in employment or a paycheck. My family has remained healthy and my husband and I are now both fully vaccinated. Most of my friends are also so the pods are getting bigger and it’s so incredible to be in the same room with people you don’t live with. I’m still very cautious about outings and always wear a mask. We now know masks are great when everyone we spoke to realized it’s been well over a year since they’ve had a head cold, myself included.
Hang in there with the eyestrain, lockdowns, and all else. It will get better at some point. Take pleasure in the simple things when you can.
I remain on the hunt for muscadet in a local wine shop. I think I found one 25 miles away that may have it. Can’t wait to try it. (Local for me is coastal Massachusetts.)
Stay healthy and take care,
Robert Brainerd says
My interest in France is somewhat narrow : I want to learn how to speak colloquial French, as well as read and write good French. My perspective is that of an older, single expatriate. Although I’m very interested in French culture, my main motivation is to keep my mind active. Although I prefer videos which aren’t in English, I think you have good information, so I’m planning to pay more attention to your website.