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.