How is quarantine/social distancing/lockdown/etc. treating you these days? Are you back at work or still at home? Are you isolated from family and friends, or starting to venture out some?
This summer has been...strange. No, let me correct myself. This YEAR has been strange. Strange and challenging and exhausting and tough and... Okay, you get the point.
I have to admit, I was a little worried back in March when the lockdown first started. What would this isolation do to my state of mind? Stuck at home with little to no access to other people, with the exception of limited socialization with my immediate family. And worse, I had no children or spouse at home to distract me, fill my days, and make me feel needed.
It was just me. (Well, and my sister, but that's not quite the same. And she totally agrees!)
I braced myself for boredom and restlessness, which would eventually lead to discouragement and depression. And I did experience some of that. Especially when I realized that the single community was all but overlooked during the pandemic. Programs and organizations and individuals reached out to the families, children, elderly, and the unemployed. And rightly so! But I saw very few references to the single men and women who were facing the pandemic alone. Be honest. How many of you made a point of checking in with your single friends and neighbors during the lockdown? Just to let them know they had not been forgotten. I'm not trying to scold or put a guilt trip on anyone. But let's remember that EVERYONE needs to hear a friendly voice every now and then. Please check in with your single friends, co-workers, family members, etc. Please get in touch with those single moms and dads who need to hear from other adults.
But I digress from the subject of my post. The silver lining.
Yes, I did get down in spirit during the lockdown. But God was with me. And something good came out of all this stress and isolation.
My writing dream was reborn. Thanks to the extra time at home, I was able to do more writing this year than I have done in a LOOONG time! Thanks to events going virtual, I got access to 4 writers' conferences and several online sessions and classes that fueled the fire to be published again. And thanks to those conferences, I came across some wonderful groups who have encouraged me in this writing journey. I have come to know several kind, generous Christian authors who treat me with respect and caring, and accept me as a fellow writer, though I have not had a book published in over a decade.
Having this dream reborn did wonders for my morale. I did not dread each day. I had a purpose, a goal. Something God first placed within me years and years ago, but I allowed it to be stifled by the lack of time, confidence, and motivation.
But no more. I am writing again. With school starting, my time is not as free as before, but I'm not letting that stop me. I may not be able to write as much, but I will keep writing. And I am SO excited to soon start sharing with you what has been pouring from me these past few months!
I don't say all this to brag or boast. I hope that you will take the time through these challenging times to rekindle an old dream. It's not too late.
One author I recently started following has a phrase I absolutely love. She says we need to "respect our dream." No matter what the dream is.
So, what's your dream? Do you respect it enough to pursue it? Or do you just put it on the shelf with a sigh and say, "Maybe someday?" Well, stop it. Take it off the shelf and decide if it's something you really want. Take the time to learn about it, grow in it, educate yourself. If you decide it's not something you want to pursue anymore, that's okay, too!
While I do not make light of the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on our nation, I do appreciate the silver linings that have come from it. Small little gifts that God extends to help us keep going. Like a reawakening of a lifelong dream.
If you are a single (or even if you're married!) and feeling low in spirit, please reach out to someone. Send me an email. You don't have to face these hard times alone. I will pray with you and for you.
And if you know a single who might need a word of encouragement, please reach out to them. Let them know they haven't been forgotten. Or you can send me their mailing address and I will send them a card and a little gift to hopefully brighten their day.
Thanks for your time, and I hope you are all staying happy, safe, and healthy.
In His Grip!
First of, let me point out, my idea of “happy and healthy” may look different than yours. And that’s okay. We’re all unique vessels with different cracks and purposes and needs.
But, with the headlines screaming at us everyday, an intense election looming, and ongoing pandemic concerns, we all need to take care of ourselves, mentally, spiritually, physically—you name it. So, I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing for myself to stay afloat in these turbulent waves.
In my opinion, staying physically healthy is almost as important as staying emotionally stable. If our bodies break down, it can lead to emotional breakdowns as well. Our self-image suffers. We get discouraged and frustrated, and eventually give up.
And we don’t want that.
During the statewide and district-wide shutdown earlier this summer, I determined I was not going to lose control of my eating habits. I refused to drown my boredom in sugar and salt (just to regret it later). I kept plenty of healthy alternatives on hand: fruits and veggies, nuts, cheese, yogurt. I cooked most of my meals myself, rather than eating fast food. I cut back on soda.
But, I also didn’t deprive myself, either. If I was in the mood for chocolate, I’d allow myself some chocolate (especially if I’d eaten pretty clean the rest of the day). For me, to give something up completely is to set myself up for failure. I can’t permanently give up freshly baked chocolate chip cookies! 😋 So, I just make them with a few reduced-sugar tweaks. Rather than cutting something I really like from my diet, I just cut back. Then I can still feel good about my eating choices, but still indulge myself once in a while.
I don’t know about you, but I also feel good when I stay physically active. This summer that was more important than ever, since I couldn’t get out as much. So I exercised more. I rode my stationary bike. I started doing crunches, weight lifts, and calf raises. I took lots of walks up my parents long driveway. And it felt good!
If I let myself, I could get very bored, discouraged, restless, and depressed this summer. Summer was supposed to be fun and adventure and vacation and time with friends and family. And as a single woman, I didn’t even have the blessing of a family to keep my busy and engaged. I couldn’t afford to let myself slip down in the dumps like that.
So, I kept my mind busy. I gave myself a “to-do” list. My list consisted of chores around the house, extra projects I wanted to get done, leisurely activities, special errands, writing projects, physical activities, etc. And I didn’t make myself do everything on the list every day. That would’ve been hard and a great set-up for failure again. Instead, I told myself to do a certain number of things on my list every day. And to try to do each item at least three times a week. This not only set me up for success, it also kept me busy. And I went to bed feeling good about the things I accomplished.
For me, reading is the answer to all my problems! I can’t imagine not liking to read. I mean, how much you miss by not immersing yourself into a whole different world and getting to know a whole new cast of characters. Reading is my happy place, so I did a lot of it. And I mean, a LOT! It kept my mind distracted and sometimes even motivated and inspired me.
Maybe reading isn’t your happy place. (But, seriously, why not??) But I’m sure you have something that you love to do. Music, crafting, cooking, camping, scrapbooking, crocheting, swimming, hiking, etc. etc. The options are limitless! Find your happy place. And do it!
I wanted to take advantage of the (more than usual) quiet times I had, so I spent more time deepening my relationship with God. I read, studied, and memorized Scripture. I read books on Christian living. I watched the online church services. And went back to the building when it was feasible. I changed my prayer routine so I could make our time together more meaningful. I spent more time talking to Him. And listening.
And you know what I found? He was ALWAYS there.
Honestly, when I took care of the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of me, my emotional state was in much better shape. When my body, mind, and spirit felt good, my overall emotional well-being was in much better health.
Makes sense, right? Take care of the whole you, not just one part.
A Few Don’ts:
Don’t get caught up in social media drama. I had to remove myself from Facebook more than once this summer. I found myself getting very frustrated and upset over things being said, and I just didn’t need that kind of discouragement, so I let it go.
Don’t get caught up in worry. Easier said than done, right? When I caught myself worrying, I shifted my thinking to something else. ANYTHING else. A new book. Finding a healthy recipe. Sending a message of encouragement to someone else. Immersing myself in the Word. Listening to music. Praying more. It’s not easy, and I’m no expert on ways to keep from worrying. But believe me, worry will do nothing for your state of happiness and health.
Don’t get caught up on nitpicking the other side. Recent trends brought out the ugly side of people, I’m afraid. I saw people poke fun, demean, and name call, just because someone didn’t agree with them. Come on. I know we all have our stances and opinions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But cutting down “the other side” is not going to improve your state of mind. It’s just going to clutter it with negativity. And besides that, your name calling and insults might be buffeting the mental and emotional health of someone else.
Just be cool. And don’t do it.
These are difficult times we’re living in, and sometimes we need to step back and take inventory of our health and we’ll-being. Take care of yourselves, my friends. The whole you. I hope my practices at least spark some ideas of how you could better look out for your mind, body, and spirit. I hope my words motivate you to make the most of where you’re at now, despite what’s going on around you. I hope you all stay happy and healthy...
In His Grip!