As coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown started to make itself known in our lives, I tried to write about it in various forms a number of times, unsuccessfully.
Recently I came across my collection of drafts I had penned but not sent about the gift of the pause.
Although time has passed and things have moved on, we are still on Level 3 lockdown in South Africa and are currently experiencing our highest rate of infection yet, with fears for high risk loved ones and businesses still closed for months to come (including ours).
We are still very much affected by this virus. So here are some thoughts presented in the hope that our learning can inspire or support your learning.
There were 5 main effects of this pause in our lives:
- daily life got very simple
- we organised our priorities
- we got clarity on the components making up our life
- we had the capacity for deeper reflection
- we had a window in which we could decide to take action
The gift of the pause – simplifying life
I started out by writing about the name of my business, A Simple Beautiful Life, and making the point that coronavirus delivered some of this to us on a plate. Certainly the simple part.
Everything stopped in daily life. No school lifts, no ballet classes, no piano lessons, no playdates, and no quick food shopping trips.
And when it started gradually back up again on zoom, it was more simple. We found a new daily rhythm, at a slower pace. The waking hours were not sliced up into rushed trips in the car, or hasty meals and commitments. There was no hurrying out of the front door. The usual frenetic pace and multiple obligations disappeared overnight.
I have been writing about creating a simple life for some years, yet I have realised that practically I was living quite far from my theoretical ideal.
I now intend to simplify our lives further, by learning how to use the gift of “no”
The gift of the pause – sort out prioritise
When one is under mental and emotional strain, it can help to create a sense of ease to keep one’s focus on the top priorities. So we did just that. We paired the days down to:
- the health and wellbeing of our family –
- including healthy food,
- daily exercise,
- meditation and mindfulness tools, and
- ongoing learning.
- actively creating a new stream of income, to replace our event flooring business which was stopped in its tracks.
- supporting others in the community where we could.
The gift of the pause – clarifying life
As our finances began to tumble off a cliff, when we were forced to stop working, we had to look closely at our lives.
- We looked at our lifestyle.
- We studied our expenses.
- We simplified meals and stopped all unnecessary purchases.
- We made fewer big decisions and stuck to living day by day.
- As mentioned above, we sorted out our priorities to create a framework for living more simply.
- We made changes with reference to our income and learnt new skills.
It has been and continues to be an uncomfortable time for many of us – forced change. We try to embrace positive thinking and keep the faith that opportunities will come our way if we actively remain open to them.
Even though it has been intense, for once in our adult lives, we have been given an invaluable chance to stop and take stock of our lives and make changes where necessary.
The gift of the pause – taking time for reflection
The pause has involved a great deal of confrontation and opportunities for personal growth. We are being confronted with ourselves, with worry and fear for the future. We are spending a lot of intense time with our families, or alone, depending on how we live. Both situations are extreme.
As we cannot go out and distract ourselves, we are being forced or given the opportunity (depending on our stance) to look inwards, to take stock of things, and to improve.
This is a real opportunity to step back, to reflect, to make changes, and to move forward renewed. To ask those deeper questions which are more easily avoided in our former busy days:
- who am I since I last checked in?
- what is it that I really want to do?
- what is my purpose, what is my work, how can I help?
Looking forward, we do not know what the future will hold, but we do know that we will have very little control over any external factors.
All we ever have control over are our own reactions.
The gift of the pause – take action
With clear priorities, comes easier decision making and then easier action.
To maintain the health and wellbeing of my family, one of our top priorities, we stocked only healthy food. We made us of the abundant online resources available to learn and exercise and have fun. We created new ways to entertain ourselves.
To create a new stream of income, I took action!
I started and continue to learn digital skills with an incredibly supportive online community. I simply took a step, then another, and finished the course and am learning new skills and coming across new ideas every day.
The course involves a heady mix of real skills and support along with personal development. It is very well taught and extremely well supported.
I am inspired and delighted and my life is changing for the better.
And time passes
When I think about looking back at this time in the future, my wish is that we will look back with some gladness – knowing that we found pieces of the silver lining that is always there waiting to be discovered.
We rediscovered real simple living, we focused on what we could control, we pinpointed our priorities, we spent time together, and we used the window as an opportunity to learn and grow.