It’s been more than a year since I posted anything on my blog. Why? Because life got in the way. We moved from balmy Thailand to frigid Canada (a newcomer’s perspective). But this post isn’t about transitioning from Pad Krapow Gai to Poutine (although I can’t help shedding a tear every time I think about the finger-licking good spicy chicken).
A few months ago, I began writing a post titled ‘The Return of the Working Mummy’. It was meant to be about my return to the corporate workforce after a hiatus. A light read on addressing the “gap in the resume”; re-building your brand; keeping that bra on for 12 hours; slipping into 3-inch heels, and saying adios to a comfortable pair of shorts. Cut to April 2020, and here I am, re-writing that post in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.
Earlier this year, well-wishers connected with me to see how I was coping with balancing life at work and at home. By Late March our conversations moved from “Have you settled in?” to “Do you work from home? Did you get a pay cut?” I got the “It’s so great you still have a job” too. I am proud to say I am part of the essential services, and yes, I am blessed to have a source of income during these challenging times. But in my head, life was not supposed to be so hard – the mask, the gloves, maintaining a 2-metre distance from coworkers with whom I was trying to build a connection. I felt restless about how my life was taking a detour down a dark winding road. I had plans! Big ones. One of them included taking the G2 driving test in March. And yet, here I was riding the bus every day. My well-planned smooth SAHM to working parent transition became a joke. No self-help book or conversations with those with first-hand experience were of any help. That unseen vicious monster sneaked up on us and wreaked havoc in our lives.
COVID-19 hit the world hard, and we’re all grappling with our own set of challenges. But from experience, I’ve learned that discomfort leads you on a new adventure. If I’m being honest, I did try convincing myself that this virus was going to go away and people would recover from it and return home to their regular lives. I didn’t know how; I guess I was hoping for a miracle. But we all know the truth. Our troubles don’t magically disappear. We work hard and intelligently to bid them good-bye. And for me, this time of discomfort has been magical in its own way. I won’t deny that I’ve had a few days of severe anxiety. However, I chose to avoid auditing those days and write them off instead. I tried my best to stay away from dissecting the volatile emotions I went through. I am not someone who pushes things under the carpet. I talk about them. But unusual times call for new approaches. My new mantra: If you’re blessed to have a new day make the best of it and try avoiding going down the hole you fell into the previous day. It is all trial and error. Now more than ever, it is important to find the extraordinary in everyday moments of our daily life. In the words of Regina Brett “Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.” So be present in the moment, whatever that present moment may be.
I hear the eagerness in people’s voices about wanting life to return to normalcy. Honestly, I don’t want us to go back to our old selves. What then? We return to our busy lives oblivious to the world around us, ignoring our loved ones with zero time to pick up the phone and check on our friends or even send them a hug emoji. Will we return to our obsessive social media-driven lives that conditions our brain to believe we’re making real human connections? NO. NO. NO. Life must never be the same, and I hope we’ve all learned something valuable from this pandemic – the true value of human touch and eye contact. There is strength in collective laughter and an unspoken commitment in a steady handshake. So let’s rewrite normal together.
I’ve truly enjoyed spending time with my little family building an even stronger bond, making memories that have gone beyond family vacations to ones that will be etched in our hearts forever. It took a pandemic for many of us to be grateful and acknowledge our many essential workers for the work they do. My heart is filled with respect and gratitude for all frontline workers who silently returned to work every day with the only expectation that those who can stay home will be mindful and self-isolate. I must share, the bus driver who ferries me to my place of work now raises his arm when I get on the bus – our silent hello, a new day together even if it is only for 14 minutes.
So don’t be in a hurry to return to your ‘normal’ life. Remember, nothing that you experience in life is a random event. Our challenges and our wins are tailor-made for us. COVID-19 taught some of us to be more generous with our resources while others learned to step out and ask for help. Some of us have tightened our purse strings while others have learned to let go and enjoy a little. Each of us has something valuable we can take away from these dark days. So take time to understand what you want to do and who you want to be when all this comes to pass. For it will. Those salons will open, and you will get the opportunity to fly off on a holiday (at some point) but was fighting the virus the sole purpose of this global lockdown or is there a deeper message?