By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt
For years, I have kept a written planner. I love my iPhone, but I am old school in so many ways. I still love writing checks. I still love sending letters. We have a CD player in our kitchen (albeit, a very modern-styled one), so we can listen to some of our old, favorite albums while we cook dinner or clean. And I have always loved to see my plans neatly laid out in writing in front of me, and I would always write in pen. Occasionally I would have to Wite-Out an event or activity, but for the most part, what was written stayed in my planner.
And then COVID changed everything. An entire spring of plans – my activities at the school where I work, my son’s school activities and sports and extra-curriculars, a spring break vacation, doctor’s appointments, and a whole slew of other events we had been looking forward to had to be canceled. I remember staring at my written planner, once I knew that COVID was not going away in a mere matter of weeks, and realizing I did not have enough Wite-Out to make this work.
So after a few months of staying at home and having no plans (other than scheduled Zoom or Google meetings), I decided to purchase a new planner. Once it felt safe to begin making plans again, I added activities and vacations back to the planner – but this time, in pencil.
At least for me, COVID changed more than how we structure our daily lives and our time out in public. I have always been one who lived by her planner. I loved filling out fun events and activities months in advance. It gave me much to look forward to, and as a Type-A girl with a love of routine, in many ways, I admittedly enjoyed being ruled by it.
After the initial weeks of unknown set in after COVID hit, and we all realized we would be staying at home for an uncertain amount of time, grief initially set in for me. Who would I be without my plans? I was involved in a myriad of activities and organizations. It was my identity. Who was I if not involved? Who was I if not balancing occasional downtime alongside sports, PTO, and get-togethers with friends?
As time passed and the new reality set in, I slowly realized that we are never in control of our plans. Even during the years when I rarely had to Wite-Out activities, at any of those moments the unknown could have hit. It was important for me to change the way I viewed my life. It was important for me to begin to adopt the “growth mindset” that we taught our children at school and that we also teach our son – at any moment something we are looking forward to could be taken away, and we have to learn how to be flexible, even if we’re disappointed. Change is a part of life, it is inevitable. If we become unmovable, we will never be fully content.
I was more than plans and meetings. I had to rediscover myself in a different way. I was able to take courses on-line to further the knowledge in my career in education. I took up exercising more. I even read up on healthier eating habits, something I had been wanting to do for a long time but had “always been too busy to do.” I changed the way we ate at home by trying new recipes and dishes. I watched new television shows that I never had time to do before – my husband and I love documentaries, history, and investigative-type programs. I read lots of books. We were able to tackle long-overdue projects at our home. I connected to friends in new ways, via online meetings – and we questioned why we did not do this more often, even during non-pandemic times. I started to enjoy the security and peace of being at home more; it made the times when we did get to go out more meaningful. And when we were able to slowly see people again, it wasn’t rushed, it wasn’t forced. There was genuine happiness in seeing one another, genuine talk and words spoken.
Looking back, COVID is no doubt a tragedy. Lives have been lost, family members are mourning, some individuals have had to work tireless hours while other families are struggling after job losses. Many people have gotten sick, and others have suffered from depression and isolation. Lives have been sent into upheaval. Parents are trying to decide the best way to send their children back to school, or are having to adjust their schedules to accommodate new school procedures this coming year. I pray we can move forward with some sense of normalcy in the future, even as COVID continues to circulate through our nation.
But as one who always tries to see and cling to the good, I am grateful that the time forced me to change my view of my life. Every moment – even moments not written in pen in my planner – are worth celebrating. Even if we have to Wite-Out a sea of activities or events, we can find the joy in the alternative. And we can set the example for our children that even if we find disappointment in having to take away something we were looking forward to, we will find joy and contentment in learning how to ride the waves when the tides change. And they will change. But luckily, pencils have erasers.
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