Some of my learnings from one year of pandemic lockdown

March 13, 2020; I remember it well. The National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States (where I live) announced that an elite player had tested positive for Covid-19 and stopped all games in the league indefinitely. Almost overnight it seemed the rest of the country followed, and the world.

What a year it has been since then. As the virus spread around the globe, nearly every person has been affected in some way, working and living in new ways forced by quarantine. Too many people have lost their lives to Covid-19. Families and teachers have been forced to adjust to home schooling mostly via Zoom. (Zoom has become so well known that no explanation is needed for what it is). And that’s the tip of the iceberg of impact of the “2020 year of the pandemic.”

These 3 lovelies in the picture (Pua, Camie and Cutie) have been one way to bring some fun to a time of challenge. And they are all gifts from my Bikram Yoga (Zoom) buddy, Betty who has significantly contributed to my life experience in lockdown.

 

Being human; embodying a learning (and coaching) mindset

While there’s still a way to go with containing the virus, this month I reflect on what I’ve observed for myself as a human being impacted like everyone else, as well as some themes from mentoring and coaching about 130 clients during this past year.

Being in the “human development” field means I have to “do the work” myself of being human, so I can best support the clients and communities I serve.

As a senior coach supporting many other senior coaches in their development, it’s important that I also “walk the talk” of what it means to be an ongoing learner, so that I’m authentic in my Presence.

For me, this is what the ICF Core Competency of “Embodies a Coaching Mindset” means at it’s essence; to constantly work on my own development as a person, so I can be emotionally and mentally available for my clients and the communities I support.

Here’s the quote I chose for my newsletter post of this blog article (and what I hold as my life’s purpose):

“Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.” Adam Scott

 

My experience may not be your experience

I fully recognize there are many perspectives on this past year and some people may have vastly different experiences than what I write about below. I honor each of your experiences and perspectives. For example, I don’t have children to home school; that alone is a major stress point for many people that is a different, altered life experience. I’ve worked from home for decades, and on zoom for 5 years, so nothing changed in that aspect for me.

I happened to find this article from CNN, which is informative of lessons learned from lockdown.

 

Learning: I can thrive in my home environment

I’ve been at my home in Laguna Hills, California, with plenty of outdoor space. I’ve been with my husband Michael, in a neighborhood easy to walk around (with mask) without encountering a lot of people.

We’ve significantly been working on some house projects too, mostly in the back yard and very front yard.

I’ve only been to my local grocery stores, maybe every 2 weeks as my husband and I rotate those duties.

I’ve seen my medical doctor once, to get a yearly prescription renewed.

I visited my chiropractor once.

I drove 20 minutes to the beach once and walked along the boardwalk.

Other than approximately a few 12-15 minute daily walks in my immediate neighborhood, I’ve not been anywhere else or seen anyone else in-person other than my husband Michael and the wonderful people who offer essential services. (The photo here is of one of the many bunny rabbits we see on our early evening and night walks).

If you told me 12 months ago that the above would be the extent of my physical human contact for the next 12 months, of course I would not have believed you. And yet, I’ve thrived in many ways, to my great surprise. More on that further below.

What I’m acutely aware of is that so many others haven’t had a safe home environment to quarantine in. I feel super grateful.

 

Learning: The quality of relationships (at home) matter

Without doubt, this year highlighted personal relationships at home. Many people suffered as a result, including from domestic violence and isolation, challenging physical and mental health. Many people living alone experienced acute physical isolation. For the millions of people who were used to going to their place of work outside their home, they found themselves abruptly in home quarantine.

For me, I felt incredibly fortunate to have a husband that I can speak with about any subject, who is supportive, and in the same field as I am; human development. We were able to support each other through conversations, and educate ourselves on how to stay safe, and keep others safe.

Michael and I have been married 20 years this September, and this past year definitely deepened our already deep connection. I feel so fortunate to have such a person to have shared this past year with, and ongoing.

The learning? For me, it’s to keep working on our ability to engage in good communication with those you live with, which usually means becoming familiar with your emotional “range.” 

Working with my emotions is something I work on all the time. Emotional “intelligence” and especially in stressful times, doesn’t come “naturally” to most of us. But it’s so worth learning.

 

Learning: Creating new supportive habits and routines really helps

I’m one who creates habits and routines. There is overlap between these, so I’ll define them as they apply for me.

For me, a habit is something that is an internal process, driven by values or beliefs, either conscious or unconscious. For example, I’ve developed a habit for 3 years now of not eating foods with sugar (including fruit). Or making a clear choice when I choose such a food. This is a conscious habit I engage with based in a belief around health (prompted by a recommendation from my doctor).

For me, a routine is the external behavior of an internal (habit). For example, I have a morning routine of drinking warm water with lemon juice, followed by a smoothie I make that supports my “no sugar” habit. This morning eating routine is one way to keep my no-sugar habit easy to sustain.

A habit around health that Michael and I engage with every night is a walk after dinner around our neighborhood. It’s about a 15 minute walk and we love it, because we look up at the stars, the moon, AND we count the bunny rabbits we pass by, which makes it easy to sustain our walking routine. (I took this photo last night on our evening walk, outside our house).

I have many such routines which support the direction of my desired emotional, physical, social and spiritual health.

 

Learning: Zoom Bikram Yoga is life-supporting, and fun (for me)!

Besides my relationship with my husband, Michael, the most significant contributing factor to my emotional and physical wellbeing in the past year has been Bikram Yoga (BY) community on zoom. I’ve been a regular student of BY since 2008, and average about 3-4 classes per week. It is a practice that I use for so many reasons, not only physical.

During 2020, I participated on in 5-6 classes average per week. I got fitter, not fatter 😊. For me, physical movement is tied to the “movement” of emotions for me. I’m an early riser and work early and finish around 4.15pm, then go to BY, which is a routine that again supports my good health habits on many levels.

I do miss the studio and the good sweat I get there, and haven’t been able to replicate that in my home (although I haven’t by choice tried BY from my bathroom, a smaller space that can be heated to a higher temperature).

My body is in better shape than a year ago. But more significantly, it was a very regular outlet for me at the end of each workday, to connect with my community of fellow yogis and the teachers I love. We supported each other by “getting on the mat” and being together virtually.

My dear Yogi friend, Betty and I, bring our stuffed animals, as others have “live” cats and dogs, or kids running around. We have heart signs we wave at each other at times in class. The teachers love it, maybe some of our fellow students think we’re a bit weird. Yet we made it fun, and will continue to!

I gain so much connection from my BY buddies, and without them I would not have thrived nearly as much.

If I couldn’t walk around my neighborhood (as many in other cities or countries could not), then Zoom Bikram Yoga would have been enough for me (plus some jump roping in my home to get my heart rate up).

 

Learning: Vacation away really is optional

I’m an intense worker, and I had “conditioned” myself to believe I needed regular vacation time away from my home in order to rejuvenate. Michael and I would go somewhere every 3 months for one week, usually to swim in warm ocean waters. Every summer we’d travel overseas for 2-3 weeks, plus attend an international conference or two.

And yet, one year later, having been nowhere, I’m surprised that I’m feeling as mentally rested as I am. I enjoy visiting different countries, cultures and places, yet now realize it’s not as necessary as I had told myself it was.

Early December 2020 I felt mentally fatigued though from the cumulative impact of the year. I took 3 weeks off from all client work over the last weeks of 2020 and did whatever I wanted (at home), when I wanted. I felt rejuvenated.

 

Learning: About Antiracism

A pivotal experience that is forever a part of 2020 is the horrendous events of racism that were “front and center” in the United States. Racism has always been evident, and in other countries too. Yet the murder of George Floyd and other people of color was a turning point for so many events that unfolded in 2020. I’ve written about my experience of being a student of Antiracism in 2020 which you can read here, and this work continues to have an impact for all of us. There is no going back now; forward with progress and change, however slow and painful. 

Changing habits, and routines, requires a shift in mindset, and there are many ingrained mindsets to shift.

 

Learning: Be real

Working from home has normalized being more natural in the way we present ourselves on camera. We see the background in zoom, and people living their “real lives.” Yes, the kids may scream, or the dog may bark, and that’s part of the normalization of life experience.

The big change I’ve noticed is how many people have let their hair grow, or stopped spending as much time on a particular “look.” There’s more authenticity as there have been less external places to go.

 

In closing….

As we eventually move to post-pandemic life, I imagine there will be many changes that will stick around, such as more people working from home. And there will be welcome opportunities to visit with those we care about, to travel, and engage more physically in the external world.

Here are some questions for consideration:

  • What has positively surprised you about yourself during this year of the pandemic?
  • What habits have you examined?
  • What routines have you changed?
  • What’s the best way you can continue to support yourself, so you can be of best support to others?

Again the quote from earlier in this article:

“Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.”

  • What will you sustain any newfound authenticity?
  • What can you do to continue to erase the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world?

 

Written by Carly Anderson

 

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4 thoughts on “Some of my learnings from one year of pandemic lockdown

  1. What a great article – love this insider peek into your life and thoughts. Also love this, “Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world “

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