Where has the time gone?!
It’s hard to believe that it has been 4 months since we sat here at our virtual table! It was the beginning of COVID and I think we can all agree that none of us could have been prepared for what was to come. Here in Barbados we fell in line like soldiers and followed the government’s mandates to flatten the curve. Was it easy? No. Did it work? Yes. Barbados was lauded as one of the most successful countries to deal with the pandemic and we proudly stood by our Prime Minister and Ministry of Health to do what was necessary to protect public health.
Though there was a sense of pride, LIFE seemingly did not get the memo that we were utilizing all our resources dealing with a global pandemic and kept barreling challenge after challenge. Uggghhh – any chance you could ease up there a bit? I found myself in a space that felt incredibly difficult. There were days that felt so familiar, yet everything was so different. I found myself exhausted from constantly scanning the day in anticipation to see what was the next thing that going to drop or change. What was going to alter that would cause me to have to adapt in a new way? I was relying on my resilience and adaptability, but I was getting tired. Very tired. I had to find some more coping tools. I became an observer of the world around me and soon enough I found the smallest word that would transform my days. My coping strategy came not in the form of an action but in that of a three-letter word.
One morning at the end of July when I was grabbing a coffee in Artsplash next door to the clinic, I struck up a conversation with one of our patients who had flown in from Canada for treatment. We talked through the protocols she had to undergo to come to Barbados and as she shared her journey. I couldn’t help but smile from under my mask. She already had the heart of a mother. She was doing whatever it took to get to Barbados Fertility Centre to create her family with purpose, intention, hope and love. Her story was not a straight line but one that had its fair share of twists and turns and even getting to Barbados during a pandemic was not going to stop her. She was displaying the type of love that declares, “I will go to the ends of the earth for you!” And she really did – it left me awe struck. In the conversation she kept repeating this one word again and again.
As the days continued I realized I started injecting that small but very powerful three letter word both in my vocabulary and my thoughts. This word was turning into a bridge that was helping me to span the constant juxtapositions that were my new reality. The word that kept coming up repeatedly.
Drum roll…. The word was simply the word “AND”.
I know, I know, I get it. Really?! The word “and”?! But stay with me a for a moment.
Using this word was a missing link in my life. During the beginning of the pandemic I found that in order to have a sense of safety and security I defaulted to hard structure that I could depend on so that my emotions didn’t run away from me. I had spreadsheets for work, I had budgets for my spending, I had lists for the week and the weekend. Everything had its place but if you are blessed to have lived more than a few decades you know that life doesn’t fit in a box. As I started to test this theory my soul started to relax. Here is what I learnt with this new practice:
I can grieve for a life lost AND still create my own life being happy in the present moment.
I can be safe AND vulnerable at the same time.
I do not have to know it all AND still know what is right for me.
I can say no to attending events ( all be them small!) AND still be a good friend.
I can be uncertain AND still be confident.
I can have my faith AND still doubt.
I can still dream of a life I want AND work through the present one I am in.
Adding the word “and “ was not a trade in ownership of one thing for the next. Boom! This realization hit me in the chest. The pressure started to ease.
I realized I could create a link with compassion and accountability without trading ownership. As I started to do this, more and more I began to reclaim my own story of what was happening and how I was showing up in the aftermath. Perfection got thrown out the window and authenticity and grace replaced it. I am still very much a work in progress with this new concept, but I am learning to rely on it as I create the space of how I want to be in the months to come.
I challenge you to slot this word into your day and see what happens as we all rise to the calling of this ever-changing time.
Continue to stay safe and keep looking for those little moments that still have a way of making you smile and I will see you soon here at the table very soon again.