I woke up today feeling off. I realized that Is the perfect word to describe the last year. Do you know how if we reset our phone or computer the problems go away? It’s almost like I want to reset and reboot this last year. There were many days I felt as though I was living in the twilight zone. Some weeks my blog flows right out of me. Sometimes I sit for hours and type and it feels like I had such a good writing flow. I pour out my emotions and I get it all out. I add in my advice in hopes of helping people. While writing this week’s blog I was constantly interrupted. I realized this morning how appropriate that is for this topic. This is what I wrote:
Here I sit on March 13, beginning writing this and remembering what was going on one year ago. One year ago, my children didn’t know they were going to school for the last day for a while. Ella says she will never forget that it was Friday the 13th. My smart friend told her son to bring everything home from school that day. I didn’t do that. I didn’t’ see what was coming.
My daughter Ella and I bought tickets to go see The Little Mermaid at a local high school that night. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that Ella was exhausted and didn’t want to go. I was happy that I could go watch Lillie’s dance watch week that night. I want to tell you all how extremely thankful I am that I went to dance with Lillie instead of the musical. I got to see all three of Lillie’s fabulous dance routines that night. I would never get to go to a dance recital that year to see the three dances she had worked so hard on. We all know that SO many things got canceled.
The next day a ton of my friends were raving about the Little Mermaid musical and how awesome it was. I was sad that we missed it, but I couldn’t get myself to buy more tickets and attend. With all the talk about Covid, I didn’t love the idea of going to sit with a ton of people in an auditorium.
You know what happened next. Schools shut down and my kids didn’t go back to school that school year. Businesses shut down and fear and shock ran through every family. One by one we heard about everything that was being shut down. I think we all thought we were living in the twilight zone.
We were all going through the stages of grief:
First comes denial. We couldn’t believe what was happening. It took a while for it to sink in. I was definitely in a state of shock. Some of us were more surprised than others.
Next comes anger. I wasn’t angry. I was sad. People were so angry that their businesses were being shut down and I couldn’t blame them. They were angry their kids couldn’t go to school and wondered how the government thought that they were going to be home for their kids. People were hot and I heard anger flying everywhere. I want my husband to know that I was so impressed with his businesses ability to keep going during all of this. “We already use zoom. We can work from home. We work with a lot of people remotely already.” Seth would say all those things to me and reassure me that everything was okay. He could keep working. What about all the people who couldn’t? My heart went out to them and I was angry for them. I had anger and it was for my friends who were dealing with a lot. How about being told that your gym or hair salon had to close? What about all the restaurants that had to close or just do take out? What about all the people who were really sick or dying from Covid? I just realized I did go through some of my own personal anger. I was angry that I was expected to be Lillie’s teacher on Thursdays and Fridays as it wasn’t going well.
The next stage of grief is bargaining. People were rationalizing things in their heads. This will be over soon. I kept hearing from people, “We will all do what we need to do, and this will be over quickly.” I would listen to people say, “They will be back to school soon. Things will be open soon.” In my heart I was preparing myself for my kids to be home the whole school year. I didn’t know how long Seth and his staff would be working from home. I was finding myself passing quickly to an acceptance phase.
Depression is next. I still see depression looming around me. Adults and kids are feeling the strong affects of what we have been through this past year. It isn’t over. Some people don’t see an end in sight. Families everywhere are struggling emotionally and want their normal life back. I will tell you that I was worried about Ella when her theater was doing online classes. I was so thankful to them for still proceeding online, but I also knew how much she counted on going to theater for so many reasons. It’s her space from her family. It’s her own thing. She is with people who love it as much as she does. I am hearing about so many parents and children who are struggling right now. I want you all to know that I see the light. I want you all to know that you have made it this far. If you are feeling very depressed, please reach out to your supports. Talk to your family and friends. Tell them how you are feeling. Ask for help. Find a good therapist. I have had many people joke with me that there is a long wait for therapists and that I need to get back to it. Tell that to my three kids who are home with me for the next five days (they are only in school two days a week).
The final stage of grief is acceptance. This doesn’t mean that you are happy about a situation. This means that you have accepted it and come to terms with what is happening right now. I hear people daily who are still in anger and fighting. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. These are the people who will make change happen. It took me a long time to get to this phase. I was upset that I had to be Lillie’s teacher on Thursdays and Fridays because it was going so poorly. However, my whole family has adjusted to our new normal. It took us a long time, but I think we are finally there. I do feel bad for Lillie. She tells me regularly that she wants to go back to school five days a week. She told me that a few times today. So maybe Lillie isn’t in the acceptance phase but Seth, Max, Ella and I are.
I want to talk about the struggles and the gains over this last year that I personally have experienced and have seen around me. I enjoy the positives so much more and I like to focus on positives and strengths so can we start there?
- I was forced to slow down. The mother who never stopped from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed had no other choice. Everything was shut down. There was no where to go. All of their activities got canceled. Obviously, I will discuss this in the struggle section too but there was a strength in this. I learned how to slow down, and I really needed to learn to do this. I’m sad that it took a pandemic for me to learn this lesson. I have embraced time on the couch reading a good book and playing games with my family or working on a puzzle together.
- More time with my family. Again, this is going to go into the struggle section but there is a big strength in this. My family was home together every night for dinner. I would set the table and smile that all five of us could have dinner together every night. Not only did we get to have dinner together every single night, but we also had nowhere to rush too. There was no rush. It was a lovely and refreshing feeling. I realized how overscheduled we are. The prosocial activities are amazing for my kids and all three of them need them. However, activities for three children can be super overwhelming to me.
- I got to see my husband. This goes with the last strength too. Seth and I tend to be two ships passing in the night. It is March 16th as I write this. Tonight, I will take Ella to theater and after work Seth will disappear with Max to soccer. We don’t see each other a lot during the week. In fact, if there’s a lot of soccer on the weekend I don’t get to see him on the weekend either. He even worked at home for a few months. While women everywhere were complaining that their husbands were home too much, I was truly enjoying getting to see my husband’s handsome face.
- I made sure to get outside every day and would also disappear to my basement. My golden retriever loved the multiple walks a day that we took when there was no where else to go. People were complaining about the Covid-19 weight gain and my weight was going down because my sanity was walking my dog. It gave me space from my family, and it got me outdoors and exercising. I also went in my basement a ton to get some me time and workout.
- I got my first book completed and published and worked on my business. I wanted to get my book out because I wanted to help people. I knew people were struggling at home and I wanted to give them something to read. I also dove more into my blogs and vlogs and began my podcast. I am beyond thankful that Seth and I could work over this past year. I’m truly grateful. I found many positives as I reflected on the past year.
- Two of my friends just told me how happy they are that they decided to home school their children this year. There are so many families who went this route and are loving their decision.
- I’m going to talk about personal struggles, and I am going to talk about struggles that I am seeing people go through. Being with my family more had strength to it and was wonderful and there were also many times that I went for a walk to be by myself. Parents everywhere were wondering how they were ever going to get a moment to themselves again. Seth told me to go to Starbucks and sit in my car and drink my coffee and read a book. Although parents were finding that they were having more time with their families they were also finding that it could feel like too much. My daughter Ella turned to me one night and said, “I just need to go somewhere and get some space from my family.” I totally understood how she was feeling. This is all so normal to feel that way. Everyone needs some space. My son was disappearing to his room and gaming with his friends, so he was happily escaping. My husband lasted a few months at home with us and then ran back to the office. He says the separation of work and home is good for his mental health. He says he’s more productive at the office.
- When my children were babies and Seth left for work, sometimes I would feel left alone. I would feel like his life got to be normal and that my life was home with my babies alone. I was experiencing some of those same feelings when he went back to work.
- I was missing my family and friends. I was missing people. We still aren’t seeing our parents a lot. I have started to see my friends more. We need people! I did do parking lot dates with friends with coffee. I did do face times and zooms to see people.
- A ton of important events and vacations got canceled or rescheduled. Most of you who have followed my blog know that my son’s Bar Mitzvah turned out to be on Zoom. That was a hard one for me to swallow. Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, graduations and more had to be toned down, rescheduled, reworked, canceled. I’m going to tell you that I’m still sad about it. Max is happy with how it went, and I keep reminding myself of that. Now it’s time to start planning my daughter Ella’s Bat Mitzvah. Let’s see what this one is going to look like.
- The fear was real. It took me a long time to go out to the stores. I get claustrophobic and the thought of wearing a mask on my face was really freaking me out. I finally put it on and ventured out to the grocery store. It took me many months to adjust to wearing a mask. My kids adjusted much better than I did. It also took me a long time to want to go out. I just wanted to stay home and safe with my family. A year later I have changed my tune and am certainly ready for everything to be open and for life to go back to normal. I think we all are. My attitude has shifted tremendously from March 2020 to March 2021. I realize that there are still people who aren’t ready for things to go back to normal and I totally and completely understand. People with health issues are most concerned and are not ready for things to open.
- I most definitely have to mention all the people who got really sick with Covid or who lost family members and friends to it. That is the hardest struggle in all of this. They couldn’t even grieve in the way that we are used to. Creativity with events even applies to funerals. I send my love and prayers to anyone who is battling Covid right now or who lost a loved one.
- I had Covid and my family had to be in quarantine for 24 days. That was a rough 24 days. That was not an easy time. However, I count my blessings that I had such a mild case and didn’t pass it on to my family.
- People lost their jobs, got laid off or had to quit to stay home with their children who were no longer at school. I heard about so many people who were now working from home or had to get a new job to work around their children being home. I love that so many employers let their employees work at home, but I feel so badly for people who were unable to work for various reasons. The smartest thing Seth and I have done becoming parents is finding flexible jobs.
- Some people have coped well and developed new hobbies and new business ventures. Some people have lost all motivation and are not coping well. You hear about mental health concerns with so many people feeling depressed and anxious. This is a huge concern. I think the biggest reason I want everything to open back up is because it will be better for everyone’s mental health. You don’t have to agree with me. This is just my own opinion.
- I have also heard that divorce is up. It was interesting to me that I was enjoying having Seth around. That is not at all the norm of what I was hearing around me. Couples were together too much and not getting space from one another. Problems were being magnetized. If there were already issues than they were going to really be in your face. It is completely normal to need space from your spouse.
Here’s looking forward to a better year. Here are some ideas to help you in the next year:
- Spring is approaching. The weather is breaking where I live. It was lighter longer today and the air feels so much warmer than it’s been. I can’t emphasize enough to you that getting outside is so good for your mental health.
- Keep a journal! Writing and getting it out is my greatest coping strategy. I am not saying that it is yours. I am just saying give it a try! You have to find what works for you and what makes you feel better emotionally.
- Get some exercise. You may tell me that it’s hard to get motivated. Start small. Start with a ten or twenty minute walk. I’m not telling you to go run a marathon. I feel so much better after some exercise.
- Self care is not selfish it’s necessary. We have to take time for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be an hour. Find 15-30 minutes a day that is just for you. It will improve you in all areas of your life. You will be a better spouse and parent and you will do better at your job.
- Use your support system. Your spouse, your parents, your friends, your neighbors. You are not alone! Everyone goes through hard times and everyone needs help. I need help every day. The more I try to do everything myself the more my mental health slopes downward. I realize there is different types of support. Think about your needs and what you get from different people. First you have to identify your needs to know how to fill them. There are concrete needs like helping with your kids or with your house. There is needing emotional support. Sometimes you may just want to vent and not get any advice and you have to tell people that. Sometimes you need advice, and you need to talk to your supports and ask for that.
- Start a new hobby. Find something you are interested in. I really love to read. I love to do a puzzle with my family. I haven’t gone to the movie theater in over a year, but I can watch a movie in my own family room. I have seen people learn to knit, take up a new instrument, make bracelets, painting, etc.
- Try mediating. It’s so much easier than you think it is. I went on you tube and found a five minute meditation and I absolutely loved it. I always feel better when I meditate, and the research shows how good it is for us. Go try it and see how you feel. You can spare five minutes.
- Focus on your thoughts. Find the joy in your days. Look for strengths. What you focus on will expand. What you expect you will make happen. You have wired your brain to think a certain way. We can rewire our brain. Meditation helps with that and so does journaling and so does being aware of your thoughts all day.
- Problem solve situations that aren’t working for you. Clients would say to me, “I already tried that. That didn’t work. That won’t work for me.” If they don’t believe it will work than it won’t work. If I know that I can find an answer and fix things than I will. You have the power to change things. There is always an answer. I tell my husband he is the king of problem solving. I’m not as good at it as he is but I guarantee that there is someone in your life who can help you figure out your issue. There is always hope.
Here I sit on March 16, 2021, reflecting on the last year. I feel so many emotions. I feel proud of all of us that we got through it. If you are reading this than you got through it with me. I’m feeling proud of my family for overcoming obstacles. I am finding that this year really made me feel more grateful and had me counting and appreciating all my blessings. We had a roof over our heads, we had food in our kitchen, and we had so many clothes to wear that I can’t seem to keep up with the laundry. I stopped and smelled the beautiful roses of my life. My family is healthy and resilient, and we are okay. I know that doesn’t mean that you are okay! I want to encourage you to truly find the joy in your days. Look for it. Think about what brings you happiness and bring that into your days. I want to encourage you to look around at your blessings. If you are not feeling okay, please talk to someone. I see the light. It will get better. Stay healthy and know that we are in a better place than we were one year ago.
I thought I finished writing this last night before I went to bed and then I woke up today feeling off. I started my blog writing about that, and I want to finish it on that same note. I want you to know that if you are feeling off you are not alone. If you are having a bad day you are not alone. I have days where the sun is shining and I can’t stop smiling. I have days where I tell myself to smile. I want to tell you what worked for me this morning to get me into a better place in hopes that this will help someone. I got up and started moving. That always helps me. Start moving. Get out of bed. I started thinking about what would make me feel better today. Talk to someone! Talking to people has been the key to my feeling better. I also got excited to squeeze in some writing this morning. I know that writing makes me feel better. I told myself to get outside today. That always helps me. Errands and getting out of the house will help me. Find what works for you and build it into your days. I want you to feel your feelings, but I also want you to find a better way to live. I want everyone to find your happiness and your better place. Work for it. Tell us one thing that makes you feel happy. You’ve gotten so far. Take it day by day. It will be okay.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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The Whinypaluza Schedule:
Whinypaluza Wednesdays: My weekly blog comes out. I am always open to your topic requests. A new Vlog (video blog) also comes out every Wednesday night on Facebook and You Tube. If you would rather listen to a podcast than watch a Vlog, you can wait for the following Wednesday and the Vlog is released on my Podcast.
Family Fridays: Every Friday morning a new Podcast is released. Most of my episodes on Friday are my discussing parenting and marriage with experts on the topic. If you would rather watch the Podcast instead of listen, you can watch it on Facebook or You Tube. If you would like to be on my Podcast or know someone who would like to please contact me at email@example.com