The year is 2020 and I decided I needed to write a letter to my younger self.
(Sponsored post collaboration with #HowRightNow, a comprehensive effort focused on increasing individual coping skills and people’s ability to adapt and be resilient throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.)
When you think back through all the years that have come and gone, I know what you’re thinking.
2005 was the worst. The one that stretched you beyond words. The year which changed your family forever. The time you cried more tears than you thought humanly possible.
You’d be right, but I want to warn you. There’s another year coming. One you could never have anticipated in your wildest dreams. A time full of chaos, uncertainty, and even fear. And I’m not talking about in just your own personal life. I mean on a global scale.
But listen. I’m writing because even though it’s going to be tough, there are things you can do to help yourself, those you love, and anyone in your wide circles. You will get through this, though honestly it’s only October 2020 when I’m writing this and we’ve learned each month seems to bring a new catastrophe, kind of like if we were playing Jumanji. Ah, but I digress.
The most important thing I want to stress to you is that you must take care of yourself. This isn’t a year in which you will be dealing with fallout and stress over one event, and simply move to get through it. 2020 will require a long game approach and while your physical health will be important, your emotional health is key.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
2020: 3 Humans, 2 Wasps, and a Biopsy
When January hits, it will all seem so promising. An epic trip to the Mediterranean alongside family friends is on the calendar and new adventures await.
A nagging thought has you grab your sister and hop on a quick February flight though, the last one you’ll take for a while. You will be flying off to see Grandma before she turns 98 years old. You’ll be incredibly grateful you took that flight, as in the months ahead she’ll face numerous challenges that require around the clock care, something difficult for the most independent woman you’ve known.
Your regular visits to see her and all family will come to an abrupt halt as the world starts realizing a pandemic is spreading across the globe. Come mid-March the United States will be on lockdown. Do me a favor and stock up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Lysol disinfecting spray when 2020 hits. You can thank me later.
Three humans. Stuck at home at first. Choosing to stay home later. One working and hosting conference calls from the dining room (you don’t even think about moving him into your office because surely the pandemic will pass soon). Another trying to figure out this think called virtual school and Zoom calls. And then there’s you, trying to stay out of their way, getting really familiar with old family recipes and spending far too much time in the kitchen.
Surprisingly, things go really well. You will spend more time together as a family completing puzzles and finally cleaning out the garage, but it can get lonely inside that house. Promise me that you’ll make it a point to get outside. Walk around the neighborhood as a family. Work in the flowerbeds. Get some sun. It will be good for the soul, trust me. Sometimes a hard day needs just 10-15 minutes of outside time.
Two wasps. You’ll make it to July when a new normal really sets in, one filled with face masks, social distancing (get used to that term) and grocery pickup. Though things don’t seem as up in the air anymore, you’ll feel an underlying flow of anxiousness you won’t be able to describe. You really would have thought things would be over by now and life would return to as it was before. Not even close, and you can feel it in your bones (and your gray hair, as you haven’t colored it since the pandemic began – shocking, I know!) Of course having family members with underlying health conditions adds to the worry. Then came the two wasps.
It seems strange that I’m throwing two wasps into the middle of this letter, right? But they changed the course of your summer. You see, without you knowing, a swarm of wasps decided to make your beautiful wreath on the front door their new home. One day you’ll walk outside to get the mail and be stung on your hand. OUCH does that hurt. But you’ll think it’s an isolated incident. Only one wasp. Fast forward two weeks.
Once again, you proceed to get the mail. Stung again. This time you see it – the swarm of wasps in the wreath. It’s that second sting that almost does you in. Two stings within two weeks and you can feel your body change over the next few days. But here’s the thing – those two wasp stings are the reason they found it. I say “it” because although the summer will bring new health challenges to you, it’s the finding of a thyroid nodule or two or seven that changed everything. One in particular didn’t exactly look good after an ultrasound.
Biopsy. A biopsy was needed. A needle entering at the base of your throat. It’s not pleasant. In the middle of a pandemic.
I know cancer has devastated your life. It took your mom far too young. The anxiety will feel overwhelming. This was not expected. Then again, 2020 is full of surprises, none of them really good. Because of the backlog, it will take weeks for you to get the results. In the meantime, I know you will need to go through some stages, but give yourself a lot of grace.
It’s okay to cry. It’s even okay to have a plan of action if results aren’t good. But celebrate life. Sing at the top of your lungs, even when your family is laughing at you from upstairs (and they will). Pray often. Ask for help when you need it. Remember all the things you are grateful for. Rest.
In the end you will be at peace with whatever the outcome is, and thank God the outcome is good.
Your older, wiser, more anxious self.
This October 15th Take 10-15 Minutes
Odds are you’ve had quite the 2020 just like me. I’m sure there are differences, but maybe you recognize a few similarities as well. Maybe you haven’t had a wasp sting, biopsy, or even caught the virus, but that doesn’t mean you are fine, as we always like to tell people. The smile on your face might be hiding your real feelings. Insomnia might be the norm. Energy lacking. Friends and family seem distant (and they certainly physically are). Your days may appear overwhelming.
Acknowledge your loneliness. Embrace your fears, even your anger. Realize there’s something you can do about it, because you can.
This October 15th, I’m asking you to take 10-15 minutes to do something for your emotional wellbeing because it’s been a tough year for all of us.
Did you know that it can take as little as 10-15 minutes to reduce stress, anxiety, or even sadness? Set time aside intentionally to work on this each day because we have to make ourselves a priority. Our families count on us.
I’ll be intentional today, even in the midst of deadlines and laundry. I’ll go outside and water the flowers to get some sun and Vitamin D. I’ve got a dance party on the agenda. There’s a phone call to my grandma too.
==>Visit the #HowRightNow website! You’ll find resources and ideas which could help you adapt and find a way forward – for you and your loved ones.
So take time today (and everyday) for your health – even just 10-15 minutes.
Tell me, how are you taking care of yourself this year? Any good tips you can share with us?