My Greatest Lesson During Quarantine

Photo by Aleks Sharpe Imagery
During quarantine every single person was forced to face their music. If you were safe at home or one of the few at the office your reality looked a whole lot different during this season. The common theme that I noticed in discussion with folks has been the ability to slow down and spend time in reflection while in quarantine. So for me, during quarantine my greatest lesson was this: How to show up for myself.

 

What does showing up for yourself even mean? Why would it be so important? Well, just like most people I know that my entire life I can wholeheartedly say that I was the first person to cancel on myself. I would quit a goal, postpone something I really wanted to do and the list goes on. After having kids it honestly just became so easy to loose so much of myself to our daily routine. I would constantly show up for other people with my time and energy but never for myself. Tending to the kids, my husband, the house, work and my friends WAS MY LIFE. We use the excuse that we don’t have time or that its not a priority and busy ourselves with things that please others. How many of you can agree with that about your life? It’s so easy and normal to get caught in the cycle of doing things to please other people and making their agenda our top priority. I would often tell myself to “dress better” because I was meeting with someone or “don’t be late” because this person doesn’t seem likely to forgive me or be gracious if I waste their time accidentally or not. There were a thousand things I let influence my choices and behaviors pre-covid quarantine. People pleasing or prioritizing everything else seems so desirable.  When someone says “good job” or “thank you” it makes you feel good. However, allowing others to have control over how you feel is giving them too much power. If their feedback isn’t there when you need it, or its negative, it can have very damaging effects on your self esteem and your mental health. The beautiful thing about this forced slow down time during quarantine is that no one expected anything from me (other than my family in my house). I didn’t have to go anywhere. I wasn’t scheduled to meet anyone. I was free to take a deep breath and re-evaluate my entire life. This time was sacred to me.
Was it scary? Damn right it was. My shop was forced to close down and I had a staff of 5 who depended on my business to make money and pay their bills. Not to mention I had my own bills and shop bills that I still had to pay when there was no revenue.  But here is what I do know about myself in unknown and frightening times. I am resilient. I have lived in survival mode time and time again. The loss of my Dad. The diagnosis of my son. These seasons in life teach us who we are and we are able to come out the other side of the season with more skills and clearer vision.

Resilience

noun
noun: resiliency
  1. 1.
    the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  2. 2.

    the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

     
When I am in survival mode there is no room for anything but top priorities in my life. I have had to sink into better coping methods and forge good habits time and time again while in survival mode and this was no different. This was a road I had been on before and could read the map no problem. In survival mode it is as simple as this: I am drowning. I need to get to shore. The waves keep coming and I am struggling to move towards the shore. How can I navigate the water in anticipation of the next wave? The answer; it is different for everyone. For me I have to look inwards. I need to be able to keep my head above the water first as I am the only person able to do this and be able to keep my eye on the shoreline. Those are the first steps. From there, how you get to the shore depends on your skills and abilities. For me it is showing up for myself. Making me a priority and secondly its knowing WHO is important and my WHY. In some seasons it is your WHO that pulls you to the shoreline and I am so thankful for my who in the seasons I have needed a search party. Just be mindful that the ability to swim needs to come first when swimming. Your search party cannot be the first call.
Here’s the thing. If I don’t do everything in my life because I want to what is the point? Now, don’t get me wrong there are lots of things we have to do that we don’t like or primarily choose for ourselves. The point is that, if people are making these great influences on our choices and behaviors they better be in your CORE people. You know, the ones who don’t ask inappropriate things of you. and know healthy boundaries. The ones that go the extra mile for you always and are ROOTING FOR YOU. Those people alone are the only ones WHO get to have input because YOU CHOOSE THEM. They are healthy people for your life. They show up for you unlike anyone else. This is one way to also show up for yourself.  Allowing only healthy people in your life.
It’s my life! Am I doing the things I want to do? Am I going to look back and be proud of who I am or am I going to regret my choices because they weren’t the ones I had wished I took? Getting dressed in the morning should be something for me. It needs to be a place where I honor my body (my body is my home) and where I get excited about my day. Showing up for myself means it doesn’t matter what I am doing or who I am seeing, I dress how I dress for ME. What I do in my day is also a way of showing up for myself. Choosing where I spend my energy is a CHOICE. Read that again. Saying no to the activities and tasks asked of me that do not align with my priorities is showing up for myself. It makes space in my life to focus on the things that propel me in the direction I WANT to go. To the shoreline I have my eyes firmly planted on. Lets read that again, IT MAKES SPACE IN MY LIFE and that is how it happens. You have to make space for it. Yes, people will not understand. Yes they will throw their opinions at you. The fulfillment I get in doing the thing I promised myself I would do is an amazing feeling. It gets easier to cast aside the opinions you don’t welcome from people not in your core circle with practice. You can have that fulfillment and satisfaction too.
Now if for a second you think this isn’t for you or isn’t possible, I want you to think about the last time you told someone you didn’t have time to do that thing for yourself. I want you to think about how much time you spend doing things you hate, resent, dislike, feel lukewarm about. Now what if you gave your head a shake and switched up those two things: what you do with your time and what you want to do with your time. Changing your perspective is exactly that.
What I have learned is that running around doing the things that do not serve me is pointless. Quarantine seemed to highlight for me exactly every thing that didn’t serve me. Why? Because when we are forced to live in survival mode, there is no extra energy left over for any BS. It’s that simple. When our bucket of water (our life skills) collects stones of worry, grief, anxiety, and other large stones there becomes less water in our bucket to share with others. Our capacity to deal with things is lessened because we are already focused on the stones sitting within us. Grief is a big one. Grief of what was and anticipatory grief of the future can also take up the majority of the space within us. Said another way, if we are drowning and can only think about keeping our head above the water and how to get to shore, we are UNABLE to focus on anything else.
If you have been feeling overwhelmed, depressed or anxious you needed to hear this today. Right here, right now. You need to sit down and write out your top three priorities. Only three, yes. If something in your day isn’t on that list, kindly say no thank you and get back to what is important. It’s time for you to focus on you. To do the things you want that fill up your bucket. Things that propel you to the shoreline you have your eyes set on. You will do everything better for everyone else when you are centered and take care of yourself. No one can do this for you. No one will tell you to take time for yourself (if someone does hold on to them tightly). Only you have the power to change the story you are writing. Now lets get to it friends.
-Chantel Funk

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