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The Three I’ll Carry Forward

Temperatures swung up and down all week, echoing the energy of other cycles. Staying inside all of one day invited reflection on both lessons and obstacles in moving from pandemic to endemic.

It Started Sunday

I cleaned my largest perennial bed. It felt good to be outside with my hands in dirt and to see the red tips of tulip leaves pushing their way through the mulch. For two days following, the fabric front of our woodshed fluttered continuously in cold wind. The highest temperatures were in the twenties; there was a skiff of snow both nights.

This is the push from March to April in Vermont. Oscillation for weeks. Progress toward spring is varied and unpredictable. It feels like the past two years.

My pandemic circumstances were to stay at home and to have contact with only a small group of people. Truth: There were days spent wrapped up in blankets on the couch, remote in hand. But I was also outside a lot. Inside, I started my coaching journey, this blog. My cooking got better, my food cleaner. The house got a thorough going over. All that as time seemed to stand still.

Collectively we’re moving forward again—albeit in fits and starts. This is what I’m bringing with me.

Lesson One: What Do We Have?

We played it safe. My husband and I tucked away, secure and comfortable, falling into a quiet, reliable routine. Reasons I fell in love with him decades ago came back to mind. It was just us; gratitude for our home and the state we live in rose often.

A handful of friends were go-to companions; we spent time together outdoors, arriving separately. The moments hiking, kayaking, swimming, and playing music together were not taken for granted. Seeing whole faces was comfort. Conversations became amazingly honest. Times in good company were precious. Smiles? Gorgeous. I better understand the value of close relationships—with all their ups and downs.

Mundane moments became points in history. Certain objects, beings, and spaces will be tied forever in my mind to this time. How much we have and how little we need became more apparent (as did the awareness of those who have little and need much). Joy and connection were vital.

Lesson Two: Step Into It

I didn’t know this was going to happen.

Coaching started as something constructive to fill down time. The first training was exploration, the next fascination. Covid and isolation continued; my website and blog were built. I led workshops and gained clients, earned a meaningful credential. The pieces are in place and I love the work; the rest is a matter of scale.

Looking back further: I also never planned to live in Vermont, to once make a living in sales, or to own a rental property. I’ve been willing to follow threads—all a part of the tapestry I’m weaving.

Lesson Three: Navigating the Days Left

Déjà vu sets in as I again make plans to get outside of New England. They’ve been put in place and cancelled several times over. To the hardwood forests, lakes, and summits that kept me sane and rebalanced my energy: thank you! We are bound forever. To the high desert and gulf beaches: I miss you!

A spectrum lies between engaging in practices that lend promise to additional healthy years and living as if this is our last day on earth. Finding the sweet spot is a lived question made tricky by not knowing the number of days we have. (Here’s one small example: How much bacon?)

There Are Lessons and Obstacles

Stretching out has been slow. Some limits I have:

  • My caution, exercised, remains strong
  • Building connections takes effort. I work alone. The family I have, including in-laws, is remarkably small
  • Spending too much time online and in my head can stunt me.

And You?

We’ve all had such different experiences. Empty nesters did not have days like people with school-age children. Essential workers lived another whole life than people discovering how much they really liked being home (some brutal truth here about why remote work suits many). Strategies in pandemic management varied from place to place.

What were your experiences? What are the lessons and obstacles for you? Also, simply: How are you? This hasn’t been easy.

Susan McDowell is a life coach based in Central Vermont.
Send her an email if you ready to follow a thread, make a fresh start, or just. get. un. stuck.

More of Susan’s blog here.

1 thought on “The Three I’ll Carry Forward”

  1. Beautiful writing! Spring is the same over two weeks later as it was two weeks ago…unstable, oscillating, this moment of balance seeking balance. As you said, so much like the experience of this pandemic itself. I loved the poem and am so grateful for the sweeping net you cast. For me, the yoga threads (sutras in Sanskrit) are what I follow as all else falls away, as the tapestry of what is truly meaningful is woven together.

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