This year of COVID has been a year of loss. Loved ones. First dates and coffee with old friends. Shared worship. Beach parties.
From the profound to the trivial.
For many who live with complex illnesses or who struggle to get out of the house and make it to school or work, it’s also been a time of revelation and maybe of anger.
I know for me, I was angry. My son had barely made it through high school because it was so hard for him to hit that door at 8:15 and go from class to class to class until 2:20. His principal and teachers were awesome. He struggled like a champ. But the schedule of those classes and the schedule of his migraines just were not a match made in heaven.
I keep thinking there must be a way for him to have a more flexible schedule. To be there in person when he could and get an education when he couldn’t face the lights and the noise.
It turns out there was. We’ve experienced it this year in Zoom.
He’s taking college classes now and it turns out remote learning on his own schedule works just fine. Because he can work 40 hours a week. Just not the same 8 hours every day.
Keeping What’s Good
As vaccines become available and the world is opening back up, all of us should be thinking about what we want to keep from this long strange trip and what we want to leave behind. (Puppies yes. Eight hours of Zoom . . . . I’m not so sure.)
So I am going to recommend an exercise I’ve recommended in the past: the 5 minute reflection. I do it myself at least every quarter. And I noticed I last wrote about it on New Years Eve. It’s almost traditional tax day in the US – the first quarter is over. It’s time to do it again.
Here is the exercise. You work in four quadrants:
- What’s working?
- What’s not?
- What should I do more of?
- What should I do less of?
This time, I suggest reflecting on the changes the pandemic has wrought. What is new that we will miss when it’s gone?
- Home cooking?
- Lunchtime walks?
- Time with each other – even when we drive each other nuts?
There are home and family changes that may immediately spring to mind. But I would urge you to consider changes in institutions that you want to stay in your life:
- Flexible school attendance.
- Working from home.
- Minimal travel.
- Flexible hours.
- Shopping delivery.
- Masking on the bus during flu season . . . . (just a thought)
For many people with limited mobility or who have pain or dizziness or nausea that spike and make it hard to keep a regular schedule, having work (school or paid) depend on PRODUCT rather than hours has made a huge difference.
For caregivers, the flexibility to stay home with a child in pain may have helped both you AND your child. I know many parents hesitate to leave a child home and are left with the choice between home and work.
Parents of older children and teens can get into even more of a bind. Is it better to drop them at school, knowing you might get called home when their pain spikes, or to leave them home all day so you can work uninterrupted?
So many difficult decisions.
Maybe we can’t have it all. But maybe we can have more than we have.
If this last year has shown us nothing else, it has shown us that we can get a lot more work and schooling done under flexible conditions than we’ve been told was possible.
Go through your exercise.
Think about what you want to keep – and what you will be all to happy to give up.
And fight for what you want. This is a good time to begin negotitions.
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