If I could find the right counter and the exact right amount of money, and if the bet was about whether I could face a long winter of Covid worries and restrictions, I would be the first in line to slap my money down and declare, “I’m OUT!” I can do it; I just don’t want to.
I have spoken to so many people who feel like they just want to yell, enough. I’ve watched the news report that over 25% of the population is suffering from severe anxiety and depression over this virus. I also know that people tend to underreport symptoms of anxiety and depression, so I’m pretty sure plenty more people are suffering than we know. I’ve heard normally calm people have snippy responses. I’ve seen drivers furious with other drivers trying to merge. I’ve heard stories of children worrying themselves sick. I’ve felt the sting of tears myself. It’s been a tough year.
No matter. It may be that we are done with Covid, but as it has been said, Covid is not done with us. So, we need to find ways not only to exist and persist, but to thrive and fully live during this upcoming winter. I refuse to believe we won’t see some relief by March. I’m putting money on it.
Over the last week or so, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m willing to surrender during this incredibly unusual pandemic. Being a rule follower, I’m more than willing to comply with all regulations recommended by our health professionals. I’m willing to surrender some of my comforts, like the comfort of not wearing a mask, and of gathering indoors with large groups. I’m willing to answer Covid questions and not enter public spaces if I exhibit symptoms. I’m willing to dry my hands out with sanitizer, and use my elbow to press buttons.
What I’m not willing to do is to look back on these months of pandemic and realize that I was only surviving. I won’t mind looking back and recognizing I had to make a lot of changes. But I really want to be able to look back and feel as if I’m still creating a rich and full life. We only get one trip through this world. I do not want to have an erase mark through these pandemic years on the timeline of my life.
What I’ve noticed is I have absolutely no trouble filling my days. In fact, the other day I was lamenting that my days are going too fast. I have more interesting projects than time to complete them. Don’t worry, I am not wishing for the pandemic to be longer. But I know myself well enough that I could fill my days in solitary comfort, completing my interesting projects and not come out of this feeling very accomplished. My observations these past weeks have reminded me my best days are the ones where I include a splash of the unexpected, a splash of colour.
Colour in my life is appearing in many forms. Colour is what interrupts my routine just enough to give me new things to think about. Colour is a hike on a new trail with friends. Colour is looking forward to a cleaned-out garage, knowing it is where we might be able to sit, doors open and heaters on, when my brother arrives in town next week and comes for a little visit. Colour is thinking about what favourite foods of his I might serve. Colour is decorating the tube Jim bought for us to shoot chocolate bars down to the trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Colour is choosing a new quilt to make; one out of my comfort zone, but that I’m excited to try. Colour is thinking about what cycling adventure I can take next summer, Covid or not. Colour is talking to my friend, Brenda, about new courses each of us might be interested in exploring and about planning once per week hikes for the winter. Colour is visiting my friend Betty and wandering together around her property, admiring the garlic hanging in the barn and the newly planted spruce trees.
Last weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving. Usually we cook a turkey, prepare mashed and sweet potatoes, make homemade buns, cook a variety of vegetables including Matt’s favourite broccoli casserole, break open the homemade pickles, bake some pies and decorate the table. We invite not only our children but our nephew and his partner, my brother and sister-in-law, and Matt’s sister and her fiancé. This year, we knew this familiar tradition was not what was being asked of us. It also turned out that some of these people were not available. Instead, of trying to figure out how to keep it the same while making it completely different, we chose just to paint the whole scene a new colour. We did cook a turkey, but instead of a feasting in our dining room, we packed up a cooler with buns and cranberry sauce, divided the food into separate containers for each family joining us, and headed out to feast on a lunch of turkey sandwiches and Kaitlyn’s pumpkin cupcakes, at the foot of the majestic Rockies.
On this particular day, as it so often is in life, colour wasn’t just handed to us. Most of the fall leaves had been blown off the trees. A cool wind warned of the upcoming forecast of snow. The sky was as grey as the river rocks we walked on. Still, walking across the rocks with Ben, on our way to toss stones in the water, after a wonderful safe visit with the others, I was glad we had painted the day in our own way.
As winter sets in here in Alberta, I plan to add colour to each of my weeks. I’m not known for my artistic flair, but I’m learning that a splash of unexpected colour can make all the difference.
My inquiry for you this week is ‘What colour can I add?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to add some colour to your day.