Initially, windows surfaced in conversation was when I was talking to my mom, early in the week. She broke her hip in late January, had a major surgery to repair it, and was discharged from the hospital just days before the Covid 19 pandemic hit Canada with its force. Since then, she’s been at home, on the farm. My sister, Shelley, stops by each day for several hours to help her out, and one of my brothers brings in food and treats on the weekend and has an appropriate physically-distanced visit in the back yard with her. The rest of us visit by phone. Other than a very few other people stopping by, this has been her life for months.
When I was talking to her this week I asked jokingly, ‘Did you do anything wild this week?’ She replied, ‘Well, I did! I went to Shopper’s Drug Mart with Shelley. I stayed in the car while she went inside.’
My mother is a person, who, if she was in her normal life, would not even mention this trip to Shopper’s Drug Mart as an outing. She is an active woman and her outings usually involve going to the YMCA for exercise class, attending book club or bridge, walking with a friend or driving to my sister’s place for a visit. And yet, this week, Shopper’s Drug Mart made the cut.
Mom and I talked about how uplifting even a little drive like this could be. She talked about how nice it was to watch out the window as they drove, seeing the countryside as it has made its usual transition to spring. That little window of the car, gave her a view to the bigger world; one she has been missing. It allowed her to see possibilities. It filled her mind with some new thoughts for awhile.
I’ve also been talking about windows with several friends lately. All of us are parents with grown children, some of us are grandparents. Each conversation has swerved into someone mentioning how almost unbearable it is to see their children and grandchildren through windows, and not be able to be near them. All of us have seen pictures on the news of families visiting seniors through windows at seniors’ centres. While the television or Facebook version of this gives the appearance of being heartwarming, what we don’t see is the tears after the visits. We don’t see the heartbreak caused by the pane of glass separating loved ones.
No amount of ‘think of what people went through in war time’ helps this. The window feels like the bars of a jail cell, and we are the captives. In the end, of course, we all agree; while our hearts hurt not to be able to have our normal interactions with our family, having the memory of the view from the window is well worth the heartache we might feel and is a great reminder of what will await us when the restrictions are lifted.
Kaitlyn, our daughter and a teacher, has been online teaching through the pandemic. She was invited to her school on Thursday afternoon. They had organized a ‘parade’ to acknowledge the final day of work for several of the support workers and the librarian. Students and their families were invited to make signs, decorate their cars and ‘parade’ past the school to wish these staff members farewell. The teachers were to socially distance outside the school, on the parade route, so the students could see the staff, and the staff could wave to the kids. I’m guessing it was joyful, and uplifting, and heartbreaking and sad; feelings we have each experienced in these last few months. Windows give us room for all of those feelings.
Windows allow us to see in, and to look out. They let us take time to think about things inside ourselves; our thoughts, feelings and dreams. They give us the room to have new ideas, see comforting faces, create new dreams, and take our minds off our daily, predictable routine.
All my thinking about windows this week, reminds me we are always in choice. Windows, that can be seen as jail bars, can also be seen as protection, and as portals to incredible views. When I get stuck this week, I may take a little drive and look out the window. I may even spot a Shopper’s Drug Mart!
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How am I viewing my window?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching, and a pretty decent window cleaner. 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 maximize the view from your window.