10 things I am glad I learned years before COVID-19 changed the landscape of our lives… because some lessons are harder learned in the midst of a crisis.
1. Working from home while simultaneously caring for a child does not work well.
I choose one or the other. I can alternate between the two throughout the day. But I cannot do both unless I am satisfied with doing them both half a**.
It took me trying with all my might to do both 100% (and failing, and crying about it) for at least one year. Sometimes I need to prove myself wrong before giving up on an idea.
I finally succumbed, accepting reality. Once I acknowledged that I had to strike a balance and have “Mama work time” and “Mama and Maggie time,” things went more smoothly, both in our home and in my head.
2. Don’t attempt to do more than 3 things daily when caring for kids full time.
When I fill my list with more than 3 items, I almost always fail and feel like a loser. I compare myself to others. I compare myself to MYSELF on better days.
My mentor gave me the assignment years ago of limiting my list to 3 or fewer items. That felt challenging at first as a former long-list maker. But lowering standards of perfection really helped me enjoy life, live in the moment, and appreciate time with my child.
3. Living way, way below my means has endless benefits and has given me limitless freedom.
You cannot dangle a carrot attractive enough in front of me to convince me to stay (in a relationship or at a job) if I am miserable, feel conflicted, or know what I am being asked to do is unethical. Huge freedom man. Huge.
One of those benefits: starting my own business in 2016. With no money set aside. On ZERO budget. And I celebrate four years as a business owner this month, thanks to God’s control of outcomes and wonderful friends, clients, colleagues, and business partners.
4. Buying basics in bulk and maintaining a pantry is more cost effective and efficient than shopping frequently.
This is part of one of my favorite principles for living: prevention vs. damage control.
The more we plan ahead and think big picture, the less likely we are to run out of steam, react rather than respond, and find ourselves in sticky situations in life.
Before I joined a recovery program, many parts of my life could be characterized as “a mess.” My finances were falling apart and had been slowly spiraling in that direction for years. I had just ended one marriage and was in the middle of a horrible dating relationship with someone I never should have dated at all (but couldn’t see any red flags at the time). I quit a toxic job the same day I attended my first 12-Step meeting. My life was a wreck!
Learning to pause, ask for help, and take direction from others with more experience (practice prevention rather than damage control) changed my life.
And no–buying four cans of beans versus one is NOT the same as a major life crisis like going through a divorce… but I think you get what I’m saying here :).
5. Maintaining strong relationships with medical providers, business owners, and community leaders can really come in handy in a pinch.
During this crazy time, I have needed some assistance in various areas of life. Because I have maintained good relationships with people who are experts in different fields, these people have come through for me. And I’m grateful.
Burning bridges with people is just never a bad idea. Maintaining solid relationships is always a good idea. Period.
6. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me why I wanted to live in the country, or why I got divorced, or why I don’t attend church at this place or that, or why we owned land, or why we owned chickens… so many people wanting to know so many things about my life they’re not living :).
My lifestyle choices are my business. Yours are yours. Life is definitely more serene when I care less what anyone else thinks (as long as me and God are okay, everything is okay).
I have thankfully been able to maintain this perspective during this pandemic.
I know others have not. I see their posts. I read their rants. Then I snooze them on social media because while I love them, I do not want to see their posts or read their rants. I want to let them simmer first.
Judging other people and the way they handle any crisis is simply a bad idea. It won’t help anyone. And it’s going to burn bridges (see #5).
7. God goes before me. God is always right on time. God loves my people more than I do.
I can trust God.
God has come through for me EVERY SINGLE TIME and in every situation in my life. Through sexual assaults, through divorces, through bankruptcy. You name it. Why would I doubt God’s ability to take care of me and the people I love right now?
I do not.
8. I AM NOT GOD.
In reference to #6, I do not know how to best handle the world’s problems. I do my part to take care of myself and my child, and I leave the rest in God’s hands.
I do not have to instruct others on how to care for themselves either. Because–I am not God.
9. Even when bad, terrible, traumatic things happen, God ALWAYS converts those tragedies into opportunities for redemption and light. If I let Him.
The beauty of this truth is that God requires nothing of me except willingness to sit with open palms and watch Him convert ashes to beauty and darkness to light. If I just keep my eyes open and my mind open, I will see miracles around me. And I do.
10. It’s okay to wear pajama pants with a dressy shirt on a Zoom session, but it is not a good idea to forego the pants altogether.
Just had to throw that one in there because although I learned that years ago as a small business owner working remotely, I know some of you are just joining the Zoom scene. I’m trying to help you out.
Which life lessons are you thankful you learned–even tough lessons–years ago, long before this healthcare crisis? How have you applied lessons you learned then to the situations you’re faced with today?