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My husband and I were discussing it the other day and agreed that the three words we are absolutely sick and tired of hearing are these…
Because of Covid.
Lately, it seems like everything that we find annoying, from poor customer service, to shortened operating hours, to inflation, to empty store shelves, to slow and unreliable delivery schedules, are explained away by those three words.
Here’s the thing – I feel like the companies who didn’t care about customer service before the pandemic are the same businesses who don’t care about it now. So, there are some people I’m not inclined to let off the hook “because of Covid.”
But much of the time, it’s a valid explanation.
The pandemic may be winding down (Oh, heavens but I hope so!) but the effects of it will be with us for some time to come. Most companies and organizations, entrepreneurs and workers, are doing their utmost to spring back from one of the most unexpected and economically devastating events of our lifetime.
And so, even though I am really, really, really tired of hearing that the new normal is still far from normal “because of Covid”, I am doing my best to extend grace, kindness, and understanding to others in this season of recovery.
However, I’ve been finding it hard to extend the same type of grace, kindness, and understanding to myself.
Businesses aren’t the only ones who got knocked flat because of Covid and are still struggling to get to their feet. A lot of individuals are in the same boat.
I’m one of them.
When It’s Hard to Admit that It’s Hard
One of the reasons I started writing this blog was because I hoped to inspire readers to “live every minute and love every moment” and I believed that writing positive and encouraging posts was a good way to do that.
If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you know I’m the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers, and that I sometimes fail to follow my own advice or live up to my own best intentions. In a lot of ways, I actually think that’s a plus. One of the best ways to encourage people in their struggles is to be transparent about your own.
At the same time, I hate letting people down. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that things are hard.
But, yes, because of Covid, this has been one of those times. Actually, one of those years.
The First Beginning
Not long after my husband and I moved into the house we built in Oregon, I decided I wanted to do something that seemed pretty crazy at the time; run a sprint triathlon.
What made me want to do that? It’s hard to say. But moving into a new state, a new home, seemed like the perfect time for a fresh start, a new beginning, some sort of transformation. What I wanted to do was transform myself into a healthy, active, over-50 woman.
I made that decision in the summer of 2017, just a few months before I started my blog. Because the central focus of the blog at that point (then called Fierce Beyond 50) was to provide community, encouragement, and inspiration for mature women, and also because I know that one of the surest ways to hold yourself accountable to a goal is to tell others about it, I announced my intention in a blog post.
For many months, I kept my readers updated on my training and progress and wrote a long post about the experience when I finished my first and second sprint triathlons. At the same time, I was working toward reaching and maintaining a healthier weight, so I wrote about that too, both in personal posts and in recipes.
I started writing about those topics in hopes of being an encouragement to my readers. But as it turned out, that encouragement came full circle. So many people sent supportive messages through email or social media to encourage me.
When I crossed that finish line on the road to the transformation I’d set out on a year before, becoming an athlete and reaching a healthy weight that I was able to maintain, I felt like all of you had made the journey with me and were cheering me on as I crossed the finish line.
It was a great feeling! And I was certain that my transformation was permanent. For a long time, over two years, it was.
By this time, I’m sure you can guess what happened, right?
Because of Covid…
The Year that Went Off the Rails
Pandemic or no, I tried to stick with my long-established healthy habits, I really did. Especially during the first few months.
When the gym where I train shut down, I gathered up some equipment and started working out in my garage. I did online exercise classes on my computer too. When racing shut down, making the running of a third sprint triathlon impossible, I set a goal to run 10 kilometers and invited my neighbors to come for a socially distanced coffee party in the driveway when I crossed the finish line.
In spite of that, 2020 and the first half of 2021 were very stressful. I got away from working out and from healthy eating. Bingeing on food and Netflix shows became my coping mechanism.
By the time June rolled around, I hadn’t worked out in months. And I had gained back ALL the weight I’d lost.
It was depressing and embarrassing. So many people had come along with me on my journey to healthy living, I felt like I’d let them down as well as myself. That made it worse, and even harder to get back on track.
The Second, Humble Re-Beginning
Finally, in July, I decided that enough was enough.
Covid WAS terrible, and hard, and stressful. And while I do think of myself as capable and, yes, even a bit fierce, I’m not superhuman. Like everybody else, I know good days and bad, successes and failures. And refusing to extend the same kind of grace, kindness, and understanding to myself that I’d extend to others wasn’t getting me anywhere.
And so, a couple of weeks ago, I made two decisions.
First, I would set a new goal for myself. In March of 2022, on my 60th birthday, I’m going to run my third sprint triathlon.
I began training last week. But it was definitely a humble re-beginning. Very humble.
Basically, I’m all the way back to square one. Following my own advice on how to run a mile, I am alternating one minute of running with four minutes of walking. Next week, I’ll run for two minutes and walk for three, and so on and so forth, until I am able to run a mile without stopping.
I had been thinking of waiting until our move is done until doing so, but I realized that eating junk and gaining even more weight is not going to help make this stressful season any less stressful. In fact, it would probably do the opposite. So, I’m getting back to healthier eating this week too. It’s only been a few days but I actually feel a lot better already, so it’s kind of a relief.
I won’t kid you, I’m still mad at myself for losing so much ground. But being mad isn’t going to change anything, is it? It’s going to take time, effort, sweat, and patience to get back to where I was in running, biking, and swimming, and to get myself back to my healthy weight.
But get there I will. I’ve done this before. I can do it again.
The Second Decision
The second decision I made was to just be open and honest about my foibles, failings, and humble re-beginnings. Because it occurred to me that maybe some of you have experienced some setbacks over the last year.
These could be physical setbacks, like mine, but they also might be professional, relational, e financial, spiritual, educational, or emotional. There’s hardly any area of life that hasn’t been impacted because of Covid, and hardly any person who hasn’t been impacted either.
So if you’re beating yourself up over a “because of Covid” setback, maybe it’s time to let yourself off the hook.
It’s not just you, my friend. We’ve all been struggling.
Your Humble Re-Beginning
Maybe you’re ready – or getting ready – to start working on overcoming a “because of Covid” setback. If so, I’d like to share a few things I’ve been telling myself…
- Let go of the guilt. Recognize that you’re not the only one who has struggled and gotten off track this year.
- Extend the same kind of understanding, kindness, and grace to yourself that you’d show to others in this same situation. Quit beating yourself up!
- Don’t feel bad if you’re not yet ready to make the changes you will need to make to get back on track. And don’t let other people pressure you or guilt you into doing so prematurely. You’ll know when the time is right. Trust your instincts.
- If you’re ready, make a goal and think out small, even humble steps to reach it. Remember that every step you take, however small, gets you closer to where you want to be.
- Ask for help if you need it. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in life, it’s that you can’t do it alone! Sharing your goals and struggles with a friend can help you stay on course. If your friend is struggling too, you might be able to help each other.
Look, setbacks happen. Everybody gets off track sometimes, this year especially. But the fact that you’ve gotten off track means that, at some point, you were on track. That means you know where you’re going and what you need to do to get there. That’s huge!
So take heart, my friends. And when the time comes to start anew, remember that a humble beginning is still a beginning.
We’ve done this before. We can do it again.