Today, the sun is shining and it is beautiful outside. Although I have not been outside, I would bet it is rather cold. All this week the weather has been dry, but exceptionally cold in the shade with the sun peaking out occasionally throughout the day. A year ago at this time we were outside most days enjoying the warm, hopeful sunshine daily.
One of the training courses I signed up for in February finished last week. It was an odd ending, rather anticlimactic after spending seven weeks and over forty-two hours of training together. Without skipping a beat, the other training course I signed up for has begun. This feels both exciting and strange, because I miss being among learners and not being the teacher. While 2020 commenced full of hope and a sense of promise, all that was dashed with the spread of what we all would come to know as the pandemic. Those first three months were really emotionally and mentally tough for me. The sun shining so frequently at that time really helped pull me through those months.
This year, with the vaccines, who knows how much longer these quarantines and limitations will last. I have settled into online teaching, now landing a different place in the physical-emotional pandemic curve, from surviving to learning how to incorporate more variety and appropriate technology into each week’s lesson. As I have mentioned before, I am determined for this year to be different than last. Trying something ‘new’ each month, or attempting to rediscover something long lost. As well as finally attempting a pivot in my career that I have wanted for quite some time.
To be perfectly honest, part of me wants a semi-return-to-normalcy, however the other part of me wants to remain in my home, with my family, in our little box, just us.
I don’t think remaining in our homes is the most healthy to do though, for me or my child. It isn’t the worst thing we could be doing, but it does have its limits. I have noticed that every time I am physically able to spend time with my friends, usually outside, I end up feeling high from the experience. I am elated and excited and pumped from the opportunity. I also recognise in my child the fact that he says he doesn’t like school, but loves seeing, playing, and interacting with his friends, to the point where he is uncharacteristically grumpy on the weeks he doesn’t go to school.
Current pandemic facts
We spoke to my in-laws at the beginning of this week. They were excited to be vaccinated. We are excited for them. They were telling us all about upcoming trips and future plans. They wondered when we too would be vaccinated and if we had any summer plans, especially when we might be out to visit again.
No, we still don’t know for sure when we will be vaccinated. There are still far too many people who should be in front of us in that hypothetical line.
No, We have no concrete summer plan(s), although I do hope we can camp again this summer.
No, we don’t plan on visiting until most of the world has the ability to be vaccinated, just to be safe.
In the United States, roughly thirty percent of the population has been vaccinated and at least fifty percent have received at least one shot/dose of the Covid19 Vaccine. Compare this to eleven percent of the total population of Europe (excluding the UK, thanks Brexit). In our German state of Rheinland-Pfalz, as of April 13th, only sixteen point five percent of the population has received one dose, and only five point two percent have received their second does. Our vaccination day will likely be a little farther out. We’ve just to remain patient and vigilant as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise since Easter. We will get there too, but probably not before fall.
Learning a new word: Ambivert
In an effort to more distinctly (re)discover who I am, I took a series of personality tests at the beginning of the year. One in particular would help me determine if I was more of an introvert or an extrovert. Officially, it claims I am a public introvert and private extrovert. Let me explain.
What I learned did not surprise me. My energy is often very closely tied to my environment and the people in it. When I spend time with people who inspire me through their own personal drive and activities, I am energised. There have also been other people I have met or worked with who I find absolutely draining. Noise is also an important factor here. If I am studying something I cannot listen to music that contains lyrics and it cannot be too loud. If people are trying to converse with me with music in the background, it either cannot be too loud or cannot have lyrics.
I also have a love-hate relationship with people. I absolutely love meeting new people and learning about their lives and histories. I also love to people watch. Do I want to spend absolutely every night with my friends, even my family whom I adore. I often feel the need to be alone and occasionally dream of a lone hotel room all to myself for at least a night.
Back when I would physically meet people, especially a room full of new people, it would always take a moment for me to warm up to the room. Additionally, I know I don’t need to prove myself in a room full of strangers. I am more than happy to simply be me and know that. While historically, I have come across as overly social and extroverted, I usually require a great deal of time alone to recharge after these encounters.
All of this points to me being an ‘introverted extrovert’ or an extroverted introvert’ depending on how you look at the spectrum. In the specific personality test that I completed it said I was a public introvert and a private extrovert, meaning I am much more comfortable with private gatherings with close friends as opposed to large, loud parties.
Why do I mention this now?
Well, it is part of my growth process for sure. Additionally, it helps to understand how this pandemic and semi-isolation is affecting me (and those around me). I definitely don’t want life, once the majority of populations are vaccinated, to return to the old ‘normal’, but I cannot yet say what the ‘new’ normal should look like. I guess I hope I will still have time to write, to learn, and to reflect, not only to hustle. I don’t necessarily want to hustle from job to job, from commitment to commitment for myself or my child. I remember that was what life was like before. It was exhausting and, I felt left little time for growth.
Looking inward to look out
After all this introspection and reflection, what good has really come from the past two weeks?
- Practiced German eleven out of fourteen days,
- Gone to the mat for roughly eleven hours total,
- Rode my bike five days in a row this week,
- Not had an alcoholic drink in seventy-six days,
- Cleaned out the electronics boxes bursting full in our living room,
- Thinned out old clothes, half of those in my closet,
- Donated our old house phone – I hated it, replaced it with a cheaper, more functional phone/answering machine
- Gave away half of the fabric that has sat unused for over two or more years,
- Thrifted my sewing machine because it just frustrated me in the end, so I was demotivated to use it,
- Reorganised and cleaned out our ‘Art Cart’ that we roll around the house for art projects and inspiration.
- I have a pile of things to toss, a pile to donate, and a pile to gift – which I am most excited about.
If you remember, or even if you do not, this months inspiration was Cait Flanders The Year of Less, which was originally a blog before it became a bestseller. Each week she would describe her journey: What she was able to purge, what she was able to save, and how she felt. All her success and failure wrapped up with a nice electronic bow for the world to see. I bet she is also an obliger.
Technically, because my husband and I have not had to get dressed properly for work, ninety-nine percent of our clothes have not been warn in a year. According to most decluttering ‘experts’ we should get rid of them. I am not ready for that, especially if it means having to potentially spend money later. Although I am not opposed to thinning what I have. We haven’t taken a deeper dive through the closet quite yet.
Another challenge I faced this week a pair of (highly rated) wireless headphones that I only purchased late last year have died. I asked my husband to follow up with the company to receive a replacement or repair and they are only crediting us the money so I can simply buy a new pair after we return the faulty product. It is a solution, but not the one I was hoping for.
A review of the original plan
Back at the first of the month, you may recall I mentioned my plan of attack, specifically:
- the bathroom
- the kitchen/pantry
- the bedroom
- the living room
- our son’s room
- the basement
- my office
Which room or space has been completed?
- the bathroom
- the kitchen
- the living room
Which room is in process?
- the bedroom
- my office
- the pantry
Finally, which space still needs attention?
- the basement
Slow and steady or like an explosion
Every time I started to clean something out, I get the feeling that I wanted to make ALL the things explode so we could clean them all out – but kept fighting this inner urge as I know it will only feel good to pull it all out and then put the bits away, not necessarily to have to spend all the time going through all the things.
In spite of this inner desire, I do not want to blow it all up, creating utter chaos in order to feel exhausted and accomplished at the end.
Slow and steady can win the race. They will win this race!
This method of one thing, space, or box at a time is okay, perfectly suitable. I just have to remind myself when I am in the middle of it. It offers a much gentler approach to decluttering and cleaning rather than causing utter chaos or making it look like a bomb has gone off in our house.