Facing a Friend.

Friendships have always held high value in my life and in our house. Like all things in life they ebb and flow. Sometimes you are there to be a good friend to call and check up on people, drop off special cards or treats, or help out with daily tasks just because someone else could use a helping hand. Other times you need your friends to support and love and carry you.

The strange thing about living through a pandemic is no matter who you are you are experiencing some sort of sadness, change or stress. Maybe you have less work, your kids are struggling, you have had to make tough decisions, you have older family with compromised immunity, you live internationally and haven’t been able to come home… I mean I don’t have to spell out all the scenarios each one of us are living them everyday. Here is the thing those friends we rely on are also living them, and cannot be there for us in the same way they were pre-pandemic, during these tough times they are navigating there own issues.

I feel like there is so much about Covid life that I have come to appreciate and grown to like. Not the way I wish it came to be, forced because of a pandemic however I enjoy the excuse to do less, stay at home, explore/ travel local and most of all get to have “private” or small group experiences at places that otherwise would be crowded and chaotic. I even appreciate the year I am spending homeschooling my kids, something I would have never had the courage to do before but have always wanted to try.

Lately I have started to have moments where I see the toll this pandemic has taken on people I care about or even on businesses we have enjoyed. It has started to really sink in the larger scale impact this is going to have and is having on the economy as a whole, and on individual families. There are so many things that I haven’t had to think about but then I start to think about things, like funerals and celebrations of lives, and how they aren’t able to happen in the same ways and the impact that has on loved ones. This is just one example, so many “normal” scenarios that are completely different now. There is just so much heavy and hard stuff. I try not to focus or dwell on it but I also don’t want to live so far in my own bubble I loose empathy for others.

Everything feels new and different with COVID and some good and some bad but the biggest thing I have noticed that I have never felt to this extent before is the feeling of being judged or finding people being close minded. I have strived in my last probably 5 years (kids can really humble you I guess, welcome to parenthood) to really learn to be more open minded and less judgemental. This is not something that comes easily to me. I think without even realizing it I often judge others, when I reflect I realize how wrong this is and that I often don’t even know the situation/person/ etc. Reality is no one should judge others, so I continue to work on this. Sometimes I think for me, it actually isn’t even that I was judging others but the way I come across they might feel like I was (working on my delivery and facial expressions, always room for self growth). With Covid there are so many different opinions and situations, no two peoples life circumstances are the same.

I recently read a little booklet on making tough decisions and the importance on being able to voice your opinion and chat with others who have totally opposite views. I believe there is so much value in this and always felt I made friends with a wide group of people who had a big range of opinions and values. However since Covid I feel like I hold back voicing my opinion because it isn’t the popular one or that people aren’t currently open or capable of seeing others views respectfully. I also worry I am failing at voicing my opinion in a way that doesn’t leave others feeling threatened in some way or like they must defend there choices. I would never want someone to feel this way because of things I have said. I love hearing others points of views and often change my mind frequently based on others reasoning, it always makes me think a little harder or differently and I think that is what life is about. Seeing things from more than one perspective.

I am afraid one unfortunate result of COVID has been that we are no longer having in person conversations so it is a lot of written communication (social media, text, etc). Written communication is so hard to read emotion through, to convey sarcasm and tone and so much more that is lost in translation. It is easy to write something one way and have someone read it a completely different way. The result is people start to communicate less or are just angry and no longer listening and empathizing.

Last night I put the kids to bed and went out at 8pm, GASP! I know, late night living, I mean pre-COVID this would have been the time of night I would leave to hit up Bellingham Target for a little shop. Gone are those days! I digress. We went out to our local pub (because the restaurant we wanted to meet at closed at 8) and we had a drink and in a person catch up on life. It was amazing to me how much I missed seeing a good girlfriend face to face and just catching up, hearing about day to day life. It was also surprising how lonely I had been without realizing and how isolating “staying at home” has been. It isn’t like we see no one, we do leave our house and I do talk on the phone or text but nothing beats an in person conversation. To hear excitement or pride or surprise or see tears in their eyes, it brought back the emotion of communication.

I think the moral of the story is reminding us that we are all going through stuff, so don’t read too much into peoples out of character reactions/actions. Everyone is out of character, life is not normal for anyone right now. We are heading into the winter, which for many (myself for sure) can be a more challenging season and the “honeymoon” phase of this pandemic is over. Life is tough right now and we should continue to show empathy. We also need to work hard even when we don’t feel like it or don’t know how to for our self care routines like meeting a girlfriend for a face to face chat. These things matter and are what might just keep you going and give you some new inspiration. I know it sure helped me wake up with a smile today and gratitude in my heart. Remember to voice your opinions and get into conversations with others who think differently. You might be surprised what you learn.

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