While I was out on my 1 hour pandemic walk, something I’ve been doing since being ordered to shelter in place. Although my gym is open I’m afraid to go back, so I created a daily workout routine indoor and my outdoor activities consist of walking the outside perimeter of the football field near my house.
I was listening to Miles Davis and my mind wondered about the life of prisoners and the limitations they struggle with. I know that there is no comparison to the limitations placed on our lives due to the coronavirus, and the striction placed on a prisoner due to crimes committed against society.
I began to think about what it feels like to lose privileges and freedom of choice, to be able to make decisions based on what we feel we need or want. For now our so called normal has been turned upside down, we have to put great thought into who we are around, where we can and can’t go, but we still enjoy some freedoms, as we sit, hope, and wait for the day when we can exist in something that resembles what we use to know as normal.
In the case of some prisoners they have no hope of life returning to normal. Once branded a criminal, this label sticks. When a person who has been incarcerated serves their time and is released back into society they have conditions placed on their lives that seem impossible to overcome.They have to check in with a probation officer, can’t live in public housing, is denied the opportunity to apply for government assistance, difficulty finding employment, and they no longer have the right to vote. All the rights and privileges endowed to all individuals. To add insult to injury their criminal record follows them for the rest of their life.
I said that to say this, all the privileges that we might moan and groan about missing during this pandemic like, dining out, broadway shows, sporting events, going to the gym, and meeting friends for cocktails or coffee. Although at this time we have to be careful, we can still exercise making choices by free will. Oftentimes when an event like a pandemic occurs we are often reminded that what we think we are missing or can’t live without, we should be thankful for what we do have and for the freedom of choice.
Lately I’ve been paying attention to the pattern in my life. Not routines like getting up in the morning and putting the coffee on at the same time, walking in the same direction to the train station, or eating the same dinner each night. I am referring to the patterns that have led me to the same disastrous results. I have learned much from being sheltered in place, having time to examine my life and how I allowed patterns of my own negative thinking to develop into poor behavior resulting in negative consequences.
I’ve allowed myself to think that the universe is conspiring against me holding me back for succeeding in my career, education and personal life. I was wrong. After deep reflection ( 1 year) I understand how I allowed people, places and certain events into my life that did not support my growth. I blamed circumstances and not the unwillingness to look at myself and how certain patterns created a mentality of being a victim of my own destruction keeping me stuck in an emotional and mental rut of anger and resentment. Most of the drama and damage I experienced was because I didn’t change old patterns. Why? Because I had become comfortable in my sadness, complaining, and role as a victim, I was waiting for the world around me to change, so that I could have my time for happiness. My path to reflection is out of desperation because my life was spinning out of control. During my period of reflection I learned so much about myself some of the information is shocking and new, but most important is the pattern of neglect towards myself, and the challenge ahead is that I have a long way to dig myself out of this ditch of “woes me” that I was drowning in.
I know that it is difficult for some people to actually look at themselves as being an active part of their self-created drama. It is important to understand the patterns of choosing the wrong partners over and over, making a pledge to lose weight only to gain back the weight, lose the weight, and gain it again is destructive. Patterns of making promises to ourselves that we do not keep, patterns of allowing other people to have power and authority over our lives submitting to them without speaking out, and standing firm on what we believe could cause devastating long term effects. These and so many other patterns are the root cause of unhappiness and feelings of being powerless to change. This is not true.
Awareness is the key: take a closer look at the patterns in your life. The negative and vicious cycles in your life, and see where these patterns have gotten you where you are today. I am truly thankful that I’ve had time to seriously re-examine myself and my life. I am moving forward building a better and more enjoyable life with awareness, changing how I make choices, and making sure that I am not repeating negative patterns.
It’s 6 days into the New Year and the feeling of relief and excitement of having made it through a year of turmoil is fresh in the air. The collective feelings from the masses is the hope that ” 2021 will be a better year” and ” we are ready to move on.” A New Year is when people begin to rethink their lives in the form of new year’s resolutions or bucket lists. I used to be a believer in both for years, I created a list of resolutions, and posted them on my refrigerator. I was engaged in the hype that each new year was going to be the year that I would achieve my goals. However, after three months I will lose steam, my focus and the desire to do the work to accomplish my goals; so year after year I repeated the same cycle making new year’s resolutions and failing to accomplish them.
Then I graduated to the Bucket List and for a while this worked. But over time it seemed that all I was doing was making a list of adventures I wanted to experience, places to visit, and I threw in some resolutions. Only to fall back into the habit of failing to stay focused on what I wanted to accomplish. I gave up and went about living life willy-nilly, enjoying good times and events, but my life felt like there was no meaning, vision or purpose.
My life changed when I attended my first vision board gathering. Before you jump to conclusions or judgement here me out. I know some people’s opinions about vision boards is that they are corny or sound like hocus pocus nonsense. It’s taken me a few years to understand how a vision board has helped me to achieve more with my life than making resolutions or a bucket list. The difference for me is that I was making lists and never actually spent time using my imagination or visualization to genuinely see myself in the positions that I desired to be in. Silly me, my thinking was that somehow the universe would blink like a jennie and magically my desires would appear.
Over time what I have learned from the process of creating vision boards is to ask myself questions about the purpose and intent behind what I want to fulfill. Creating a list of resolutions I didn’t understand that there had to be a plan, measurable goals, there will be setbacks and how to deal with distractions. Most importantly holding myself accountable for giving into the negative thinking that somehow I wasn’t worthy. Moving forward I have clarity and understand the difference between wishful thinking, useless resolutions and creating a long bucket list and then waiting a lifetime to achieve what is in my reach at this present moment.
This year I will be 57 and the priority is to work towards retirement ( retiring at 60 and relocating to start my own tutoring business). I’ve begun to downsize, cutting back on spending, cleaning up my credit history, and most important I know how I want my retirement to look like, feel like, and where I want to retire. I plan to use my skills and experience in Education to offer my
services as a tutor working on my own time for extra income and to stay active. Oh, and the most exciting part of this vision I am building a tiny house. On the road to retirement I will continue my love of traveling ( once this coronavirus is under control), saving, blogging, writing books, and all the other activities that bring me joy. It’s been years since I’ve been excited about a plan that I can actually visualize becoming a reality.
So my question to you is Resolutions, Bucket List or Vision Board?
Millions of people are voicing the same sentiment about their frustrations of the prolonged effects of this pandemic. The distress of limitations are very real for the people who fear this virus, so they don’t take chances to visit friends, relatives or gather in crowded places. They are not lured to travel to exotics places due to the cheap price of an airline ticket. These are the people who wear their mask at all times and are cautious about allowing people into their homes. The bottom line is that we have gone beyond the point of cabin fever. The mental, emotional, and physical toll caused by this pandemic is becoming frightening.
So maybe our old normal wasn’t so bad after all. An increasing number of people have declared that over time they have made certain adjustments under the assumption that this pandemic wouldn’t last. So, here we are January 4, 2021, almost one year since the day that the world shut down, then resumed some normal activities, and the numbers of hospital cases decreased, weather became warm and people felt a sense of relief and triumph.
The reality is that we were never out of danger because the threat of the spread of the coronavirus looms at every corner. The individuals who broke social distancing rules, not because they have no respect for the law, instead, due to feeling the strain of being disconnected, and having limitations put on them. Look around and you will see the weariness in the eyes of the drained and confused. People are no longer making fat jokes about the coronavirus weight gain, and building home gyms, zoom happy hour, Friday zoom date night, drive by birthdays, and anniversaries celebrations have lost their thrill.
How much more can marriages, relationships, friendships, and partnerships endure due to living in close quarters, and not being able to travel to see distant relatives? Yes, the doctors and science professionals claim that we must remain socially distant, wear masks even in doors, wash our hands, get tested regularly, and stay away from sick people. However, what about the problem of the homeless population slowly returning to the streets and subways in New York City, and millions of people are threatened with eviction and the government’s second stimulus package is too late help.
The day to day uncertainty is what’s causing so much emotional stress and hopelessness. So, with the dawn of a New Year, the vaccine, more social disconnection, restaurants shutting down, heavy travel restriction, majority of church doors closed, libraries remain shut, play houses still dark, and Winter, we are no better off than we were way back on March 10, 2019, when the world stopped. I hear many people admitting that they miss going into the office, teachers missing their students, and people wishing they could turn back time and relive all the things they took for granted. I don’t know if people are losing faith in religion, politicians, or humanity, but we are at our breaking point, we are in need of emotional healing and a long, long vacation.
I didn’t know what I just knew that something needed to be done; like so many people I’ve been a trooper throughout this invasion of the coronavirus. I embraced the time at home and deeply grateful that the government shutdown didn’t have an impact on my employment. I did my best not to allow myself to get caught up in the panic and chaos of the news, the turmoil of rascal tension, and the drama of the election. I don’t consider myself a person who lives in denial, and I do comprehend that the events taking place are real, and the devastation of this globe pandemic is fearful to say the least. But I created a bubble that I didn’t know the air was slowly leaking out.
I thought I turned a negative situation in my favor by refocusing my life. In my mind, I thought I may never have another chance to take advantage to focus on me, and my needs. I got busy focusing on my brand Conversations with J. R. Floyd, I had the opportunity to go live on Facebook for the first 8 weeks of being sheltered in place to encourage people. I edited my manuscript for my third book, worked on upgrading my YouTube channel, website, and wordpress blog. During this time I was teaching from home and going out two days a week because I am an essential worker. When I reflect back I wasn’t taking care of any of my needs, I was focusing on my goals working, working, and working,I was still on the grind. I wasn’t paying attention to how this pandemic and the limitations on my social life was affecting me mentally, emotionally, and physically.
For years I’ve played the role of the strong woman, resilient, self-sufficient, bouncing back strong, and taking care of myself. I’ve kept going on this path without acknowledging the mental, emotional and physical toll, I just thought that this is my life, and this is what I have to do. lately, I’ve come to realize that it is okay for me to admit that I’m not okay, and that I am hurting, a little angry and tired.
I wished that I had a partner, a helpmate,and live in my own home, instead of paying rent living in someone else’s house. A few days before the New Year I realized that I was on the edge of having a physical and emotional breakdown. I had to step back and listen to that voice of warning. So,I checked myself into a hotel in New York City, the anticipation of leaving my noisy apartment and being in a quiet place, where no one knows where I’m except for a few people. Stepping away from social media, the cell phone, resting,and reflecting on the harm I am causing to myself by not acknowledging my emotions and not taking care of myself by exercising, strengthening my body, losing weight, gaining weight, and eating poorly. I haven’t acknowledged my emotional vulnerability and the fact that I miss having a partner in my life. I miss the intimate connection, I am lonely, but I keep convincing myself that I am okay, and the truth of the matter is I am not.
I wasn’t focusing on the areas of my life that will help me to continue to pursue my vision. It’s okay to have a purpose and to have a vision, but if I am not emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy, it makes no sense to achieve certain goals, if I won’t have the strength or the ability to enjoy the goals once I achieve them. I realized that I’ve been stuffing my feelings and emotions, running away and I don’t know why, but this is what I do know.
As I sit here on New Year’s day, my final day in my hotel room, this little getaway has been a wonderful experience. No responsibilities except me. I have eaten well for 3 days, and been cleansing. Although we have limitations during this pandemic for my well being there will be more hotel stays. I need a change of scenery, to disconnect and to deal with my emotions to regain my physical and mental health, to get clarity about how I’m going to move forward with my future, and how I’m going to dedicate time and energy to what is a priority.
I hope that while you are either listening to this on my podcast or reading this on my blog, that my words and experience will connect with something deep within you, to acknowledge areas in your life that you have been putting on hold or pushing away. Talk about how this pandemic has affected your quality of life, the person that you were or becoming, the things and people that we have lost, how social distancing is causing a cloud of misery and confusion. I want people to understand that if you’re not okay regardless of what anyone says to you or about you. It is okay to acknowledge that you are not okay, and for you to get help and surround yourself with people who will respect the fact that you are not okay and help you on the road to feeling better.