Today, as I awoke, I was feeling disorientated. The clock image on my phone was displaying 5am – why so early? Then, in my groggy state I remembered we had just entered a daylight saving change, in New Zealand. My body clock was still adjusting to a new sleeping pattern after the digital clocks were turned back an hour. This will now become the new ‘normal’ for six months.

Normal?  Will anything to be normal, again, with experiencing our current global pandemic?

I counted on my fingers to ascertain I was now in day 12 of lockdown.  Disorientating disruption of daily routines has become the reality of life for so many, including myself.  But, today I had a road trip to look forward to – going grocery shopping.

I am fortunate my local supermarket is opposite my favourite beach.  Whilst waiting for the doors to open – I had arrived an hour early, not been aware of the updated ‘normal’ store hours  –  I walked along the sandy shoreline. The morning weather was stunning, people were complying with the required physical distancing and anyone who glanced my direction was greeted with a hearty, “Good morning!”

Some smiled, some responded and some chose to ignore this exuberant individual who was acting like she’d just won lotto. But, I noticed a distinct change within my wellbeing. I was feeling energised, with all my senses activated again.  I realised, in that moment, that; although I had a wonderful network of people I was connecting with online – in my business and personal world, nothing could actually replace the realness of physical connection with people.

As I later joined the line of customers, to enter the supermarket doors, I was still tangibly appreciating the sunshine and the physical proximity of humans again. It was then I noticed a lady, in the 70 + age range, take her place at the end of the growing shopping trolley train. There were three younger men between her and me – all appeared to have the countenance expressing, ‘I wish I had opted for staying home with the children, then enduring this!’ I motioned to them, “Are you ok that this lovely lady comes ahead of us?”  They vocalised their consent and I beckoned the lady to stand in front of me. The obvious appreciation she felt as she shuffled forward to her new position made my heart sing. We started talking – did I mention I often communicate with strangers whilst biding time in lines? She lives alone, in a retirement village and is struggling with the boredom of the daily restrictions of lockdown. I also live alone in my bubble – boredom is not something I have experienced, but I listened empathetically to her story, and we talked about creative ways she could manage her time. 

As we approached the entrance to the store and she got a nod from the security guard to proceed inside she paused, turned to look at me and said, “Thank you.”  I literally had to hold myself in check to not hug her!  But I could, in all sincerity, reply, “Thank you, I’ve enjoyed meeting you.”

I’m reminded of a well known quote by Viktor Frankl “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Orewa beach, New Zealand

No one chooses a stimulus of enforced self- isolating, caused by a virus contagion. But we can all choose our response to it – and whether we experience growth and freedom, or continually feel stuck and restricted.  The power of our choice is in ‘the space between’.

Currently, people worldwide are required to stay home to stay safe and keep others safe. But I discovered, today, that physical distancing can be achieved without social distancing. We were created for connection with others. During this period of restrictive social connections we will need to be more creative. Zoom meetings; dinner parties, coffee chats, cocktail hour, themed events (eg Crazy hair day – we’ve all had cancelled hair appointments!) and messenger support groups are just a few ideas I aim to implement more of in the following weeks.

AND, the next time you are in line, waiting to enter a restricted area, look around and see who you can bless. A blessing often boomerangs back to you  – I know that, from today’s experience.

#weeklyprompt #coronavirus #newnormal #mentalhealth #wellbeing #perspective #connection #blessings