Hitting Pause

Wow, what a whirlwind the last two months have been.  I first became personally affected by COVID-19 back in late February.  I was supposed to go to Germany for a huge work conference, and literally 2 days before I was supposed to board my flight I got notice that the conference was cancelled. And not even cancelled by the organizers, but the German health board stepped in.  With COVID cases growing in Italy they were worried about 100,000 people from around the world gathering for this conference and shaking hands. In hindsight, very smart decision to cancel, but certainly disappointing in the moment.

At the end of February I didn’t view COVID as big threat for us in North America.  I saw the issue in China and cases growing in certain European countries, but I didn’t yet understand the magnitude of how our lives too, would be turned upside down.

On March 13th, I worked from home for the first time and haven’t gone back to the office since then. Official shelter-in-orders came from local officials a few days later for my city. Funny how in looking back I genuinely believed that if we all isolated ourselves for two weeks that we’d kick this virus and life could go back to normal…and now we’re on week 6 of shelter-in-place.

I cannot wait to see my friends in person again and give them a big hug.  I’m eager to get back in the dance studio so I can dance on a wooden floor with a partner.  What a thrill it’ll be to eat in a sit-down restaurant, to physically go into a store and shop for clothes.  But while we’ve had to hit pause on many parts of our normal lives, there have been some good things to come of it.

In my pre-COVID life I was constantly on the go and my days were completely scheduled out, allowing little time for spontaneity, rest, or reflection.  Most days I would hop in the car after a demanding day in the office, drive an hour (or more!) in rush hour traffic to the dance studio, dance for an hour or two, and not get home until 8 or 9pm. At which point I needed to shower and eat dinner, barely leaving any “free” time before I would fall asleep exhausted.  I would usually dance 5 days a week which left little room for happy hours with coworkers or game nights with friends, let alone dating.  My week days were so packed that the basics like running the dishwasher, checking the mail, laundry, and grocery shopping would fall to the weekend.

One unfortunate thing about the world of ballroom dancing is that there really isn’t an “off season”.  Even when you are 3 months away from a performance or competition you still consider yourself to be “preparing for it” and hours spent training generally don’t decrease.  As much as I LOVE to dance, it was starting to wear on me.  I just felt worn and overwhelmed by the busyness of my life. Sometimes to the point where I would burst into tears. The crazy thing is that feeling of being worn and overwhelmed really hit a peak in January and February. I was thinking about what I could say no to and what I could scale down in order to get a bit of a break.  Just a short while later COVID-19 hit the United States and normal life was paused.

All of a sudden, I don’t have to commute to work and the dance studio.  I’ve temporarily stopped private lessons. Evening hours have suddenly opened up and it’s actually been a joy.  I discovered amazing walking trails near my apartment that I never knew existed.  I’ve done yoga in the afternoon sunshine on my balcony. I’ve curled up with a book and a glass of wine and read undistracted for hours. I faced timed with my college friends more in the last month than I would usually see them in a typical month.  I’ve loved having time to cook meals for myself and explore new recipes.  I’ve tuned into 30-minute workouts on Instagram live to break a sweat over my lunch break.  My cat has curled up on my lap during afternoon calls while I have a window open to let in fresh air. I’ve journaled more in the past month than I did in the last year.

And yes, I have continued dancing, but it’s on my terms.  It’ll be interesting to see when restrictions are lifted if I revert back to my normal routine feeling refreshed by this break or if I rethink my packed schedule…

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