There is not enough candy in the world to sugarcoat this year. The pandemic has blanketed our lives with a slime that sops us to our fingertips. It’s been 10 months and we’re still trying to scrub it off. 

We can probably agree that we all haven’t been at our best this year, neither on a personal or collective level. Our nerves are wires after having been yanked out of an electrical box – sparking, splintered, frayed at the edges. Acutely stressed, scared and frustrated, we are all a little more bitter, more terse. Our vulnerability feels like it’s doing a marathon, not a sprint. And hey, more uplifting news: Health experts say that the “darkest days” of the pandemic are still ahead.

Yeah. There certainly have been mornings where it is hard to get out of bed. If there was ever a year for mental health days, 2020 was it. 

There are days when music doesn’t sound good, food doesn’t have a taste, and all semblance of presence is clouded in a fog. It’s one foot in front of the other, one more cup of coffee; maybe that’ll be the magic zap to shake off the slump. 

Some days it works. Other days, there’s Netflix and a heated blanket.

There are days when we just need to reset, and that’s okay; it helps slow down the pace of this race. 

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

I’ve always admired the people with the ability to live in the moment. Not hung up on the past, not obsessing about the future; it’s a quiet confidence they exude, a gentle and calming demeanor. 

I spoke with Creswell resident Colleen Stewart after her mother, Audrey Stewart, passed away. As Colleen recounted all the things she loved about her mother, she said she was most impressed by her mother’s mindfulness, for her ability to be present wherever she was. 

She said that whenever she was able to slow down and just be at her mother’s pace, she really felt the most at home with her. 

“It’s hard in our world to be that way ... our lives don’t have to be so filled up. I think that the virus is actually helping us learn that, too,” Colleen said. 

She’s right. The pandemic was an eye-opener in this way for a lot of us, myself included. Stripped from our routines, from the comfortable, from the norm, we have been forced to acknowledge our emotions, to sit with them, and to either allow them to overwhelm us or learn how to deal with them. 

I always thought resilience was deliberately earned, quantified by big successes. I thought it would feel vibrant, powerful even. 

Resilience looks different, especially this year. It doesn’t feel vibrant. It doesn’t feel powerful. Resiliency is the ability to be okay with the chaos of uncertainty that swirls around us, to take the days as they come, to live in the moment. 

Slowing down allows all the colors pop around you; for you to smell each individual ingredient in a meal; to appreciate the sound of a windchime; to watch a gaggle of geese synchronize into a v-formation; to take a deep breath and actually smell the freshness in the air.

I’m seeing more colors pop around me, and can smell the crispness in the air. Last week marked the winter solstice. And, the first local coronavirus vaccines were distributed. It might not feel like it, but we are tilting toward brighter days. 

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