Has your life, during this pandemic, been feeling like it’s been put on hold? Honestly, I thought mine was for a while… I couldn’t travel, I couldn’t see my friends, I couldn’t even go out to dance. I felt as the world had pressed a giant pause button.
But now, it’s been nine months of living in a pandemic, and I realise none of this is “true”, nor has the pandemic negatively impacted my life. I know that this has a lot to do with my personal opportunities and mindset, but it’s also been due to the process of finding and creating new solutions and opportunities within these strange circumstances. And in all honesty, my life hasn’t been put on pause. I was, after only some small struggles, able to travel to where I had to go, I’ve been able to continue working (my work had always been remote and online), and I am able to spend time outside, exercise, and be in a safe and love-filled environment. And I’ve been very lucky to have all of these things be possible, but for me personally, to look at the past nine months with positivity, has mostly to do with mindset and concretely thinking about, or reviewing, whether I actually missed out on anything.
Besides a lack of travel, like being unable to travel to New Zealand and postponing it another year, I think I haven’t missed out on anything in the past nine months. You could argue the lack of travel, but I don’t actually have to travel, and while I do love it, the risks it accompanied weren’t worth it. And I don’t just mean health related risks, rather, I’m talking about the inability to get to spend time with my family for the holidays, or being stuck in a strange city. Traveling to the Netherlands and then back to St. Barths for urget family reasons was already quite an undertaking. So arriving with half of my life in a suitcase in St. Barths felt like quite an accomplishment. The past six months I’ve been able to set up my life and because of the lack of traveling and needing to organise it, I’ve been able to really focus on myself – more so than I do when I am busy traveling. A lot of realisations and self-confrontations have taken place in this timeframe, also about travel. Somehow now I was actually giving myself the time and space to think about my life, my behaviour, the way I am creating each day and my overall goals and dreams. And I got to think about how some travel is fun and helps me learn more about me, and how other travel, or desire for it, has been to run away from things, feelings, emotions, habits, but I understood those things don’t go away by traveling, rather, they’re just put away somewhere only to resurface at the most inconvenient time. So I’ve been taking this time to really focus on working on myself, making myself my best companion for life.
I’ve tried to transform this growth I feel into words, to share it on here, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes it feels too personal, sometimes the puzzle pieces of my growth lie in strange corners that aren’t always easy to identify. Other times, the growth I have been experiencing comes from the infinitely many conversations I share with my mom, Rowena, and Christiaan and while I don’t always recall the words that we spoke, I always remember the feeling it leaves within me. I always feel a familiarity, a feeling of power and strength. Sometimes I’m also left with sadness – sadness at how I’ve made decision in the past and how certain things in life went. But instead of lingering in this sadness, I try to recognise it and work towards taking motivation from it to change the way I will be, act, and create in the future. I work to create myself anew in every moment, knowing that there are no rules to when I can start to recreate myself – I can do so at any moment.
This pas week I’ve been feeling somewhat frustrated. Work has been somewhat slow because a lo tis due before the end of the year, but for much of it I’m waiting on others to give me answers, documents, input, in order for me to complete and finalise things. So my work flow has felt somewhat uninspirational and slow. But while feeling unexcited for work, a different inspiration pool wasn’t “slow”. Unlike work and blogging, my inspiration for writing my book was incredibly high! I’m sure I’ve dropped some hints here and there, but to give you a more concrete idea about what it even is that I am writing: I am writing a novel about my experience on the Camino de Santiago, from two-and-a-half years ago. It has a little twist to it so that it’s more than just writing about the actual walk (but to find out you’ll have to wait until it is published!). Because I felt isnpiration and a desire to write, I decided to take a few hours the past couple of mornings, before starting my work, and just write until the inspiration ran dry. And the content has just been flowing from my fingertips to the keyboard, appearing on the screen in front of me. And I felt really proud, not just for actively working on a project I am writing and creating for myself, but because I decided to start my day different.
I am a huge planner and I always try to start work early so that I finish on time and have time and space for exercise, fun, and writing. But days are messy and time in the afternoon seems to go by quicker than in the morning, therefore never leaving enough time for everything I wanted to do. So these past few days when I haven’t started working behind my laptop by 07:00, have been a gift in nunerous ways. Not just a gift for my inspiration and the writing process, but also for myself and confronting myself some more with my behaviours and habits. My ability to plan everything very well can be great, but it also bites me in the ass when things end up not going as planned and I feel frustrated at the way it’s gone, simply put, to shit. But having been changing up my morning routine by taking time to do yoga, for 20 minutes instead of 10, taking time to let out some creative juices and starting work a little later, has been really good for my intrinsic health. At first I feel somewhat uneasy at doing things differently, but I’ve also been feeling better about things. I enjoy the way my body feels after getting a bit of movement, I enjoy looking at my computer and seeing the content I just created, because it meant that I made time for something that is important to me. I try and feel whether it is coffee I want or tea when I wake up first thing in the morning, instead of automatically making coffee. And so allowing myself to change up the way I spend my mornings, even if it is only that first hour, currently feels like a giant “Leona-powermove.”
And so even as the world has been on fire around me, I’ve somehow found some inner piece by spending time with myself and my family. By really focusing on the things that are important to me and that I’ve been neglecting in the past few months, or even years. I’ve spend a lot of time working on self-care and discovering the best balance between work and play, rest and exercise, output and input, travel and being “home”. And it hasn’t been easy, it has come with a lot of confrontations and slefdoubt and failure, but I’ve also grown in my persistance and in the way I believe in myself to be able to accomplish things in life, as well as feel proud of the things I create. That has been another big factor I have been working on, the sharing of my work on my platforms where people actually know who I am. Here on wordpress, the strange usernames that will give me a like or a comment are friendly internet strangers, but sharing my work with the people that I see in real life too has been scary. I worry about what they’ll think and if they even enjoy my writing. And when I have these thoughts I try to catch them and get rid of them. I’m not writing on here for anyone else. I created this blog, this platform, for myself, so that I could create and share all that I wanted.
And so because of COVID, 2020 hasn’t including any actual life planning, but it has shaped my life in ways I never thought possible. I hadn’t planned on properly moving to St. Barth, I hadn’t planned to be writing a book by December or be actively blogging, while also working on three different work/businesses. Yet here I am, and wow wow wow!! I am SO GLAD that I am here.
Initially I was bummed about being unable to travel to New Zealand this year. And yes I have missed hanging out with my friends (who by now are scattered over three different continents), but I have learned so much and I have grown so much this year that I feel happy. I feel so much more connected to myself and much more ready to tackle the next phase of my life, even though I have no idea what that holds. Life hasn’t been put on pause at all.
Right now I feel excited. I’ve had this past (almost) year to really get in touch with myself again, or at least ensure that I am on a path that allows me to feel that way. And now, a whole new year lies ahead. I’m sure travel will be easier again and I can’t wait to go out in the world with this “more connected me”. But also, I am in no hurry. I will most likely be in St. Barths for another few months, until the end of April or so, before heading off on my travels. And I’m excited at the forecast of still having a few months of self-connection, self-reflection, and self-creation before I go. Either way I’m sure I’ll take this blog with me and you’ll hear all about it!