We live in a consumer-driven, individualistic society. The pandemic has tasked us to be thoughtful about what we have and what we need. For many, this has looked like fewer trips to the grocery store or difficulty finding items that were normally purchased without issue. For others, they have made their own bread, shared their starter with neighbors, and started reflecting on the unnecessary waste they may generate.
As things seem to return from the brink, it is important to take time to reflect and evaluate on what has changed. By participating in active reflection, we take ownership of this time and the pandemic is no longer something that happened to us, but rather, something we managed and worked through. The pause to reflect will also help us identify the things that we may be doing without realizing it or those that we keep meaning to reconsider.
Before we dive in, we should also pause and remind you that you don’t need to have done all the things that you set out at the beginning of the pandemic to do, like reorganizing all of your closets, starting to journal, or finally getting the garden off the ground. Or any of them. Many of us had big ambitions to start; looking at the Stay-at-Home orders optimistically as time to work on projects at home. But the fact is that the Stay-at-Home orders were also incredibly onerous on many individuals, particularly those without strong support systems, financial reserves, and resilient and flexible childcare. So, this reflection, does not need to be of all the Instagram-worthy house projects that you did. It can be the ways that you managed your emotions, how you chose to engage with family members, or how you handled the number of tough situations that came up, for example.
As you reflect on this past year, consider what things you made do with and what ways you figured out how to substitute or make other things work. Next week, there’s a companion download guided reflection you can fill out, or you can simply take out a sheet of paper or open a note pad on your phone and start typing.
What did you do for yourself this past year that you previously paid for someone to do? Certainly, convenience is value that is worth paying for, particularly for women who are getting pushed out of the workforce with the increased demands of the pandemic and the decrease in social support. But we can be thoughtful about what conveniences really help (are single serve coffee pods your morning self-care indulgence?) and the things that we don’t really need (perhaps we don’t need to purchase snacks for our kids in pre-portioned plastic single serving portion bags and instead can utilize reusable bags).
It is okay to find pleasure in things on occasion that may not be the best for the environment or our pocketbook as long as we continue moving forward on this journey and find places where we can make better choices. Maybe you’re not ready or don’t have the finances to buy an electric car, for example. But in the meantime, you can be strategic about your trips so that you’re not unnecessarily driving back and forth (also, yay, time and money on gas saving!)
Whatever it is for you, let’s reflect on where we made better choices for ourselves, our family, our neighborhoods, our environment, all people and our futures.
Stay tuned next week for a companion guided reflection guide available for free download.