One of my favorite Friends episodes is the one where Ross buys a couch and refuses to pay the delivery fee. He, Chandler and Rachel are tasked with getting the couch home and up the stairs to his apartment. Not a simple task for sure. The couch is clearly too large to make the turn on the stairs and Ross offers less than helpful advice by continuously yelling, “Pivot…Pivot…Pivot…”.
That’s literally how I feel about this first quarter of 2020 so far. It’s been yelling “Pivot” at me, at us collectively, since pretty much the start of the year.
I came into 2020 with my word, verse and fruit of the Spirit. My word…intentional…my verse Psalms 39:4…my fruit…Joy.
I broke down my word into three distinct areas of my life. I would become more intentional in how I spent my time with those I care about (relationships), how I spent my money (finances), and my writing.
I had great vision of how I would accomplish those things — consistent date nights with Frank, adventures with my daughter, nights out with friends. I would create budgets and reassess them on a bi-monthly basis and I would write daily, five days a week.
Month one was off to a rocky start. I had been really sick in late December/early January. I suffered from symptoms similar to what they are reporting for Covid-19 now. I was down for nearly three weeks. But, I didn’t lose or shift my focus. As soon as I was healed, on to date night with Frank. I created a budget and a plan for spending for the rest of January and early February and I joined two writing programs. Hope*Writers and Flourish Writers Academy 2020 – and the writing juices were flowing.
In early February I started hearing little quips about a mega-virus that might just move to a Pandemic stage. Part of me thought it sounded crazy, but something else inside nudged me to share my thoughts with Frank. Frank took me seriously and we made steps to get ourselves a bit more prepared if we had to stay home for any length of time. Pivot #1 – Budget.
Now, we didn’t lose our minds, I’ve written before that Frank and I are always a little bit prepared for emergencies. We regularly stock a little more food and paper goods than we immediately need, and we have an emergency fund and regular savings that we contribute to. At this time we decided to purchase a small upright freezer for the garage. We used to have a spare fridge in the garage in Colorado but left it behind when we moved. We’d been meaning to purchase something, but the timing never seemed right. We hadn’t specifically budgeted for it now, which is why the pivot in finances happened, so we could purchase it now. The fact that I had just reassessed our budget in the very beginning of the year and had cracked down on adding a little more to savings helped us pivot without doing so in fear. For that I am thankful.
Frank and I had started planning date nights out. I also began planning girl’s nights out with friends and a few trips with our family and some with my friends. Then the Pandemic came to fruition and we started staying in. Pivot #2.
It quickly became obvious that all the plans I had made for this early part of the year would now be changing. Friends who had planned to visit had to cancel. We cancelled our big Atlanta trip and I cancelled an important trip with friends to Chicago (that one was particularly painful), and date nights changed from adventures out to game and movie nights in.
The third pivot has been the one I think I expected least of all. My writing. I started out so strong this year. Writing outlines for a book, journal entries, blog posts, and articles. One article was even picked up for publication in a magazine for later this year. Then Covid hit and we started staying inside and our world became much smaller overnight.
So much of my writing comes from my experiences. Where I go, who I see, what I do. My writing is a reflection of how I process my world. But not going places, seeing people, experiencing new things, leaves me, well, bored. I find it difficult to write from that position. So, my writing slowed — stopped even. For a time. The further we go in our home-bound restrictions though, a new normal starts to set in.
I’m not feeling as trapped as I was in the beginning. I’m able to take each day for what it is. An opportunity to slow down a bit, not run so fast and so hard, not be “doing” all the time. And in that more peaceful approach, I find myself becoming appreciative. I’m feeling more reflective, even more intentional. I’m through the initial system shock, I think, and in it I’m starting to find the blessings of being still. And that is freeing me to explore things differently — which leads me to write again.
As I picked up my writing materials again last night and started to prepare for this new quarter of the year, I reflected on my initial vision for 2020, my word, my verse, and my fruit. Do these need to pivot as well? Have they already? I don’t think so.
Things have shifted a little, but my focus really hasn’t. I still want to be intentional with my relationships, my finances and my writing.
Thanks to technology, applications like Zoom, Marco Polo, text and Facebook, my relationships are as strong as ever. Perhaps even stronger since I have to be more intentional about connecting with those I love and care about.
Staying in and not running around, going places all the time, have certainly been good on our finances. When I make the budget, there’s a lot less “unplanned spending” then there had been in the prior months and years, and that’s been a nice side effect of staying home. It’s also helped me take a breath and actually determine what I need to budget for those activities once we return to “normal”. And really, it brings up the question of will I want to return to the fast paced, always running at full speed lifestyle I was living before this break in my routine occurred. I don’t know that I will. I hope I approach time out with a little more intention than I have in the past.
And my writing.
That stopped me for a moment, and while I was staring at the blinking cursor, I thought about what I want my writing to look like going forward. Not much has actually changed there since the first of the year.
Going through the changes that have been brought on by this virus have only caused me to temporarily pause as I assessed the new normal. It hasn’t created writer’s block or reduced the time I previously had in my life for writing. I just needed to take a break. And now that I have, I can move forward. Back to the keyboard. I’ll continue to share what I think, feel and experience here in my journal. I’ll continue to seek opportunities to stretch my skills and connect with others who share my passion for writing. It’s a wonderful community I’ve found through these writing groups.
2020 may have started off differently than I anticipated, and I’ve had to pivot my approach to the things I had originally planned for its start, but ultimately, the foundation of my focus remains steadfast. I am going to remain intetional.
Intentional in my relationship, my finances, my writing.
I will continue to find the joy in every day experiences and embrace the blessings I receive along the way.
And I will remember the lesson through the scripture I selected for the year…
Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is.Psalms 39:4 (NLT)
For some that may feel like a “heavy” verse given the present situation, but to me it reminds me that I need to embrace every day — not to waste one moment over things I cannot change and cannot control. I am thankful for the reminder.
I hope you are, too.