A Few Things that Lockdown has Taught Me

Who could have predicted that we would spend the past 4 months stuck in our own homes? Who would have thought that what started as an isolated outbreak of a respiratory illness in China will become an international concern on the first month of 2020 and this virus that we now know as COVID-19 will spread to almost every country around the world?

In my personal experience, it was in March 20, when Winnipeg was put on a state of emergency, we were advised to stay home with our family and a wide range of closures and restrictions were implemented in order to limit the spread of the deadly COVID-19. In our work place, more than half of the staff were sent home to work remotely and I have been on a work from home (WFH) set up since then.

Covid-19 has forced us to change the way we live and to adapt to the new normal. Though we can say that staying put, wearing face mask every time we go out and maintaining social distancing somehow put us in a challenging situation, but if we look at the other side of it, there is still something positive about this pandemic too. Not that I am trying to negate or ignore the feelings of people who loss a loved-one (we loss someone due to COVID-19 too) but as the saying goes, we can always look at the positive side of a bad situation… And I thought this pandemic is the best time that we can make use of our positive thinking, I guess, we can also consider the lockdown as a learning phase as well.

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” – Sun Tzu

It’s true that the regular flow of our lives may have stopped but it has definitely made all of us think and reflect, this challenging situation has taught us some valuable life lessons.  I am saying this based on what I saw and what I experienced (or should I say experiencing?)… and the reason why you are reading it now is because I felt that I have to document what I am thinking and what I am feeling. If I am not wrong, this is the first time that a living generation is experiencing a pandemic like this, documenting the things we experienced or the learnings that we got even just out of this quarantine lockdown may be something that we can look back and use in the future.

The very first thing that I realized since this chaos started is that I am very privileged and I am really blessed. I am not saying this to brag or anything, but more than ever, this is one of the times that I want to remind myself that I should not complain and I should just be thankful. My full-time job was secure and I am fortunate to work for an organization that allowed us to work from home. Aside from that, my clients continue to trust me as their Financial Advisor, despite the social distancing, referrals and business are still coming in. And because of this, we are still able to have enough to buy the stuff that we need and we can still pay for our monthly bills. I am aware that there are people who are now going through financial setbacks, some are trying to pick up now while some are still on this situation for an unknown period of time. I’ve seen in the news and heard stories from people I know how the the lockdown even separated them from their families and they aren’t even sure when they will see each other again. Thus, I realized that I am very fortunate to be home with my family and keep my sources of income and work remotely.

To be honest, despite living in Canada for more than 11 years now, there are still moments that I would question if I did the right decision to move here. And (again) it was during this challenging time that I found the answer. Canada may also have a significant number of COVID-19 cases and a number of Canadians may have been stressed and lost their income, but still a large population of Canadians remained confident with how the Canadian government have handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Various survey indicated that Canadians have faith to it’s government ability to flatten the curve. And when PM Justin Trudeau assured Canadians that his government won’t let Canadians suffer great financial losses because of the COVID-19 outbreak, I knew we can bank on that. So, the answer to my question – Yes, I did a good decision to move to Canada and I am thankful I did.

I’m sure you also have moments that when you are used of having something right in front of you, you tend to take them for granted until life hits you hard enough to realize it’s worth. I did (raising my right hand)! Pre-lockdown, I didn’t realize how I just naturally took for granted those simple and small things that have always been available for me which all of a sudden, I cannot simply do and have. I miss doing a lot of simple things like coming to the mall anytime I want to come, the coffee shop meets ups with old colleagues or clients, having lunch with friends, watching movies and even the late-night grocery shopping. Before all these happened, we were all running and rushing, we didn’t have the time to pause and unwind. The lockdown has taught us to slowdown and look closely even to the small and simple things that we used to do or we used to have.

COVID-19 caused most of us to cancel or hold off some plans. As for my family, our supposedly 5 weeks trip to the Philippines was cancelled and as of this writing we still intend to go for this trip… it’s just we don’t know when. Aside from that, the kids and I have also made plans of flying out of Winnipeg for a week and see Niagara Falls this summer, but we can’t. I guess none of these plans will happen anytime soon, we can’t tell when it’ll be actually safe to travel again. We can’t even plan a date – we are on that wait and see stage and this very moment is all that we have right now. But we can’t put our life on hold, even if the situation didn’t turn out the way we want it to just like how we want to spend our spring and summer this year, the opportunity to do it already passed. We can’t just wait, we must make decisions. Lockdown has taught me to treasure the present time and and celebrate every moment. We really don’t need to wait for a reason to celebrate, we don’t need to wait for something huge to happen or wait for special occasions, we can always consider each chance we can spend with the people close to us as a celebration and create special moments together.

“Tomorrow isn’t promised.”

I (repeatedly) posted in my IG account the quote “Tomorrow is not promised.” And COVID-19 reminded this to us – the experience of people like me who lost someone because of this virus made me realized that ‘life is really short, you never know when the last goodbye will be, so we should really make the most of the present moment that we have. My last visit to the Philippines in December was very brief and I missed the chance to meet and see some of my friends and relatives, one Saturday morning of May, I woke up to a Facebook message that someone really close to me pass away. For a few days, I was in tears knowing that on my next visit I won’t see him again and I regret that when I saw him last December, I didn’t get the chance to talk to him longer or to even hug him, I did not even say goodbye to him before I left. Yes, we should really enjoy life and in doing so, it’s best that we enjoy it with whomever we are with. Live in the moment and appreciate those who matter to us. When this is all over, let’s not be embarrassed to hug someone because we are not sure if we still have them tomorrow.

Human connections/relationships will always be one of the most important things that we can ever have. Now that things are no longer “automatic” and we can’t just simply text your friends and tell them that your having lunch at your favorite restaurant together, we are learning how this simple face to face meet ups are also important. Though the available virtual tools are doing a great job and we are thankful that Facebook, IG, Viber, Whatsup and all the other apps are plugging the gap between us and our family, friends and workmates that we can’t see in person, the face to face meet-up conversation still brings a different joy and fun, connections that don’t just bring good feeling to but are also good for our mental and emotional health .

I’m sure it wasn’t just me who also used this lockdown period to evaluate their lifestyle and their finances… One of the things that is for sure greatly impacted by this pandemic is our bank account. This lockdown is one of the situations of the typical case that will make us realize why having a good financial plan in place is important. Job losses or furloughs as well as medical emergencies are the tangible examples of why being financially protected is something that we should not take for granted. And it is never too late to start, instead of repeatedly blaming ourselves why we are not prepared for situation like this, you can use this opportunity to invest… And by saying invest, I am not just saying investment that involves money, we can also invest on ourselves and try to learn about personal finance management so we know better when we are faced with difficult situation like this one.

No one exactly knows how and when this pandemic will end. In one of the articles I read, Dr. Robert Leahy, an attending psychologist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center suggested that we look at life as a series of chapters in a book. The chapter that we are maybe one of the most difficult chapters but it isn’t the chapter that we’ll always be in. It is an incredibly challenging situation, but this too shall pass and let’s try to find what good we can all get out of this situation.

“If you look at life as a series of chapters, this chapter is objectively a hard one. But we can adjust our expectations and write a story about how we cope with this chapter to make it as good as it can be. This isn’t the chapter we’ll always be in, and not all chapters have to be wonderful.” – Dr. Robert Leahy

I’m sure that you never imagined that our new norm will consist of washing your hands a thousand times a day, sanitizing everything we touch, wearing masks, hanging out with friends 6 ft. apart and attending your business meetings on Zoom or maybe attend classes on Google classroom, but right now this is what we consider as our “new normal“, we are living through history as COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, regardless of our age, gender, location and even status in life we are not excused . Covid-19 has made us realize that life is not just about individual wealth, status and achievements, there is more to that. This period is a good time for us to introspect and find what is truly important in life.

What I have shared are my realization and learnings in the past 4 months, I cannot say that we are already “out in the woods” as COVID-19 cases in Manitoba started to increase again, so I am guessing as we might have to stay home longer than we thought we would… I will for sure learn a lot more… I am ineterested to know how you are holding up or if like me, you also have some life lessons from the lockdown that you can share, please feel free to share them below.

Thanks for dropping by. Stay healthy… and stay safe.❤️

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Cristina

My family and close friends knew how passionate I am when it comes to writing. I find joy and unexplainable satisfaction in writing. I am able to say what I am thinking or how I feel best when I say it through a letter, a poem and now blog. Through the years, blogging has opened different doors for me. It provided me a space to share my journey and my life lessons, the failures and triumphs that I went through in transitioning to a new life outside my comfort zone and it allowed me to reach out to people outside my circle.

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