Spring at Modernwell: 4 Important Lessons Learned 1 Year Into Covid-19
It’s springtime at Modernwell. The parking lot has thawed, the birds are chirping, and it is no longer dark out an hour before we close. While our doors have remained opened and we have welcomed both old and new members into our space for 10 of the past 12 months, it is hard to believe that it was exactly one year ago that the pandemic forced us to close our doors for a scarily uncertain period of time.
How can a year feel as if it has gone so slow and so fast at the same time? All of us have weathered business and school shutdowns, isolation from and even loss of our loved ones, a contentious and toxic election, racial tension and civil unrest, and an extremely contagious and deadly virus. We have had to adapt in ways never imagined, but with that, we have learned some important takeaways.
Through countless zoom meetings, happy hours, holidays, lifecycle events, and online classes and workshops, we have mastered the art of Zoom calls. Working, learning, and socializing remotely has not been easy on anyone, but through these virtual portals, we have learned that we can still connect with one another when being in person is impossible. Here at ModernWell, we transitioned our writing studio to on-line and offered meaningful virtual classes, book talks, workshops, and opportunities for connection throughout the year. While nothing can compare to being “in the room where it happens” and experiencing the energy of sharing physical space with others, by taking some of our program offerings on-line, we have been able to connect with not only people in the ModernWell vicinity, but from around the country. We all know Zoom was around before the pandemic, but we now know that we can utilize it more readily when circumstances or location keep us from being able to show up in person. We at ModernWell will continue to offer hybrid options for many of our classes even when we call all safely meet in person.
2) Realized the true importance of health and wellness.
Covid forced us to slow down. Many caught up on much needed rest and dropped habits that were developed as a result of our franticly over-scheduled lives like heading through the fast food drive-through in between dropping off one kid at violin and picking up another from soccer. With gym closures, we have learned to get creative with workouts inside or in the backyard. When restaurants were closed, we embraced cooking more at home, focused on eating healthier, and took a second to reflect “am I really hungry or am I just bored” during our 12th trip to the pantry between meetings.
This past year also has been a challenge to everyone’s mental health. Between major layoffs causing financial stress, the pressure of keeping friends and family safe, the strain that was put on marriages/partnerships, and the extreme isolation felt by many, our mental health became front and center. Making sure you had the support, tools, or professional help you needed to get through those times was extremely important and will continue to be important as we move back into our “new normal.” But through all of the struggles, we continued to hold on to hope, find strength within ourselves and one another, and make it through a seemingly “impossible” time of uncertainty, loss, and fear.
3) Deepened our gratitude for our loved ones and for simple pleasures
We are pretty sure everyone can agree, we will never take for granted eating in a restaurant, hugging an elderly parent or relative, being a shoulder to shoulder at a concert, going to a sporting event or a movie, or simply hanging out with friends and loved ones freely again.
And yet, through this time of limitations, we were given a chance to connect more deeply with those in our household or in our Covid bubble. Reflecting on old memories and making new ones with your quarantine pals will forever be a part of your pandemic story. There may have been some quarreling (of course there was), and we were given the opportunity to work on our interpersonal relationships, let go of past issues, and forgive each other. In some cases, however, this was not the case and irreparable damage was done and relationships were severed. Covid definitely made it clear who you can count on to be there for you and who you will be there for when the shit hits the fan like it did.
4) Emboldened people to step up, speak out, and advocate for what is important
Covid gave people the time and space needed to figure out what is important them. With the election came so much hate and divisiveness, and this spread throughout this country just like the virus did. With George Floyd’s murder in our city, we were prompted to act; to speak; to listen; to give; and to band together to fight racism. People showed up to clean up our city, to help out at food drives, to advocate for justice. At ModernWell, we partnered with Stephanie Pierce and launched an online “How to Be an Ally” Series, participated in Jasmine Brett Stringer‘s #SharetheMicMN, and partnered with Chaz Sandifer and Dawn Johnson for their Wellness Wednesdays discussions on anti-racism. Our political and religious leaders are now (finally) being bold in their statements and their actions to eliminate racism, anti-semitism, and gender biases. Covid, the election, and George Floyd shook the foundation of humanity and forced us to stop running around and to take a good look at who we are and who we want to be. There is hope that who we want to be is a much kinder, more inclusive, more tolerant and less biassed version of who we are as a society today.
Embracing Today and Looking Toward Tomorrow
With all of these difficult but important lessons learned, we move into this new spring season, which includes vaccines on the near-horizon for all, with a newfound sense of our strengths and hope for the future. While many of us are so ready to jump back into our pre-pandemic lifestyle as , our hope is that while you are out on a walk around your neighborhood, immersing yourself in deep spring cleaning mode at home, or working on ModernWell’s patio, you will take time to reflect on what you have learned over this past year and keep the important lessons with you in the months and years to come.