By Joan Marlow

March 11, 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared the world-wide pandemic which threw the world into a frenzy by touching each life and life experience that we typically took for granted:  school, work, church, concerts, movies, sporting events, shopping, family gatherings, parties, etc. ‘Going to’ became a thing of the past and ‘sheltering in place’ became the new norm.  For better or worse, our ability to control much of our lives became our ‘norm.’  We humans are resilient and we somehow went along with the flow on how to navigate this new life of school, work, recreation, amusement, celebration.  And that’s not all, additionally there were still many things ‘out there’ continuing to impact us:  rates of positivity for the virus, hospitalizations and deaths; one in three Americans knows someone who died from the coronavirus; out-of-control situations related to politics and racial injustice raged. Yes, it was a challenging year.

So the question is, how are you today?  The fact that you’re here to celebrate this day is a reason to take a moment for a few cleansing breaths and an expression of gratitude for your resilience and the way you figured out how to get through each day…talk about a reason to celebrate.  Yes, celebrate!  We’ve learned to live without fanfare, so even the word ‘celebrate’ has new meaning. Think about some of the simplest things in your life that might well have taken on new meaning and appreciation.  Our 2020 definition of heroes are first responders (medical, fire, emergency personnel); teachers; and essential workers, who supported our day-to-day services (food, power, water, cars, home goods, deliveries, online retail and more).

As we acknowledge a year+ since the start of the pandemic, we see a ‘new normalcy’ coming to life in how we move through the world.  Yes, how you’re attending school, working, socializing might be very different than what was and it’s ok to think about the ‘good old days’ pre-Covid; actually it’s healthy to reflect and mourn what is no more as it clears the way for new beginnings.  At the same time, each of us has our own story of 2020:  the wins, the losses; the creating of something from seemingly nothing; the inner strength you mustered as well as the moments of despair you faced.  How did you cope?   As the world appears to be coming back to life through the help of the vaccinations and respect of basic ‘protection’ protocol, it’s time to start the healing process.

I ask again, how did you cope?  Did mindfulness play a role in helping you cope?  How are you today?  What’s different for you?  What did you lose?  What did you gain?  To help you figure out how you want to capture these thoughts, check this March 11, 2021, New York Times article sharing words, images and videos of teens from all over the US on how they met the challenges of the pandemic’s defining moments in their lives   As you take in these words and images, reflect upon how you met and continue to meet the challenges that you faced and continue to face each day as the pandemic continues to impact us.  In order to move on from any loss, it’s important to surrender to what is and accept and acknowledge all that happened to you; your body, mind and spirit needs to grieve what you lost…time with friends, family activities, ability to earn money, parties, ceremonies, in-person learning, ability to meet new people and have new experiences, and the list goes on and on.

As you reflect upon this, get angry and let it out; get quiet and go within…use your breath as a means to guide you.  Always be aware of your breath, it won’t let you down…it’s always there in some form.  Set aside a specific 15, 30, 45 minute period of reflection time to do this exercise.  Don’t allow it to consume you…consider writing out, expressing it in an art form, or recording some of your thoughts…once on paper it’s out of your mind and you don’t have to keep running through the story as a means to ‘remember’ the hurt, pain and the details.

As you’ve learned through these blogs, a piece of our ‘mind-body’ connection is that ‘thoughts are things.’  Your body ‘reacts’ to whatever you’re ‘thinking’ as if it’s happening to you at that moment in time.  Your body reacts as if it’s happening right now even though it might have been last week, month or 3 years ago.  If you’re thinking about something happy and joyful, your body will send out endorphins, serotonin and ‘happy’ hormones.  If your thoughts are negative, scary, your body goes into ‘fight, flight, freeze’ mode to protect you…as if you’re face to face with a sabertooth tiger.  Simply thinking about a ‘dangerous, sad, scary, fearful’ thing or event will cause your body to stop the ‘happy’ hormones and start the flow of adrenaline and cortisol, the ‘stress-fighting’ hormones that are in place to keep you safe.  ‘Where the mind goes, the body follows, so keep it positive.

This ‘reflection’ exercise allows you to make room for the positive things that you ‘can’ do now.  It helps you set up space to be creative to look at ‘what is’ vs ‘what isn’t.’  You can’t change the impact of past events, but you can always change your attitude or thoughts about their impact on you.  ‘Decide what you can and can’t control and act accordingly’…Life Lesson #2.

As this blog draws to a close, I would be remiss if I didn’t share that Life Lesson #4 is Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E… because that will always bring you back to the present moment so that you deal with whatever’s facing you with focus and strength. Consider implementing Life Lessons 101 as a means to support your health and well-being.



Joan is a ‘life-long learner and a forever teacher.’ Starting her career as a high school teacher, she continued to learn and grow in corporate America as a corporate trainer, mentor and manager. She’s living her passion in her current role as a life & wellness coach, educator and alternative health practitioner in her business, Peaceful Easy Healing.