Covid-19: Opportunity or Crisis?

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“This moment of uncertainty and unprecedented change is calling to all of us. We have an opportunity to hone our capacity to be with life on life’s terms, to open instead of close, to learn and expand and grow and step into what is possible instead of shrinking away in fear and protection. We have an opportunity to deepen our connection with ourselves and our loved ones, to cultivate our relationship with the earth, with humanity and with Spirit. We have been given a gift, in this great pause, to clarify what really matters to us in this life, and to rethink how we want to live and love and be.” – Sonika Tinker

Covid-19 has turned our worlds upside down. Many have lost jobs and income, family vacations and trips have been cancelled, kids are forced to stay at home from shut down schools. Gyms, restaurants, movie theatres, and state parks are closed – this massive change and its domino effects have stressed even the best of relationships!

Stress has shown up in new and unexpected ways. Both intact and split families are finding themselves arguing about what version of the safety protocols to follow. Some family members insist on removing clothes at the door, washing all grocery items, and not visiting with extended family, while others are content with rigorous hand washing and sanitizing. Some members are okay with going out for walks and going to the grocery store, while others advocate for staying indoors 24/7 and opting for grocery delivery.

Some families are finding themselves out of work with nothing to do, afraid for how they will pay their bills and concerned about what the future holds for them workwise. Others are inundated with more work than they can handle and are exhausted from working long hours. Working one or two jobs remotely from home brings its own set of challenges, especially with young kids at home that need to be fed, homeschooled, entertained and watched over.

Singles are having their own challenges. Isolated with no family, intimate relationships or access to community support services, many are lonely and completely overwhelmed at having to take care of everything on their own.

Add in health challenges, with patients and caretakers stuck at home with no access to needed medical procedures and surgeries, or life transitions – moving to a new location or changing jobs or dealing with the death of an elderly person or the birth of a new baby, it is beyond challenging.

Honestly, we don’t need to say more. You are experiencing your own version of the impact of COVID-19 in your life.

Like you, we have been impacted. Our live workshops for the next three months are cancelled and may not revive for the rest of the year, and we are working overtime to shift our work online. We had intense conversations with family members over different interpretations of Covid protection protocols. Our daughter is not able to participate in classic Senior Year activities and will not have a graduation ceremony with family members in attendance this year. We aren’t seeing friends in person, aren’t participating in our monthly community work weekends, and my piano lessons are now taking place online. We leave the house only when we need food from our local grocery store. Life is changed to be sure.

We are aware that we are privileged and lucky, comparatively. We don’t live in a Covid hot spot, we have enough reserves to keep us housed and fed for many months without income, and we live in the country where we can still get out and take walks and enjoy gardening and being in nature. We also have a sweet loving relationship and get to go through this experience together. While we have had our fair share of “oh shit” moments during this Covid crisis, we have experienced some delightful surprises too.

For one, my “fear of missing out” has disappeared. On Friday and Saturday nights, I am happily content being at home knowing everyone else is home too. I was unaware of how much I pressured myself to be out and about in the world engaging in activities with friends just to stay busy and feel a part of life.

Time has slowed down. I feel like I have an abundance of time to do whatever I am inspired to do. I notice myself going to bed and 10, and waking up at 6, eager to start the day. I do what I want to do all day, and I am surprised to discover that I get way more done in a day than I used to!! Stress has reduced as a result. Whatever I don’t get done today will easily get done tomorrow. Inside of this spaciousness, I feel more present and in the moment.

I am taking better care of my body. Christian and I walk every afternoon, Christian does Tai Chi every morning and I do my Five Rites exercises. Because we are home more, we were able to purchase food shares with our local farm growers – something we have wanted to do for years! As a result, we are eating really great organic farm-fresh, home cooked meals every day. And because we are home all day, our outside work breaks have allowed us to prepare our garden for vegetables and herbs, plant flowers, weed the yard, cut and stack firewood, and burn debris from trimmed trees and shrubs.

We are also having more fun together. Christian and I have been playing outside more – bocce ball and badminton and horseshoes. We put on loud music and learn new line dances on YouTube. I practice my piano every day while Christian cooks dinner. We devour audio books and podcasts on walks and tea breaks. We take hot tubs and enjoy the singing birds and our deep conversations. And we have fun watching comedy shows and movies.

We are connecting with people more deeply when we reach out, creatively sharing online Zoom dinners and lunches and afternoon tea. We have connected with family members more often than we did before Covid, celebrating holidays and birthdays online. Christian and I enjoy our kids when they come over. We feel just as connected in our community of friends and family, maybe even more so, because we value now what before we took for granted.

Another byproduct – I got to be home and focus fully on caring for my 18 year-old cat before she died.

In work, we are getting more creative on the calls we lead and the coaching sessions we offer. We are stepping outside the box as we offer online mini-workshops, produce YouTube videos and Facebook lives, and we led our first Gift of Conflict workshop online. We feel expanded, in our heart, and called forth like we haven’t in awhile.

I don’t think I realized how scattered I felt being out there in the world. I am listening more to my heart and the whispers of Spirit and enjoying the beautiful richness of this life during this “stay at home” time period. I am taking more risks, following the lead of my feelings, and settling into accepting the grand paradox of life’s unfolding mystery.

Like many, we have no idea what life will look like after Covid. We don’t know what new form our business will take. For now, we are just letting all the questions of “what is next?” sit there unanswered, knowing the answers will emerge in time. There is no way we can figure all of it out right now anyhow.

While there are many gifts, possibilities, and options available to us during this pause, there are many fears, losses, and breakdowns too. Our feelings are likely to be all over the place.

When things show up in life that we can’t control, it is easy to feel powerless, stuck, scared and angry. For a lot of us, instead of coming together in support during this challenging time, we distance, fight, withdraw, separate and are much more easily triggered by seemingly little things. We distract ourselves with computers, televisions and phones, which only exacerbate our disconnection.

Christian and I noticed at the start of this whole thing, that we were feeling sort of in shock, afraid and distant from each other. We really needed to drop down into our feelings, to reconnect, to talk, make love, and move into our hearts and out of our heads. We wanted to seize the opportunity to mindfully create a meaningful experience together during this “stay at home” order, and to make it the best time of our lives. But at the same time, we didn’t really feel like it or want to. Another part of us wanted to stay distracted on our phones, and disconnected and asleep and moving on autopilot.

We made it a priority and forced ourselves to connect anyways, and it has made all the difference! If we hadn’t of intervened and leaned in towards each other, we would still be feeling disconnected! If we hadn’t of intervened and consciously designed how to use this time as best as possible to create and live a good life, we would still be drifting along waiting for life to return to normal.

Christian Pendersen

Sonika Tinker, MSW & Christian Pedersen

We are a married couple, husband/wife team, who have devoted our lives to studying and teaching love and relationship, and we are still happy and in love after many years of being together (we walk our talk).

Our clients say we are wise, experienced relationship master trainers and relationship experts – we like to think of ourselves as “relationship awesome-izers”.

We are the co-owners of LoveWorks, a leading-edge transformational relationship training company, where we daily delight in empowering couples and singles to transform their relationships from stuck to soaring in a fun, positive, and practically useful way.

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