Staying Positive

In the midst of everything currently going on in the world, it is sometimes difficult to take control of our negative feelings or our fears. Not only are we now into the ninth month of Covid-19 protocols, but the political situations in many countries is very unstable. This is especially true in the United States, the country of my birth, where I resided from 1948 until 1976 when I moved to Alberta, Canada, with my husband. I have lived in Canada longer than I lived in the U.S.

I became a Canadian citizen in 1980. Right now, I have never been more grateful for making that decision. Unfortunately, living in any country and believing that what happens in the U.S. doesn’t affect you is totally delusional. For us, here in Canada, the United States is our nearest neighbour. What happens there can certainly have a profound effect on our country.

Normally, I am not one to discuss politics. I gave up watching the news years ago. I do not like the fact that almost everything on the news broadcasts is negative. It was beginning to have a huge negative effect on my life in general.

When we first learned of the Covid-19 pandemic, I started watching the news again. I didn’t even last a week before I felt so stressed that I could hardly sleep at night. I decided that I would watch the live updates from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer as she presents the facts in a clear and calm manner. This is what I have been doing since the week after learning of the pandemic.

I did not watch the news again until two nights ago, when I decided to tune in to watch the coverage of the election results. I knew that there would probably not be a winner declared that night, but was very curious about how things were going.

Even without watching the news on television, it is almost impossible to be ignorant about what is happening in the world. I, like most people I know, spend some time each day on social media sites. I try very hard to limit what I see. Even if I spent no time on social media, I would still know what was going on in the world. Although I am seeing way fewer people in person that I was prior to Covid, I still see a few each day, if only when going downstairs in my building to get my mail. I also spend a lot of time on phone calls and video chats with friends who I cannot see in person. It would be very difficult to be totally unaware of what was happening in the world unless one was a recluse, living off the grid, which might be a better choice right now.

So, it has been a challenge in these stressful, uncertain times, to stay positive. At times during the last nine months, I have had some dark days when I felt so very disconnected from family and friends. I could see how easy it would be to just wallow in those unhappy, negative feelings and become seriously depressed. That was something I was unwilling to do.

Having lived with my husband for all the years he suffered from depression, I knew that was something I would not let myself do…not now…not ever. I sat down and wrote up a plan. For the most part, I have stuck to that plan.

I needed to focus on all the positive things in my life. I started writing in my gratitude journal everyday, a practice of mine for years, that I abandoned at the beginning of the pandemic. I planned for two meditation times every single day, once first thing in the morning and once right before bedtime. Some days I also need to do some short meditations at random times in order to chase away the negativity. I take virtual tai chi and qigong classes which really help to ground me. I am taking a course on mindfulness as well.

I decided to make sure I stayed in contact with people who are important to me. Even if we can’t be together, we can talk on the phone or video chat. I also decided that I would write actual letters to people and mail them the old-fashioned way. I did this more at the beginning of the pandemic and want to get back to doing it more often.

I have had to walk away from some conversations. I have had to restrain myself from arguing with people who have different opinions from my own, about the pandemic and also about politics. I am sometimes sucked in to discussions and then feel bad because I became involved. I had to learn how to treat myself in a kinder and less judgemental manner.

I believe that everyone has a right to their own opinions. They also have the right to express those opinions, as passionately as they wish. What I cannot accept is the outright rudeness with which people are treating others who do not share their opinions. I have actually stopped shopping at stores owned by people who have made terrible comments on social media…personal comments that were rude, vulgar and very mean-spirited.

I have learned how to bite my tongue. How to turn my back on people who just want to argue, yell and scream to make their point. I have learned that nobody is going to change anyone else’s opinions, so why bother trying.

I do things each day that bring me joy. I laugh a lot. I write, read, learn, dance, listen to music I love every day, and play pool with two friends who live in my building. We stay physically distanced and wipe everything down (except the felt) prior to playing. Over the summer and into early fall, I saw friends outdoors. Now that the weather is much colder and snow is on the way, the outdoor visits will stop.

For the most part I am very happy. I guess what I miss the most is the touch of another person. I especially miss hugging my grandchildren. They are growing up so fast and I am missing a lot of that. The fact that their parents are back together and everyone is so happy is amazingly wonderful.

We do what we can to help make the world a better place, even when our “leaders” seem to do things that seem very contrary to making that possible. We can only do our best. I think we will have to stay focused on what is great about our lives, as hard as that may be sometimes, and spread love and joy to everyone we see.

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