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  • Writer's pictureCrista Salvatore

How COVID-19 Became My Teacher

“Good riddance to 2020.”

“Worst year ever.”

“Can’t wait for 2021.”

Either we uttered those words or heard them from others at the end of last year. There is no question that COVID rocked our world. Pain and suffering were real, whether it was a loss of a loved one, closing of a business, being laid off, or having severe, lingering health issues as a consequence of getting the virus. I cannot think of a single person who was not impacted physically, emotionally, and financially. In one way or another, like it or not, it shaped our lives.

But it was also a time of learning and growth. It pushed me to act and make changes in my life. With uncertainty and fear rampant, it was about living day by day and leaning into the unknown. It was clear that being calm and centered was the path to take, but I found all my usual meditation practices fell short. Instead, I had to let go to embrace the “new normal”. These are the three things I learned.

Connection with people. Even with shutdowns, self-quarantines, and closures, there still was a big focus on connection in the world. It is critical, because in time of crisis, we need each other. The effect of isolation can be so debilitating to the human spirit. There is a difference between feeling alone and being alone. The first one is much more painful.

I was surprised how supported and connected I felt to people, especially during the months of March and April, where I was alone for the majority of that span of time. It was in small gestures, acts of kindness and generosity, which made the most impact. Whether it was colleagues saying, “Don’t worry I’ll travel to NYC and drop off food if you get sick.” Or placing food items on friend’s Fresh Direct order due to the lack of food delivery availability. Or receiving impromptu texts/calls from relatives and friends checking in, knowing they are thinking of you. And of course, receiving Clorox disinfecting wipes and masks via mail from relatives when they were difficult to come by. The list goes on and on. I was shown how compassionate and loving that we really are no matter what is happening in our lives.

Interaction with nature. Connection with nature was my next ah-ha moment. Living in Manhattan for 10 years and Hoboken 7 years before that, I thrived in an urban setting. Through this experience, my preferences changed. I was called to have more nature in my life. I valued more space. Seeing deer in the backyard, being in the presence of trees, and breathing ocean air became a higher priority than ever. Now was the time to smell the roses and become one with the beauty of nature that surrounds me.

Listen to myself. Most of all, COVID guided (more like forced) me to really listen and come back to myself. Additionally, life goes by rather quickly when we are fully occupied by all the events that transpire in our lives. COVID made many of us slow down and take stock. It can be uncomfortable to be still and focus on ourselves. The gift of silence gives us the space to hear our intuition and uncover what is best in that moment. It was about tuning in and choosing ways to access wellbeing and peace during a stressful time.

Everyone’s learnings varied last year. These were a few of mine. More importantly, what are yours? How have you grown and changed? With this new awareness, what actions are you willing to take in 2021? Only you know the answer to these questions. My hope is that you embrace the wisdom from 2020 and move forward with strength into a new year filled with possibilities. Now is the time to shine and the world is waiting to see how you will sparkle.

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