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Gratitude in unlikely places: COVID-19 silver linings

The past few months have been a period unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. While recognizing how difficult things have been for many people, I also wanted to pause and take stock of some silver linings.

Spending a lockdown on a farm is a silver lining in and of itself. We still got to spend time outdoors with animals who needed the same care and attention (and provided as much entertainment) as pre-COVID-19. The biggest impact on our everyday life was that we reduced our trips to town to once every two weeks and then once a week.

So, while I realize this comes from a lucky place, inspired by a Reddit thread a friend mentioned – and that I never found, but the concept of which resonated as it focused on some of the good to come from lockdown – I wanted to reflect on the positive aspects of COVID-19.

Professional silver linings

Casa Beatrix, our ecolodge farmstay project, was set to have a soft opening this summer. The goal was to have enough infrastructure ready to open up to a small group of family and friends, so they could come and beta test our setup. This would have been a wonderful way to ease into being hosts, and we were looking forward to it.

However, it would also have been a huge challenge to make that deadline, and a definite source of tension between my husband and I (he was Team2021 from the get go). For all the things I love about Portugal, its bureaucracy is intense and cannot be rushed, despite my best efforts. Some things happen at a snail’s pace no matter what.

With COVID-19, the soft opening was cancelled. Instead, we are focusing on a grand opening next summer. As soon as we made that decision, it was a weight off our shoulders. Now, we can make use of the extra year to really put things in place before we open to the public. We’re so grateful for the time the lockdown has bought us.

On the other hand, we have lost income from certain freelance projects (such as my wedding celebrant work) being put on hold until 2021, and some clients slowing down the amount of work they send my way. In other words, appreciating silver linings does not mean it is all good news; merely that I choose to be grateful for what is positive.

Personal silver linings

The pandemic introduced me to an incredible group of people through Instagram. I took a 12-week virtual journey with them as we worked through “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It’s all about reconnecting with your creativity, and I never would have carved out the time to undertake such a project if there hadn’t been an external nudge brought on by the quarantine.

The two core tenets of the program are to write Morning Pages and go on an Artist Date once a week.

Morning Pages should be done first thing every day to clear the cobwebs and the noise from your mind, and prepare for the day. On the days when I take the time to write for 30min or 3 pages worth, I noticed that my productivity soars. My mind is clear, focused, and on fire in the best possible way.

As for the Artist Date, my first few were normal activities that I repurposed as Artist Dates, mostly walks or time spent in the vegetable garden. Not bad, but things got interesting when I started exploring new activities. That’s how I ended up doing origami, playing with coloured pencils that double up as water colours, reading some great speeches, and rediscovering how much fun it can be to get creative beyond writing, which is my medium of choice.

The Artist’s Way has given me unexpected insights and opportunities to be creative beyond what I usually give myself room for, and it has reminded me of how much I enjoy being creative for the sake of being creative.

I don’t think I had done origami since school, and here I created a few farm animals that gave me great joy as they sat on a kitchen shelf – until I popped them into an envelope addressed to a friend, hopefully taking that joy across the Atlantic.

As for my husband, COVID-19 gave him time to focus on two big DIY projects on the farm: building a new wooden cabin that has a shower and two flush toilets, and starting to connect running water throughout our whole property (so far it was just the Tiny House that was connected).

The carpenter we hired to help with the wooden structure started just before the lockdown, and therefore was happy to continue working on this project throughout the restrictions. The estimated month-long work took three months, but he had no other work lined up due to COVID-19 so it all got finished if not as planned, soon enough thereafter.

As much as we appreciate down time and relaxing, we are incredibly thankful to have more than enough to keep busy – both on a consulting front and a DIY front.

So, in the spirit of silver linings: What has the pandemic gifted you?


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