Finding The Possibilities This Summer During Covid
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
It’s hard to imagine there’s much opportunity for a fun summer during this season of crisis. Here are 3 core truths to help you discover what’s possible.
If you’re like me, it has NOT felt like a summer of possibility. It has felt more like a summer of uncertainty and of options disappearing!
Re-opening has been a faltering hodgepodge of delays, re-closings, re-openings, limited re-openings, and new lock downs. We’re faced with changing hours, new policies, inconsistent recommendations (and level of enforcement)...and it varies by country, state, city, and business.
The constant refrain includes--Are they open? Will it still be open when we want to go? Are the hours correct on Google? What if we arrive, and the venue is already at capacity?
I’ve been surprised at the toll the uncertainty has had on my emotions and energy. Have you felt that? For me, it’s been confusing, frustrating, and exhausting.
Add to that--rising Covid cases, face masks in 90+ degree heat, new social norms, financial crisis, and a painful spotlight on systemic racism and police brutality...It’s hard to imagine there’s much opportunity for a joyful, restful summer.
In order to find the opportunities, we need eyes able to see them. Here are 3 core truths to help us see what’s possible this summer (along with strategies to walk them out):
Truth #1: Our focus determines what we are able to perceive as possible
Ever been so disappointed or letdown you found yourself unable to enjoy alternatives? (Even when the new plans were really amazing?) We’ve all been there! When we focus only on what’s lost, we lose our ability to see new possibilities. But on the flip side, we also know what it’s like NOT to allow disappointment to ruin good things.
So, we know it’s possible. But how do we do it when the world seems so chaotic, and we are disappointed, drained, and overwhelmed?
1) Notice where your focus is
Most of the time we don’t notice where our “mind’s eyes” are returning to--what they are focusing on. Just like our physical eyes (which might wander longingly out the open window, or wearily at the overflowing laundry) our “mind’s eyes” also wander passively, and often to the same things. We may not even be aware they do this!
The first step, then, is to recognize that your “mind’s eyes” (your focus!) have habitual paths. The second step is to figure out what those paths are, and where they go. Ask yourself:
What am I focusing on?
Where is my mind right now?
What have I been thinking about today? This week?
Where do my thoughts tend to get stuck? What do they fixate on?
What starts my thoughts on this path? Where does this path tend to end up?
Where do my thoughts go when I’m doing mindless tasks?
2) Shift your focus
With awareness comes the power to choose. You can decide where you want your focus to be and explore what enables or contributes to focuses you don’t want. Ask yourself:
Do I want my thoughts to go this route? Is this a beneficial thought pattern?
What are other ways of looking at this?
What information might I be missing? What am I unable to see right now?
What are the opportunities here?
What is the fruit of this focus?
If I could choose, where would I want my focus to be?
What tends to trigger this focus? To enable it?
What helps my “mind’s eyes” stay on track?
You can practice awareness and choice in your focus on a moment-by-moment basis, day-by-day, or week-by-week.
Truth #2: Your feelings are valid
Ever find yourself caught in the I shoulds? I should be stronger, should be more motivated, more hopeful, confident, disciplined, happy, productive, grateful…? I do. But here’s the thing--when we accept our emotions for what they are, we give ourselves space to work toward the ones we want. When we criticize our emotions, that just brings shame, guilt, and defensiveness. It’s a lot harder to process and move forward from places of judgment.
Here are some positive steps to take in processing and moving forward:
Notice your emotions, without judgement. Continue to flesh out what you are feeling and experiencing.
Truth vs. lies: Know that while your emotions are valid, they are not always rooted in truth. What is influencing your emotions in this situation? What do you know to be true here? Work on differentiating truth from lies.
Choice: Remember that it’s not always good to allow your emotions to continue on the path they are headed. (Example: pity parties. We’ve all had them!) Use the questions above to help you shift your emotions onto a healthier path.
Allow yourself to grieve your losses. It’s impossible to be fully open to opportunities if we are stuffing our emotions. Here is a great resource on grieving well.
Truth #3: Some of the highest creativity comes from the narrowest options
This is where we can learn a lot from kids. Their resources may be small, but they’ve got time and they’ve got possibility-oriented minds. Give a kid legos or basic art supplies, and it’s crazy what they can come up with!
At our core, we as humans LOVE seeing big things come from narrow resources. It’s why we love things like popsicle houses and pillow forts. Why we are intrigued by the tiny homes movement and minimalism. One of the reasons we love cheering for the underdogs and enjoy survival stories.
I do not mean to diminish our losses--merely to emphasize how loss can still be a gift. A gift we would never choose! But a gift nonetheless.
And, if we are to take His feeding of thousands from a few loaves and fish--Jesus is an expert at taking what seems to be very little and making it more than enough.
Strategies to make space for creativity:
Look for the gifts around you. Soak in the nuances of these gifts--the purr of your kitty, your child’s shriek of laughter, a refreshing breeze on a hot day.
Give thanks for the small, even when it doesn’t seem like enough. (Jesus gave thanks for the fish and loaves before the miracle of using them to feed thousands.)
Brainstorming session. Model childlike possibility-thinking and write down every idea: every idea is valid, even the most silly or far-fetched!
Ask God what is possible in this season.
Know what your limitations are. Find out your state and local policies. Call ahead before trying activities & ask about changed hours, availability, and policies.
Use closed doors as opportunities. The restaurant is at capacity? Make it a family activity to pick a new place! Favorite ice cream shop closed? Try making homemade ice cream or popsicles! Is it challenging to book a longer vacation? Look for weekend adventures and day trips!
Join the Conversation:
What helps you stay open to possibility?