Proceed with Caution
by Steph Beth Nickel
The Old Normal
Are you ready to get back to the Old Normal?
COVID vaccines are being rolled out. Hopeful would-be travellers are booking airline tickets. Restaurants are opening for in-person dining.
While there will be continued restrictions for some time, we’re all ready to return to pre-COVID schedules … Or are we?
Ready for the New New Normal?
Truth be told, when the first lockdown happened, I was more than happy to set aside many of my obligations. (Of course, like most people, I didn’t know how long “the New Normal” was going to last.)
And here we are, twelve months in, and I have a confession to make. I will not be quick to fill up my schedule, at least not with what was on it before.
What are you looking forward to most? What is something you will not be adding to your schedule even when it is again an option?
A Year in Review
Instead of working in the church office, I’m now spending my days editing and writing from home. (Shh, don’t tell, but I’m also listening to podcasts, reading, and watching some TV shows as well.)
Because others have stepped up to take on the responsibilities in the sound room at church, even though we’re allowed to meet in person, I find it hard to motivate myself to get back into the routine of attending weekly services. Yes, I know it’s important. Yes, I know watching the live-stream isn’t the same. Yes, I know I’ll get back into the rhythm. However, we’re in a time of transition in our congregation, and things aren’t as they once were.
What changes have you weathered this past year? What’s something you found particularly challenging? What’s something you actually enjoyed?
Joys and Challenges of 2021
A year ago, I would sit on my couch, overcome with how surreal it all was. I would spend minimal time in Walmart—because that was where a panic attack threatened to set in, something that had never happened to me before. I lost touch with many people, people I could have contacted via Facebook, email, or phone.
And now …
I’m proceeding with caution.
While I’ve made some reservations (hotel and car rentals) for the summer in hopes of attending my son’s wedding in Saskatchewan, I haven’t purchased the airline tickets yet. Will they allow us to travel if we haven’t had both shots? Will our son and his wife be able to come from Scotland? (At this point, it doesn’t look like it.) Should we just postpone our plans until next summer, when we can all travel together, and watch the wedding via Zoom?)
I’m taking precautions while spending time with friends (and I did go to church this past weekend). This makes me aware just how much I need in-person connectedness. To a large extend, I had supressed my need for this kind of fellowship. After spending three hours chatting with a young friend over lunch, I realized how much of my joie de vivre had been lying dormant. (This “extrovert on steroids” can only remain alone for so long.)
Now that spring has arrived and things are looking up, I’m better able to shake off the physical and emotional exhaustion and actually look forward to my days, most of them anyway.
What joys and challenges are you facing?
While we’re all ready to say goodbye to COVID-19, we can’t forget that we’ve learned some important lessons during the past year.
It’s important to be considerate of and patient with others, especially those who don’t see things as we do.
It’s difficult to be confined with others for prolonged periods of time—even those we love dearly.
“Re-entry” also has its fair share of challenges.
The mental and emotional ramifications of the pandemic have been as drastic as the physical ones—for many, even more drastic.
Scrolling social media often does more harm than good.
As restrictions begin to ease, I encourage you to proceed with caution. Remember the lessons you’ve learned over the past year. And extend grace to others—and to yourself.
Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org;
join her Facebook group:
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.