When – Then

How to live a full and intentional life despite the pandemic.

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Like many around the world I am in a bubble of social isolation. I have a link to food through online grocery orders and connections to my communities via Zoom. I am blessed to share my virus-free space with my spouse, one of my adult children and 2 dogs. I am thankful to be
outside of the city so that I can walk without the risk of fines for failing to maintain the mandated hockey stick length ( a Canadian measurement tool) between people. I am challenged to stay present and not indulge in “when – then” thinking and being.
When the weather warms up and I need my spring clothes, then I’ll clean out my closet. When they lift the social distancing rule, then I’ll call these people. When the stores are open, then I’ll stop my obsessive filling of online shopping carts. When I can get out and be with people, then I’ll care how I look. When this is over . . . then I will . . .
I had a university professor who accused the student body of delayed living. He observed that we lived in a campus bubble underwritten with permission to opt-out of everything but eat, sleep, socialize, go to classes and do assignments. We could live in the when . . . then. When the term is over, then I’ll. When I finish my exams, then I’ll. When I graduate, then I’ll. We could delay engaging in adulthood. We could delay being responsible. We could delay living with intention and instead function on student autopilot. For many, the covid – 19 pandemic lockdown is a similar enabler.
The when . . . then for me is an unhealthy place. It robs me of my energy and ability to engage. In the when. . . then mindset I am handing my power over to the pandemic, to social media and to my discomfort with the uncertainty of the future.
In my experience the antidote to my when . . . then inertia is found in the discipline of staying true to my life purposes. Thanks to a workshop leader who encouraged us to balance our creative energy with the necessities and priorities of healthy daily living, I have a list of life purposes. Yes, daily writing is a life purpose, so is maintaining my home, nurturing and
nourishing my family, practicing self-care, exercising my body, caring for my pets, connecting with my community, investing time and energy in my friendships, and being present and of service to my executive coaching clients. Many of these life purposes require daily attention, a few less frequently. All of them require me to be intentional in my daily routine.
The process of listing my life purposes brings clarity to my values and what I need to feel I am living a full and intentional life. It grounds me in the present moments of the day. It tethers me to a routine, flexible though focused. It provides me with the gifts of energy, engagement and
I can manage the isolation, loss of freedom and fear of the pandemic and our future when I stay true and active in my life purposes.

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