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Reflections

January 2022: Lessons from Quarantine in a Foreign Country

January 31, 2022

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Dear kindred friend,

Usually at the end of a month, I’ll write a blog post sharing my own thoughts to the current planner’s end of the month reflection question. This month, I’ll still be answering the January 2022 reflection question, but differently. This post will have an update on what happened and why our short shop closure turned into a longer one (hint, the second part of this post’s title).

“You are one month into 2022, how are you feeling about it so far? Wary, uncertain, hopeful, excited?”

At the beginning of January 2022, my family took a trip overseas. There was a fair amount of anxiety and uncertainty leading up to the trip because 1) COVID and 2) how does one travel with an 11 month old?  But we weighed the risks and benefits of taking this trip and went for it.

By day 3 of the trip, I was on the floor crying “this was not worth it.”

Our daughter was not adjusting to the time zone well (of course) and while I desperately wanted to be one of those moms that could let her daughter just run her own sleep schedule for 10 days, I wasn’t. Her not sleeping was wearing me down and building a deep sense of anxiety that she would never adjust, or only just as we would be leaving. Plus I had a stuffy nose.

Surely nothing to be worried about, but out of abundance of caution for the others we were traveling with decided to take a rapid antigen COVID home test. It was positive.

A PCR test confirmed my positive status and so began the repacking of everything, moving from our current living space with dear friends to a new temporary home. As my husben and baby were negative, I had to isolate myself from them and wear masks when I was near them. Every day after then, it was one thing after another going wrong – our daughter getting her first proper fever (doctor’s call and all), disruptive renovation happening underneath us, technology failing as we tried communicating with doctors back home, heat and water going out in the apartment, etc. 

space

My word for the year is “space” and I felt like I was forcibly suddenly given all this space (semi-unwanted) and the big question looming was “now what will I fill it with?” 

Usually the response I have for the gift of space is to pack. It. In. Fill it with all the to dos I missed last week. Throw in a meeting. Squeeze in a work out. Try to make that errand work. 

My response is not to let the space sit as is or let it be the gift of extra time to rest, as it was probably meant to be. And, I know. As someone who preaches endlessly about rest and being still and being over doing, I am honestly probably the worst at it. Which only means that if I get better at it, I’ll become even more broken-record about it 😉 

This time though, I was given all this space. And I had nothing. I had no computer, no TV and limited wifi. Nothing that would usually allow me to fill it with whatever I normally would. Which meant – no work, no social media, no TV watching and because I hadn’t downloaded my audiobooks properly, no books.

What I did have was my journal, planner, one working pen, and lots of space.

And this is what I learned in that time:

  • Not a lesson learned, but a reaffirmation. I use my doing and my to do’s as more than a “yay I got something done” feeling but truly a way to feel productive and therefore worthy. Without anything to do, I felt like my days were a waste. What good was I contributing by just sitting on a bed journaling. How was I actually being helpful? Wasn’t there more I could do? And therefore be? I had to actively mentally fight the battle of choosing my worth by being.
  • Just because I’ve been given more space, doesn’t mean I need to fill it. I can just let the space be.
  • I don’t have to wait for space to be given to me, I can make space and create space proactively. This means if I’m not seeing space now, I’m probably doing too much. Read: I am doing too much. See next point.
  • I need to cut some things out and slow down. If I want space to grow and learn, I need to create space to do so. Which means, being intentional and saying no to some other things. 

There are more lessons I’m learning and things I’m still unpacking from early January 2022, but these are the most relevant to you reader.

Because one, I am always going to be here reminding you and me that our doing of life is never going to replace the worth of your being. You yourself and you are worthy regardless of whether you’ve cured cancer or sat on a bed in an unfamiliar country for a week. 

And two, because I’m creating space, there will be some changes here. Less time on social media (including an upcoming break starting mid-February) and instead consistent blog posts/kindred letters. Potentially other changes as well.

I don’t know if by the end of our unexpectedly extended January 2022 trip I was declaring the trip was worth it, but I trust that it was, even if I didn’t feel it. 

With joy & gratitude,

Val

postscript:

my COVID case was fortunately mild, it never got worse than nasal congestion and I was gratefully completely recovered within a few days 🙂

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