In the face of pandemic, there remain milestones—and growth—worth celebrating.
Today is my birthday. Everyone who knows me knows I enthusiastically welcome my birthdays. Aging has never tempered my enthusiasm for celebrating this day.
But this birthday is different. I feel uncomfortable being celebratory while the entire world is grieving.
My parents were born in Albania. Their families both actively resisted Italian occupation from 1939 to 1943, German occupation from 1943 to 1944, and communist uprising from 1944 to 1945. Many of my family members lost their lives or were persecuted for opposing these events. In 1945, my parents were ultimately forced to flee for their lives by foot over dangerous borders. They then endured over a decade each in refugee camps as unclaimed people. Both were finally granted political asylum by the U.S. in the late 1950s and would meet on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
My legacy has left me with the knowledge that things can always take an unexpected turn for the worse—which gives me a tendency to savor life.
Our war with the coronavirus seems kinder than the battles my parents experienced. However, spiritually, we are experiencing a similar sense of grief. It’s a grieving for the life that was and will never return. We don’t know what life after COVID-19 will be like, but we do know that it will be different.
I believe challenges always present us with opportunities—both on a collective and personal level. We call in what we need in order to create the forward momentum that will push us to evolve and find greater purpose and meaning.
To me, COVID-19 is both a physical and a metaphysical pandemic. This crisis forces us to see what is truly essential to our wellbeing and what isn’t. It reminds us that our health is our most important asset and motivates us to reexamine our self-care behaviors, prioritize our immune systems, create healthy boundaries in all of our relationships (including with employers), and have more respect for our lives overall.
Many of us are realizing that the stressful way we were living—based on survival—was out of alignment with our minds, bodies, and spirits. We have been forced to see that life is precious. What will we do with that realization?
As a holistic life and wellness coach who helps people transform their lives, my wish is that we all live to our true potential and embrace creating a life that is more than just “okay.”
We need to stop abusing our health and disempowering ourselves by accepting or pursuing less than what lights us up. We need to believe we deserve better than okay—and that we have the power to manifest it. The latter is crucial because the thoughts we hold are the mantra from which we create.
The potential post-COVID-19 is great: to thrive, not simply to survive. As we thrive personally, we thrive collectively. In order to move forward in this direction, there are some questions that we must ask ourselves:
- How do we define abundance in this new existence?
- Can we improve our health?
- What exactly will make life fulfilling for us?
- Will we take responsibility for our creations?
This pause gives us time to consider these issues and to reflect on how to build something better. Given the whirlwind of activity we were living in and all the pain and loss we are experiencing, what greater birthday gifts than these could there be?
This evening, I won’t be picking out a swank outfit and heading to Tribeca to meet friends at Odeon (my favorite birthday spot) to celebrate me. Instead, I will be wearing not-so-swank yoga clothes and my mala beads while sitting in my apartment and celebrating these tremendous gifts of COVID-19 … with some Champagne, dark chocolate cake, and a single candle to welcome in a new paradigm.
I can’t imagine a more monumental birthday.
For more on self-care, read on how to build resilience.