Home again: The pandemic rages on + darkness settles in.

Things aren’t going so well here in Sweden. Covid-19 cases are on the rise and my county/region has been the first in Sweden to reinstate harder restrictions and recommendations. So for all of us living here, we’ve been advised to avoid public transportation, hang out only with those with whom we live, work from home if we can, and stay away from parties, stores, and other social events. And, for me, that meant that on Wednesday, the city decided to require public high schools to return to remote/online classes as quickly as the next day. Private high schools (as mine is) followed suit. So, guess who’s been back at home working from her kitchen table again?

Before I move on, though, I want to say a little something about Sweden.

And my disclaimer is this: I have no fucking idea what is right to do or not do. Thank god I don’t have to make governmental decisions. Some days I agree with Sweden + some days I’m pissed. And, finally, this is my experience, my story, my life. So, I am not saying I am right, wrong, or anything. I am just trying to get by + understand the best way to stay safe, live life, and take care of others in the middle of a global pandemic.

First off, we don’t have rules or laws per se here in Sweden regarding Covid-19. We have restrictions and recommendations – because Sweden has a deep belief that its citizens and residents will follow these guides and take responsibility for themselves + for greater society. Which is a beautiful + deeply trusting thing. I must say, that to live in a country that has such a high regard + desire to work with its citizens + residents is comforting. And, for the most part, people are aware + mindful + vigilant. Yet, we are also still fallible people – sometimes making bad decisions, not necessarily able to constrain ourselves or follow all of the recommendations all of the time as we should.

With that said, I know that Sweden has had a bad, or at least confusing, reputation throughout the pandemic – as we have not experienced lockdown or other tougher restrictions that many (most) other countries are facing. I can’t explain the reasoning or even how well/terrible it has really been because we are still experiencing the pandemic. Some days I agree with things, some days I’m filled with rage at how we are not dealing with it all. But, in all truth, I’m in no place to judge this country or any other. What I can do is share my experiences + tell my stories.

And, that’s what I did with my Corona Diaries posts back in the spring when I started working from home. I didn’t speak much on the situation in Sweden, but rather, my situation at home. My posts served as my way to process what was going on. Feel free to click on the category link at the bottom of the post to read all of my posts from the beginning of the pandemic.

But, now, a return to the present situation.

For some reason, when I posted my last Corona Diaries post, I felt like that was the end. I never even thought that I’d be adding more posts to it. Which is super weird, I think. Why wouldn’t I have thought that I would return to posts on the pandemic? I knew back then that the pandemic would be with us all year long and already had a gut feeling that the autumn would find us experiencing a rise in cases again. But, I didn’t think about writing about it. I didn’t even imagine it. I just felt like I closed that chapter with my last post in June.

Perhaps it’s just that I was simply caught up in the present situation – celebrating that I was moving into summer and a chance to be off. Though summer was also deeply affected by the pandemic – even here in Sweden.

But, here I am now. On a Saturday morning in late October. Trying to process all that has happened this week. And wondering what the future holds.

Here’s what I do know. We’ve be told to work from home through next week. Then, there will be another decision made. So, technically right now, it’s only 2-ish weeks of working from home. One of which (next week) is fall break for the students – I’m still working, though. But, even having only 2 days to have to have online classes, it was still a shock to our systems + emotions to find out on Wednesday at lunch that it was time to move our work back home again.

I’m certain that we all felt not just shell-shocked, but also had flashbacks to mid-March when we found out, also on a Wednesday at lunch, that we would start running a high school from our homes the next day. That lasted for 3 months. On Wednesday, my colleagues and students all fell into a quiet panic. We knew we could do this – but it felt surreal. And disappointing to many. The biggest worry I had was for all of the first year students – they hadn’t done distance learning before. They were in the 9th grade last year and went to school the whole time.

But, we all breathed deep + got to work. Me, answering questions, calming nerves, and helping my babies prepare for being at home for an undetermined amount of time. So, I advised them to take everything home – even if they were on break for the majority of these 2 weeks.

Working from home again

And, then, suddenly, I woke on Thursday + set up my little work space at the kitchen table again. Almost feeling that I’ve never left. The most notable difference: the fact that the sun had not yet come up so I was starting my day by candlelight + darkness + the glow of my computer screen.

To be honest, my soul was deeply satisfied with this. I ache for my colleagues + students who suffer and have a hard time being at home. But, I thrive here. I feel that I even have more contact with students than in a regular day at school. It may not be as deep or emotional, and nothing can ever replace having a session with a student face to face, but I have a better grip on all of my students when I’m working from home. It evens the playing field in a way that I can’t at school. It provides a sense of balance and equal time + access to my students. Plus, in between sessions + classes, I get so much work done. I am much more effective + focused at home.

Not to mention, the pauses for mediation + wandering + grounding that I can add into my day. For me, working from home is a return to the deep rhythm that beats in my soul. And I am able to live it + embody it throughout my day – in ways that I cannot when I go to work from 7:30-5 every day. Everything feels much more natural, organic, and true. I find that I am anchored + rooted so much more. And that permeates everything that I am + do during the day.

So, obviously, I am grateful for this time at home again. And, yet, I am mindful + wary of the fact that it means that things out there are not good. Covid-19 is, dare I say, raging in my county. And I wonder how things will be, how long this will last this time. Will my fellow Uppsala residents take the recommendations seriously + stay home? Lina + I will. We are. We have no plans to be out + about except to go to the grocery store. And we are so blessed that we have a warm, safe home that is beyond cozy + comfortable.

Finding purpose at home, during a pandemic, and in the dark

It just so happens that all of this is occurring as we enter the season of the dark. And, magically, the time changes tonight as well, and we leave summer time (daylight savings time in Europe) behind. The days will literally be much darker now and many people also find this an extremely difficult time of year. But this year, it may feel even darker with the shadow of the pandemic being cast over our usual everyday lives. In fact, we don’t even have usual, everyday lives anymore. None of us. Life is different. Things have changed. And so have we.

But, the darkness is a place of transformation. It is a time of release + death. We often seek to ignore these things. But, my lovely souls, we cannot evolve + grow + transform without letting something die. The flowers must return to the earth in order to prepare for rebirth in the spring. And we must release all of the shit that we have been carrying with us that is holding us back in order to make a new way. A better way. A more just, equal, healthy, mindful, meaningful, spiritual way.

If we find ourselves back in our homes once again, due to the rise of Covid-19… if we find our lives interrupted and changed and turned upside down once again, due to restrictions, laws, lockdowns, recommendations… then maybe, just maybe, we can find purpose in it all. We cannot stop the darkness from coming as autumn slowly slips into winter over the next few weeks + months. And we cannot ignore the fact that a pandemic is raging across the world. So, while we sink downward into the deep darkness of this time of year + while we find ourselves trapped/isolated/stuck/forced to be at home more, why not align ourselves with this energy? It’s all around us. Let’s accept + flow with it. Allowing all of the old shit to die. And then just sitting + waiting in the dark. It’s fucking hard, yeah. But it is also so fucking transformative.

We do not have to be alone through this all, even though we are at home. So, keep reaching out. Keep Zooming + writing + creating + resting. We are separated, yes. But, we are in this together. There is deep solidarity is staying home during the dark months (even if you don’t have restrictions places on you) in order to rise even higher when the light returns.

For now, even in the middle of all of the crap, there is magic all around. Don’t forget that this is the Season of the Witch. So, embrace the dark. Find some magic in your day, in nature, in a moment, in the kitchen, in a song, in a phone call, in creating something, in meditating. And if you can’t find any magic, create some. Make some space in your day, every day, for one moment of feeling awe + wonder, of feeling so teeny tiny + so important all at once, and for feeling, even in a pandemic, grateful + inspired. Create those feelings for yourself. That is magic, my friend.

From my little space in the world, I am sending out all of the love + magic I can to each soul that reads these words.

xoxo. liz.

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