Life the past month has been interesting to say the least. The hotel I work at closed to the public at the end of March, and I have been on leave without pay (LWOP-by choice/they asked if I would be willing to do this) since 28 March. I could have flown back to the states in the middle of April, but that was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.
I wanted to wait out the Coronavirus storm, although at this point I don’t think the storm will be passing anytime soon.
Financially I am stable, which allowed me to accept LWOP without consequence, and aside from the initial lack of routine (I’ve since created a routine I enjoy) – being able to live in Germany (for free) without any responsibilities at the moment is amazing. The hotel continues to push the open date, and as of right now we are scheduled to open the beginning of June.
Select shops in Bavaria have reopened, and life in the mountains has remained the same. Part of why I chose to stay in Germany on LWOP opposed to flying back to the states was because of the freedom I still have here. I am able to go outside and be active however I please (within social distance guidelines), and I wouldn’t have been able to do that back in Washington.
I’ve been spending my free time doing a myriad of things, like walking, biking, hiking, reading, journaling/writing, watching movies, and reflecting. I can’t remember a time when I was forced to slow down like this, and at first it was a literal shock to my system. I went from 60 to 0 in a matter of days – from a life of non stop travel and work, to a life of stillness.
In the beginning I had days where I feel like I was useless to society, but then I remind myself we are in the midst of a pandemic. Although I am not working I technically still have a job, but even if I didn’t have a job, that would be ok too. I worked hard for my money, and I shouldn’t feel guilty about temporarily living off my savings.
Besides, if I were working right now, I would be doing deep cleaning tasks and I just don’t want to do that.
I trust God, and I trust I will be ok regardless of what’s to come the next few months. I have extended my time here until September, but anything can happen between now and then. I am challenging myself to be alone with my thoughts more which has been amazingly therapeutic and helpful in my growth.
I am consistently meeting with the local chaplain for counseling, and I am loving the progress I have made. Digging deep and working through suppressed trauma has been both essential and helpful. I have a long way to go, but this has been a nice jump start. I am trying to shift my perfectionist mindset from “you’re being lazy by not working” to “you are using this time to grow as a person.”
Of all places to be stuck during a global pandemic, I consider myself immensely blessed to be “stuck” in Bavaria.
I’m challenging myself to learn new things with my free time, and I recently overcame a fear I had with regard to my bike. My bike is officially one year old, and she was in need of some love, so I gave her a bath. In my bathtub/shower. It wasn’t perfect, but I worked with what I had. My chain needed love and lube, and she’s as good as new now.
In the past I had always taken my bike to the shop for a tune up, mostly because I was intimidated by the thought of doing anything myself. The bike shops here were closed at the time, so I decided to do it myself. The chain no longer squeaks of thirst, and riding her feels like it did when I first bought her. Little things like this remind me I am capable of more than I think.
Instead of looking at this down time as a negative, I have shifted my perspective to view this as a positive. I will never again live in Germany like this for free with the opportunity to fully submerge myself in nature. I’m not feeling the guilt of wasting my time off, because my time off is endless right now and travel is not an option.
I’m essentially playing tourist in my own city, visiting new and old places. I am thankful for this time to reflect, and to reinvent a part of who I am.
I’ve been more in tune with my body the last month as well, listening to what she needs. I’m not perfect, and I still make choices that don’t make me feel my best, but I am having an easier time bouncing back. It helps being able to sleep in until 0700/0800 instead of 0530. Time away from the stressful hustle and bustle that is customer service always reminds me just how damaging it can be to my health.
All of this to say I am doing ok. It took a bit of time for me to let go of my anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of life right now, but at the end of the day little to none of this is within my control. I take each day as it comes, and compassionately bring myself back to earth when I get overwhelmed by the thought of what’s next.
So for now, I will continue with my small routines which include daily exploration of this place I currently call home.
Q: How are you currently?