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Stories from Our Team: The Pandemic One Year On

We’ve lived through one year of a trying pandemic. Our team of talented women spread across the globe reflect on life in lockdown, FOMO, mental health and ambiguous Swedish restrictions.

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It was a strange spring. We should have been outside, relishing in the warm rays of sunshine, nature bursting into life again after a long winter; instead, we were cooped up in our homes, trying to make sense of this new and unknown situation spiraling beyond our control.

The month of March marks one year since the outbreak of COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. And what a strange year it’s been indeed, edged by so much sadness and hardship and change.

And yet, in the midst of this uncertainty, life continued and we adapted. Our lives became more fluid and flexible, as many of us joined the ranks of remote workers and learners for the first time. Parents got a double dose of this, of course, becoming teachers to their kids overnight, as schools around the globe closed.

We asked some of our team members to share their reflections on this remarkable year. Has this past year taught us anything of value? Has it changed us in any significant way? Could there possibly be a silver lining to this grim year?

“I’ve learnt that balance isn’t something you find - it’s something you create” - Julia

The most difficult part for me has been balancing family life and work. My kids’ school has been open throughout the pandemic, but having four kids in school has meant that they have been home with cold symptoms much more often than they would have before the pandemic, to follow regulations. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazed I am at the moms and dads who have homeschooled and worked at the same time. I don’t understand how they have done it. My hat goes off to all of you! Through the process of balancing family life and work I’ve come to realize that balance is not something you find; it’s something you create.

Julia Reilly - International Marketing Manager

“I know myself better after this period” - Vanessa

Never before have I felt so many mixed emotions all at the same time as in the beginning of the pandemic, when I was trying to find a new routine to my days. Sure, it worked OK for me as a single woman with no kids, and most days I felt fine. But there were also darker days when I would feel really down, and, to be honest, those days still come now and then.

The first lockdown period here in Germany was as if someone had pressed pause. Life suddenly stood still. Everyone and everything stopped for a moment to breathe. I could breathe. I felt an inner peace I’ve never felt before, and I was finally able to let go of FOMO - fear of missing out. I knew that nobody was doing anything exciting at that point, and that meant I could relax and carry on with my Youtube yoga videos and enjoy my long walks. Once restrictions started to ease, I realized my FOMO had also eased. I feel strong enough to ignore it now. I feel I know myself a lot better after this period. I know what I want and need, and I rather focus on myself than wasting my energy on FOMO!

Vanessa Jaskulski - Marketing & Communications

“We don’t get a rerun on life” - Georgina

Just before the pandemic, my mum was diagnosed with cancer and had to be hospitalized. We weren’t allowed to visit her, and she was so ill we couldn’t even ring her and talk on the phone. Not being able to see, hug and talk to the people who mean the most to me has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. Our circle of extended family is big and close-knit; we get together often and even travel together. The pandemic robbed us of our special moments. No more trips, spontaneous get-togethers or parties with friends and family.

During this past year, I’ve changed my priorities, consciously removing energy thieves from my life to focus on the people I love. Before the pandemic, I lived by the motto never to say no to new experiences and opportunities. Today, I believe this more than ever, but focus on my loved ones and finding joy in the simple things. We live today, and we don’t get a rerun on life.

Thankfully, my mum is making an amazing recovery and is almost back to normal - she’s a strong woman!

Georgina Navia Nilsson - Marketing Manager Sweden

What has your pandemic experience been like? Download our four reflection questions here!

“I would have hugged everyone harder and longer” - Marthe

The most difficult part for me during this year of the pandemic has been to live 100 miles away from my family and friends. I moved from Norway to Sweden to study in 2017, and I haven’t been able to go back home for over a year now. I’m lucky to have a wonderful boyfriend here though, and he’s been a rock during these testing times. And then there’s social media too, of course, so I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends back home that way.

But even so, I feel that the most important lesson for me during 2020 has been to value more the time we actually have with our loved ones. Had I known that it would be so long until we could see each other again, I would have spent less time on my phone and more time with my family. I would have listened more carefully to grandma telling about her childhood, and I would have hugged everyone longer and harder. It’s so easy to take for granted those things you think are always going to be there for you.

Marthe Vikøren - Marketing Manager Norway

“Happiness is right here with us” - Lisa

When the pandemic hit, I was on my last few months of parental leave with my 1-year old son. It was surprisingly OK to start with; Nils and I spent our days at home and in the park until my husband came home from work in the evening. But once I went back to working part-time, things got more complicated. My retired parents who would normally help us out, weren’t able to any more because of the restrictions. My husband and I took turns taking care of Nils so that we could both get our work hours in, but that left no time for us as a couple. We were exhausted.

But then, once the restrictions eased a little bit and we were able to meet friends and family a bit more, I noticed a change in myself. I felt calmer. I noticed my focus was now on the important things in life, the little things, like enjoying a Saturday at home with the family, not doing much, just enjoying one another’s company. It made me realise how good our life is, how truly fortunate we are, and that happiness is right here with us, hidden in the routine of our day-to-day.

Lisa Edström - Customer Service Manager & Influencer Coordinator

“I’ve learnt to value rest & time alone” - Jemima

I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined what this past year would be like. Although I’ve been spared from much of the hardships personally, I’ve struggled quite a bit with the anxiety that comes from not knowing how things are going to pan out. Here in Sweden, the restrictions have actually been formulated as “strong recommendations”, and not knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing or not doing has been incredibly frustrating. Balancing my mental wellbeing while taking responsible decisions during the pandemic has been a little tricky, to say the least...

Even so, I feel that this year I’ve learnt what I need to feel and be well, and how I can boost myself. I’ve learnt to take one day at a time and not feel like I have to fill my weekends with random activities, just to make sure I’m not missing out on anything. I now value rest, time alone and quiet evenings at home more than before the pandemic. I’ve learnt to listen to my body and prioritize my own needs. Less FOMO is my takeaway from 2020!

Jemima Svensson - Content Creator

“I was given the gift of time again” - Sara

My relationship to time has changed during this past year. In an existence where boredom seemed to be the biggest problem around (at least if you were to believe all the boredom buster memes on social media), boring is the last word I would have picked to describe my life during lockdown here in Australia. With 3 young boys needing homeschooling during the day, I found myself cramming in night shifts into the wee hours of the morning to get my own work done. Don’t get me wrong; I know I am and was very lucky to even have a job, and to have one I can do from home at that, but there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.

And then this happened: Schools were allowed to open again. And suddenly, I HAD ALL THIS TIME ON MY HANDS. And it felt so precious I didn’t want to waste a minute of it. So I found myself almost micromanaging my time and being super efficient at work, because there were all these things that I’d had neglected for so long. Like picking up an actual paper book to read. Or sitting still for a few moments to quiet my racing mind. Or having a conversation with my husband about something other than our immediate isolation situation. Once more, I was given the gift of time, and I feel like I will never take that for granted again.

Sara Gómez Hawkes - Content Manager

This year has been truly remarkable, in the worst and best sense of the word, and on every imaginable level of life. What has your experience been like? Take this opportunity to reflect and document this moment in time by responding to our four short reflection questions on this week’s freebie. Ten years from now, you’ll be happy you did!


Much love from the Personal Planner™ team

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