This year has certainly brought its set of challenges. We are living through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the lives of everyday Americans, our healthcare and education systems, and our economy. In the United States, COVID has claimed the lives of over 270,000 loved ones and for many families, life will never be the same. Our state, in particular, has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. More than 132,000 Nebraskans have contracted the virus.
In addition to the strains our neighbors are experiencing because of the pandemic, a social justice revolution has also taken center stage over the last year. This social and political climate has challenged friendships, families, and the status quo across many aspects of our lives. Conversations continued to get tough as the presidential election pitted people against one another because of differences in ideologies.
Personally, it has taken a lot of mental and emotional strength to adjust to new protocols including limiting the frequency and way in which I spend time with loved ones. Working remotely has changed my entire routine. Communication, both personally and professionally, has been transformed.
However, through it all, I have learned that humans are resilient.
Trying times such as the ones we have confronted in 2020 give us an opportunity to reassess what matters most and how we can make personal investments in our hearts, minds, and souls.
Investing in self-care, practicing gratitude, and being intentional about mindfulness can ensure we can achieve personal growth, happiness, and maintain a healthy life balance.
The University of California Berkley’s Greater Good Magazine, which can be found online, has been a longtime and favorite resource for me. I often frequent the Mind and Body section, which provides amazing tips so I can maintain balance. I encourage you to check it out, too.
The truth is, I consider myself an extroverted introvert. Many of my extroverted friends are going stir crazy because they can’t be around people in the same way as they could pre-pandemic. For many of my introverted friends, the changes brought on by 2020 have been a bit of fresh air because they can maximize their alone time. For people like me, who fall in the middle, COVID-19 has given me an opportunity to be more intentional about my own needs, self-care, and my approach to human connections.
I have started journaling about my experiences, which has proven to be a great mindfulness practice and has allowed me to ramp up my self-reflection game and explore how I show up more authentically in all of the spaces I am in, including my civic life. I have been a life-long public servant through my volunteerism. Reflecting about not only what I can gift myself, but my community too has changed my life.
The pandemic has highlighted and emphasized so many gaps of which I was blissfully unaware of or out in tune. I have recently committed to new volunteer opportunities in 2021 so I can contribute to my community in new ways.
Paul Wellstone’s words of wisdom, “We all do better when we all do better,” are especially timely now. In 2020 we had to deal with a multitude of disasters and in 2021 we have the opportunity to forge a new future and we can do this by giving back.
This journey starts with investing and loving ourselves and then we will have the strength and what it takes to contribute to the causes that need our sweat equity and our passion.
Liz Codina supports local efforts to build thriving communities in the Omaha area. Previously, she worked for nonprofit agencies in program management and development roles. She is among the leaders of the South Omaha Business Association and is vice-president of the Metro Young Latino Professionals Association. For more Civic Nebraska Writers Group columns, click here.