Moving Forward

In Reflection by Erinne Kennedy, DMD, MPH

and so she moves forward,
with a little more wisdom,
a heart that is more open
to love, and a mind
that welcomes deep healing.

By Yung Pueblo

I couldn’t bring myself to write another article about the difficulty surrounding a once in a century global pandemic. But, to me, it seemed equally obvious and important to bring to light how we all have changed over the past two years. I wanted to acknowledge the the difficulty that we have all felt in moving forward through this change.

Have you felt this tension in moving forward too? There are some mornings, opening my laptop feels like I am lifting a medieval drawbridge with my pink finger. Many of us have faced a loss or multiple losses, and the feeling of grief can feel like a haze over your heart and eyes that just doesn’t clear. And there are somedays, I just don’t feel like me. I am guessing that you have felt this way too.

Yung Pueblo, a word artist, notes that tension occurs to when you were attached to something that is no longer there. We were all attached to something, someone, or some way of life before the pandemic. To be honest, I think many of us, including myself, are still attached. We are still attached to what was, instead of letting go and accepting what is. The more that I dive inward, the more I have realized that I need to question what I was or am still attached to, and why? Am I attached because it is comfortable? Am I attached because they are familiar? Am I attached because it is the way I always knew?

Before this summer, I was attached to the Erinne of 2020. I was trying to adjust to the new normal and found it easier to adjust to my environment, than to my new self. I thought I missed who I was before the pandemic. I thought I might want to get back to her. The pre-pandemic Erinne was bold, busy, led by deadlines, involved with her community, on-the-go, and always planning her next adventure. If you could catch her, she would probably share with you her next project, a photo from her last trip, or the article that she just read on a plane.

This summer, I tried to find her again. I planned trips that I used to love, I traveled as much as I could, and I filled my calendar to the brim. But the closer I got to her, I realized that I really didn’t miss her that much. As I started to take steps toward moving forward, I decided that I wanted to let go of the tension linked to who I was before, and honor who I am now. I realized, I just needed to love the me that is present in each moment, not the past me, and not who I will become.

I noticed that the growth that happened while I was under the pressure of the pandemic has helped me become who I am today. The post-pandemic Erinne asks more questions and is curious. She might seem a little less bold, but really, she is just trying to listen and love more. She still has those deadlines, but sometimes she makes them and sometimes she decides to ask for an extension she really needs. Instead of being involved with a large community organization, she makes dinner for her neighbors, waters their flowers, and gets their mail. And if you are looking for her, she is pretty easy to catch. You can find her on her daily walk or nestled with a cup of coffee in the morning watching the sunrise and reading a good book.

When I was trying to figure out what life was going to be like after the pandemic, I started by asking myself some questions. You can too. Is my pre-pandemic life what I want? Is that what is best for me? Is that the journey I want to be on? It was in this series of questioning that I realized I didn’t have to just settle into a new normal, I could actively create my new normal.

I hope you walk away from this article knowing the new you a little better. Honoring her, loving her, and letting her be her. I hope you realize how proud I am of you, for moving forward. I hope your new normal is less about being normal and more about being you.

We all are walking forward with a little more wisdom, with a heart that has the capacity to love, and a mind that is ripe for deep healing. I am not sure where my next step will be, but I know it will be forward. Will you take it with me?