174. 4 (surprising) lessons from 2020

My loves, happy new year!! We’ve made it to 2021!

I’m sure you’ve heard it many (many) times, but 2020 has been brutal in so many ways. I often think of it like back pain that takes you by surprise. Have you ever had one of those? You do something strenuous, often thinking you’re being good by challenging yourself and out of the blue something pops and you’re immobilized for days.

Then you can’t do anything ‘productive’ – walk, sit, pick up your kids, bend, go up or down the stairs so you spend the entire time sitting on the sofa or stay in your bed binge on Netflix while someone else picks up the slack for you.

There’s a bit of bittersweetness in this, doesn’t there? It’s annoying that your life has been disrupted in such a way but it’s also kinda nice to do nothing. In resting, you remember or discover new things about yourself – how much you love reading, walking gains a whole new appreciation, you reconnect with your loved ones in a new way because you’re finally static.

You don’t move and fidget anymore. They have your fullest undivided attention. That voice within you is awakened and whispers in your ear that there must’ve been a reason for this strain. What is your body trying to tell me? What do I need to learn from this? This is nice, I should change this or that.

The thing with back pains is that eventually it goes away (hopefully). So before you know it you go right back to your regular programming with a new perspective but little action to change towards some of your newest realizations. And then you’re back in the hamster wheel, running again, hustling, achieving, pushing yourself.

The difference between Covid and back pain is that the former lingers for much (much) longer. It doesn’t go away in a week or two. Here we are, almost a year later still in pain. Believe it or not, there’s a blessing in that. COVID is a blessing in disguise. Why? Because what happens when back pain doesn’t go away? What happens when you’ve used all the creams, potions and supplements and nothing works? How do you get back into equilibrium when back pain becomes chronic?

You realize (hopefully) that all this time you’ve been treating the symptom, not the root cause of the pain and then you do something about it. Something serious like seek out a chiropractor, or a physiotherapist, or change your diet, commit to yoga, breathwork, hot/cold plunges.

Maybe later you feel inclined to explore the psychospiritual reasons and release the emotional roots of your back pain. You might hire a bodyworker and learn that your chronic back pain could be caused by stuck emotions. You discover that the sacrum hosts fear in your body – fear related to financial insecurity or grief of losing someone dear and moving on with life. You connect into your soul space and figure out a way to release yourself from pain. That kind of work requires time, effort, dedication and patience.

This my loves, is what I believe we’re being called to do in 2020. To heal our ‘chronic back pains’. Whether it is healing a strained relationship with a child, or questioning and examining your marriage, or maybe even yourself.

It’s nothing like we’re used to. No more easy pills to ease off the pain temporarily.

We’re being called to uproot, eradicate, extinguish whatever we’ve been tolerating, putting up with, or pretending doesn’t exist.

I wanted to spend some time today and share 4 of my contemplations and ruminations about 2020. I’ve discovered I’ve been tolerating some major things that were holding me back. Covid has been a great opportunity for me to sit with the truth in silence uninterrupted and undistracted. I hope my lessons will help ground you in the truth that you’re not alone and that whatever challenge you’re faced with is sacred enough to uproot. I hope this will give you the permission to see the blessing and the opportunity in these very rare times. I know we’re all tired, annoyed, and even angry. Yet, remember that back pain, we’re dealing with roots here, not symptoms and those take time to uproot.

Before I say anything about my own experience with COVID, I don’t want you to think even for a split second that I minimize the suffering or the immense fear that this virus caused. I know many people have lost their loved ones, hospitals were overwhelmed, media is everywhere. It’s a scary thing we’ve never experienced before. What I’m sharing with you here is my very own, very biased, very personal experience.

Let’s jump into it.

  1. Certainty doesn’t exist.

    This reminds me of Baz Luhrmann’s song – Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen). In it, he says “Don’t worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.”

    Boy, were we blindsided!

    10 months ago, I was trying to figure out how to take this podcast to the next level, how to incorporate social media into my business, how to share my message on the stage with more people. I wanted to start speaking, gain more visibility, hired an assistant to help me with outreach.

    And then COVID.

    All of my dreams and aspirations had to be put aside. Although it’s incredibly harsh to admit, it’s also humbling. It reminds me of the movie ‘Wonder’ where Julia Roberts plays the mother of a child with a rare disorder that changes her life upside down. She went from being a career woman in the process of writing a thesis for her master’s degree to a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Humbling right?

    I often think of this movie whenever I have to put my family before myself and remind myself that we often delusion ourselves with grandiose plans which never come to fruition because it’s just not the right time. You might be unripe, or not ready to play the big league yet and the sudden halt stops your ego in its tracks.

    That’s what I had to do. I had to halt my ambition.
    I had to go back to basics, make sure my family is taken care of, that they’re loved and settled at home, while I find another way to express my ambitions which involved reevaluating my entire business and marketing plan. This leads me to the second lesson.

2. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

We’ve all heard this cliche. But 2020 taught me how true it is.

For me, staying with my kids at home full time was the worst possible scenario. I thought I’d die. I was sure I won’t be able to do this. That I’ll yell all day. That I won’t be able to work.

But here I am, feeling the best I’ve ever felt. I was on some kind of crazy rush to do more to have more, I was running too fast. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve had moments where I wished the kids to grow-up already so I can get to do what I want. COVID coming was like a loving mother who wrapped her hands around me and calmed me the F down.

She made me look at what I’m missing out on by rushing so much. Spending so much time with my three daughters made me fall in love with them even more. It made me relish their current age. It gave me permission to deepen my relationship with each one of them in a soul-nourishing kind of way. It’s not always perfect, but I allow it not to be.

This experience made me more resilient and resourceful at home. I’ve created systems around chores, meal planning, meal prepping, dinner making, clean up, and throughout the entire day. This allows me to feel like there’s a flow to our day even in the midst of massive disruption. I’ve never been more productive at work than I am now. I don’t work much, but when I do I make sure it’s quality work because I don’t settle on anything less.

Look, you don’t know yourself. I didn’t know myself either. You only know when you try, so let’s just stop capping ourselves and put ourselves in small little boxes. Life is full of surprises but you need to have the confidence that no matter what hits you, you will manage to still thrive.

3. An unhealthy marriage is soul-sucking (to both sides) and will keep you from living your best life

Oh man, this is a big one for me. There’s a lot I won’t say because I want to respect our privacy, but here’s what I will say – I will never settle for anything less than amazing in our marriage.

For many (many) years I’ve felt like I was playing the role of “the good wife”, doing for him, taking care of the household for him, taking care of our kids for him, cooking for him, cleaning for him. All for him.

Why? Because I was truly convinced that if I did those things he will appreciate me and I will get a hit of my drug, my medicine, my love language – ‘words of appreciation’. But it never came. Not because he didn’t appreciate those things, but because I was giving him what I needed not what he needed.

My husband’s love language is ‘quality time’ and ‘acts of service’ so he expects those things to be given. You can imagine the heartache, arguments, disconnection that this created between the two of us.

Now here’s the thing. It’s not his fault. It’s not mine either.

But what do you do? How do you bridge the gap? Well, this is where feminine power saved me once again. You see, we women have a unique gift called intuition. We’re more connected to the divine. We feel things. Women are the feelings of the world, men are the doers.

I’ve been craving to feel loved and desired for many years in my marriage, but struggled to communicate it to him. He felt unseen and didn’t know how to communicate it either.

Here we were, two people, two children of God, with all of this potential we didn’t know how to realize. I knew we have the capacity for an exceptional marriage, but we were stuck. A lot of it was because we were simply too busy to dedicate our attention to it. Anyone else?

Well, with COVID no more excuses, we have all the time in the world.

My husband and I became closer than ever. We’ve connected in ways I didn’t know possible intimately and on a soul level too. I do take credit for this connection because I’ve dared to put my ego to the side and open up my heart in a beautiful feminine way that captivated him instantly. Masculine energy craves the feminine. He was patiently waiting for me to come back to myself so I could come closer to him.

The beauty is that the more I embrace my feminine power the more he steps into his masculine power. One of my biggest desires for him was to see him step into the CEO role that he is. To stop playing small in his business and attract the wrong clients. I wanted him to become the business owner that I know he is without feeling guilty or ashamed for claiming that role. That was HARD you guys.

I see this with many women who wish their male partners stepped up a little more. If you’re like me the song from The Lion King where Nala sings to Simba: “Why won’t he be the king I know he is, the king I see inside?” you know what I mean.

Here, too, my love, we women play a huge role. We have the power to feed our partners with the right concoction to entice them to be more of who they’re meant to be. I believe that this is my role as his wife. The same way as his role as a husband is to provide for me a sense of safety and stability. We’re in this together. The kind of marriage I want is a sacred union, where we’re both growing individually and as a couple. Here too, as women realizing our power and wisdom we can change our lives around.

4. A meaningful life is made up of conscious moments of joy

If I have the power to infuse meaning into random moments in my life then what if I can highlight these moments and write them down. What if I could give myself permission to relish, savour and take pleasure in the timelessness of simple moments of life (pandemic-life is filled with these moments!) but it’s our job to pay attention.

Examples of these moments could be:

  • Relishing in holding my four-year-old daughter’s hand in my hand.
  • Smelling the food you’re about to eat
  • Eat slowly and chew your food
  • Put music on and dance your heat out
  • Play with your kid on the carpet
  • Make love, look into your beloved eyes, smell him.
  • Sleep in
  • Go for a drive on your own
  • Cry

You get the point.

None of these things cost anything. They’re free.

This is my biggest lesson from 2020 – joy is free.

It’s not outside of me. It’s right here, right next to me, within my body and the walls that surround me. It’s in the eyes of my children, the smell of their hair, clipping their nails, choosing their clothes every morning, leaving a love note or text for my husband. I have the power to make my life meaningful, joyful and fun. The choice is mine, and yours.

So ladies, it’s all a work in progress for me. Nothing is set in stone, but 2020 has definitely taught me so much about being lazer clear about what I want and the power of manifesting. I believe we all deserve to feel good. This isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. This is the hardest lesson of being alive – figuring out how to make meaning of this very complex and sometimes difficult human experience.

On that note, I want to recommend Disney’s last movie called SOUL, and we’re going to close with that taught. Disney has done such an incredible job of showing how we have the power to infuse meaning into every moment in our life.

Stop waiting for something grandiose to happen to you, instead of grandiose every moment. How does this look like in our mom-life? Well, I’ll use the example of soul-sucking chores (doing the dishes, folding laundry, cleaning, cooking, meal planning, meal prepping, etc).

I’ll use the folding laundry example since it’s my least favourite chore. Instead of dreading it time and time again, what if I can infuse meaning into it by playing music while I do it, or remind myself how lucky I am to have the person who’s clothes I’m folding in my life. Or, invite one of my daughters to do it with me and turn it into a special time. You get the point.

Let’s recap:

Certainty doesn’t exist.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

An unhealthy marriage is soul-sucking (to both sides) and will keep you from living your best life

A meaningful life is made up of conscious moments of joy

How are you going to live your life? What is your life for? You decide.

Your action task for the week is to notice these conscious moments of joy and share them with me over at www.Instagram.com/doritpalvanovcoaching. Let’s start a movement of women, wives and mothers who refuse to stay stuck and play small and instead relish in the fullness of life. We are in control of our lives, not the other way around.