So here we are, mid-late summer in this 2020 summer of COVID. For those of you who are experienced seasonals, and this is one of a few or many summer seasons you’ve worked in your life’s journey, we know this one isn’t like any of the others. And for those of you who are doing this for the first time, well, what an interesting and perhaps challenging beginning into the seasonal work world.
As I’ve been spending the last four months mostly away from other people, my mask wearing has only been in short spurts, grocery store runs or passing by other people who are walking or running on the paths I walk. But this week I found myself in a position where I had to wear a mask for most of one day, and I gotta tell ya, it was challenging, compounded even more so by the rather intense heat of northern Sonora, Mexico. And I’m quite sure that mask wearing is just one of the challenges you’re experiencing this summer. But every dark moment is accompanied by light. It’s there, we just have to notice it. Here are a few things to consider that will help you let the light shine in.
- Practice gratitude. When I find my thoughts wrapped up in what’s difficult, nothing helps more than to practice gratitude. We all have so many things to be grateful for on a daily basis. So grab a notebook, or splurge on one of those fancy journals, if you wish, and start a gratitude journal. Make the personal commitment to write down three things every day that you’re grateful for. One of the beauties of this practice is that as you go about your day, you’ll start to pay more attention to the things you’re grateful for. So the practice of writing in your gratitude journal wakes you up to all the seemingly small things that happen every day that bring you light. (I really like John Greene’s explanation of the gratitude journal.)
- Be present. One of the benefits of a gratitude practice is that it helps you to become more present in your life. As you start to pay more attention in order to notice what you’re grateful for, you start to pay more attention – to everything, as it’s happening. Often times our thoughts of the past bring up feelings of regret, and our thoughts of the future cause us anxiety. Summers are short, you’re most likely in a spectacular location, be IN it. Feel the trail under your feet, smell the thunderstorm as it passes by, see the Milky Way in the night sky, hear the morning songs of the birds. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
- Remind yourself why you took the job in the first place. Maybe it was pure economics. Maybe you needed a geographical change. Maybe after a few months of isolation, you just wanted to be around other people and feel “normal” again. There are so many reasons, under normal circumstances, that we decide to work seasonally, and now with COVID, there are more twists to those reasons. So remind yourself why you decided to work and spend the summer where you are, and consider how those reasons are stacking up with your experiences so far. If you find something missing, think about how you can course-correct within your present set of circumstances in order to achieve your desires by the end of your season.
- Take advantage of the perks! As I was taking a sunrise walk the other day, I thought of the quote: “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ ” Early mornings have always been my most favorite time of the day, but I’ll admit, I spend far too much time checking emails and drinking coffee before I head out for my walk, and invariably I miss sunrise. So I thought of that quote and then immediately thought, I don’t want to be on my deathbed and think, “I wish I would have seen more sunrises”. I get the perk every day of seeing the sunrise, I just have to do it. So whatever is available to you this summer, whether it’s a river rafting trip, learning some new activity, hiking beautiful trails, going on a horseback ride or a zip line, do it! And don’t overlook the ‘simple things’ – sitting on a riverbank watching the water flow by, grabbing your sleeping bag and laying outside and watching the stars at night. Or maybe like me, watching the sunrise.
Even in non-COVID times, working a summer job in a great place allows the “real world” to take a back seat. This is especially true now. And what a gift that is! Masking up and social distancing and sanitizing, day in and day out, must be very challenging. But continuing to recognize all the things you have to be grateful for, being present throughout your day, remembering why you decided to be there, and then taking advantage of all the opportunities that location has to offer – in moments of darkness, that’s what’s going to let the light in.