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Back in 2009, I had a brain abnormality corrected. The doctor threaded a tube up through an artery in my groin area, past my heart, through my carotid artery, past the jugular vein, and into my brain. There he deposited five tiny platinum coils to create a wall between arterial and venous blood that was mixing in a fistula.

For reasons I’ve never fully understood, that abnormality that I’d had all my life began to cause problems when I was about 48 years old. At first, I heard a whooshing noise in my right ear. Then I began a gradual decline. I didn’t have energy to do the things I’d once been able to do. Then it got worse.

I would put five dishes in the dishwasher and then have to sit down. I got the clothes out of the dryer a few at a time because I couldn’t carry a laundry basket that was full.

In the end, my right eye started moving in and out with each heartbeat. I got double vision and was unable to stand up. I went in for a brain angiogram on May 5, 2009, and they decided to do the procedure immediately.

After the surgery, there was a blessed quiet in my head. The noise that had plagued me for five months was gone. I was ecstatic! Elated! However, it was the only symptom that went away immediately.

The double vision faded in a couple of weeks. I could sit up, stand and walk short distances soon after. But then I didn’t get a lot better anymore.

I kept hoping that I would get back to “normal” for more than a year. Eventually I accepted the fact that I’d improved as much as I was going to and that I would never regain the stamina that I once had.

Then I had a grand, ol’ pity party! I kept repeating over and over the things that I could no longer do. I couldn’t exercise. I was having trouble making it through a day of training. I couldn’t stay on my feet for long periods of time. There was a super long list of things that I couldn’t do.

Eventually, I got tired of the pity party. I got tired of focusing on all the things that I was unable to do. It was time for a change.

I decided to focus on the things that I could do. I could still think and read. I could still create courses. I could learn new things. All the leadership knowledge I had collected was still in my head.

In the end, I decided to create an online course. Boot Camp for New (and Lightly-Trained) Supervisors was born. I learned a lot during that process – and I eventually saw some more physical improvement.

It seems that COVID-19 has put us in a place of focusing on all the things that we can’t do. We can’t get together for the holidays. We can’t go out without a mask. Some of us can’t pay bills because we’ve lost our jobs or livelihood. There are a million things, both big and small, that the pandemic has taken from us.

Just as I couldn’t do anything about my physical condition, we can’t avoid the societal and personal consequences of COVID-19. We can, however, take stock of the things that we can do.

We can work to maintain a positive attitude. It is work – and worthwhile work. Our immune systems function better when we are positive. We are more creative, broad-minded, and better at problem-solving.

There are several ways to improve our moods and outlooks. It’s important to find the one that helps us. Meditation is helping me quite a bit right now.

Counting my blessings when I get into bed at night is another technique that I use. Reaching out to talk to others with a positive attitude can also help during isolating times. Finding something that brings us joy and indulging in it can also make life feel more bearable.

We can still celebrate the holidays, although the celebrations may look different this year. Different isn’t always worse. We can accept this time as an invitation to slow down and embrace the spirit of the holidays more than the actions that we associate with them.

We can stop fighting what is and comparing it to what we feel life should be like. We waste a lot of time and energy railing against circumstances that we cannot change. Acceptance brings peace and more energy for other things.

Finally, we can still offer help and ask for help. Each of us has been impacted in a different way. Some of us monetarily. Some of us emotionally. Some of us physically. Catching COVID-19 can leave a person weak and tired for weeks, if not more. It’s important that we ask for the help that we need and give the help that we can offer.

Ultimately, no matter the times that we live in, creating our best life includes helping others create their best lives. If we all do that, we improve the world for ourselves and our children – even in a pandemic.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at KathyStoddardTorrey.com.

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at PositiveEffectLeadership.com.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at KSTorrey@tapferconsulting.com.