In Turbulence There’s OpportunityJun 01, 2021 06:00AM ● By Natasha (Chef Beee) Brewley, Ph.D., MBA, HHC
If I told you this past year has been challenging, it would be an understatement. With one family member succumbing to the virus and five others testing positive, I am grateful that we are all still here, alive and thriving.
Working from home for the past 14 months has been an interesting journey of discovery into the inner workings of myself and my family. I realized that when my husband and I shuttled our boys off to school in pre-pandemic days, we didn’t have a full view of their complexity. I didn’t really understand the nuances that made my boys intrinsically who they were. We each went off to our separate daily routines only to come back together later for short moments of check-ins, dinners together and then slumber, not really knowing much about each other beyond the surface. Combine a pandemic, lockdown and a four-member family forced together in a small two-bedroom bungalow for a year, and you get a ripe opportunity to examine some interesting reveals about yourself.
During this time, I gained clarity about my family dynamics and took a deep dive into why I was often frustrated by their behavior. I realized I often looked at them from outside myself through a lens of judgment. I wondered why they were not doing tasks and chores the way I wanted them to—like keeping the house clean or getting their schoolwork done on time. It seemed I was reactive to everything they did. I also felt as though they were becoming incredibly unproductive—not wanting to leave the house or fully participate in school.
The funny thing is, through that frustration, I didn’t look inward at myself or how I was treating everyone else. I didn’t realize that my behavior and attitude impacted them—just as they were impacting me.
I realized I missed my life of busy-ness; I realized I often left the house to retreat from my family life. I missed getting up and going to the gym, teaching classes on campus, shopping and visiting friends. My children missed their lives, too; in fact, they suffered the most during that time. In an instant, their world of social engagement was turned upside down. They lost the tangible connections to their peers, and they started acting out as a result.
The pandemic allowed me to see myself and how I was showing up for my family. I was no longer able to do my regular routines and, while I did not blame my family for it, I punished them with occasional disconnection and lack of engagement, as if I did. I was not as nice as I thought. I was not as loving as I could be. I was not as compassionate to my boys and my husband, not understanding that they had lost something very precious, too—freedom.
An opportunity for self-reflection gives us time to think about what we want and how we want to be in the world. I knew that I wanted to be a better mother and wife. My family life was important to me, and it was time to shift. We started having more conversations and talked about what was on our minds and what we felt was missing. We knew that we loved each other, but we were clear that time with others was just as important. We started focusing on what we had and not what was missing. We practiced meditation and named things we were grateful for, and that helped shift the conversation and mood when our time together intensified.
I used the time to connect deeply with my family. I learned what each of my family members needed and how to support them in accessing it. We also prioritized getting the children time with one or two friends as long as it was a safe social setting.
The pandemic has been a time of turmoil for many. Yet, even in turbulence, there is an opportunity for reflection, expansion and elevation. I am grateful for this time to learn more about who my children and husband are and to fully and authentically accept them. I can truly say that I love them and, as in most relationships, I see that ours is evolving. As long as we remain grateful and remain open for the lessons, the blessings come. ❧
Dr. Natasha Brewley, better known as Chef Beee, is a lifestyle medicine health coach, a raw and plant-based chef educator and author of the cookbook Let Plants Nourish You. Learn more at ChefBeee.com or on FB, YT or Instagram: @iamchefbeee.