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| by Allison Zahorcak

Symbol of The Month: The Pearl, May 2020

What an interesting time to be writing about a pearl, which I explained on the Rowan Content Cards for the month as “something that appears ordinary, but actually ends up being seen as quite precious or that has great worth.” Throughout this pandemic, many people have mentioned “the silver linings” of quarantining together, such as more family dinners, a calmer pace, time to play games or do puzzles, opportunities to collaborate on family meals or projects, or moments to notice hidden strengths in our family members. It seems like the frenetic pace we tend to go at in our normal lives, prevents us from noticing the simpler, ordinary parts of family life. Perhaps we even take things for granted a bit too often? This pandemic has allowed us to see what is actually precious and rare in the ordinary. What a blessing.

Habits we formed during quarantine can be beneficial and we should bring them with us when we return to “normal” life. Examples such as slowing down, eating dinner together, watching movies or playing board games, not being in a rush, not nagging kids to finish things because of busy schedules -- which habits felt the most meaningful to you? Write them down. Add them to your phone calendar with reminders.

Even though we’ve done quite a bit of quarantining already, it's not too late to start a new habit or ritual with your family. A fashion show? Cupcake wars? A “chopped” cooking event where members get a basket of ingredients? A different board game each night? An on-going family puzzle on the dining room table? Dinner time name-aloud two strengths you’ve noticed in each sibling? Quarantine family photo album?

Here is another suggestion: Jot down all of your observations -- your wise insights about both the strengths and weaknesses on display in your home, the seedlings of resilience you’ve spotted in your kids, the subtle gestures of thoughtfulness you’ve observed in your loved ones, or the evidence of resourcefulness that have taken your breath away, what you missed from the real world and what you did not miss at all. These insights and observations are precious in guiding our re-entry. To brush them aside or rush past them without using them as indicators in how we select our path forward would be a shame. When the return-to-normal crushes down on all of us with its demands and its chaotic pace, we will lose sight of these precious observations, if we’re not careful.

The goal is to be as intentional and selective as possible in how we choose to spend our time and with whom. We need to carve out time for purpose-driven conversation before returning to normal life. If we just fall back into “normal,” and try to pick up where we left off, we will have missed such opportunity for growth and change.

Our monthly content is ideated and written by Cristina Young, LCSW, who has more than 25 years of experience providing professional support to children, adolescents, adults, and families.
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