‘Southern Voices’ is a reader-submitted platform for stories from the heart. Today’s submission comes from Alexandra Kaval, a certified life coach. If you have a story to tell, see our guidelines for submission here.

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What a-ha moments have you had during these past couple of months at home?

One of my personal ‘lightbulb moments’ that blew me away, quite frankly, was recognizing that my quarantine lifestyle actually aligns quite well with so many elements of the life I’d always envisioned.

Through these very tough (but very eye-opening) past couple months, I’m noticing (and maybe you are too!) that my ‘ideal life’ is actually quite simple. The little things really are what matter most.

And speaking of … have you ever taken the time to pause and not just think, but also write out (seriously, writing something down changes the game!) all the elements of what your ideal lifestyle includes?

Alexandra Kaval is a certified life coach and founder of Grace Space Christian Coaching. Image: Grace Space Christian Coaching

Here’s a peek of what was included on my ‘dream life’ list (feel free to borrow any of these ideas for your own!) and how quarantine has made it possible:

Daily time to exercise — During quarantine, exercise is no longer viewed as a luxury, but as a necessity — for my mental health just as much as my physical health. Daily walks or YouTube workouts are now the norm, and it feels so good.

More intentional conversation with my husband — Definitely achieved this one over these past couple of months! With my husband and I both working from home and through our long (almost daily!) walks together, we’ve logged countless hours of conversation that might not have happened otherwise.

Space to dig in the Word — You know what’s really been a shift? Taking the entire day off to rest! Something that rarely happened on Sundays previously. Having a larger stretch of time to journal, pray, and sit with scripture and devotionals has been the sweetest gift. Trusting the Lord with my time this one day a week (just like you trust Him with your money through tithing) has been one of the best ‘risks’ and adventures.

Organization of my personal life and business — Anyone else an information hoarder? Managing too much content is more of my challenge than it is juggling physical possessions. And this time has provided the space to organize, eliminate, and make progress on SO much in a relatively short period of time. One example? I’m about to celebrate five years of marriage and just now created my wedding album … and while I was at it, I created a honeymoon album and bridal shower/bachelorette album, too! It feels just as good to mark that item off my to-do list as you might expect. I’m blown away that my personal to-do’s for the year were basically completed in a month.

Better prioritizing of people — This hasn’t looked like in-person get-togethers (as good as that sounds right now!). This actually meant getting more thoughtful about people’s needs. Specifically, getting curious about how I can serve others through my time, finances, or skill set (I’m a certified coach and owner of Grace Space Christian Coaching.). This time has given me the discipline and space to better consider what my people (friends and others in my community and the world, too) need — not just what fits my schedule. This has also looked like tough conversations — digging in on some hard stuff with friends or family … and not to create additional challenges during this time but because I care deeply about our relationships and finally have the space to be thoughtful about how to navigate those discussions and cultivate the courage to do so.

So what does this mean? That so much of quarantine life actually aligns with a dream lifestyle?

First, I do want to recognize that the pain and suffering going on right now is absolutely heartbreaking. The lives lost and the economic challenges that this pandemic brings are devastating. It breaks my heart in a big way and I’m constantly thinking about how I can support and love others well during this time. I want to recognize that in no way, shape, or form are these horrific parts of quarantine life lost on me or taken lightly. Instead, the heart of this article is to highlight that even in the toughest stuff, good can be found.

Okay, so the recognition that quarantine life overlaps with so many elements of an ideal life. What’s important about that? The big recognition here is the light shed on the fact that what we crave is actually in reach. We’re oftentimes the ones getting in our own way. We’re likely adding things into our schedule that feel necessary but quite simply are not aligned to or as important as our priorities. Let’s make a commitment to 1) recognize what’s most important and 2) honor those things and surrender the rest.

What will you choose for your new normal?

Not only did I recognize that quarantine life mirrors my dream life more than I ever imagined, but I’ve also recognized a few lessons learned that I’m cherishing moving forward that I hope might resonate with you, too. As we ease back into ‘regular’ life, let’s intentionally consider what we want to take with us from this experience as well as what parts of our previous ‘normal’ we want to commit to leaving behind. Here are my top three:

Take a month ‘off’ each year. Moving forward, I’m seriously considering dedicating a month each year to being ‘off.’ To saying no to all commitments outside of work/church/the essentials in the evenings and weekends. I’ve been shocked by the extra energy I have from laying low. (And yes, as you might’ve guessed, I’m an introvert, although more of an extroverted one from what I’ve heard!) As much as I love meeting new people, going to events, and experiencing what’s happening in my community, this time in quarantine is allowing me to recognize how much energy those things can actually take out of me. And just like anything, a break or reset can be so good for the soul.

Acknowledge the importance of routines. In such a time of uncertainty, having expectations (no matter how small or silly they may be, like pizza on Fridays) can be such a comfort. This time has gotten me especially curious about what rhythms and routines would serve me and my family well now and in the future.

Make time for what (and who) matters. These past couple of months have been eye-opening as to what other people are doing (or not doing), and what I’m choosing to dedicate time to. We’ve all said (myself included) that we’d do ‘xyz’ (you name it) if only we had the extra time. Well now, a lot of us do. Even with extra space in quarantine, it’s fascinating to learn about yourself and others and what you make the time for. Let’s commit to using our time well.

So with that, what part(s) of quarantine life aligns with your dream life? What will you commit to taking with you, and what about your ‘old life’ will you commit to leaving behind?

Alexandra Kaval is a certified life coach for purpose-driven women who crave more. She’s also the founder of Grace Space Christian Coaching. She’s passionate about helping women to prioritize what matters most. Alexandra also hosts “Fruitful Faith: Women on Mission,” a podcast for women who want to live their most intentional, Christ-centered lives.

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