The importance of recognizing our own self-worth — Where on Earth is Francine?

These are fragile times. People have endured unprecedented challenges and restrictions on their movements and social interactions for two years and counting, and for many, many people it will take a long time to recover. In the past 24 hours, two articles have shown up in my news feed that just wouldn’t have been there before our time with COVID.

On CBC online (Canadian Broadcasting Corp):  Anxiety, depression, loneliness at highest levels among Canadians since early pandemic: survey … Nearly 1 in 4 respondents said they needed — but could not access — mental health support last year. 

From the Globe and Mail: Why loneliness is a serious and growing problem among seniors.

It’s not just seniors who are grappling with these issues.  And the reasons and circumstances vary.  But the constraints of the pandemic has severely impacted people’s ability to lead full, rewarding lives.

A few days ago a blog post appeared in my inbox from Francine Sullivan’s Where on Earth is Francine.  She hadn’t posted for a long while and I was anxious to hear what she had been up to.  Talk about someone who has figured out how to have a full life on her own; in retirement Francine has, for the last several years, been a house sitter (and sometimes pet sitter) for people around the world.  As one of those unfortunate Canadians for whom winter is not her favourite season, she has found pleasant house-sitting arrangements in exotic, warm weather places in which to pass the winter months.  It’s always fun to read about as she learns about a new place and shares those observations.  Until COVID.

Her post this past week, entitled The Importance of Recognizing our Own Self-Worth, is impressively honest and insightful.  She relates her sadness at her world imploding, but she also identifies what was most damaging, that in losing her self-affirming routines she had lost a sense of purpose.  That is an insight many of us might take to heart.  And her post talks about how she began to take action to regain that all-important sense of self-worth.  I encourage you to read her entire post.  A link to the full post follows.

The Importance of Recognizing Our Own Self-Worth (by Francine Sullivan)

As I look back at my previous post, Wings of Change, written just three months ago, I see that the first sentence in that post compared that time to one year previously, where I’d written about The Only Constant in Life is Change. See a common thread here? Well, things also changed significantly for me during the past three months.

In October of 2021 I wrote excitedly of my plans to spend three months in Mexico, mid-December to mid-March, starting with a month-long house sit and then adventuring out to neighbouring areas. Over the past two years, people have spoken of ‘pre-pandemic’. My plans had been made pre-Omicron, and things shifted quickly as this new variant spread rapidly. In the forefront of my mind was that I’d made a commitment and was not someone who would let anyone down. Then, as the variables of so many what-ifs crossed my mind, and the various Plan Bs were considered, I came to a point where the anxiety of what might happen, although it seemed like the worse-case scenario, started to overwhelm me.

Once I had made the decision that my health had to take precedence over my commitment, I contacted the house sit homeowners. They were compassionate, understanding, non-judgmental, and supportive. They were quickly able to work on their Plan B and make alternate arrangements. Sadly, many of the things I had considered as worse-case scenarios have since happened to many, and so I had not been at all alarmist in my thoughts. I kept in touch with the homeowners, and learned that their travels, and that of their family members, had been disrupted by not only the pandemic but also the inclement weather that affected flights. It was a not-so-perfect storm and the homeowner commented that I had made a wise choice in deciding not to travel. Soon after, our government had also reinstated its advisory to avoid non-essential travel. I now have no intention of travelling any distance until things are far more settled.

So where has that left me? Physically, in another cold Canadian winter. However, with a great sense of relief that is far stronger than my dislike of cold weather. Where has it left me emotionally? Something I probably would not have shared publicly before this pandemic, but I am learning the benefits of sharing as it helps not only myself, but also others. Emotionally I at times struggle with feeling like my life is in a holding pattern. I’m one of those planes circling above the airport, waiting for the signal to land. The only thing is, I’m the reverse in that I’m waiting for the signal to fly again. And in the meantime? Where do I stand, emotionally? Like many others I encounter, at times finding it difficult to see how I am accomplishing much more than just ticking another day off a calendar; trying to find some real purpose in my life.

This week I had reason to reassess my feelings of worth. In part it was from an interaction with someone I volunteer with, who phoned and appeared overly anxious about a project we were working on. In truth, she was harsh with me, and yet I worked to calm her and ease her concerns. I didn’t think I’d succeeded. However, the next day she emailed me and was hard on herself for how she had treated me. She was struggling, saying she felt like she was a prisoner in her own home. This was a direct outcome of a snowstorm where we were being asked not to travel unless it was essential. Just another burden on top of the one of the past two years. I replied, asking her to be kind to herself, and asked if she would be that hard on someone else, if they had spoken a little out of turn. Of course not, she said. So then why do we do it to ourselves? Why are we so often so critical of ourselves, I wondered?

Then it was time for me to listen to those same questions. Why was I finding it difficult to find my worth and purpose these days? I took stock, and the following is not in any way to pat myself on the back, but rather to scold myself for being so unkind to myself. I continue to physically volunteer for two agencies, where I serve those in the vulnerable sector who are more harshly affected by this pandemic. I volunteer online for three organizations, giving much of my time to assist others. I will quickly say that these volunteer tasks fill much of my time. Without them, I might be climbing these walls that I hibernate in. My life does have worth, and does have value, and I need to remind myself of that. I need to be kinder to myself.

[…] To read Francine’s conclusion, please click on this link to her blog post: Where on Earth is Francine – The Importance of Recognizing Our Own Self-Worth


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28 Responses to The importance of recognizing our own self-worth — Where on Earth is Francine?

  1. Pingback: The importance of recognizing our own self-worth — Where on Earth is Francine? - TylerLatvala

  2. Reblogged this on Mystery Deb and commented:
    Thought some of you would find this thoughtful and poignant post of interest, and perhaps relatable. Thanks to Jane and her Robby Robin’s Journey blog, for sharing this piece on recognizing our own self worth.

  3. Incredibly important and timely post, Jane. I’m going to repost it on my blog, as I think many people will relate to it.

  4. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Kindness is the essence of us.

  5. Rose says:

    Your image and quote at the end is so important. “Literally everyone” has been relearning how to live their lives these last few years.

  6. Wynne Leon says:

    Wow, what an impactful, vulnerable and honest post, Jane! What I think is so inspiring is how well you describe the overall feeling of being in a holding pattern and not cleared to fly and then also the day-to-day meaning you get from the volunteering you do. Somewhere between the two polarities is the space we all bounce around in and you do a good job of charting a path through. I’m sorry your plans had to change, I’m grateful you choose to write about it. Thank you!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Wynne. The narrative you’re speaking to is the first part of the reblog of Francine Sullivan’s post, and your reaction to it is exactly as I felt, which is why I thought it needed to be reblogged. I was equally grateful!

  7. Last spring I booked a hotel and flights to Barbados, for Feb 2022…figuring that what with the vaccine rollout and all, it would be safe to travel again by then SURELY! Well, we know how that turned out now. I suppose I could still take my chances and go but that didn’t sit right with me as the morally and ethically correct thing to do. So after cancelling everything, I booked a weekend staycation on the other side of Vancouver Island instead. It’s not 2 weeks in Barbados, but it is a get-away and I am treating myself to an afternoon at a local spa too. All in the name of mental health and self-care 😉 or at least that is what I am telling myself. Our winters here aren’t that cold (relatively speaking) but they are lacking in sunshine. There won’t be any more sunshine on the west coast of the island but there will be a lot of surf and sand to enjoy nonetheless. We do what we can until we can do what we really want to do. I am aware these are first world, very privileged problems to have…


    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for these comments, Deb. Since it only reached -15C here today, you’re right that it doesn’t get that cold in Vancouver Island! 😏 And, you’re also right that getting away from winter for awhile is a first world problem. On the other hand, dealing with the pandemic-related mental health issues arising in people of all ages, from kids to the elderly, is real. And it is troubling. I think some of it existed but has been exacerbated by the pandemic, but quite a lit results entirely from pandemic challenges that have simply overwhelmed people. 😥

      • Very true. I tell myself I have no right to be disappointed that I can’t travel abroad, and to have to limit my other activities in retirement…that others have it way worse, especially those vulnerable populations. I think we are all affected though, in many ways…and hopefully have the resiliency to deal with it. I think there will be many studies and books in the years to come all about the after affects of this challenging period.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          Resiliency is key, all right. Very good thought about the books and analyses that will be written, Deb, from every angle. Boy, there will be a lot to absorb and reflect on, including the realization that many people don’t want to obey the best possible advice!

  8. jane tims says:

    Thank you for your efforts to help others. And for your thoughtful posts. As an introvert, I am actually doing very well in this time of seclusion. Of course, I have my husband, my family who stays in touch and my friends. Most of my contacts with friends have been ‘on line’ but I enjoy this way of communicating. I can relax and my hair-do seems less important!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Jane. Lol, you and I have similar advantages in seeing this pandemic through, along with the additional advantage of being retired. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating! But the strains on people working, not working but wish they were, schooling kids online while working online, being sick, being alone and lonely … gosh, it’s been tough for so many. I hope policy makers spend some time reflecting on what should be changed in our social policies – including health care – so that as a society we’re better able to support people in handling a future pandemic.

      • jane tims says:

        You are so right. I don’t know how parents trying to work manage being sitter and teacher too. It is a good idea to learn now for coping with future emergencies.

  9. boblorentson says:

    Such a huge topic, and unique, no doubt, to our conscience freighted species. It’s a topic that’s been flitting in and out of my mind a lot recently too. It was nice to read such an honest self analysis from a person of such high emotional intelligence and compassion, which makes it all the more worrisome for those not so well equipped. Especially, as your terrific post notes, in this time of isolation. Helping others in need must be at least one of the components of self worth.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Bob. Yes, I fear that many people are not as well equipped as needed to come out of the pandemic restrictions free of mental health issues. People have faced a myriad of different challenges, and isolation is a big one. If you aren’t already resilient by nature, developing it quickly is easier said than done.

  10. What an excellent post! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Jane, I am honoured that you chose to share my blog post. I am so impressed by your dedication to reading and following other blogs, and the excellent writing you consistently produce. It is a pleasure to have come to know you a little, through our blogs.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Francine, it’s a pleasure to be able to share posts that clearly relate to so many people. I hope people find their way to your blog. And I hope you get to resume your warm-weather house sitting before long!

  12. LA says:

    Mental health was a problem pre pandemic and now it’s going to crush us all.

  13. Inkplume says:

    Thank you for openly and honestly sharing what so many of us are feeling. I’m trying to embrace winter this year and I definitely see the beauty of nature in winter. At the same time, in the last two years, the only time we have been able to socialize is during the warm spring and summer months. COVID numbers go down and we can meet outside and in small numbers indoors. So I am REALLY looking forward to their arrival this year.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Linda. What I was really doing was sharing Francine’s open and honest reflections. Like you, her words really struck me. We’ll get through this, but, boy, it’s been a long time now!

  14. I really like your quote in the end, where you mentioned that everyone is going through something. Self worth is really important, as you mentioned in your blog. Thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂

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