June 21


Shuffle the deck (and get your priorities in order)

By Jessica Allen

June 21, 2020

I filled out an online questionnaire last week that included the question: To what extent has Covid-19 affected your life? (Mildly, Moderately, Significantly)

My ink-blot reaction was "Mildly."  We're safe, we're healthy, and wearing a mask is the least we can do.  We both work from home and our children do not require special educational services.  Anything we need we can order online or do without, we're good cooks, and we know how to keep our house clean(ish).  All that hard marriage work we've done over the last several years has brought us closer together instead of ripping each other apart in such close quarters.  So other than a minor initial panic over not being able to find diapers anywhere, and thoroughly missing our regular date night, Covid-19 has not altered our life in a way I would consider "significant."

Except... it totally has.

I stared at that questionnaire on my laptop screen with a growing lump in my throat.

Because I slowly realized that this season of retreat has brought perhaps the most significant change to my priorities in quite some time.


I suspect you, like me, spent some time in quarantine evaluating your life. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Do I love it? Is it serving me and my family? Is it serving the right people and purpose? What's the ROI (return on investment) of my time and energy? If I say no to this thing, or that thing, what could I say yes to? What do I want to return to normal? What do I hope never becomes "normal" again?

If Covid-19 hasn't caused you to re-examine your priorities, I hope it’s because they’re so meticulously in order that there's no reason to reflect.  Sometimes they absolutely are and that's called a "sweet spot!"  Yay you!

But if you, like me, find yourself with a strange hand of cards prompting you to shuffle the deck, remove the Jokers, and strategically plan your next play, I tip my cap to you. It takes guts to change the game.  Especially when the other players at the table don’t quite understand.

All this is to say, I've drastically shifted my professional priorities. And the short version is: you'll be seeing me a lot more here in the Heartfully Present world. Look for a website redesign coming late summer, and more content to help us all move forward and toward a more present, ordered, and peace-filled life. I love writing on grief and marriage.  I don't think I'll ever run out of things to say.  But I can’t help but wonder if this total shake-up is making room for something new too.  

What inspires you

I saved a little notecard a few weeks back and it reads: “I will let go of what is no longer serving me and make room for what inspires me.”  It struck me when I found it, because when I thought about it, I couldn’t even come up with what inspires me. 

That’s not good. 

My life, my mind, my heart, and my priorities had all gotten so cluttered and rigid that I couldn’t even make a list of what lights me up from the inside.  I chewed on that for a good while.  And I finally realized that this is one of those predictable moments in my life where God is patiently waiting for me to release my death grip on the reins of control (or my illusion of control).  I don’t get to see the next twist on the path until I decide I’m tired of trying to figure it out myself. 

So I let go. 

And now I will wait.  I’m resisting the urge to book up my time, my schedule, or my mind with “fillers” that will only clutter it all up again.  The goal here is peace… stillness… clarity… trust… and willingness to do things differently.  Just because it worked for the first part of my life doesn’t mean there’s something else in store for the next.  And it's okay to change the activities that line up with your priorities.  I'm finding my priorities stay fairly consistent, but as my life shifts, I have to carefully adjust my commitments to stay in alignment with what brings me peace.       


So back to that questionnaire…

I unchecked “mildly” and clicked “significantly.”  Without the opportunity to elaborate any further at all on the survey, yes: Covid-19 has significantly affected my life.  I never would have chosen this interruption of routine.  But sometimes we need an interruption to reconsider what we’re so focused on in the first place.  

What are you so focused on?  Is it inspiring you?  Or at least moving you in the direction of something that could?  If you are headed in the right direction, what do you need to keep or shelve in order to stay on track?  And how are things – how are you - going to be different and better in the going-forward?

I’d love to know what’s bubbled up for you during this season of interruption.  Did your priorities shift, or become more clear?  Do you find yourself wanting to adjust your commitments or activities in any way? 

May our Covid-19 lives be “significantly affected” for the better.



A final thought

Though we’ve been fortunate and healthy in our home, as I hope you have been too, I acknowledge Covid-19 is real and it’s still a large and looming problem.  Keep staying home, and wear a mask if you have to go out.  These are the most minor of “inconveniences” and you can literally save someone’s life by putting forth just the tiniest effort and care.  While you’re at home, call or send a note to someone you know needs a pick-me-up.  Loneliness is just as real and just as significant a threat as Covid-19.  We don’t get through this life without each other.

PS: I wrote a book on grief, and while it centers on child loss, it will help any person navigate through the 5 stages of grief of any kind. This season has been challenging in many ways and riddled with loss. You can find a copy of Joy Comes in the Mourning for yourself or a friend here.

Jessica Allen

About the author

Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have four children: LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and Elisha.

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