Being An ‘I Can’ Person in ‘I Can’t’ Times

Lockdown life means a lot of restrictions. I can’t watch my kids play sports, I can’t work in my office, I can’t go to a pub or restaurant. Not that I ever go to the pub or restaurant but it’s nice to have the option of not doing something, right? Life is a lot of ‘can’t do’ at the moment. Most people are sticking to the regulations, pulling together for the greater good, doing the right thing.

Lockdown is the only way of containing the virus until the vaccination roll-out allows us to return to some kind of normality. So we struggle on, soldier on, and batten down the hatches. There is a silver lining, however. Not being able to do so many things affords us the time to focus on other activities. Because for every can’t there is a can. I can spend more time with my family, I can go for long walks and I can read all the books that have been sitting in my TBR pile for an eternity.

TBR (To Be Read) lists are the albatross around the necks of most bookworms. We are creatures of impulse and rarely enter a bookshop and leave without at least one or two new additions to our libraries. They tend to be lengthy, unmanageable beasts and, no matter how hard we try, snake into the far yonder. It’s akin to chipping away at an iceberg with a teaspoon. Maximum effort for minimum gain. We never get to the bottom of our TBR piles.

Not that many of us want to, it’s like a badge of honour amongst the reading communities I inhabit. Who has the most impressive TBR list? Is mine bigger than yours? Let’s compare and contrast, shall we? If I had a pound for every time I heard the phrase ‘I’ll add your book to my TBR list but have no idea when I’ll get round to it,’ I’d be at least £57 richer. Most bookworms will die surrounded by a mound of unread books.

My retirement plan was to read all the books I had meant to but never got round to during my working life. Lockdown amounts to a mini version of that. I love a good Netflix binge as much as the next person but, given the choice, I’ll always plump for a book. Reading allows me to escape the rigours of real life for a few, precious hours. It’s a stress-buster and helps keep me curb any anxiety or unwanted thoughts threatening to consume me.

So I’ve set myself the target of reading 52 books in 2021 which, even for my dodgy mathematical ability, works out at one a week. So far, I’ve managed 10 so I’m slightly ahead of schedule. I’m using my Goodreads account to plot my progress, post reviews and manage the dreaded TBR list. At the minute mine sits at a paltry dozen or so, but I’m adding to it every week. Facebook have sussed me out and are now dangling book promotions in front of me every time I scan my timeline. Curse you Facebook.

I’ve no idea if I’ll hit my target. I’ll be returning to work next week which will cut into my reading time. But I’m certainly going to give it my best shot. Why? Because I can, it’s something I want to do that I can control. It’s an attainable target. Why wait when it’s within my grasp? Lockdown is all about restrictions to our freedoms yet it also allows many of us the freedom to escape the confines of our 9-5 grind and reach for the stars.

You might not be an avid reader and spending the rest of the year with your nose stuck in a book isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But we can all benefit from an ‘I can’ mentality in these ‘I can’t’ times. It could be taking up a new pastime, tackling a long neglected home improvement or getting more fresh air and exercise. If it’s possible and you have the time and capability to do so, then give it a go. Who knows when you have such an opportunity again?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

31 thoughts on “Being An ‘I Can’ Person in ‘I Can’t’ Times

  1. I grew up with a lot of restrictions & then was in more than one restrictive relationship so I have learned to exist comfortably with restrictions & to also find the loopholes which produce freedom, however fleeting.

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  2. I am about to turn 50. My last year as a 40- something resembled nothing like the life I wanted. As I felt my world grow smaller and smaller it became very easy to dwell on what I have lost and what I can’t do. Thank you for your refreshing post today. Pandemic or no, locked down or free to be, seeing what I can do and achieve as opposed to what I can’t and where I have failed is the perspective I want to encourage and keep as I begin my next half century.
    Oh and yes, diving into a few great reads can only help!!
    Enjoy turning the pages, Stephen!

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  3. I know there have been a lot of people who have really struggles with the can’ts of this pandemic but I am surprised by those who have enjoyed the break from it all. The people who seem to enjoy it the most are young, active, ambitious family and friends. Many have re-thought their priorities and have no plans to rush back to the life they lived pre-pandemic.

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      1. I don’t know if it is as much anxious as it is ‘disinterested’. Especially with younger men. They have really enjoyed having time to spend with their little ones, time in the kitchen, time to savour the life they have instead of constantly chasing a ‘bigger and better’ life.

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  4. Love this. My TBR list is ridiculous, LOL. And since I work at a bookstore, the temptation to spend my entire paycheck won’t leave me alone. This pandemic has been awful, to say the least but I’ve turned my attention to books, books and more books.

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          1. I have this problem where even though I KNOW I have many many books to read I still have to buy new ones! Doesn’t help that I work at a bookstore! 😂

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  5. I am determined to read my bookcase, which I have been doing well on. Last year I read 60 books on it that I hadn’t gotten around to – or finished – and this year I hope to complete the project. (My bookshelf also included ebooks from the library, and Kindle hooks.) I’ll look you up on Goodreads!

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  6. I love this. Lockdown is such a good opportunity for so many things we never have the time for. Happy reading! 📚☀️

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  7. A “Yes and” mindset, is something I’ve been trying to get more used to, especially when engaged in deep discussion with friends and family. There’s enough “no” in our lives without us putting more in unnecessary places. I’m not suggesting we throw out using the word “no” because we need boundaries.

    I agree with you that we can open our minds to being “I can” people!

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  8. I’ve heard that book sales are up, particularly ebooks. Was sad to hear that the UK is locked down tight again. Things are fairly normal where I live, except we’re still wearing masks and social distancing.

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