If there's anything we've learned over the past year or so it's that life doesn't always go to plan. We'd just finished reeling from a summer of fire and smoke when the pandemic hit and life as we knew it was forever changed.
Now, these changes are a day-to-day occurrence. Every day a new border closes, another town goes into lockdown, another message about the vaccination process gets delivered, another positive case is registered.
In her book Plan B: A guide to navigating and embracing change, Shannah Kennedy looks at change, whether it be a career shift, a relationship breakdown or a health scare, and how best to navigate through the process and create an alternative plan for future happiness.
"Life is in constant transition," she writes.
"The world changes every day, every hour, every minute. Change is inevitable.
"It can be positive and exhilarating and take us to a whole new level, full of excitement, awe and overwhelming joy, but it can also be devastating and throw us into the depths of loneliness, pain and despair."
Who hasn't experienced all of those emotions recently? Sometimes in the space of a single day in between 11am press conferences and the latest Facebook post from Jimmy Rees Somewhere in Australia.
Kennedy's life took a turn when she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression at 30. She had been a high-achieving executive working in the field of sports management, sponsorship and PR. Her job defined her. But she could no longer function, both her mind and her body were broken.
So she set about formulating a Plan B, one that focussed on developing new strategies for the life she wanted to live, one that was deeply connected to self care.
Yes, this is a phrase that gets bandied around. Self care is much more than a massage or a warm bath - although both those things could indeed be part of your care plan. Paraphrasing Kennedy's idea, this process is about recognising and acknowledging the change, finding ways to heal, rebuilding foundations and celebrating the awakening.
One thing I've realised lately is that while dealing with big life events, such as divorce, moving house, your children growing into adults or menopause (or is that just me?) is crucial to our well-being, it's also as important for us to find ways to cope with the daily changes that the coronavirus has delivered.
I'm calling it Plan C.
While we've gone relatively unscathed here in the Canberra bubble this time round, knock on wood, you'd have to be quite naive to think we're not going to end up in the midst of it again at some point. It's been interesting this past week watching my family go into lockdown in Orange, in central New South Wales. It's the first time the town has really been affected and by all accounts the residents were only at the "let's go shopping at Dan Murphy's" phase. You can guarantee that for those in Sydney, and Melbourne in particular, the novelty has well and truly worn off.
We're all at different stages in our grief, if you like, for what life was like pre-Covid. It's easy to become a little blase here in the nation's capital where most of us are in a position to work from home, where our excellent schools have worked hard to set up efficient online learning, where we have open spaces to socially distance on our afternoon neighbourly walks. But there are many Australians who aren't as lucky.
Which is why we all need a Plan C. When Covid next comes knocking, how are you going to cope?
I know what my Plan C involves. Hopefully we all learnt enough last time round to know how to do things better. My Plan C has nothing to do with baking sourdough or doing online pilates. It's identifying my core values and doing things which best reflect those.
It's about regulating a work schedule. It's about setting up a space to work away from the space you live in. And if this isn't possible, at least tuck the laptop away in a cupboard at knock-off time. It's about eating well, talking regular walks, getting fresh air throughout the day, say, do that Zoom meeting from your balcony or your backyard.
It's about knowing which friendships matter and finding ways to connect that abide by the rules.
It's about family, family dinners, family game nights, family binge sessions on the couch, giving family members the space they need even though you're all on top of each other.
It's about recognising that all we can really do is do our bit. Whatever you've determined that bit to be.
But if we get through all of this with nothing but hatred and contempt and viciousness in our hearts then, even if one day Covid is just a distant memory, it will have left its pock mark on us forever.
- Plan B: A guide to navigating and embracing change, by Shannah Kennedy. Penguin Life. $29.99.