These are weird times… Really freakin’ strange times. As I write this, there is a simultaneous Major Disaster status in all 50 of the United States, and now every single one of them has some variation of a “stay at home” order in place through at least April 30, 2020.
I am amongst the extremely lucky. Being disallowed from leaving my house/property for 30 days is not entirely a hardship for me. I have a nice place to live, in a nice climate and I have plenty of space around me to spread out without leaving our property. All three of us are now working from home and that has meant some adjustments so we all have space and time and quiet to accomplish tasks.
Jim and I are writers. We write books, presentations, articles – all types of content. And so the natural thing seemed to be to write a new book… focused on inspiring, calming, and entertaining stories to help people cope during a crisis such as this.
Being told to stay at home unless you need groceries or meds is an extreme condition. But… It does allow one to focus. Focus on self, family, friends, home life, even the home itself.
I’ve been writing stories from my life and family that will help people feel more confident, relax, or at least get a good laugh. And I’ve found it to be the impetus for a surprisingly deep dive into my own soul, and the way I think about myself in relation to others.
Being told to stay at home unless you need groceries or meds is an extreme condition. But… It does allow one to focus. Focus on self, family, friends, home life, even the home itself. (I think we may not recognize the place by the time we’re set free again. We’ve been organizing, and finishing projects that have been on the “to do” list.)
I’ve had the luxury these last weeks to slow down. And, in that process, I’ve been able to think more. I’ve thought more about what I’m doing and where I’m headed, but I’ve also had time to think a lot about others in my life and the state of my relationships with them. Truth be told, I’ve been on quite an analytical tear about both past and present.
I recall this happening around 9/11 also. It wasn’t anything like the order to stay at home we are experiencing now, and it didn’t have the fear for personal safety quite like it does now, but there are a lot of similarities. When a crisis happens in the US – just like in any family – we suddenly drop any arguments we’d been having and focus solely on what we have in common rather than our differences. It’s the instinct to band together against a common enemy and to look out for one another.
But just as in after 9/11, I also discover a deeply personal need to make sure everyone is ok. Back then it was not so easy as it is now because the technology we take for granted today was only then just budding. Nonetheless, it was good enough for me to find my long lost high school friend who’d been an exchange student from Sweden. Life had moved on and we’d fallen out of touch. I can happily say that we’ve been back in touch ever since then. And I’ve always been happy and grateful that I’d chosen to pursue finding him.
Reaching out times…
This time, as we hunker down behind closed doors, gloves, masks, plastic shields… I’m again feeling the pull to connect with others.
I’m reaching out to neighbors. Those I know and even those I do not know yet, simply because I want to be a good neighbor to them. And locked away in our houses – seeing other only across the street or across the desert wild area of our backyards… well…
I see all the crazy memes being created around this COVD-19 pandemic. Song lyrics being rewritten into funnies about the virus. People making jokes regarding staying at home, too many Zoom meetings for work, eating too much, articles about families being in stress because they are cooped up too closely.
But, bluntly put – perhaps selfishly put – all I can think about or see, is that this is a gift of sorts to have the ability to slow down for once and just focus. Focus on the really important things. I’ve spent the last three years on overdrive – cross country move, new house, two terminally ill beloved cats, family health issues, and two knee surgeries within 10 months for me. I really (!!) needed to be able to slow the hell down. (And no, two knee surgeries didn’t do it… the kitties needed me, and I am serious about commitments to those I love.)
I am focusing fully on getting myself healthier, stronger, again. And I am focusing on what I need to do to attend to the most important relationships I have.
Give yourself the gift of time to write the letter/email/text you should have done a while ago, make the phone call and have the conversation you’ve been putting off. Say the words that need to be said.
I won’t lie, it’s not been the easiest thing. Even in a spacious house, three people working at home is a challenge at times, coordinating schedules. But we are really enjoying Bryan being home with us and consider it a luxury to be able to have lunch with him daily, greet each other good morning as we pass to and from the Keurig, and to have him home as soon as he is done with work, no drive between us and him.
And I am devoting time to a very close friendship that has needed attention for quite a while. Stones unturned, words unsaid, emotions left unexpressed – because there’s never enough of me to face it. It’s been a true luxury and so heartwarming – soul healing – to be able to do this for one another.
These are weird times…
But allow my own experiences these last several weeks to speak to you.
Life is so hectic for all of us. We run around barely having time to do the essentials. Rarely do we ever have the luxury of time. Time to focus. Time to reconnect. Time to truly turn inward and do some maintenance on our relationships not only with others, but equally importantly, our relationship with ourselves.
Carpe diem times…
Please don’t spend all this extra time eating junk food and binge watching shows. Give yourself the gift of time to write the letter/email/text you should have done a while ago, make the phone call and have the conversation you’ve been putting off. Say the words that need to be said. Express yourself. To others. To yourself. Journal. Begin a writing project.
With any luck, we won’t have this opportunity again. It’s not jail time. Turn it for the good however you can. Take advantage of what you’ve been given, focus less on what has been taken away. Use this time to develop skills you never have the time to do.
Life will eventually get back to a new normal. We don’t know yet what that will look like but it is coming as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. When we are finally able to open the front door of our dwellings, and face the new world, what will you bring out with you?
New and unexplored times… don’t let ‘em go without discovery!