Perhaps I am in the minority, but I'm not all that unhappy about sheltering in place. Maybe now all those people who know me and declare,"There's no way you are an introvert!" can finally see that I am. 100%.
For three weeks, I have self-quarantined--before even being told to do so. Not because I was scared. Not because I thought I was at risk. But because it was the right thing to do. My healthy ass doesn't need to be a carrier for someone's else's suffering (Take heed, idiots of the world). Besides, what better way to wiggle out of awkward social engagements? (Haha!)
How is it that I sit here three weeks later and am not going out of my mind?
Well, for one, I am grateful to still be employed, which has kept me busier than usual assisting with crisis communications and other projects. Thank you God, for the good fortune to complain about work stress. Since I already work from home, it was a no-brainer for me on how to continue. So that schedule has more or less not changed on me. If I didn't get to work, though, I have enough house and heart projects I wish I could get to that would easily keep me occupied in its absence.
But here's the cool thing even about working - I no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive my baby minions to school. As self-sufficiently trained monkeys, I get to sleep until I feel like getting up - which has shocked me to realize that it's been before 8:00am every day. (I'm a late night owl, but somehow I have fallen into a proper sleep routine!)
And speaking of routine, now that I am not rushing about like a lunatic, I get to wake up slowly, journal, meditate, shower, eat breakfast and THEN settle down to work. By the time I leave my room to "go to work," my kids are already fed, showered and settled into their morning school or whatever routines, leaving me a quiet space in which to make my daily to-conquer lists. It's like they aren't even in the house and it's heaven. All I had to do was take one day to make sure their school stuff was a set up, troubleshoot a few issues and BAM - independent kiddos take over and are responsible for themselves.
Yeah, I know how lucky I am in that area, too. My heart goes out to you parents who struggle with crazy districts, teachers and technology expectations. To you, I say - you are doing the best you can, and that's good enough. There are more important things in life than perfect schooling. You are doing awesome <3
Having my kids home has also reminded me to eat lunch--something I usually work through. So now, I take a break. Yippee! Did you know taking a break in the middle of the day not only curbs crazy hunger but keeps stress levels down? Who knew, right?
Then a little later on, it comes time for them to have their online social activities--again, where they are old enough to log in and take care of business. Only sometimes do I need to stop and scan classwork for them to upload and continue on. During this time, work has usually wrapped up and I find myself--gasp--actually cooking dinner. It's unheard of. I am the take out QUEEN. And I have cooked every night for 3 weeks straight.
Just, wow. It's amazing what we can do when challenged.
And not only am I eating 3 meals a day, I am finally eating like a normal human being. Now, this could have gone two ways: boredom and stress eating (my typical default) or healthy eating. Who would have known that I'd go the healthy route? Okay, maybe it's because funds are limited, as are my store runs for hidden pints of ice cream and chocolate bars, but it's not just a lack of food in the house. It's an actual commitment (and a weird lack of desire to binge) that makes me no longer focused on food. And no longer playing Russian roulette with my food allergens. Guess an immune system breakdown right before this pandemic hit home had quite the impact on me. I might actually end up looking as good as I feel by the end of this time-out.
So, easy morning routine. Check. Busy with work. Check. Healthy eating. Check. Supporting kids with school and thanking my stars that they have it all figured out. Check. Socially distant walks to enjoy the beauty of my neighborhood and the sunshine - and hellos from afar from neighbors I haven't met in my busy 4.5 years here. Check. Daily interaction with my family in NY. Check.
What else? Oh yeah, the fact that as soon as we found out about sheltering in place and no school, I created a calendar for a nightly family activity that forces us to be in the same room with each other. It promotes family bonding, memories and one other unexpected bonus: very little in-fighting between the siblings. Family night has worked out really, really well with a diversity of activities from March Christmas and Baking Championships to book clubs and deep cleaning to keep us amused. Best thing I ever did was make a plan for something like that to keep the "I'm Bored" faces to a minimum. That, and get them both involved in online activities.
Do I miss seeing friends and yodeling in person at my acting rehearsals? You bet your petutie. I'm not destined to be a hermit forever. But I'm also not minding the change of pace. No school or activity juggling. No daily or weekend errand running. I get to sleep in (did I mention that already?). No figuring out how I am going to clone myself to watch one child's competition while the other has a basketball game. Now, they both get my attention at the same time.
I get to design my day, and that has meant more peace. More meditation and self reflection. Less poor health habits and more healthy ones. More time to explore things I love and finish writing some books (actually publishing THREE tomorrow!) and starting some more. More reading, more movie time (surprisingly, NOT television bingeing) and more breathing in the air around me.
More appreciation for life in general.
Even with all that is going on out there--plus my shitty days, the days of fear, the mourning of a family friend who heartbreakingly passed away alone from this monster virus, the anxiety of my vulnerable family members being exposed--I am taking the time to find immense gratitude in what I do have in life. I have all the basics--food, home, clothing and the means to keep that going (for now). I have my health and a safe community to shelter in. I have love and the companionship of my kids. I thought this might make me feel the pang of being single more, but it hasn't.
I am 100% content with life right now.
And although I wish with all of my heart what is going on out there would end so that no more people suffered, so people could work again and our children can have some childhood back, I am in no rush to end what's happening on the inside.
Because how we handle our situations is our choice. Maybe not every day is perfect, but all we have is today, and I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this day and every day that comes next, for better or worse. And I am truly grateful for the people in my life who keep me nourished with their love, kindness, laughter and support.
LOVE makes this world go 'round.