The Unexpected Gifts of Lockdown

While many parts of the U.S. are starting to open up (and I have my fingers crossed it goes well!), here in Massachusetts we're still tucked away at home.

My family and I did venture out for a picnic at the lake today, as did many others; about 80% of us were in face masks but there was a gaggle of teenagers lounging in a pig pile on the grass. A police officer rolled by slowly in his car and shouted over the loudspeaker, “Please observe social distancing.

It is indeed a strange new world, but not without its bright spots. I mentioned in a previous post that lockdown for my family is not difficult compared to the situations many are facing. It hasn’t been a relaxed time, my husband and I are still both working full-time, our daughter should be doing her normal home schooling work, but isn’t, and our son is doing busy work that is the best his school's been able to put together given the many constraints they’re under.

So where are the bright spots? I thought I’d bring them to you in a photo essay of sorts...

GRATITUDE

Easy access to food. I’ve always taken the grocery store for granted, in fact I’ve seen grocery shopping as a hassle, not a privilege. Making a shopping list and driving to one or more stores to get everything felt onerous. I'd often just order delivery and then be annoyed when something was left out or a poor substitute was chosen.

Now I’m grateful when the shelves are full and they have my favorite products in stock. I’m grateful when I don’t have to wait in line. I’m grateful when I’m allowed to buy more than two of a single item. And I’ll be really grateful the day I can get soft toilet paper again! Making cupcakes with my daughter...

Fresh cut flowers. I always keep fresh cut flowers on the dining room table and sometimes I've wondered if it’s worth the expense and the time arranging and trimming them. Because of our less frequent trips to the store we’ve had a number of days without flowers. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss them and how I love watching them slowly open and show themselves as the days pass by. This week was a shopping week and I found these gorgeous peonies...

My heavily wooded yard. I love my house, but mostly hate my yard. The 80-foot tall cathedral pines block a lot of the sunlight, and have you ever played “pick-up sticks” on an acre of land? It's not a small task! Then there's the poison ivy, the mosquitoes, and the ticks.


Now that I’m stuck here, I wake up every morning and head straight out for a walk around the perimeter path. I've even started taking my morning coffee in a to-go mug on these perambulations and it feels a bit like being on vacation. I’ve raked new trails and noticed sweet little things here and there that I've never before appreciated. One of our thousands of chipmunks popped out to say, "hello!"...


LONG DISTANCE FUN

Around the world game night. Even though I use Zoom video conferencing almost daily for work, I’d never considered coordinating a video game night with my family in Colorado, or my friends in Europe. Now it's the new normal and I love it! My friends introduced me to Jackbox Games which can be played online. I've been known to stop breathing from laughing too hard, but I have yet to pee my pants. Thank goodness for small mercies. This was one of our t-shirt design contests...

Pokémon Go distance challenges. I wrote in January about discovering how much I didn’t know about the game Pokémon Go, well that started a cascade of my family members joining in. We now have a ten person text chat going where we've been coordinating distance challenges in the game and sharing hilarious memes.


Last week I crossed the 50km line — barely!...

LESS IS MORE

I don’t need to go to the store as often as I thought. Since going to the store is an endeavor more than an errand now, it’s amazing how many times we “need” something and are able to find a perfect substitute at home, come up with an alternate activity/solution, or wait a week or two until our next shopping trip. My new standard gear for heading to the store...

I don’t need everything delivered via Amazon. I had an embarrassing number of items on my Amazon Subscribe n’ Save list prior to the pandemic. With the surge of orders they received, many of those items became unavailable; so I started ordering straight from the source when possible and have made many wonderful discoveries… My favorite: the Lindt chocolate website sells some of their treats at the same cost as the Lindt Outlet. Yay!!


As an aside, DealBook (the business section of the New York Times) reported that prior to the pandemic Amazon received $0.42 of every U.S. dollar spent online (it's gone down to $0.34 since lockdown). I personally feel better about spreading my money around a bit differently. My chocolate bowl, restored to it's normal, happy glory...

EVERYDAY MOMENTS

Taking a few minutes for myself. I'm not in the habit of reading before bed, meditating, going to the gym, or any other kind of daily routine that guarantees a few moments to oneself and counts as "self care." I tend to run at 45 miles an hour all the time. Which is to say I never run around too crazy, but I also never really unwind. I just cruise. My grandmother was similar, but she and my grandfather had a morning ritual that I found very sweet. Before breakfast they would say grace and then read a daily reflection from their bible guide. While I loved participating in this ritual when I visited them, I don't really eat breakfast, I don't say grace, and I don't read the bible. So copying them wasn't going to work out well. But then I happened to find this precious little book from National Geographic called Daily Joy and it surreptitiously arrived just as we were starting to shelter-in-place. I've loved having this little book and it's been a way to check out for a few minutes from the buzz of a full house. This is one of my favorite quotes so far...

No morning alarms. With no buses to catch, lunches to make, or commutes to drive, our house has been blessedly silent in the mornings. This is one bright spot we won't be able to hold onto after this pandemic is over, but I sure am enjoying it now!


My daughter just starting to wake at the crack of noon...

Wherever you are right now, whether you're deep in the dark struggles of this current crisis, unsure of what you'll be doing next, or just aching to get back to normal, it is my deepest wish that you'll be able to find your own bright spot and know that not all hope is lost.