A little more than two weeks ago I was talking with a friend at an annual gathering for my son’s school at a local roller rink. We talked about music and local venues and how much you’d pay to see your favorite band. We talked about the various activities our kids were involved in and how their schedule had become ours. Eventually the conversation shifted to current events, and the dreaded Coronavirus. He told me that he was almost 100 percent certain that our public schools would close due to the Coronavirus before the end of the school year. At the time I thought he couldn’t possibly be right. His prediction seemed so preposterous and over the top. There was simply no way that could happen.
Fast forward by what seems like a blink of an eye and now here I am, sequestered with my husband, two sons, and our dog in our home, which is more stocked with food and provisions than it’s ever been. Today is the first day of the mandatory school shutdown to “flatten the curve” of the rapidly spreading virus. Yesterday the very thought of every business closing and having nowhere to go flooded me with a sense of despair. But today I’m focusing on shifting my thoughts of what to do with this sequestered time in a more positive direction.
Last weekend (was that really only two days ago??) I felt little pangs of relief as the six activities we had scheduled were canceled, one by one. Would we possibly have a quiet weekend at home with nothing to do? My introverted, homebody self did a little dance (That little dance was inside my head, of course). Perhaps cutting outside activities and powering down could be a good thing?
I stocked up on food, getting only what we would need for the next couple of weeks. The thought of hoarding seems crazy to me, but I found myself doing an inventory of the number of toilet paper rolls in the house (17 jumbo-size rolls) and swinging by the home paper goods section at Target just to see if all the hype was true (it was).
I’m just finishing up a couple of pottery classes so I stopped at both studios to pick up finished pieces and see if I could glaze those items that had been bisque fired. At this point, news of businesses closing had been cluttering up my inbox every hour or so, and the writing was on the wall…these studios would close soon, too. I did what I could and then left the five bowls and one vase on the shelf waiting to be bisque fired. Who knows when I’d be back to glaze them…or if they would still be there?
Yesterday we made the final, final decision to postpone our upcoming trip to Costa Rica with friends until next year. What seemed perfectly do-able just last Monday was obviously the wrong thing to pursue less than a week later. It amazes me how quickly this whole pandemic has unfolded and filtered into all parts of life. And I realize this is just the beginning. I’m trying not to dwell too much on how it will affect my freelance business or the work of those around me. Like I said, I’m trying to shift into a more positive mindset.
In the meantime, I have an editing project that is at a standstill as I wait for the author to revise a chapter. Many of my usual downtime filling activities—going to the pottery studio, going to the Y—are no longer options. I’ll be honest: I’m already going a little stir crazy. I’m one of those people who can’t really sit still. Ever. The only time I’m not in constant motion is when I’m asleep.
So my plan is to make a list. There are limitless projects I’ve been wanting to do around the house that I just haven’t had the time or energy to tackle: Decoupaging and painting an old end table, sewing a scarf out of upcycled t-shirts, making a few more embroidered hearts, sewing another origami bag or two, starting a practice of drawing something every day, playing the ukulele…the list goes on. Maybe I’ll even revisit one of the windowsill gardening ideas from Dig In!
I’m also thinking about what I can do to safely help others in my neighborhood. Runs to the grocery store? Still exploring options. What I definitely don’t want to do is fritter away my time scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or checking the latest news. I’m taking this whole pandemic-induced shutdown as a sign that I need to untangle a bit from my constant need to check the latest anything on an electronic device. Instead, I’m going to go for a run or walk along the river, dig into one of the many books stacked on my bedside table, start one of the projects I mentioned above, or bake something with my boys. Better yet, I’m going to make a point to just sit every once in a while. I’m challenging myself to make more downtime a part of my day.
What are your plans? Any books you recommend that I add to the list? Have you found any ways to help others in your community during this crazy time? Please share!
And if you’re looking for ways to keep kiddos busy during the long days at home, check out one of my gardening or craft books: The Craft-a-Day Book, Dig In, or The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book! Most of all, be well.