That’s what’s for dinner. For me, seriously.  With Fresca (you really should try it).  For my kids, it’s rotisserie chicken, peas and fruit.  I’m not a totally awful parent!

So, when this whole COVID-19 thing started and then caused some form of quarantine for you, how did you imagine it?  Did it seem like a good thing for you?  A time to relax, more quality time with family, time “off” from work?  Or did it immediately cause stress, thinking about the restrictions, the difficulty of mundane daily activities we take for granted, perhaps a loss of some or all income, and how long this new normal would last?  Perhaps the way in which we envision it speaks about our psyche or our approach to life? Are we positive or negative?  Are we a glass half full person or half empty?  Whatever.  I don’t even care what it says about me.  This is freaking HARD.

When our local “Shelter in Place” started, I was already under “self-isolation” from travel.  During this time, thankfully, I have some great friends who brought me groceries and supplies.  Thus began my time at home, isolated from the world.  I am now nearing 70 days home with only the occasional “essential” trip to get groceries and the like, which amounts to about every 11 or 12 days.  I. Am. Losing. My. Mind.  And I am not immunocompromised.  I’m just regular.

So I’m gonna be brutally honest with you.  I do consider myself a “family type”.  I have stayed at home for the better part of the 14 years we’ve had kids, thinking it was the best plan for our family.  But this time home with family has become too much.  Excruciating.  So here are the negative effects of the quarantine as I see it:

  1. TOO much time together!  There is such a thing, even when it comes to those you love.  God love’em, I adore my kids.  But to be with them all day.  Every day.  Day in.  Day Out.  It’s TOO MUCH.  It’s just too much. I barely even get to take a shower or a daily constitution by myself.  Really (where’s my shit emoji?).
  2. Virtual school.  This is the worst.  There’s a reason I am not a teacher.  I have neither the patience, nor the ability to break algebra down into simple steps to explain it to my seventh grader without copious amounts of alcohol.   GOD BLESS you teachers.  Really.   No, really.
  3. Immune compromise.  On a more serious note, for more than 15 years, there has been research indicating things like stress, loneliness and social isolation have negative effects on your immune health!  From a laymen’s (though not completely clueless) point of view, I wonder if NOT having our usual exposure to the common cold and other simple and easily conquered immune challenges may be leaving us more susceptible to other things, such as COVID-19?  When we are finally set free, will we all fall to sickness?

But alas, I am not a total Sad Sack!!  Aside from the obvious and highly media-promoted benefits of social isolation to prevent the spread of the virus within communities, I get it.  My folks are of the age that are considered “at-risk”.  So are my in-laws.  My best friend of over 30 years is at-risk due to her severe asthma.  And so is one of my SILs.   I love all these people.  I am more than willing to do what the experts say I should to help mitigate risk.  I just can’t say it’s easy.  Or pleasant.  There are days the only way I speak to my children is through yelling.

So here are some ways to hopefully help you through the isolation, no matter to what degree your locale has dictated:

  1. Mother Nature- however you encounter her.  The great outdoors is always a way I find to become grounded and peaceful.  It is hard where I live right now (metropolitan), but the fact of the matter is…trees, birds singing, leaves blowing in the wind or shivering under the fall of a rain, are calming.  Listen to the waves crash.  Listen to the river water trickling or raging over the rocks.  Listen to a kitten’s purr.  Watch the sun set or rise.  Feel the wind on your skin.  Honestly, can you deny the beauty, the serenity, the calm of any of this?  The Earth is our home, and many forms of relaxation and peace can be found, you just have to take a little bit of time to look for it.
  2. Food-YES!!  Food!!  This is a great time to try new things.  Whether it’s your own ethnic foods, or those of another people…cook something new!!  It is not just life sustaining, it is also a source of joy and entertainment for millions of people all over the world.  I live in Japan.  I love to try to eat local delicacies, but also to recreate new foods in my kitchen that I may never have experienced living in Cali or Virginia ( where most of my adult life has taken place).
  3. Faith-if this is a big part of your life, why not use this time to embrace it and further your understanding of it to enhance your life?  Or your peace?
  4. Hobbies-My name is Christine and I am influenced by Pinterest.  When I discovered Pinterest I was swooning at all the potential crafty outlets there, in spite of my husband insisting that most of the things I saw were conspired by professional artists and designers.  He just lacks faith!  So I got all excited and tried things, resulting in…my own personal “Pinterest Fails” file!   The point of this is, did I try to be all Pinterest-y when all this began?  Hell yeah, I did!  We made muffins, gluten free pretzels (yuck, BTW, I do not recommend), collected paper towel and TP tubes for pompom roller coasters, painted rocks, organized all our household goods in preparation for our upcoming move into gallon sized zip-loc baggies, made tape cities on the floors and furniture with masking tape for our Hotwheels cars to drive on…we’ve done it all.  And we are still bored, still going stir crazy.  Still on the verge of insanity.  

Lemme tell you…it DOES. NOT. MATTER…how well or poorly you accomplish your Pinterest tasks.  After some ill-defined period of time, I believe we are ALL going to start going stir crazy.  The threshold for each of us is different, dependent upon whether or not you are employed, whether it’s inside or out of the home, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, kids or no kids….blah blah blah.  It just sucks.  Not to be negative, but I’m a realist.  Forget all the FB rhetoric and Instagram pix of the perfect families doing crafts and circle time at home with online toddler yoga.  It’s ok to embrace the misery.  Life will likely never go back to quite how it was, at least not for a really long time.  

But in embracing the misery, also you need to learn how to live with it.  Find ways to survive, and cope, and someday again (praying it’s soon!) we also will once again THRIVE.  And when you are allowed to, embrace your tribe, hug your kids, take a night off by yourself, get a sitter and do date night.  The one BIG benefit of this, that I actually haven’t seen talked about anywhere, is the renewed realization of the things in life that we love!  Sunrise.  Sunset.  Rainfall.  Wind.  Traffic sounds in a metro area.  The first sip of a favorite vintage.  Birds calling.  Kids laughing and playing.  Whatever it is for you….it will return, someday.  Just you wait…

Love and cheers, Christine

Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash

Photo by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

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