Archives for the month of: March, 2020

Another working day spent in the time of pandemic, another opportunity to connect with my Traveling Partner more deeply, with more openness, and greater… something, something, and etc. I mean, love still takes some work, and being my best self still takes real commitment to self-awareness, and practice (which feels pretty hit/miss sometimes, for results). We are each individuals. We’re in this together. Shared experience. Individual experience. All the overlap between. If we share nothing, we lose our connection, over time. If we share everything, we lose our sense of individual self and agency. There is a balance. In these days of isolation and confinement, it sometimes feels like dancing – the awkward, often self-conscious dancing of youthful uncertainty, which is a bit uncomfortable at times; we’re not kids anymore.

I worked a fairly routine day yesterday. Each time I took a break, I left my studio (which is also my “office”) and discovered some new thing had been done around the house. My Traveling Partner keeps busy with various quality-of-life-focused projects. It passes the time in a healthy way.

…He moved the furniture around…

You know, it could have been drama and bullshit, but honestly, it’s just furniture. If we don’t like where it is – and I mean either of us, over time, could decide it is a poor fit – we can move it around differently. We have that freedom. We have that power. Each of us. Both of us. I managed to find peace and balance with all of it super quickly, which was nice. No one needs my drama and bullshit right now, right? I’m unsettled by the quantity of small changes as the aesthetic of our home inches further and further from what I most ideally enjoy, myself, but there really are two people living here, and it is our home, not exclusively mine. It matters to be open to new arrangements of things. There’s so much joy in it when we both feel a comfortable sense of place. When we both feel at home.

The street is nearly silent outside this morning. These days there is very little commuter traffic through this neighborhood. People who can, really are working from home. People who don’t need to work are generally really staying home. A quick trip out for supplies revealed a world in which suburban men commonly work in the garage, or in their yards, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, building and making things to improve their quality of life, and that of their families. I saw a dad-aged man teaching a little girl to ride a bicycle… on a Wednesday. It was beautiful. It got me wondering, decades from now, how will we view this time of pandemic, looking back? Our perspectives are not universal.

Some people will remember store shelves stripped bare, and being unable to buy stable food items, and basic household items.

Some people will remember the profiteering, the incompetence and mismanagement, the heinous disregard for employee health and safety shown by some companies.

Some people will remember having to work from home, after years of begging for the privilege of being able to do so.

Some people will remember being sick, or supporting sick family members.

Some people will remember the anxiety, the chaos, the fear-mongering, and the uncertainty.

Some people will remember losing their jobs – others will remember being forced to work.

…And some people, who were children in the time of pandemic, will remember long happy weeks at home, with their parents and siblings, connecting over fun projects, entertained, loving, and they will, perhaps, look back on this time with real fondness, as a time when they enjoyed all the love and attention from their parents that they could ever possibly need. I like to think about that as a tiny pin-prick of an upside to all this COVID-19 stuff; some children will get loved more, by attentive parents who perhaps don’t realize that their efforts to stave off boredom, and keep their youngsters developmentally on track, is making some amazing memories.

Then, I frown over a news article pointing out how terrifying this time must be for people in abusive relationships, or households that experience domestic violence. 😦 Let’s don’t be that. We can each do so much better than that.

Be considerate and gentle with your words. It can really wear even your nearest and dearest down quite a lot, over time, to be in such close contact for so long. Social distancing can complicate that – you’re probably not hanging out with anyone else. The lack of variety may serve to highlight small things, which can make them appear to be The Next Big Deal Breaker. Doesn’t have to be that way. 🙂 Choose kindness. Choose authenticity – and positive intent. Be your best self, even though that definitely takes practice.

I’m saying it to you, because I’m saying it to me. There are verbs involved. Work. Effort. Commitment. Self-reflection. A lot of do-overs and new beginnings. A lot of practice.

I’m ready for another work day in the time of pandemic. I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

Another morning in “the time of pandemic”, another good cup of coffee, another work day (for me), and it feels simultaneously very ordinary, and very peculiar. The news articles don’t ease up, not even a little, and probably with good reason; the more ordinary any of this feels, the less likely people will take it seriously – and it’s very serious. Take care of. your health, you precious, strange, delightful, unique human being, you. There’s no one else quite like you, you know, and we’re all in this together. 🙂

As more people do get tested for COVID-19, more people are confirmed to have it. This should not come as a surprise. I encourage you to also consider how vast the numbers of people with no/minimal symptoms who do have it (and are contagious with it) may be roaming around assuming they – and every hapless bystander they may approach – are “fine”. It’s not the obviously sick people I find myself most puzzled by; we know we should stay home when we’re sick, right? It’s the less obviously sick people that cause me most concern. American culture is so deeply infected with the odd notion that only the highly productive among us have value (while also often being underpaid, and devalued monetarily by businesses, primarily to improve the bottom line at no great value to those underpaid employees) – we don’t want to yield a single work day to our own health and self-care. Crazy. Literally crazy. I’m terrified by the reflexive recent calls to “go back to work” and “back to normal” – this is not a normal time, and the pretense of normalcy may get a lot of people killed.

It is what it is. I breathe, exhale, relax – and let that go, for now, with self-reminders to remain “socially distant”, for real. Honestly, though, aside from the working from home piece, it’s not all that different for me. I tend not to “gather in groups”, generally. lol

…Why does “piece” look spelled incorrectly? Weird.

I consider the work day, in the context of the week in progress. I consider my current “sanity project” during this challenging time; my aquarium has been a source of fun, of work, of further developing project management skills, of connecting with my Traveling Partner… well-chosen for a balance of interesting details, required planning, and effort. His project seems to provide him similar value, although it is very different. We share the details in conversation, and give each other a hand with things that need “an extra pair of hands” (I could not have moved the aquarium to the other side of the fireplace, for example, without his help, and practical thinking).

Do you have a project to occupy your thoughts? A good book to read? Are you spending quality time with yourself?

I sip my coffee, feeling mostly content, in spite of a news feed that very much reads like the banner headlines from a mobile game called “Plague“. It’s a little too real world right now… Here’s a video of an actual doctor talking about playing the game.

I glance at the time. Still time to meditate before work. More important than ever. 🙂

 

This too shall pass. I sip my coffee and sigh, this morning. I’m groggy. I could go back to sleep, so easily. It’s a work day, though, and I will log on to my work laptop in a few minutes, and get started. The work day felt pretty short, yesterday (it wasn’t). Will today?

Yesterday’s moment of tension, between my Traveling Partner and I, is still on my mind. It wasn’t a big deal, and it wasn’t about him, or us. I had a moment of feeling “overwhelmed”…by circumstances, by demands on my time, by lack of cognitive bandwidth, by a sense that I somehow wasn’t doing enough to actually take care of myself, and I started weeping over the need to do one more thing in what had already felt like a very busy day. It didn’t last long, and once the moment passed I was more easily able to reflect on it (and take time to meditate, properly, for a few minutes). What was up with all that? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it matters. If I were a younger woman, I likely would have called it “hormones”, just based on the way it swept in and swamped me, and then simply dissipated. I have a sip of coffee, and let it go. That moment has passed.

This coffee is good. My shoulders ache, an extension of the pain in my neck, and back. I breathe, exhale, relax… I go through all the physical therapy stuff, looking for relief. I go through my history, on YouTube, and remove all the COVID-19 stuff, all the Democratic campaign stuff, all the stuff clicked on absent-mindedly that I don’t need clogging my feed… maybe the content will improve? Small steps to improve the quality of my experience, generally. I glance at the time, reluctant to yield my consciousness or my soul to the work world, again, so soon. There is more to do, and to enjoy, with life’s precious few mortal years, and this morning I find myself more than usually resentful of having to maintain “gainful employment”. I’m yearning for “a proper rest”…

…Then it hits me; once source of background stress is simply the right-now reality of having to let, now, two little vacations go, over COVID-19. Restrictions on gatherings, closures of state parks, closures of many retailers not determined to be “essential”… I was really looking forward to a spring camping outing (and entire week out in the trees), but the reservation has already been canceled by the state park system, as a recent measure to limit the spread of the pandemic. I am “dealing with” the prolonged stay-at-home social distancing mandate pretty well, generally, but this morning? I also find myself seriously peeved about a vacation planned for May becoming… not a thing, after all. I could certainly still take the time off… but… how will it be any different than any day at home, right now? I sigh, and stare moodily into my now-cold coffee.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and let all that go (again). Another breath, another opportunity to let it go. Again.

And another breath. Another opportunity to let go. I make the effort to feel it effortlessly.

And another breath. Another letting go. Another effort. It amounts to practice.

We become what we practice; so I practice calm, and contentment. I practice non-attachment. I practice breathing. I practice letting go.

…I practice beginning again. 🙂

My news feeds have blown up with pandemic stories of the shock and outrage variety. Apparently, quite a lot of people do not actually “get” that social distancing means… wait for it… maintaining social distance. You know. From other people. I would have thought that was so basic as to be unavoidably understandable, but no… there are apparently a notable number of people who think that if the group of people is smaller than 5… and they stay away from other groups of people that size, you know, by about 6 feet, that’s “good enough”. It just isn’t. Seriously. Stay home. Try solitude. It’s not that scary.

If you’re “going for a walk”, but bringing along 4 or 5 family members (or worse yet, strangers off the internet from nearby communities), you’re really not helping.

Stay home.

Seriously. Mostly just stay home. It’s not that complicated. (Seriously – how can you be bored already??)

I’ve been finding a variety of mindfulness practices helpful, myself, and, admittedly, I’m fortunate to be in a relationship with someone I actually enjoy spending time with. No kids to distract or entertain. A fondness for reading has been helpful, too. I don’t think we ever turned on the TV yesterday, at all, choosing to spend our day, instead, working on various individual projects, and reading quietly. I spent more than one delightful hour just watching the fish swim.

Every bit as entertaining as broadcast media.

I get that with various hits to the way our economy works, it’s getting complicated to order things for delivery (already), and maybe you don’t have all the things on hand to easily do some particular task or hobby. It may be hard to get parts, tools, supplies – but the nearly-infinite inventiveness of human primates has kept the species going for quite awhile. I bet you’ll think of something, if you give yourself a chance, and stay open to the possibilities. 🙂

Just stay home, though.

I’m not saying that “life in the time of pandemic” is easy. Clearly not. I’m just saying some small details aren’t that damned hard, and we can all choose more wisely, and show greater care and consideration for our fellow human beings, with improvements in our decision-making. I’m not pointing a judgmental finger, either; I could do better, myself. The once or twice I’ve gone out for things could likely have been wrapped up in a single trip out and back, with some foresight. Less interaction face-to-face with other human beings in the community is the literal goal, here.

I finish off my morning coffee with a sigh. Another day at home, and I’m over the head cold I had last week. It’s a routine workday, and lacking the morning commute, time easily gets away from me…but… there’s also very little pressure (for me) to comply rigidly with a specific start or end time (in my role, currently). This first cup of coffee was delicious… and, it’s already time for work, a new day ahead of me, and time to begin again. My lovely “stay-cation” that turned into “staying home sick” morphs into “working from home”… and all of it feels fairly similar, right now.

…That’s even okay. I’m content with it, working, living, loving, within the confines of social distancing is okay, too. It just takes practice. 😉

 

Yesterday’s aquarium project concluded quite successfully, with a tank full of obviously happy creatures, living their tiny lives in captive luxury. Sounds familiar. 🙂 Same of me; living life contentedly, quietly, at home – in my own case, voluntarily confined in this time of pandemic. I could use more variety in the news, sadly, COVID-10 more or less dominates every headline, every human interest story, even coloring all the political and business news, and creeping into art, science, music… yeah; likes, clicks, views, and subscriber counts remain the true, consistent, underlying point of all of it. That’s sad. I mean, I’m grateful for updates and good information. I’m also aware that “life in the time of pandemic” still has so much more to it than news related to the disease, the spread of the disease, how to reduce risk of contagion, and the potential impact on various elements of human experience. I skim the headlines. At this point, there’s very little new content, and a notable diminishing return on taking time to read the articles.

…Life is too short to succumb to click-bait, or to read the same words yet again, reposted by some other news outlet. So… I don’t.

Instead, I am spending lazy contented hours this morning just watching the aquarium. Happy fish. Lush plants, recently pruned. New aquascaping. It’s too eye-catching to allow the news to pull my focus with repeats of the same bullet points that were promoted with such earnestness and enthusiasm (panic?) days ago. The numbers of affected people and businesses continues to increase. Yep. That’s to be expected, and has been expected. Who does not know by now? Even the stories about basic human stupidity have already gone stale (seriously, people went to the beaches in droves for Spring Break… during a pandemic of a highly contagious illness… I mean… wtf??).  I contentedly update the wallpaper on my phone, instead of reading the news.

I smile every time I touch my phone.

Life in the time of pandemic is complicated. The easy part is the staying home, it seems. It gets more complicated figuring out what to do with that time. I’m fairly sure reading the news is less than ideally emotionally healthy, right now. Growing fat on the couch with 24/7 continuous streaming entertainment is probably also less than ideal. I find myself eyeing the bookcase with real interest; there are a couple books I’ve yet to read from cover to cover. (Very few of those, as I have a firm long-time habit of reading every book I own.) It’s a peculiarly suitable time to catch up on my reading.

It’s spring, now. I have my eye on some garden projects, too. There is most definitely more than 6 ft of space between the houses along this street, and gardening is definitely on my “to-do” list. It’s about time to begin laying out plots for planting, and sorting things out on the deck so that the new irrigation can be installed (I’m eager to prevent that mid-summer die-off that so often happens because I’m not at home when the watering needs to be done). This “social distancing” stuff most folks are wisely committing to isn’t all that trying, if I use the time well to further my own agenda in life. 🙂

My Traveling Partner handles things a bit similarly, seeking projects large and small to occupy his mind and hands. Household projects that improve our day-to-day quality of life are a favorite way to pass time. This weekend, he dived deeper into cherished hobbies and skills of the past, and spent time on personal development through self-paced study, too. It’s been pleasant sharing this time together. We encourage each other when facing some small challenge. We help each other when asked. We celebrate finished work together.

Life in the time of pandemic has its challenges, but also its opportunities. Spend the time well. (Or, hey, don’t – I’m not trying to tell you what to do.) This works for me… or… has so far. I glance at the time, aware that I agreed to wake my Traveling Partner shortly. …A nap does sound nice… and then? I’ll begin again. 😉