As we make our way through a time that will shape a new normal, we find ourselves with that elusive commodity that we often complain about not having enough of -- time. And now that we have it, what are we doing with it?
This is Day 16 of my quarantine as I write. I know how many days because that long ago was when I returned home from being out of town, very eager to visit with our 10-month-old granddaughter. She was my first call back when I hit the ground and the response was not what I expected. As first-time parents, our son and his wife were uncomfortable having me over because I was fresh off an airplane and everyone’s senses were heightened about the threat of coronavirus and all things flying. So were the parents of our first two grandchildren who are 10 and 12.
I inhaled hard -- and my mind went racing.
I mean, I felt fine, but I knew it wasn’t about me. It was about everyone else I might have come in contact with and the fact that I could have been exposed and not even have known it. Stuff got real. So, as life has taught me when faced with adversity, I began looking for what this pandemic could teach me.
Here is my list:
1) Parents really do hold up the corners of our proverbial sky. Maybe it's because they are raising the very future and anthropology has built them in a way to persevere. But they give us a window to the world that assures we push on, finding new ways to connect and forge through, keeping bonds intact while fiercely protecting their young.
Grandkids are just a smartphone call away.
2) Whoever dreamed that a technical device could be the conduit for connecting us to love and affection? Whether it’s a video sharing app or built-in to the smartphone, technology has made it possible to transport us to wherever we want to be. Our faces and environments come alive as we witness in real-time the firsts of a grandchild, the pang of long-distance love, or the last minutes of a life. While it’s not the same, it’s a measure closer than it ever has been. And it’s useful and amazingly adept at helping us process the emotions of life in this unusual time.
3) Look for the ways that this change can benefit us individually and collectively. We can learn and do new things -- like study languages, do genealogical research, work out or work out more, check on our neighbors and contribute to small businesses online. I’ve started sending dinner instead of purchasing gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, hopefully doing a couple of meaningful things at once. And in some cases, sending a meal just because. It may mean the difference between eating -- or not -- for those who are older or just not as mobile.
4) We can learn what we don’t know about how strong we are. We figure out new ways to cope and improve. Instead of that extra glass of wine, we can sub in water. Or take a walk. Or plank out. We can prove -- even to ourselves -- that new things are possible. That the power is in Us!
5) Slowing down means renewed senses. Walking early in the mornings, I can take in the springtime blooming jasmine and gardenias that seem to be wafting ever so lightly - even in the humid air. Food tastes and smells better. Hmmm, did I make that homemade bread so I could smell it or because it helped me feel useful and connected to my past in a comforting way? Plenty to think on there. … and I made some to share.
6) Even though it’s a serious time, we’re not without lights, electricity, water, or the ability to go outside. That is something to really appreciate even if toilet paper is enjoying hurricane proportioned popularity!
7) Gardening in all shapes and forms makes me feel closer to the earth. It’s grounding. So from picking weeds to planting bulbs, I’ve now planned for some backyard replanting in this dawning of Spring. I’ve loved getting my hands dirty for the first time in too long a time. And, oh, yoga is better when I don’t have to be somewhere in rapid order. Enjoyable activities without the need to be on a tight schedule, as my life usually demands, help me really breathe -- and enjoy.
8) Spark the romance with some candlelight. Order in or cook -- but make some time to reconnect with your partner in a way that could head off future issues. Spend the time needed to show some love and take care of one another. When I look back on partnerships that were worth saving, they typically started going south during all the small moments in which open communication didn’t happen. So do it now. And be open to hearing everything your partner might have to say -- even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Such conversations provide you with information and opportunity. SO, be fully in.
9) DANCE PARTIES! My husband hates that he cannot dance, but secretly he loves to do it -- in the privacy of HOME. So turn on your favorite music. And get to it. No one’s watching, so it doesn’t have to be pretty! But it’s guaranteed to be fun and burn off at least a few of those home-baked bread calories too! My personal favorite? "Shut Up And Dance With Me.” Double dare you to listen and be still!
10) No regrets! My point is that even in times when almost everything contains a certain uncertainty, we find even small ways to anchor and push through. The coronavirus is a new level -- at least for my lifetime -- but I am very certain we will get through it. Let’s just not look back and feel like we didn’t recognize and take every chance possible. And, yes, there ARE possibilities!
Lisa Brock is the Founder of Brock Communications based in Tampa. 83 Degrees asked Brock to share her advice after we saw several insightful tips she had posted on her Facebook page that seemed worthy of a larger audience. If you would like to share your story or want to recommend a story idea for coping in the time of coronavirus in the Tampa Bay Area, reach out to 83 Degrees via email. We too are sheltering in place at home but doing our best to carry on by producing and sharing stories that you may find helpful -- even if it's just to lift your spirits -- in these surreal times.