Lessons & Confessions from staying inside.
I have approached this post in 6 different moods of quarantine.
- The cabin fever grumpy cat “get me the f*ck out of here, please for the love of god past my postal code” mood;
- The hopeful – “I see the sun shining’, grateful for the little things mood;
- The over-anxious, haven’t slept in days “is this the new normal, is there such a thing as normal anymore, what the f*ck is going on?” mood;
- The “I binged-watched another full series in a day, & stayed up till 3am to finish” and now also grumpy as f*ck mood;
- The “Pivot? How the hell am I going to pivot when the existence of my business LITERALLY means people gathering in person See also…I am having productivity paralysis” mood;
- And finally, the “I started day drinking too early, continued on with the girls on a virtual cocktail Zoom later in the evening and lost count on how many drinks I have had, woke up with a splitting headache” mood.
Do you feel me? What moods have I missed?
Every time I wrote, a different emotional, scathing, opinionated, worried, sarcastic shade poured over the post. I don’t love adding negativity to the already abundance of it on the internet so it has stayed in drafts for weeks, unable to figure out an approach that would allow it to be posted.
Then I realized this morning that the fact that I wake up every day in quarantine in a different kind of mood is exactly the point. We have no guidance on how to do this. We have no manual, calming agent, or action plan. We got nothin’.
Anybody can be good when it’s easy, it’s when it’s hard that you show your true colours. We are all in some version of the same place. Everyone is moving through this quarantine in a series of hills & valleys, anxiousness & calm, tears & gratitude. I don’t think any of us truly know how to deal.
It really is just one day at a time right now, isn’t it?
What day is it anyway?
It’s week 754 or whatever. It’s Sunday. No wait, it’s Monday?…don’t even think about asking me what day it is in April…..Or is it May?
The first couple of weeks of quarantine, I hardly slept a wink. I was feeling the world and the world was a mix bag of scared shitless, confused, anxious, frustrated, worried…you name it. We watched newscasts religiously as the amount of Covid cases rose and sparks of conversation around how long went from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to god knows when…
Ha. Hahahahahahaha. Do you remember those times when we thought quarantine was going to only be a couple of weeks? Funny.
Human Doing vs Human Being
In the first couple of weeks, I became a “doer”. I ripped up every closet and kon mari’d the shit out of all our drawers. I stocked up on groceries and reviewed how many meals we could make without going back to the grocery store. I had the kids go through all their memory boxes & created Greek God bingo (cause you know..I thought they needed to learn something). I made countless comfort dishes and baked up a storm. I taught the kids life skills like how to cook, and how to sew.
We sat as a family and emphasized the importance of being a team in this situation. Everyone needs to step up. Everyone needs to take on more roles around the house. We all need to be considerate of the space we are in. Our communication game needs to get better.
We created a plan. The kids would learn life skills, as much if not more, than school. They agreed to take on more chores (& wildly have continued to do them without grief). We promised to find ways we could help.
Trust, Flow & Letting Go.
By the next 2 weeks, I became increasingly aware of my difficulty in processing everything that was going on in quarantine. I realized I was trying to find control in a time & place where I felt like we had none. I focused on trust & flow. Giving in to whatever ended up showing up in the day, trying to relax about what my pivot plan in my business looks like, and embracing the precious gift of time we have been given.
When I let go, I had the best sleeps of my adult life. I couldn’t recall in the 25+ years of adulthood ever getting so many consistent 8+ hr sleeps. We didn’t set the alarm and naturally woke up from long, deep REM sleep cycles. It was glorious and we were all in a really good cohesive space.
We cut our daughter’s hair (with a reasonable amount of success), so then we cut the dog’s hair, because why not. Our #CovidCuts aren’t going to be seen by many baring those we see online, so it wasn’t a big deal. In fact, for the most part, it seemed people had come to accept our fate in this moment and decided to embrace the situation as best as we all could.
And then I don’t know what happened…
By the 5th & 6th week, I found everything went all whirly-gig again. Global jackasses (I mean leaders) were starting to talk about the fact that managing the economy was more important than maintaining human life. Things felt tumultuous. Sleepless night patterns came back. The cabin fever began to set in. I could feel the anxiousness start to creep up in people’s feeds and the frustration when people weren’t following the rules.
I started to become aware of the foods (& kinds of foods) we were eating (Chippppppps & oh so much baking), and the fact that I hadn’t done much exercise in well over a month. I questioned how many drinks we were having in a day and asked if we needed to stop for a week (just to prove that we could). I cried over killing some cucumber plants we had planted as seedlings. Things were not right.
I am starting week 7 with the acknowledgement that the best we can do in our present situation is really just taking life one day at a time.
The Silver Linings
In this whole experience, it turns out there has actually been a lot of silver linings to be thankful for.
We have spent a beautiful amount of time catching up with our loved ones, including a hilarious Monday night trivia game with our family over in Scotland. With a multitude of generations playing & everyone (normally) running around like mad chickens, I honestly don’t think it would have happened had it not been for quarantine. It is something I hold dear in my heart as the unfamiliar nature of video calls becomes wonderful in hearing all their familiar voices.
Isolation has also helped us recognize the need for human touch & connection. Many of our loved ones are going through this alone. What do ya know? Human interaction is vital to our ability to thrive. We have been far more in tune with checking in to those we love to make sure they are doing ok and vice versa. Our armour of “fending for ourselves or not needing anyone” has quickly broken down as we admit in actual fact we really do each other.
We have also noticed a deeper connection between us as a family. It is a feeling I had been missing massively from our world trip & has been so nice to feel that reconnection. Travelling we were together for over 285 days 24/7. We need to look at 45 days as peanuts. We started to remember how to do “Team Powell” again.
I look at the rituals we have & the ones we have created since the start of quarantine. I find I am looking at food differently. The time & availability to being home to prep dinners has made it an “occasion” over a necessity.
Although, full disclosure, I just gave our kids mashed potatoes last week for dinner. Yes, just mashed potatoes. I had been on a zoom call and lost track of time…and you know day drinking, too much wine and well the roast wasn’t done till 9:30 sooooo mashed potatoes it was.
But I am finding that we are creating more rituals together that I really enjoy. We are playing many more games as a family together. We are educating the kids with more music dance parties & movie nights than ever before. We are creating time & space for cuddles & conversation. All of this I wouldn’t believe would be happening if it weren’t for quarantine.
I have become aware too that I am seeking nostalgic memories & recipes. Life as we knew it. My Good Housekeeping Cookbook my grandma gave me when I moved out on my own has never seen so much action. I went through my high school yearbook with a giggle the other day. I was tearing up through memories of the kids as littles and of my own childhood. I find it soothes me, those reflections like a comfortable blanket that makes me feel all warm inside.
Waste not, Want not
I feel a sense of shame in how much food we have wasted in the past. It was not uncommon in our world to toss more than a few expired vegetables away at the end of every week. It kind of became a standing joke between the hubs and I. Could I ACTUALLY make it through the week without throwing something expired away?
I look at whether or not these scraps would be good organic mixture in the garden and have found myself googling more than once “How to DIY a compost bin at home”.
Now, I look at how we can make use of everything, including things like;
- How to grow vegetables from the roots of produce you already have.
- What vegetable scraps make great compost
- Multi-purposing the same water
- Using toilet paper rolls, cardboard and leaves to create your own compost.
- Using old aluminium cans to fill the base of your planting containers
- Using milk bags, and clam shell containers for growing seedlings
Anywhere and everywhere, I am looking at ways in which we can change our habits to do a better job of helping the environment.
When everyone ran for toilet paper at the beginning of this, I ran for seeds. I’m not sure if it was my forever fear of a zombie apocalypse or a craving to reconnect with Mother Earth? Either way, it has brought simply joys to my days as we watched life grow in front of our eyes.
The kids planted the seeds as part of a project around growth cycle & photosynthesis, a desperate attempt at home schooling at the beginning of isolation. Now, I must admit, it’s Chris and I who are taking much more delight in the various stages of sprouting. He, desperate to start planting in the ground while I am working through the plan more in my head, researching ways not to f*&ck it up. Both of our experience in gardening involve sweet memories of shucking peas and corn at our grandparents houses as kids.
The Simple Life
As we continue this quarantine, I am drawn to those pieces of life that bring it back to simple. I have zero desire to shop, zero desire to improve, zero desire to produce stuff. Instead, I have a desperate urge to create, to soak things in, to feel the earth through my fingers & to help where I can.
Acts of Service
A few weeks back, I started volunteering at Kitchen 24, prepping & packaging meals to help #FeedToronto. Kitchen 24 is a food incubator, mass kitchen that provides a space for those developing their food business. I saw their call for volunteers on Instagram & felt compelled to go do something.
The owner Steve saw weeks ago a tremendous need for providing food to those marginalized by the current Covid Crisis. Through donations and funding the food himself, Kitchen 24 has been distributing upwards of 1000 meals a day to community housing, shelters and people on the streets.
It’s felt good to put our energy somewhere to help. It’s felt good involving our kids in understanding the needs of our community. This past weekend, we went and packaged up meals to take down to Tent City. We realized in that moment that it was the first time the kids had been in the car in 45 days. Having an opportunity to provide nutritious meals to those who are vulnerable at this moment and seeing the need first hand has made us keenly aware of how truly fortunate we are. I/we will continue with acts of service wherever we can. It has made a profound difference for us in quarantine.
I have no idea what day or month it is. I have let go of my own expectations of how I should be handling all of this.
We will all feel the feels and move through this.
For now, we will keep taking this quarantine one day at a time.