During this time when my normal routine is shattered and life looks borderline unrecognizable, I am finding myself getting back to basics. Conversations with friends and family are deliberate and delightful. Check-ins are both substantive and silly. Getting outside for exercise is not intense or competitive, but solely for the purpose of fresh air and moving my body. And although emails are awesome, sending letters is back in style, which is why I enthusiastically embraced Hallmark’s #CareEnough campaign (see previous posts here, here, and here).
I wasn’t always this productive, though. At the beginning of quarantine I was adrift. I had zero focus, zero energy, and was struggling to make sense of endless days of monotony. I began to adjust to this new alternate reality by acknowledging that although I have little control during this time of uncertainty, the things I can control are my thoughts, my reactions to those thoughts, the actions I take, and where I put my energy.
So, as I roll into week 11 of quarantine in New York City, I’d like to share where I’ve been putting my energy and how I’m spending my time. I hope that these short insights will make you smile and perhaps offer you some ideas for how to create your own Hallmark moments amidst these trying times.
I fully recognize that I am one of the lucky ones right now. I have my health, my family’s health, and the ability to work from home. There are many people who lack some or all of these things. Meanwhile essential workers put their lives on the line every day to serve others and serve our communities. I’m grateful for their service and their heroism, and to honor them, I do my part and stay home. However, staying inside almost all day, every day, by myself has its challenges. I miss interacting with other human beings in person, and ordinarily I am out and about in the city, so perpetual lounging alone at home can bring me down. Therefore, to brighten my space (and my mood), I buy myself flowers.
Fresh flowers might seem a bit extravagant, but in NYC, affordable fresh flowers are for sale on every block at every bodega. Not only do I find this weekly indulgence an investment in my neighborhood economy (see previous post here about supporting local businesses), but it’s become an important investment in my mental and emotional health. It’s the gift I give to myself.
Buying flowers has brought me joy, makes me smile, and livens up my one-bedroom apartment. Each week I choose a bright new color (or collection of colors) and have tried an array of different types of flowers, from roses to tulips to hydrangeas to Gerber daisies. (Yellow roses are my favorite.) These happy little flowers make my small space feel vibrant and alive. And I’m also nurturing my first plant! By learning how to nourish it—and not over-water it—I’ve come to appreciate its resilience just as I’ve come to appreciate my own resilience right now. Where the plant needs a little water, I need flowers and some fresh air each day to keep my spirits high.
Enjoy Simple Pleasures
If flowers have been engaging my sense of smell, music has been engaging another one of my senses and filling my ears and heart with a lot of joy.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been gravitating to music that I grew up with (see previous post here about Celebrities of My Youth) and making a weekly date with the Indigo Girls via social media. They have been performing live on Instagram and Facebook most Thursdays, and I am loving it. I started listening to them back in high school and have seen them perform live more times than I can count. Two of my closest friends from college are also fans, and we’ve been connecting virtually to listen to the online performances together.
M_ was my college roommate and N_ lived across the hall from us our freshman year in our coed dorm. The three of us have been friends for over 25 years, so these Thursdays have been a stroll down memory lane as we send each other photos of our quarantine drink of choice along with silly photos from our college years. As evidenced by our photos, our fashion sense in the 1990s may have been tragic, but listening to the song “Closer To Fine” (listen here) and The Indigo Girls’ many other hits (listen to their 1992 album Rites of Passage here) has never felt more relevant and unifying.
Dance Parties and Movie Nights
Finding creative ways to entertain myself while staying connected is challenging, but it’s also led me to some fun opportunities to try new things.
I am an aunt to twins (a boy and a girl) and have one goddaughter, all age 6. With the help of technology, the three kids and I have been able to be on Zoom together while simultaneously watching the same movie at our respective homes—complete with popcorn, of course.
Watching Trolls together is some of the most fun I’ve had all quarantine. If you’ve seen the movie, you know it has a ton of great music, so when the various pop songs played, I’d unmute myself and yell “DANCE BREAK.” At these words, we all hopped up off our sofas to dance. Being able to make these memories together even though I can’t snuggle the kids in person right now is special. We recently watched E.T. (minus the dance breaks), and I’m happy to report that one of my childhood favorites withstands the test of time; the kids loved it. I’m brainstorming on what our next movie will be. Any suggestions?
In addition to movies, I’ve enjoyed happy hours, birthday parties, graduation toasts, high school reunions, and games of Pictionary with friends all virtually. I certainly look forward to gathering and giving in-person hugs in the future, but I am meeting reality where it is for now and am finding that focusing on making time for friends and family is how I can stay grounded during this time of uncertainty.
What’s getting you through quarantine?