Today is Marc’s and my thirty-sixth wedding anniversary. We were going to celebrate tonight at a fancy restaurant, but that got scratched. Last week I was supposed to travel to Muncie, Indiana to participate in a literary “Agent Fest.” My cousin was supposed to visit us this week and Saturday we were going to travel to Washington D.C. for a few days to see our middle son.
Of course, something happened. Everyone to whom I’ve spoken seems a bit dazed as they, too, rattle off their list of “we were supposed to’s.” As our lives have switched from being “out and about” (or, as my family says, “oot and aboot!”) to counting rolls of toilet paper, it seems as if the world has tilted just a few degrees off of its axis.
So, what to do in our weeks ahead of forced isolation? We who crave community and connection, we who want to run outside and watch the warmth of Spring greening our world—how do we keep our spirits up?
Those of us with a creative bent can probably find ways to soothe our souls. Whether it is making music from cramped balconies (Ah, those Italians!), or blogging or writing poetry or recording a podcast, it creates purpose. I baked bread Saturday, and kneading the dough, knowing I was going to take it to my dear friend Laura—it created an inner peace and comfort. We’re eating well these days because that’s where my creative bent seems to go, and good food—good, healthy food—fills our house with warmth.
Those of us who are practical souls might decide that this is the time for a more robust Spring cleaning than we generally do. Though I too often veer away from practicality, I am going to finally go through the boxes of stuff in the basement that came from our parents. This time, I am not going to be swayed by sentimentality, but have my eye firmly on our church’s rummage sale this summer. I have opened those boxes a myriad of times, unwrapped whatever was on top, and wrapped it right back up again. These are more than just things to me, but seeing all those boxes has weighed me down. It will be good to embrace the practical, to do something concrete and helpful.
When I had an extended illness in 2011, I signed up for Ancestry and found it fascinating. It was a connection to others when I couldn’t leave the house, a way of making the people who had come before me take on dimensionality. It was both creative and practical as I searched for stories and learned about the lives beyond the gravestones. I learned about a covered bridge built by some distant uncles on my mother’s side of the family. The bridge had a unique design and is now an historic landmark not far from us. How meaningful it was to go see it, to put my hands on those nails that had been hammered so long ago!
We can all work to stay healthy, and that’s about more than washing our hands. Even if you don’t have weights or resistance bands or an elliptical, there are lots of ways to exercise at home. If you have a set of stairs, consider them to be permanent gym equipment. If you can’t walk up and down them easily, just step up and down one step, alternating legs. Do stomach crunches and push-ups—and if you can’t get down on the floor, try stomach crunches from the sofa. Push-ups can be done against a wall or a kitchen island or a low, sturdy table.
We can meditate and we can pray. I intend to spend time singing—because I can! After our deck is built towards the end of April, perhaps I will sing out there. Or, perhaps I will just sit out there, listening to the birds and watching for deer.
We can call the folks in our lives who are especially vulnerable right now—either physically, or economically. We can get them some food when we go to the grocery. Finding ways to give back always enriches my life, and there are people nearby who need us.
I’m going to work hard to keep my sense of humor, to smile often, to be kind. I’m sure there will be days ahead when that smile is strained, but I’m going to try. Let’s find different ways other than the physical to give each other a hug. We are still community and we are still connected.