love Musings Work Life

Quarantine Tales

I think my last day in the office was March 17 or 18. I can’t remember the exact day, but I do remember that this St. Patrick’s Day was the first in my life where I didn’t bother wearing green. I just didn’t think about it in the morning when I was getting ready, then when I arrived at work, I realized I wasn’t into it. Being part Irish, that’s actually kind of a big deal for me. I love holidays. Any holiday. Any excuse to celebrate. This year, though, I wasn’t feeling it.

We settled into our stay-at-home orders on what was our first wedding anniversary weekend. We had plans to drive to Central California and traverse through Solvang, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Cambria, but chose to stay home. Instead, we hunkered down and made sure we had enough groceries. Chris and I made a late-night run to Smith’s and purchased what food was available – a mix of frozen pizzas and pierogis, frozen black bean burgers, produce and other food items that wouldn’t spoil quickly. We weren’t sure what we were in for or how bad this would get, only that we wanted to be prepared for a couple weeks.

Then, we planned our anniversary weekend. We ordered dinner from a local restaurant, Zest, and had fancy meals at home. We drove to Valley of Fire and cruised the area in my Jeep, finding an empty area that we explored for a short time before we had a picnic lunch and headed home. It wasn’t California wine country, but it was fun nonetheless and a nice way to spend a Saturday at the top of the quarantine. We social distanced and still had fun.

During that weekend we ordered a bunch of takeout. We were celebrating and didn’t mind ordering, although every time we picked-up food we both had this weird, gnawing feeling. I constantly felt as if I had to sanitize my hands and stringently avoided touching anything that wasn’t necessary. As the weeks have gone on, we’ve mostly stopped getting food out, except I have a bad sweet tooth so there has been an occasional run to the cookie or doughnut shop for me.

We’ve had our groceries delivered and limited trips out of the house except for essentials. Chris made a Costco run at one point because we were starting to run low on toilet paper, but he easily found some and was able to fill out our grocery order that day. Finding groceries and essentials hasn’t been hard, except for cleaning supplies. We still can’t find the usual disinfectant we use around the house, but thankfully we haven’t run out yet. Also, I was able to find many sources of hand sanitizer and purchased us a couple bottles for when we’re outside of the house life starts resuming outside our doors again.

If you’re looking, there’s a news story here with options for hand sanitizer. (As you can see, I went with the CHI version, mostly because I think it’s cool that they stepped up and wanted to support.)

In addition to the changes in the way we shop, life has changed a ton for us, as I’m sure it has for many of you. Chris was laid-off in March, so he’s been at home with me. I’ve been working from home, and that hasn’t been without its struggles. When we were still at the apartment, there weren’t many places where I could “be at work” and he could “be at home.” We had to find a common ground, and let me tell you, that caused friction. When we moved into the house, it was a bit of a struggle until my workspace was set up, causing further friction.

I think changes of any kind are hard, but when they’re forced upon you from an unseen virus and everyone’s world order changes at the same time, there’s bound to be an amount of stress lingering just below the surface that bubbles up. I’m thankful to say the friction worked itself out, but damn. I think working from home, though, has been a blessing in disguise. Aside from us finding our footing and our space, I’ve been able to make healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. We take lunchtime walks and after-dinner strolls, and I’m able to do small things that make me happy during the day, such as burning a candle while I work or cooking a special meal all day in the oven because I’m home.

After work ends each day, I try to do something to usher in the evening. I put my work laptop away so work is finished, and I do something to transition into my non-work hours. Sometimes that just means doing a stretching routine, sometimes it’s a short yoga session. But it’s an important piece that helps put away work for me and transition into the evening.

Up until this past week, my days have been jam-packed and busy. We moved during this time, so the beginning of quarantine was filled with packing boxes and preparing to move. Then, there was anxiety of having movers and service men in our new house. It went fine, but there was a layer of stress in my bones about it the entire time. Once we were in the house, we unpacked and unpacked some more. It felt never-ending, even though it went pretty fast. I still have things to organize and pictures to put up on walls, but it’s finished for the most part and that layer of stress has evaporated. Yesterday we pulled all the weeds in our front and back, and it really, truly felt like our house.

I haven’t been writing as much as I thought I’d be during this time, mostly because I’ve been crazy busy. I think this week will be better now that the move is truly finished for the most part. I have made time to watch TV at night to wind down so I have time to just sit. I’ve also meditated and focused on my skincare routine to show myself a little love. That’s working well and has become something I really look forward to each night. I also really look forward to our dinners. They’re nutritious and filling, and I try to make them different – Indian flavor one night, Cuban the next – to add a little spice to this quarantine.

Things have slowed down and become simple, and at its core I think we should all be thankful for this time. Even though we’re apart and business is closed, we can still get outside, call friends and family, see each other virtually, and do any number of things online or at our homes. This time could be the moment you pick up playing the piano again or the time when you connect with loved ones around the country. Instead of focusing on the stress around the world or what we don’t have, I think it’s the perfect time to think about what we do have. The people and things around you now, the simple pleasures of smelling good food cook, the flame from a candle rise, or the breeze on your face when you take your daily walk outside. Those are the things to be thankful for while we have them.

So many people have lost their lives during this time, and I’m thankful to still be here and for my loved ones still here. I lost a loved one because of this virus, and am grateful our leaders have closed things down to help stop more loss of life. I’m thankful for this slow period in my own story, and grateful to be healthy and able to enjoy certain things in my day, even if it’s not how my day typically went before. And, I’m open to the possibility that maybe how things were before weren’t ideal. Maybe more people will have better hygiene, focus less on money and more on getting back to nature and loving each other. Maybe, just maybe, this chapter in our lives will inspire more people to live better, more sustainable lives. And for those it doesn’t inspire and who just want to fight against the grain, live your life. You do you. But I’m going to do me, and I choose to accept this chapter as a turning point to really take stock of what is important to me in my world, instead of lamenting over what has been lost. Move forward and up, not back and down.

I hope all of you are safe, happy and healthy. Until next time.

Laura

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