Challenged to reflect.

Open to change.

Vulnerable to all around me.

Invested in thriving and not just surviving.

Determined to grow.

19 ideas for a very hard time.

1.  One of the first things I have heard from friends a relatives is that after the shock of hearing about a pandemic, they looked around their place and started to do a “clean out.”  This was not the Feng Shui of TV fame.  This is the family junk draw times 10 where you have been stuffing and hoarding this for decades.  Now that you can’t go out of your house, let the sorting begin. The only problem is that the donation truck won’t be around for months.

2.  After sorting your stuff, you being to sort your friends.  Who us calling?  Who is texting?  Are they still posting? Or tweeting?  Who is really following me or caring about whether I shower?  Friends are definitely being sorted.

3.  Now.  Let’s talk about sorting ourselves out?  Living alone or with a collection of odd roommates or with the family that you used to like.  These are hard times.  Those quirks that we used to be able to escape or briefly tolerate are suddenly overwhelming.   I had no idea how many times you cleared your throat in the course of the day!

4.  Being alone day after day with limited places open and fewer that you really want to visit is a challenge.  You have tons of time to reflect but no desire to do so.  So what will fill the time?  How many hours of Netflix can one really watch?

5.  Is Zoom really a help.  Ever think of the blue screen consequences of facing the machine 24/7.  Work, happy hours after work, extended family check ins, seminars, classes.  My neck is going to be permanently bent in the “dashboard forward” mode.

6.  Of course there are a collection of books on the shelf that I have been stockpiling with the notion that I will read them some day.  Well, that day has come.  I have plenty of time to drag them out and discover what I have been missing.  The poetry, the mystery, the history, the drama.  They are all waiting for me on the bedside table.

7.  Now speaking of the bedside table, sleeping has not been that easy for many people.  Anxiety tends to wait for the prone position to begin rumbling through your head.  You are not just worried that you might get this virus, you have older parents and siblings and friends.  What would it be like to see one of them go into the hospital and not be able to visit and never see them come out?

8.  The anxiety is not just reserved for the night.  It lurks around all day and can easily explode into irrational fears.  How many frozen dinners do I really have?  When the groceries are delivered, how long do they have to sit before I can put them away?  Does the ice cream really have to melt in the garage?

9.  Of course you can look around and see the projects you have been putting off for a rainy day.  Well we certainly have had our fair share of rain lately and yet the projects are still there.  You could distract yourself by painting that wall or fixing that screen door.  And, yes, you have the tools.  It is just a matter of getting them out.

10. There has to be a way to socialize.  Masks, social distance.  How big is the back yard or the front porch?  Or the park on the corner or the school yard down the block.  We could take some lawn chairs and go just about anywhere. Who would come?  What happens when they have to use the bathroom?  Still  I am desperate for company and conversation.

11. Working from home is now the norm.  We have been doing it for months.  No more going to the break room or across the street to the coffee shop.  The bedroom has become the Board room and the assembly line.

12.  What if your work can’t function over the internet.  How do you assemble a car over the computer or build a Waldorf salad or serve someone a beer.  Life looks pretty glum from this part of reality and good wishes will not pay the rent or buy food.  This pandemic is a real problem.

13.  And now the kids and doing school on a screen as well.  First, there are not enough screens in the house for this to work and the distribution of equipment from the local school is slow as molasses.  Even after arrival, the devices may not work properly.  How does one manage their own work and monitor school work at the same time.

14.  If you are lucky you have children with some ability to monitor themselves, but the daycare is not open so the infant or toddler does not understand why I am home and completely unavailable!  Yikes.  We have had one or two days of this occasionally when a child is sick and can’t go to daycare but this is months in the making and the grandmother next door scene does not exist.  Maybe we just won’t survive.

15.  Our moods are all over the place.  On the one hand, we have had time for walks in the neighborhood and bike rides and the use of scooters or hover boards.  We are experiencing each other in ways that we did not have time for before.  The dining room table has a large jigsaw puzzle on it  and everyone stops as they pass to hunt for another piece.  The board games have found their way out of the closet too.

16.  Our tempers can be much shorter than normal and things that would not have bothered us in the past are suddenly critical.  “Did you really mean to throw that bath towel on the rack without folding it?”  We are surprising ourselves with the range of moods that we can experience.  We are finding new parts of ourselves.

17.  Some of those parts can be tender and we discover our humanity and our needs for comfort and affection.  We cannot go it alone no matter how hard we might try.  We were born connected and we spend the rest of our lives searching for meaningful connection.

18.  The news reports that the liquor stores are doing a bang up business during this pandemic.  We all need comfort and sometimes the easiest place to find that is in numbing ourselves a bit with a good cocktail or a beer that we would never have tried before.  We drink alone or with others but clearly we are doing more of it than ever.

19.  This pandemic will have an end.  That could be a long way off though.  How will we use this time?  Who will we be when it is finally over? Will we grow or shrink? Will our relationships be stronger or weaker?   We have a chance to accept the challenge to grow, to change, to deepen our humanity and to connect in deeper ways. Will our lives really matter?