Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What I Have Learned While Sheltering in Place During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, Part 1

I know, I know.  I said I was going to take a break. Hubby reminded me of that by saying, how can they miss you if you never leave?  But I did say in my post "To Blog or Not to Blog," that it was the Friday movie and book reviews that were going away, not me, and that if I had something to say, I would be back.  

Well, I have something to say. 

So here I am, back in my original persona, the Rosy the Reviewer who "reviews" her life, compelled to share with you what I am learning while sheltering in place in this crazy and historic Coronavirus time that we now live in.

But before I get into the nitty gritty of what I have learned besides washing my hands a lot, let me say that nothing like this virus or having to shelter in place for weeks at a time has ever happened in my lifetime, and I've lived for a lot of years.  For us Baby Boomers, I guess this could be our Great Depression except we won't have our own little children to regale with stories about what we went through like our parents did.  So I guess it will be our grandchildren's responsibility to guilt trip their kids with what they went through during the Great Coronovirus Pandemic.  I recently tried to tell my nine-year-old grandson that not only would this be over soon, but that he would one day have a great story to tell.  He didn't get it, but I think over time he will. 

My young grandson will be able to say to his kids, "You think you have it bad? Why, when I was nine, I had to stay inside for three months!"

But despite the fact that I know many are suffering far more than I am, on bad days I can't help but lament the fact that I can't go to the movies, visit with friends, see my kids and grandkids, go to the mall (though I will say, I'm saving money there), or have See's Candy to see me through and that I have to mostly stay inside with just Hubby, the dogs and the TV to keep me company.  And that leaves a lot of time for reflection.  So I have been reflecting.

With that said, what have I learned?

In addition to washing my hands as often as possible and trying not to touch my face, which ain't easy for someone who has bitten her fingernails since the age of five (I know, I will save analyzing that for another day), I have learned that...

  • A bottle of wine doesn't last as long as it used to (this was FULL an hour ago)!

  • When I encounter other people on the sidewalk and cross the street to avoid them, they are no longer insulted like they might have been in the past.  In fact, they thank me!  So I wave and make a big production of it.

  • When I go into a convenience store at midnight wearing a mask, no one thinks I am going to rob them!
  • I am a bit of a foodie and when I am at loose ends, I like to cook but during stressful times like these, I have learned that instead of rustling up my usual Salmon en Croute or Scallop and Lobster Ravigote with Asparagus and Organic Quinoa, I revert to childhood favorites like fish sticks, tuna pasta salad and Kraft Dinner with hot dogs (Kraft Dinner -that's what we called Kraft Mac and Cheese when I was growing up), not to mention the occasional big bowl of ice cream with hot fudge and a cherry on top. Okay, not just occasional.  Every night.  I feel that Coronavirus 15 creeping on!

  • Dogs...if we have to shelter in place, I have learned that we couldn't ask for better companions than dogs. They are the best company! They don't have much to say and they look at me so lovingly, especially when I have a handful of Doritos.  

And they provide hours of fun!

Here's a thought.  

If you have always wanted a dog, why not rescue one now?  Think of the company a little puppy would provide, especially if you are going through this alone, and now is certainly the at-home time you would need for getting to know him or her and for the requisite toilet training that is in your future. Think about it.  Dogs rock! I can't imagine going through this without the unconditional love from our dogs (well, and from Hubby too)!

  • (Speaking of Hubby), I find that I need my Do Not Disturb sign again. And it's ironic, because on the one hand, I miss my family and friends and feel lonely at times and I can't imagine life without Hubby, but on the other hand, living in forced close quarters with someone day in and day out, with few breaks, can be, well, irritating sometimes. There, I said it.  But, c'mon, if it's not the singing and harmonica playing, it's talking to clients in his office (he works at home and I can hear everything) or it's interrupting me right when my little bell goes off to start my meditation, to tell me it's going to rain tonight or to ask me where the toilet paper is!  Don't get me wrong, I love Hubby and enjoy his company, but we live in a small place and not being able to get some Me Time can be challenging. Okay, challenging maybe isn't the right word.  How about can make me bitchy? The divorce rate in China supposedly went way up while they were all stuck at home so I don't want that to happen...

Hence the sign!

But the bottom line is this:  no matter what your circumstances, it's okay to want to have some alone time, and in this case, since we have so much time to reflect, we should be reflecting and that works best when alone!

  • When left to my own devices at home, I have learned that I don't use my time as wisely as I should.  With all of this time on my hands, I am not learning a new language or knitting or reading "War and Peace" or adopting an orphan from a third world country like some of my friends.  Instead, I find myself turning into Gladys Kravitz, staring out the window to see what my neighbors are doing and taking down license plate numbers, or whiling away the hours watching Lifetime Movies and reruns of "Wife Swap" and "Naked and Afraid." 

  • And speaking of Lifetime Movies - I know I talk about them a lot (In factI actually wrote an entire blog post about my "appreciation" of Lifetime Movies), but, believe it or not, they are often a metaphor for a variety of things.  In this case, I have learned that they can take you away from it all and make you grateful for your life when you realize that someone else has a worse life than you. They allow us to feel a certain amount of schudenfreude without feeling guilty, because these aren't real people. I mean, I may be stuck inside for an indeterminate amount of time, but at least I don't have a stalker trying to kill me or a psycho friend trying to kill me or a vacation at a spa where the spa is trying to kill me (you have to have been there). Lifetime Movies can be helpful for your state of mind, giving you some relief from your troubles, though I will say that the Lifetime Channel was quite insensitive to show "Psycho Nurse" last week. 

I am grateful that all I need to do to avoid getting killed is to stay inside so that psycho Covid-19 virus doesn't get me. Or I have hope, anyway, that will do the trick. 

All kidding aside, though, I have also learned some things about hope and gratitude.

Without hope there is despair.  And there is much to despair in this whole pandemic experience.  But we have to have hope, not the kind of hope that allows us to do something stupid, like going out, hanging out in groups, breathing on everyone and everyone breathing on you with the hope that you won't get sick. 

I am talking about the kind of hope that is deep inside us, the capacity to meet a situation and use it for personal growth.  It's a feeling of positivity that things will change and we will get out of this, because we are doing what we need to do to stay well; a positivity that leads us to take care of our mental health by keeping in touch with friends and loved ones so that we stay connected; a positivity that gives us empathy and enables us to reach out to those who are alone; a positivity that inspires us to accomplish something new now that we have the time; a positivity to motivate us to keep going; and a positivity that enables us to reflect on our lives, do a self inventory and decide how we want our lives to go when we get out of this. Hope is transformative. Renewal is always possible. If we take care of each other and listen to the experts, we will get through this.

Along with hope, I have learned to have gratitude for what I have, that despite the discomfort of the present, I am grateful for my friends and loved ones, grateful that I am not alone, grateful that I can still laugh and make fun of myself (and Hubby!) and grateful that I still have the motivation to accomplish things.  I am also grateful I am not sick nor are those I love and that I have enough toilet paper.

And finally, I need to add that I have learned the importance of humor.  

If we can still laugh, we know we are alive. And I am grateful that I can reach out to my friends and loved ones online and hear the sounds of their laughter as we play "Cards Against Humanity" together or I tell some particularly funny jokes about Hubby.  Laughter lifts our spirits.

I know this is no fun for most of us.  Like you, I have good days and bad days, but despite it all I am glad to be alive, glad I have the life I do, and looking forward to the future!

What have YOU learned while sheltering in place?

(You may be wondering why this is just Part 1.  Well, the pandemic is not over and I am still sheltering in place, so there will no doubt be a Part 2 or even a Part 3, so stay tuned. Rosy the Reviewer is right and truly back)!

To be continued...

Thanks for Reading!

And I Hope to See you Soon... 

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