At the time of this writing, April 2020 is blooming and we all are (or should be!) collectively social distancing in a major way.
Some of us are at home, some of us have lost our jobs, some are heroically keeping the world going (healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers, anyone marked as “essential” right now: THANK YOU). Some are panicked, some are grieving, some are enjoying the break in routine and feel a little guilty about feeling that way. All of that is perfect.
Personally, I fall into the last category: my life is usually a whirlwind of overstretching myself, a jam-packed calendar, a low-level knowingness that the rooms in my apartment will perpetually stay messy as I scurry to my next pre-planned activity.
Now I have more time on my hands, less income (but am still okay), and many advantages that make this experience feel like a deep breath of space for me, woven into a foreboding historical event. I’m lucky and privileged in a lot of ways.
I don’t know exactly what is going to happen from here, but here is my small contribution during this sacred snapshot of time: a few ideas to help you fall deeper in love with your life during quarantine.
Your life matters. The details and memories that have accumulated through every moment of your existence here on Planet Earth are important. It’s impossible to cultivate love and respect for our lives if we are unwilling to believe that our experiences matter in the first place, which is why I’m starting here.
Even if it feels like the world is crashing around you, and like your needs, dreams, memories, old photos, and inside jokes don’t seem important… they are. They are more important now than ever.
What was your favorite color when you were 12? What’s the first movie that you remember watching? When did you last realize that something you loved was going to fall apart?
Find these little stories and tell them. Show your quarantine-mates your old photo albums and tell them stories of people they will never know. Run your fingers over the faded signatures in your yearbooks.
You can look to your social media accounts too: what were you posting on Instagram around this time in 2015? What details are lodged in the “On This Day” tab of your Facebook? Scroll back and marvel at who you were and who you are becoming.
Now is the time to daydream about where your life could go from here, dust off your vision boards, and rev up your Pinterest account.
What are some of the bucket list dreams that you would love to experience when this is over? Where have you been wanting to go? What are you most excited to do when we can be social again?
This is not the time to be realistic or crunch numbers – we’re dreaming, remember? Pretend you’re a kid sitting at the kitchen table and drawing in brightly colored washable markers. Pretend your life and your bank account have no limits. What would you create? What clues does this exploration give you about your deeper values and desires?
My wedding is scheduled for July, and I’ve been ambivalent on whether we were going to go on a big honeymoon afterwards. My boyfriend and I have already traveled a lot together, and it just seemed like a lot of money to spend.
But now? Bring on the Pinterest board inspiration. The mere act of dreaming about what types of trips are out there is enough to generate a sense of hope, and that little sliver of hope is all that I need — no matter if we end up going or not.
You do not need to be a productive robot during this time. You do not need to improve yourself or get fit or really do anything if you don’t want to. It’s okay to ditch the “think of how much you could get DONE mentality!” given that we are in an actual crisis and not just on spring break.
Do you want to know the very first thing I did when my social distancing began? I didn’t work on any goals. I didn’t kick-start a cool creative project. I didn’t plan my wedding or hustle in any way.
I downloaded the original version of The Sims to my laptop. Like, from the year 2000. And spent about 5 hours swept up in it before I even knew what happened.
Glennon Doyle’s pandemic advice is to drastically lower our expectations for ourselves. I love that so much. Lower your expectations and release the pressure.
Take each day at a pace that makes sense for you, do what you can, recycle your half-finished to-do list, chill out, and make your Sims work their way to the top of their respective careers without using any cheat codes. Just like old times.
(Wait… not everyone plays The Sims that way?! Is that my Capricorn-ness coming through?)
I love that half of my social media friends have taken up baking during this time. Absolutely nothing could make me happier than seeing the collective embrace of a creative hobby simply because it’s fun and brings us joy.
Sometimes the big questions like “What does the world need?” and “How can I help people through my art?” can help us clarify our creative projects, but other times those questions feel crushing and overwhelming – like they come with an immense amount of pressure to perform and help and make.
Let’s ditch those questions and start small instead. You don’t need to create something Great or even Good – instead, what small thing could you make that would bring joy to the lives of the 5 people closest to you? A thank you card? A tiny project? A heartfelt voicemail?
Those are the small questions that led me to writing this list. I felt paralyzed by the pressure that I “should” be writing or saying something life coachy to help people during this time. I was trying to perform, but anything I thought of just felt stale and generic. Like 10,000 other people on the internet could have written it.
So I started small: a list. Just a simple list – nothing dramatic or “good,” just a few scribbles that might be interesting to a few close people in my world. And here we are.
What could you make that feels simple and breezy and light?
I am not suggesting a full-on deep clean of your home (we’re lowering expectations, remember?) unless you are someone who finds cleaning therapeutic.
But you can take this moment to treat your surroundings with love and move some energy around in your physical environment. This can be an opportunity to dig to the back corner of your closet floor, kiss the clothes and belongings goodbye that represent a past version of yourself, and donate them at a later date when everything is finally settled.
Everyone is isolated, almost everyone is getting tired of it, and there are so many unique ways to stay social and connected.
A few nights ago I played skribbl.io with longtime friends for way longer than I expected because it was so fun (Bonus tip is to have a way to audibly talk to each other while you play — Zoom, Discord, or a group conference call would all work). Another friend set up a Google hangout so we could play Jackbox Games together.
Even just reaching out and shooting someone a message to say you are thinking of them can help create a ripple effect of connection. You don’t have to say yes to every offer to hang out virtually, but remember that these options exist when cabin fever starts to set in, along with texting, video chats, or a good old-fashioned phone call.
Grab a pen and write down five things you are grateful for in this moment. The floor beneath you. The plants giving you oxygen. The ventilators that are keeping people alive.
Sometimes gratitude is weaponized as a limiting story of “You should just be quiet and be thankful for what you have” – and that’s not what I mean here. Many of us have already lost something through this pandemic. Jobs. People. Hope. Clarity. A sense of normalcy. All of that is real and valid.
And yet, we are being forced to pause and stew in our lives, our homes, our relationships, and our patterns. What details have you been noticing that were unavailable to you before? What little stories and nuances of your life feel like magic?
Life is here between your fingers. It’s here right now. It’s not solely tied up in past sweet memories, it’s not bound to future plans that have already crumbled. If you look around, you may find that you have a lot to appreciate.
I understand the initial “blah” impulse to lounge around all day, and I absolutely did that too for the first many days of social distancing – no shame whatsoever.
Exercise has been shown to help with depression and mental health, plus it moves stuck energy and can generate creative problem-solving. So if you can muster the energy to go for a socially-distanced walk or run around the apartment with your cat, you may feel a little more energized and capable of taking on the world.
If you have a yoga studio or gym or dance studio that has temporarily closed, your teachers are likely offering online classes during this time.
And even when we aren’t in quarantine, YouTube is my favorite resource for trying new workouts. Whether it’s bellydancing, Blogilates, kickboxing, Yoga with Adriene, or various other workouts, you can find whatever you need to move in a way that feels good.
If spirituality isn’t your thing – that is totally fine, and I suggest you skip this step.
For the rest of us: How are you actively stoking the flames of being connected and held by a higher power that is greater than yourself?
Somewhere between my job running a coworking space & my life coaching & my day-to-day responsibilities of trying to be a functional girlfriend/cat-mom/sister/daughter/human, over the last few years my spirituality had faded to the side.
The experience of a global pandemic that is widely out of my control has been the jolt I personally needed to stop, breathe, pause, and reconnect with that sense of God again.
Breathe. Listen to a guided meditation. Re-read your favorite spiritual books. Tap with Brad Yates. Livestream the services from a spiritual center or teacher that speaks to your soul. Make lists of all the synchronicities and “God moments” you have ever experienced. Generate a sense of surrender and universal trust from right where you stand.
Bookworms and movie lovers, unite – because we may be here for a while. It’s never too late to dust off a favorite book, to lose yourself in a story, to fall into a hypnotic trance of Law & Order episodes. I just started watching Game of Thrones from the beginning because hey — I have the time right now.
If you have an internet connection, you have a world of free learning available at your fingertips. If “learn a language” is vaguely on your list of goals – why not use this time to try Duolingo for a few minutes every day? What other random and whimsical things are you interested in learning?
My boyfriend loves fixing things, and one of his quarantine hobbies has been watching videos of experts take engines apart and put them back together. I think he’s going to make hot sauce soon just because he can. Every time I blink he seems to have a new project up his sleeve, and he embodies the idea of creating things in real life just because they’re fulfilling to make. I learn from him every day,
May you generate a sense of hope in these times. May you smile and see your life with a new technicolor tint – a little halo that glimmers with every sparkle of light.
And may you carry that love back into your life when this is over — when small mercies like concerts and playdates and lunch outings pop out of the ground like the flowering miracles they always were. I’ll see you on the other side.
Peace + Holy Resilience,
PS I’ve made some stuff for you over the years, both free and not-free:
- Coaching sessions are a warm & positive way to get in tune with your feelings and make an action plan for what comes next
- If you feel a call to write, my book “Robot Coconut Trees: Break Through Writers Block, Unleash Your Creative Voice, and Become the Writer You Already Are” can help you get started
- This self-publishing training is 50% off (just $19 right now) in case you’re thinking about writing and publishing your own book
- FREE resources include 22 Whimsical Ways to Break Through Your Creative Blocks & an Imposter Syndrome Breakthrough Guide & a video training series on how to bring your dreams to life
- You can also find some of my content and meditations on the self-care app Sanity & Self
- As well as over 100 free posts on this blog where you can watch my life and writing evolve from ages 22 to 30 😊