Updated: May 30
The Five Positive Things That Came From Pressing Pause
Far be it for me to say that this horrific pandemic could produce anything but mire and misery. The death toll, strain on small business, and social justice issues have plagued my heart and mind through much of this past year. I thought it might be a productive exercise for me to re-frame this horror as an personal pause. One that the entire Earth is taking with me.
As I had to abandon many of my old sources of comfort and joy -- theatre, museums, group gym classes, traveling, eating in restaurants -- I had to find new outlets for my mental and physical health. Below are the top things that I have turned to during this year of change.
1) The Chic Outdoors: I have always loved the outdoors. Existing in this juxtaposition of city and country girl. This dueling self identity I have loving coined "The Chic Outdoors". I have found joy in hiking, running, walking, and traveling to incredible vistas. Since I couldn't fly anywhere I drove to the redwoods, Arches National Park, Yosemite, the Muir Woods, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon to find magic in the great outdoors. It is a tonic for the cloistered nature of this lockdown as well as a a refreshment of the soul. While I still miss my group yoga, spin, and body pump classes I have found the importance of exercising in the outdoors. The meditation that springs from being alone in nature (or in my case with two dogs).
2) Cooking with Coco: As followers of the blog well know I have always loved to cook. However the prospect of making every single meal for 2 people for 12 months straight has allowed me to really experiment in the kitchen. Make recipes that take days to complete. Create my own "mystery box challenge" with the leftover bits in the fridge and pantry to make a meal. It has been a culinary adventure around the world. Traveling with our taste buds to India, Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Morocco, Germany, Spain, France, and even parts of the United States full of flavor and soul.
3) Friendship Rekindled: One of the most difficult parts of the pandemic is the lack to physical interactions. Being unable to visit (in any normal way) friends and family is heartbreaking. A hitherto unknown need that has brought the value of a hug up to a new gold standard. The juxtaposition of this for me was the rekindling of friendships that had been fading. Now that we all can't head to our favorite brunch spot to spend Sunday afternoon the virtual friendships have become more inclusive. Speaking with friends I haven't caught up with in a while, having virtual birthdays, coffee talks, and cocktail hours. Even the weekly family zooms ensure that I am speaking with my whole family a lot more often than pre-pandemic life.
4) Puppy Love: My husband and I absolutely love our Belle pup. We got very lucky that my job, at the time, allowed me to work from home and train Belle for the first year of her life. We had always talked about getting a second dog. However with my travel schedule for work, and my husband going into an office everyday it just wasn't feasible. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to make that dream a reality. We are so glad to have Finn be part of our family. With both Charles and I home for nigh on a year now, we have been able to both be part of the training process. Although NEVER easy, Finn is now a very well trained boy and we are so glad Belle has a brother to play with.
5) A Reflection of Habits: When your entire life is disrupted and you have to completely change the way you work, eat, interact, shop, and drink a lot of previously subconscious habits come sharply into focus. The coffee shops, happy hours, and wardrobe updates that consumed so much of our previous life, vanished. I have found myself reflecting on what I did before to enrich my soul (concerts, museums, great restaurants) and what I can do now to satiate those outlets unavailable to enjoy during lockdown. I am teaching myself to play the guitar (thanks Yousician and talented family members), writing and illustrating children's books, and testing my master chef skills with new recipes that deserve candlelight, jazz, and cloth napkins to enjoy. I bought a marble bistro table and French bistro chairs to create my very own Café Coco experience. Most of all I found the things that bring me life, art, music, enjoying a meal, can look very different than what I done in the past while still being enriching.
My husband and I were very lucky to both score surplus doses of the vaccine last month. Our second does set for a little over a week from now. Our family has also been very lucky to be almost completely vaccinated (many family members are over the age requirements, doctors, or have health conditions that enabled them to receive the vaccine). This has emboldened us the ability to start planning actual trips and visit for the summer months. A prospect that seemed like a far away dream before. As many states carefully watch their decreasing numbers and slowly roll back restrictions we do see light at the end of this long and winding road. I hope that we can all take a moment to reflect on the good while keeping an omnipresent eye on preventing this type of pandemic for the future.