I am always late to the party. Cell phones, Facebook, almost every age and stage, I’m never the first one to arrive. In fact, when the quarantine began, I didn’t believe it was real. Friends in other states were very serious and concerned. Businesses and gyms closed down, people began self-quarantining and still I didn’t believe. It easily took me two weeks to understand and realize that not only was the shelter safe order real, it was happening.
And I was going to shelter alone.
As I listened to my friends complain about having their entire family at home and reading on-line about all the sourdough bread baking, I was hearing NPR and CBS This Morning reporting on the changes that were slowly and then quickly taking place.
I was stunned.
I’m here by myself.
I’m completely happy with my own company.
But 24/7 for weeks on end?
Oh…I was going to end up not speaking to myself, I could just feel it.
Luckily, webinars began popping up. Many coaches and experts urged us to consider this quarantine a unique opportunity.
A fleeting chance to experience what it’s like to be with myself. To get to know myself, know and believe that I am whole and complete and I will be okay.
But 24/7 for weeks on end?
I wanted to learn the skills to get through this alone and continue speaking to myself. I wanted to talk to others that were also sheltering alone.
Lisa Bobyak founder and creator of Living Fully Balanced (livingfullybalanced.com) offered, (free) “Reclaiming Control in Times of Uncertainty” on a Saturday early into the quarantine. We met years ago when she spoke at a Coaches meeting in St. Louis and I interviewed her about clearing out space in our lives. Remaining in contact her words of wisdom over the years have brought many a smile and an AHA moment. She has a gentle touch, a way with words and her ideas are based in practical solutions about living a balanced life.
She began by quoting Steven Covey who suggests beginning with the end in mind. Lisa asked us to think about what we would be happy to have experienced…once the initial scare was behind us. “What do you want to say you are proud of?” I’m guessing ice cream for quarantine dinner might not be exactly what she was thinking- Still, I was hooked. An unexpected gift, she reminded us could offer an EASING of the expectations we have of ourselves to be constantly productive.
Action alleviates anxiety. Pausing and resetting, getting clear on what needed to happen: practically and emotionally: I thought what do I need? What’s going to make me feel my best?
Lisa suggested starting slow…by being accountable: do one thing in the next 24 hours. And her suggestion of meditation and relaxation techniques armed me with suggestions that made me feel better immediately.
A few days later I happened on life-coach Laurel Fuller-Clark’s (https://www.facebook.com/laurel.f.clark.7) webinar, “Living Alone While Sheltering in Place: How to Nurture and Nourish”. I was front and center. Laurel had great suggestions.
First, I needed to be gentle with myself and more compassionate with my friends who have the unique opportunity to shelter with partners and families. Like any experience we are living in our own shoes.
Even during a quarantine, I can create a happy, joyous life, remembering that I choose this journey (well, I didn’t choose to be quarantined) and listening to my heart. Be curious…what am I going to discover about myself during this time? The world is giving us permission to rediscover JOY.
Laurel suggested looking for small ways to be kind/share joy with other people. When walking outside: breathe and pay attention to nature-the sights and sounds; allow silence and hear what’s coming up in your mind. Celebrate my strength (I’m quarantining alone) and for all of us, grieve what we had planned…it’s okay to be sad that something didn’t turn out how we expected.
It took me a while to integrate and take action. I readily admit those first two weeks I slept in enjoying the free time. And then something changed. I was asked to continue part-time work therefore using my brain which helped me organize my days. I began walking every day, remembering Laurel’s words to only focus on nature, pocket my phone, to breathe and enjoy. Either by myself or with friends at a safe distance. I found on-line work-out classes; a group fitness instructor from my gym began offering daily classes on Facebook which encouraged timely sweating every day. Those first weeks were actually funny as I yoga-ed using headphones-I was constantly getting tangled up in the cords. Taking care of myself, I purchased $10 speakers. It changed how I worked out. Exercise has always structured my free-lance days clearing my head for work. I realized that the more I was taking care of myself physically, the more I was taking care of myself across the board.
Somehow, as I stumbled through my day, life began taking structure…and the days and I became more energetic.
A few weeks into the quarantine I said to my sister, “Let’s walk. Let’s watch a movie and order dinner.” She was all-in. Being with my sister always calms me down. She has a way of looking at life in a real way and pointing out how pie-in-the-sky my ideas are. And she calls me on the many crazy thoughts that haunt me. She’s one of my favorite people to be with. We began spending one afternoon a week walking the beautiful trail in her neighborhood, looking at neighborhoods that we might want to move into, ordering dinner (which I had not done before, she makes me brave in all sorts of ways) and watching movies. We laugh, talk and catch up.
These afternoons with Staci are the high-light of my week during this quarantine.
What I’m noticing, what I’m realizing is that I have the choice to manage my mindset, emotions and choices. Any situation can be a blessing or a curse. Though I still get overwhelmed, I try to remember to stop and breathe, reach out to others, talk myself down and remember I have to ability to control my attitude (chocolate helps).
I find sunshine, fun and adventure wherever I can. I love to hear the generous stories of people being kind and reaching out. I love the animal videos. I am being as proactive as I possibly can be. I love to learn and each day I’ve decided I will read or listen to a podcast-if I don’t get to it, I’m gentle with myself.
Envisioning the end of the quarantine, I hope that I have survived and thrived…knowing and understanding that I AM INCREIDBLY GRATEFUL FOR WHAT I HAVE. Each and every day. All of it. The tribe, the Warriors’, the ability to work part-time. My ability to stay home and stay healthy. The opportunity to continue creating a life of joy and happiness.
24/7 and I’m still speaking to myself. I’m gonna make it after all….