According to my Instagram account where I’ve kept a daily picture log of our coronavirus happenings, it is day 49 of quarantine as I write this.
Let’s rewind to January 1, 2020, back when the world was not only saying goodbye to another year, but embracing a new decade. Let’s say we were all told at the onset of this year that in about ten weeks, we’d all be sitting at home. We’d be social distancing and eventually sheltering in place as the world fought a virus. I try to imagine what my plans and dreams would have been knowing a significant part of 2020 would literally be a blank slate with cancelled plans, closed businesses, and staying home except for essential trips to the grocery store.
Goals Instead of Resolutions
I’m not much of a resolution-maker because I’m not much of a resolution-keeper. But I do enjoy a blank slate with twelve new months ahead of me. As each new year rolls around, I like to have a fresh start on being who I need to be in all the relationships and roles I have: wife, mother, friend, and educator to name a few. I make goals instead of resolutions. Is there even a difference? I don’t know.
A Personal Memoir
I’ve been wanting to write a book for years: a memoir specifically. And it’s not necessarily with a goal of being published (but if that happens, that would be great)! I would love a written record of life lessons I’ve learned to pass onto my children and grandchildren to read one day. This year felt like the year for a memoir. I set a personal goal to have it written by my 35th birthday, which happens to be this month.
Another goal I set for myself is to read more. I want to do less scrolling through my newsfeed–filling my mind with meaningless information–and spend more time reading and growing my mind. I want a book to be the last thing my eyes see before I fall asleep at night, not the glow of my phone’s screen. So I bought an alarm clock and decided my phone would not even enter my bedroom.
Play Musical Instruments
Once social distancing was in place, I decided (with all my free time) I would finally learn to play the guitar my dad gave me for my 15th birthday. I’d also sit down at the piano to see if I remember what I learned in elementary school.
Write. Read. Play the guitar and piano. Embrace every bit of my creative side.
Friends, I’m here to confess to you that none of those things have happened.
I made progress on my book once. I stayed up late one night because I was feeling inspired and wrote a good chunk of the book. But that was it.
I traded books with my sister-in-law in a bit of a panic thinking I didn’t have enough unread books to get me through an indefinite quarantine. I read two books during the first two weeks of social distancing, but I haven’t touched a book since. The alarm clock I bought is now sitting in a giveaway pile in the garage. The alarm sounds are terrifying, and the snooze only lasts for five minutes. I need at least nine!
I discovered a popular guitar app was offering three months of free lessons, so I downloaded it. I used it a handful of times, enough to learn–but not perfect–the beginning guitar riff of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” My guitar has been in the case for about four weeks now, untouched.
The piano is the most humorous failure of all. I sat down once and played what I remember of “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. That was the last song I learned to play before I quit lessons in sixth grade. I played a couple versions of “Heart and Soul,” because every amateur piano player knows that one, right?
Quarantine Killed My Motivation
Motivation was not lacking the first couple of weeks of social distancing. However, once schools closed and I had to figure out how to homeschool, work from home, and manage our new norm while never leaving the house–all my goals went to pot.
Quarantine has killed my motivation and tried to steal my joy many days.
However, there are goals I’ve discovered during this time–goals I didn’t know I had. I’ve decided that once this pandemic is over–at least the social distancing part–there are some things I want to keep doing. I’ll keep my old goals. I will write that book. I will read more. I will make progress with my “9 to 5” guitar riff. I might even become so proficient playing the Titanic theme song that I’ll add some Celine-like vocals. You just wait!
In my day-to-day rhythm, there are things I want to change for the better . . . and forever.
To Say Yes
I’ve said yes to my kids’ requests way more than I did before coronavirus became part of our daily vocabulary. Can we go get ice cream? Yes. Can we walk to the lake and skip rocks? Yes. Can we have a family game night? Yes. Can we eat dinner outside? Yes. Can we skip showers tonight? Yes. Can we go play with the chickens? Yes. Can we ride our bikes to Nana’s house? Yes. I know when a normal schedule picks back up and we have less free time during the day, I won’t be able to say yes to as many requests. But I hope to say yes without so much hesitation or thought about how it affects the rest of the day.
To Not Be a Slave to a Schedule
Speaking of plans for the day, I’ve enjoyed not having a set schedule during the day or evening. For someone who thrives on routine and needs a loose plan for the day, I oddly don’t like to have anything on my calendar. Knowing the future looks busy overwhelms me.
I want to live more in the moment and not worry about what’s coming up later that day or even the next day. From the beginning of parenthood, my days have revolved around nap time and bedtime. I don’t like to interrupt those times, because a missed nap or a late bedtime has a domino effect on the next day. My kids are older now and only need naps occasionally. Bedtimes can be later because my kids are learning to sleep later the following morning. I feel a lot of freedom in that. Dinner can be later. Outside play time can last longer. I want to continue to ignore the time.
I don’t expect us to be free from a schedule, but I need to free my family and myself from my plans for our day.
To Exercise Daily
When I was in college, my roommate and I ran stadiums in the basketball coliseum twice a week. One day it was raining outside, and we didn’t feel like going. I’m not sure why rain kept us from going from our townhouse to the car then to an indoor facility. But for whatever reason, rain seemed like a good excuse to not do a strenuous indoor activity. Instead, we ran up and down the stairs in our townhouse until we realized how ridiculous it was. I remember us plopping down on the stairs and bursting with laughter. I’ve always enjoyed working out, but maybe not the workout as much as how it makes me feel.
During this pandemic, I’ve been able to stick to a daily workout of at least 30 minutes or more. I bought a kettlebell, and after a few Pinterest ideas and YouTube videos, I created a circuit workout that I do two to three times a week. On days I’m not doing strength training, I go on a run or a walk. I tried a barre workout on YouTube for the first time the other day and may incorporate that into my weekly workouts.
Sundays are always reserved for rest, but I don’t rest from working out. I take a leisurely walk through my neighborhood and enjoy the slower pace for a day. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. While I’m not necessarily convinced that’s true, I’ve been doing this since March 14th, so surely I’ve created a habit. The trick will be finding the time to keep it up when normal life resumes.
To Be Outside
One of the things I’ve been so thankful for during this time is the beautiful weather we’ve had. Can you imagine this pandemic happening back in January and February when we were surviving a flood, and we all felt a little bit like Noah in the Bible? I’m so glad for the timing of this quarantine!
I don’t know that I’ve ever spent so much unstructured time outside with my family and neighbors. I’ve seen people out walking that I’ve never seen before. My kids have made friends with new neighbors–even dogs and chickens! I hope we all continue to maximize our time outside. The Mayberry feel of our neighborhood has been such a comfort during this time.
To Try Different Recipes
I love to cook for my family. I look forward to the part of my day that I get to start preparing dinner. I enjoy sitting around the table in our tiny kitchen eating dinner together. I love cooking my go-to recipes that I know by heart.
But I tell you what, quarantine has me in a cooking rut! I think a large part of that is I never know if I can get the ingredients I need because everything is out of stock. (Like a chuck roast. Or spaghetti noodles. Why?) At some point I quit planning meals, which removed part of what I love about feeding my family. I have since recovered, thanks in part to a pandemic miracle when I recently scheduled and picked up a Walmart grocery order on the same day with no substitutions.
To get me out of my rut, I have tried a few new recipes. Some recipes were delicious, and one was so bad I literally threw it in the trash as soon as it was cooled enough to do so. I now have a couple more recipes to add to my list of family favorites: Sloppy Joe’s and Sprite and Dale’s Grilled Chicken.
While we’re on the topic, I hope all these local restaurants continue serving family meals. They have been a life saver on nights when I have to do things like throw away an entire meal.
What about you? What did you think you’d have time for but realized you were unmotivated to do? What do you hope to continue doing post-pandemic? You have permission to re-think the resolutions you made before you knew you’d be stuck in your house working, homeschooling, brainstorming toilet paper alternatives, and managing 37 Zoom calls a day.
I’ll get back with y’all when I nail my Celine Dion voice and piano number.
Happy 2020 Reset!