Time to Reflect
Updated: Mar 15
I went to the hairdresser, declining the extra conditioning and rinse because I figured it could wait another two weeks. I strolled through the fabric store, just to see what was new, what was irresistible and what I wanted to sew next. I went to the dentist and, though significantly less enjoyable than the fabric store, I was satisfied that all teeth were cleaned, checked and ready for another six months of life with me. And my kids came home from school as always, chatting and laughing up the street as I watched them approach the house through the kitchen window. Life was normal. And then suddenly - it wasn’t. Everything was shut down. And at no point last March did I believe that I would be sitting here a year later, having not returned to the hairdresser, the fabric store, the dentist or even school. I am still here. Holding down the fort.
So what do I have to show for this wasted year at home?
Have I learned anything? Well, it turns out I am very good at entertaining myself at home. I definitely missed going out but I wasn’t bothered by being inside my home. I super-organized and sorted all of the Lego sets in the house. I rainbow-tized my fabric and ribbon collection. I cleaned out closets and tossed out spices, and sorted clothing in the deep recesses of my son’s closet. I entertained myself with cleaning projects and my own craft projects. I read my share of books and played my share of games with the family. And while I wanted the lockdown to just be over, I never really needed to get out of my house because I was pretty happy doing my thing.
I have also learned that while I do love being home, I don’t necessarily love being home when my family is here, too. I mean, let’s be clear - they are awesome. But I am ready for them to leave and live their lives so I can go back to cleaning and sitting in my clean house in peace.
I learned that I stink at making bread, and baking in general. I am also not planning a garden anytime soon, given my inability to keep a single cherry tomato plant alive. Oh, I killed the basil plant, too. If I’m being honest, the succulents in the bowl on the patio are looking a little sad. I thought they were impossible to kill? My computer skills are still lacking, as I continue to regularly get an assist from my kids for dealing with attachments and files. And I am pretty useless as a tech help-desk, resorting to unplugging, rebooting and tossing across the room to address any wi-fi blips. So I guess I’ve learned that I’m good at some things, and not others.
What have I lost? My mind? No - whatever nonsense it is up to I won’t blame on the pandemic. I have probably lost my sense of direction and ease with driving. The few times I drifted out to run an errand I had to really think. I lost my interest in wearing anything other than leggings and hoodies. I have lost my sun-kissed glow. My list - I can put it down. Seriously, though, I know I didn’t lose family members or friends, so when it comes to what I’ve lost, it is insignificant and not even worth detailing. In the total scheme of things I haven’t lost anything at all, or anything that really matters. I’ll take it.
What I’ve found? I found the strength to commit to working out nearly every single day of 2020 and beyond. I found that my personal relationships thrived when we had lengthy phone calls filled with laughter and levity. I found that Korean dramas and music make me smile. I found that Northern California is actually colder than I want to admit. I found that I actually could live on wine alone.
What have I gained? Thankfully, only muscle instead of fat. A more complete understanding of how so many people and businesses are delicately balanced as part of our fragile economy. I gained an understanding of how important it is to continue to teach my kids what it means to be part of a community, and what it means to take care of each other. I gained a new appreciation for how hard our first responders work, and how thankless it can be to serve as a driver, a delivery person, a teacher or a caregiver. I gained a deeper appreciation for breakfast for dinner and the entire suite of Kellogg’s sugary cereals.
What have I loved? Binge-watching my favorite shows. Not having to run errands all day or play family taxi into the City. I have loved not having to decline social engagements that I didn’t want to attend anyway. I have loved watching my kids participate in online school and learn to adapt in ways I didn’t think possible. I have loved breaking some rules about wake-up times, clothes on the floor, late-night basement parties, cookies for dinner and optional showers. I have loved reinventing our holidays and traditions to keep them fun for us and knowing that my family is safe because they are with me every day. I have loved reading. And exchanging funny texts with my sisters. And I have completely loved stretch pants with pockets. Pure genius.
What have I hated? Hate is a strong word but sometimes it just needs to be said. This past year I have absolutely detested the toxic politics that became such a feature of this Covid response, or lack of response in most cases. I hated watching the death toll rise. And I hated being helpless when it came to volunteering my time since I was forced to stay inside for my own personal health and safety. I hated doing the dishes all of the time. I hated the uncanny ability of my hair to get frizzy when I am sitting still watching television. I hated watching my kids grow out of clothes and shoes that never saw the light of day. What I really came to hate was our inability as a global community to truly work together to get this right. Our lives literally depended on it and we couldn’t even agree on the same facts.
After all of that, how could I ever consider it a wasted year? It turns out that it hasn't been a wasted year after all. This year has been challenging but things have still gotten checked off the list. It is more than alright that what was checked off was unexpected. And it is more than alright that I learned to maybe NOT be so worried about checking things off a list for once in my life.
Go ahead and make your own list. What did you love and hate about this year? What do you count as gains or losses? Most importantly, what did you learn, and what are you going to carry with you into the next year? I’m definitely bringing my stretch pants with the pockets.