Trying to look on the bright side of this quarantine isn’t coming easily for me. While yes, I am grateful that my job can be done remotely for now and that so far neither me nor my husband has any reason to believe that we might be ill, it’s hard not to think about others who for many other reasons are not so fortunate. But for now, this weekend, I decided to focus on a few things I could control and get some things done.
I started Saturday morning. As soon as I woke up, I did an online yoga class for the first time in a while. Nothing too crazy, just a really good activity to stretch and get my mind and body ready for the day. During the week, even during the quarantine, I don’t always have time in the mornings before work to get that workout in. I do a lot of videoconferencing with colleagues in Europe, so it’s not unusual to have to be on a video call by 6 AM. I do pretty well with getting a workout in eventually during the day, but I really do better when I do that first thing in the morning. So, that felt good and reminded me that even now, I have to put that time for myself on the calendar in order for it to become real.
The next thing I did was take a deep breath, open the pantry door, and empty it out completely. Even though I am pretty good about knowing where something is when I need it, it’s not pretty. Our normal weekends here in Rockport start by getting up, getting on the boat, and going fishing. There’s usually something else happening after that, whether it’s enjoying time with friends who have come to visit or attending one of the many festivals and activities this lovely area has to offer. And then it’s time to make dinner. “Cleaning out the pantry” just doesn’t hit the radar and so, predictably, over the past couple of years, it was starting to get the best of me.
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.Erma Bombeck
So, I tackled it! And it felt GOOD. After I took everything off the shelves and off the floor, I took off all the shelf liner, threw that away and scrubbed the shelves, and replaced the shelf paper. I swept and scrubbed the floor. Then I organized the contents that filled our countertops into reasonable groups, checked expiration dates and got rid of some embarrassingly old ingredients, and then replaced everything, shelf by shelf.
A couple of observations came to mind when I was finished. First, I realized that between our pantry and the freezer, we could survive for a while if things got really bad. Would our meals be as healthy or interesting as we would like? No. If I go too long without fresh fruit or fresh vegetables, I don’t feel my best. But, it did give me incentive to sit down and write out a menu plan for the week. I still have enough produce from my big shopping trip a few weeks ago that I don’t have to go to the grocery store at all this week, so that’s a relief right now. At some point, the paper towel and toilet paper situation will require some intervention, but for now, we are OK.
The next observation, and the one that had the most impact on me, was the feeling of freedom and relief and accomplishment I had after I cleaned that pantry. The door to the pantry is almost always closed. We are the only people who see it most of the time, with the exception of guests who open it to put something in the trash can. That feeling of lightness stuck with me throughout the day as I accomplished a number of tasks that I normally don’t take time to do. I think one reason I was so aware of the lightness was because of the time I’d spent on my yoga mat that morning. That’s something yoga does for me that no other exercise does – the mind work that happens in yoga is every bit as beneficial as the body work.
Throughout the day and for the rest of the weekend, I kept reflecting on this and trying to draw analogies to other aspects of my life. And, through that mindfulness and a series of events that were unfolding elsewhere in our life throughout the weekend, I realized that with this blog, even if I am the only one who reads it, I have an opportunity to open some doors that many people might want to keep shut, were it their life and their story. But this is our life and our story, and I’ve spoken with my husband and we’ve decided that it’s a story that should be told, if only to lighten our load but also in hope that it might help others facing something similar to lighten theirs.
So, over the next few days and weeks (I am not quite sure where to start or how long it will take) my posts will have a different feel to them. Please don’t worry, because we have had a long time to come to terms with the story and its impact on our lives and the lives of those who care about us. We are doing fine. But if I’m going to be intentional about this blog and finding my voice, there’s a figurative corner of my life that I need to address, acknowledge, and write about. Is it scary? Yes, indeed it is. But I do believe it is a story worth telling, warts and all.
Thanks so much for listening.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.Eleanor Roosevelt