Hello, dear reader! Wow, what a pair of months we’ve had, eh? I’m not sure about how things look in your neck of the woods, but in Georgia, our governor made a controversial decision to reopen some of the state after nearly two months of social-distancing and self-isolating. While this decision isn’t one that I feel completely comfortable with, I don’t call the shots (and neither do the people I voted for…). Still, it’s kind of strange to see some kind of shape on the horizon, something at the end of all of this uncertainty. For myself and my family, we will continue social distancing and self-isolating until the scientific community and the healthcare community give us a green light to resume our normal lives. So, that means the quarantining continues.
Like the rest of humanity, this whole thing has caused a disruption to my life. My job hunting has been reduced indefinitely, my limited socializing has been reduced to zero, and things I usually enjoy just aren’t working for me anymore. It’s like my brain said, “There is nothing normal about this so we aren’t going to do anything normal anymore.” That means, yes, my reading life has shriveled. I’ve still been managing to read a little here and there but for the most part, I’m not engaging with books like I used to. And, frankly, that’s okay. I learned after my experiment in No Reading (more to come!) that after a period of time when I’m not reading at all, that I come back more engaged, stronger, and more excited about books. I’m taking all of this as a chance to press reset on my reading life.
So, what you might ask, am I doing to pass the time? Dear reader, I’ll tell you! Here are my top ten activities/things that are getting me through this. Presented in no particular order:
1. Kittens. I’ve been on the hunt for a kitten since my sweet boy Moe passed in February. I raised him completely by hand my senior year of high school and he grew into the most lovable, funny, and cuddly cat in the world. Truly my best pal! Sadly, he was hit by a car and despite efforts to save him, nothing could be done. My grief was exquisite and all-consuming, as any loss is, and as the fog faded and I grew to a new normal without snuggling with him on the back porch where he dutifully awaited me each morning, I was eager to start again because my life was that much better with him in it. I was thinking of every wonderful thing he brought me in his life of seven years, and I wanted to get back to that feeling. I eventually found a friend of a friend of a friend had a pair of abandoned kittens that they were looking to re-home. My siblings and I drove an hour to see them and they were so much smaller and cuter than I imagined. A boy and a girl, black as pitch, still with their little baby ears and blue eyes — probably no older than two weeks. In the four weeks since we brought them home, they’ve brought immeasurable joy (and plenty of headaches!) into my life. They’re getting bigger, seemingly day by day, and learning to eat and play and snuggle like big kids. I named the girl, my kitten, Eerie because she has this freaky big eyed stare. She’s a complete angel, but definitely puts the spooky in black cats!
2. Walking. I made a resolution to walk more this year and in the beginning of the year I was averaging a walk a day, missing barely two days (usually rain) during the first two months. I loved it! I got to walk around and get fresh air and use my legs and as the year wore on, I got to look for signs of spring which is my favorite hobby. I made the resolution for my dog Tess as well as for myself. She’s just turned twelve, very old for her breed, and has heart failure. Walking every day helps keep the fluid off her heart and she doesn’t cough anymore. I thought I was going to lose her in August, but it’s now almost May and she’s healthier than she has been in years. Of course, walking won’t cure her heart disease (unfortunately, nothing will), but paired with daily medication, her quality of life has improved so much over the past year and she shows signs of sticking around quite a bit longer. Now, we’re able to walk most every day, sometimes by ourselves and sometimes with my siblings. She loves it and gets stronger every day and I feel great too!
3. Chore Chart. Less fun than kittens, but still contributing greatly to my health! I’m an impulsive perfectionist and I hit a wall when my siblings and two kittens returned to the house where I kept things tidy and clean, since I was home all the time alone during the day before. Obviously, adding people and pets to the house has made the mess considerably greater and for a while at the start of this, I was getting frustrated with having to clean everything all the time. My impulsiveness made me clean something messy right away instead of finishing what I was doing, and the chores kept adding up as I moved around the house tidying and cleaning, so my whole day was gone. My perfectionism kept me from asking for help or accepting it because I felt like no one could clean to my standard. Enough was enough! I was getting resentful about feeling like everyone’s maid and annoyed with how my whole day was sucked up in the vacuum. So, I turned on the Virgo and made a chore chart for myself. I divided chores by days so I knew exactly when something would be done and I wouldn’t do it impulsively, and I set it so there were only a few chores a day, most of them quick. After four weeks using this, I can proudly say it’s made everything SO much easier. I do all my chores right away in the morning and with practice, I’ve gotten even the laborious ones down to less than 30 minutes of work. Plus, it’s had the added benefit of adding some structure and routine to my week so I feel productive each day and the days don’t blur together. It’s bliss! I don’t complain or fret or worry. It’s all under control.
4. Animal Crossing. I caved and bought a Nintendo Switch Lite (it’s yellow!!) and Animal Crossing. I remember playing this game for hours as a kid on my chunky silver Nintendo DS (first generation!) and loving it. I already downloaded Sims on my computer, another childhood favorite, but it didn’t quite hit like it used to — too normal for this non-normal time, I guess. But Animal Crossing has been amazing. The music is soothing, the tasks are soothing, it’s all just so relaxing. There are surprises and discoveries, routine tasks, adventures, cute animals, a home to decorate, amazing bugs and fish to find — it’s bringing a lot of childish delight to my day, which is exactly what I needed to help myself relax away from my adult fears and worries. I played all weekend, no shame, but I’m trying to regulate my time during the week. There are still things I need to do or want to improve so those need to come first. Still, I look forward to the quiet of it to settle my mind and blow away my worries. It’s 100% worth the hype!
5. My garden. Last year, I built a raised bed garden. My tomatoes got eaten by the birds, my cucumbers died, my strawberries never fruited, and it was overall a terrible experience. In the autumn, I dug it all up that was dead and left the herbs which still showed promise. Over the winter, they grew so large they are trailing over the box sides. Thyme, lavender, mint, rosemary — they stayed green and beautiful and fragrant and gave me hope for the next spring to start again. I replanted this year, more tomatoes, a few new things to try (banana peppers), and added even more herbs (catnip, parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano). So far so good! There were two minor bug incidents — two ant beds I could not get rid of and a black widow spider scare in the strawberries — but so far, everything is growing and thriving. I also put in two flower beds nearby and they are so gorgeous and happy! There are so many colors and shapes and textures. I go out every Thursday (it’s on the chore chart!) to weed them and clip any dead bits and just relish their beauty and optimism. They make me so happy! (Follow my personal instagram for more flower and garden content – @abbajane)
So there you have it for the first five things that are keeping me sane during this strange time! Expect part two in about a week. 🙂
Let me know what you’re doing to keep yourself engaged, healthy, and happy during this stressful time! You can expect part two next Monday, but in the meantime, stay safe, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re doing just fine. See you soon, dear reader!