I used to look at the world and wonder how we could handle anymore “things.” How could we possibly squeeze in anymore activities into a 24 hour day? How much more “perfect” could we make school projects, weddings, baby showers and everything else? It seemed like every day was an attempt to out-Pinterest ourselves. How much more could we demand from our kids? I felt like we were walking on the very edge of the cliff, just teetering with the edge. Until the day the world stopped.
Last year, I sat alone in my living room at 11 p.m., watching the governor address us on TV with the news that schools were shutting down. Over the next few days, more and more businesses would close as the COVID-19 virus spread.
There was so much confusion. There was so much unknown. There was so much fear. But, while the world was shutting down, I was feeling a sense of relief. This could turn out a break from the mundane and a way to turn the tides.
Everything halted. And while I know weddings were canceled and plans were altered, it was an opportunity to reset. As a church worker, I saw more people leaning into their faith. As a parent, I saw others leaning into new ways to engage with their children. We saw humanity at it’s finest. People helping people. People giving so much to help others.
Families suddenly recognized how much they needed to see each other. Grandparents just wanted hugs. Kids just wanted to see their friends. Connection became so much more important.
Back to basics. We went from overscheduled to paused. We went from racing here and there to making sour dough starters and banana bread on the regular.
And I was afraid of it ending.
We lived in a bubble for weeks. Just before our state opened back up, my family made a mad dash together to Missouri, where we spent 3 weeks together, exploring, experiencing and enjoying. When we came back, we eased into things. I went back to working face-to-face at only one job. As the end of the summer approached, I got sad. The kids were going back to school. Things were returning to “normal” as much as they could. And I was suddenly becoming incredibly protective of the space that we had gained in the heart of the pandemic. I wanted to hold onto the things that I loved and let go of the things that had made my life feel cluttered.
We scaled way back. We made family time a priority. We kept up eating in as much as possible. Sundays stayed a Sabath day, with naps on the patio, relaxing and trying to recharge as much as possible.
While we don’t have time for super long walks every day, or sitting on the deck with magazines after work, but we tried to preserve as much room in our lives for less stuff. Which sounds weird, but it’s true.
Then I hurt my neck and prepped for surgery. Nothing will slow you down more than neck surgery a week before Christmas. I had prepped and planned so well that I was able to truly rest and recover. And recovery took the form of coloring, writing, reading, watching movies and even applying Color Street at random times just for fun. As I’ve recovered and gotten better, I’ve tried to retain the things I loved about that recovery time. When I start feeling stressed out, I pull out the coloring book. I’m reading more before bed rather than watching shows I’ve seen a million times. And I’m finally able to add some exercise back in my life!
It’s amazing how much stronger our family unit has become. It’s amazing how we’ve learned so much about each other this year. It’s amazing how we’ve identified the things we need as a family to feel content and not overwhelmed. I’ve tried to hang on to the things that make me feel good, like dropping surprises on door steps and sending lots of unexpected letters. (yes, my love language is gifts)
I think I’ve seen this happen in the world around me too. Weddings have become about fewer people and less about chair covers and special lighting. Birthday parties are all about making someone feel loved and seen rather than about over the top decorations and extravagent gifts.
Sometimes, I wish we could go back to lock down, our bubble and simple times. Sometimes, I wish I could sleep until 15 minutes before work and just roll out of bed and over to my desk. But I’m so thankful for the experience that brought me more contentment in my everyday life. So, I’ll take it.