Lately, I can’t stop thinking about how quickly reality can change. For many of us, this is the first time something like this has happened in our lifetime. It’s made me feel so darn small and powerless; which of course is not necessarily a bad thing.)
What gutted me last week is commonplace now; the taped-off playgrounds, grim headlines and leadership gaffes have become as reliable as the robins singing outside my window in the morning. How long will this last? Will things ever be the same again? How will this change our habits and lives? We just don’t know yet.
Last week, a friend published this upbeat, practical article on how her family is managing. She closed by asking for “the resources, recipes, books, strategies, and thought processes that are getting you and yours through this crisis.” I was inspired to share, simply, what we are doing to maintain momentum in this strange new world: the activities and passions that help on mornings when the robins seem quieter.
The single biggest upshot of this whole thing for us is that we* are GETTING SHIT DONE. I still have the occasional why-did-we-buy-a-fixer-upper tantrum, but then I focus on what we have accomplished—all since mid-February, and with jobs and a toddler at home, to boot.*By “we” I really mean our parents, all four of whom have visited over the last month and been absolute workhorses. We are so grateful.
Also—who knew that paint colours were a love language. Me, after I’d decided on white for the living room: “Honey, I read that you shouldn’t paint a room with dark wood trim white because it’s too high contrast…and also that low-light rooms need colour to ‘bounce the light off of.’ What do you think? Honey?” Honey?” Hot stuff, I know. James and I have clocked hours upon hours of conversations about the subtle difference between Cloud White, Chantilly Lace, and White Dove. I swear I could write a sonnet using only Benjamin Moore paint colours. Our “feature wall” in the living room has gone through countless iterations of gold, back to green, and now is a James Stewart artwork-in-progress…
I’m pretty sure gardening falls on the list of “things everyone says they’re going to do while self-isolating but probably won’t” along with baking bread, reading War and Peace, knitting, and learning Mandarin or the cello. I had planned on planting veggies before COVID hit—honestly!—but when I finally went to purchase seeds, the first two stores I visited were almost completely cleaned out. I managed to score arugula, kale, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and herbs and started them in a makeshift “greenhouse” I made out of a metal rack on our sunny carport roof. James built three beds in our front yard and I’ll direct sow carrots, beets, peas, and some others after the last frost. I’m sure I’ll kill a few things along the way, but trial and error are good for the soul.
Running and doyogawithme.com remain my go-to’s. So are walks to the beach with Felix where he can throw rocks and laugh at me doing jump squats. I keep telling myself I’m going to do one of those free online bodyweight workouts or swim band Zoom classes, but the ones I’ve tried so far just haven’t stuck, so I keep going back to what does.
On Friday, I decided to try my company’s new Virtual Race Series for myself. (I raised my eyebrows at first, too.) Basically, you have the weekend to complete an assigned “race” verified by GPS and heart rate data from your watch and gets uploaded into a web platform. The first instalment included a 5 km run, 90 km bike, and 21 km run. Each segment is to be completed consecutively, on your own, and in any order. In short, my experiment was a complete shit-show. (**If you want to read the boring details, scroll to the end of this already-too-long post.**)
Hoping to redeem the weekend with a mountain bike ride, James and I headed out to Sooke to try a new trail system. My pedal fell off an hour in, and of course, we didn’t have the right sized Allen key with us—truly, the perfect way to end a comedy of errors weekend!
Meal planning was fun for the two weeks it lasted, but I’ve been putting my elbow grease elsewhere. Plus, my mom has been here for almost a month, so…’nuff said. I have whipped up a few good meals over the last few weeks (no-recipe Instant Pot pork tacos, Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta, and these tasty Miso Bowls) but we’ve also taken advantage of Hello Fresh deals, which is easier and more responsible than grocery shopping these days. We also use Good Food. (Send me a FB message or text if you’d like to try either with a sweet discount code!) I’m not baking a thing, but my mom makes sure that we are never far from cookies and banana bread.
With all of our local haunts shut down, I’ve been ordering local/Canadian coffee online—one of the many things lately where I ask, “why didn’t I do this before?” Victoria-based Bows and Arrows hand-delivered beans right to my porch in a delightful paper bag and Phil and Sebastian, like many others, are offering free shipping on orders over $40. (Reasonable, considering how much coffee we’ve been drinking ‘round here.)
The new year brought with it a commitment to forging a healthier relationship with alcohol and I must say, I’ve been killing it. (It might’ve taken a nasty red wine hangover to push me over the edge, but sometimes you need a catalyst.) Over the past few weeks, I’ve logged multiple (consecutive!) nights of not drinking. In the process, I found this amazing hops flavoured kombucha which is pleasant in and of itself, not just as a “beer wannabe.”
Who needs candlelight and cocktails? After the initial indulgence factor of staying home waned, outings to Costco and Home Depot have become islands of entertainment in an ocean of Groundhog Days. During these day dates, we’ve also gotten into this goofy “habit” (it’s only happened twice so far) of hitting fast food drive-throughs simply for the indulgence of getting coffee/snack somewhere other than our kitchen. I might have dumped 3/4 of my McDonald’s “latte” out the window but it made us feel a little rebellious, and that was fun.
Whether it be more time with my guys, enjoying having my parents around more regularly, chatting with neighbours from our porch, or a FaceTime dinner with friends, connection is everything. I haven’t been doing this as often as I’d like, and probably should, because I’ve also enjoyed the quiet—the new connections I’m finding to myself, my home/family, and my work.
When things are almost, sort of, kind of normal again (will they ever be?) I’m going to need an extra-long day to fill with everything I’ve missed. Mine would start with coffee and baked goods somewhere cute, that hasn’t gone out of business. It would include lots of swimming and possibly double-cheek kissing strangers. It would include a group bike ride, live music or a movie or a festival, and some new friends. It would feel the same, but different—all of us changed for the better, the good habits indelibly inked on us and the suffering and sacrifice somehow honoured, not forgotten.
**Mini “virtual race” report:
I got the long run out of the way on Friday afternoon, after not having run anywhere close to that distance since Felix was born. It was an ugly one, but satisfying to decide to do something hard and follow through. The rest of the “race” was a complete disaster. On Saturday I attempted to ride 90 km in my newly set-up pain cave downstairs. My legs began to protest after an hour and after 2, I was barely halfway done. (I definitely should’ve attempted this one outside!) On Sunday morning I stupidly stopped my watch at 3.01 miles instead of 3.10, which registered my 5 km run as an unfinished 4.9 km run on the digital “race” platform. I was really frustrated with myself on one hand, but couldn’t deny the hilarity of it all.