I’ve lost count of the number of days I’ve been staying in. I guess it’s around four weeks or so. Except for my daily walks, which I take really early in the morning and later in the evening when fewer people are out, I’ve been staying in (groceries are included in my walking times). I’d love to say that my apartment has never been cleaner, that I’ve been mastering home cooking, and that I’ve started dozens of new hobbies that better myself and the world in multiple ways. That simply isn’t true. What I have done is completely and utterly slowed down. And it feels good.
Things I’ve noticed during this very strange time:
I take my family for granted. It has always been so easy for me to talk to my family, and since moving back to Canada I can see my parents and sister whenever I want. When I lived in Scotland I talked to them every weekend and it was never enough, but we made do. My aunts and uncle all live across the country and I always kind of assumed they’d be there to talk when we all felt like it. But now we talk almost daily, and my aunts and I have started a letter-writing club. During this pandemic an uncle of mine, who has been fighting Parkinson’s for nearly two decades, had to be hospitalized and will never be able to return home again because he is unable to care for himself. I have been given the time to speak to all my relatives, and I no longer take them for granted. This has been a huge and slightly unexpected realization for me.
Drinking makes me feel lonelier. I am on my twelfth day without drinking, a personal record for me since…I don’t even know when. It’s not been hard for several reasons: there have been no invitations to go to the breweries, I am saving a ton of money, there is none in the house, etc. And I have definitely noticed differences in my attitudes and perceptions of life when I am sober for longer periods of time. When I drank by myself (a couple of glasses to a bottle of wine sometimes, just to pass the time because I was bored) I always felt the need to reach out to people, usually with regret the following day because I sounded so foolish in my messages. I thought I needed that contact due to boredom or loneliness. This is absolutely not the case. I don’t feel lonely when I am home alone (the husband is still working) and sober, instead I feel quite peaceful. What else has drinking been taking away from me?
I don’t like cleaning or cooking. I’ll tolerate them and see them as necessary, but that’s the best case scenario. I have no interest in either of them. But, when all is said and done, they do give me something to do instead of staring at the computer screen all day.
I like being a teacher more than I thought. I’d gotten into a bit of a rut, where I taught the same thing over and over every year. There were differences, and I improved upon my lessons, but it wasn’t that challenging. I thought I enjoyed that because it made my life a little bit easier, but now that school’s are shut and I have to find a way to teach twenty 5-year-olds online, I have a new appreciation for teaching in the classroom. And I’ve realized that now that I can’t do it I miss it terribly. That’s a good thing!
The birds are singing. I’m very fortunate to live in a suburb of Vancouver that has a huge focus on nature. We are surrounded by dense forests and sparkling lakes. It’s wonderful, and I have always loved it. And now that there’s less traffic, or less clutter in my own head, I can hear the birds singing more than ever. I don’t know if they’ve always been that loud, or if they were drowned out by human noises, or if more are around right now, but man, have they all got a set of lungs on them! It’s a wonderful thing to sit on my balcony and listen to them while I’m reading.
I’m still a voracious reader. Over the years I’d noticed that tv and movies were slowly encroaching on my reading habits. I’d wanted to stop this, but lost motivation to do so many times. Before the library shut down I’d taken out nearly three dozen books in a wide variety of topics. I am down to four left. I devoured those books and loved every second of it. I incorporate some fitness into it, reading while walking along a little path I’ve made myself in my apartment. It’s great.
I miss the gym more than anything else. Not including socializing with friends and family. I miss it way more than restaurants and breweries. I didn’t realize how much I was entwining my identity with being a gym-bunny, but it happened under the radar. And for good reason: for the first time in my life I was building a body to be proud of. That has stalled for now, but I’m still doing little workouts at home, and I can’t wait to get back in there and start building some muscle again.
While all the bad stuff is happening, I like being able to slow down and recognize the good. Slowing down has been a gift for me to realize where my priorities should lie, and how I want to be as a person when we reach some level of normalcy. I truly wish none of this had happened, but since it has I should try to glean some positives to keep myself sane.