Gratitude is not some foo-foo practice. It has practical application and can instantly make things just a little bit better. When I was in the murkiness of my chronic illness, I began giving thanks for the few hours I did manage to sleep each night, rather than all those I spent awake.Polly Campbell
It should be light outside already and the birds should be up singing. Instead, it is full grey and there’s a slight chill in the air. The furnace hasn’t kicked on yet, so I snuggle deeper into the covers and listen to the rain tap, tap, tap at my window and on the tin roof. I love the sound – it’s like music, soft and blurry and echoing from my childhood, when things seemed much simpler. Soon, the gentle tapping becomes a heavy downpour that beats incessantly on the windowpanes. Reminding me that this beauty, this needed hydration doesn’t come without a cost now.
I try to fall asleep again, not wanting to waste the last precious hour before my day begins. But the low pressure and dampness has triggered bone deep pain and agony in every part of my body. It’s why I’ve been silent the last two days (thanks to Tamara over at The Three Gerbers for checking on me). Instead of writing about rest and renewal, I’ve been actually resting – catching cat naps and stretching screaming muscles in between working, conducting virtual meetings with co-workers, taking a couple of classes online, and performing the everyday little chores that are always present.
A feeling of guilt dogs my pain and a nagging voice drags my already exhausted soul deeper into the abyss: I’m staying at home, for crying out loud, why am I this tired? I shouldn’t be tired. I should be grateful and work just as hard and push myself f as much as when I’m traveling to the office.
I close my eyes and speak firmly to that critical voice: No. This is not the time to continue that old process of burn out and pushing oneself past the pain and to the point of a complete breakdown of the body. Now is the time of rest, and renewal, of forming new habits that support and heal the body and the mind and heart. An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often (thank God) so gentle embrace the gift and stop beating yourself up. The world does enough of that.
One of the practices that my therapist taught me is to make positive statements about myself and then find evidence to back them up. This way, the brain is pulled out of a fantasy of negative comments, repeating themselves like a deranged Lucy Barker. It’s a type of gratitude list that is grounded in reality and fact. So I make a list of things I love about this quarantine and try to find concrete ways to ensure they’re not lost again once the pandemic ends.
- A Stress-Free Commute – two minutes vs three hours? Yes, please. On non-rainy days, I’ve been waking up and starting work earlier than I would normally. Part of this is that I no longer have to think about what I’m going to wear and I earn back the twenty to thirty minutes I would spend on hair and make-up. I’ve heard of this strange, efficient habit of laying out one’s clothes the night before, but have never practiced it. I think this will save some time in the morning once we are allowed to go back to the office; I’ll also go to bed earlier the night before so I can wake up and not hit the snooze button, which will mean more time to get ready and not feel rushed feeding the cats or taking out the trash before leaving for work.
- Time To Write – One of the best things about having such a short commute, is the time I have to write in the morning and at night now. It’s made participating in this challenge easier, for sure. But it’s a habit that should be cultivated at al times. Writing a little something every day – whether it’s in a notebook, on my phone, or on the computer – -should be something I put on my calendar and make a hard appointment for.
- Virtual Meetings – Prior to the quarantine, I rarely visited friends far away for a variety of reasons, the biggest being my own poor health. I would Skype my relatives in Europe and Canada and Ireland, but never thought of video chatting with friends who are an hour away. Now I’ve done this several times and while nothing can really replace being in the same room with loved ones, it’s a great way to stay in touch via more than just email or even letters and so much better than just talking on the phone, which I loathe with every fiber of my being.
- Online classes – One of the best silver linings of this time at home is the ability and opportunity to access classes online, either for a nominal fee or absolutely free. When else will have the chance to learn Korean from a professor in Seoul or take a history course from Harvard for free and from the comfort of my home office? I still want to do this once the country opens up again. It will be just be a matter of finding the time. Which leads me to the next thing I love.
- Working from Home – Two months ago, working from home was seen as a privilege and was generally viewed with suspicion. Are workers really getting work done at home without supervisors and managers there to watch them? At least in my office, none of the managers checking every little task, and if there are any slackers, let’s be honest – they’re slacking in the office already anyway. Don’t punish the many for the sins of the one (or the handful). Plus, if I could work from home more than once a week, it would help with number – a stress-free commute.
- Compassion and Charity – I know we’ve all seen the vitriolic and often racists posts about how we should sacrifice a few old people or the immune-compromised for the sake of a stable economy. Those morons aside, I have been touched and moved to tears at the compassion and friendliness and can do attitude of the majority of folks. We’re all dealing with these crazy and often terrible circumstances the best we know how. It’s nice to know that sometimes, humans are actually wonderful and that social media trolls are not the sum total of humanity. These types of changes don’t last (remember how united the country was after 9/11/01?) but life would be more pleasant if we all remembered how these weeks (months?) stripped us of the unnecessary things and showed us what’s most important – each other.
And that, as author Glennon Doyle says often, we can do hard things.
During the month of April, I’ll be participating in the Blogging A-Z Challenge.
A member of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela D’Eigh is a writer, poet, gardener, mental wellness advocate, and a lover of Scotch, K-Pop, and KDramas. She writes about anything and everything, using all the crayons in the box. Currently, she lives out in the country with two Egyptian gods disguised as cats, a herd of cows, and the occasional flock of wild turkeys. Check her out at La Belle Dame Merci, Medium, Facebook, or Instagram for more essays, poetry, and shenanigans.
Image © http://www.mikaeladeigh.com