I needed a dose of happiness today so I went to the source: Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” and goal-tender of all things deep and happy. Her “Happier” podcast is one of my favorites and the one focusing on “What have you learned about yourself or others recently?” grabbed my attention. During it, she discussed both the practical and profound things we are learning as we meander our way through social-distancing, working at home, and self-isolating.
Two things I’ve learned that jumped right out at me are that I touch my face a lot and that social distancing isn’t that hard or distressing for me. I miss my coworkers and my job but other than that, there’s really not a whole lot I miss about going out. If I miss any “going out,” it’s traveling, meeting friends for coffee or dinner, my yoga class, and the occasional get dressed up and go out nights. The simple things with people I’m most comfortable and happy with. I also miss going casually to the grocery store and not having to worry about anything or wearing a mask and stress-free wandering through Target, a bookstore, gift stores, and boutiques. Just wandering. Not running in to buy essentials or stopping by just to support a small business, but casually browsing. On my time. At my pace.
I like the feeling of being “alone in a crowd” and haven’t really felt cut off from a lot of things. I like the slow life, can easily get lost in a peaceful and safe social place, and as I’ve written a million times before, I’m never bored in my house. Still, it all feels a little different when we are told to do something rather than when we choose to do something, right? I’ve learned this bothers me.
I’ve never been one to suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but I do have a real case of FOGO, Fear of Going Out. I’m so torn. I know we need to go out and get this economy rolling again but I also know that waitress could be asymptomatic and who knows who’s touched that shirt or candle. But, I’ve learned that that may be part of the plan: making people fearful, which leads to control.
I’ve also learned the following:
I have a sweet tooth! I’ve always been a more salty/savory girl, but boy have I developed or discovered the sweeter things in life. And my waist is showing it!
I’m a neat freak and like everything in its place and tidied up, but I’m not an “everything scrubbed clean” house mom. Even in this day and age, which somewhat surprises me.
We are the church. Church buildings have been shut but I think we can all agree that the people have proven we are the churches, not the buildings.
“Gray’s Anatomy” is amazing TV! I’ve never watched it but our daughter recently started doing so with her roomies and since she’s been here we’ve been “going to the hospital” every night and I am sold on the staff and stories of Seattle Grace Hospital. Can McDreamy be any more dreamy?!
Reading is not automatic for me just because I’m home. Yes, I’m always in the middle of a book but for some reason I haven’t read a whole lot and it shocks me. Maybe it’s all the distractions; maybe it’s just me.
I’m starting to like golf more than I thought I did. Granted, I’ve had plenty of time to do so but I think what’s really made the difference is who I’ve played with, feeling more comfortable, and letting go of expectations.
New words and phrases that will stick with us forever. I can honestly say that as recent as February I had never uttered the words “social distancing,” “flatten the curve,” “essential workers,” and “spiritual communion” and I’m guessing you hadn’t either. I’d also never heard of “drive by parties.”
New technology including Zoom and Band, which I had to quickly master and use for some virtual classroom teaching and lesson planning. Granted, I’m no software engineer as a result, but it has been fun learning new things.
I don’t love Zoom and Houseparty “happy hours” and I’m not sure why. For some reason they’re a little stressful for me. Maybe I need to add more “happy” to my happy hours!
I don’t always like what everyone else does, and that’s okay. I hated “Ozark” and I don’t really enjoy grocery delivery. The last one surprises me because I generally hate going to the grocery store. Again, maybe it’s the ole “you have to” not “you choose to” reason. Maybe it’s cuz I can tend to be a slight control freak.
Saying “I don’t know” is actually very freeing and stress-relieving thanks to writer mentor and friend Carolyn Scarborough who recently wrote about the concept of being okay with not knowing what tomorrow holds or having all the answers. Try it. It works.
TikTok is addictive and some of the songs are very catchy. No, I haven’t made any videos but I love the steps challenge, the Drake dance, and the shuffle.
How to make a face mask out of a sock!
We as a country really need to focus on manufacturing more of the products we use right here in the U.S.A. and that we as consumers need to demand this from those we buy from. It’s one thing to have Tilapia produced in China but another thing to outsource our antibiotics and medicines there. If we’ve learned anything as a society through all of this, let it be this.
Through a collective eye, we’ve all learned that nurses, doctors, truck drivers, delivery companies, pharmacists, farmers, grocery store workers, mail carriers, first responders, utility workers, and the internet are waaaaay more essential than movie stars, singers, or athletes. (But please let football start in the fall!)
Things I’ve learned about others:
There are some very creative and clever people out there (with the obvious time on their hands!) and I want to thank them for all the memes floating on social media.
Working from home now for two months, our daughter has proved she is extremely disciplined! Even though she could sleep in and laze around all day, she is instead up at 6:30 every morning exercising and then is on the phone and laptop during the day working. I’ve also learned that she is a much bigger extrovert than I ever knew.
In our extended time together I’ve also learned a lot about her personally; her joys and her struggles, her goals and her worries. It’s been rewarding to hear some of them and hard to hear others. I’m grateful however, to know that she opens up to me about both. I’ve learned to just listen.
She has also taught me that I rarely eat three meals a day as three healthy and hearty meals…often bowls… are part of her daily dose of nutrition and meal planning. Oh yes, “meal planning” and “food prep.” Two more new things I’ve learned all about!
A new pizza sauce recipe from her that is amazing: blend together butternut squash, almond milk, and parmesan cheese and top your cauliflower pizza crust with it and then any toppings you choose. Trust me: amazing!
My husband can indeed play golf every day and not get tired of it. I’ve also learned to be as grateful for a golf course as I’ve ever been. He literally only needs a golf course and a TV to be happy.
My husband has a secret crush on Laura Ingraham and Deborah Birx and is especially fond of the latter’s daily scarf selections. Truth be told he also loves Mike Lindell, his My Pillow commercials, and their jingle.
Something sad that I’ve learned is that there is still so much hate and bitterness out there and that so many remain hate-filled, partisan, and intolerant, even as they preach tolerance. You would think a national crises would lead to the putting aside of their angry hearts and unite us, but I’ve learned that is not the case. Too bad. For them. News flash haters: pandemics aren’t political.
So what have you learned during all of this? What, as Rubin asked, do you want to be accountable for? Have you found a new appreciation for someone or something? Have you discovered that maybe someone or something you thought were “essential” in your life maybe aren’t? Have you learned something new or taken up a new hobby? Have you let go or given up?
Some of us have had time to think about all of this, others have been swamped with stay-at-home work and homeschooling, have been home alone all these weeks and are lonely, and many others have been laid off and struggling to make ends meet. Through it all, have you discovered your authentic self or are you still learning and searching for meaning and direction? For me, it’s a little of both.
Whatever we’ve all learned, one thing is for sure: future generations will be learning about this COVID crisis in history classes for years to come. We can proudly say we’ve lived through history and hopefully learned from it.