Gratitude in Quarantine

This pandemic has given me what I have been pleading for these last 20 years – time. Time to reflect on the basics we have grown accustomed to. The things we take for granted because they have been at our fingertips for so long that we barely realize their existence.  My focus for as long as I can remember has been on what I WANT.  You know the story, if I just had that new outfit, that boat, that vacation home, then I would feel complete.

What I NEED used to come easily.  Food for example, I could get inspired by a Food Network show and hop in my reliable vehicle, run up to the grocery store for those ingredients and whip me up a new meal.  I now find myself having to plan my meals weeks in advance because that is how long it takes for groceries to arrive. I have been getting creative with meals because ultimately “I get what I get” when it comes to my requests – a lot of the core ingredients in my standard meals are no longer an option for me due to limited supplies at grocery stores.  This, however, has opened the door to getting creative.  I have tasked my kids to find recipes with only ingredients in the house and we have ended up with some pretty good creations.  That creativity wouldn’t have been tested had we not been in this situation.

Social distancing has been a challenge especially from my sibling and parents over the holidays, but I have used technology to bridge that gap and have learned quite a few fun social apps to play games and see each other’s smiling faces despite the inability to be  physically together.  Speaking of distance, that is also something that I have been gifted.  Distance from the constant “go-go-go” mentality.  Distance from what is unimportant in the grand scheme of things in life.  As a working mom you tend to follow the crowd, working 9-5pm and spending the rest of the evening on the run. Taking the kids from one activity to the next, grabbing what you need on the go, a lot of times this includes meals which means we are not engaging in much meaningful conversation that you tend to get with sitting down at the family dinner table.

I don’t miss those things.  I have honestly become so grateful for things that I have taken for granted for so very long.  I realized I was guilty of taking things for granted years ago and was inspired by a coworker to step outside of my comfort zone and explore mission trips. I spent a week in Haiti and 5 days in Juarez experiencing life with the bare minimum.  What I expected to get from these experiences is exposure to new cultures and people but what was most impactful to me was the realization of how very little we truly need materially to be happy.  For me to see all that I have been blessed with, I had to leave my home, my family, my comforts.  For some that is extreme, for me, I now feel it’s a must.

Right now, I am sitting in my home office, looking out the window at a beautiful cherry tree in full bloom in my front yard.  I am seeing more kids and parents outside doing things as a family – biking, walking, roller blading, yardwork.  My heart is grateful daily.  I have been feeling this emotion with much more passion and on more of a regular basis than ever before and I didn’t have to leave the country let alone my own home to experience this.  I appreciate so much, but most importantly relationships.  Not just with my immediate friends and family but I have a newfound perspective on my peers and clients.  We have expanded our relationships beyond work, become more empathetic to each other and have banded together to support each other in ways we previously wouldn’t have made time for.  I have seen clients use this crisis as an opportunity to help others using the resources they have; I have truly been inspired by the inherent desire to help others in need.  I have also formed loyalties to brands that have strategically changed their focus to support the underdogs.

I have been “gifted” this time to reflect on all the good that has been in front of me this whole time, but I have been too busy to absorb/appreciate it.  My house is the cleanest and most organized it’s been in years.  We are experiencing new foods, we are growing our own food from scraps (hydroponic gardening – it’s amazing), we are playing board games and gaining new skills right here at home.

Of course, through all of this, technology has been a constant.  No matter where I am, I still have access to the ole www.  So many ecommerce sites are thriving now that brick and mortar stores have become restricted which also makes me grateful for the fact I work in the market I do and am able to support my customers in their drive to maintain their business and help others in the process.

All in all, this pandemic for me has given me way more than it’s taken away. More empathy, more appreciation of life’s simple things, more gratefulness, more family time.  I have figuratively and literally stopped to smell the roses and they are GORGEOUS.

I am reminded that people in life matter more than the activity and I am reminded that pausing may be the most important activity I do.  I am honestly not sure if anything short of a pandemic had the power to slow down our society’s pace and we have been running at breakneck speeds for way too long.  I am grateful, I am blessed and although I am looking forward to a social gathering soon, I hope to keep the clarity I have gained and the realization of what is good in this world as there is so much of it to continue to embrace.

For some reason a poem from one of my older favorite movies comes to mind and I wanted to end with that – take from it what you will but to me, it’s about perspective.  I am choosing to focus on the good.

“These things are good: ice cream and cake, a ride on a Harley, seeing monkeys in the trees, the rain on my tongue, and the sun shining on my face. These things are a drag: dust in my hair, holes in my shoes, no money in my pocket, and the sun shining on my face.”