What a week. I hope you are all hanging in there. I have progressed through the many phases of quarantine life. The first week went something like this, “wow, I am actually going to be able to sit down and write my dissertation, which means I will graduate!” The second week went like this, “gosh, my back is stiff from all of these zoom meetings, and three hour long lectures via zoom; I no longer stand up to move from A to B.” The third week, was a mad rush to submit to an academic conference, and I was bizarrely productive. And this week, the fourth week, well, it was hard, in some ways.
I wasn’t prolific with my academic work, but I did cook, bake, clean, and workout. Goodness, my daily workouts turned into three hour affairs. Regularly, I run and then I practice yoga. This is standard for me. Now, I run, and then complete what I have dubbed my ‘parking lot workout’ – yes, it takes place in an empty elementary school parking lot behind my condo building.
I have this intense urge to be outside and feel the sunshine on my face, and I think this is why I became motivated to extend my run into this parking lot charade. To be clear, no one is outside, anywhere near me. It feels glorious, to be both working hard physically, and to breathe fresh air, all while outside the confines of my 500 square foot condo. And of course, the sun-drenched dose of Vitamin D helps as well. The parking lot workout consists of squats, forward and side lunges, slides, high knees, kick butt, high skipping, heel lifts, duck walks, but also lots of jumping and dynamic stretching.
After I feel satisfactorily worked, the workout continues, but the locale changes. I walk home and lift weights. And finally, I cap the night off with a juicy yoga practice. It is basically my whole evening, or so it feels. But surprise, it’s only 7pm! This week, my workouts started to creep to earlier and earlier start times. Can you relate?
Alas, the evening continues, I begin cooking up some kind of creative dinner with the groceries I bought a week prior. Who knew that all of these life modifications that we made due to a quarantine would yield so much more free time for us? I did not. I love it, in some respects, hate it, in others. I hate the unknown, the fear, the wondering – did I already had COVID-19 this January when I had the flu? Do I have it now? Does my husband have it? He just coughed…
In sum, this week, I have been a workout machine and a prolific chef/baker. I was actually feeling somewhat upset about my shortcomings in the normal sense of productivity, but I decided to cut myself some slack. As I am sure you have all been reading in every outlet, these are not normal times; of course we don’t need to read that to know that to be the truth. What does this mean for us, then?
My interpretation: it is okay to not be productive, it is okay to be sad, to be frustrated, to be scared, or even to feel grateful for the precious time you now have for other things – family, hobbies, connection with loved ones, or simply cleaning. Honestly, it’s okay to sleep more, nap, rest, or relax. All of these thoughts and feelings are valid.
As I mentioned previously, I have progressed through all of the phases of quarantine life. Initially, I thought, quarantine living fit my needs, as a self-proclaimed academic-introverted-homebody, fairly well. Now, I can safely say, I miss moving all over town, I miss walking from my office to a meeting down the hall, I miss Jacque from the local grocery store, who I used to see almost every day. I miss seeing friends’ faces, in person. The biggest adjustment, however, is feeling at peace in the present.
Once I got over my own productivity debacle, I had to put in some serious work to calm my nerves when it came to thinking about my family and loved ones, but also, global concerns. There are so many unknowns, health and financial, and it’s a little bit much to wrap your head around at one time. So give yourself the time, cut yourself some slack, ease up on your own expectations. After all, you are trying to figure out humanities issues alongside your own, that is a lot for one person to handle!
My mind oscillates from feeling this sense of impending doom to ‘wow, it’s really great to have my husband in the adjacent room – I am grateful.’ What in the heck? It is a confusing time. And it is okay, to feel joy and fear, to feel productivity in your work, or to up your sloth game for a bit and sleep more. Strange times, take some adjusting, and maybe some strange measures.
I am not prescribing sloth-ing around, I am simply saying, be more gentle with yourself. I am saying, amen, to equal part sloth-ing and producing. It is a wonderful time to learn more about yourself – your tendencies. Observe how you are dealing with the events of today. In fact, my own personal greatest insights into my handling of the COVID-19 quarantine, have revealed themselves in my journal. I shared some of the thoughts in last week’s yoga class, the theme was gratitude. This is a big cliché, in the yoga world, but hear me out.
I was looking at my to-do list with a lot of heaviness, thinking I have all of these things to do. I took a lunch break to eat and read the New York Times. I read about the outbreak in NYC and the toll this virus truly takes on you, mentally and physically. I thought, rather morbidly, I better appreciate what I have right now, while I have it. Others cannot, simply enjoy an evening run, it’s not a chore, but a gift. Others cannot, roll out of bed, get ready to lecture and pop on the computer to give a lecture to 30 eager undergraduates via Zoom, they’ve lost their jobs. My job is a gift.
I started to look differently at the opportunities I had in front me, because they were just that, opportunities. From this new perspective, they looked a whole lot more like gifts, now. And I was grateful, I am grateful.
I am grateful to the quarantine period, thus far, because in addition to doing my part and feeling as though I am a contributor to the greater good (albeit in the smallest way), it has shifted another perspective for me. It has given me a no BS attitude when it comes to many things. Any excuse that you are about to give as to why you can’t complete this work, go for that run, enjoy that yoga practice, bake that bread, walk your beloved dog, or even veg out with your husband and watch that show, LM – yeah, well I don’t want to hear it.
It’s as though, we can’t fool ourselves, and we are able to get to the heart of the matter. The juxtaposition of quarantine living lessons has me confused too, on the one hand it has taught me acceptance (of productivity, laziness, sadness, happiness, worry, fear, joy, love, and hope), but on the other, it has taught me to get-er-done, no excuses.
I haven’t fully made sense of it yet, which is why my thesis to you is, to just let it be, and learn from yourself. Be honest with your why. You don’t need to provide an excuse. It’s just you - and your - work, workout, hobbies, cooking, home, life. Everyone is struggling through this funky time, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could emerge much more self-aware?
Finally, my initial hope with writing you, was oddly enough to simply drop you a note to let you know, I have a new and improved yoga shala (see the photo). My intention was simply to invite you to join me tomorrow morning, Sunday 8-9:15am (HST), for a live vinyasa yoga class via Zoom (but of course). You will be able to see me flow in full camera view, my head will make the frame now, thanks to my husband and his technical skills.
During this quarantine period, I will be donating 50% of the proceeds of each class to COVID-19 community needs. Furthermore, as we continue the fight against COVID-19, I want to support those serving on the front lines. Class is free for all first responders on the front lines, nurses, doctors, paramedics, fire fighters, and police officers. I want to thank you all, for everything you are doing, all we have to do is stay home.
I have always taught donation yoga, and it fits now more than ever. For everyone else, I know times are tough. If you cannot make a donation, please take class anyways. For anyone making a class donation my Venmo username: @LauraMary-Flynn
Please email me if you would like to join class!
Sending you all love,