Early this spring, we quickly found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic. As the Corona virus began to spread and affect us here in North America, the world began to shut down and ramp up, simultaneously.
It seems that most of us have found ourselves in one of two extreme categories: those who were told to go home and stay there to be safe (either paid or unpaid), or the many others who rose to the front-lines and still soldier on there today, helping to find a cure, save and/or protect lives, or simply provide us with food and other necessities we find essential.
I feel like I should call this, “10 Things I’m Learning…”, because although things are slowly getting better, we have a long way to go to get back to anything resembling normal. So we keep on learning.
While this list isn’t necessarily all pandemic related, it certainly reflects that. I’ve included some lighter notes as well, but the truth is none of us has ever found ourselves in such a place as this before.
So whether I’m able to express something that you have also found to be true, or I can provide you with a pleasant little distraction in hard times, please enjoy reading what I’ve learned this spring.
Thanks to Emily P. Freeman for teaching me how to reflect and for inviting us to join in her link-up to share our findings.
1. Functioning in a crisis is exhausting.
Early on in this pandemic, I began to formulate plans for all of the wonderful things that I could accomplish while being asked to stay at home. But I quickly realized that everything about a pandemic is exhausting: simple everyday tasks that now include more thought or work to keep things clean and healthy, going out in public and seeing folks wearing face-masks as a new addition to their regular wardrobe, hearing about another person who had to die without being close to the ones they love, or just getting used to a different schedule, rhythm, and routine that looks almost nothing like it did before.
Yeah, I accomplished a few good things. But truthfully, being productive was not my strong suit. There were days I had to stop and have a good cry and just give myself lots of grace.
2. I am much happier being less busy and spending more time at home.
I’ve always known this, and although I have had jobs I enjoy and I like getting out of the house, I much prefer to have more time at home. Even though I’ve sorely missed going to church and physically getting together with people, I have adjusted quite well to being home full time. I definitely enjoy a slower pace, less commitments, and can function better with less on my plate.
3. Bananas can be OK to eat even when really dark.
I like to keep bananas on hand for a quick healthy snack and also for baking. But as you know, it seems like the window of opportunity for enjoying a banana at just the right ripeness is small, and then if my schedule doesn’t allow for baking, they can quickly get “too” ripe.
I know all about freezing bananas to keep them for baking, but sometimes my good intentions cause me to leave a couple out to the point where I question if they are still good.
One day I decided to check it out for myself, and I found this great tip:
Bananas that have a musty smell, fruit flies, mold on the stems or signs of rot and decay are no longer safe to eat. An overripe banana that looks and smells fine, on the other hand, doesn’t pose any health risks.
Furthermore, I have baked with such overripe bananas, and the results come out just fine.
4. The pandemic seems to be confirming that I am highly sensitive.
If I wasn’t quite convinced that I am a highly sensitive person before the pandemic, this crisis seems to be confirming that theory.
A highly sensitive person “is someone who experiences acute physical, mental, or emotional responses to stimuli.“ (and if this makes no sense to you, that’s a good indication that you are not one). I’ve been learning more about this unique trait recently, but felt to do a little more specific research about how it affects us in our current reality.
This article pretty much sums up many of the ways the coronavirus pandemic has strongly affected me, and helped me to realize once again that we are all created uniquely and react differently.
And that’s a good thing.
5. Sometimes the burn signal on my Instant Pot can be safely ignored.
I love my Instant Pot, but my one nemesis is the dreaded “burn signal”.
While I am not a pressure cooker newbie, I haven’t been able to consistently avoid a burn signal, especially with certain types of dishes. But when I read this article that explains how the Instant Pot works and what it actually does when overheated, I now feel some relief. I now know that it is sometimes safe and effective to actually ignore the signal and let the pot try to complete its cooking program, and that the Instant Pot will actually try this five times before permanently shutting off.
Obviously we must use our own discretion while using a pressure cooker, but I’m thankful for all of the safety mechanisms built into this handy device.
6. Doing something “normal” is precious in times of crisis.
During times of difficulty, emotional upheaval, or high stress, our everyday, familiar tasks become precious.
Brewing a cup of coffee in the morning, spending some quiet time in prayer or reflection, working on a craft or project we enjoy, working in a garden or even sorting clothes and doing laundry are somehow comforting in a world of change, danger, and unknown.
7. Instacart is not cheap, but worth it right now.
During the current health crisis, I decided to avoid some of the risk (and unnecessary emotional stress) of grocery shopping and try Instacart. I quickly found it to be more expensive than I thought, but decided to pay for the Express membership for two or three months to help protect my husband with a heart condition and provide jobs for those who are willing to shop.
After a month, I cancelled my membership and thought I was ready to go back to shopping, but was also called back in to work at my library job. It is going alright, but is strange and difficult having to wear a mask and be so careful about everything we do or touch. In some ways it’s like learning a brand new job, and I found myself exhausted after each four hour shift.
So with the blessing of my husband, I decided to give Instacart another go. We agreed that my day off is much better spent at home at a time where my usual carefree shopping time is anything but.
I am also thankful to have a willing son who works at a grocery store, who volunteers to help out by picking up a few items each week as needed.
8. I may have a (Keds) sneaker fetish.
A couple of years ago I tried my first pair of Keds sneakers. I found them to be both comfortable and cute.
I discovered the joy of wearing them to some of my shifts at work, and learned that others even style them with dressier outfits. I also found that they make so many fun, pretty, and unique styles, so I guess I’m building up a small collection.
The dressy heel or fancy sandal that would bring joy to my young heart has been replaced by a more comfortable, “safe” shoe that’s still really pretty for this middle aged lady.
9. Everything is different in a pandemic.
We have come to be more used to this strange and scary world we’re living in in times of pandemic, yet it still overshadows almost everything we do. It’s hard to get away from it when there is literally nowhere to go.
At the beginning, I had fleeting fantasies of flying across the world to some remote place to flee from this scary situation, only to realize that it is indeed everywhere and there is almost literally no place to hide.
Not a day goes by that we aren’t hearing or talking about the Covid-19 pandemic, and even if I avoid too much news, I still feel it’s affects every single day.
We need to allow ourselves enjoyable activities and times of quiet that at least let our brains and emotions relax and get away from it all for a time.
10. Some things don’t change (even in a pandemic).
At the same time, some things will never change.
The sun still rises in the morning and sets every evening.
The seasons are coming and going and there is life in nature despite much sickness and death all around us.
I have a loving husband and family, a church who is like a second family (and successfully meeting online), creative outlets that refresh me, and fun and laughter that help me forget we’re in a crisis.
But most of all, I have a God who loves me, who is faithful to me in all of life’s seasons, and who is not surprised or intimidated by all of the things going on around us.
And for that I am truly thankful.