How The Pandemic Set Me On The Path To Better Living
I spent the better part of the day confined to a kitchen that wasn’t designed to comfortably accommodate more than one person at a time. Years of entertaining experience taught me that limited space demanded organization. Any food prep or set up I could do ahead of time got done. I was expecting fourteen guests for dinner so I had to be on top of my game. I managed to seat everyone together at a singular table I cobbled together using whatever I had at my disposal. It was an absolute feat of logistical genius. The evening went off without a hitch and by the time I’d cleaned up and put away every last dish, it was close to midnight.
Whether it was Game of Thrones viewing parties every Sunday, game nights, or casual, impromptu dinners, quite often my apartment was a safe space where friends gathered for socialization and sustenance.
Then the pandemic shut it all down.
It was weird, at first, not having any dinners or gatherings to organize or attend, but once the shock wore off, I realized something. I didn’t miss playing hostess. I didn’t miss cooking for a crowd or putting on a to do for whatever occasion. I didn’t miss any of it. At all. I mean, sure, I missed seeing my friends on a regular basis, but also, kinda not really.
I soon recognized our weeks long stay-at-home order and mandatory shut down presented me with a unique opportunity to invest in the betterment of myself. My social calendar was clear for the foreseeable future and I had nothing but time to purposefully tend to my own physical and emotional health and well-being.
I began my self-care sojourn by adopting a mostly Mediterranean diet and cutting way back on my wine consumption. I lost 25 pounds.
I got back into the reading habit. Somewhere along the line, I’d begun feeling guilty for spending an afternoon getting lost in a good book, as if reading was somehow not being productive, which is just insane when you think about it because reading is so good for your brain and your soul.
I rediscovered simple pleasures like riding my long neglected beach cruiser or biting into a perfectly ripe peach.
I quit dyeing my hair. I quit caring so much about the dust bunnies congregating in the corners.
Dog hair? Don’t care. Speaking of dogs, my young adult daughter and I adopted another one because, I mean, why not?
I also contemplated big questions like, how can I make the world a better place, or what should I make for dinner?
Whenever pandemic grief or financial uncertainty or fear overwhelmed me, consciously connecting with God or nature carried me through, while actively practicing gratitude sustained me and kept me grounded.
Any desire to socialize was, and still is, largely fulfilled by hanging out with my awesome neighbors who live within and around my little side-by-side triplex community.
I’ve also taken to leaving my front door open whenever I’m sitting at my desk as this vantage point allows for a partial view of the grassy courtyard and the sprawling canopy of my favorite pepper tree.
During the evenings, and on weekends especially, neighbors stroll past, sometimes with dogs or children in tow. Smiles and friendly acknowledgments are often exchanged through my open door. It’s lovely.
Here’s the thing — and I’ve thought about this a lot — once we’re all vaccinated and it’s safe to venture out into the world and get back to business as usual, I’m not so sure I want to as I’ve grown quite fond of this laid back way of living.
I like not having plans or social obligations to fulfill and I feel like — I’m not sure how else to put it — but I feel like I’ve done my time. I’m not the same human I was a year ago. I’m on a different path now and I want to continue growing and evolving and learning and being and living in the moment. I want to appreciate each new day. I want to marvel at the sky and feel at peace within my heart.
Of course I’ll invite friends and loved ones into my home again when it’s safe to do so, but maybe it won’t be as often and maybe my bathroom won’t be so clean.
One thing is for sure though. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but I’m more than happy to accept an invitation.