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The past few weeks have certainly been a way to unwind, slow-down, and clean out, while surely being one of the most stressful situations of our lives.

“If I only had more time,” “If I could only catch up on my sleep,” “I can’t wait to retire!” Most of us have said those exact words at least once, maybe a thousand times, during our tedious work schedules and busy lives over the years.

Then this crazy crisis causes us to have more time at home than we ever imagined possible, giving new meaning to the term “staycation.” But it would have been a lot more fun had the phrase “social distancing” not been introduced into the picture. After all, having friends over for a cookout, a fun game of rummy, Pictionary, charades, my favorite, Scrabble, or even “pin the tail on the donkey” would have been nice. Okay, I don’t know where that last game came from, as I have not played it since I was eight years old. But I think it’s because my sense of humor has changed during this pandemic. Why of course, everything has changed in every single solitary way.

This “corona-cation” is like living in a sci-fi movie. I wake up each morning and think I have dreamed it, and then I realize, no, I have not dreamed it at all. Instead, it’s a real-life nightmare. I’m sure y’all feel the same way. But I am very thankful to live in a beautiful home on a little lake where I can enjoy nature, watch the birds build nests, see the turtles rise from the winter muck, resurfacing covered in green moss, and witness ducks and geese mating in all their glory, over and over again! Such stamina they have! One morning I sat on my back deck for an hour and wrote down all the crazy things I spied with my eye as the silly riddle says.

There was a gecko sunning himself acting like a vicious dragon flipping out his red dagger every time I looked his way. I examined a snail making a trail across my patio. Then there was a woodpecker that snatched seed from the birdfeeder and took it over to a tree to crack it open. And I have to admit I made friends with an oriole family that nested in my azaleas. I enjoyed throwing fruit slices out and observing them nibble on the pieces until they were gone. Yes, I was just slowly passing the time away. I had nothing else to do, so I communed with nature.

I’m grateful that I was not alone during this time, and that I had my husband Chuck to share it with: Someone to talk to, watch Netflix with and help to eat all the sweet treats that I have been baking through my stress cooking episodes. And thrilled I did not have to help any kids with their on-line studies. Bless you parents!

During this time at home I made it a point to contact three loved ones everyday who live out of town, and I rarely see. Some I FaceTimed and with others we just chatted on the phone. But the most fun I had was “Zooming” with groups of friends and family. You know, it’s that new opportunity to pull several folks up on your computer and see them while everyone talks to each other. It’s really cool. Perhaps you have seen several orchestras around the country doing this with their musicians. It really is amazing. I also volunteered to contact several people from church who live alone to see if they needed any assistance as we had volunteers standing by to help.

Each day I chose one project to do starting with cleaning out the pantry. I wiped down the front and top of all the kitchen and laundry room cabinets. The tops were so dirty that they looked they were growing hair! My shell collection had gotten very dusty so I met that challenge with a sink of soapy suds. Then I washed the dog and cat’s blankets and put them out in the sun to dry. Chuck and I worked tediously in the yard, and it has never looked better. We even cleaned under the sofa cushions and scrubbed those air-vents in the ceiling!

It certainly has been a good time to weed out unwanted collectibles from my closet, and I’m not talking about clothes. I found exercise weights that I have never used, a yoga mat that I have never used either, and another contraption that you tie to a doorknob and pull to build strength. I never used it, as I was always afraid it was going to fly off the doorknob and knock my teeth out. You can’t be on TV without teeth! In the end, I decided to save the yoga mat because next week I plan to find some free yoga classes on line. My dreams of a svelte and limber body are still on my bucket list. Namaste.

One afternoon, after two weeks of not doing anything to myself other than taking a daily shower, I shaved my legs and tweezed my brows, and I actually polished my toenails too. And instead of knotting my hair on top of my head like Pebbles Flintstone, I blew it dry and put on make-up and earrings. The final act, which I hated most, was putting on a bra and real clothes rather than baggy tee shirts and leggings. I was anxious to see if Chuck noticed. He looked up from the chair where he was engrossed in a six hundred page Michener book and said, “Oh Honey, you took a shower!” I quickly corrected him, saying I took a shower every day, but today I went the extra mile. He said the miles looked great on me! So be it! I fixed my husband’s favorite meal anyway, opened a bottle of wine, and presented him with a candlelight dinner with the wife he used to know.

But just as I thought we might be headed for a romantic evening, we tuned into the “final” episode of our favorite prime-time show, Modern Family, and I cried for an hour. Actually, I did not think I had any tears left after watching the nightly news. But saying goodbye to the Modern Family characters after watching for eleven years and seeing them say goodbye to each other, just added fuel to my already vulnerable spirit. I was a mess.

So be it. I am just grateful with my low-immune issues that I have remained virus-free so far. The past few weeks have certainly been a way to unwind, slow-down, and clean out, while surely being one of the most stressful situations of our lives. From here on, we will all move forward treasuring our jobs, and all the people and things in our lives that we might have previously taken for granted. And I’m not just talking about toilet paper!

The weirdest part about the past few weeks is that even though we all have been separated from everyone, I feel more “connected” than ever before. Maybe it’s because I have spent a lot of time reconnecting with family, friends and nature. Maybe it’s because I have lots of time to think about what is really important in life. Maybe it’s because I have seen less politics that separates us and witnessed a lot more love displayed among the American people. And maybe it’s because all of us as survivors have been forever changed for the good. Yes, in a funny way, I definitely feel more connected than ever before.

“Corona-cation” led to more communication in a whole different way.

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