What I've Learned from the Last Three Months of Social Isolation

I will admit my privilege before I even begin this post, just because I know I am fortunate to have my job, home, health, and amazing son. I also know that I only have one kid, which is far easier than having multiple on many levels (but also really tough because he relies on my for all of his basic needs being met and companionship). That being said, this has been the hardest period of my life for obvious reasons, and others. We all have our stuff, right? Again, I feel like a jerk confessing this, considering so many fortunate aspects to my life, but it's the truth. That being said, there have been bright spots and I have learned a lot, some serious and some more trivial. In true-to-me nature, there's a LONG RAMBLING list:

If you really want to be connected to your friends you'll find a way. Zoom, Facetime, House Party, Marco Polo, texts, calls, etc... all work! They aren't the same, but they're better than nothing and often more convenient. There are friends I think I actually talk to more now that before! How awesome is that? This has definitely been a reminder that I need  my friends and am super fortunate to have the ones that I have. I have a standing happy hour late every Friday night, another one every-other-Mondayish, am in two book clubs, Marco Polo one friend multiple times a day, plus all the other random forms of communication. I am slowly getting to add in socially distanced outdoor visits with friends, but it's definitely not the same as getting to sit across from them at lunch or getting coffee. But still- I feel good about my social efforts. 

I go through a lot of scented candles when I am home. 

Mandatory rest-time for my child is absolutely necessary and good for us both (he does not rest; this is the original intent, but it has morphed into "be quiet and stay in your room until your alarm goes off"). I know I mention this all the time, but I don't care. 

There is a correct balance of social media consumption; I haven't quite found it. Too much leads to wasted time, not liking people I didn't actually realize I disliked so much, and emotional drained. Too little and I feel disconnected and isolated.

News is best read once or twice a day. It changes a lot, but the change in and of itself is predictable. Also, I have had to learn to remind myself a million times a day to remember headlines are just click-bait and not to worry when I see "Expert's dire warning of xyz," as it may actually  be applicable to something 500 miles away. On that note, I hate paywalls. 

There are people I find to have, shall we say, "really toxic auras," and I've had to do a lot of blocking, muting, etc... On that note, it has been a good exercise in empathy. Are they being a huge ridiculous pain because that's actually who they are? Or are they lonely? Stressed? Scared? It's hard and admittedly not always my go-to way of interpreting social media posts, but it's been a good way to stretch. 

My son is an absolute gem of a person (despite the fact that I do in fact need breaks from him). He has had his whole little world turned upside down and he still wakes up smiling, over-the-moon excited when he's surprised with the occasional glass of chocolate milk, and ready to draw a million pictures a day. He has made so much progress with his reading, talks pretty much every waking moment, and has become excellent at folding towels. He is the best part of every single day and this is more bearable because he's with me. 

Exercise is the only way I've been able to survive this, in terms of keeping my sanity. We take a long walk in the morning, usually close to an hour, I have started doing more and more yoga in the afternoons, and I often run or do an incline walking session after Sawyer goes to bed, or before dinner. There are things that have brought my some incredible anxiety (I know, I'm not the only one) and exercise has always been my form of therapy. It also helps tire me out so I can sleep at night. 

Despite limitations, I have still had to plan things to look forward to. Now that we are able to add some parks and trails in the mix I am trying to use that as the carrot I need dangled in front of me, as well as any sort of social interaction I can get. I still treat weekdays as more structured time, including getting up and ready at a normal hour, having my son do some review work, creating schedules for myself, etc... Weekends I get to sleep a little bit later and Saturdays I try to not do any boring home projects or extra domestic stuff. In the past I relied on time away from home with Sawyer as a break and for fun, and it's admittedly been a bit crippling to not be able to do that anymore. I spend a lot of time outside in the backyard too... I don't know. It's just really hard. I'm not sitting here lamenting not being able to like go to Fiji or something, but... yeah. I'm still trying, though, to have those things to work through the hard times for, as creative as I have to be (a new recipe to bake? Take out on Saturday nights? Sneaking out while Sawyer has his screen time at night so I can walk and call my mom? Ordering something? All of this). 

I have to take responsibility for my own happiness. This isn't just a social-distancing thing, of course, but this time has been a huge reminder of that.  We are all going to have our own narrative when we look back on this time and so far I can say that I've struggled, but I've worked hard to make it the best that I can, for both me and Sawyer. There are days where I feel like I should get a trophy for getting up and getting Sawyer his morning bagel-cereal combo or a medal for keeping the house clean and dinners made, but no one is going to thank me or send accolades. And it's not even that I need that much validation, it's just that sometimes doing the same thing over and over again doesn't really feel like auto-pilot, it feels exhausting. Luckily, after a walk and coffee I'm able to rally and knock out my to-do list, play with my kid, etc... But, again, it's on me. I listen to the Armchair Expert and they talk about having a list of things to do when you feel that happiness slipping away; it's my job that I use it to control how my day goes.  

I don't want to do house projects. I mean, who does, really, but I seriously don't feel like re-caulking the shower, touching up paint around the garage door or back cement wall, steam cleaning the carpets, or deep cleaning every room in the house (those are the things I had planned on). I mean, I will, hopefully, do all of these things before the summer is over, but I really don't want to. I also am very aware of my limitations as a homeowner- pardon my language, but I don't really know how to do shit. 

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