If I only had the time…

I’ve always assumed that if I had unlimited time, I would be amazingly productive. I’d meditate regularly, I’d do lots of yoga, I’d work out, my makeup would be perfect and I’d wear perfectly coordinated, well accessorized outfits. For sure, I thought I’d write.

Instead of running to the gym for cardio or Pilates or a swim, instead of running to the barn for a ride, instead of running errands or grocery shopping, instead of running home to take clothes out of the dryer, fold and put away the laundry then cook dinner…if only I was able to get off the endless treadmill of running around, I’d be much so much more: more creative, more introspective, more efficient…I’d be the best me ever!

Now that we’ve collectively gotten more time, especially like me, you’re furloughed and unable to do the majority of activities that made up your days prior to quarantine, you might find yourself feeling oddly adrift. I find myself living the life of an indoor house cat. Sleeping, eating make up my day. Time is broken up to root through the fridge for a snack, then it’s time for another nap. Everything else takes effort.

Not that I’ve totally succumbed to lethargy. Since the quarantine, with no escape from the mess, I’ve cleaned out five closets, reorganized the pantry and spices, organized the essentials to survive sheltering in place. I’ve cooked meals, baked batches of chocolate chip cookies, learned to make whipped coffee and boba tea. I’ve even mastered the elusive capsule wardrobe touted by every influencer and fashionista. My less than 33 item essentials it turns out, consists of four rotating t shirts, three sweats, two leggings, a few PJs. Rounding it off are Ugg slippers, Ugg boots, a robe and my ultimate accessory, the homemade mask.

Coronavirus has stopped us collectively in our tracks. All around the world, streets are empty, stores are shuttered, six feet separates us from all but the most intimate contacts. People are hoarding food, hoarding toilet paper, staring suspiciously at strangers. Packages are sprayed down until they are devoid of living organisms. Hands are washed obsessively. Most connections outside of home are done masked and feel furtive.

Being forced to stay home has eliminated much from our lives. The subtraction of busyness, the distraction of outside activities, the sudden silence of mental and physical noise is a huge change psychologically and physiologically. It takes an adjustment period to get used to this new normal.

All our past activities, even for pleasure, taxed our sympathetic nervous system. The simple act of driving to the drugstore is fraught with tension. The grocery store, with even the currently limited array of goods is an assault on the senses. It’s something I never realized until I hadn’t done it for awhile. All these activities have kept us habituated in adrenal overdrive, amping up, in some good ways and in some bad ways, our stress levels.

This sudden space, time and solitude, is a detox for our nervous system. Maybe even a withdrawal. It’s natural to feel tired, unmotivated and that lying in bed all day with a spoon and a hoarded bottle Nutella, watching YouTube videos on the your phone is a good way to pass the time.

With all the unknowns in the world right now, it’s normal to be anxious. There are some anxieties that we have no control over, and some that we do.

Even now I’ve had fomo– not participating in all the Zoom cocktail parties everyone else seems to be doing. I feel inferior to all the people doing three cardio videos a day, while cooking gourmet meals, gardening and learning three foreign languages while homeschooling children and ironing shirts. Sure, my closets are cleaner, but I’m a sloth in PJs with no desire to wash my hair, much less wear mascara.

It’s time to let go of all that old, self judgmental stuff. It’s time to relax into this new normal, soften the chronically embedded mental, physical, emotional tightness into a new of being. It’s time to let the parasympathetic mode, the part of the nervous system that allows the body to relax, release and reset to do its thing. It’s time to exhale.

I’ve decided that now, since I have the time, I will take my time. I will rest, as much as I need. I will let my body and spirit heal. I will be gentle with my expectations. I will connect with who and what I need to, organically. I will let things grow, unforced, and see where and what blossoms.