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This Quarantine Isn’t All Kumbaya and Baking Bread: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned While Being Isolated

If someone were to tell me I could have several weeks at home with my whole family with hours of schedule-free time each day, I would normally exhale and smile for the opportunity to take a step off the chaotic conveyor belt of our busy lives.

During this time of quarantine, that is exactly what I’ve been granted: time. Time to hunker down at home and get to all the things I’ve been bemoaning for years that I don’t have time for. Time to learn how to bake bread, to take in nature, finish that book….or time to crap it all away on screen time and overeating. It’s a fine line.

I am so grateful to everyone who is on the front line taking care of business. It seems odd and selfish that my only service to society is to park my butt at home and check a few emails here and there to work remotely. My helper heart feels itchy to find ways to contribute, and I’m open to those ways as they reveal themselves.

Until then, life has slowed down, forcing me to focus closely on this path I’m on. It’s challenged me to push my ego aside and realize I can improve some things. The quarantine has afforded me the gift of time to take a step back from my life and view it as an onlooker, as someone who can hover as an observer and make some suggestions without being so caught up in it that I can’t see it in an objective way.

Learning is something I love and am always open to, so here are ten things I’ve learned so far in this odd time of quarantine:

1- We’re Ironically Inviting People into Our Homes Now More Than Ever

The lovely thing about this quarantine is that most Americans have been gathered onto the same boat--We are all stuck at home. This desperation for human interaction and having to work from home has led people to do video chats where colleagues and friends who might not otherwise come over, can see into our homes as our ornery kids run past the camera or dogs howl in the background. It’s a slice of authentic life that we typically try to tidy up and hide from everyone but now helps us see ourselves in each other.

Celebrities without makeup have been playing impromptu songs or reading stories on Instagram from their homes; parents are putting videos on social media of goofy dances in their living rooms with their kids. Gone is the fear of putting only perfect faces or performances into the world. The hunger for connection has helped us to have confidence in our voices and what we can contribute without self-editing. Such a unity and acknowledgment of our humanity has me grinning at these glimpses into people’s lives. A ray of authenticity has been shining over humans lately, and I love it. I hope it never goes away.

2- Life is Bigger Than Our Day Jobs

I’m super guilty of dwelling on wondering what my purpose in life is and feeling deflated that it seems to be nothing impressive. I’m lucky to have a day job I love, but my true purpose is the same as yours: to look out for each other. Whether we’re grocers, police officers or teachers, none of us is totally defined by who we are at our day job. What defines us is often the small things we do to connect to each other when we slow down and see each other.

I know this in “normal” life, but I don’t always acknowledge the truth of it because I’m so laser focused on the ladder I want to climb to prove my worth. I’m not out curing cancer or saving the world in my day job, but I cherish the connections I have with coworkers and people I serve every day. I can be pretty whiny about going to work, so it’s nice to be reminded to be grateful for my job and the great people I work with.

3- I Am an All-or-Nothing Kind of Person

My blended family has 4 kids, and my husband and I both work full time. I’ve gotten so used to being on a tight schedule of waking up at the crack of dawn and getting everything done that now that I have this wiggle room, I’m realizing I lack the discipline to get things done without the fire of a deadline.

I’ve been sleeping in and putting things off until tomorrow. I am learning to juggle the fact that it’s great to slow down and enjoy life, but if I’m honest, an over-eating, binge-watching version of me is lurking in the background, so I need to be on guard. I am making peace with this new discovery of my personality.

Yesterday my kids played outside for a good 6 hours. Today they’ve been inside being lazy on this rainy day, each of us doing our own things in separate rooms. There tends to be very little middle ground of accomplishment and the pendulum swings wildly. I need to be okay with that sometimes as we find our rhythm in a new world.

4- Fear and Uncertainty Bring People Together

It’s a shame it takes a world pandemic to make people stop arguing over politics and focu