Phew. Quarantine Discoveries. Quarantine Truths. Whatever we are calling it these days. Here are some that I’m struggling with these days (is it really June?) and maybe resonates with you.
I was just talking to my Mom this morning about inconveniences. The first two months of quarantine, I was like, “I got this. Stay in. Order groceries. Sanitize when they come in. No play dates. No nothing.” And guess what? I did just that. We didn’t see my Mom for almost three weeks (or more). I have only stepped in a grocery store ONCE in the last four months and that was to get a prescription and then promptly bee-lined my way right out of there. Drive thru? Only three times. Take Out? Only twice. I find that if I do those things, I lose sight of the fact that we are still in a pandemic (because I really believe we are). Yesterday, I got gas. I had on my mask and gloves. This man pulled up right next to me and stared me down. He didn’t have on a mask and he walked very close to me to make a point, went in the gas station, and then came back out and looked at me as if I’ve lost my mind. So not only are we battling our own unknowns (like, “okay I’m wearing the mask and others aren’t so what does all of this mean?”), but we are also getting looks and judgement from the non-mask wearers. Anyway, back to inconveniences.
I keep watching folks go to the beach and to the lake and doing all the things I deep down wish I could. The question becomes: “What is something I WANT to do and what is something I NEED to do?” I’m terrible at this in general. I WANT the bacon biscuit, but I NEED the sprouted grain toast. I WANT to just go where I want to go, but I NEED to stay put. I WANT to magically lose weight without exercising in the heat and reducing my caloric intake, but I NEED to do the work and pay attention to those calories. Are you finding that your WANTS and NEEDS are getting confused now that we are at the 4-month mark of this quarantine? I sure am.
Like I said earlier, I’m TERRIBLE at this in general, so now that I’m forced to confront this fact (because my life depends on it at this point) and it feels even more restrictive and of course I shouldn’t complain and of course I should be thankful for having the options to make those decisions, but can we just pause and all agree that WANTS and NEEDS don’t always line up the way we want them to? But where I’m trying my best to land is examining every choice with that disclaimer, “Do I WANT or NEED to do this?” If the answer is “want,” I scratch it off. If it is “need,” I do it. There was one day during the quarantine that having lemon pepper hot wings landed in the middle of those two options and so that didn’t get marked off the list, which leads me to my next point.
I totally 100% support those of you who have managed to keep your weight off during quarantine. You have done an amazing job. I am going to talk openly about where I am weight-wise in the next section of this post and I respectfully ask that you not contact me with your weight loss plan, your exercise schedule, and ways that I can lose weight. You see, I have lost weight before and I absolutely know how to do it, but I’m (obviously) not doing that right now. Priorities have shifted internally and I’m okay with that. So here goes nothing…
If you see me after quarantine is lifted or in photos on the Internets or whatever, you WILL think to yourself, “Amanda has gained some weight.” And guess what? You would be absolutely right. I was already on that path BEFORE COVID, so once COVID hit, it was like, “Oh well, just give me ALL the Cheetos.” The bags were wiped down with bleach. They were safe to consume. They gave me comfort when it felt like the whole world was losing its mind. My kids were eating them so why couldn’t I? I mean, all the thoughts. One bag turned into a daily thing and the next thing you know, I’m having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Cheetos for lunch. You see, at first I was in denial and confused “quarantine” with “stay at home kids camp” and all bets were off.
Quick pause: Do I know that my health is the most important and fueling my body with the right things during a stressful time is incredibly important? I do know this. Did I do it? No.
I started cooking again about a month in and that felt great. Cooking for me is a stress-reliever and I felt like I finally had the time to do it after years of sharing my time at home with a really stressful (and really enjoyable) job. But somehow all this time at home during quarantine did not yield the exercising I said I never had time to do or the attention to my diet the way that I always said I had no time to do.
I guess I never thought that when I’d finally have the “time” I always said I didn’t, that it would be a time filled with complete uncertainty, fear, depression, disappointment, anger, judgement, and chaos. My pendulum would swing through ALL of those feelings daily as I watched the news unfold about COVID, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, and the uprisings that followed. So I just had to stop. I had to stop worrying about the damn Cheetos. I had to stop pretending that I could do ALL of it while isolating with my family. I think the last few months have been a wake up call to all of us.
What do we WANT and what do we NEED?
What have we CHOSEN to focus on instead of FACING our own truths?
What are we STARING DOWN (oh, hey man in the truck at the gas station) and what are we AVOIDING in ourselves?
There’s been some deep-down reflection happening inside of me and there’s been some deep-down denial happening too. This is a big, wide world full of really wonderful things and full of terrible things. We are seeing it right before our eyes and we are seeing it because the world paused long enough to FORCE us to see it. It’s been inconvenient and uncomfortable. It’s been painful. It’s been scary. It’s been rife with gross and harmful politics. We have all been swimming in it – but some of us have been fortunate enough to only have to swim in the shallow end, where it is easiest to touch and breathe. Others have been forced in the deep end with nothing to help them to the shallow end and for me, that’s where the WANTS and NEEDS and CHOICES WE MAKE is so very clear.
I’ve gained weight during this “unprecedented time.” Isn’t that what we continue to call it?
But I also have a lot of work to do when it comes to the weight I actually FEEL during this time. Sometimes we don’t always get it right. Sometimes we don’t prioritize the way we should. Sometimes we confuse our wants and needs. Sometimes we simply try to survive. Sometimes we don’t have the choices to make the better decisions. Sometimes our worth and work and who we are to one another needs to look and feel different.
I think this time is forcing all of us to look more deeply at ourselves. There are some things I would do differently if all this happened again. There are some things I wouldn’t change. Isn’t that all of us and isn’t that part of learning?
I’ve witnessed – in the last few weeks especially—many folks who seems to have gotten the answers all figured out. There are no nuances. There are no questions. There’s a WHOLE lot of judgement. I have discovered – in my 40+ years on this planet – that each year and situation and life experiences open my eyes in ways I never could have seen them the year before. My kids – and their growth – continually opens my eyes every single day. I literally learn something new every day with them, so I’m just not sure how we can know everything, which is why I have to continue to do and be better. My heart work has been doing some heavy lifting these last few months and I’ve needed it more than I realized.
I’ve gained some weight. I’ve also gained some perspective.
I’ve gained some weight. I’ve also gained time with my children.
I’ve gained some weight. I’ve also gained the space to sit in the grief of this world.
I’ve gained some weight. I’ve also gained time to write.
I’ve gained some weight. I’ve also gained immense appreciation for time – time to grow, time to fight, time to love, time to spend with yourself and others, time to read, time to live, time to learn, time to listen, time to protest, time to express yourselves, time to share with others, time to just BE.
So in all that self-doubt about how I didn’t have “time to exercise or diet or put myself first pre-COVID,” after looking at what I’ve gained and the time it takes to do all of those things, there’s no wonder that time continues to be this hard and intangible thing to reconcile – even while “quarantining” thinking we have “all this time on our hands.”
My friend Brian gave me some advice that was RIGHT on time. He simply said, “Pace Yourself.” I offer the same to all of you.