Encouragement · Hope

Quarantine Chronicles: An Experiment in Intentional Observation

Chasing slow is counter-cultural. Many of us have grown accustomed to hustling through our days, and I wonder if the imposed slowdown is inviting us to measure the details of our lives. Most of us grow restless after a few seconds of imposed stillness, but what would happen if we used this time to pay attention?

This is my personal quest to intentionally observe my life. I am scribbling down all the things that tend to go unnoticed when I am chasing the next obligation or commitment. As I chase slow, I hope to catch up to myself and get reacquainted with little details that have blurred over time.

Current observations:

  1. I had no idea how much toilet paper we used in one week.

Mind you, we are all home all. the. day. long, but it is a surprising amount. Maybe the amount of toilet paper we use is only amplified by the fact that we have been unable to purchase any. Lack often illuminates need. Thank goodness for two friends who have donated rolls to our cause!


  1. Dishes can be a trauma trigger for me.

I will spare you the details, but my childhood has some freaky dishes stories you probably wouldn’t believe. Since hunkering down at home, I have washed 4, 326 dishes. I am officially mad at dishes, BUT I love that we have been given the time to be under one roof to share meals; there is something sacred about connecting around a meal. Intimacy is born around the table; irritation is born around the sink. Someone needs to get the two reconciled in my heart, or we will forever be using paper plates [until we run out].


  1. E-teacher status is not exactly what I expected when the school year kicked off.

I love teaching. I love my students. Technology is a gift, but it doesn’t always play by the rules. There have been days when I launched a live class without sound. My students probably thought it was the best lesson I have ever delivered! Being a teacher has been a great joy. I have wrestled the grossly underpaid issue since I first started, but this season of distance learning has reminded me of the incongruency of what teachers do versus how they are compensated.

I have seen a lot of memes about parents who are homeschooling. They are funny, mind you, but they underscore the glaring issue of how we miss opportunities to honor the brave teachers who work with students in rough conditions, ideal conditions, and with little support. Several people have casually commented about how teachers need a pay raise, but it’s usually because the parents are struggling with the roles of their additional job [I see you. It is not easy to do what you are doing].

What teachers need is a thank you. A pay raise would be amazing, but it is unlikely. Take a second to send an email of gratitude, it would have a remarkable impact and might be as good as a pay increase. To be clear, we are not on break during all this, and if this is a break, I would rather go back to work!

Also, I love teaching in street clothes, but I miss my students. Turns out, I think I am a better live teacher, but I can learn new things, and this season has already reminded me of the value of stretching out of my comfort zone.


  1. Sharing is a not a lost pastime; it’s a beautiful right now time.

We had the opportunity to give and receive in relationship this week. It felt like returning to the days of bartering and true community. We traded brisket for toilet paper, but what we exchanged was relationship and intimacy. There is ample opportunity to share and engage in relationship right where we are, and I am better for taking the time to enjoy the reciprocal nature of relationships.


  1. Every day is an opportunity to complain about circumstances-or hunt for the gift the day holds.

Fussing about our situation does not change the situation, but it can steal our joy and hope available in the moment. We can be changed in the middle of the unknown; we can focus on our fear and miss the chance to engage the moment. We can shift our perspective and search for the treasure each day brings. There’s something good waiting to be taken hold of-waiting for us to see it.

Last week, in a moment of clarity, I asked each family member to bring something to share for family time. After a few eye rolls and inquires about the seriousness of my request, everyone obliged. One brought a new game to teach us, two brought their instruments and played a new song for us, one taught us ways to turn negative phrases into positive ones, and one taught how to properly fold a fitted sheet, so it doesn’t look like a tornado blew through the linen closet.

We learned from each other. It was outside our routine, and that is what made it memorable. We have the choice to take hold of the moments right in front of us. We can count each one as a loss, or we can measure it as a gain. It’s all about perspective. Both are free for the taking, but I am reminded I’d rather gather treasures than trash.

As we continue to chase the beauty of slow, may new observations shape us for good.


What have you observed over the last several days?

What could you add to my list?


Keep observing; keep looking for the beauty of today!


Alyssa De Los Santos #sowkindmovement

6 thoughts on “Quarantine Chronicles: An Experiment in Intentional Observation

  1. This is what I would want to read in a book. I love this. I would love to turn dishes into a happier task. Maybe when (see the “when”, because yes we will) we go on another girls weekend we can wash dishes together. I’ll wash, you dry. We’ll sing out loud and dance around the kitchen. Maybe to the Grateful Dead or Gin Blossoms, or maybe to Justin Bieber. Maybe that won’t be enough to undo the trigger (I know all about those pesky triggers) but maybe it’ll be a new track on the tape and after you fast forward through the bad parts of the “dish washing tape” you’ll get to the part where you remember us dancing in the kitchen, belting out old Nathalie Merchant tunes and I dropped the plate because I got a little too crazy. XO


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