Are we having fun yet? No, in fact, it is more likely we are busy comforting the falling apart version of ourselves and others. Quarantine is serving up a strange mix of just fine one minute and not fine the next.
So much of my normal has been redefined. While that causes some suffering, I recognize the opportunity to evaluate where my definition of things came from in the first place. Who told me what it meant to be productive in a day? Where did I learn the rules of grieving? Why am I determined to complete that particular task?
Much of my busy can be summed up as an attempt to prove my worth. Sadly, that is a trauma response deeply ingrained in me. Without realizing it, I find myself in the performance trap more than I would like. The daily grind is good place for that to hide, and it is also socially acceptable to be a workaholic.
I am willing to let my normal be redefined. Here’s how I have made space for reworking my idea of normal this week.
- Chopped Challenge
I am usually the captain of the kitchen. While others help me, it is mostly my space. I have been a martyr, a lunatic, and a hero in the kitchen. Resentment is sometimes my sous chef when I forget to ask for help. Gah. I do NOT want that to be defined by resentment.
To move out of that normal rhythm, to make space for redefining the kitchen experience, we decided to engage in a team challenge. You have seen Chopped, right? Chefs open baskets to reveal mystery ingredients they must use to make a delectable dish. They are given a time limit and then unleashed to make the magic happen.
Talk about a total surrender of control. This competition was in lieu of dinner that night, so it was either going to go great or terribly wrong.
We assigned ingredients, broke into teams, and began planning for the appetizer round. The children opted to be on a team together. Did you hear me? I didn’t have to assign teams or referee any meltdowns.
The ingredients were reasonable; we did want to eat the food—after all.
Ground beef, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and pretzels.
The children hurried off to a private meeting to meal prep. They communicated, collaborated, and combined forces. It delighted my heart to hear them working together.
John and I did the same. We hunkered down and agreed on a dish.
Serving one another.
This is everything I have tried to accomplish in my 21 years of parenting, and it came down to one meal-prep game/challenge.
Here’s what each team created. Not only were the plates pretty, but the food was amazing.
In a season where it’s easy to sulk and seek to be served, learning to collaborate through selfless service is worth the effort. Apparently, including a little friendly competition helps.
Find ways to serve one another.
Let your routines be redefined.
Let go of what you think should happen.
Make space for something new. It does the soul good.
- Quarantine Games
A few years ago, my family helped me launch a movement of kindness called #sowkind. The goal of the movement is to scatter kindness in communities around the world. As far we are concerned, being stuck in your four walls is the perfect time to look for ways to encourage others through simple acts of kindness.
While sitting around the living room, a common scene around here, we brainstormed ideas for something we called #Sowkind Quarantine Games. We imagined families in our community tiring of the same board games, binge watching the same show [I do not understand the Tiger King], and having continuous conversations about COVID-19, so we decided to put together a family bubble gum challenge.
We purchased gum, put pieces into baggies, wiped the bags down with Clorox wipes [another new normal], attached the image below, and delivered to a few mailboxes in our little neighborhood.
Since I am a teacher, I live by the idea that I should not ask others to do something I am unwilling to do myself. We had our own bubble blowing contest, and it was worth every laugh and inconvenience of gum stuck to our faces.
Here’s the thing, while most of us crave our routine, I am discovering how much we need adventure…even in sketchy times like quarantine. Consider what you might do to add a little unexpected laughter into your routine. If you can’t think of anything, grab a piece of bubble gum and see what kind of bubble you can blow. Upload your picture using the #sowkind, and I will laugh with you.
Redefine adventure. It doesn’t have to include extravagant plans and passports; keep it simple.
Step outside your comfort zone.
Call a friend and tell stupid jokes.
Have a personal dance party.
- Yard Sign
Right now, it is the little things sustaining me–the drive through the country, the unexpected letter in the mail, videos of my extended family attempting dance moves, and waving to neighbors.
It is easy to focus on what has been taken away, but I am finding life in remembering what hasn’t. There are new ways of doing old things. Frankly, I think rediscovering is one of the best places to be.
Since six feet apart and less than 10 has redefined relationships, we must look for meaningful ways to engage. My family decided to erect a yard sign as a way of connecting with neighbors and anyone who drove down our street.
Little things have been redefined as big things.
Explore a little way to connect with someone today.
We were created for connection.
Share with others.
Spread kindness, not germs.