With the weeks turning into months as we navigate the uncertain road of coping with Covid 19, we thought we all use a little brightness, so in this month's Ask A Wench feature, the Wenches are are answering this question about silver linings within the dark clouds: “With the stresses of shelter-in-place, is there any silver lining you've found—time to do a craft you’ve always loved but hadn't had time for; rediscovered music or a genre of a book, found pleasure in cooking or baking, etc, or in taking walks in nature? Share the unexpected pleasures you have discovered.”
Anne: Lockdown hasn't made a huge difference in my daily life — I work from home anyway, and I can still walk my dog. I have hermitish tendencies and I'm not really a social gadabout. Catching up with friends for dinner or a movie has been replaced by phone calls, and zoom get-togethers — in fact I probably have more contact with friends than normal, as it's logistically easier to organize. We even had our first-ever wenchly zoom get together, though the time differences made it tricky.
My neighborhood has changed though. Apart from there being less traffic, something has happened that I hadn't realized was missing — the kids are out, playing in the street. When I was a kid, all the kids in the street knew each other and played together. In all the years I've lived in this house, I never saw it happen here. Kids played in their own house, or watched TV or whatever — I don't know. I rarely saw them. But now, they're out every day, playing and laughing. They whizz past on roller skates or scooters, they boing around on pogo sticks, they race up and down. Kids who never played together — they attend different schools — now meet up every morning and play outside all day. Over the road two little girls set up their play area every day on the strip of grass in front of the house. There are "picnics" and dress ups, and all sorts, and we have a growing tent city that a patient dad packs up every night.
These friendships are a lovely development that I hope continues long after lockdown is lifted.
Christina: For me it’s not really a case of having rediscovered something I like doing, it’s more that I have had the time to indulge in projects whole-heartedly. I’ve been doing genealogy for years, which meant I had masses of piles of old papers, notes and folders, as well as out of date family trees. This all needed sorting out but whenever I started in the past, I was always interrupted and lost the momentum. Not this time! After four weeks of sorting, cataloguing, throwing things away and entering data on my computer, as well as scanning photos and documents, I now have a very tidy row of folders. And best of all, I can almost always find exactly the piece of information I’m looking for because it’s in the right place – that is incredibly satisfying! Another consequence of this is that my office/workspace looks tidy too – I can see the whole carpet, I can close the cupboard doors, and I can actually sit and write at my desk (it’s been too messy to fit my laptop on there before). So although I’ll never agree with Marie Kondo (I prefer organized clutter to half-empty shelves), I feel a sense of achievement. And now I can go into that room without flinching or feeling guilty every time – result!
Pat: Since I work at home, I’m not doing a great deal differently than before. I’ve always taken pleasure in my garden. There are only two of us, so baking probably isn’t wise, although I’ve been doing more for reasons known only to my subconscious. I’m not sure adding pounds is a hidden pleasure. <G> We’ve always walked several miles a day, although now those walks are limited to the surrounding neighborhoods because the state has closed all the hiking trails and beaches. So the only unexpected pleasure that I’ve learned over these past months is how to use Zoom to connect with distant friends, like the wenches, and with my tutoring students. I would still much rather see them in person, but it’s lovely to know we can reach out to friends and families without actually getting on an airplane!
Mary Jo: I'd like to say that I have used this extra time to completely clean and organize my office.
Or to try new recipes and find new delicious delights.
Or take up a satisfying new hobby, such as drawing, which I enjoyed in my art school days.
What I have done is relax. For the last two years, I've been pretty much constantly stressed, partly from deadlines, partly for other reasons. Now, finally, outside pressure is much diminished. I'm sleeping a little later, knocking off work a little earlier.
With all the difficulties people are suffering worldwide, my problems look very minor. I continue to work, mostly on backlist projects I haven't had time for. Audiobooks, preparing stories for indie release, which means playing with covers and that sort of thing. Not as rigorous as writing a new book (though I'm starting to do that–the deadline is not infinitely far off!), but work that I've wanted to do, and now I can.
Though I'd like say long walks in nature were happening, it's been pretty cold and wet in Maryland. But the spring flowers are doing their thing, and they're glorious, like this tree peony beside my garage. It has a lovely delicate scent, so literally, I'm taking the time to smell the flowers! And to enjoy the company of the Mayhem consultant and the cats. <G>
Life will become busy and stressful again, but for now, I'm sending best wishes to all in the Wench community, and hoping you can find pleasure in small things.
Andrea: When it became clear that things would be shutting down and we would all be sheltering in place, I had high hopes of immaculately arranged closets, neat drawers, and most of all, getting the myriad books that are still packing boxes finally shelved in my workroom. Ha! In my defense, getting the books liberated required shelves . . . and shelves required a store to be open.
So what's my excuse for the still-untouched closets and drawers? Writing! Authors tend to self isolate anyway, so this period hasn't been all that different. However, the limited distractions (I'm easily distracted) has allowed me to work on a book project that I've been wanting to tackle for years. It's way out of my comfort zone, and I never felt ready to try. But this quiet time encouraged me to start. I'm really loving the challenge . . .we'll see where it goes—I'm not ready to talk about it yet—but whatever happens, it makes me happy that I've dared to try it.
I've also been been taking extra time to look at all the little beauties in Nature during my daily plotting walk. I always love the outdoors, but in this stressful time, being mindful of simple wonders makes me smile. And another wonderful thing is reconnecting even more with best friends. My college roommates and I have stayed close over the years, and we've started a weekly ritual of a Saturday Zoom chat. We just share little things and lots of laughs. All of us have loved being able to gab together, and I think we'll keep it up even when things get back to the new "normal."
Jo: I miss socializing more than I expected.
I’ll glance at the calendar and think “Oh. It’s Monday I’d better get ready to –” and then realize I won’t be going to the café to write and drink coffee. I won’t walk by the river with a dog and a buddy. No lunch at the Mexican place. No dropping over to a friend’s house to chat and nibble on her baked goods.
It really sucks.
But I got sunshine and birds and I’m spending time usefully employed with my flowers.
I go out and stand over the pots where I tossed a bunch of seeds. I tell them it’s time they got a move on. “Germinate, dang you! It’s been FOUR DAYS,” or "I don't care if you've just been transplanted. Deal with it." I make invidious comparisons. “Look. See those roses. Why can’t you be more like the roses?”
If my plants were people they’d all need therapy before they got to college.
It occurs to me that maybe I shouldn’t talk to my plants.
Susan: I'm an introverted writer married to an introverted IT Guy, and now we're both working from home in Upstairs-Downstairs fashion (I, of course, am Upstairs) — and it's a good fit for both of us, so we aren't experiencing much change in that sense. Communicating with family and the outside world is different, though, isn't it. We don't go out much on errands, we have groceries and pizza delivered, we Zoom with family, and I'm cooking a lot more (er, not high on my list of fun things to do—but here's a photo of an amazing broccoli and potato soup that I made). So far our family has been healthy, though two of our sons are medical professionals, with one in PPE on the front line at a major university hospital. Because of that, we keep aware and informed.
Yet with more time at home, I'm getting to things I've been wanting to do–finally moving my home office from one bedroom to another (it's bigger and has a nice view of the backyard), a big job I kept putting off. I'm watching a little more TV, knitting while I'm doing that, sorting things in boxes and closets, getting outside to work in the yard more, and finding more time to walk around our quiet neighborhood. We are keeping in closer touch with our sons—we text, call, and zoom more often now than we did when life was so normal no one thought much about it. Time seems to have slowed down. What's important in life is becoming clarified and we're seeing what we can do without. I think when we emerge from this, whatever has happened in our lives, we will all see some kind of silver lining from this experience. But I hope it ends soon!
So what about you! What silver linings have you been discovering during these stressful times? Please share!