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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Retreat to a room of your own


In Victorian times, being able to provide a woman with “a room of her own” was a sign of wealth. In addition to the regular family living spaces, the lady of the house had a small space – sometimes an alcove off the bedroom (in one of those lovely castle-type turret towers) or a glorified closet off the kitchen, or a corner of the porch – where she could lose herself in a few moments of peace. She might keep her books, her needlepoint or sketch pad in there. And she might have a small bottle of brandy hidden in there somewhere, with which to lace her blueberry tea. Who are we to judge? Victorian times were hard!

Fast forward to the next century and the tradition continues, somewhat. Did your grandma or mom have a sewing or craft room that you were not allowed to enter? Turns out she didn’t just want to keep you out of her things. She was protecting her space. Her right to privacy. That sacred little room might be where she indulged her innermost thoughts and daydreams. She might have even shed a few private tears in there.

One thing that real estate brokers are noting through this pandemic is a trend of people moving out of the city and into the country. Everyone is looking for more space, to distance themselves from others and provide a layer of protection from the virus – but also for the mental health benefits. Something inside of us is pushing for isolation, peace and quiet. We are taking more walks in nature, spending more time in the kitchen, reading more. This situation is forcing us to spend more time alone with ourselves. Look around your home. Do you have a room of your own where you can retreat from the world, explore your artistic side, lose yourself in a good book or just sit and be alone with your thoughts?

We spend so much time connected to others through technology these days that we forget the benefits of alone time. If you have a small space that you can convert into a room of your own, now is your chance to transform it. Get rid of the clutter, separating things into piles of keep-recycle-trash. Give your space a fresh coat of paint or just move a favourite chair, lamp, or piece of art in there. It’s even better ‘head space’ if your room has a view. No one is going to judge if you turn your walk-in closet into your own private den. Just tell them it’s for your mental health.

Men have been doing this for years with their man-caves. The garage, workshop or basement is where they go to be alone with their thoughts and we are not supposed to mess with that sanctuary. Well, everyone needs a space to call their own. Decorate it and fill it with your special things and enjoy.

 


 

There are silver linings to this Covid cloud

  “I have a challenge for you. Tell me one way that this pandemic situation has been a GIFT in your life.” Here are some of the 75+ responses I received to this post on Facebook:

Lots of people strengthened connections:

“…Covid has allowed me to bond with my son...I’m happy to be locked down with wife and kids. Lots of laughs!...My 7-year long distance relationship turned into us co-habitating since April!.. I made some friendships even stronger by having real conversations… I was able to spend three months by my father’s side before he passed.”

Even some of the frontline workers can see the positive:

“It seems to have galvanized federal, provincial and county governments to almost conquer homelessness. Other charities and issues are suffering, but I think this focus on housing could be one of the blessings from Covid.”

We slowed down enough to notice things around us:

“…there seems to be more birds visiting our yard this year. Maybe we were home more and maybe it was quieter. Maybe we sat and watched and listened more. We definitely saw some birds we had never seen before including an Indigo coloured bird. We realized if we had to stay home, we were truly blessed to have a beautiful home to lock down in. We missed a milestone Anniversary Trip, but spent a beautiful day on the River enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us…”

“I'm discovering more and more local businesses to support!! …I’m saving money on my commute and spending locally…Every purchase means so much more to both the customer and the business. I'm even reaching out to local musicians to see if I can buy albums directly from them instead of going through a website. Put all the money in their pocket instead of website fees etc.”

Others focused on themselves:

“…I was able to focus on ME for the first time in a long time…I LOVE the slower pace and a forced break from my business and working pretty much every weekend for the last 13 years…I’ve been taking courses and doing a lot of reading…I've gotten to focus more on the art that I love to do. I'm able to practice and get better at my craft…My immune system is compromised right now so I don't go out much. It's broken my restaurant habit and I'm really enjoying cooking more often…I finally quit smoking after 10 years…I’m never going back to being too busy to really enjoy life.”

But perhaps of all the comments, the winner was:

“Not having to wear pants.”

As the end of 2020 approaches, it’s good to look back and count our blessings.

 


 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Waiting for the expiry date

 

 

“Today I will live in the moment. Unless the moment is unpleasant, in which case I will eat a cookie.” This is the message on my desk calendar. It’s kind of my mantra these days.

After the first few weeks of self-isolation, when the novelty of wearing yoga pants all day and never having to put gas in the car began to wear off, I started playing the game with expiry dates.

It is something I have been doing since I was a child. You pick up a carton of coffee cream, look at the date and imagine what might be different in your life by the time that date arrives. In the past, I have looked at the date and thought, “Huh. By the time this milk goes bad, I’ll be a married woman!” – or – “by the time this cream expires the baby will be here…”

No one could have guessed, back in February, that when we reached the late March expiration date on the carton, life would be very different indeed.

For a family that is accustomed to gathering en masse for Sunday dinner each week, this surreal period of isolation has been very hard. Coming from a journalism background, I realize I read far too much in the way of news and public health reports. My family is getting tired of having their very own Covid police officer.

Over the past nine months we have tightened up, relaxed, and re-tightened our restrictions. At the moment we are not supposed to be gathering outside our household. Again. It feels like a punishment. Does that mean we didn’t do it right the first time, so we have to do it again, for longer? Ugh. I feel like we have been collectively grounded, but we can’t remember our crime. Did we have fun, at least??

By the time we reach the date on my current carton of coffee cream, the year will be over. I am an eternal optimist, but I might need more than the few weeks on a dairy product to consider the future. So as we look forward to the end of 2021, I think we can all start thinking about the expiration date on this particular moment in time.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories. I’ll take science, and a vaccine, when it has been tested and proven effective. And then, when the threat has passed, we might have a huge outdoor party on the farm, with food and live music and a campfire, to celebrate the simple things in life. Like hugs. Harmony. Handshakes. This virus has an expiration date. This too, shall pass.

-30-moment. Unless the moment is unpleasant, in which case I will eat a cookie.” This is the message on my desk calendar. It’s kind of my mantra these days.

After the first few weeks of self-isolation, when the novelty of wearing yoga pants all day and never having to put gas in the car began to wear off, I started playing the game with expiry dates.

It is something I have been doing since I was a child. You pick up a carton of coffee cream, look at the date and imagine what might be different in your life by the time that date arrives. In the past, I have looked at the date and thought, “Huh. By the time this milk goes bad, I’ll be a married woman!” – or – “by the time this cream expires the baby will be here…”

No one could have guessed, back in February, that when we reached the late March expiration date on the carton, life would be very different indeed.

For a family that is accustomed to gathering en masse for Sunday dinner each week, this surreal period of isolation has been very hard. Coming from a journalism background, I realize I read far too much in the way of news and public health reports. My family is getting tired of having their very own Covid police officer.

Over the past nine months we have tightened up, relaxed, and re-tightened our restrictions. At the moment we are not supposed to be gathering outside our household. Again. It feels like a punishment. Does that mean we didn’t do it right the first time, so we have to do it again, for longer? Ugh. I feel like we have been collectively grounded, but we can’t remember our crime. Did we have fun, at least??

By the time we reach the date on my current carton of coffee cream, the year will be over. I am an eternal optimist, but I might need more than the few weeks on a dairy product to consider the future. So as we look forward to the end of 2021, I think we can all start thinking about the expiration date on this particular moment in time.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories. I’ll take science, and a vaccine, when it has been tested and proven effective. And then, when the threat has passed, we might have a huge outdoor party on the farm, with food and live music and a campfire, to celebrate the simple things in life. Like hugs. Harmony. Handshakes. This virus has an expiration date. This too, shall pass.

-30-