What I am Learning from Shelter in Place - Personally
(from a chair on the back porch, add backyard chicken sounds)
In my last article, I shared what I have been learning through the quarantine about my professional life. I thought it would good also to share some observations about my personal life and how things have changed while working from home. I hope that it might inspire you to do some evaluations of your own!
The questions that have arisen personally look very similar to my professional questions during this pandemic: What can I learn, personally, from this forced time of isolation in our community, and how will this affect how I interact with those closest to me in the coming month and years? Here are some of my observations.
Family is most important.
Our family has always been close … just not physically THIS close for so many days and now so many weeks. I have three children, although my oldest is college age and away from home. The two younger kids are at home and have transitioned to ‘homeschooling.’ Between my wife, who works full time as a professor, and me, we are juggling remote work, keeping the daily chores of homeownership, and parenting. However, amid chaos, we have found a rhythm.
It is a rhythm that seems to have been lost in the last few years of our lives. Something was lost in a world of always-on-the-go: work, school, church, soccer, basketball, piano, tutoring, dining out with friends, planning the next trip or vacation, and so on. A calmer existence has replaced this frenzy of activity; an existence enjoyed by many generations before us. One of time outdoors in the sunshine of the family garden, cooking meals together, riding bicycles around the neighborhood, getting to know the family next door, board game nights. One where the family unit is what everything else flows from. These are a reminder. Family IS most important.
What I miss and therefore know I value. (Just a list):
Seeing co-workers in person
A good handshake
Planning a trip with family and friends
A proper ‘date night’ with my wife
Hugs from my parents
Visiting insurance agency partners
Eating with friends on the local restaurant patio
Oddly enough … grocery shopping
Working out with my brother
(Take some time to make your own ‘list,’ it’s well worth it!)
Balance is KEY.
We ALL know this, but putting it into practice in a hectic world is another story. In my own life, I find it challenging to juggle family, work, kids’ activity agendas, and my spiritual life. It seems this is a constant battle between all things important and meaningful in my world.
After quarantine, in my ‘new’ world, I envision a more balanced life. I put some thought into this, and the first thing I want to be sure of is staying present in each moment and experience. I want to focus on the task at hand and enjoy the interactions with those around me.
Secondly, I want to stick to a schedule. More specifically, a ‘schedule’ that works for ME. I have found over the years that I do not adhere to a traditional hour-by-hour schedule very well. What works for me is to have ‘anchors’ that I place throughout my day that keep me flowing in a productive direction. Some examples might be a 9:00 webinar training, a 3:00 conference call, or 6:00 pm pick up girls from soccer. I place these anchors on my calendar, and it helps me form the flow of my day. This also allows time for me to address issues that may arise during my day without feeling like they are interrupting an hour-by-hour type of schedule. One of the most important aspects of balance, in my mind, is controlling my reactions to uncontrollable or unforeseen problems that surface during my day.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles R. Swindoll
I have been fortunate to view this time in social isolation as a gift. This has not been an easy time for any of us, and I know it has been an awful time for many. In fact, NOW is a perfect time to reach out to your neighbors, check on the older gentleman next door and bring him a meal. Call your friends and lend a financial hand to those that have lost a job. Check-in on those in your community who are in need and help when you can.
For my family and me, it has been an opportunity for reflection. A chance to hit the ‘reset’ button and focus on things that matter and where they have been placed on the priority scale of a hectic life. Take some time for yourself, take stock in your own life, and hopefully, you will find the silver lining to this dark cloud during the Spring of 2020.