April 3, 2020 – Day five of Shelter in Place:

And I’m back! I’m not great, but I am good, which is more than I can hope for. Yesterday evening I had a long phone conversation with my best friend. We usually meet up for coffee at least once a week to catch up on gossip or talk about everything and nothing, but of course, we haven’t been able to continue our coffee ritual since the introduction of the first quarantine measures about two weeks ago, banning people from meeting in public places. It wasn’t until we spoke on the phone that I realized how therapeutic those coffee talks had been.

I can almost visualize myself at one of my favorite coffee hangouts sitting at a cozy table for two, holding my hot cup of coffee in both hands and inhaling the earthy aroma of the beans while the heat from the mug spreads slowly from my fingers to warm up the rest of my body. But it wasn’t just about the coffee; while we sat there and sipped our cappuccino, we would take this time to  talk about whatever had been bothering us that day or week without judgement, just an opportunity to let it all out and blow off some steam. So, this time we did it by phone. We ranted and raved about the lockdown, the stupidity of some people and the admirable in others, we laughed at stupid jokes and almost cried at the injustice of it all. After talking for over an hour, the world did not magically right itself, in fact, nothing had changed but I for one did at least feel a bit better. I could still talk and laugh with my best friend, it didn’t matter that it was by phone, while drinking lukewarm instant coffee.  

So, yes, I’m back and I woke up fully revitalized (well, I still killed the alarm at 6 and slept till 8 but, I did wake up energized!). The new me, decided to take on the day with much ‘joie de vivre’, inventing all sorts of chores to keep me busy.

I scrubbed the kitchen rugs, changed and washed all the bed linens then jumped on the treadmill for an hour. I was midway through my run, when the most wonderful thing happened…my mind started to wander as it usually does when I’m outdoors on the bike. When this happens, my creative side suddenly fires up, words and sentences take form in my head and it becomes a race to keep it all in there till I get back home to put it down on paper.

I grabbed my phone to dictate my main idea on the voice recorder, but I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses and couldn’t see crap on the screen. I was torn; should I stop running and go write, simply because I could, or should I finish my run first, then go write and hope I don’t forget the gist of the story?

Any sane person would say, ‘go write!’, but then again, that person obviously doesn’t understand the complex and intricate inner-workings of my lunatic mind! To me, stopping would have meant deviating from the norm and this was the first time in a long time that something finally felt like ‘the norm’.

I wouldn’t have been able to step off the bike to write, so in my mind, I should stick to that principle. What did I decide to do, you might ask? Well, let’s just say that what I’m writing right now wasn’t exactly what I had planned to write, but I think I at least did get the gist of it!

Silent witnesses to a crazy mind…

April 2, 2020 – Day four of Shelter in Place:

Alarm off at 6:00 am, me up at 8:00 am. My day does not start off too well. I don’t have the will power to face either the gym or my bike waiting for me on the porch. I just can’t. My new mantra seems to have become: What’s the point?

Instead I decide to face my other new arch-nemesis…I grab my laptop and try to give it a go. ‘Write down your feelings’, they say. ‘Write about all of the positive things this lockdown has brought with it’. Easier said than done. My feelings are a big jambalaya of emotions. Yes, it has brought the family closer; yes, we are giving our planet some breathing space, but at what cost?

People dying needlessly around us. Others stuck at home in deplorable situations. I shouldn’t complain; I’m in no position to complain. I’ve got my family close to me and we are all in good health and safe. I have a solid roof over my head and enough provisions to last me through the month and then some! But I still feel an emptiness inside I can’t put into words. The world as we now it has shifted and there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t fix it or control it and this lack of control has made my inner world shift as well.

My comfort breakfast delivered by my daughter…ignore the crotch sniffing dog in the background!

This imbalance is something new I have to learn to deal with. I’ve never been overly organized and am okay with sudden changes but waking up every morning with absolutely no structure to the day, no schedule to adhere to, no list of things to do, or places to visit…it’s really starting to mess with my head. Thank God for the little things, like my daughter seeming to sense my somber mood this morning and surprising me with my comfort breakfast; yogurt with fruit and homemade granola (yes, of course we’ve been  making our own granola…why the heck not, we’ve certainly got the time to do it!)

April 1, 2020 – Day three of Shelter in Place:

I had truly hoped that today the government would announce that this has all been a big April fool’s joke. A huge conspiracy with all governments worldwide finally working together for a big HAHA we got you suckers! But no, it’s not a joke, it’s seriously another day in lock-down. My alarm woke me up at 6:00 am but I again ignored it and got up at 8:00 am. Joined the kids for a 30-minute workout in the gym then took it outside (as in on the porch) for a 30-minute bike ride. Exercise for the day: Done!

I wouldn’t want you to think that all I do is exercise but it is kind of the main activity of the day. I’m usually done by 11 to 11:30 which is just in time to take a shower and plop in front if the TV for the daily Press Conference. Then it’s time to prepare lunch which can be anything from an elaborate meal prepared together with my daughter, leftovers from a previous elaborate meal, or a quick avocado wrap. By the time lunch is cooked, eaten and everything cleaned up it’s usually 3 in the afternoon; a good time to start the Netflix marathon till news at 8 pm, another round of Netflix and then bedtime. That’s pretty much the day in a nutshell. Sometimes it’s my Kindle instead of Netflix and other times (not often enough regretfully) I sit down to write, but that’s pretty much the routine.

Contemplating this new Corona life

I thought a lockdown would be the ideal time for me to completely seclude myself for a few hours and get some writing done but I can’t seem to get myself there. My mind is all over the place, I can’t sit still and focus. At the moment I prefer to be around my family in a flurry of activity than alone in a room with a laptop. Hopefully I’ll find my inner peace soon because this thing could drag on for another two weeks or even more. I know that once I get the flow going I could sit and write for hours, but right now I just can’t do it. Maybe I’m subconsciously fighting it. I feel more secure in my ‘I don’t have time to sit down and write’ world than in this ‘I have nothing but time to write’ reality. So today, I took some time to take in my surroundings, count my blessings, quiet my mind and wait for the flow to come…

March 31, 2020 – Day two of Shelter in Place:

I set my alarm again…apparently maintaining a routine helps keep you sane. I set it for 6:00 am instead of my usual 4:15 wake-up time; I want to maintain a routine or whatever; not torture myself unnecessarily! So, I officially woke up at 6:00 am, turned off the alarm and proceeded to turn over in bed and continue sleeping because seriously, what was the point?! I woke up again at around 7:30 am ready to face the day, sort of. Exercise is very important to me; it’s been a big part of my life for over 20 years.

I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my youth and early young adult life, yoyoing between being slightly overweight to obesity and finally managed to reach and maintain a healthy weight in my early thirties. I was able to accomplish this difficult feat by adhering to a rigorous training schedule that includes swimming, biking and running, combined with gym workouts. Most of what I do, I do  outdoors, so being cooped up in a house is not just screwing up my training, it’s really messing with my mental well-being as well…and this is only day two!

Luckily for me, I have a pretty cool gym setup at home, so even though I might not be able to enjoy the outdoors anytime soon, I can at least still get some exercise in.

Today I decided to do a mini triathlon: 30 minutes on the stationary bike, followed by a 30-minute run/walk on the treadmill and 30 minutes on the rower. I fought the boredom of the bike by watching 2 Omeleto movies on YouTube. One of them about a pandemic…good way to scare myself into adhering to the lock-down order!

Mini Tri completed!

My lockdown logbook

Our worst fear has come to pass; the government has decided to upscale from quarantine to complete lockdown. No more leaving the house for takeout or going outdoors for a bit of fresh air while hiking, biking or swimming. We now have to stay at home and can only venture out twice a week for essential matters such as getting groceries, going to the doctor or to the pharmacy. It’s bad enough that I haven’t been able to work since the start of the quarantine, but not even leaving the house? This is going to be tough!  

But it’s all about looking at the positive side of things right? It’s debatable that there could be a positive side to thousands of people dying, but if we want to survive this crisis with our sanity intact, we will have to shelve that thought for a while and focus instead on what will help us get through it. In my case, my yard and makeshift home gym have become my saving grace.

I live with my parents and my two grown children (23 and 21) in what is called a ‘two-under-one-roof’. The house is literally split in two, with my parents living on one side and my kids and I on the other. We share a big yard that I used to complain about because of the maintenance and which I am now truly grateful for. I can’t imagine how families that reside in small apartment buildings with no balcony, or just a sliver of one, are coping with being cooped up all day long, day after day after day. So, no, I can’t complain but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be challenging to survive the lockdown. I’ve decided to keep a logbook. Writing a daily entry serves several purposes: It gives me something to do and I’m hoping it will also have a calming effect whenever I read it back, allowing me to see things from a different perspective; a sort of personal therapy session. I invite you to wander through the inner workings of my mind and experience the lockdown from my perspective…if you dare…

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March 30, 2020 – Day one of Shelter in Place:

I turned off my alarm last night; there is no point in waking up at dawn, it will only make the day longer. Besides, if I can’t go biking or running outside, there is no need to ‘beat the sun’. And yet, somehow my alarm still went off at 4:15…apparently it didn’t get the memo!

Walking circles around the house

Luckily I was able to snooze a bit longer and finally woke up at 7:30. First order of business: laundry. Got that done Then…morning exercise, yippee-yay! We improvised our very own cross-fit-ish set-up (sans the crazy workouts, more like cross-fit for dummies) in the front yard and spent about 20 minutes switching from station to station. Cooldown was a 1km walk around the house (equal to 10 circles; I counted them!).

Imagining being on the road…

I still didn’t feel like I had burned off enough energy to get me through the day, so I went for a 30-minute spin on the stationary bike. I parked the bike on the porch outside to trick my mind into thinking I was out on the streets. It almost worked too, until it hit me that birds were doing deliberate fly-bys, mocking my pathetic attempt at pretending to be free like them. Still, I trudged on to complete the 30 minutes I had set myself to do.

It felt more like an hour, but I did it. Feeling totally accomplished, exhausted and super sweaty I took a shower, then I made the mistake of checking my watch…it was only 10:30 in the morning!