Wasted Time, Waste Life
Not that I’ll see it again anytime soon, being from Michigan, but I have a love/hate relationship with the ocean. It has the ability to make you feel connected to other parts of the world I’ve yet to explore, which is a wonderful feeling. It’s beautiful, soothing, and awe-inspiring, but we literally have zero control of its power, nor the sea creatures we can’t see, ripe tides, tidal waves…the thought alone of everything that could go wrong gives me anxiety.
All over Bali I couldn’t help but notice all the signs posted for tidal wave shelters, and they convinced me I was going to die there. Before we departed for the island, a volcano blew its top there, but the locals said it happened all the time. It was nothing to worry about, and I actually believed them! (Turns out, they were right not the worry.) I went as far as to walk the ocean floor with a fistful of fish food. The current of the sea was so strong, I was almost whisked away many times, but the guide always pulled me down by the handle of my oxygen helmet. With tropical fish closing in on me and the pressure of the current knocking me around, like a cat with a toy, the ocean waters made me feel like any moment could be my last. The thought occurred to me more than once to follow my oxygen line up to the boat, but I figured I might as well live before I die. At least I’d die doing something cool, I guess.
As countries begin to go into lockdown again with an even stronger version of covid developing, I’m reminded of those same helpless feelings. I won’t be traveling around free willy nilly, but I will continue to enjoy the quality time I get with my children. Everyone says, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.” Trust me, I’m not missing anything. How can I? I’m homeschooling, spending every hour with them. I’m not wishing to push the clock forward either. Sometimes the prospect of being stuck in one place feels like a lot, just like it did when I was walking on the ocean floor. Then I remember how much we’ve accomplished together and all the memories we never would’ve taken the time to make without this virus.
Here’s a list of things we’e done to pass the time indoors while keeping our sanity:
I made cucumber sandwiches and used cookie cutters to shape them into flowers and hearts, hung twinkly icicle lights, made tea, and a fruit tart, while playing high tea YouTube music in the background.
I wrote down all the games from my childhood I could think of and all the games we had in the basement, then threw them into a bowl. We all took turns pulling a game out of the bowl and we all had to participate. We didn’t keep score, but we did laugh a lot. We played Super Nintendo, N64, ghost in the graveyard, skunk in the barnyard, drunks and pedestrians, Sing Star, Monopoly, Life…the list goes on forever, or so it feels. We still haven’t finished. There was pizza, soda, and beer involved. It was a lot of fun.
My kids wanted a haircut, so I gave it to them. I was formally trained as a cosmetologist, so when they asked for highlights, lowlights, and dyed hair, I happily obliged. My little girl came out with purple lowlights and blonde highlights while my son received blue hair with frosted tips. Yeah, they’re young, but literally nobody will see them during lockdown, so who cares? I even learned how to cut my own hair and it turned out really good, thanks to Brad Mondo. Not that crafty? Explore makeup and skincare. Take care of yourself the best way you know how that makes you feel good.
Have the whole family vote on their top 10 favorite songs for an entire week and see how it shapes up! Britney Spears was number one in those days, and in my house, nothing has changed.
-Discover old music
My children eat up all the crap I used to listen to when I was their age, and I don’t blame them. The 90’s and 2000’s was a fantastic time for the music scene. Despite the fact I was made in the 80’s (but didn’t exactly experience the 80’s) there’s plenty of music video’s to introduce them to. I forgot how good some of them are! Gosh, I miss VH1 and MTV.
-Eat around the world
I joined a foodie group on Facebook that taught me I’m missing things my tastebuds were missing out on. From Nasi Goreng to the Ugandan Rolex, I’ve learned so much and stretched my culinary skills to another level. Aim for a new country every week. There’s plenty on the internet to discover. I even convinced my husband his opinion of sushi was wrong! If you can’t cook, there’s at least take out available to curb your appetite for new things.
-Learn a new language
With our adoption pending, we’ve been learning Tagalog. I love decoding all the different forms of communication. I’ve learned parts of French, Spanish, Italian, German, and now Tagalog. I’d love to be fluent in all of them, but I’m not. I’m closest in German, though. I had some friends (who were expats) that conversed with me and actually put my learning into practice, but they moved back to Germany and I haven’t been able to practice in person with anyone since, but I’ve retained what I’ve learned. Check out the free app Memrise!
–Reconnect with people you used to know
Social media has its perks. Remember that guy that was looking for a girlfriend that you shot down? It’s cringeworthy, but it’s also kind of sweet. He grew up to find himself and a wife. He’s got himself a cute little family anybody could envy. It warms the heart to see people living their dreams with people that fill them with so much joy. Cyber stalk people to share in their joy. All those people that still make you angry? Please don’t look them up. Nothing good will come of it.
-Make a photo album
Theres a million pictures on the cloud, google, amazon…whatever it is you use to back up those digital photos. It’s time to print them and organize them. I want to make a scrapbook, detailing certain memories of my children, and gift it to them-either when they graduate, or when they have their first child…I still haven’t decided. I also want to make a scrapbook of each vacation we’ve ever taken.
-Write that book
Got a childhood trauma? Write it into a fictional world with characters that are pieces of you. That’s all Starting Over is. There’s a lot of personal experience I wrote into that book nobody will ever fully grasp, but me. It’s the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done. I can’t recommend this enough. The best part? You don’t even have to show anybody, but if you do, the feedback you receive will be overwhelming with how much people relate to it. “That’s exactly what I needed to hear” will make all the grief worth the work and anxiety.
-Actually read the book
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the movie Great Expectations. I’ve read the shortened version in high school, but I’ve never read the original version. I’ve been reading it (for what feels like an eternity) but I’m glad that I am. I hate depending on other people to tell me about something, and that’s what the shortened versions feel like. It’s very different.
-Read with your kids
So far we’ve read Harry Potter, Matilda, Charlottes Web, Indian in the Cupboard, The Witches, Cirque du Freak, Little House on the Prairie, and the Babysitters Club. When we finish the books, we watch the movies to compare and contrast. Not only do you get to relive childhood storylines, but you get to experience them again as an adult and watch your children experience them with the same Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a different experience to read those childhood books as an adult. It takes you back to a simpler time.
-Brew some homemade wine or liquor
With all this time and nothing better to do, I brewed some limoncello in my basement. It took a lot of scrubbing, peeling, and waiting. But after 6 months, the result speaks for itself.
-Take care of your body
Run a mile a day. Walk it. Do some yoga. Find something that makes you want to move. 15-30 minutes a day of some kind of physical activity will make all the difference in the way you process stress. I promise you’ll feel so much better inside and out. Get off the electronics and do something with your body. Drink actual water. Not diet soda, tea, or wine, but actual water. Be the person you look up to.
-Discover a new genre
I recently discovered Food Wars on Hulu and it’s hilarious. It’s not at all appropriate for children, but it did inspire me to branch out. I never watched an anime cartoon in my life, but now I can’t discount it. I went as far as to order an anime cookbook and the results are sensational.
–Look up the lyrics you never understood
“It’s not fair to deny me, of the crossed-eyed bear that you gave to me!” Those can’t be the words. The sentence in-of itself doesn’t make any sense. Knowing Alanis, it’s probably something much deeper and meaningful. There’s no way she’s that upset over a stupid bear.
There’s plenty of ways to make the most of the time you have with your family. I withdrew my kids from their school and now I’m their teacher because the thought of distance learning made me want to tear my hair out. The funny thing is, all of their friends either switched to a different school or are now homeschooled. I was the first to take the plunge into uncertainty, and I wish I would’ve taken it sooner. As it turns out, fear holds you back from the things that give you life. Take the plunge. The uncertainty all of the anxiety imagination brings with it does NOT outweigh the fruits life will bring you. Sure, there will be moments of doubt, but you gotta push through that and define a new normal. Growing pains are the natural consequence of change. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can begin to let go of the things beyond your control. If you’re at all feeling inadequate, or not at peace with yourself, it’s because you’re not embracing what it is you need to change.