As the effects of this unprecedented time start to sink in, I feel the layers of my tough skin peeling back. At times, it feels like I’m starting to unravel — and not always in the best way. There’s just too much happening all at once.
The other night I stood in my kitchen with gloves on, crying while disinfecting every item in my grocery order. I was thinking to myself, “what just happened to my world?” That was when my 8-year-old son, Eli, walked in the kitchen, looked me in the eye, raised his voice, and said, “MOM! It’s going to be okay. We will be okay. Can I help you?”
With a bit of new perspective, we sat on the kitchen floor with our gloves on, cleaned groceries together, and talked. It was a special moment between us and a poignant reminder of the family time that social distancing has brought into our lives.
Making the most of this time together
You definitely don’t need to be William Shakespeare and write three of the world’s best plays while isolated from the plague. And you certainly don’t need to create world-renowned art while ill with the Spanish flu, like Edvard Munch.
But instead of binge-watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling social media, maybe we can sit under a tree just as Isaac Newton did while in isolation during the Bubonic Plague. You don’t have to discover gravity, but maybe you will discover something life-changing for yourself and your family.
In our fast-paced, over-achieving, over-scheduled culture, this time of “forced rest” feels really foreign. But this could be just the opportunity that we need to sit under a proverbial tree (in my case, sitting on the kitchen floor) and think and talk and discover what’s really important to us. This could be our opportunity to be curious and thoughtful, to experience just being alone and quiet. Allowing ourselves to rest, cry, laugh, play, and reflect on what arises inside us.
So how can we get started on this pursuit? Below are some ideas that we’ve tried in my home during the last few weeks, and I’m sharing in hopes that one or two of them resonate with you and your family.
Things to discuss with your spouse and/or family
The first idea is to have a family discussion that includes all family members, even if that requires a Zoom call. Once everyone is together, explore a family mission statement — one that captures what makes your family unique, what you value, and what makes your life good. Then, if you’re feeling artistically inclined, create a piece of art that captures this mission statement and display it in your home.
The second activity is to create a family bucket list. This might include monetary goals (like saving a specific amount of money this year) and non-monetary goals (like taking the grandchildren on a trip after graduation or learning to play paddle tennis). During this process, think about the purpose of your money and what meaningful things this money can help you achieve.
Things to think about for yourself
As the adage goes: you can’t pour from an empty cup. This statement feels especially true right now as we collectively work through COVID-19. Consider taking some time in all of this for yourself. The questions below might help you prioritize your time and energy.
- What purpose can I find during this time?
- What’s important to me?
- What are my values? And how do I live them out?
- What scares me?
- What gives me hope?
Undoubtedly, the last several weeks have been incredibly challenging. But this slowdown in life and the hours spent together also bring about silver linings. I hope this short article has helped you slow down and find a bit more purpose in all of this.
We’d love to hear about your experience through all this. If you feel comfortable, please share your values and bucket list with your SWP advisor. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing ideas on how you can take an inventory of important documents and get organized.