A few days ago I was talking on the phone to my sister and we were telling each other how we were passing the time in quarantine and how we were feeling. While I told her that I had projects to work on and writing to do and I was mostly okay, I walked into the kitchen, phone in hand, opened the refrigerator, and put some green grapes into a cup. Then I walked back into the living room, but I left the phone in the kitchen and found myself talking into the cup of grapes. I couldn’t understand why my sister wasn’t answering me when I realized the phone was out of earshot and I was talking to a cup of fruit. I laughed at myself, went back to pick up the phone, and we carried on.

My crazy cup of grapes moment, embarrassing and very funny, stands out in my mind as an expression of my anxiety. I wasn’t really in my body right then. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. That seems to be rampant these days. Almost everyone I talk with gets these sudden waves of anxiety that hit hard and then they dissipate with some deep breathing and mindfulness. It’s hard to stay mindful with all that’s going on in the world. It’s hard to stop watching the news that is deeply repetitive and threatening and not necessarily the truth. It’s hard to face a hardship that has no definitive expiration date. It’s hard to remember that we are all dealing with the same challenges and that there will be an end to it and a new beginning. And that some people are suffering a great deal more than we are.

I was fortunate to do a webinar yesterday with my dear friend, Liz, hosted by the company she founded, Wordaful. We discussed the benefits of keeping a journal and writing about what we’re going through. The blank page is a great place to unload your emotions, to look inside and tell the truth about feelings and fears, hopefulness and desires. It will be a priceless gift when our current climate changes so we can find love for ourselves and remember some of the benefits that occurred: the ability to be alone; compassion for ourselves and for other people who are suffering; finding ways to be creative, listening instead of always talking, resting instead of always being on the run. Hopefully we can retain some of these hard earned lessons and remind ourselves how much we have grown and changed for the better when we get back outside and return to our normal lives.

We will go back to our lives, but I think we will be forever changed. I consider that the good news. Life won’t feel so eerie and we won’t have to create strategies for leaving the house and staying safe. We won’t have to figure out how to fill up the endless hours. But maybe we’ll keep writing in our journals. Maybe we’ll see that we don’t have to consume as many paper products as we were doing before the quarantine. We really don’t need more than a few squares of toilet paper and we can use linen napkins instead of paper ones. Maybe we can do work from our homes and save money on gas and car repairs. Maybe we’ll remember to check in our friends instead of just thinking about them and not bothering to say, “I love you.”

What is your greatest challenge in these difficult times and what is your greatest gift?