As I struggle with self-isolation of stay at home, of the chaos which is my apartment in stay at home, the laundry strewn about the living room because my husband – who even usually dislikes putting clothes that have been worn once into the closet because they are no longer fresh but also dislikes putting them in the laundry because they are still fresh – refuses to allow clothes that have left our apartment for any reason at all back in the bedroom but instead quarantines them on the back of a barstool.
I’m tired of working from home and knowing that I have several more months of telemeetings, even once we return to the office. I’m tired of waiting for a new president, one who actually cares about people and about democracy, and I am tired of feeling angry all the time. So, as I struggle with this and so many other unsatisfactory situations of uncertainty, I try to remember the things that I am grateful for.
I am grateful that I can hear songbirds from my apartment window.
I am grateful that I am safe and that I found a job that happens to be in an industry that is relatively, as yet, unharmed by the stay at home orders; and that my husband, too, is in an industry that, for now, continues to operate. Having been unemployed twice in the last five years, and having spent decades in the industry most negatively impacted by the closings, and knowing that many former colleagues and clients are “furloughed,” this is not something that I take lightly.
I am grateful that, in my boredom, I have started taking an online class that I never would have taken in the past, and am loving it.
I am grateful that I am spending more time with friends, albeit online.
I am grateful that someone started the 7:00 tradition. When I throw open the windows and clap and cheer, and when I see the people in the windows across from me, and in the courtyard below, clapping and banging on pans, I feel like I am part of a community and stress melts away for a moment.
I am grateful that we are doing more cooking than we had been doing before this. We had been eating a lot of pasta pesto and, while delicious, I was getting tired of it. And now we are cooking every night, experimenting, sometimes with success, sometimes not.
I am grateful that our friends and family are mostly safe. With four elderly parents in declining health, one in a nursing home, and one who has been in and out of the hospital twice in this period; and with three front-line medical professionals in the family, and two essential workers, and a lot of restless teenagers, it seems a miracle that no one has caught it yet and I am grateful every day for this.
I am grateful that my previous job was work-from-home so I had already set up a home office space and purchased a chair, and developed some routines to help myself because if this had been my initiation into WFH, I would have ended up like my husband, with my laptop perched on a pile of magazines on the coffee table, and I would have been frustrated and uncomfortable much of the time, as he is.
I am grateful that I live with a person who takes the virus seriously, protects himself and me, and who has volunteered to be a contact-tracer on top of his other work, and is making a difference. This new work has forced him to step outside his comfort zone, something he doesn’t often do, and I am also grateful for that.
I am also grateful that – with the exception of my mother’s caregivers – everyone I know personally is taking this seriously and taking precautions, and that my father is in an assisted living facility that, although in red state, locked down tight early on, way before most places did, and remains locked down.
I am grateful every morning that the sun shines. I had never recognized before – or perhaps this is a new thing, indicative of a growing vitamin D deficiency – how dependent my mood is on sunshine.
These are a few of the things that I am grateful for right now.
Writing or meditating about gratitude is said to make you feel better, to improve your mood. Often it helps.
Today it does not.
Today is my birthday.
Later: after getting past the self-pity – think I was hungry – I actually ended up having a great birthday. The thing that made it so great: screen diet. I turned off the computer and checked my phone only for birthday greetings. And my husband turned off the TV and didn’t turn it back on until I went to bed. Ah, the little things!