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Finding Joy in Simplicity

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Ever since the world turned upside-down and we started sheltering-in-place, I have slowly but surely started learning to find some joy in the simple things. Let’s face it, having our normal, busy schedule being pretty much cancelled, has given us back the time to do many of the things we’d never been able to fit in. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t still busy, between distance learning, trying to keep the house cleaned and organized (with everyone home 24/7), and having my husband running his design team from home, things have been a bit of a struggle to say the least. Even with all these things happening daily we still haven’t been half as busy as we once were. You know what? I kind of like it.

I am not saying that I like being quarantined during a pandemic — the entire situation definitely sucks. What I do like though is the schedule slow-down that has happened. I have enjoyed not spending half the day running my kids around to school, appointments, lessons, meetings, and to heaven only knows what will pop up last minute. I also enjoy no longer having the feeling of always being on the go. If you know me, you know that I have been on the go my entire life. It took me a long time to adapt to this new, slower pace, and it wasn’t easy. Now that I have been able to accept the situation for what it is, I have learned to enjoy this slower pace and the satisfaction that comes with it.

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This slow-down has made me reminiscent of the days when I used to visit my grandparents. Those laid-back, wonderful days were filled with the simple joys we are now rediscovering as a family. We are now spending our time taking family walks in the evenings, afternoons fishing, staying up late playing board games, honing our culinary skills, and working on our green thumbs. I have fond memories from my childhood doing all of these things, but for my kids and their crazy schedules, these types of activities seemed more of a burden to fit into our previously jam packed lives.

This all makes me think what an odd “gift” it is in today’s busy world to have an empty calendar. Before the shelter-in-place there was always something to do. When we had free time we had endless options on how to fill it up be it dining, movies, or any number of adventures. The more fantastic events would always win out over simple ones because, let’s face it, doing a puzzle isn’t as easy of a sell as an Avenger’s movie. Picking cherries would always lose to Chuck-E-Cheese if the kids were given a choice. Now that Chuck-E-Cheese is no longer an option those cherries start to look like a pretty sweet option. That said, quarantine isn’t all puzzles and cherry picking. We have filled a good chunk of our days with “excessive” screen time and an Avengers movie or three, but who hasn’t‽

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I know it might sound a little selfish saying this, but I love not having to share my kids with the the rest of the world for just a little bit longer. While the situation is not great, and my heart breaks for so many others, I do feel pretty good about stealing a little time back from life… they can grow up later! Of course this is how I feel in the moment, but ask me how I am feeling about it after a few more months of doing it. I’d wager you can only grow so many veggies and cook so many dishes before some sort of madness sets in, but in the meantime I am going to milk this quarantine thing as much as possible.

As much as we’ve made the best of things and have stolen back some time, I really do miss some of the old “normal.” I miss seeing my friends and family outside of a little video screen. I miss traveling. Oh my God I miss traveling! I can’t remember our last date night, going out to eat, or a good get-together with friends. I do look forward to things getting back to normal, but I also don’t want to lose what we have found. There is something to be said for finding joy in simplicity. My new goal is to take on the “new normal” while holding on to the “less.” I refuse to lose our evening walks, our family bike rides, or our game nights. I will never go back to trying to fit those things in. Right now is the time to identify what is important to us — because soon enough the excesses of life will begin rushing back in. Let’s use this time to build some sort of mental beacon that will keep us grounded as life, once again, spins back up.

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