Excuse me as I desperately search for an upside — any silver lining will do — to the collective fears swirling around the globe. As I look at my April calendar on the wall, it comes to me: a mandate to stay home means a mandatory slowdown for most of us.

free-time-means-slowing-downWithout all the appointments and activities that two people squeezed into each square, the month ahead is a yawn. X’s mark the spots where my husband’s two doctor appointments suddenly became “unnecessary”. The upside AND the downside to an actual calendar on the wall is visibility. Seeing it all at once lets you know immediately that you’re overdoing it. But a blank one? Hmmm.

This bonafide people-person was lost the first few days of Oregon’s “stay home” order. Apparently, I can’t think straight without knowing what to do next. Bill would come in from the yard, we’d look at each other, shrug and say, “Well, what’ll we do next?” And then laugh at our silliness, of course!

I’ve been blogging for 15 years, and slowing down is a subject near and dear to me. I write about it all the time and have practically begged readers over the years to SUBTRACT activities from their calendars. Well, here we are. It’s no longer a choice.

To keep us all safer, we’re asked to stay home— with our children, our partners, our dogs and with ourselves. Getting bored is the first clue of how unnatural blank time feels. We’re used to having all the minutes accounted for. Slowly we’ll adjust by filling in the spaces with things we didn’t have time for before: cooking meals together, talking to each other more… listening more. I’ve discovered pieces of my home and my life that I’d pushed aside when busyness took over, like remembering a friend’s landmark birthday this month. And I’ve re-discovered the divine pleasure of homemade chocolate chip cookies. My gawd, the oven! When did I clean it last? This might be wishful thinking, but just imagine how many homes are getting organized and cleaned. If nothing else, kitchens will be squeaky!

I do miss dance and the zone of a really smooth Foxtrot. I miss face-to-face conversation. I miss the smiles from humans passing me in the aisles. However… at this late stage of my life, I’m learning to amuse myself. Coming to my senses you might say.

Ironically, while parents everywhere are having to step up to the plate full-time, my household seems calmer than ever. Bill, who’s always been an easy going soul, seems more relaxed. I’m thinking it’s because everything in our neighborhood and the town is quieter, the streets are emptier and voices have disappeared. I’ve been catching up to him by slowing down.

It’s all well and good to write about the positives that might come about when your world has been upended, but the trick now is to spend more of my time focusing on them. Besides… it’s April. The sun is shining between showers, and the nursery is still open! Last week I went just to stroll around among the plants and the possibilities. Nature’s carrying on as if nothing is amiss!

[I deeply appreciate all those who work in industries that have had to speed up. I’m grateful for a full larder, emergency services that are running full speed and for all those essential workers that help keep us safe and sane. To all those on the healthcare frontlines, thank you from the bottom of my heart.]