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Why I don’t want things to return to ‘normal’

Sarah Elkins is an editor of We Are Kathy. She lives with her husband, dog and two cats in Flint, MI. Sarah is a writer, runner, wine drinker and self-proclaimed over thinker.

Photo by Jen Veloso

I am a planner. Anyone who knows me knows I like to plan. It takes error and guessing out of trips and events. It puts me at ease. 

I also tend to fill my plate way too full. I find purpose in being busy and I like to be involved with events, activities and organizations. So you can only imagine my anxiety levels when I was told to simply stop, stay home and cancel plans. 

Quarantine was very different from my normal schedule. I was working from home (and still am) and I started clearing my schedule of things that weren’t going to happen. 

I struggled hard at first. Should I vacuum the rugs ... again? Should I do the dishes for the 10th time today? What project should I complete? What should I be doing? For awhile I couldn’t bring myself to answer that question with “rest.” I could simply rest. 

Sometimes that is the best thing we can do for ourselves. But I suck at it. I know it’s easier for me to say that as a woman with no kids running around the house. But doing nothing is not easy for me. I feel like time is wasted if I’m not accomplishing something.

But now that restrictions are being lifted and plans are starting to be made again, I’m feeling kind of sad. I don’t want to go back to my “normal” busy schedule. 

Photo by Jen Veloso

If I don’t evaluate how I spend my time now, when should I? I have never lived through a pandemic before, and I know so many people have lost so much during this time. I don’t regret staying home to do my part to flatten the curve. 

Besides keeping myself and community healthy, I don’t want the time in quarantine to have zero effect on me. I don’t want to go back to how things were before. 

I’m here to remind you that you do not have to be the same person you were before quarantine — whatever that means for you. 

I want to pay attention more to what’s happening around me and what others need. We weren’t just dealing with quarantine. Our world is hurting. People are hurting. Friends and loved ones have lost loved ones. Many people feel fear for the future. An incredible number of people have lost jobs or other resources. I don’t want to become oblivious to those things. I want to be present and not always planning my next project, task, chore, trip or whatever the next thing may be. 

The things I appreciated most during quarantine were the activities that were slow and intentional. I finally finished a book and started more. I took Rosie for at least one walk a day, many times we walked twice. I met and spoke with more neighbors daily. I met with friends over Zoom more often than I did in person before. I called and caught up with other friends as I walked or ran. I bought flowers to have in our house.

I tried to stay off of social media, although the world really brought their A game with memes and videos. Thank you for that. Truly. 

I’m not a nurse. I’m not an essential frontline worker. But I am trying to be a listening ear, a better friend, a more patient wife. I’m trying to not get wrapped up in the things I think I need to be doing. 

We don’t need to do what others are doing. We don’t need to learn a new language, pick up a new hobby or remodel our house (although I have a long list of things I want to do this year). None of those things are bad, but it’s okay if we come out of this not having a long list of accomplishments. 

Just being still is something to strive for. I hope my friends and loved ones remind me of that. 

Photo by Jen Veloso

What will you take away from quarantine that you take into your new “normal” routine when life can resume? I don’t want to forget some of these things and go back to life like none of this happened.

Be still, my soul.

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