Before my post The Happy Room, it had been so long since I’d written, I couldn’t even remember what I wrote about. Honestly, I’ve been avoiding writing anything Corona-related. But, after almost a year of this pandemic, I need to just get on with it.
Last February, I’d made plans to head to Florida to celebrate my birthday with friends and family. I’d sent out a save the date and was super excited about going home again. Twelve days before my birthday, New York City went into lock down.
It sucked! I went from a couple of days of boredom to non-stop Zoom meetings that have yet to let up. There was no longer a line between home and work, and I no longer had my commute to hop on my phone, or listen to music to decompress.
I would sit in the bathroom just to get some momentary peace. I found myself having fewer and fewer conversations with friends and family as Zooms and work took over my life. I didn’t have it in me to hold personal conversations, and if I was talking to anyone, it was likely through text. I didn’t realize it then, but I was also becoming more disconnected from my family even though we were in the same place. I was working ridiculously long hours, and when I wasn’t working, I was seeking time to myself.
At the same time, my kids were trying to find alone time away from each other.
On one of the days they were bickering, my four year old told his older brother, “I need my privacy! I need my alone time!” Their routines had also been disrupted and they, too, needed time to themselves. I spoke to the four year old who said of his brother, “I love him, but I just want to be lonely right now.” He lamented not having his own room to go to–unlike his brother. Plus, he couldn’t be alone because we always had eyes on him.
I have a space in my house–I suppose it’s considered the den–that had gone unused for almost 5 years. I couldn’t figure out what to do with it until that conversation. I decided to renovate the room which was being used for storage and the piano. I was determined to make it into a sanctuary–a place to go decompress, re-group, and be at peace.
So, that room became my summer project. When it was completed, I asked my boys what they wanted to call the space, since I wasn’t quite sure of the official name. They decided to call it “The Happy Room” because that’s how it made them feel. With some love, time, and effort, the room did go from being a hidden eyesore to a sanctuary for our family and my plants.
“The Happy Room” now represents more to me than a physical space. In moments when I find myself being annoyed by shenanigans at work or triggered by the events going on in this country and the world, I think, “What makes you happy?”
In trying to answer that question, I realized that I’ve abandoned so many of the things that bring me joy. I used to paint. I don’t anymore. I used to write poetry, I don’t any more. I love to write. I stopped. I love having good, thought provoking conversation. Almost none of that is happening. I love to travel, but…where am I going in a pandemic?
I’m super busy all the time, yet I feel really bored. Like, who’s life is this that I’m living, and why is it so boring?
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and don’t take them or my blessings for granted. We’re in good health, and have managed to do a good job isolating ourselves.
I just want more–from my self for my self.
As much as I resent feeling trapped by The Rona, it’s resulted in my seeing the world differently. I have lost three friends to the virus. I am uncomfortably aware that life is fleeting and so is time. I’m no longer planning to live life anymore. I don’t want to wait to do things when the time is right. When will that be? Why am I choosing to deal with things that don’t make me happy now, and planning to find joy later? How ridiculous I’ve been!
I’ve always lived life with a plan and unconsciously assumed time would wait.
If I’ve learned anything from this pandemic it’s to enjoy the now, and not to take any moment for granted. I grew up with the idea that complete self-sacrifice made one a good person. Self-care was a luxury at best and at worst selfish. It’s hard to change, but I’m working on me. I remind myself to delight in the present, give people their roses, set boundaries, and speak my love without hesitation.
It’s amazing how a chain of events that began with my kids and I seeking isolation have lead me to a path of my seeking deeper connections with others and myself. I’m open to it. There’s only so long that we can isolate ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally before something–or all of it–has to give.