It has been two weeks since I have been quarantined. Well, since I and my four sisters, three brothers, fiancé and dad have been quarantined. All 10 of us, self-quarantined under one roof in order to avoid infection. My mother is immune-compromised so she shipped off to my grandparents a week ago in middle of nowhere, North Carolina, hoping to avoid more people and stay healthier there. If you are following along, that means eight kids, plus one fiancé, under one roof with only dad home, who is preoccupied working from home in the dining room most of the day.
Four of the kids are now doing school work online, which I am sure will assuage once they get the hang of all these online programs, but who are still in the growing pain stages of running around screaming, “I can’t hear my teacher on this computer! Somebody get me the other laptop and quick! I can’t hear what she’s saying but I can see that other students are taking notes. Ugh.”
We all wash our hands frequently, take vitamins daily, and have essential oil diffusers going in various rooms. My poor brother, sent home from his final semester at college, cannot go see his girlfriend lest he bring germs home to the rest of us. My fiancé luckily made the cut to be cooped up here with us and most certainly is having internal thoughts along the lines of, “So, this is what they are actually like behind (literal) closed doors?” Frames have been broken in the basement from indoor sports and we all frequently find ourselves in the kitchen snacking. Hungry or just bored? Most likely the latter. You get the picture. It has been quite the “Cheaper by the Dozen” scene over here lately. But amongst these unprecedented times, I have been reflecting on all the good that this COVID-19 has given me and my family. Let us take a break from the chaos and contemplate the beautiful lessons this virus can teach us.
The first lesson I have been reminded of is the importance to flex the muscles of the mind every single day. My younger siblings have been doing this through their online classes and assignments of course, but what about the adults? I suggest reading. And I do not mean only reading articles about the latest findings on COVID-19. I mean reading good old fashioned books — preferably physical books that you hold in your hands and flip through the pages with your fingers.
While on this quarantine, I have been able to finish two books that I have not had the time to get through. People always say, “I wish I read more.” Well, now is a pretty darn good time to get started on that. Read and enjoy the accomplishment you feel while flying through pages of literature that remind you of the true, good and beautiful, or perhaps even an amusing story to make you smile. Reading challenges your mind and keeps it moving. It teaches you life lessons and gives you new perspectives. It enhances your vocabulary and can take you to another place, perhaps a place without a global pandemic filling the thoughts and conversations of all Americans. Sounds like a win to me!
I am thankful this pandemic came right as springtime is arriving. Imagine if this came during Christmas, preventing us from doing our Christmas shopping and partaking in festivities, or when the temperature was around freezing and no one wanted to go outside. There is nothing that will make you want to go outside more than being stuck inside a house all day with nine other people, while the sunshine and newly budding flowers of March seem to be calling your name.
This pandemic has reminded me of this beautiful phenomenon called vitamin D. I have always known vitamin D to be good for our bones and skin, but nevermore have I experienced its mood regulating benefits than these past couple of weeks. Going for runs and even walks, releasing endorphins and absorbing some of the sun’s rays are enormously beneficial for staying happy and upbeat. This especially comes in handy just when you think you are going to lose it if someone asks you to type another assignment for them or presumably make another sandwich because apparently kids need lunch every day. What is that about?
My personal favorite lesson this time has provided me is the continual need to feed the soul. No, scrolling through Instagram and watching The Bachelor are not exactly what I had in mind. Spending time in quiet meditation, praying with your family, and recalling all the things you are grateful for are more soul-feeding, if you will. I’ve enjoyed waking up before the rest of my family gets up and drinking coffee either in silence or with my fiancé. Being thankful for the time I have to drink coffee leisurely instead of having to rush off to work. Deciding how I would like to use my time for that day, and thanking God that I even have a day to use in the first place!
Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Our family members, whether we have 10 of them or two of them, are not random. They have been placed in our lives for a reason. We are now forced, perhaps for many, to truly spend time with them. Be with your family and engage them as you never have before. Challenge them to read more to improve their mind. Encourage outdoor exercise so they properly take care of their bodies. Lead by example in these efforts. It will change your soul and eventually, hopefully, change the world too. The time for sanctification is now. Do not let this time go to waste.