Going to the grocery is honestly one of my favorite things to do (shout out to Publix a.k.a. greatest store on earth), but during this time of social distancing I’ve had to significantly reduce my number of shopping trips. This has led us to be slightly more creative in the kitchen. Even when it seems like there’s nothing but scraps left, it’s amazing the kind of meals you can put together if you think hard enough. With the Arborio rice in the back of the pantry, frozen pees in the bottom drawer of the freezer, and the last of our fresh produce, we were able to make a yummy risotto. With a table cloth, cheap bottle of wine, and jazz Spotify playlist, we created our own little Italian restaurant in our backyard. In this time of uncertainty and seemingly endless monotony, taking time to make intentional moments and memories adds light to our new “routines.” With our forced slower pace, it’s so much easier to notice the small things that often bring us the most joy-like an unexpectedly delicious meal or a meaningful talk around the table. Choosing to let go of all we’re missing and holding onto the things we still have will always be the force that gets us through the chaos.
How can you use the ordinary things around you to create extraordinary moments? Here are some ways that I’ve created new hobbies, learned new things about the people around me, and made lasting memories.
1. Waste not, want not: see what random food items you have in your pantry and fridge, and try to make the most “gourmet” meal you can think of. Even if it’s a can of Ragu and a box of spaghetti noodles, pair it with a pretty place setting and good music and you’ve created not just dinner but a meal.
2. Learn a new card game: my mom has wanted us to learn the game Rook for years, but none of us wanted to take the time to learn how to actually play it. With nothing more pressing to do with our time, we spent a morning working through the rules and strategies until we discovered a game that we now look forward to playing when we’re all together.
3. Discover a new world in a book: I love reading, but it’s the first “luxury” activity to go when life starts getting busy. In my two weeks home, I’ve already read four books and a handful of magazines. And it doesn’t have to be The Iliad for it to be a meaningful read. Pick up something you’ve always been curious about, or just a book with a cover that caught your eye, and see what new adventures you can embark on even while trapped on the couch .
4. Are you still watching?: Now may be the first and only time in your life that you won’t feel guilty for binge watching an entire series on Netflix in two days. Take advantage of that feeling! Watch something that you would normally never take the time to watch. Watch silly shows, sad movies, romantic stories, anything and everything in between. My family in particular has already watched quite a few old seasons of Survivor together, enjoying their exciting (and hungry) adventures in exotic places like Fiji or Brazil while we pass around the popcorn bowl.
5. Bask in the sunshine: I have been enjoying all this free time in the sun by our pool (though my skin might not be so happy with me by the end of this quarantine). If you’re not lucky enough to have an outdoor space like this, try walking down the street, exploring a local park, or dust off your trusty bike. My little puppy Annie and I have loved going on our evening bike rides together, and I’ve never seen so many families and couples out on the sidewalks in our community. Funny how a quarantine can cause everyone to use the outdoors as their escape.
6. FaceTime a friend: I’ve been treating my phone calls with friends as scheduled hangouts, so as to feel like it’s something I can consider an activity in my day. Time I would have spent grabbing lunch or coffe with a friend, I now spend chatting away on my iPhone. Even better, I’m talking to people that I would normally see on a daily basis, and friends that I haven’t connected with in a long time. Though we’re far apart right now, we are certainly not alone.
These are just a few of the ways I’ve been staying sane and productive during this strange time of stillness. I can name countless others-learn a new language, pick up a new instrument, start a journal, spend more time in prayer, try out new recipes, try new ways to exercise and workout. The possibilities are endless when you take the time to look around you. We have no excuse to be bored!