inspiration

The Art of TIME in a Coronavirus Quarantine

black and yellow analog clock

Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

TIME. When we look back at this radical week in human history, one vantage point we might observe it from is how we handled time. Many people on Earth are simultaneously experiencing a cataclysmic shift in reality, as our familiar lives have come to a screeching halt. Several of my therapy sessions with clients over the past few weeks included conversations on the possibility of a quarantine, and how that might provide some respite from our crazy, busy lives. Now that we are really experiencing that reality,  what to DO WITH ALL OF THIS TIME is proving to be a bit overwhelming. Navigating through news that is changing fast, finding provisions, worrying about our livelihoods, and just making it through each day this week is simply overwhelming.

The real question we might want to ask ourselves in this stage of this thing, is how do we  master time? All of us secretly wanted extra time and now that we have it, what should we do with it?  How do we navigate through the very confusing, very scary, and very real, new world we have entered? I would like to propose two very simple tasks to try today:

Quarantine Wish List

Please make a list of things you might accomplish for your quarantined time. Please add some practical things (my first task is doing my taxes for the US deadline of April 15). Please also add some pleasurable things that you never have time to do, and some projects you might have started awhile ago, but never had time to finish. Next, hang your list in a prominent place.  Then, and this is most important part, do not pressure yourself to jump into any of these projects too quickly. I have spoken to several people this week who are feeling guilty they have not been productive this week. Please do not pressure yourself to be productive or creative.

We are all in a state of shock, and when we are in that place, it is very hard to do anything beyond  just being in survival mode. This might looks a bit different to each of us, and might include binging on Netflix, binging on news, buying toilet paper, etc. Having your wish list handy, but not feeling pressured by it can serve as a buffer to make the time you are spending now feel more temporary, knowing that when you settle into your new reality, you will have a lot to keep yourself busy.

Make a Daily Schedule

Last night, I forced my kids to go to bed on time as if it were a regular school night. They protested, and I held my ground, explaining that as soon as our schedule goes haywire (or we stay in pajamas all day), we will have succumbed to time in a really negative way. We actually didn’t create any schedule during the first few days of our new “at home all the time” lives. I did this as a social experiment to see what would happen. As suspected, everyone kept drifting to their screens, and the days marched along in a loopy, slow, negative way.

We have since created daily schedules for each person in our home as the days drift along. These have included meal times, hang out times, solo time, together time, etc. Although we are not being super strict at following them, the lists are still serving as boundary makers to make our boundary-less new world feel more manageable. What would your daily schedule include?

In my therapy sessions last week, my clients all fantasized how great a quarantine might be, because they would suddenly have the glorious TIME we never had enough of in the lives we were living just last week. When this is all over (yes, it will end), we will walk out of our homes with new attitudes, new perspectives on humanity, and perhaps will have regrouped enough to envision a different and more beautiful life for ourselves and our loved ones. Step one of this transformation is learning to reclaim time.  

Having an accountability partner in this process can also be important. Feel free to post your lists here. Hang in there!

The Power of a Pencil

Humans have been creating art for at least 64,000 years (based on a recent discovery in  Spain of cave paintings created by Neanderthals).The simple pencil, a ubiquitous item of  homo sapiens, is one we perhaps take for granted as one of the most powerful tools our species has created. Without it, we might not have accomplished as much as we have in our modern era. The engineering, collaboration and  ingenuity of how today’s pencil evolved is simply unprecedented.  Please watch this short movie, I, Pencil: The Movie for some inspiration and appreciation of human creativity:

Are interested in purchasing your very own pencils? Click on image of pencil above to go directly to Amazon!

Overcoming Negative Voices

Can you hear the negative voices in your head? The ones telling you that you can’t do it, whatever it may be. Most likely these voices are not auditory hallucinations, but negative people from your past or present. For today’s project, we will explore the source of these voices. Please find some paper and draw a simple stick figure of yourself. Think of an idea you have and write this in a balloon caption near the stick figure.This idea should not be one that compromises your safety, well being, or bank account, but one that involves stepping out of your norm and taking a risk for a positive outcome. Now write all of the negative comments that might prevent you from executing this idea.

We are note done yet! Now look very closely at the negative comments and think who might be saying them. Sadly, the negative voices most likely belong to the people closest to you including: parents, spouses, teachers, siblings etc. Write their name down next to them, and think very hard WHY these people feel so comfortable dishing out  these negative comments. Most likely this was how they were treated with their own ideas by their own parents, spouses, teachers, siblings etc. Instead of being angry at them, or sidelined by their comments, can you forge ahead with your own idea once you grasp the origin of their negativity? Can you add some positive comments of encouragement on your paper, ones that come from you believing in yourself?

Yesterday’s activity:

Did you think of any whimsical actions to add to your day? In many ways, the above art directive is connected to this one. The fear of making a mistake or getting some negative feedback are often the two things holding us back from fully expressing our range of emotions and ideas.