OH...MY.... Stay-at-home orders are no joke. This is going to be a long road.

We are at a standstill here, and wherever you are reading this...it is probably the same for you. Making art projects, baking banana bread, making s'mores in the fireplace (with chocolate cookies instead of graham crackers, 'cause we're resourceful like that). Getting bored. Wandering lost around the house. Hiding in the bathroom (anyone?? is this only me???). Picking up toys and clothes and making more food and cleaning the kitchen for the zillionth time today.

All of a sudden, we are not busy. And we don't don't know what to do with it.

A family of 6, usually chasing all over because of sports and teams and activities....but now we are not.

We are staying at home. All together.

I am feeling a lot of not knowing what to do, but not wanting to waste this time that has been thrown into my lap. Now that you are not busy in the same way you were "busy" before, what are you doing with your time?

A lot of people use busyness as a badge of honor, as a measure of their value, importance.

Her: How are you?

Me: Oh, gosh, we have been soooo busy! Blah, blah, blah....

I am guilty of this. It becomes part of my identity. Schedule so full, so many things going on, so many places you have to go, people that need your time/attention....If I am being honest with myself, it makes me feel good to have a lot of things on my plate.

I know. It sounds so LOSER to write that.

But I am not the best at blocking my own schedule and staying super productive during the down time (I used to be really good at this! What happened to me???), so having a busy schedule means using the time that is blocked out for me, between pick-ups and drop-offs, and that helps.

But truthfully, I am not good at the go-go-go type of schedule. I DO it, because my family's scheduled life demands it, but I don't thrive there. It just wears me down. I think I generally need more sleep than most people, but that is for another post.

Stay-at-home orders probably would have sounded really good about 6 weeks ago. My guess is that you were shuttling kids from playdate to practice to practice to appointment to practice to meal to home to event...like an unpaid Uber driver. Because that is what I was doing, too. It is so easy to wrap that up with your identity and get confused on what you DO versus who you ARE.

But now how are you doing without the BUSY?

I try to be a person who knows who I really am. That I can define myself beyond what I do. But different seasons of life rearrange us, and then we have to come back to re-define ourselves.

Now that you have no plans, what are you doing? Better yet, WHO are you?

Maybe you feel a lot of pressure and you feel like this situation is adding so much stress, to your life, to your sanity, to your relationships. And that is surely true.

And thinking too much about this can be scary too, because it reveals US. Just going through the motions of every day, ALL day, ALL together has no doubt been an eye-opening experience.

Maybe you are like me today and you are just feeling irritable, or lonely--other people's behavior or presence notwithstanding. It's gonna happen. We are all going to go through that. And that can be ugly.

But don't get stuck there.

Reach out to tell someone what you need in that moment, whether it is a few minutes alone to collect yourself, or a hug (or a virtual hug!) or an encouraging word. Or a cookie. (Do I have to share that we have been baking? A lot? Yay! But, ugh. Due to coronavirus, summer body 2020 is postponed until 2021. Just FYI.)

This might be a great time for self-discovery.

What is it that you are really missing most during this time?

What are you happy to have shed?

What is this telling you?

Do you need to make some changes to your life for the AFTER-confinement?

This time is a gift to us. It may not feel like that in this moment, but one day we will look back at this period in our lives and remember the hard parts, but also the really awesome parts. The kids will remember being out of school and talking about running out of toilet paper and bare shelves at the stores, and hopefully they will remember extra hugs and bedtime stories and blanket forts and time with parents who used to be SO BUSY.

We are social animals. We have a chance to be a blessing right in our own neighborhood. Remember all of the Think Globally, Act Locally we grew up with? Now is our chance to do this right in our own spheres.

We have an opportunity to be a blessing where we are able. Usually we don't have to look further than out own household. But you should reach out to your circle to see what a friend needs right now. Or an elderly neighbor.

Spend some time thinking during this open space. Because the time WILL pass. And life will return to a regular pace. And then what will be true of us? The choice is ours.

If you are able, use these weeks as bonus time you didn't know you would have.

And let's keep praying for one another because online school officially starts for us on Thursday. Oh dear....send help....

If things are breaking down at your house, you can always do what I am doing and hide in the bathroom with a book. It's been working for me. Just a thought....

What has been working for you? I would love to hear your tips!

xo, Ann Marie

It is 45 degrees and raining here, and the longest rumble of thunder I have ever heard just ended. Not at all uplifting, but at least it feels cozy to hunker down inside the house today.

My report from the homefront: My people have been doing really pretty well, and they have not really been terribly upset to stay at home and hang out all together.

We are beginning Week 2 of our shelter-at-home pandemic induced adventure, and we just got word that tonight begins the official 2-week stay-at-home-order from the governor. This feels different, but not much changes for us with this announcement.

I guess we don't mind being homebodies...but it has only been a week. I know this stay-at-home period of our lives is just getting started. I know they (we all) will grow restless and lose our patience with one another as time goes on.

How should we be feeling? I don't know.

I am feeling all of the feelings right now.

I feel frustrated with being stuck at home.

I am a little annoyed with my family for being hungry ALL OF THE TIME.

I'm irritated at their love of video games.

Thinking about how else we should be spending our time.

Pleased that they are fully entertained by socially-distanced things like video games.

Pumped that we can stay connected with social media.

Sad their school year is completely disrupted.

Happy to get to sleep in a bit.

Concerned that they won't go back at all this school year.

Nervous about homeschooling.

Intimidated by people who are super organized and productive right now.

Glad that I can try to copy their amazing chore/school/life organizing charts for my own days because they shared them and now I don't have to recreate the wheel.

Grumbly about toys, clothes and all the things being left out all over the house.

Relieved that we are in a suburban community with the ability to stay away from others.

Disappointed about all of the cancelled events.

Sorrowful for the weddings, graduation plans, trips, parties, get-togethers that may not get rescheduled.

Worried about the long term economic destruction of so many small businesses, and the impact of all of this chaos.

Fearful that all of the older people in our family will get sick and not get well again.

Wondering how our hospitals will be able to handle all of the sick patients and keep the physicians and nurses and staff healthy.

Devastated for the children whose families who do not or are not able to care for them well, or the kids who rely on school lunches for a decent meal.

Prayerful for those people.

Motivated to donate to my local food pantry and Salvation Army.

Proud that my people are not complaining (much) about staying home.

Joyful at having the extra down time with my family.

Grateful to be in a strong marriage.

Encouraged by people reaching out to do kind things for their neighbors in need.

Comforted by God's word that he will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Soothed because God is in control and we do not need to be afraid. (Isaiah 41:10)

Lifted up by knowing that God uses all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Hopeful about this season of our lives being used to change us for the better.

Be the light in someone's darkness if you can. If you are stuck in the darkness right now, reach out to someone who can be a lighthouse for you. If you don't already have someone in your life like that, reach out to me and get you plugged in.

Everyone is going to struggle with this, but you don't have to do it alone.

I would say "Hugs!" But instead I will say, jazz hands!

Stay healthy, friends. And stay in touch. How are you feeling with all of this?

xo, Ann Marie

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