There are two kinds of people in the world: those that answer the buzzer on their building when it rings and those that don’t. I used to be the kind of person who didn’t answer the buzzer. It was never for me! It just wasn’t possible. Someone else somewhere in the building had ordered floating shelves, or was getting a free trial of a meal service. Maybe my flatmate had sent out for Chinese. Me? I did all my shopping in person. I love to cook, so if I’m eating at home it’s something that I’ve made myself. There was never any reason to expect a package, and I’m also not the type to answer out of curiosity and let whoever into my building. So, I just let it buzz. Someone else in the building (or my flatmate) could answer. That is, until Covid.
What about you?
In the spirit of my last post about documenting your experience, here’s a peek into some of the ways my life has changed now that I’ve been doing-all-the-things from home the last 31 weeks. These are all fun, or positive, changes. They’re habits I’m happy to have and want to carry with me into the future. Are there any overlaps for you?
1. Online shopping
You knew this was coming, and it’s true, I’ve never been much of an online shopper. Before Covid my Amazon account mostly got used, well, I couldn’t say when. Paying import duties and otherwise dealing with the whole package pickup service in The Bahamas is a pain. There was never anything I wanted so badly it couldn’t wait for me to take a trip to the US, or find a workaround, or just do without.
The spark for my first pandemic-era purchase was a hunt for facial moisturiser. Someone suggested I check Amazon for familiar-to-me brands and I thought Oh! Yes I could do that! Since then, I happily order bags of oatmeal and bottles of vinegar that I’d rather not lug with me on my walk back from the food store.
Truthfully, online shopping is the one thing on this list I’m indifferent about. It is wonderfully convenient, but I also find it somewhat stressful. I find shopping in general a bit stressful, unless I’m looking for books or in a specialty food store.
2. Audiobook listening
Have you heard Thandie Newton’s performance of Jane Eyre? No? If you don’t already have Audible go and use your free trial credit to read that book. Seriously. It’s fantastic.Thandie is fantastic! And Jane Eyre is one of the best books I’ve read all year, by a mile. The Brontë/Newton combination is absolute gold, and this recommendation is my gift to you.
As for all other audiobooks, some are great, some are ok, but listening to an actor narrate a book can be an amazing experience. With Jane Eyre you get to hear different British accents from across the UK and different socioeconomic classes. There’s no way I would have had that clarity in my imagination. The same can be said for a few other books I read on audio – the actors bring the accents of the characters to life in ways that enhance the reading experience, or perform particularly dramatic scenes in a way that makes them even more exciting. I love it!
I also love that I can go through books much faster by listening to them. Life is short, and my To Read list is very, very long. If I can read while I’m making dinner, folding laundry or on a walk, I can go through that list just a bit faster. If you don’t want to sign up with Audible, never fear! I don’t have an account either. My sister offered me some of her credits – thanks Anna! – and then I discovered that my library has an audiobook section which I’ve been using since. I still love reading physical books, but this audio dimension is now here to stay.
3. Afternoon walks
Speaking of walks, they’re another habit I’ve picked up in our Covid era. In the early days, when we absolutely couldn’t go anywhere unless it was essential, or within the exercise window, I’d go out at the end of my day to clear my head. Now we can move more freely, but I still take walks at about the same time each weekday, to help transition from one part of the day to the next. It’s been so beautiful watching all four seasons change in the parks, and since I live near the River Clyde I get to see the water as often as I want as well. With all the different route options, I feel spoilt for choice!
4. Window watching
I’ve written before about how entertaining it can be to watch what’s happening out your window, so I won’t go into too much detail, but what a revelation! The one thing I’d add to my previous post is that consistency yields better results. If you weren’t looking outside yesterday evening would you be as delighted to see the “Bike Stop” sign that popped up overnight, painted on the side of a wall? Probably not, since you wouldn’t have the feeling that the bike stop’s owner had elves working for him overnight. Take a few moments to look outside your window every day, and watch the world change before you! It’s a really wonderful small pleasure.
5. Phone calls with friends
Were you one of those people in high school that got on the phone every afternoon? Did you have a phone in your room? 😮 I did talk to some friends, but the phone was never much of a thing I got into. I’ve always been more of a letter writer, sending cards, emails, and yes, physical letters, to keep in touch.
Living here on my own during lockdown, phone calls became really important. They happened occasionally somewhat organically, but a (text) conversation with a friend helped me see that I needed to be more intentional about planning these conversations. Once every two weeks was not going to cut it. Exchanging texts is quick and easy, but hearing my friends’ voices and having real time conversations brings another level of connection and enjoyment. In the last couple of months I’ve not been as good about scheduling calls, but I do want to remember how great it feels to hang up after a conversation, and make that a part of the way I maintain relationships moving forward.
6. Lists of thankfulness
I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve become one of those people that writes down things they’re thankful for. Those gratitude journal people always seemed so… watery, to me. The earnestness with which they talked about making their lists made me annoyed. ‘Good for you!’ I’d think, and feel like I didn’t need to do the same because I said actual prayers of thankfulness.
Dealing with isolation and work pressure because of Covid has been difficult, and after a while I was starting to feel disconnected from all the reasons I knew I had to be joyful. Instead I felt increasingly sad, mopey, self-pitying. It was rough. And it didn’t feel like myself. I thought that by writing down all the good things that happened to me in a week, or things in general that I was happy for, I would be able to fight back the gloom. So back in July, that’s what I started doing. Once a week, I fill a page in my journal with all the bright spots from recent days, the things I’m thankful for. Sometimes they’re short words and I make two columns, other times they’re more phrases or sentences. By the bottom of the page I feel so full! And I say a prayer of thanks.
One bonus to approaching my list this way – thinking back over the last week – is that I’ll be able to flip through a year and see all the lovely things that happened that I would otherwise have forgotten. Things like discovering Jacob Collier, the wonderful skin healing of oatmeal baths, and winning a competition in a course I took. If you don’t already have some practice that focuses your attention on the good and the gifts in your life, regularly making a list or taking some time to think about it is really helpful. Like standing in the sun, it’s a way to improve your mood and bring joy to your life, for free!
Now that you’ve read six helpful things that I’ve started because of Covid, I want to hear about yours! What are some habits you’ve picked up, relationships you’ve strengthened or helpful lessons you’ve learned because of Covid? Is there anything you can point to and say, ‘This, I’m happy for.’ Let me know in the comments!