When I asked, “HOW DO YOU FIND PEACE?” you answered! Thanks so much for the flood of helpful and innovative responses. So many of you offered great ideas. Sometimes I get stuck inside of my own head and struggle to think outside of the box. Now that the world is opening back up, our new challenge is remembering to proactive the amazing habits and hobbies that we picked up or revisited as a result of the quarantine (yup, that word was underlined with red and I had to correct it) as it seems that most of appreciated all of the colors of the rainbow, including that ubiquitous blank space that is occasionally present where the is no color. It is ordinarily very small land, barely visible, but during quarantine, it was huge and loomed, at times, oppressively. Together, yet apart, we learned how to find beauty in that space. Let’s keep it beautiful and productive. Side note, I want to visit this place:
Some people relied on their faith and/or memories to help them grow and learn (re-learn–foreshadowing people!!) confidence.
REFLECTION: “Peace for me has been getting reacquainted with myself and becoming more confident in my own skin. Prayer has been huge for me; asking for help. It’s made all the difference in the world.” D. C.
Maybe I need to begin saying a prayer before I begin drinking at 5 pm each day…?
“There are so many blessings I’ve been able to appreciate during this ‘quiet’ time. I have also chosen to reflect on happy memories with lost loved ones, and cherish those in my every day life!” D .S.
Do you believe that loved ones find their way here to protect and guide us? I have been seeing way too many cardinals and dragonflies lately…I do not believe in coincidence. I am totally being watched over. I need to offer them space.
“There is definitely a feeling of ‘loss’ that you can’t quite put your finger on. The struggle is real!! And it was soooo difficult initially with no family around at all. (except [my husband]) But tried to focus on the positive -everyone was still healthy, (or had overcome the virus), I still had a job and could work from home, I could lose my thoughts in old pictures and memories of family and friends (some of the best times of my life) and just appreciate the beauty of nature during my walks. Things are starting to slowly go back to normal. Just got to keep the faith that this too will pass!!” A. R. G.
All things are temporary…
“This makes me even more grateful I could still work during this time. I feel for the people that buckled down at home. Yes I do miss many things I was so accustomed with. I have noticed people getting snippy at a moments notice, lol. Guess everyone has their own way to deal with this. Stay safe and try to enjoy the new norm.” H. C.
Yes thank goodness for the work that keeps the mind fit and for the paycheck that keeps the belly full.
“Some days I get to the top of the roller coaster and it goes backwards. But God and prayer definitely have helped. Also going by and seeing Christian (social distancing of course). D. B. BTW, Christian is my 2 year old nephew, the cutest and sweetest guy ever.”
Babies are the best.
WALKING, WRITING, EXERCISE:
“As I take a walk with a friend or facetime with family, I’ve seen the silver lining in all of this. And that is just taking the time to catch up with friends and connecting with people on a new level. I appreciate the extra time I’ve had with my senior, who lost so much….” M.R.
Yes the kids. The seniors who lost sports and ceremony and prom and so much more…
“I am doing 30 challenges as a thing to do. Finishing up a 30 day various squat challenge this week. 100 a day and today is squat followed by a jump. Yuck.” J. B.
The yuck says it all. Follow up: J. B. has moved on to abs this month.
“I get my peace by working out…I decided to add a walking routine to my daily exercise. I am on my feet for a living. I have been for forty years. Now I find myself on the couch or in bed a lot more than normal. I decided to get myself back into “bar” shape. Behind the bar, not in front of it (got that side well covered🙄). I hate running and have never been one to take walks. Now I find myself walking 10,000 steps a day and enjoying it. This thought has inspired me to start another blog myself! That will give me an inner peace, too.” E. C.
Walking offers the peace that opens space for the muse. Walking and writing…two things that absolutely save me from my self on the reg…
“In the beginning I worked out every day and eventually ended up being diagnosed with arthritis everywhere- so my workouts abruptly ended (as did my job for now)…I think the whole situation has given us all a chance to slow down, enjoy hours of family time (a HUGEEEEE bonus) and most of all take a minute to respect what we had.” R. R.
Unexpected family time…oh my!! YES!!!
“I started keeping a diary of my day to day life during these unusual times and what was going on in the outside world so that hopefully one of my descendants would read what life was like during these times. I really didn’t expect it to continue into June. I’m at 47 pages as of today 😲. As someone who has spent most of my weekends for the last 31 1/2 years playing music, I suddenly felt very naked not being able to play. It’s been quite a bit of an adjustment, but I eventually found my rhythm, and plenty of other projects to work on.” D. C.
“I’ve been completely immersed in the new puppy although I’m not sure I’d recommend it for you right now! So much work.” D. R.
Cuteness overload. Sleep…not so much…
“Dead and co have Saturday night show replays on nugs.net. For the first few months of quarantine, I would dance around the room on Saturday night trying to re -live amazing shows…We also can look forward to camping…Find some friends that don’t leave their house and add them to your bubble.” D. B.
ART!!! Dancing, expression…YES!!!
FORGIVENESS, INDULGENCE, AND ACCEPTANCE:
“I felt the same at first. Then I gave myself to just be!!! I want to help my students and my own children feel safe, so I took extra time for them. I give myself permission to sit and watch 90 day Fiancé and think my life is good I am safe and healthy.” M. M.
“I had trouble at the beginning staying home. So on the days I was home, I would put my schedule on a piece of paper the night before. Literally fill it in with exercise, walks, phone class, check ins, lunch. Just kept my mind occupied all of the time.” T. E.
Scheduling everything…including art and creation and music…YES!!!
AND SELFISHLY MY FAVORITE, ACTION:
“Dorothy, I am honored to have shared in some of these walks with you. And since we started picking a topic, writing about it and sharing it – my moments of melancholy have become the ink in my pen. There are some days when I just honor the mood and instead of fighting it, I relax into it by meditating and either binge watching a show, walking, cooking or writing. And I ask my angel squad to help me see the gift in the struggle. The best thing for me is when there is an hour or day of blah, I seem to come out on the other side more aware, more present and hopeful. Thanks for sharing and giving others a chance to open up. None of us are alone ever.” J. D.
HEY NOW…That is my cup of tea. A match made in heaven (who needs covid-19 dating???)…Fuck YES!
My friend and I began challenging each other with prompts. We each responded (by hand!) and sent pictures of our responses to one another. One didn’t read until both had written. These prompts helped me so much. It got me writing about things that I hadn’t thought about writing. It got me reading things that I hadn’t previously known about my friend. It got me to familiarize myself with another style of writing that I adore. Re-read her response above. Amazing right? The prompts varied from week to week. Some I used from Michele Obama’s Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice. Some I found in writing books that I visit and revisit. Many came from my friend. We wrote about dreams, memories, racism, action, healing, re-dos. And we aren’t done. This exchange of texts, sharing of writing, making ourselves vulnerable, was one of the great gifts that quarantine gave me.
The most recent prompt was to tell of a “favorite memory from a summertime adventure from the past and how it has shaped your summers now?” I wrote on and on and on and just now am realizing that I never addressed the final part about how it has shaped my summers now. So I shall do that now as I had a recent experience that really ties it all together. I gained awareness about my relationship with being alone versus being lonely, and the power of place.
I remember 3rd, 4th, 5th grade being an awkward time for me but there was beauty to be found there too and it usually in solitude. Before sports commitments and other organized activities consumed my weekends, I would come home with a bag stuffed with books from the school library, mostly selected for the pictures on the cover. I would fly into the house, collect up my book bag, snacks, drinks, a blanket, maybe even a stuffed animal or a doll, and rush out to the expansive green grass of a front yard. I would carefully arrange the blanket and other supplies, spread out my newly acquired books, ready to lie down and read while the sun warmed my face. This brought me peace. Lots of it. The prep was almost as glamorous and luxurious as the actual time spend basking in books and the sun. I loved it.
I always brought way too many snacks and way too many books, thinking that I just might spend the entire weekend there in that spot. I thought that I would leave the mysterious world of Nancy Drew or The [enchantment of the] Secret Garden only for the bathroom. But sometimes I would look up and gaze at the green beauty all around me. Just quietly observe. Then, truth be told, it was never too long before I would was lured away by Odyssues’ Sirens in the form of the rest of the neighborhood kids to join a game of flashlight tag, kickball. But I got my peace on first by immersing myself in a nest of knowledge and escapism. That served me well. Sometimes I took a break from the world of fiction and just gazed at the grass, the clouds, the view…the place.
At some point in my life, I moved from seeking peace in a certain place of solitude (and my fictional companions) to seeking company. Friends, sports, student government, and boys intrigued me just as much as, and then more than, my nest. I want to find a better balanced space for myself.
Fast forward to the launch of my high school career, Labor Day weekend of my 9th grade year. Rumors were flying around the house and the family that we had bought a lake house. What does that even mean, I wondered? I could imagine a beach house…I knew the brackish water of the South River. We water-skied there. I knew the salt water of the ocean and the bay and the jellyfish. But a lake? Nope, nothing.
I was told to pack up for a night. We were to depart after a Saturday filled with football and cheerleading fun. I cheered at my first high school football game, came home pumped with adrenaline and a hoarse voice, and off we went to the lake house. The House, as we began to call it. While packing, something motivated me to head to my bookshelf and pack up a fat one. Probably The Thorn Birds, but I cannot be certain. I likely grabbed two. Overly ambitious and slightly disillusion, but I just didn’t know what to expect and I lean that way anyway.
Off we went. I didn’t even know how long the car ride would be. But the sun was setting early, as it begins to do when back to school time is upon us. We arrived in the dark, less than an hour later.
We pulled into a long driveway and the only light was the soft glow from the windows of The House. Before grabbing my stuff and heading into The House, I gingerly followed a path, perhaps a sidewalk, I couldn’t see, lined with what felt like and smelled like pine bushes. (And the scent of pine still conjures up The House). On the way to a different type of glow, one that I can now identify as the hollowness of water with the moon casting her shimmery brilliance upon it, I sensed that I was heading toward something magical. The path shifted under my feet as I realized I was passing over a small bridge that led to a deck where the magic revealed itself. A deck with a view of the lake.
I immediately felt nostalgic. The peace of my grade school weekends in my front yard visited me once again, an unadulterated sense of peace. Break that word down, unadulterated. It seems to imply that the opposite of innocence is an adult. I feel this amazing grace of peace every time I arrive at The House, that place, still to this day.
The next morning, my uncle awoke us with a holler, “Hit it pigeons!” Which meant it was time to ski. I lumbered sleepily downstairs to find McDonald’s breakfasts scattered all over the two four top tables. That was the first of many times he would enter the Golden Arches and say, “Can you please give me everything currently ready?”
“Excuse me, sir. Everything? Don’t you want to know what we have?””
“Nope, just pack it up. I’m in a hurry.” Once he got home, he would describe the groans from the people in line behind him. I have never liked McDonald’s. Expect their breakfast. Yum. Great way to begin the day.
Then we would ski. And swim. And play. Then I peeked around the other side of the pine tree path to discover…you guessed it. An expansive green grass hill with a lake view. Me and my book and my baby oil spiked with iodine (I am not proud, just honest) luxuriated in the expansive green space and experienced double peace.
How does that amazing summer memory impact me and my summers now?
As things were slowly re-opening in the world now plagued by COVID-19 and the days began growing warmer and sunnier (good riddance to all of that rain and wind of March and April and May), some of my family and a few friends ventured up to The Lake, as we call it now, and spent the day in the water, on the boat and I, on the lawn. We have since removed the pine tree path as it blocked the lake view and required an unnecessary amount of upkeep, so now the sidewalk and the expansive green lawn are adjacent to one another with neither blocking the other. On that day, exhausted from a day of water and fun, I sat in my usual spot and gazed out over the water. I didn’t have a book. I didn’t want a distraction from the view. My friends and family played corn hole, drank beers, fixed food, and listened to music. I heard none of it. I heard silence. I felt peace. A while later, my friend asked, “What were you thinking about out on the lawn?”
“Nothing. And it was amazing.” During a pandemic, while actually on the quarantine roller coaster, (spelled it wrong again) I found a few moments of unadulterated peace with myself while among friends. I found it in the writing prompt of my dear friend. I found it among a memory and a place. It’s there for the finding, for the summer lovin’.
What (summer) memory or place from your past has an impact on your summers of the present?