Eight weeks have passed and hunkering down in the house has proved frustrating, comforting, and monotonous at times. No more restaurants to discover, no more city trips to plan for. Life has been put on pause in many ways and it’s left me to re-evaluate old habits and long-standing goals. Productivity is measured by asking: Did I put on real clothes today? Makeup? Did I resist taking a nap? Did I go on my walk?
I feel a different wave of energy propelling my days forward lately.
The first few weeks were full of scattered energy, a nervous excitement at this strange new normal. My mental energy is more focused these days, but I’ve noticed I’m more prone to irritability and anxiety than in the weeks before. At first, I was eager to do everything I could get my hands on: audit classes online, chip away at the book I’ve always wanted to publish, play piano, exercise and lose that winter weight. Then I slowed down and structured my days to do less of a sprint and more of a lockdown a la marathon.
Spring is in full force here with its bright colors and lush foliage. This gorgeous city is waiting to be discovered but for now the forests are my refuge. The weather lifts my mood and my main objective is to stay positive and connected to the people I love. Oh somewhere in there I’ll try to find a job in this crumbling global economy.
This was the past month.
Saturday, March 28th – I’m excited. The raclette machine I ordered online arrived (although it’s smaller than I expected) and Laurens and I had a feast of bacon, cheese, pork, veggies, and potatoes. It was so unhealthy but it was just the comfort food I was craving. God, I love cheese. Is this the start of hibernation feasting?
Sunday, March 29th – Following the online shopping kick that I’ve been on, I finally bought a piano keyboard. Within 3 days it arrived in a tall box on our doorstep. Thanks Amazon. It’s a good piano for the price and I’m excited to have a musical outlet and relive my old piano playing days.
Monday, March 30th – Laurens stayed home today so we could Skype in for our Swiss cultural training. Irene was a nice lady and covered everything from Swiss politics, intercultural dynamics, non-verbal body language and everything in between. Turns out the Swiss are modest, reserved, and appreciate punctuality and rules.
Tuesday, March 31st – If I can’t find a job, I might as well throw my mental energy behind learning new skills! This time at home has me hungry for podcasts, books, and classes. I signed up for a few online Content and marketing courses, but these days I’m most into the Science of Wellbeing online course from Yale on Coursera.
*Our mind’s strongest intuitions are usually totally wrong.
*Just because we know something doesn’t mean it will change our behavior.
*Impact Bias: we think things will be better than they actually will be and that the happiness will last longer.
*People who value time over money are better off.
Friday April 3rd – So, stress baking is definitely a thing.
I woke up on edge and when my attempts to help my mom apply for temporary employment failed later in the day, I was officially nerve-racked. This is the beginning of massive unemployment for many people in the US and this hits really close to home. Making warm banana bread was just what I needed to get hands-on and distract myself.
Saturday, April 4th – Laurens is trying his hand at playing piano and no surprise here…he’s good! He’s started with Für Elise. After breakfast, we went down into the city to an open bike shop. He inquired about mountain bikes to buy and it was impressive to hear him speak German so well, and without English! Four months into his new job I knew he’d be making progress but he surprises me with his gift for languages.
Sunday, April 5th – We went on a hike that turned out to be two hours long. We took lunch and found a stump to sit on. These outdoor excursions are a welcome way to fill the time and a great way to stay away from hoards of people. My back hurts but I’m happy we got out!
Monday, April 6th – On clear mornings like this you can see the Alps perfectly. I see helicopters hovering over the hospital down in the city. Tiga is bird watching. I’m baking more cookies, but this time with almond flour (my sweet tooth is out of control and almond is healthy, right?!)
It’s a lazy day. Perfect.
Tuesday, April 7th – Spent the entire day thinking it was Wednesday. In other news, we’re rewatching The Office from start to finish. That show makes me laugh like a hyena and it gives me something to look forward to at night. I’ll take these small wins thank you very much.
Saturday, April 11th – Woke up in a funky, grumpy mood. My back pain has been an annoying thorn in my side, literally. I re-aggravated a herniated disk from years ago and now have to nurse it back to normal. Some days I don’t notice it; other days I can barely go on a short walk. Once I got the energy to step outside, it remedied my sour vibe. These walks can literally save the day and I’m reminded of how important getting fresh air can be. I might leave the house in a bad mood but I always come back refreshed and happier.
Easter and the week after – It was the worst week of isolation so far. I felt strange, tired, and with symptoms similar to Covid. I wondered if it could be hay fever? I’ve always had asthma so maybe they’re just reacting to the pollen? I couldn’t ignore that my lungs burned and ached, my neck shoulders were sore for no reason. I didn’t have a fever, but was so tired I took 3 hour naps after sleeping a full night. When I called the telemedicine service, they said it sounds like Covid, but to stay home unless it gets really bad.
The week following Easter I tried get better and take care of my body with vitamins and rest. Who knows what it was but I’m curious to find out once tests are more readily available.
Wednesday, April 22nd – I’m excited! Today was the launch of the #WanderWomen series on this blog. After joining a few expat groups on Facebook, I was blown away by the incredible stories I was reading. I asked women to reach out to be part of this project and the response was humbling. Dozens of women from literally every corner had a story to tell. I plan on posting every week to feature them.
Saturday, April 25th – I felt a powerful pang of homesickness today. It’s a weird reality to not be able to jump on a plane and join my family. I see tickets to Texas are cheap (500 euros roundtrip compared to 1,200+) so maybe it’s time to book. Who knows when air travel will go back to normal
Sunday, April 26th – I feel an over-pouring of affection for my hubs these days. Despite what I’ve been hearing about some couples in quarantine, we’re not fighting at all. He has his mountain biking excursions on most days and I’m staying busy, too. When he gets home in the evening I’m happy to see him and relax with a game, a movie, a cocktail. I’m just enjoying the abundance of quality time we have because it definitely wasn’t like this last year.
Monday, April 27th – This Monday is a bit different than the rest!
Small stores like hairdressers, garden centers, and nail salons have opened up again. As I walked to get a bag of soil for our new balcony planters, I peered into these shops to see a few people resuming life as ‘normal’. Hairdressers and nail technicians used masks, the clients didn’t. I made eye contact with a woman doing her nails and she smiled as if to say, this is great. It was supposed to rain today, but aha, it’s another glorious day. I’m happy. Turns out I’m not the only one with the idea to buy soil and plants after weeks of not being able to.
Wednesday, April 29th – My writer’s block has lifted!
It’s such a relief and gets me excited for the day. Obviously travel articles are off the table for now, and topics I had tried to dive into before but couldn’t are now begging to be written. Normally I can only write out at coffee shops but since that’s not possible anymore it took adjusting. I’ll get ideas while I’m doing the dishes, working out, all the time! Now I’m riding the wave and seizing the chance to get everything down on paper. On the screen at least 😉
Thursday, April 30th – A year ago today I was in Ibiza with one of my good girlfriends, Vio. On this day, we were overlooking this stunning Spanish bay and basking in the sun. Wanderlust is starting to sneak its way into my soul again. I miss traveling and the explorations of last year and working with hotels. I miss Paris, too.
Friday, May 1st – At this point, getting a job in Zurich anytime soon seems unlikely. I realize the economic situation is precarious but I’m starting to lose hope. Many companies are looking for Native German and English speakers/writers which makes sense but is disheartening. I’m trying to get creative and think of ways I can rise to this challenge. I’m thinking wider than marketing and copywriting, so let’s see what gives.
7 QUARANTINE LESSONS I’LL TAKE FORWARD INTO THE COMING WEEKS
- Listen to your body. Some days you’ll ache, some days you’ll feel great. Don’t over think it but just adapt. In my case, it’s been my back that dictates my activity for the day. Stretching and icing is honestly a life saver.
- Food that is comforting and nourishing is so important right now. Meals are sacred for us – especially on the weekends – and there’s nothing better than sitting down to something that’s delicious and that was cathartic to make.
- Normally, I’m a messy person around the house, but this lockdown has taught me to take better care of things, to aim for a space that encourages clarity and peace of mind. We’re adding more plants and that’s naturally helping to change the vibe.
- Comedy is everything! Laughing is more important than ever. Especially these days when I feel heavy hearted or anxious, I love to listen to Conan O’Brien’s podcast. SNL. Standup on Netflix. The Office. Don’t forget to keep it light and laugh.
- Video calling and WhatsApp are a Godsend. I remember when we lived in Indonesia and the internet wasn’t strong enough to support Skype calls. It was hard to not have them on dial at a moment’s notice. Now it’s different. This situation has pulled me closer to my family and friends and I’m so glad.
- There’s nothing a 10-15 minute walk can’t fix. If you can get out, definitely do.
- Structure is necessary for an unstructured person like me. I have loose time blocks in my day for things I want to do: working out, learning German, calling people, writing, etc. Without a semblance of schedule it becomes too chaotic to keep track of.
Stay safe, stay healthy,