Learning to Become a Homebody and Then Learning to Enjoy It
Today is Groundhog’s Day and more than the little critter’s prediction this year, the movie is on my mind because the premise is living the same exact day over and over. In these Covid-19 times, many of us feel we are stuck in a kind of Groundhog movie day, with the days of the week becoming irrelevant to those not working. Some cute memes on this theme renamed the days of the week as pictured in the attached:
For me the biggest change was the endless days without social activity because I was always a complete social butterfly. Though I loved making and having a beautiful home, and entertaining frequently as well as hosting family every holiday, I was not the sort of person who loved just staying at home. Not interested in being a full time homemaker – I have mostly worked outside the home.
I missed my celebrating many birthdays this past year, going out with friends, and I missed being invited to a large number of weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversary parties, and other joyous occasions.
It was due to my constant being on the go that made me the complete opposite of a homebody. I just loved having an extensive wardrobe and getting dressed up to go out. And out I went, ALL the time. That left little time to bond with my new home but I did not realize it until I was stuck at home.
Not much of a television watcher, it was rare for me to settle in after work and just sit and watch an evening of TV. There was always something better to do – an organizational meeting, a speaker to hear, an evening out with friends, a party or gathering, yoga class, writing work on the computer, etc. I completely forgot what it was like to spend an evening in front of the TV.
We lost our family home in the Memorial Day floods of 2015. (Read my flood blogs here and here. and put flood in search) My previous home was dear to me and where I had the fondest memories of raising two of the greatest kids ever, before they went off to college and off into their own lives. I guess having to demolish a home, becoming temporarily “homeless” and building a brand new home, might make many people homebodies. Yet after I manically unpacked and got settled, other than frequent entertaining, I was still in the pattern of my previous lifestyle and therefore not logging a lot of actual hours in that beautiful new home. It was designed by an architect friend to meet our specific needs, and then decorated to my artistic and contemporary taste. Though it is ultra-contemporary in look, our home is a place that somehow has great warmth and this is noted by all who visit.
Then of course the COVID-19 era came calling and sent us all into our homes. Although I always felt like I was a flexible and adaptable person, it really surprised me how much I enjoyed becoming one with my home and becoming a homebody. I guess it was a choice of that, or to feel depressed, and I always choose to be a happy grateful person.
One good strategy was that I officed in my “happy room,” instead of my upstairs office. My formal living and dining room, which many people have remarked is a very joyful and happy room, is a place where I am content to take my place at my computer for remote work each day. Since Gary is working in our upstairs office, I use our shared upstairs office only for blogging and writing, as I am doing this right now. This office, and my desk and bookshelves are chock full of memories, both photos, memorabilia, toys, collectibles, and is a place where my creativity is well stimulated – a necessary ingredient for leisure writing. Other than that, it is business daily in the happy room.
I have learned to absolutely love our smaller family room, with it’s center fireplace and large screen TV, cozy and large sofa, and to one end, my little orchid sanctuary. Although it was a hobby before the quarantine, it is now my passion to re-grow orchids after their flowers fall off. With them all bunched together in a sunny spot, and with my routine described in a previous blog, they are thriving and especially fertile now. Each day I count the new sprouts and talk to them, paying more attention to them and drawing great comfort from the new life that grows there each day. I can see why gardening is so cathartic: new growth equals new life.
I must admit that I have done more television watching, because let’s face it, without after work exercise or evening activities, all of us default to sitting in front of the TV. My husband Gary and I have enjoyed a few series on premium channels, and we watch a lot of old movies on TCM, and new movies on the premium channels. An evening with nothing to do but watch something on the comfortable sofa, sometimes with cooler evenings, watching the fireplace, and spending time with my husband has brought us closer. We do not always have the same taste in entertainment, because of his testosterone, and my being a sentimental, mushy FEMALE, but we have found quite a bit to enjoy together.
At night, I retreat earlier than ever to my Throne, our king bed which is beyond comfortable. It is like being in a cloud. I prop up some pillows and read and read, relaxing my body and mind enough to fall asleep.
Our backyard has been a glorious place to swim, to dine, or to just sit and relax with a cocktail. It is a large yard, surrounded by beautiful greenery and trees. I have learned to enjoy sipping coffee on our small side deck, that has a tiny table and chair and is a sunny spot to enjoy.
Both my husband and I have made good use of our kitchen; we both bake, and my husband Gary has been making more and more of his now-famous sourdough bread and pizza. I have lovingly cooked our holiday dinners there, and we were fortunate enough to be able to host outdoors and then using all safety protocols, one indoor event.
With the added time indoors, we also did what everyone else did – we organized spaces that needed it. Both of our elevator closets are now practical spaces, and Gary made a man-cave and organized our garage as I wrote in a past blog.
As a reforming shopaholic (search for those many blogs on my site) who spent quite a bit of free time shopping, I think I have purchased less this year than any other year in my life. Out of necessity, I have shopped online, but that was never my preferred method and I like to wander around, look and feel things and of course try on clothes. My stylish wardrobe is literally “hanging around” waiting to be used again, someday when we can resume the previous life.
Most importantly, I have continued to stay close with my most important relationships from my home base, having my kids come over often, and babysitting and bonding with my two new grandsons because I have been very careful and so have my children. (Except for the time I went to my beach place by plane. However, if you could have seen my head-to-toe protection, it would have been a miracle for the virus to somehow sneak in on me.) The biggest pleasure in my life is my grandchildren, all of them, even the ones that do not live close. I wish I could bond with them all in my home as I did with the two little boys my children have given me in this COVID year. I realize that many are suffering due to missing family members who do not live close. In this realm I realize how fortunate I am.
My friends who I haven’t seen in ages, are still my dear wonderful friends. We text, we talk on the phone, we send group messages, occasionally we Facetime or do a Zoom. I miss celebrating birthdays with them and seeing them in person, but I do not feel any less close with any of them. I am very fortunate that my sisterhood of friends are still there for me, and I am there for them, even if we are taking a one year break from visiting in person. I miss all the affairs I have been privileged to be a part of – I miss dancing and dressing up too. With that said, I am more content than I ever thought I could be, as I am healthy and so is everyone else in my world. So I am thankful for that. We are being smart and careful, and avoiding contact and that is the best thing we can do for each other at this point. I love my friends and they are a very important part of my life and my heart. They are my sisters for the most part.
I have friends who are retired and found themselves bored silly during this home bound time. Others found new hobbies and have been very productive – settling into a new routine to pass the days away. Some found artistic hobbies, some are journaling and writing, and two of my besties have adopted new puppies to love. Some have become real chefs in the kitchen, others became addicted to online games, social media, and even news programs. Everyone is finding a way to cope and then thrive in this unusual time.
My husband and I have had a lot of fun reconnecting and getting closer by being in close proximity every day. He keeps me laughing and fed. I wrote a previous blog on how this surprised me because we are opposites, and yet we get along so well.
I am glad I am still remotely working, and I freelance write too. So I admit, I am too busy to be bored, and that makes the stay-at-home edict that much easier to bear. It’s not endless days and stretches with nothing to do like some are experiencing.
Still, if someone had told me earlier than the 2020 into 2021 Covid era that I would be perfectly content, even HAPPY, during this time at home 24/7, I would have pronounced them crazy. I am horrified at the world events, the loss of lives, and many other things, but in my personal bubble, I choose to be happy and content. I am steering that wheel and that is the course I choose to take. Sure I miss going out and my active social life, but again, this is also about GRATITUDE. I am grateful for my happy home, grateful for my relationships, and for my health and life. That truly is the bottom line. We can all weather this COVID storm in different boats, but to do so with gratitude, means it will be that much easier on all of us.