What I’m Not Doing

I’m feeling like a quarantine failure. Yes, I am having a bad case of Compare & Despair! I am feeling very “less than” as I look at what everyone is doing in their quarantine time… and I’m not.

Here’s a partial list of all the things I’m NOT doing: baking, doing daily 4-mile walks in nature, taking up water color painting, creating art of any type, learning to knit, taking a class in wine appreciation (or cheese board creation or flower arranging), learning a new language, writing (another) book, having virtual happy hours each week, having a weekly zoom-based family game night, doing the daily on-line OTF workouts, improving my blog layout, making masks to donate to charity, de-cluttering the house, doing regular take-out to support local restaurants, or learning to eat a plant-based diet. Sadly, every one of these ideas was either suggested to me, or is something someone I know is doing. In fact, I’m not even planning our big move nor doing a top-to-bottom spring clean.

I read recently that the instability (emotional, financial… even physical) of this time can make even a high-functioning person feel stressed. Yes, I believe I’m usually high functioning. And yes, I’m feeling a bit stressed from the future uncertainty and loss of connections. Adding in this Compare & Despair is not helping. Why did quarantining turn into a competition?

I know that I am incredibly blessed. We have enough food to eat and a comfortable home to be in. Our families are all staying healthy with the recommended isolation strategies. I don’t have children to home school while I figure out working-from-home, nor job-less boomerang kids returning. And I am extremely grateful for all of that. But still, the continued isolation does get me down at times, especially as I look at what everyone else seems to be doing and my days seem to be mostly non-productive.

So what in reality am I doing?   Unfortunately, when I look at my days I often see too much social media scrolling (lots of the coronavirus stuff – from charts to articles), YouTube watching (the late night monologues, the Cirque de Soliel shows, various musical-based things), game playing (crosswords and scrabble), and jigsaw puzzling (on my 5th 1000 piece puzzle). None of that is very productive.

But I am also practicing yoga (on-line with Adriene, like many), doing daily gratitude and morning journaling, cooking more (both pantry-cooking and trying new recipes – trying being the critical word), and trying to stay connected with friends via texts & chats. I’ve done one big project (photo-review for digitization), made masks for us (re-learning how to sew!), taken 2 on-line classes, and joined the 21st Century in on-line connection (learned how to Zoom, work my Kindle, and do e-cards.)

 

I know I need to learn a new normal. A world (for the foreseeable future) that does not contain many of the things I love to do – group classes, live theater, restaurant dinners with friends, arts & crafts shows. That’s the reality of my world – let go of the retirement lifestyle I had created, allow myself time to mourn the loss, and define a new normal.

I realized after a great blog post by Michele (thriving through uncertainty – link here) that once again, I am in the middle of living through a transition.   Isn’t there a quote, “Physician, heal thyself?” Why did I not recognize this transition?!?

Similar to Michele, I’ve written about the three phases of transition, but used different language (see my old blog post link – August 2015). I’ve absolutely gone through (am still going through?) the “Let it Go” phase – recognizing  and mourning the losses.  And I am definitely feeling the discomfort of the middle phase of “let it be”. From my previous post: “Let it Be: a period of low energy, a feeling of limbo.  This is the time to mull over the change occurring…time to just “let it be.”  It helped me to think of this time as an incubation period, a fertile time to think and be creative, or the cocoon that allows the butterfly to emerge.”

I will start to look at the litany of things people recommend or do, not as “should’s” and failures for me, but as possibilities to explore.   I will clarify my retirement lifestyle vision statement, once again, and start a new action plan, assessing the possibilities versus my values and vision. When I feel ready to emerge and “Let it Begin” (phase 3 of transition), I’ll have my unique path going forward once again in sight.  A new normal.

Have you felt like a quarantine failure? Does thinking about this time of quarantine like a cocoon to emerge anew help reframe that for you?

38 thoughts on “What I’m Not Doing

  1. Oh I so understand how this feels. I’ve went through days like this too. Sometimes all I seemed to achieve are household chores and going out to do some grocery shopping. Now I’m making sure that I’m adding exercise to the routine and it’s helping a lot. I’ve also started a podcast – a simple one – but it’s something I’d been putting off for a very long time. That has given me a boost and I’m slowly picking up my creativity.
    As the saying goes ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ – do what works for you! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Corinne, I too am slowly finding a new daily routine and picking a couple of things to “do”, since many of the things I used to do will not be coming back anytime soon. Yoga almost everyday is one… and that has really helped. And I’ve been thinking about book writing again… which is my main creative space. As the transition stages say… Let it go, Let it be, and Let it begin. I think I’m allowing my begin to begin when it’s ready!

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  2. I like to think at this time, there are no rules! Do whatever is good for you – or don’t do things. I’ve actually rather relished the quiet time and used it to do a bit of a catch up. Didn’t learn the piano or completely redo my blog, but there’s still time …

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    1. LOL…do you own a piano to learn on? Switching the litany of things to a possibilities list and relooking at my life vision has helped. I do think I will be picking something to do, since many of the things I enjoy doing will not be back for a long time. Nope, I don’t own a piano, so that’s not a pick for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, I do own a piano! A beautiful one. No one in the family can play it (though the grandkids enjoy having a romp on it when they visit), so it seems like an opportunity in waiting! It’s just that I have so many other things on the list before I get there …

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  3. Pat, this is great, and so real. Thank you. It almost feels like wearing 2 different shoes. They are on the correct geet, but the shoes don’t match. I feel like I have or am accomplishing a lot, just by pushing through the tech frustrations of working from home, and seeking help from friends. I also feel like I haven’t done that much. I pray for our local grocers especially, because they have been right in the middle of dealing with shortages and attitudez, and also working with the community. For them and others, I pray for endurance and resilience. Because we have all Bern at this for a long time with no discernible end in sight. I think your post helps to normalize that reality and the feelings that go with it. Plus, it sounds like you have allowed yourself some creative space around those things you are doing.

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    1. The uncertainty of how long this will last is really stressful, isn’t it? With the “opening up”, so many folks think it’s over… but so many of the things I love to do are not coming back for a long time. So I do need to find something to replace them. Endurance and resilience… yes, something I think we all need.

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  4. I do love the phrase “compare and despair” as it sums up much of how we hold ourselves accountable to be like others appear to be. This is a time of huge emotional and real losses no matter what our individual situation. It sounds like you are actually coping well.

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    1. I’m not sure where I first heard that phrase, but it’s been really helpful to me. It’s something I can say to myself, “Stop you’re doing a Compare and Despair again”. I used it in retirement transition a lot and now, it fits again!

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  5. I am a quarantine failure as well. I could not bake as we can’t get flour. I have been trying to walk as much as we are allowed but without public transport or a car I have run out of interesting places to go. I feel I ought to have taken up a new hobby but I have not.

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    1. Leanne linked a quote below… that all you really need to do during this time is rest. And another quote I saw on line was “all you need to do is survive”. I’m trying to create structure in my days because I need it… but it is still so hard to get in the habit of a daily walk!

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  6. You are singing my song! When this all started, I tried to get more computer work done and tackle some big projects, but I felt anxious and it was hard to focus. That’s eased some now and I have managed to start a small garden and learn a few new things to cook and clean out one room. And focusing on my work online is easier. But I haven’t done anything earth-shattering. Your list of things you have accomplished during this time is actually quite impressive. I think the key to not comparing and despairing (and I love that phrase!) is to seek out social media posts of others who feel the same way. I think there are many of us! Then we can compare and…swear…and…repair maybe.

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    1. Lori, Love the Compare and Swear! It’s close to the compare and despair for me… cause my despair is often a curse word or two. For now, I’m looking at these things as options. I know that my usual things to do will be a longer time coming back, so I do need to explore something new. Not earth-shattering, but something. I’ve tried the cooking new things… of 7 new recipes, only 2 are “do again”. That means the 5 others were edible, but not by much. Thanks for joining in the conversation – it’s wonderful to know we’re singing the same song.

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  7. Pat, I think most of us, even those highly accomplished ladies, have had a few down days. It takes mental energy to be productive and that seems to be the first to go. I have never been a super ‘go getter’ and things have not changed. What lulled me into a funk a couple of weeks ago was ‘routine.’ I need structure and balance, to feel fulfilled, but this Covid routine is for the birds. Trying to make the next day different from the last is a challenge. P.S. I’m not doing any of those things that you are not doing either!!

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    1. Suzanne, I like how you talk about it – structure and balance. I need the same! For me the balance is between being and doing…. and the doing tends to be out & about with others. So that’s what’s put me out of balance. Plus not being able to plan anything. BUT, I did plan us a trip tp our place in Florida. We decided since everything is “opening up”, it’s an option now. And we can do similar there as here…social distancing and basically stay “in”. But there we have a great backyard, on the water.

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  8. Liked this because it is so real. Taking too much notice of social media posts is something I had to stop. Life is not like that for everyone. Compare and despair..good one!

    I disliked the beginnings of our very restricted life because “I” was the designated grocery shopper in our household of two but it began to bother me. All the shelves that were stripped…and then limits placed and it took me quite a while to eventually stop searching for what we always had and make a few changes.

    It showed me that I am not good with change…actually I knew that…but that this change was bigger and scarier because no-one really knew what they were doing. I must admit I got some comfort from being in our island country and having borders close so early. The whole of Australia has just 100 deaths…sadly any death is wrong but we, along with New Zealand have done well.

    Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Denyse, I appreciate your comment about it being real. I do try and be real, although I also do try and be positive with it. I’m not great with change myself. When dealing with change, I need a plan, and there are so many uncertainties with this situation. And yes, you are lucky with your country’s response…the situation here is so much worse. (My state is still averaging over 500 new cases a day and we are still opening everything back up). Be well!

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  9. I was just thinking the other day that I’d been home for nearly 3 months and achieved very little that was new or challenging. I’ve been online, blogging, reading, walking, chilling, chatting, video-ing with the kids, making cards to send to the grandgirls etc – but I haven’t learnt the ukele, or French, or baked, or made bread etc etc. At first I wondered if it was an opportunity lost, and then I realized that it’s just who I am – I like chilling and I like not being under pressure to achieve stuff any more. So I’m accepting that this was a lovely break from the world and I’m using it to recalibrate and decide what’s next. I pinned a great quote a while ago that you might like: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/360147301455260271/
    Keep being kind to yourself and I’ll look forward to seeing your Phase 3.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, Love the quote. I know I shouldn’t be comparing what I’m doing with others achievements, but for a recovering Type A personality, it is so very hard. I am also taking this time to recalibrate a bit. One of the things was re-visiting my strengths and determining if I am doing things that utilize them… which is supposed to make you happier. I had to chuckle at your comment about kindness… which is one of the strengths in the VIA Strengths… and it’s #22 of 24 for me. It was also the other area of the aspects of happiness I indicated I needed to work on! Maybe that needs to be my next focus, being kind to myself!

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  10. I don’t feel like a quarantine failure even though I haven’t accomplished much. We don’t always have to be goal- driven to feel like we’ve achieved enough. It’s ok to while the time away in lack of meaningful activity. I’m happy that I got this time to rest and reflect on life and I won’t really enjoy going back to a busy lifestyle at the end of it

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    1. I had to chuckle at the “we don’t always have to be goal driven”… because I am a recovering workaholic, Type A, achievement, get it done girl. It took a long time in my retirement transition to even be okay with some time “just being” and not always doing. Will I ever totally be okay with total lack of meaningful activity… I doubt it. I do envy others who can get to that acceptance!

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  11. This is hard. That’s all there is to it. I too have much to be grateful for–a lot of the same things you listed for yourself–and I really do appreciate that, but there are times I feel anxious, sad, irritable, or just plain tired. Social distancing and pandemic obsessing were not what I had in mind for my spring. I tried one online OT class and just couldn’t get into it. A lot of people I know are out hiking, but I hear how crowded the trails are, and worry about how to social distance. Everyone keeps talking about all of this extra time on their hands, and I ask myself where did my extra time go? I have no creative energy, so much of it goes into reading, light physical activity, and meditation. Oh yeah, and screen time. I’m doing my best to stay in the moment and not get all up in my head about things.

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    1. I’m guilty of too much screen time for sure! I’m not sure how to curtail the habit that’s formed there. All I keep telling myself is “be kind to yourself”. Maybe some mindless screen time is what I need.

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  12. A “new normal” indeed. Both the missus and me each go through periods where we’re verbally mournful of the same routine, day after day. It’s like suddenly going to the grocery store is the ONLY source of external distraction (which isn’t actually true because we have taken drives, gone for walks, etc.). Ennui can unfortunately bring on a rabid sense of exaggerated discontent.

    But you sure underscore the primary things for which so many of us should be grateful: good health (and access to quality care), enough food in the pantry, and a roof over our heads. That can’t be said enough, I think. Thanks for the reminder. – Marty

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    1. I just got back from the grocery store and it continues to be more stressful than fun. Today less than half of the people had on masks, there were full families shopping together with kids not practicing social distance from anyone, and the produce area was out of produce bags for the regular shoppers (I stole some from the pick-it cart when they turned their back – yeah, radical). I’ve always felt Florida grocery stores were more polite and am hoping that is still the case now. I could use a nice external distraction!

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  13. Hello Pat! I liked reading your post! I have the same feeling… that I did not “do” as much as or as great as I should have during this quarantine. People always show the best sides of themselves on the social networks (us including) and I am sure that for most people this lockdown has been hard and sometimes depressing for a lot of them. We should not “buy” all what we see, read, and so on… as this may make us feel diminished and unable to have as a great of a time as the others… I read the blogs of expat women locked down in Singapore, they all had supposedly a great time working from home, helping and reconnecting nicely with with their children, cooking lovely dishes, having wonderful Zoom sessions with their friends and families, etc… And I thought “Why on earth am I not like them, their lives seem to be so ideal during this pandemic?” ;-)) I believe we did our best, as much as we could. I am sure more difficult times are ahead of us anyway (pandemics, pollution, world conflicts, etc…) Thank you for your sincerity. I wish you all the best!!! Have a great week. Diane

    Le dim. 17 mai 2020 à 18:41, retirementtransition a écrit :

    > patwdoyle11 posted: “I’m feeling like a quarantine failure. Yes, I am > having a bad case of Compare & Despair! I am feeling very “less than” as I > look at what everyone is doing in their quarentine time… and I’m not. > Here’s a partial list of all the things I’m NOT doing: b” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diane, thank so much for joining the conversation. I know social media is the highlight reels… but isn’t it hard not to do a Compare & Despair? Just for the record, of the 7 new “lovely dishes” I tried cooking, Tim and I agreed that 5 of them are “never again”! The other two were, “well you could try again, but modify it like this”. So much for an accomplishment to post on Facebook. LOL.

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  14. I totally feel like a quarantine failure! When this first started I was going actually a little excited and was going to use it as my personal “boot camp” to finally lose those 10 pounds and get into the shape that I have been struggling and failing to acquire for several years now. I had every intention of eating properly, getting back into jogging and getting some serious “in house” workouts in. That lasted for about 2 weeks and with boredom of nothing else to do (and no visible progress on the scales or in the body) I turned to bad food (all kinds of carbs – Cheezits, Wheat Thins, and M&MS to name of few). I was going not drink any alcohol and that didn’t even last the 2 weeks. Not that I’ve become a lush LOL, but I certainly have a glass of wine or a gimlet more often than I intended. I have kept up with trying to become a jogger but have not succeeded in that. And nor have I done any amazing projects or really bettered myself in anyway. Believe it or not, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want the quarantine to end because I want longer to accomplish my goals. Like more weeks would change anything!
    And not getting back, to normal???? I find myself really sad that things may never or at least not for a year or so get back to “normal”. My first one and saddest for me is what about my dance?????

    Thanks for this post. I really need to hear exactly what you wrote as it is exactly how I am feeling!

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    1. Hey, I know we chatted since you posted this response, but wanted you to know i read it. And to let you know, you still inspire me… you are getting out everyday and walking, you are balancing cooking and eating out (and I wish we had more great restaurants close by for take-out like you do!), you are facing this all head-on and with insight into yourself. That inspires me to try as well… to get out and walk more, to keep trying to cook (and I told Tim he’s not allowed to give me negative feedback anymore on that), and to keep trying to figure out a new normal. You are not alone and do reach out to me when you need to vent!

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  15. I’ve learned that my truest desires are not to clean my house, but rather to be outside as much as I possibly can. So I think I need to listen to that and hire a housecleaner once things open up just a bit more. I desire a sparkling clean home, I just don’t care to do it myself. So, instead, in quarantine I’ve been enjoying taking care of my yard, and walking, hiking, biking, or kayaking for hours a day, rarely missing a day because being active has been so critical to keeping my sanity during these times. And being on or near the ocean soars my soul, so I will continue to do lots of that moving forward. And really, thats about it for major habit changes. The rest is pretty minor.

    If you have found that one thing that makes you hum, than I think the rest is just noise.

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  16. I have good and bad days. I’ve been relatively productive but I’ve also had a few wasted days. On the good days, I seem to feel a sense of peace knowing there are no expectations. The bad days are when I’ve spent most of my time frustrated with how challenging it is to do things that wouldn’t normally be so difficult. Especially when they’re difficult to begin with. Dealing with my parents has required many phone calls, including unreturned calls, which is tough when first, I hate talking on the phone and second, it’s the only way to get things done right now. I tell myself that at least I’m home but it only takes a small hiccup for the frustrated tears to flow. On a positive note, I do have a haircut scheduled for this week after 12 weeks of no cuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get the good and bad days. I seem to have had a couple of good and bad half days even… start off good and by mid-day, in a funk. Yes, I try and focus on the positive, even then. I felt like that proverbial camel dealing with the last straw many times this past few weeks.

      I just booked my car in for a recall- service. Being In Florida for snowbird and then in stay-at-home since March, I got the second notice about an issue that could be seriously damaging to the engine. Not that I’m driving much… but still, a big deal in calling and planning an outing! Crazy how small things are so big now.

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  17. Wow. I was going to say “back at ya sista” but I think you have been much more productive than me. Arg. I find myself losing time like crazy with facebook, youtube/Netflix/etc. streaming, emails, and Zoom video connections. My accomplished list is extremely low even with a To Do list that was supposed to keep me focused. No extra cleaning accomplished in the past month and a half. Knitting projects getting worked on slower than no quarantine!! Do 2 visits to Duolingo count as working on learning a new language?? Uhh, I did get 7 hanging flower baskets planted and hung. Does that count? I mean gee, that took all of an hour to pick the flowers and then another hour to plant and hang them so major accomplishment right??.

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    1. I had to laugh at your compare & despair comment. And yes, visits to Duolingo count, as does getting your flowering baskets done. I was noticing all the annual plantings – baskets and pots – on my neighborhood walk over the weekend, thinking… I should be doing that! LOL. See, we all do it… all the time… why does that “I should be” voice not seem to go into its own hibernation in quarantine?

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    1. Tom. Yup, denial. I think I’m going to compose a blog post capturing different responses I’m hearing, both here and on FB where I post as well. You’re not alone in denial… a friend yesterday said she was there as well, because one of the concerts she has tickets for this summer did not cancel yet. While all the others did, she was in denial that things this summer would be different because one did not!

      I do think things will be back to some semblance of normal, but not in a few months. I think it will be after there is a vaccine. And vaccines take longer to develop…you cannot rush some testing. I still recall being asked (when working) if we could get results of our “28-day micro test” we were placing that day next week. I wanted to ask, What is it about the 28-day name did you not understand? It takes time to determine if something works or not, has side effects or not, and then how to make it reliably on a large scale. So, sorry, I really do not think a few months. But, feel free to stay in denial as long as you need to. 🙂

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