The lockdown, or stay-at-home situation we have found ourselves for the last few months has been a frustrating, economically damaging, even dangerous time for us.
Even so, I have been encouraged by the responses to several posts that have generated some fascinating comments. They tell me folks are using this time to discover new talents, try new lifestyles, or even jettison old ways of thinking. Some people I know have read more books since late February than all of last year.
My suggestion is that you reward yourself for what you have accomplished, tried, adjusted, or simply discovered you enjoy. That doesn't have to be writing the Great American novel, learning a foreign language, or launching a new, online crafting business, though it could be.
Yes, organizing the garage counts. Watching all the Alfred Hitchcock movies you can stream would be a notable accomplishment. Helping the grandkids with their online school work equals a great use of your time. Teaching your dog to not bark at all the delivery people that seem to be everywhere would be a memorable success. Setting up Zoom gatherings with friends for weekly accountability sessions or wine tasting? Sure.
One of the skills I have been working on is oil painting. Last August, for the first time in my life, Betty convinced me to give it a try. I know you are never too old to start; my dad started in his early 70's and produced some excellent oil and water color paintings. He taught himself to charcoal sketch, too.
With that pedigre I figured, I will ignore my lack of artistic urges and give it a shot. Well, my first month's worth of efforts were pretty horrendous. In one post I put my lack of any discernible talent on public display.
Comments from readers were polite and encouraging, though no one offered to buy an early Lowry.
I found I rather enjoyed the process, even as my efforts produced disappointing results. I probably spent more time in setting up and cleaning up then actually putting brush to canvas, but it was enjoyable. So, I kept at it.
About nine months later, I have begun to feel some progress. At last, I produced one that Betty has approved for display in our home. Considering she has been an artist of many media all her life, I took that as a thumbs up.
In normal times, after her approval, I would reward myself with a nice dinner out, or maybe a armful of new paints and brushes. Instead, I am excited about each new painting because now I know what needs work and what I must practice. I am motivated to look forward to a fresh piece of canvas and what the next attempt might produce.
Quite honestly, the two or three I painted right after the one above exposed some serious regression in the finished product. They found the trash can instead of the wall. Nevertheless, the effort was rewarding because each time I learn what I must practice over and over and over.
I'd like to leave you with a simple request: no matter what you have tried or done over the last few months, it is very important that you acknowledge the effort you have made. Even if what you have done is to make the fluffiest pancakes of your life, celebrate that fact.
With all the stress, depressing news, or disappointment at what has happened to your life, it will do you good to pat yourself on the back for whatever effort you have made in whatever area of your life. To not simply mark time, but move yourself forward is something to celebrate.