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The Good of Three Years House Arrest

Now that the pandemic is far enough away, I’m ready to proclaim that some good came of it. No question, there was much hurt and hardship, which impacted some people severely. But, pulling the silver lining from three solid years of storm clouds reaps some value from the nightmare that was. Even nightmares usually have a purpose or message.

Things I adopted because of the pandemic:

Online/at home fitness. Until early 2020, I had a three-times-a-week fitness class habit, primarily focused on strength training with free weights. Two days into the pandemic began my own routines patterned after these classes. Even set to my favourite rock music, they were reasonably boring, so I tuned online to yoga and pilates classes. Yoga was abandoned after I hurt myself, again1. The pilates classes stuck (thanks to Nicole2 whose work outs, especially those that include weights, are challenging enough that I can feel them afterward). Free weights still happen in the kitchen, too.

Longer Walks. During lockdown, going for a walk became the only acceptable reason to get out of the house. To burn off steam, I’d speed out, walking fast for 30 minutes, then turn around to come back home. Walking has always been a preferred mode of transportation for me. Now, a short walk is much longer (40 minutes is fine, and at 6 km/hr, this covers a lot of ground). 

Hand washing. Generally wash my hands more, and more thoroughly, now. I assume this is a good thing. Probably hand cream manufacturers do, too.

Zoom meetings. Reliable(ish) video conferencing fulfills a need, making meetings more efficient. Three people who know each other, discussing a joint project, is a conversation easily held online. As are meetings where a large group of people mostly listen to a few speakers. Other times, there are interactions that happen in a crowded room that aren’t captured by giving the mic to one person at a time. Tra-la – use remote meetings when they work, but see people in person when multiple interactions are important.

Baking breads. Did a smidgen of this pre-2020 but got good at it/found better recipes (thanks Sally3) in the past few years. Yes, a cliche pandemic activity. Why did everyone start baking during the pandemic? Interesting that people, who were out of contract with other people, did all the same things during lockdown. Because we are people. While not fulfilling all my bread needs, I prefer the bagels, dinner rolls and hamburger buns I make to those I can buy, so I continue to make them.

Intermediate level home renovations. I wouldn’t say I take on advanced home DIY projects, but with little else to do during the pandemic, I moved beyond the beginner level. Beginner includes painting, refinishing furniture and swapping light fixtures. Moving load-bearing walls, re-shingling the roof, or pouring concrete footings are advanced DIY. I’m in between, with drywalling a ceiling, tiling floors and installing custom-made wood trim. (I have many YouTubers to thank for this, but special mention to the Perkins Builder Brothers4 and The Fixer5 who I watch repeatedly. Always picking up tips about how to do, well, everything. Even if I’m not doing the same things they are, I get pointers on how to use tools, products, and techniques).

Way more gardening. Some kind of vegetable garden has happened near me since I was 27, even when I lived on the 23rd floor of a high-rise. More recently, it evolved to a large enough area in the backyard to put a noticeable dent in my grocery bill. The house I moved into in 2019 came with an 8×12′ greenhouse. The first year, the greenhouse was too much trouble, requiring constant watering. Setting plants out in the yard and letting nature nourish them, was preferable. 

The spring of 2020 suggested food shortages, piquing my interest in growing more edible stuff. Thus started the planting of leafy greens in April, and nurturing of half a dozen flats of seedlings inside for a variety of crops. Planning and optimizing best growing conditions for many things reached a frenzy that dissipated into regular activities that span from March to October, harvesting what can be harvested in a temperate zone backyard.

Learning about Indigenous culture. Coincidentally, I started on a journey to learn about Indigenous history and culture in Canada in early 2020. Physical lockdown made me wander far and wide digitally. And provided more backyard reading time. I focused on making up for lost time (really, it’s embarrassing how little I knew 5 years ago) and understanding as much as I could about Indigenous history and culture. I joined a beading circle lead by a Métis woman, attended virtual PowWow and numerous presentations about everything from making birchbark canoes to economic development. 

Post pandemic, I am actively involved in groups with a mission to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together. The pandemic gave me the time to start learning, made it easy to get involved, and provided courage to seek understanding. Now, I’m committed to figuring out what reconciliation means, so I can share the knowledge.

These activities are not new to me, nor terribly unique pursuits, during the pandemic or at other times. Finding more time or other resources to pursue them is what the pandemic brought. Not glad for the pandemic but appreciate the lesson in taking time to explore and focus. The message: there’s always new ways to a better life.

1 Sounds crazy but I’ve done it twice now and have the physiotherapy bills to show for it. I am hyper-flexible, so it’s not that hard for me to stretch way too far and pull muscles. 





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