This week, the RCWMS staff reflects on daily life in quarantine. What are you experiencing, feeling, thinking about, learning? Email your snapshots of daily life to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, April 22. Maximum 200 words. We’ll include some in a future blog post.
The last in-person meeting I had was Wednesday, March 11. Ethel needed help thinking about a publishing project. She came to the office and I made her sit 10 feet away from me, which was challenging with her hearing issues, but we got through our meeting. That was five weeks ago. Since then, I’ve mostly been working from home and am starting to get the hang of this new way of living.
My daily schedule has changed only slightly. I still stay home to write in the morning, though I may check on RCWMS work or Zoom meetings. Dwight’s here all day now, so we eat lunch together, which is normal, but he doesn’t go to his office. We’re in our garden more than usual. It has never been so clean and orderly!
I’ve been walking in the afternoons, trying to get my 10,000 steps. Sometimes I walk around East Campus. Twice I’ve taken a long walk to Duke Gardens. Some afternoons, I walk to the RCWMS office, half a mile down the street where I check the mail and water the plants. Our office mate Grace is there occasionally but graciously lets me know ahead of time. I then re-Clorox all the handles.
-Jeanette Stokes, RCWMS Executive Director
But. Wait. My plate was already full. My beloved father-in-law died less than a year ago. I meet monthly with friends to share stories of our aging parents. My own body is changing, in not always welcome ways. It is too much to hold all that already was. And now this. I sit at home, doing my part to flatten the curve. I wait. I’m clear that I’ll be needed on the other side of this. What fuels me are the small moments. I reach out to my friend whose mother is dying. I revel in the bloom of irises new to my yard. It’s all too much. So I weep and I wait and I embrace the morning birdsong.
-Marya McNeish, RCWMS Programs & Publications
I read a book last year about “mindful parenting” that refers to children as live-in Zen masters. During this time of cloistering, my four-year-old Zen master has high expectations for my spiritual development: contemplate global suffering, do my part by withdrawing from the world, attend to the constant needs of a preschooler without preschool. Do this while expressing love and calm reassurance. She keeps me in the present. My anxieties wait for me in my dreams. While my Zen master does yoga with a Youtube instructor, I find myself doing bizarre tasks like ironing curtains. When she goes to sleep, I eat her Easter candy.
–Rebecca Welper, RCWMS Director of Development & Special Projects
During this time of staying home and working remotely, I am learning to find the new in the familiar. I am staying with my family in my childhood home. All of the light switches, kitchen cabinets, and closet shelves in this space are etched permanently into my memory. While this familiarity offers comfort and certainty, it also sometimes offers excessive mundanity. Each day, my sister and I balance out the ease of being here with new routines, patterns, and activities. We create whipped coffee using the same blender that made my childhood birthday cakes. We exercise by dancing in the same living room in which I did my geometry homework. We craft by transforming the dining room where we shared meals with my grandparents into a sewing room. Quarantine is teaching me that even in familiar places, there is plenty of room for newness.
-Rachel Sauls, RCWMS Anita McLeod Intern