I sense out there a transition—from the clutching of crisis to an unsettled awareness that fear and isolation are far from over. Temporary changes in routine are becoming new ways of doing things for the long-term. Loss feels greater perhaps as the thought of a curtailed summer becomes more and more real.
I found myself feeling claustrophobic in the same spaces that felt just fine a week ago. I realized today that I was withholding a part of what keeps me “zen” but not having a corner for my own thinking and “being.”
I had given up my meditation/journaling corner to make space for my husband to have an office, now that he works from home. I thought it was fine to squeeze in some time when he was elsewhere or just to take my journal in any other part of the house.
I realized that I had been holding out for “temporary” when these changes are here for a long time. Yesterday, I sought a new space to call my own. I carved out a corner of our bedroom by moving a few pieces of furniture around
Immediately I felt a sense of peace. I brought all of my treasure from my nook in the loft to my new little corner. I have my books, my art supplies, my journal, photographs, my vision board—my kit of things for introspection. I felt a restoration of a part of what keeps me positive, grounded, and hopeful. I now have a little space of retreat in a household full of people. I didn’t even realize I was missing it.
My students too have been struggling with a loss of space. Having their routines when they were at school, trying to work effectively at home created struggle, anxiety, depression, hopelessness. Some of my students had little siblings who tugged at them constantly. One had a disabled brother prone to screaming for large parts of the day. Another had a mother who worked a stressful job on zoom calls in the middle of their small apartment for 10 hours a day.
I urged my students that, no matter how small their space, no matter the people, that they too could create space their own. Take over a tiny closet. Reclaim a corner of their bedroom by moving something out. Push their desk in front of a window instead of a wall. Make small changes until they find a glimmer of joy that helps their spirits to align at a higher frequency.
We can also find outside spaces for working and being as the summer approaches. One of my favorite spaces for Zoom meetings is at a small table on our outside patio. I can look at the trees and birds while engaging with my colleagues. I walk our neighborhood on phone calls. I sip my evening tea on the front porch and take in the sunsets. Each of these moments of blending outdoors with my regular routine feel like tiny gifts.
Little tweaks can restore ourselves in a time of change. The places that help us to feel a part of something bigger. Productive when we don’t want to be. Put a plant from your office near your laptop in your at-home workspace. Find music that drowns out family noise and reminds us of our favorite coffee shop. Light a candle; add a lamp to have a better lit space rather than overhead lighting. Focus on your senses.
In this brave new world, we have the blessing of focusing on the little adjustments that can keep our spirits higher. How can you change the spaces in which you live to align with your yearnings and comfort?