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Chicken and Pee in the Pot: Quarantine To-Do List Update Part I

Welp, here we are in month EIGHT of Coronavirus (semi-) shutdown, so I guess it's time to update my "Coronavirus To-dos". I never imagined we could be in pause for this long. I still can't believe it. It's weird to be aware of living through a major historical moment, one that will always be referenced in the history of our country and planet.

This shut down has brought on deep discomfort for everyone. So many lives have been dramatically changed. Even this far along, we are still sitting with an undercurrent of anxiety, especially of the unknown future. We can't really make plans. No one knows what will happen next or when. The future is invisible and for most of us this is an entirely unfamiliar position. It is for me, anyway.

I like to make plans. I like to know what's coming and what to expect. But like everyone else, I've had to adjust my expectations entirely, and it has been a hard lesson met with much resistance for the first few months of quarantine. We all know that nothing is guaranteed, but there's comfort in believing that some things are--we continue to believe in a future we've envisioned despite also knowing that the future does not exist. This is one of the great tricks of the human experience: expectation vs. reality.

This period of staying home is also putting enormous pressure on everyone to DO LOTS OF THINGS. Some that are necessary, like juggling work with homeschooling, household chores, and relationships. Or caring for the sick and making arrangements for the dead. But there is also an expectation that this extra time many of us now have is supposed to be used wisely and productively. We will inevitably be asked "What did you do over quarantine?" in an expectant way, like returning to school after summer break and feeling like we've got to come up with something to report that shows we aren't just lazy humans.

When I wrote up my "Coronavirus To-Do" list back in March it was with an optimistic--even grateful-- attitude to accomplish things I would now have the time to attend. Also, I truly expected the shutdown to last no more than a few weeks, so I wanted to take advantage of FREE TIME before real life came roaring back to claim me.

Obviously I was dead wrong on my quarantine timeline predictions, which influenced some items on the list and my long-term success with them. Reading back on this list feels like reading back through a totally different life.

In any case, here are my updates: (And here is the original list)

1. Roast a whole Chicken

Successful? Yes.

It always seemed to me a great value to roast a whole chicken at home and a shame that I never did. Homemakers and family cooks in generations before mine had roast chicken in the regular dinner rotation, my mom included. And I buy a rotisserie chicken almost weekly, which costs more and isn't as healthy. So I finally tackled this life-long goal and it went...fine.

"You spent $10 on herbs to stuff in a $3 chicken."--My husband

Conclusions: In the end, I spent a bit more money on roasting my own chicken than on a rotisserie, but got maybe 30-40% more meat. I wound up spending at least $6 on fresh herbs to stuff into the $3 chicken (on sale and not at all organic), which my husband was quick to point out as an unwise financial choice. My hands, body, and apartment smelled like chicken for two days, which is gross.

Would I do it again? Not likely. I don't actually like chicken that much, and I hate the smell, so putting this much effort into a thing I don't even like is not worth repeating. But I feel very Donna Reed about my accomplishment.

2. Run outside A LOT

Successful? Extremely!

I've taken my running to several new levels and places in the past 8 months, after over a year of healing an injury and generally unsatisfying running for the past few years. It has been my lifesaver honestly, during these Corona Times.

Most days the only time I leave the house is for a run. It's the only time I can be alone and get a break from my lovely family, so I go almost daily. And since gyms are STILL closed (in CA), it's my only form of real cardio exercise. In the beginning of quarantine I ran in cold, gray, usually wet NYC spring weather, and quite enjoyed its invigorating effect. When we moved out west in May, I was challenged with hot, dry temps, relentless sun, and steep hills, which took some getting used to. At the very beginning of quarantine I aimed to streak three things (doing each every single day): running, meditating, and yoga. Once I realized that quarantine would extend past 3 weeks, I had to re-think the run streak portion to ensure I could continue to run frequently.

By the end of May I was strong enough to handle a full streak and did so for 108 days, which is a HUGE accomplishment I never would have been able to do if it weren't for all of the elements this quarantine brought me. Out in LA I started running trails and am now obsessed. Trail running is the number one thing I will miss about LA when we leave and it's been the biggest gift for me out of all of this. It's just so fun to discover a new passion in mid-life and have the ability to pursue it.

Conclusions: I'm so grateful for the time and childcare help (husband working from home) afforded to me by this shutdown to throw myself back into my running and experience major changes.

3. Meditate and practice yoga every day

Successful? Kind of. At least in the beginning.

Original Quarantine Streak Sheet

I did manage to semi-streak both of these for about 3+ weeks, but it wasn't quite as satisfying as I'd hoped. I miss practicing with others, feeding off the collective focus and energy. My home yoga practice had dwindled significantly since becoming a mom but all the extra time at home allowed me to rev it back up. Plus, I needed it to keep my sanity. But eventually my practice once again became focused on class-planning rather than free-flowing personal movement, out of necessity. I miss my studio and students so much. Teaching on Zoom just isn't the same.

My meditation practice always sees spans of regularity and flux, but in the last eight months I have definitely regulated and focused on it, and have meditated more in that time than in probably the last 10 years put together, so I guess that's a major success. I even took part in a 30-day meditation retreat, during which hundreds of people around the world logged in with me at 7:00am to be lead in a 30-minute practice by a different, renowned teacher each day. It was incredible and I REALLY HOPE the organizer does another one! Since then I've kept up with meditating first thing upon waking up pretty well, loving the early morning alone time and ritual.

Conclusions: I miss in-person, group practice for both of these. My yoga practice is back to being teaching-focused and less frequent than at the beginning of quarantine, but my meditation practice is stronger than ever before.

4. Potty train my toddler

Successful? Yes! It took about 1-2 weeks and was immensely easier since we never left the house.

Conclusion: It's a million times easier to potty train when you don't have to go out anywhere. We can forever brag at how easy and accident-free the process was.

Crashing my Zoom class with his potty

But this is only half of my Quarantine To-Do list (so exciting, right??). The second half unexpectedly brought me to Los Angeles but kept me in the exact same spot in my social media non-journey. Read it here.


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