A blaze in the fireplace, is magic.

The virus which we have been watching for several months now, first hearing about it in January, has now taken center stage. It is front-page news, interior news, and back page news. It is everywhere. Facebook is full of it. Vitriolic, angry people arguing about who did what and where the virus came from, plus angry political slants and slanders.

So we can all make a choice. We can use our time to focus on the virus or focus on gratitude and the things we can control in our lives.

This is a great time to take care of your body and improve your life. It took me a full two weeks to figure this out. At first, feeling that things were simply unreal I ate rather badly. Thai food is a favorite, and I ordered carry out twice with Panang Curry and rice and dumplings (one of my absolute favorite foods). Instead of pleasing me, it made me feel lethargic and slow to respond. I am missing my Pilates classes very much. But they will have to wait. My body felt heavy and unhealthy from that extra weight that has been creeping up since my mother died in November.

This new extra eating happened because I moved out of mother’s house in the city where I had been living. It was only supposed to be for the weekend. But my son, Robert said “Mom, I know you are going to the country this weekend. I want you to pack for a month and plan to stay there at least that long.” That sounded crazy on March 12th. But he said, “I believe this situation with the virus is going to become a lot more serious and last longer. They may start shutting down travel out of or into cities.”

I was incredulous. Since all of my children live in Virginia I did not want to be trapped in the city and unable to get to them if necessary.

Some instinct for survival kicked in and I packed a large suitcase with clothes for both cold or warm weather. Underwear, shoes, cosmetics, and jewelry were all packed along with everything else. My computers, phones, chargers, external hard drives, and I even brought some toilet paper to be a good guest and not cause shortages. My three dachshunds came along with me of course. My big satchel of vitamins was packed in my car along with everything else and a selection of books, real ones that you can hold. Of course, I have a great many books on Kindle and on Audible.

my cottage

After leaving Washington DC at 3 o’clock on the afternoon of Friday, March 13th, it became evident that something was different. There was almost no traffic, and at that hour on a Friday, this was ominous. There is construction on both sides of Rt # 66 and now I wonder what will become of all of that?

I settled in the tiny Colonial frame cottage that my son in law and daughter let me have on their farm. It is extremely peaceful here. And since my familiar, comfortable, curtained, mahogany, four-poster bed is here I sleep like a baby. It feels good to be in this place. When the weather is cold I keep a fire going in my wonderful big fireplace. It was cold, it seems, until today (Sunday). There have been regular walks down the driveway every day (more or less) and considering that exercise was really only partially true. It was not very strenuous, really. It is only a mile. Exercise takes more than ten or fifteen minutes. And I think it feels great to break a sweat. It is also fun to jump up and move when you have been sitting in front of the computer for hours. I know I should do this every hour (or every 45 minutes).

(truth in a joke)

Finally one day it dawned on me, that I am here for an undetermined time with nothing on my calendar. For the first time ever in my life, I have nothing scheduled except a “virtual board meeting” in a week or so. That there is nothing on my calendar until the end of June and even that is “iffy” amazes me. There is an upside to this enforced “let down” with no dinner parties or luncheons to attend for the foreseeable future. What I eat is within my control. I needn’t be tempted by food that is off my preferred list of healthy, natural, low carb foods. It has been months since I ate properly. And during that time I continually said: “How can I diet when I have all these social engagements some of which include drinking martinis?”

Well. Not now. There are no social engagements. Luckily for me, I am able to eat dinner with Lilla and Chris my daughter and son-in-law most evenings. They have two children here and two more who live on the west coast. One is a senior in high school who is sadly missing her last semester and her graduation from St. Andrews School in Delaware. And my oldest grandson, who has evacuated from his home in Baltimore and is living in a vacant house next door. He is an excellent cook and so is his father. Our dinners are imaginative and delicious. Sometimes one or another of us skips this meal to allow for variety and space for all of us. Sometimes we take turns doing the preparation of a meal. So far I have not cooked any full meals but I whipped up some Hollandaise sauce the other night which was very popular and disappeared quickly even though it looked at first as if I had made too much.

I have determined to eat healthily, exercise more than once daily, put up two blog posts per week, and finally finish all drafts of my latest book. I guess I can work on finding a publisher at the same time. (or an agent)

We are all given this time to STOP. Stop meetings in person that take up time and provide little guidance. Stop socializing for the fun of it but sort of out of habit too. If you absolutely cannot go because NO ONE can go, it can be restful if you choose to think of it that way. Instead of fretting that you cannot see or talk to your friends try writing them a real letter. Or if you want to “see “them there are so many different Internet apps for doing so. I use Zoom and Marco Polo and What’s App and Snapchat and Facetime. They all work. And it is fun. It is 8:16 on Sunday evening and when I finish putting up this blog post I will go straight to bed. What peace, what a privileged life we are all living. Especially those whose time is finally their own.

Perhaps for the first time ever, a lot of people, especially older women have the great gift of time. Time can not be refunded or returned if you change your mind about how you used it. Time is the priceless present we all receive in equal amounts. It is often squandered on pointless business (busy-ness) which has no real purpose other than filling time. i.e. using up this precious resource. Don’t waste it. Use this wonderful expanse of days to learn something new, get rid of something old, write to your heart’s content, read and re-read favorite books and rekindle friendships that have been frayed due to lack of time spent talking or writing to each other.

Enjoy this time because one of these days it will be over and the whole list of our responsibilities will come crashing in on us. Take advantage of this unusual blip in the activities of the entire world. Have a lovely week and enjoy spring. Don’t waste a moment on worry about things you cannot control.

Copyright©. 2020 Bonnie B. Matheson

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