I once resolved to quit the Sidetrack Sister Society but something kept pulling me back. I was off work from the dental office for six weeks of Covid-19 quarantine in March and April. It was a great time to delve into unfinished and even unstarted projects that had been pinging around in my brain like the silver ball in a pinball game, causing lights to flash when hitting specially charged spots. I was enlightened with ideas and bobbing around from one project to another, not knowing how long this sudden gift of time would be, or what outcomes might come of my efforts.
Our family became hyperfocused on mealtime. In addition to Tom and I, Leslie, Emily, and Andy live in Casper. We were baking and sharing our baking and taking time to cook awesome meals we hadn’t whipped up for ages. Even our meal planning conversations were exciting for people with nowhere to go. Supporting restaurants selling take-out brought in some pretty awesome food too! HQ BBQ, Pizza Ranch chicken, Mexican, and DQ ice cream. I might add that when you are baking and cooking all the time, you are also cleaning the kitchen all the time, or looking at a mess and thinking you better clean it soon!
Anyway, Day-1 commitment to daily structure went out the window within hours of being made. I wasn’t taking my shower before 8:00 a.m, and won’t say when it actually did take place. Exercise was a fair-weather game for the most part. Let’s just say, I found myself otherwise occupied more than I should have. Here are some of the projects that got started and may or may not have made it to the finish line yet.
My first choice was a crazy one. I removed every single key from the aging Mac desktop computer keyboard to clean them with a dry erase sponge. Then with alcohol and Q-tips, I cleaned the keyboard base and popped each key back to its original spot. My kids were shocked that I would waste time doing that when I could have just gotten a new keyboard. It was fine. I listened to good music and books.
Cleaning guest bedroom #2 became a matching game of gathering memorabilia from our six children and putting it into respective bins. That led to washing linens, pillows, clothing, and even doll clothes … which then led to some tiny dolly mending and dressing all the naked dolls before reboxing them. My collection of give-aways couldn’t be taken to the second-hand stores because they were closed. I did get all of the games and puzzles into order and threw away pieces and parts that had no homes. Still, I have a couple of bins in the hallway that need to be thinned out more. This is a room where I’ve kept toys and fun for the hope of grandchildren which is now a dream come true!
The storage room project began with the removal of everything into the family room. I then cleaned all the shelves and began organizing craft and art supplies, some construction materials that we keep handy, and those bins mentioned above. Of course, the family room still has a few items left that I haven’t decided what to do with yet.
My next task was the sewing and yarn closet. That was a real treasure hunt and a jaunt down memory lane. What fun. It all started as I looked at patterns to make a blouse I’d planned several years ago. I found a few possible options but ended up on a bunny trail of finding another project I started last year and didn’t finish. As I laid it on the floor of the family room to see what I’d been so perplexed about, it gave me a headache thinking of the complexities of remaking a dress I’d ordered and didn’t like. I put it all in a big Ziplock bag and back into the closet. I did have a friend come over and pick through some fabrics I was ready to relinquish and others went to the donation box. Yay! Not a lot of progress in the fabric closet but something is better than nothing.
I also picked up an unfinished cable knit vest I’d put aside years ago. The pull-over was almost done when I decided I would rather have a cardigan. I had ripped out the front and began two simultaneous fronts and was over half-way done when I realized the ribbing was rippling. After several attempts to find a solution, I ripped them out again and started anew, with another strategy. This time changing it enough that I will have to rip out half of the back to make it all work right. I did knit away while watching The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and perhaps a few Hallmark movies. This vest is still ongoing so now I have a knitting basket sitting around with gray knitting needle daggers sending me hate-messages. Oh, they are in a rust-colored knitting bag standing on the floor that belonged to my grandmother. It’s had some overuse in it’s five or so decades of life and needs repairing by hand-stitching one side back together. That is another project perplexing me. Do I finish the vest first or the knitting bag first, or the dress that I put back in the fabric closet, or the blouse I really thought I would like to make? Now that I’m back to the dental office, the answer will remain a mystery until the gardening season is over.
The thing about being home from work during daylight hours is that you actually see the cobwebs in the corners, on light fixtures, and on high-up shelves. Who wants to take care of all that with so many projects to create? Well, some of them are gone, some remain, and half of the windows got washed because I was home looking out of them so many hours a day.
One Wednesday during the quarantine I was lamenting the fact that my grandmother’s beautiful lamp from guest room #2 needed to be thrown away. It had a tall slender and elegant porcelain base with some fancy gold etchings that grandmothers once thought were cool. The lamp, also probably at least five decades old had become cracked and one hairline crack split apart enough to slice a hand open it you touched it just right. The notion suddenly came to me to save the lamp by decoupaging it with old brittle crumbling piano music from my other gramma. Wow! Win-win.
What a mess that became in the dining room as I let each coat of Mod Podge dry 24 hours before the next coat. The mess was WORTH it. I LOVE the project and it solved two problems. The bright white lampshade then looked awful with the yellowed music so I took a bin we used to keep balls and bats in and filled it with water and strong tea. I soaked the lampshade for three days and it became mellow ivory although the metal skeleton inside rusted a bit. That just adds to the character right? I actually DID finish that project with cleanup complete!
I typically start seeds in March or April to get the spirit of spring a little earlier. This was certainly my intent with even more time at home to nurture such a project. I even took my life in my hands to enter Menards like the masked bandit to buy little starting pots for the project. They had almost nothing left in the garden center so it was one of those snooze-you-lose deals. I got the few they had left, only to let them sit by the dining room window empty one week after another. Betsy’s cat is now living with us and he found it very fun to tear them up. I already had a large collection of seeds in a box. They are also sitting on the floor next to the other potting materials — unopened. Argh. At least the basil and chives are growing, and today I bought some tomato and pepper plants to transplant. Voila!
My biggest project was sorting through over thirty years of boxes and files as I’m getting my newly remodeled office organized. Just before learning that I would not be working at dental hygiene for some indeterminate amount of time, I found a whole cherrywood office suite that was barely used and being sold for pennies on the dollar. With the help of son Andy, we had that office down to the floorboards and glued in a new carpet. Then Andy and friend Curtis installed the whole shebang! Twenty-one linear feet each of base and wall cabinets. I have cherrywood filing cabinets, drawers, and cupboards galore along with a gorgeous panelled L-shaped desk. It is beyond a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself, and kicking myself, since every box and file and book I touch creates decisions to make. Do I keep it, do I pitch it, and if I keep it where should it go???? Ah, another unfinished mess but a glorious one. A 2020 experience just as unexpected as the Covid-19 shutdown and perfectly timed too.
Last but not least, I’m in the beautiful process of creating a new business, Ascend Consulting. After years of interest in personal growth and mental health, I’ve found the next step for me is to teach others powerful skills I’ve learned in the areas of emotional intelligence, transformation, setting, and achieving goals, and mentoring others. In 2019 I was invited by two daughters to participate in Ascension Leadership Academy for five months. I did out of curiosity and a desire to consider what might be beyond dentistry someday. Well, the “when you give a mouse a cookie he wants a glass of milk” phenomenon set into motion. That step forward got my inertia going and I wanted more so began studying with 3 Key Elements founder Kirk Duncan. I never expected that he would inspire my passion for sharing knowledge so much, or that I would take on any study with such intensity. I really do feel called to this work! During my Covid-19 quarantine, I participated in over 60 hours of online trainings to continue my education, did daily homework, and was constantly sharing with others. Therefore more messes. I have printed up numerous workbooks and created several overflowing notebooks full of notes I’ve taken and journals of my journey. Today I went our for more notebooks to get that mess more organized and cleared up.
My Covid-19 extra bonuses were connecting with friends and family more often. Thanks to brother Marty for arranging special Zoom family reunions. Technology can be such a blessing! FaceTime, texting, letters, cards, and calls all played a part and we actually got to watch grandson Wylder take his first steps! I read several books and listened to others. I was able to study my scriptures via many great teachers on YouTube and have both Zoom, Facebook Live, and home worship on Sundays. I practiced the harp regularly and tackled some difficult techniques I’d needed to improve. I even cut my parents’ hair when they couldn’t stand it anymore.
Yes, I’m still looking at a few unresolved messes, but I will never forget the double-edged sword of Covid-19. As the daily news reported a world tumbling into chaos and concern with people losing jobs and safety and peace and financial security and sometimes even health and family members, my emotions were on a roller coaster. My own family members were also losing jobs and business and the future is unsure. Even my piano studio went on hiatus to abide by social distancing recommendations as families navigated the world of homeschooling and how that works for them.
With craziness swirling around the world and a new awareness of living in the moment, I was staying in my home with the gift of time like a mother of six has never had before. My last six weeks off before this quarantine was after Andy’s birth in 1995. I had five older children, none of whom drove yet. I was a chauffeur for all of them to their several school buildings and afterschool and church activities. It was all an exhausted blur at best, as looking to the care of my family was requisite. This time off from work was in complete contrast to that.
My heart and thanks go out to the many who are putting themselves at risk to serve all of us, the sick and the well. Above all of the uncertainty about jobs and money and possible disease, I felt great peace and gratitude. We had put away a store of necessities that could last a while, for such an unforeseen time as this. I didn’t even need to buy toilet paper during the frantic rush. Though we don’t ever really know what the future holds for our family or friends or the world, I have felt an overwhelming peace. In John 14:27 the Savior states it perfectly, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”