“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” William Morris
I mentioned in my last blog of February, we’d be taking a look at self-care for the month of March. Earlier in the year, I contacted a few of my usual correspondents and asked them to share ways they were using self-care to get through these challenging times. Instead, most responded with how they were getting through creatively, no mention of self-care. Many told me they initially felt out of control and miserable but figured out a way of overcoming those challenges. I went with their stories first. But today I’d like to share Darlene’s* story, a story of a surprising version of self-care.
Darlene is Director of Choirs at a medium/large sized congregation. She usually directs the adult choir and bell choir, while supervising the children’s choir and theater troop, which are directed by others. During much of the past year, she has not been as busy as she normally is and hasn’t directed a choir rehearsal since last March. She’s been singing for Zoom worship services since last Easter, but it’s still taken a toll on her emotionally.
Her spouse has been working from home since the beginning of the Pandemic. Their kids had been out of the house for a few years, and they had often thought about down-sizing but never had the time to figure out what that meant. In the meantime, because of the Pandemic, one of their daughters had to move back home and was working from home too. It was all so cozy but a bit frustrating since no one felt like doing housework or cooking.
At the beginning of the summer, they realized their house was filthy, they weren’t having regular meals, were all unkempt and felt tired and overwhelmed. They had LOTS of time on their hands and all of them kept meaning to do something. One day in frustration, Darlene kicked her spouse and daughter out of the kitchen so she could clean. Her daughter then volunteered to clean out the refrigerator and her spouse told her he would wash the floor. They decided to make it a family project, they chose a room in the house to super clean every few days until the whole house was spotless and organized. They didn’t clean on the weekends, since Darlene had to sing for Zoom services, and after almost four weeks, the house was presentable again.
Surprisingly, they all felt better too. During the summer, Darlene touched up her roots, her spouse trimmed his beard, and their daughter began to wear actual clothes instead of pajamas. They took online courses together or watched movies in the evenings. They tried to keep to a schedule of regular hours if at all possible. They did things together they enjoyed.
Since last autumn, they’ve made sure each has their own “private time,” neither work time nor family time, which is respected by the rest of the household. And Darlene makes sure she has regular time to practice, no matter what! They each make dinner twice a week or order out to support local restaurants. They’ve worked at keeping up with household chores and their own grooming and that’s made a difference in their attitude about being “stuck” together.
Darlene tells me she wasn’t sure if she should respond to my inquiry about self-care during a Pandemic. Or if what her family was doing WAS self-care. But after really thinking about it, believes it is. Living in a relatively clean house, having regular meals and getting away from each other occasionally may not seem like self-care, but in a Pandemic, it sounds good to me!
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/