Finding Joy In A Pandemic

Have you stopped to think about the fact that one day you will look back on the COVID-19 pandemic and have a certain set of memories? What will the ratio be of good memories to bad? We will no doubt be living a life that has changed due to this situation. Some of us will be greatly impacted in a negative way – whether it be financial downfalls, or loss of loved ones. Others will come out of this a bit unscathed, but will likely be living a different life nonetheless.

I’ve thought about it. While it’s too early to tell what the long term impact on this family will be, one thing is for sure. We will look back on our 45 days (to date) of isolation with fondness. Was it hard? At times, yes. Was it good? It was.

We weren’t quite sure what we’d be getting into by self-isolating before it was actually mandated to do so. There were certain aspects of it that were a bit frightening. For example, we knew all along that we could never home-school our son. We knew it would be really hard to explain to him the reasons we had to do what we had to do. We knew there would be backlash from him not understanding the whole thing. But we decided to dig deep and really make something of the isolation time. So far, our hard work has paid off.

We were on a family walk tonight, and Jamie and I began to talk about the last month and a half. I told her that I thought we would always look back on this time as a blessing. And to back up my reasoning, I started to list off all the crazy things we were able to do. As we talked, she reminded me of some things that I had forgotten about. And the result? Dang, we came up with a pretty good list. I’d love to share some of it with you – not to brag about ourselves, but to encourage others to make good out of a potentially crappy situation.

The Highlight Reel

  • We decided to film a music video to the Eagles song, Hotel California. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? What a great way to laugh about our situation of being in lockdown. We got dressed up, danced in the courtyard, had a feast, the whole nine. I never ended up broadcasting the video. It’s just our little family treasure.undefined
  • We pulled Jamie’s wedding dress out of the box after 19-1/2 years of marriage. Holy cow, when she put it on, she looked even more beautiful than that day in December, 2000. I put on a suit. The kids got dressed up as well. Maci even wore a bridesmaid dress from our wedding! We took wedding photos, and had a full-on reception. What a memory! We had put out a challenge to others on Facebook to do a themed dinner as well, and some of the epic photos that came in from our friends made us laugh and feel like we were all together.undefined
  • By the grace of God, Jamie and I had finished remodeling our home gym about a month before everything shut down. What a life-saver! Family workouts have never been so awesome! At the end of each home school day, the kids finish with P.E. Because Max is such a numbers guy, seeing the interval timer clock counting down on the big screen made him really enjoy working out!undefined
  • Before everything got really intense, we grabbed our skis and some friends’ snowboards, and hiked all the way to the top of Hyak at Snoqualmie Pass. We got to ski and ride our favorite spot on a sunny day, after one of our favorite hikes ever. And we got to introduce our Great Dane to what it is that we do every time she gets depressed when she sees the ski gear come out knowing we’re about to leave.undefined
  • The kids made a huge fort out of blankets and pillows in our home gym, and challenged each other to stay in it for 24 hours straight. They only got out to use the restroom. I must say though, that after seeing all the cool stuff they took into the fort with them for the challenge, they were NOT roughing it. I was just super proud of them for pulling it off when most brothers and sisters were probably sick of each other by this point in the lockdown.undefined
  • Every single puzzle we’ve accumulated over the years got put together over the course of isolation. That gave us quality time together – with NO SCREENS.
  • Two days before our governor mandated everyone to stay home and isolated, our Solo Stove arrived. And luckily, we have a huge firewood supply. That stove has had a fire in it most days – some early in the morning, some as the sun was going down. What a key ingredient to bring peace in such a weird time! We’ve spent almost as much time on the patio as we have in the house.undefined
  • When the schools closed, we told Maci that her that her schooling would be taken up a notch. We told her that she had to put her creativity to good use, and start an online business. She started an Etsy shop where she sells handmade greeting cards. The lessons learned are almost too many to count. From design, to digital input, to supply logistics, to bookkeeping, to order fulfillment and shipping, Maci got a HUGE dose of real life education.undefined
  • As a contractor, I’ve accumulated a lot of building materials over the years. We decided to take some of the leftover beams I’ve had laying around and build some raised garden beds. Anytime you have to use a chainsaw and a forklift to build garden beds is a good time. We aptly named it the apocalypse garden. If we can’t grow anything in it, at least we’ll be able to seek shelter in it during a nuclear holocaust.undefined
  • In a normal year, we don’t typically start using the boat until May. But as things were getting crazy, and before they shut down all the boat launches, we caught a warm day on the water. None of us actually got in the water behind the boat, but that didn’t matter. We enjoyed each others’ company and climbed the sand dunes on one of the most beautiful days in Vantage, WA I can remember.undefined
  • And last, but probably the most important, is Jamie and me. For the last two and a half years, post thyroid-cancer surgery, we’ve been struggling with hormone supplements to find Jamie’s new normal. And again, by the grace of God, we went into isolation with new revelations and breakthroughs in that battle. As Jamie has been feeling better, we’ve been able to communicate better about the last couple years. The time of isolation has given us the time to sort out all that has gone on, and look forward to her feeling better in the future. Our counselor has been instrumental in this process as well, as we’ve been able to do Zoom sessions with her. Thank you modern medicine, and technology for the ability to maintain strides toward a healthy Jamie even in the midst of such a trying time.undefined

Well, that’s it! Sure, there have been some really trying times through this whole thing. But talking about more tough stuff amidst the chaos of our world seems pointless. We are choosing to focus on the good and the blessings. I hope you too will be able to look back on this time with fondness. While we don’t always get to choose our path, we ALWAYS get to choose how we will respond.

I am thankful for my family. I’m thankful for what autism has taught us about digging deep to keep this family unit intact. I’m thankful for the drive to find the best in anything. I’m thankful for a loving God that has brought us through this mess under His wing.

I will always look back on isolation 2020 with fondness. I hope you can too.