Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned life upside down, leaving many of us quarantined in our homes. We have been told to practice social distancing, stop touching your face, wear a mask in public, and disinfect every inch of yourself, your spouse, your kids, and your home. As human beings, physical contact and interaction is in our DNA. Social distancing goes against the very fabric of who we are and were intended to be. Times are tough, tensions are running high, and there is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty. The facts seem to change by the hour (none of it positive), and I think by now most of us are starting to go a little stir crazy.

For me and my family, we are all home trying to cohabitate and adjust to 4 different schedules. I have been fortunate enough to continue working and catching up on lots of drafting for upcoming projects and some much needed paperwork and accounting (bleh). Mike and I have worked really hard to make sure our kids are not addicted to or having too much screen time. Jokes on us! We are adjusting/adapting/tolerating homeschooling for our 2nd and 3rd grade children, which has only solidified what I’ve always known: I am not nor ever will be an elementary school teacher. Praise to all the teachers reading this! You have the patience of a saint. Our school district has done a surprisingly incredible job of integrating and implementing online learning for its students. For that, we are most grateful. I say surprisingly not due to lack of confidence in the district, but because I realize how much planning, patience, and cooperation it takes to do this successfully. Mike and I are taking shifts to help the kids manage their Zoom calls into class and complete assignments while the other person works. Camelot? Far from it. But it’s a lot better than last week when all four of us were on the phone/computer chat, and our house resembled nothing short of a Help Desk Call Center.

And the house… Well, it has seen better days. The dining room has been turned into Legoland. My office now operates as both Liz Walton Home headquarters and a 2nd and 3rd grade classroom with papers, crayons, and scissors scattered amongst fabric and wallpaper samples. My kids start off strong and motivated in the mornings, and then after lunchtime, it is next to impossible to reel them back into school mode. I don’t blame them. This, I’m sure, feels to them like a never ending timeout.

Hanging out with friends has turned into Zoom or House Party calls, which don’t get me wrong, have been a lot of fun but are also an unwanted reality check. I swear it feels like we are living in an extended episode of the Jetson’s.

Unfortunately, none of this is shocking or surprising. It is our new reality, and I’ll be honest, I don’t think I have fully digested our new norm.

But! I am optimistic. This too shall pass, and we will overcome. The stock market will come back, companies will need to hire, and COVID-19 will be long gone. This pandemic, my friends, is our defining moment in history, our WWII. We are all in this together, win, lose, or draw. It is my hope that through these trials and tribulations, we learn resilience and grit, two characteristics that we haven’t needed to rely on until now. We need to support one another, even if from 6 feet apart. Call a friend or loved one who may be feeling isolated, abandoned, and scared. Find your faith! Now is a great time to believe in something, someone bigger than yourself. Attend an online church service and embrace the power of prayer.

If you have kids, they can help you around the house. I have my kids cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, taking out the trash, helping with dishes, and doing laundry. Yes, they should have been doing these things all along, and some chores they have. But they weren’t on a consistent basis, and I’ll be damned if I squander these precious teachable moments away.

For couples, implement a weekly date night. Put the kids to bed early, enjoy your favorite beverage, some Netflix, and a quiet evening. Mike and I have been doing these at-home date nights for years, and they work wonders.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite books that make me feel energized:

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I have read several of her books multiple times, and I will continue doing so until the end of time. Every time I read her writing I feel like I can tackle the world.

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. I am currently reading this book, doing all of the exercises, and taking copious notes. This candid guide gives you the tools and mindframe to know that you can figure out and overcome most anything that life throws at you.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker. This book is a hilarious tell-all about Jen’s triumphs and tribulations of raising a family and juggling a career. It is relatable on so many different levels, has some great recipes, and is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. This moody non-fiction novel is a murder mystery that takes place in Savannah, GA with an array of colorful and unforgettable characters. If you want to escape into another time and reality for a while, this page-turner will surely do the trick.

It is my hope that this time of quarantine and quiet will help us all take pause and God forbid slow down a little when the world is operational again. Do we all need to have every minute of every day scheduled? Probably not. I am guilty as charged but am using this time to do some real soul searching about how I want my life to be after this. Spoiler alert, soul searching is hard work and takes a lot of effort. Remember that grit we were talking about? Ask yourself some tough questions and allow yourself to answer honestly.

Do yourself a favor and control what you can control: your thoughts and your actions. The mind is a powerful tool, so don’t let it wander down the rabbit hole of despair. I believe in you. You’ve got this!

Yes, the media has painted a very grim picture, or as R.E.M so eloquently put it, It’s The End of the World as We Know It. But I feel fine and I hope, truly, you do too.