on silver linings

There’s no denying, the first two years of the pandemic have been rough. From the adrenaline fuelled panic buys of March 2020, to the soul-deep weariness of March 2022, yearning…not for normal, because the old normal is gone. But for peace. For whatever comes next once all this is done.

In between all that, though, there are definite highlights. With the distance of time, I look back fondly on the days of lockdown 1.0, safe at home with our children. Crafting and baking and reading and schooling and revelling in quiet moments at home. Enjoying a walk to the gate to collect the bins. Snapping a photo of a sunset just because the light hit the grass in just the right way. Celebrating the need to dig out “town clothes” for a blog photo.

There’s been cancelled plans and time stolen. Birthdays and milestones put on hold. Visits skipped. Quilt camp was an early, and ongoing, victim of border closures and restrictions. And yet, we still yearned to connect, to be together. And so we had group video chats. We marked what should have been camp weekends in our own, separate ways. We chatted and swapped care packages and made visits individually when and as we could.

On day five of that very first lockdown, I started a pandemic crafting list, determined to make the most of my time at home. That list, and the community & accountability of instagram, inspired me to step away from the doomscrolling and instead be productive. The positive impact of that one list and one mindset shift, which was tiny and also mind bogglingly large, continues to reap benefits. Two years on, and I remain a reformed procrastinator, and a dedicated finisher. The 2022 Crafty Me is almost unrecognisable when viewed alongside 2019 Crafty Me, attempting to pack up my craft room and sort my WIPs into some kind of order. In our most recent episode, we chat a little about this shift, and some of the factors, both pandemic and otherwise, that contributed to it.

The podcast, too, has been one of the funner projects of the past two years. Quite possibly, without the pandemic, it may never have progressed past the whole “hey you know what we should do…” stage. Kicking around ideas and actually following through on those ideas are like two separate hobbies, and for a long time, it looked like “start a podcast” would remain one of the former. Like many things of the pandemic, we’ve had to get creative with how we connect and support each other, and picking back up the idea of a podcast is one part of that.

Before we got serious about the podcast though, we had already been working on different ways to “hang out”, as much as it’s possible to hang out when you live 6 hours apart. For the better part of last year, we would sit down after dinner, and cue up an episode of a show we both enjoyed, and together, apart, we would watch and chat through an episode, then go our separate ways into our evening routines and whatever project we were working on. When we got to the end of a particular stretch, I remember saying to Car the next night, the first evening in a long time we didn’t have plans to watch anything, “this might sound weird but I really miss our watch parties”. It felt strange, after so long, to have that whole chunk of evening suddenly free.

It felt very similar when we got to the end of recording season one. I even drew the direct comparison to our watch parties, as we cut the recording portion of our final season one zoom. It only had taken 2 short months to build the new habit. It was so nice to see each other’s faces, and chat in real time, that we decided to keep doing it. Once we stopped recording, we continued to hang out on zoom of a Friday morning. Not recording, not planning, just… hanging. For two people who were all but allergic to video calls in the before, it was a big turn around. Once, famously, I treated the girls to an hour long view of my bedroom ceiling during a video chat, so I could hang out without being actually visible.

Now, these video calls are a highlight of my week. Sometimes we don’t even talk, just hang out, sharing the same virtual space. A few weeks back, we couldn’t make our standard morning time, and so we snuck in an afternoon chat. The kids were swirling around and pulling faces into my webcam. Car was working in her journal. We would shoot the breeze for a bit, then work on our own projects for a bit. I saw her finished pages. She saw me directing children into shoes and finding masks to head out the door. It was, as much as anything, so very much like camp. Hanging out with zero pressure to actively actually do anything. On that afternoon, it was exactly what I needed.

2020 pushed me to RISE. 2021 needed me to DIVE. 2022 is here and messy and trying it’s best to break us even further. But as we face whatever this crazy year will bring, I am choosing to also EMBRACE the silver linings. The quiet moments. The finished projects. The gift of creative connection, and making the most of where we are right here, right now.

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