Always one to find the silver lining, I’m discovering the blessing of being forced to stay home. It was serendipitous that I had major surgery that coincided with the beginning of the social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 viral pandemic. I work as a nurse in an acute care setting, so the social distancing alone wouldn’t have forced me to stay home. In fact, the calls and texts looking to fill holes in the nursing schedule likely would have intensified. The surgery, however, requires me to be out of work for at least 6 weeks, so here I am.
Rather than panic about so much free time, I instead decided to embrace it. Also, I should mention that the surgery was done to remove a large mass that was potentially cancerous. I was so grateful upon learning I didn’t have cancer that I vowed to shift my mindset toward gratitude and making the best use of the time I’ve been given. It truly is a gift.
Initially, I envisioned myself binge reading and possibly catching a few movies I’ve been meaning to watch on Netflix. I wasn’t sure how my pain or energy level would be so I allowed myself to follow my own lead and to listen to my body. I have been reading a a couple of books (both memoirs, btw). But I’ve also been writing, which I could never seem to find-or create-the time to do before. Much of my busy-ness involved doing things I don’t particularly enjoy anyway. Like driving around town to do errands. And slogging away on the stair climber at the gym. And buying, cooking, and packing food. And, of course, working in the hospital and dreading having to go there.
All of these things were taking up a huge amount of time and energy. The time and space away from them is restoring that energy so I can redirect it toward healing. Not just physical healing from my surgery, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Where I used to berate myself if I didn’t feel productive and hadn’t accomplished enough by the end of the day, I’m learning to appreciate the creative energy cultivated by less structured time. I’ve started this blog, for example. And I’ve been writing my memoir. And sorting through old family photos that had been sitting in a bag untouched since my aunt gave them to me last fall. I ordered the 2020 Writer’s Market and have been researching some avenues for freelance work. I seem to be more busy now that I have the time to do less. The difference is, these are pursuits of my own choosing and not tasks that feel burdensome. These are things that spark joy, curiosity, and creativity. They fuel me. I’ve yet to watch a single movie, but I’m healing well, making time to write, and discovering joy and creativity within my personal space!