Living through a pandemic: initiating change
Initiating change Ever since I was a little kid, I was mesmerized by words, and books have been my inevitable companion. Gradually my love for words started manifesting as broken prose in my personal journal, snippets of poetry and occasionally emotive letters to friends very close to my heart. Had the fascination for Science not taken over at a crucial point in my life, I would have pursued my romance with words; for even today, writing calms my mind. In spite of that, as life unfolded, knowingly or unknowingly, I drifted far from words.
Even when I got back to writing after a prolonged break, I could totally experience the same calming effect. In fact, it was a time when my spirits were worn down and rambling to my computer or journal was truly therapeutic. To my amusement, those ramblings took shape into a blog post on our experiences of living through a pandemic, focusing on building routines and schedules ( Read this post here ).
I am truly humbled and absolutely elated by the overwhelming response I received on the first post. This whole episode certainly gave some added confidence to continue writing, but more importantly it made me wonder if my humble efforts to grow as a person, a partner, a mother and a social being can inspire at least a few people around me! So my rambling goes on…
However, it took a lot of thinking through, self-coaxing and determination to barely put these words down. This delay can be purely attributed to my 'fear of change', to incorporate an extra activity into my schedule that is currently running smooth (at least that is what I chose to believe). Personally, I dread changes and transitions; an absolute joke in the present scenario, when we are wrapped in unpredictability.
Sometimes until we take the first dip, we wouldn’t know how pleasantly cool the water is, that it brings immense joy and peace. So I am on an intentional mission to embrace changes more gracefully. In this post, I am hoping give you a flavor of few simple changes we initiated, outside our comfort zone; which turned out to be excellent in our well-being!
Transforming the living space Late March, when the pandemic clutched us down, we as parents started wondering how to restrict our four-year-old within a 1100 sq. ft. apartment. He is a super-active child who loved being outdoors, a child who spent six days a week at the luxuriously spacious institute crèche with expansive lawns, a child who was accustomed to meet & greet with family & friends most weekends. But the world he knew came to a sudden halt, and as parents we had to rise to the occasion to put him at ease in these extraordinary times. We started brainstorming for ideas to make Thomas comfortable within the constraints of these walls.
Of the many ideas we bounced, one that was relatively practical, was to make more room for his play. Until then a small corner of the bedroom was set apart for his play, toys and books. A larger space would be an advantage for creative free play, to run and even do some indoor biking. Given that both of us were working from home, our best bet was to clear out the living room.
However, there were two hurdles to overcome. The first was to find a home for the limited furniture we had in the living space, without drastically cluttering other rooms. We could manage to solve that problem with little thought, but the second one was more difficult to crack; to break my inhibitions about sacrificing the aesthetics of our living room. However, being that person inherently skilled at influencing, Sony managed to convince me to transform the living space into Thomas’s play area.
In the next few days and weeks I saw the magic unfold; Thomas was obviously overjoyed about his spacious play area. However before handing it over, Sony being the great talker he is, utilized the opportunity to tell Thomas that he can have this space under two conditions: (1) he restricts his toys to just this space and not scatter them elsewhere in the house, (2) he cleans up and organizes his things once a day with our assistance. Interestingly, he sticks to these conditions almost sixty to seventy percent of the time (which is fairly good for his age).
Also, this exercise has introduced a good extent of responsibility, accountability and gratefulness in him. Most importantly, this extra space has enabled to physically and mentally compartmentalize his major activities. He has designated spots for each of his activities, thus creating the illusion of a larger space and being 'on the move', even if it’s completely within the confines of a tiny apartment.
The same psyche works for adults too; that is precisely why we should have a well-kept designated work space, even when we work from home. Though I am hoping to put my claim back on the living space, once Thomas is back in crèche or school (whenever that is!), I am truly happy I did not let my inhibitions overpower me, and subsequently deny the joys of this extra space for my little one. Often we fail to understand how our inhibitions come in the way of opening up our space, time and life to our loved ones; a simple change in perspective is all we need in such instances. On a declutter spree A couple of weeks into the lock down we started to realize the dearth of sunshine we were receiving. Our apartment has just two medium sized south-facing windows, one in the dining area and the other next to my work space. We also have two tiny balconies which receive enough light; while one is being used as a utility area for the kitchen, the other one accompanying our bedroom, mostly served as the storage space for the junkie (hoarder, to be more precise) at home, aka my husband. There were few cartons of junk, which he ‘thought’ would come to be of ‘immense’ value or become a ‘life saver’ at some point (or never). At this juncture I should not fail to acknowledge how it has evolved from the endless pit of junk to just a few cartons, which is indeed commendable. Though I realize there is still a long way to go, I have lately evaded addressing the elephant in the room (literally too!). However, under the present circumstances, I buckled up and rolled the idea of cleaning up the balcony space. To my pleasant surprise he obliged, and we got to work in a few days.
I see this balcony project as an organic process, where we initially emptied a corner and pulled in a bean bag, which provided ample space for just one person to relax, to take a short break from work or home chores. Soon a stool was added in, so we could sip our evening tea there. Thomas pushed us further to make space for his farm animals, and out went another portion of junk.
A month later, we had a reasonably cleared out space with essential tools shelved on an old shoe rack. I am most excited and proud of our repurposed additions to this space; a plywood plank that came off a broken table raised on concrete bricks, served as a great landing for few plants, a thermocol box I had saved many years ago from a lab order (perks of being a lab rat!), made a perfect corner table with additional storage space for my gardening paraphernalia!
Now we can visualize the immense potential of an otherwise neglected corner of the house; we have many more aesthetic additions planned for this space, which will be implemented in the coming months. This episode left us with a bagful of enthusiasm to continue our journey of decluttering and organizing. The immediate impact was the inspiration to do an extensive revamping of Sony’s office, a long-pending project, which on being accomplished, brought in enormous positive vibes.
We are inherently wired to work around and to a great extend resolve many problems in life, with just what we already have. Many times we do not need to wait for the right opportunity, the right space and the right product; many times all we have to do is let our need (the why power) take the lead and let our imaginations go wild. Finally, all of this leaves us wondering, how little of 'what we own', do we actually need, and this realization is one step closer to minimalism.
What I have penned down here are simple instances of breaking our unwarranted inhibitions, seeing the silver linings and moving towards positive changes. Positive changes are crucial for growth in all realms of life; initiating as well as sustaining them truly require intentional and focused efforts. Of utmost importance is the recognition of 'WHERE' and 'WHY' a particular change is called for, the answers to 'HOW' will naturally develop over time. Having said that, I am currently persuading Sony to write a spin-off on this post, with some tools and pointers for initiating and sustaining change. Hopefully I can add that here very soon.