It’s hard to find the silver lining in the crazy news cloudiness of this virus-ridden time, but I found one!  If you’re hunkering down in place, how do you make the days fun?  Yes, you could binge-watch every program you’ve ever wanted to see, but even that gets old after a couple of days.

#1 – Teach Your Pet a Trick

Our pets will get as stir crazy as we are when stuck at home for long periods.  Now’s the time to teach them something new – and yourself too.  It cements your bond, makes them happy, and reduces your stress level.

Our dogs are elderly (13 and 12) but that doesn’t mean they don’t or can’t learn something new.  We’re working on Flynn’s shaking paws ambidexterously, and Roxy’s expanding her toy name vocabulary.  Now’s a great time to reinforce what they know and expand their repertoire.

Don’t overlook your feline friends.  While they might seem to ignore you, they appreciate the increased attention too.  Find or make a distracting toy (even tissue works) and engage them in play.

#2 – Teach Yourself Something New

Binge-watching aside, you can learn so many things from free public sites.  Thought about a new cooking technique?  There’s a YouTube to show you how to poach an egg, make a sauce, or cook a vegetable.

Then there’s that amazing invention, books!  Yes, you can order things and have them delivered to your door, but you can also download ebooks from your local library.  A side benefit – you’re supporting all the authors out there, particularly self-published writers who are small businesses too.

We’ve decided it’s a great time to paint the two bedrooms we’ve never done.  We have the paint!  Plus, we have a banister to rebuild.  Both are perfect for those days when we don’t want to be in public and the business phones are quiet.

And the snow falls outside the office window…

#3 – Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle

Do you have a drawer full of junk you keep intending to clean out?  How about that closet?  Garages, garden sheds, and file drawers also tend to accumulate ‘stuff’.

I love this option.  I don’t ever seem to have enough time to sort through the miscellanea we shove into places, saying we’ll get to it later.  I find things we don’t need but others could use, and that goes into the donation box.

My intention over the next weeks is to scan more memorabilia.  One day when we get to be expat nomads, we won’t have the suitcase space to carry everything with us.  I’m taking pictures, scanning docs, and saving them to the cloud – and then the items themselves are going bye-bye.

#4 – Write a Letter, Make a Phone Call

A friend mentioned this one, and I think it’s a valuable idea.  How many of us have things we’d like to express to others but never feel like we have the time to do?  Dropping notes to family and friends is nice, as is picking up the phone to check on the at-risk people in your life.  I’m scheduling calls with friends, long overdue.

#5 – Hit the Reflection Button

As I type this, it’s snowing outside.  For many of you, this might not seem like a big deal, but we’ve had a relatively white-stuff-free winter.  The falling flakes are calming, making the world look a little purer today.

It also helps in reflection.  Wrapping ourselves around the magnitude of the problems we face individually, as a country and in the world can feel overwhelming.  This is a good time to hit the internal pause button, reflect and take stock.

I’m grateful for the many good things in our life.  Updating a life plan or planning a complicated home renovation project all seem BIG.  We can all take a little step toward an end result, and this is an excellent time to breathe deep and do it.

How are you planning to use these tumultuous times in the best way?  I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments!

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