What a bizarre season in all of our lives, huh? Many years from now, we'll all remember exactly where we were when our states announced that non-essential businesses were shutting down due to COVID-19. Those first days of quarantine were surreal. There was a toilet paper shortage, price gouging on hand sanitizer, a lack of protective gear in hospitals and the initiation of a new practice called "social distancing." But I'll never forget the first time it all really sank in for me.
During that first week, my brother Luke made an observation that we "probably wouldn't be hugging or shaking hands with anyone for a very long time." That vision of our new reality shook me to my core. And it was the first of many times I've burst into tears this year. But despite my own moments of sheer grief and anxiety, I've felt profound gratitude. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and family and friends who make life, especially quarantine life, worth living. God continues to show up through the noise. And above all else, I know that light will triumph over the darkness that many of us have experienced since COVID-19 made its uninvited entrance to the party.
That said, I've taken this unusual time in my life to learn some stuff. While some of the 31 things on this list were intentional (e.g. learning ukulele), others were thrust upon me (e.g. wearing a mask all dang day).
And maybe you can even relate to some of 'em. So without further ado, here are "31 Things I've Learned How to Do in Quarantine."
Thanks to Vintage Church, I had the chance to co-lead an 8-week online Alpha course that explores life, faith and our purpose here on this crazy Earth.
2. I learned how hard it is to paint all the nooks and crannies of a bathroom. But with a bit of time and a lot of splattered paint on the floor (obviously I forgot to buy a tarp), I transformed our tiny apartment bathroom with just a few coats of paint.
3. I learned how to do some basic video editing and tackled my fear with GarageBand to launch Josh's new podcast, which features clips from his memoir Just Don't Fall.
4. I learned that the people over at animal control are really nice. I called in an injured baby squirrel and Officer Hernandez came to the rescue with a hilarious box.
5. I learned how to write in a new way. I took an AMAZING modern brush lettering class with artist Samantha Testa of Painted Palettes and I highly recommend hiring her to teach a workshop to you and your co-workers!
7. I learned the joy of sharing toilet paper, chocolate chip cookies and stoop hangs with my dear friend and neighbor, Tara. Having her friendship in this strange time has been pure sunshine.
8. I learned how to be a peaceful protestor in my first march. I walked with my neighbors and friends from church to promote love, justice and freedom for all.
9. I learned the discipline of keeping a daily journal. Thanks to my grandmother's recommendation, I've kept a daily journal to remember the highs and lows of life in quarantine.
10. Instead of buying it at the store in single-use plastic, I learned how to make coconut oil body scrub one random afternoon with a giant bag of sugar I had on hand.
11. I learned how to host dinner on our tiny stoop. We've had our BFF Brad over a few times for socially distanced dinner out here. For the past two years, I've hosted a big Sunday night dinner, but COVID pressed pause on that. This was a nice compromise :)
12. I learned how to use TikTok. During one particularly random week of quarantine, I made lots of funny (in my humble opinion) videos of Mushu. But I had to delete the app after just 2 weeks, because it was truly too much fun and too addictive.
13. I learned how to push through the miles. I rode my bike for the longest time I've ever done - 30 miles to Hollywood and back! I bought my first bike during quarantine and it's brought me so much joy and freedom during this relatively cooped-up time. Shout-out to Tara for the "dope footy."
14. I learned the important of wearing a mask for others and wore a mask every <clap> single <clap> time I left the house. Just wear it, friends. It's kind of fun to look like a Wild West villain.
15. I learned how to play the ukulele. I've always wanted to learn an instrument, but never put in the time to practice. And I actually love to practice and play everyday. My favorite song to play is Your Song along with 20 other Disney songs...any song requests?
16. I have intense cravings for crackers. All the time. So I learned how to make them myself without zipping off to the store. I've baked many, many, many trays of homemade vegan and gluten-free crackers thanks to the amazing recipes from Minimalist Baker.
17. I learned how to teach 50+ virtual kids yoga classes and managed to keep their attention long enough on Facetime to teach a little. I even got to hang out with my sweet cousin Nolan in Baltimore!
18. I learned an old game from elementary school. I forgot how to play MASH, so my highlarious 8 year old neighbor reminded me how. Notice how my future predicts I'll die at 32 while living on Trash Island without a job alongside my 2 kids. Thanks, Stella!!
19. I learned to let my platinum blonde roots grow wild. It's sort of like my quarantine measuring stick. Most human hair grows about .5 inches a month, so you can guess how long we've been in quarantine simply by look at my head :)
20. I learned that if you see a need in your community, don't expect or wait for others "in charge" to fill it. People kept asking for blankets at the weekly dinner, so I led a clothing/sleeping bag drive on the NextDoor app for the Salvation Army. Thanks to generous neighbors in Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades, I filled our tiny car with hundreds of pounds of donations for our homeless neighbors.
21. I wanted to give up on this puzzle so many times. It took me weeks, but I finally finished this gnarly 1,000 piece puzzle of Paris. When quarantine lifts, Josh and I dream of visiting the building where this spectacular night vista can be seen.
22. I learned how to be a better camper. I stayed at a KOA Kampground and even grilled tilapia for my pampered dog. Mushu was a horrible camper and I had the worst night's sleep I've had in years, but I got better at trip planning and remembering to never take Mushu with us ever again.
23. I learned how to help prepare 150+ meals weekly at the incredible Salvation Army. Every week, Tara and I have joined other volunteers to prep healthy meals for folks in need. We even turned a huge bag of mushy bananas into a spectacularly tasty dessert called "Banana Surprise."
24. I learned how to be an engaged "virtual yoga teacher" and taught 120+ online classes. I've had the best time teaching virtual yoga classes to people around the world, including this amazing family from New York.
25. Despite travel/dining restrictions, I learned how to plan a special birthday for the man I love. We traveled to Joshua Tree and spent the night in an architect's stargazing home. We even had an incredible $20 dinner (Beyond Burgers, what?!?!?) at the local Denny's thanks to our fearless server/busboy/cook/manager Manny.
26. I learned how to make some new tasty treats. I baked delicious vegan and gluten free buffalo cauliflower bites inspired by Minimalist Baker's recipe!
27. I learned how to build a simple website for Food Not Bombs, a local non-profit that has fed healthy, vegan meals to the homeless community for 9+ years. I've made a few for friends and family, but I really love helping small businesses with their websites.
28. In one of my most highlarious work projects ever, I learned how to make a custom duct-tape mannequin of Josh's body to ship to the Midwestern costume designer who is working on this year's 2020 top-secret costume. It took 60 yards of industrial strength duct tape to wrap his body!
29. I learned how to be a podcast guest. I was honored to be a guest on a really fun and highlarious podcast called "Pretty Sure," which is hosted by my friend and fellow Google Local Guide, Sabrina Scholkowski. She's a powerhouse of a person and you'll definitely be inspired by her. Click here to listen to the episode Josh and I did with Sabrina!
30. I learned that is SO UNCOMFY to wear a turtle costume for 10+ hours in the Valley. Yes, I dressed in a children's sea turtle costume on national television and won $1,500 on the game show Let's Make a Deal. It was taped last August, but aired during quarantine in May. I gifted my monies to three non-profits I really like: Blue Monarch, Musalaha and Operation Go Quickly.
31. Perhaps most importantly, I've learned the profound joy of having regularly scheduled video chats with my girlfriends. There's always some combo of laughing, crying, dreaming and scheming that always leaves me renewed. My girls Chelsea, Megan and I have even had a standing weekly "Chicas Who Chat" video conference across 3 time zones for almost all 21 weeks of quarantine.
Duct tape mannequins...virtual baby showers...ukulele playing...sea turtle costumes...virtual church...what a time to be alive! 2020! Let's keep learning how to make banana bread from mushy bananas, shall we? What have you done differently or learned this year? Anyways, I'm thinking of you as you too navigate this unusual season.
Big hugs and love, love, nothing but love :)