Adventures in the Time of Quarantine
Welcome to your practical guide to NOT going stir crazy during the global COVID-19 pandemic (or life's other challenging times we find ourselves unprepared for). Many of us are quarantined or practicing social distancing, meaning we are isolated from the activities we cherish and the people we love.
This guide in entirely a gesture of goodwill to help as many people as possible: I'm not selling anything, nor are any of the links included in this post affiliate links. I do recommend bookmarking and sharing this guide to help your friends and family, as people are often suffering silently, and we never know how much one small gesture helps them.
What you'll find in this guide are lessons I've learned - and experiences I've had — over life's hardships that temporarily prevented me, and my family, from enjoying our regular adventures. Instead, we had to shift our perspective, and our outlook, to find new adventures to fit within our new lifestyle.
What kinds of hardships?
I followed an ambulance carrying my three-month-old son to the hospital because medical staff didn't think he'd make it if I drove him in my car.
Without going into gory details, my family has experienced two house fires, both of our sons faced life-threatening illnesses (and still do), business loss, and I've had over nine surgeries that required hospital stays and long recovery periods.
In short, we've had times when we felt like life was kicking us in the teeth. And we've learned how to overcome it and find joy when it seemed elusive.
I recommend reading the guide as a whole, as each section works with the others, but you can also use this hyperlinked table of contents to jump directly to the section you're interested in:
1. Make Life an Adventure During Hardship
Americans pride our independence and sense of entrepreneurial spirit, whether in life or in business. So when we're faced with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our government telling us we can't do all those things that make up our identity, we face not only a health crisis, but a crisis of the soul.
Every phase of life has its limitations, along with opportunities for adventure within those constraints. Yes, it is possible to make life an adventure even when you're stuck at home. That seems like an oxymoron, but I promise you, after reading this guide, you'll view your opportunities for good times through an entirely different lens.
When our bucket-list adventures adventures are on hold, we instead need to expand our definition of adventure. Instead of traveling across the globe, it's time to turn inward, closer to home.
Normally a passport and well-funded bank account are the tools of adventurers; what if, now, your tools are courage, curiosity, and creativity to create abundant adventures in your own backyard?
Hard times we never forget: we'll long remember the passing of friends and family, the images of China's soulless streets, and stories of overwhelmed hospitals. We need no reminders of the devastation to our families, our health and our way of life.
But, we can create and remember good times during this crisis: by cultivating new adventures, we make new memories, ones that accompany those hard times, and allow us to cherish a unique era. So that even during a global health crisis, we have the potential to make this day, and the ones to follow, our best days ever.
One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard was from Jane Sassaman, an award-winning quilter and fabric designer. I attended her quilt lecture, and she was relating her experience of living on an artist's income and raising a family; she could rarely afford the beautiful, yet expensive, fabric most quilters bought. Instead, she bought fabric from the clearance table and transformed it into a breathtaking work of art.
Her advice? "Turn your challenges into opportunities."
I never forgot that advice, or the museum-worthy works of art she created from what most quilters would think of as trash fabrics. Whenever I was experiencing one of life's hardships, I asked myself the question, "how can I turn this into an opportunity?"
So, that is our challenge: in the time of COVID-19 (or life's other hardships without a simple or quick solution), without restaurants or theaters or gyms or parties or weddings or graduations or family reunions or bucket list trips, how do you transform a time of great suffering into something beautiful?
Artists often create their masterpieces after being presented with limitations: the worst thing you can do to an artist, writer, or other creative person is to say, "Do whatever you want." The options are too vast. Instead, it's much easier to create within a set of guidelines. It's those very restraints that allow us to do our best work, and turn our lives into a work of art.
Use this guide to explore, and potentially change the way you think, about potential adventures, even during a quarantine.
2. Experience Adventurous Travel
As I write this guide, one of my former students is in quarantine after traveling on the Grand Princess Cruise ship on a trip to Hawaii. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued closures for bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, schools, and the government to work at 50% capacity.
Few people are flying. Gatherings of over 10 people are banned.
So is travel even possible?
Sure, on a smaller scale. Gov. Cuomo also announced the state is waiving admission fees to all state and local parks. Take your family on a hike and see those waterfalls, canyons and landscapes you've never had time for before.
Explore the national and state parks in your area. Museums may be closed, but the great outdoors is free (or low cost), and allows you to have adventures while practicing social distancing.
The Christian Science Monitor shared this heartwarming video on Twitter, showing residents of a Boston apartment complex dancing in their courtyard (look for the guy on the roof):
This video will warm your heart. How one Boston housing community is staying connected while practicing #SocialDistancing (1:24 min for a dancing toddler) pic.twitter.com/PROYP9t3Y5— The Christian Science Monitor (@csmonitor) March 16, 2020
Here's an exercise: make a list of 10 places within within minutes of your home you can travel to, even if they're not open. I live in a rural area, and I've made these lists and have endless possibilities even in a remote location.
Within 15 minutes of my home are:
- Georgia's tallest waterfall
- Faucett's Sunflower Farm, offering one million sunflowers in the fall
- North Georgia wineries (if they're closed you can still see the vineyards)
- Apple orchards (again, if they're closed you can see the orchards)
- Gibb's Gardens, a botanical garden offering the largest display of daffodils anywhere in the world.
- Lakes offering paddle boarding, pontoon boats, fishing and a man-made beach
- Mountain biking trails
- Burt's Pumpkin Farm - a hugely popular attraction in the fall
- Parks offering playgrounds and walking trails
- Covered bridges (great photo ops for social media)
Those are my ten: now it's your turn. Brainstorm a list of 10 places within 10-15 minutes of your home where you can venture out with family or friends while still practicing social distancing. You'll be amazed at what you've overlooked in your area. Once you've got the list, put it in a visible place so when cabin fever strikes you're prepared!
3. Cultivate Adventurous Relationships
"Life is all about relationships." - Pastor Jim McCormick, Big Canoe Chapel.
My son, niece and nephew were all planning weddings for this spring, summer and fall. Those will likely be postponed.
Families who usually travel to see grandparents or elderly relatives are holding off so as not to spread the COVID-19 virus.
Large gatherings are banned. Conferences and events rescheduled or canceled.
All of which begs the question: how do you stay connected with family & friends when you can't see them regularly? Sure, you can call, text, and stay in touch on social media, but it's not quite the same, is it?
The simplest thing you can do is to remember love ones. Even if you're not talking face-to-face, call to check up on family and friends, especially the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. Offer to run an errand for them, or just offer them the gift of your prayers.
A friend whose daughter was learning quilting from her grandmother as a school project has turned to getting her daughter's lessons virtually: she sits in front of the laptop on the dining room table while chatting with grandma, who reviews her granddaughter's stitching and offers advice.
If the seniors in your life don't know how to video chat, use Facetime or Duo apps, here's a helpful video that teaches them how:
My husband has played a weekly poker game with this buddies every Thursday for over 10 years. Those games are postponed until this crisis over. They can still do activities together: play online poker, go fishing, and do other things until gatherings are safe.
Ever heard of Jackbox.tv party games? Every time my family gathers over the holidays, we laugh ourselves into tears playing these hilarious online games. We normally we play them in the same room and each person plays from their own device: phone or computer. But we can play them across the country too, even when we're thousands of miles away from each other.
This weekend I was shopping at my local grocery store and the Girl Scouts were selling their cookies out front. It was the last weekend they would be able to sell in person, and they had labeled cases of cookies as "Quarantine Survival Kits." It was adorable, so I bought two cases: one for my family (my son has food allergies and Thin Mints are one of few packaged cookies he can eat), and another case to donate to our local food pantry.
When was the last time you wrote a letter or sent a postcard? Email, texting and social media have rendered the postal service to mostly junk mail, bills, and packages. In 2020, I resolved to get better at writing to people I care about. I make it simple. I cut up my old watercolor paintings into postcards, jot a note and send them off, to a few people a week. It's a small gesture on my part that means everything to the people receiving the letter.
Want to go one step further? Teach your kids cursive handwriting! It's a lost art in many public schools, and while cursive may no longer be necessary in the digital age, it does render younger generations incapable of reading historical and family documents written in cursive hand.
Here's a helpful video (with PDF worksheets) to teach your kids how to write in cursive:
If you can't travel far to maintain relationships, how about traveling deeper? Consider this self-imposed quarantine an opportunity for a marriage retreat or summer camp for your kids. Yes, it requires more effort on your part, but there are all kinds of resources, both in books and online, for activities.
4. Tackle Adventurous Projects
If there ever was a time to take on those long-term projects you've been putting off, now's the time. I'm terrible at putting together photo albums of our family: I'm about six years behind, and now I've got a huge stretch of time before me to organize our boxes stuffed with photos, scattered thumb drives, CDs and photo frames.
They key to being successful at a project that looms large and seem insurmountable? Start with small steps.
I'm a big believer in Kaizen, the Japanese method of small, continuous improvement. So instead of trying to take on a project all at once, break it up into small pieces.
An example from One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, by Robert Maurer is of a woman who wanted to start exercising on her treadmill, but could never get motivated. Maurer recommended she simply stand on her treadmill for 10 minutes a day while she read the newspaper. No commitment to actually walking, but instead create the habit of going to the treadmill every day.
I remember that story every time I have a daunting task in front of me: I don't have to start big. I just have to start.
Turn to YouTube or online classes from Bluprint, Skillshare or Coursera. I love bread baking and my go-to source for recipes, ingredients and help is King Arthur Flour, and this is their Bread 101 playlist:
If you're working at home or an entrepreneur, why not brush up on your skills? I'm a big fan of Donald Miller's Storybrand, and there's no better time to clarify your brand's message than now. He offers a book, a YouTube channel and online courses. I've consumed them all they're excellent. I am not an affiliate nor a partner; I am offering a recommended resource:
So what's that project you've always wanted to do, but never had the time? You'll never have more time than now: start small, and make continuous progress on it. When you look back at your time in quarantine, you'll be amazed at what you accomplished.
5. Pursuing Adventurous Health & Fitness
When gyms are closed, and maintaining your health & fitness are a priority, how do you stay in shape and eat right? You've got to be creative, especially if you're in an urban area where it's hard to enjoy the outdoors without being within six feet of others.
My local pharmacist recorded a brief video posted on Facebook on how to stay healthy when you're stuck inside:
You can still walk on hiking trails, at parks, and other outdoor venues close to home, and with family/friends. These hospital staff and COVID-19 patients danced in a makeshift hospital in Wuhan:
Do a calming yoga routine in your home: my favorite YouTube yoga channel is YogaTX, and this is one of their most popular videos:
If you miss your group exercise class, why not do a high-intensity-training workout (HIT) at home? Here's a 9-minute workout from two physical therapists (Bob & Brad) on Youtube that requires no equipment and replaces a 60-minute workout:
Get outdoors as much as possible, in the fresh air to soak up Vitamin D. But it you're stuck inside, you can find fun exercise fitting your physical capabilities.
6. Practice Adventurous Journaling
We are living through an historic time on our planet. One day, the details will be forgotten, and no one will remember.
Unless we write it down.
I have kept journals — in multiple forms — for the last 22 years. I initially balked at the idea, as I was a writer and spent my entire day working with words. That was the last thing I wanted to do when I returned home.
However, as the years of my life went by, I realized I was forgetting the details, and often the joys in life are found in the small details — those tiny graces gone from our minds as soon as they occur.
Once I became a parent, I got serious about journaling, and I now have a a record our family's days — good and bad — written down in my journals.
So more than any other recommendation I have in this guide, this is the most important. Write down your feelings, the daily events and circumstances in your life. Once this is all over, you will look back in awe at what transpired, and how you overcame the challenge.
Alice Domar, PhD., in her book Self-Nurture, cites a study on the therapeutic benefits of journaling and found they rival the benefits of therapy. Journaling is far easier and less expensive.
Don't feel like you have to keep an Instagram-worthy journal with beautiful calligraphic handwriting. My mother passed away 15 years ago, and I miss two things not captured in family photo albums: her handwriting and her voice. Your journal is a rich resource of your handwriting, thoughts, and prayers.
It helps you as much as it helps future generations (even if you never intend for anyone else to see your journals).
Make it simple: use what you have. If that's a ballpoint pen and spiral notebook, perfect! Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way recommends using something non-precious for morning pages, so you can just get your thoughts out and down on paper.
I've intentionally not shared photos or videos of my journals or anyone else's as examples, as too many of us are overly perfectionistic, feeling like a journal has to be a work of art. If beauty is important to you, make your journals beautiful. But that's not the point: the point is to record history and write yourself calm.
7. Learn from Adventurous Media
It's easy to want to hide in bed and binge watch your favorite shows during hard times. And certainly comedies and documentaries are helpful in relieving stress and learning.
What if, instead of consuming media as a distraction, you discover new shows and other forms of media, cultivating them as an adventurous experience?
In the age of YouTube, podcasts, blogs, and online news, you have access to, and can consume judiciously, media to help you learn, survive and thrive during COVID-19.
This is a wonderful time luxuriate in books, discovering new authors, new genres and stories. Go beyond your Amazon recommendations, and check out book club lists, fascinating authors on Twitter, or people you've heard interviewed on podcasts.
Explore a new genre, Google's Author Talks, buy from your local bookstore (order by phone and pick up), read biographies, and listen to audiobooks.
If you've never listened to podcasts, you're missing out on a wealth of knowledge, interviews, and also just plain fun. You can listen to them on apps like Spotify, Castbox and iTunes. My favorite thing about podcasts? They're perfect for passive consumption, while I'm busy doing housework, cooking or laundry.
Some of my favorite Podcasts are the hilarious quiz show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, the objective and candid political show from CBS called The Takeout hosted by Major Garrett, and meditation/interview show 10% Happier from Dan Harris.
My sons both enjoy online gaming and have discovered My Hero Academia, a streaming Japanese manga series. They'll have plenty of time now to watch it, in between attending online classes and studying.
None of us know how long this COVID-19 and social distancing will last. While we hope for the best, it's wise to prepare for a long period of working and schooling at home. I hope this guide has provided a spark of inspiration for you to live a life full of adventure and joy, in spite of the difficulties before us.
Do you have suggestions for adventurous activities during the time of quarantine? I'd love to hear them on social media. Use the hashtag #safeadventure: