What I’ve Learned from Quarantine

Ah Quarantine. We’ve been under it for almost 2 months now and while most of the country is slowly starting to come back to, what I’m calling, new normal, we are still under a level of Quarantine (this is due to my husband’s work).

Here’s the thing, we have all processed this stressful time differently. I’ve had some incredibly stressful low moments during the past couple months and I’ve definitely had some really great moments too. I didn’t really learn a new hobby, pick up a craft, or do anything truly beyond my normal (except running, but I’ll get to that in a minute). I don’t think that anyone should have felt like they needed to do anything like that. In fact, honestly, I feel like if we’ve all made it through this and are starting to see our light at the end of the tunnel, then that is enough. We all process stress differently and no matter how this has affected you (and it has affected EVERYONE), however you are coping is good. If you’ve become Betty Homemaker Pinterest Goddess, good. If you’ve binge watched everything on Netflix, good. If you’ve started knitting or crocheting, good. If you managed to get out of bed every morning, good.

This post is not about judgement. It’s not about what I think we should have done. It’s not about “oh I’ve done xyz, I’m great”. This post is simply what I’ve learned. How I’ve coped. What our life has been.

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I’ve said from the get-go that in so many ways this has been so good for all of us. It’s been incredibly stressful, anxiety inducing, and full of chaos, but there has been something good about it to. We’ve been forced to stop. To stop being so busy. To stop paying attention to everything BUT what is important. We’ve been forced to slow down. In staying home we’ve had to maybe figure out what is truly important. To try something, we’ve always wanted to try. To spend more time with our family. To find out what works and doesn’t work for our mental health. To learn the good, the bad, the ugly about ourselves. To find out what we need.

That’s not to say that this Quarantine has always been some good, incredible learning experience. It’s had a fair share of low moments. I spent an entire weekend one weekend crying my eyes out from stress. I spent the better part of a weekend on my couch not doing much more than reading, scrolling social media, and binge-watching trashy television. I’ve gotten stressed and frustrated with the whole virtual schooling of a preschooler (I’ve learned that I will never be a preschool or elementary teacher- that is just not for me).

BUT, as I mention the bad, I can’t ignore the good of it too. It seems like for every negative we’ve had, there has been a positive to balance it out. For example, with school. I am not cut out for preschool/elementary school teaching. I just don’t have the patience. I’ve known this for a long time (so not a true revelation about myself) and it wasn’t something that I really was interested in doing. HOWEVER, it has been a dream at times to see Colton learn. I’ve always wanted to see how he was in class and here it is, right in front of me. I get to see his eyes light up as he connects the dots in his brain. I get to see him trying hard to please his teachers, to do every assignment, to learn something new.

For me I found out a couple things- some of which I already knew, but this whole Quarantine has proven just how necessary they are to me. I realized how important quiet time to myself is and how anxious, frazzled, and stressed I get if I don’t have even a little bit of it. I’ve found out how much I do lean on my husband and how important the relationship the two of us has is. I’ve found out that as much as I’m a homebody, I love to travel and to explore just as much. I’ve found that that I really do crave little weekly get together with my friends and that in person chat/connection you get from that. I’ve found that while watching TV isn’t my favorite  pastime, there have been some good shows out there that we’ve gotten to watch (and some not so good, but guilty pleasure shows too).

I’ve been shopping small A LOT more (almost exclusively- curious as to who I support? HERE  is a list of a couple of my favorites) and have been trying to move away from the bigger retailers when I can. I’ve really realized what I actually want to do with my time when I get it. How I want to spend my days. I’ve realized that I much rather spend my time hiking up trails, and wandering old towns than I do wandering a mall (ok, this is one of those things I’ve always known).

I’ve found that as much as I’m looking forward to what this new normal is going to be like, to being able to venture out back into the world, that my thought processes over things have changed. While I’m eager to go to this city down the road from me (a bigger one about 20-30 minutes away), it’s more so because I want to walk the streets, feel those cobblestones underneath my feet, rather than because I want to shop. I’m eager to once again hike among the castle ruins, to see history in front of my eyes, to experience life as it was. These are the things that I’ve missed. I’m eager to cherish the time I can get with my friends, the moments we have together out and about, not what we can actually do. I’ve learned that having those slow moments, those slow weekends, just having a lie in or no plans at all, can be a benefit.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that we are incredible people. We can do a lot and we have empathy. I’ve seen people come together to help out friends, families, neighbors they’ve barely known. I’ve seen an outpouring of love that we haven’t seen in a long time and while this last bit of Quarantine has undoubtedly been the hardest (it’s always the hardest when you can see the end, but aren’t getting there) the amount of care that I’ve seen has been amazing.

I hope that moving forward we hold on to that and that we become a little kinder. A little more compassionate. A little more caring to those around us.

My Favorite Small Business

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to create an actual post of this, but better late than never! In this time, we are finding even more reasons that supporting small businesses and creators is vitally important. I know a lot of businesses are suffering with having to close their doors and many are resorting to purely online ordering (which means anyone can support them!). This is also a trying time for many bloggers as well as they are finding the uncertainty, the lack of travel, and broken contracts to then lead to a lack of income. This whole situation has had quite the trickle-down affect and I am trying to do my little part to help others as much as I can.

So, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite shops in the hopes that something you see sparks your interest or purchasing option (if you are in a situation to be able to), or at least to find some new accounts (bloggers, instagrammers, etc.) to follow and support with engagement (comments, likes, sharing). I will also be sharing some of my favorite bloggers/instagrammers so you can send some love their way as well by following or liking/commenting/sharing. Bloggers are in a unique situation (in both positive and negative ways) and I think they need support just as well as small businesses.

And now, I’m done babbling, let’s get shopping and following…

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Rachel Allene (website): I think if I could say one thing about Rachel’s shop, products, and social media it would be wholesome and feel good. She offers up mugs, gratitude journals, shirts, prints and hats all with a cohesive “find the good” message. Her items make the perfect gift for friends  & family (or a cheeky little gift to yourself) and I’ve definitely been eyeing some of her newer products.

Taylor Wolfe Shop (website): Taylor Wolfe does the best snarky clothing you’ll ever find. I’ve loved most all of her designs, and her unique sense of snarky humor has been a daily joy to follow on Instagram. Too many times she has had me rolling, laughing so hard. I’ve ordered her Social Distancing Club sweatshirt and am looking forward to lounging in it!

Grins & Grace (website): This is a mostly t-shirt store, with a couple little bonuses that does parenthood/motherhood designs. I really love their designs and am going to be purchasing some in the next bit of time.

Sarah Pike Pottery (website): This is a hand thrown clay maker who focuses on mugs and teapots. She doesn’t always have stock on hand and when she does it sells out very quickly…BUT I have LOVED everything I have seen from her work. It’s incredible and she makes every bit of it from the mugs and pots, to the stamps she uses. It’s incredible to follow along on with the process on social media and then purchase when she updates her stock.

The Bookshelf (website): I highly recommend sourcing books through your local, independent bookstores rather than Amazon. If you don’t have any local small bookstores that are taking orders (whether online or curbside), then look outside your town for online ordering, but focus on the independent stores. The Bookshelf is in Thomasville and they have a great selection and are operating online (with curbside pickup if you are local). You can also give their podcast, From the Front Porch, a listen.

Powell’s Bookstore (website): Another, much larger, independent bookstore with used book options. Powell’s was actually forced to let go of a lot of employees and close when the lockdown occurred, but with the surge in online orders they have been able to rehire and stay afloat. Consider ordering from them as well as they are a huge resource for the upper Northwest Region. They are a bit delayed on the shipping front, due to the surge of orders, but you should still get your books in great time and you are giving back to a great store.

And now for some content creators to add to your follow lists (aside from the businesses above, which I would highly recommend following)!

Beth Sandland (website): Beth is probably one of my favorite people to follow. A lifestyle blogger who is one of those genuine souls on the internet, she talks about life, travel, and some fashion/beauty. She also runs a book club and shares some book content as well.

Helene In Between (website): Helene lived in Europe as a blogger for 3 years, so not only is she a wealth of information on the traveling side of things, BUT she is a wealth of information on all things social media as well. She chats daily life, books, products, and is a fun follow.

KelsConverse (website): Kels is one of the most genuine, positive, yet realistic people that I follow. She talks everything from finance to travel to her gorgeous photography. She also sells those prints, so if you are in need of some new artwork for your home pick some up from her.

Peruse Project (IG/YouTube): Regan is a booktuber and fashion/lifestyle Instagrammer that I love watching. On YouTube she talks books and movies/tv shows and on Social Media she is sharing fashion snaps along with the world around her.

BooksandLaLa (IG/YouTube): Kayla is just one of those people that I love to follow. She talks mostly on books, but occasionally shows her personal life and I just enjoy her content. If you are looking for someone who has excellent insight and book commentary, but isn’t… “stuffy” then check her out.

And that is pretty much it! There are so many different creators out there, both in business and just blogging to support. I hope that you have found some new people to follow and places to shop. Leave a comment down below of some of your favorite businesses down below and I’ll check some out!

 

Some Thoughts on Consumerism

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You know what’s a funny thing? I heard or participated in a similar version of what I’m about to write about around 3-4 times in the past week. And to be fair- it’s kind of opened my eyes a little bit to something that I had felt, but hadn’t articulated.

Here’s how it all started…

I, and a couple of friends were having a conversation about some of the differences and struggles about living in Germany as compared to living in the United States. A question was posed: “On your weekends, what did you do?”  My friend and I sat there for a couple seconds, wondering if it was rhetorical or a trick. “Uh, watched football?” “Ran errands?”  We responded. “Exactly. We watch TV and we shop on our weekends.” We hesitantly agreed and then the magic happened…”We have to realize that there is more to the world than Walmart”.

“We have to realize there is more to the world than Walmart”.

Maybe it’s not Walmart, maybe it’s Target (be honest- it’s probably Target), maybe it’s Nordstrom, or Marshall’s/TJ Max’s, maybe it’s boutique stores. You can interchange Walmart with just about any store and come up with what fits you and a true statement. And with a lot of these stories we have the ability to do this 24/7. The internet has made the possibility of shopping literally wherever, whenever  I mean, how many times have we all just “amazoned” an item?) and often times stores then try to compete with that by staying open later on weekdays and opening up all weekend. We are also consuming high levels of media. In homes, TV’s tend to be more on than off, we are almost always on our phones in some way, not to mention computers and tablets.

This boggles my mind. How is it that we manage to spend our free time doing these things? How is it that we are so inundated with this idea that we need to buy all the things, watch all the things, be a part of this lifestyle that we forget that there is so much more to life. There is more to the world.

I’ve been 100% guilty of doing this. I was someone who spent most weekends at home, in my comfiest chair, TV on, book in hand, phone never too far away. When we would leave the house 60% of the time it would be to go to a store of some sort. Oftentimes a trip to the grocery store would also involve a trip to the Target shopping center. I bought a lot of things on Amazon (some we needed; most we didn’t “need”) for the convenience. We had the option of just clicking and buying whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. So, why not do that?

Have you ever heard…”Go into Target for one thing, come out with a dozen other things and not the thing you needed”? THIS. This is what I’m talking about. The idea that just going to Target to do a quick shopping run and buy ALL THE THINGS and this is the cool norm now? That’s wrong. Whether you can afford it or not, there is more to life than just one big long shopping trip.

When we moved to Germany things were vastly different.

For starters, there are a lot more outdoor markets in the different regions. Fresh produce from right down the road is always available for purchase. Fresh seasonal flowers (some of which you can cut yourself) are around. In town grocery stores are smaller than they are in the States and have smaller carts/are intended for smaller trips. The festivals tend to feature more local artisans than not.

Stores close EARLY (and I mean like anywhere from 5-6PM) and are all always closed on Sundays (except for Shopping Sunday which happens every couple months). Life here is focused on the in-person connection. Meals last for hours at restaurants, allowing people the time to really forge connections and conversations. There are not a lot of people that you see on the phone while out in public. It’s a vastly slower pace of life, without that massive jump to buy. There are a lot more outdoor activities, from hikes to biking to canoeing to paddle boating.

There is also a much bigger focus on travel here. Most people spend their “free money” and savings on traveling, seeing new places and learning about new things. We’ve quickly caught that travel bug and that is where a lot of our budget goes toward. We have been finding that we did not actually take enough weekend trips previously and how easy those types of trips really are.

It’s such a different way of life and one that I’ve really found loving. I’ve quickly settled into this slower pace lifestyle. My shopping has been cut down quite a bit (due in part to convenience and in part to just general shipping times for online shopping) and I’ve really found myself evaluating a couple of lifestyle choices. I’ve been wanting a bit of a change for a while and Germany has kind of given me the push to make that change. These are changes that I want to keep whenever we do go back stateside as I find them to be such positives and something that I think more people could benefit from.

We need to make a point to spend less time shopping, less time watching TV, less time lounging in our own home, and more time getting to know our world. Putting the digital world aside on the weekend and living in the real world. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with watching TV, or having the occasional trip to the shops (beyond grocery shopping), but the way that we have started treating our lives in the States is kind of scary to think about.

Is the 24/7 convenience of being able to shop nice? Yea, but how many times are we really needing that convenience? Is this something that can wait till the next day? Better yet, is it something that we really need or something we think we need because of the mentality?

Let me know your thoughts on consumerism as I’d love to have a discussion about it. This is something that has been itching in the back of my mind, this difference in culture and mindset, and I’d love to speak about it with others!