Notes from The Great Pause


For many of us (as of early fall 2020), the past several months have been a virtual whirlwind of change, confusion, worry, introspection and, well, sitting on the couch.



We’ve stayed in …


It all started, of course, with the previously unheard-of struggle to find toilet paper and then morphed into lockdowns of varying intensity and duration. If you’re lucky enough to have a job that wasn’t deemed “essential” and that could be done outside your traditional workplace, you probably worked from home for at least a while. Perhaps, like me, you’re still working from home.


All the while reading social-media memes ranging from “Don’t feel compelled to do anything but rest and survive,” to “You’d be foolish not to use this time to write the next Great American Novel or learn to bake the perfect loaf of sourdough bread!”


The experience has certainly prompted some intense soul searching: How do we want to spend our time in what may well be an entirely new normal? What sort of work and hobbies and free-time activities will we want — and will we be able to have — going forward? How do we want “normal” to look and feel?


And whether you were doing nothing but, well, nothing in April and May; or planting a garden and reading stacks of books in your sudden “free” time; or walking into the next room to go to work and only coming out again 8, 9, even 10 hours later … the days all started to blend together and suddenly entire months had gone by.



& witnessed massive upheaval …


And then, in the midst of The Great Pause, along came a massive, entirely necessary upheaval. Protests against police brutality and social injustice that began two months ago are, in many areas, still continuing. And calls to hear — and truly listen to — voices of color finally started to drown out those who would prefer to ignore or silence them.


As I’m sure you have, I’ve been doing a lot thinking over the past few months. And I believe that two seemingly opposite ideas — staying inside vs. participating in massive change — are calling us to live more quietly, more intentionally, more gently … and, at the same time, to truly see and be more supportive of our neighbors than we ever have before.




Be sure to keep going …


Let’s not squander the recent changes we’ve already witnessed in ourselves and others.


Continue to read and garden. Keep going on walks and sitting outside in the evenings and saying hello to neighbors from the sidewalk.



… and support your neighbors


And in support of your own local community: If you haven’t been doing these three things already, consider making these small but important changes to your routine as well…


1) Support local businesses whenever you can. Buy gift cards if you’re not yet feeling up to a full-fledged shopping trip; or order carry-out from your local restaurants if they’re not at full seating capacity or if you don’t yet want to eat inside.

2) If you shop online, look for and buy from small, local businesses (whether local to you or not) that have added — or switched to — online ordering.

3) Seek out and support small businesses — especially Black-owned shops and restaurants — that you might not have known about last year or even as recently as March or April.


As a start, here’s a list of nearly 100 local Black-owned bookstores across the country, most of which are taking online orders for books.



& think about how you want to live


Whenever and however you’re able, I hope you’ll find ways to reach out while staying in.


And be sure to indulge in the quiet so you can create a bit of space and time to contemplate what you want your normal to be.


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Hello & Welcome

I’m Jennifer: reader of fiction, cat whisperer, nerdy introvert. Possessor of a vivid imagination, a massive streak of curiosity, and a love of puzzles. Firm believer in — and ready to help you discover — the health-and-happiness benefits of reading and quiet time, whether indoors or out; “everyday” mindfulness; gardening; and walks in nature. Artist, writer, and founder of the Read. Purr. Collective.