For several weeks now, North Carolina has been rainy. When I say “rainy,” I mean flash floods, overflowing lakes, and dense-fog-obscuring-your-backyard kind of rainy. Much of the country (like Texas) has had worse weather of course, but we’ve been significantly homebound in North Carolina, even by pandemic measures.
I’ve subsequently been feeling very listless due to the weather, mixed with a combination of other factors. I love working from home, but not being able to go outside these past few weeks, or sit in a coffeeshop, visit friends, etc. have all been taking a toll on my mental health.
And surprise! A lack of creativity and motivation makes sitting down at the computer to write more difficult than normal.
When Alex and I saw the weather forecast for this past Wednesday, we were ecstatic. 73 degrees and sunny. We were so excited that we arranged for a day of camping to enjoy some Vitamin D and GET. OUT. OF. THE. HOUSE.
We spent a night at Jordan Lake, which is an expansive, manmade lake about 30 minutes from our home. We bought some bundles of firewood, set up the tent, and basically just sat around the campfire and relaxed.
I delved into reading a used copy of a cozy mystery (A Lack of Temperance by Anna Loan-Wilsey) that I bought earlier in the week from Books at a Steal (a local used bookstore). Alex listened to the Hurricanes game on our portable radio. I think we both needed a break from staring at screens for at least one day.
Queso, on the other hand, is a bit of a diva, and begrudgingly warmed himself by the fire while silently cursing us for taking him away from his beloved couch.
It was helpful getting some fresh air after being glued to my computer, phone, and TV for so many weeks. With this realization, I’m being proactive about finding ways to stay motivated. This strategy includes coming up with things to do that don’t include work.
In my paradoxical way, I somehow get more work done when I have less time to do it. I am mentally nourished by creativity, social interaction, and learning, which in turn, supply me the motivation and determination to work.
Some of the strategies that are helping me stay motivated are:
A fellow writer on Twitter connected me with her partner, who is now helping me improve my Spanish speaking skills. Although we are using WhatsApp to communicate (over a screen, of course), our sessions are conversation-focused. Being comfortable speaking in Spanish has been a goal of mine since high school, and I am happy to be improving both my confidence and my Spanish.
A friend in Romania and I have been doing yoga each Friday for the past month or two. I’ve also recently started sessions with my friends from Albuquerque on Thursdays. Another friend and I are doing a third weekly session on Tuesdays going forward.
I honestly have to credit yoga for being the only regular exercise I’ve gotten over the past few months. It is a huge stress-reliever for me, so its benefits have been double for me.
Reading Books in Spanish
I have never read an entire novel in Spanish, and I’ve started reading La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind) by Carlos Luis Zafón on Kindle. Kindle’s translation features (just click on a word for a quick translation) make it so much easier than constantly searching for the English meaning in a browser or dictionary.
I highlight phrases/words I need to practice so I can remember to go back to them. I also mark parts that are difficult for me to understand so I can clarify their meaning with my tutor.
Improving a skill has always been one of my go-to strategies for staying motivated and alleviating boredom. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to write and edit well enough in Spanish to expand my freelance services.
With the downtime at home, I’ve been trying to find ways to make more homemade products to reduce my levels of consumer waste (and just for fun!). I’ve experimented with making:
- Soap (with essential oils and eucalyptus leaves)
- Conditioner (with castor oil, coconut oil, and essential oils)
- Hair Volumizer (including ingredients like fresh aloe vera)
- Face Scrub (made from honey, milk, and granulated sugar)
A friend and I are also planning a candle-making venture this upcoming weekend. I’ve been saving store-bought candle containers after I’ve used all the wax out of them, and we want to refill them with our own wax candle recipes.
While not every experiment has been successful (I think I’m still getting the castor oil conditioner out of my hair two weeks later), spending time on money-saving and minimal waste projects has been a good distraction.
Planning Our Garden
I wasn’t sure the time would ever come, but it’s the season for planning spring gardens. Alex and I have done a square-foot garden for the last few years, but this year, we want to branch out into row gardening. I’ve started my pepper plants indoors, and we bought a variety of other vegetable seeds to start in the next few weeks.
I’ve also started a few herbs, catnip, and cat grass to keep indoors. (And yes, those are former containers for Ranch dressing under the thyme and basil pots. Southern recycling 😏).
Even more motivating than all of these strategies is the fact that COVID numbers are dropping substantially in North Carolina. Perhaps sometime in the near future, I’ll be writing posts from coffee shops again!
How are you staying motivated while working from home? Keep the rest of us in the loop and leave a comment!